David Koehn


1. On a wall surface,
Any continuous stretch of wall,
Using a hard pencil, place fifty points at random.
2. The points should be evenly distributed over the area of the wall.
3. All of the points should be connected by straight lines.
4. Preferably start all lines with a trochee.
5. The first line should be drawn with two stresses and any number of unstressed syllables, preferably five.
6. The second line must have five unstressed syllables,
And four stressed syllables.
7. The second line must use an adjective expressing a quality the opposite of momentary.
Words like uninterrupted and ongoing…
8. The second line should include a noun indicating
An inanimate object that that can also be used as a verb
Describing what one does with a human body.
Words like toe and hand and finger….
9. The second line should contain one preposition: the expression of
The relationship between a part and a whole.
10. The last word of the second line must be a noun that defines an area.
11. In the third line state the medium and the color of the medium.
12. In the fourth line state the means of the system to start and contain the lines.
13. In the fifth line describe the technique of the system.
14. In the sixth line define how every line begins and begin…


As I scramble up an unmarked trail
Edged with decomposed granite I think
Of a screaming tea kettle. Where you
Slope in spring you weep. I have never
Been to Prague. John Muir has never
Been to Prague. My neighbor’s uncle Bob,
As far as I know, has never been
To Prague. No one wants to know the truth.
All the water of earth has always
Been here, dinosaurs drank the water
You drink from your Nalgene container.
The typewriter I found and carry
With me in my hands insists I name
This ode, “Ode to Altitude Sickness”
or “Ode to the Tuolumne County
Facts from the US Census Bureau.”
4% of Tuolumne County
Is under 5 years of age compared
To 10% from across the state.
This suggests they sacrifice their young.
In Prague I made love to a lovely
Horse with a flaxen mane. Your zipper
Is down. Water funnels occur here
Infrequently. Atop the rise I
Will be unable to say anything
But “oh my, oh my.” This means I am
Thinking about beauty or about
How many children have been pushed
To their death by mentally ill
Parents. Prague is populated
With lovely horses. Water, water,
Water. Near the top, I consider
Re-typing the title of this ode
But the typewriter says, “That would not
Make sense, so if you meant that I
Think that’s super.” A raisin is stuck
In my front teeth, the typewriter calls
The pinkish petal in the burrow
Of my face a boatman’s tongue. Evening’s
Flares catch a peregrine falcon
At speed, shoulder’s back, targeting fish
In Lake Tenaya. The typewriter
Tells us the story about the chief
The lake is named for: his brutal
Murder at the hands of his fellow
Gamblers. The peregrine can’t fly
Higher than 17 feet above
The lake with a catch of that size. Mist,
More concentrated than Bruce Lee’s sweat,
Murders everything. At this point
I am considering renaming
This ode to “Odious Ode.” Or “Ode
To the Red Garbage Can by My Desk.”
Do not trust the handmaids of Prague.
Do not trust the handmaids of Prague!
They are both missing a syllable!
A broken typewriter is a sad thing.
On the descent with horsetail light watch
Me endure the ending. The “broken
Back of an aging stegosaurus,”
He says. Miscalculated in scale,
I think. The typewriter keys have jammed
Their consonants and punctuation
Into each other’s backs. We vowel
The vowels. Tea leaves left to moulder
In morning’s kitchen. Dog Lake will not fetch.
The horse of my Prague goes it alone.
XYZPDQ. Honeybees
Do not trust a bloom when the promise breaks.
Fuck the gods. Fuck madness. I never
Want to die. Only undeserving
Gods would call for fathers to give up
Their sons for something other than this