Sunday, December 31, 2006

#252: December 31, 2006

Maybe I'll be up till the ball comes down,
Throw some confetti, kiss my favorite girl;
Wearing a lampshade or a paper crown
I'll watch another year dawn on the world;

Perhaps I'll drink my fill of beer and wine
Or, rum punch-drunk, dance on the table tops;
Butcher two choruses of "Auld Lang Syne"
And keep it up till someone calls the cops;

But each new year's put gray hairs on my pate
And creased my skin where it was smooth before;
My brain complains when I keep it up late,
And I can't drink like I used to anymore.

So bring on bittersweet festivity,
and mourn the partiers we used to be.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

#251: December 30, 2006

Beware the Wolf-Dog chained behind the shed!
He's not partial to strangers, that's a fact;
It's been a good eight hours since he was fed,
And I don't rightly know how he'd react.

He weighs about two-eighty when he's dry;
His tongue rolls out, a slippery slab of meat;
Got teeth like tent pegs, murder in his eye,
And I can't find a thing the beast won't eat.

He wasn't like this when he first showed up
On my doorstep, a starving, tragic stray;
Became a loving, playful little pup,
Though you can't see the cub in him today.

It's hard having a Wolf-Dog for a pet;
But he's mine, and he hasn't killed me yet.

Friday, December 29, 2006

#250: December 29, 2006

You always kept some water by the bed
in case you woke up thirsty in the night.
I can remember that--and how the light
cut fault lines through the glass. And once you said
you felt just like that white stray cat you fed
on scraps from old pie plates you left outside.
When she stopped coming round, Lord, how you cried--
the water down your face, eyes puffed and red.

I think sometimes about the night you tried
to make me say I loved you--how the bright
blue tears stood in your eyes, where gold light bled
in angelic refraction; how the sight
drew out my ugly truth, and how instead,
now knowing what I owe, I should have lied.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

#249: December 28, 2006

To build the box, you lay out all four sides,
Set right the corner angles with your square,
Adorn your plane with shavings as it slides,
Sand smooth the naked wood with utmost care;

Countersink every nail, polish each hinge,
And oil the hasp that locks the lid in place;
Seal every joint with wax, let light impinge
No more in this, your bounded, seamless space;

And underneath that perfect, varnished lid,
Within that cube of darkness you have wrought,
Perhaps not understanding what you did,
You built a prison to constrain your thought--

While I shatter the locks and set mine free,
So it can find what shape it's meant to be.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

#248: December 27, 2006

It's beer for breakfast, three-martini lunch,
An afternoon nap slouched upon the desk.
A flask shot helps survive commuter crunch;
At home, the daily scotch--Fitzgerald-esque.

Then fifteen winks courtesy La-Z-Boy
'Fore dinner with cabernet sauvignon.
A digestif? Come on now, don't be coy;
Just one nightcap, my dear, and then I'm gone.

Weekends I'm at the game with a few brews,
The theater with crackers and champagne,
Or down the local pub--but what to choose?
I'm stinkin' by the time I'm home again.

On Sunday I confess all of my sins--
Get shrieved with wine, so hey! Everyone wins.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

#247: December 26, 2006

You may not think so now, but just you wait:
one day when your front door sticks in its jamb
you'll turn around and wonder where I am
to bust it down, but it'll be too late;

When some black critter skitters 'cross the floor
and sets you shrieking, wondering what to do,
you'll wish then I was there with my big shoe,
but I'm not gonna be there anymore.

One dark day soon you'll see it's a mistake
to drive me off like this--you will forget
the bad that, I admit, I've done. Regret's
a bitch, but I've had all that I can take.

In any one of many dozen ways,
you'll miss me, baby, one of these old days.

#246: December 25, 2006

Nobody gave more money to the poor
nor was more generous to a worthy cause.
his giving nature rivalled Santa Claus;
to needy men he never closed his door.

His friends called him a sun in clouded skies,
the best man any man could hope to know,
and felt blessed to be basking in his glow,
to have such an example 'fore their eyes.

And yet each night, when he pulled down the blinds
in that dark hour when every man's alone
curled with his private thoughts under his quilt,
he counted over such betrayals and crimes,
such lies for which he never could atone--
he lay awake for hours, black with his guilt.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

#245: December 24, 2006

Some children don't believe the story's real;
But Christmas Eve there'll come a heavy tread
That shakes rafters as he walks overhead
Then slithers down the chimney like an eel;

He'll claw open the flue and slowly creep
Across the floor, leaving a trail of slime
From hearth to stair--then he'll begin his climb
Up to the rooms where children lie asleep;

The good he'll leave--they're flavorless and bland--
It's naughty meat he licks his whiskers for;
He passes like a phantom through the door
Toward sleeping heads, and stretches out his hand...

So children, say your prayers and say them quick,
If you've got an appointment with Old Nick.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

#244: December 23, 2006

It's chaos 'round the Christmas tree tonight!
The little imps run roughshod round the room;
they shake the tree and dim the blinking lights
as parents pray St. Nick will visit soon.

They're fueled by sugar, sleeplessness and greed,
won't suffer the idea of going to sleep.
Mirth is confused with madness, want with need,
while parents are left flustered in a heap.

It's hard to think this is meant to be pleasant--
to muster any cogent thoughts, indeed,
with past and future condensed to the Present
that's shimmering in ribbons 'neath the tree.

We hope that Santa Claus and all his elves
will grant some quiet hours to ourselves.

Friday, December 22, 2006

#243: December 22, 2006

She took me down the trail through stands of birch
and poplar, skipping over Jimson's Crick
whose clay-stained waters flowed orange through slick
blood-colored mud, and finally to the church.

The hollow-eyed windows stared from the past
blindly down weed-choked cemetery lanes
where lettered stones were beaten smooth by rains
and ivy cloaked fire-blackened shards of glass.

Then when she lay me down upon the crypt,
her pale breasts veined just like the moon above
that watched, perhaps less judgemental than cold,
we sanctified our death-bound hearts, and stripped
down to its bones the cage around our souls
whose lock we--we alone--are guardians of.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

#242: December 21, 2006

Whatever he's doing, he does it late
at night, and never comes out in the sun.
I've watched deliveries come in by the ton
in darkness, and always by the back gate.

Boxes, crates, some green oxygen tanks,
and other things I can't identify.
Then, once they're in, the hammerings and clanks
resound into the morning hours--but why?

A dungeon, or some private laboratory,
a secret workshop underneath the stair?
Last night I thought I heard across the street
a rumbling groan, and the fall of heavy feet
on damp earth--there's more to this weirdo's story.
Just what the hell is he building down there?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

#241: December 20, 2006

Mary was six, and I was eight years old.
We rode the bus together every day,
and chased and tagged until the grass went gray
with dusk in my backyard. Seemed every cold
I had, Mary caught too: small nose rubbed raw,
she'd laugh at my dry cough and feel my cheek
for fever--unaware I couldn't speak
through shivers her fingers sent through my jaw.

The day she moved away I ran across
the road between our houses, my bare feet
cooked red by asphalt. I stared at the sky
while she tugged at her dress, damp with the heat.
The idling moving van said our goodbye
while we two learned the language of our loss.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

#240: December 19, 2006

I don't mind if my labor fills your pockets
and sends gold coins cascading down your thighs;
nor whether you bury, invest, or sock it
under your mattress ere you close your eyes--

I don't care if the company stocks plummet
and all your golden parachutes collapse;
if my small efforts could have kept them from it,
you should have looked before you leaped, perhaps.

No stacks of money nor jars of spare change'll
exhalt me like the wind on my damp skin
in Spring; and my paycheck won't buy the angel
whose lilac wings nightly gather me in;

No matter how my worth has shrunk or grown
My value's set through her commerce alone.

Monday, December 18, 2006

#239: December 18, 2006

Now gently--run your fingers down my spine
and press the indentations where the bone
is knobbed like ancient wood, where years unknown
are writ, fuel for the fire; the scalloped line
where knots mark out the casing of that rod
of wet green nerve, the tissues of the sense
that pulse with electric incandescence
beneath the skin, the secret flesh of God--

And where my skin rises as with a chill
under your touch, and where your hot palms press
my muscles will such living fires arise
that, like a pillar in the wilderness,
consumed by tongues of fire but burning still,
the light and heat of us inflame the skies.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

#238: December 17, 2006

Just wait a while--we'll know it when it comes.
Perhaps sunset, a faint tinkling of bells
that grows until it echoes through the dells
and forests like a thousand warrior drums;

It will start quietly, that much is sure--
easy to miss for those not on their guard.
Some will be deaf until suddenly jarred
by that cacophony few will endure.

The noise will shake the trees and pull apart
the ancient stone beneath the mountains' feet,
and all not shook to ruin will dissolve
like salt; and so we shall be made complete
in chaos, and the mad globe will revolve
molten and desolate, God's throbbing heart.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

#237: December 16, 2006

Oh darling, let's get deeply into debt!
Throw caution to the winds and buy a car;
We haven't reached our credit limit yet--
Not destitute, nor restful till we are.

Let's get new curtains, decorate the walls
With floral prints on printed paper bills;
Let's pile up treasures till our rating falls
To the music of a thousand ringing tills.

Let's put another mortgage on our home
To finance travel plans we can't afford;
For otherwise we'll never get to Rome,
Or even worse, we might start getting bored.

What's small in life, my love, let us enlarge it;
We'll pay someday--but meantime we'll just charge it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

#236: December 15, 2006

Flat-footed as a centaur on the cliff
above the forest, watching the slow sweep
of wind through tree tops--like the ocean, deep
and secret, its green mystery--the lift
and settle, like a giant's slumbering breath,
the glass-song rivulets that flow like blood
through granite veins--omnocular I stood,
an Argus; and my woodland shibboleth
rang forth in song over that sleeping wood
I sudden found myself the guardian of.
I longed to stamp my hooves and gallop wild
down precipice into its heart--and would,
but that its breathing soothed me like a child,
and burst my half-animal heart with love.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

#235: December 14, 2006

I called your house; they told me you weren't there,
the number out of service or else changed;
the lines were down and in need of repair,
and would be, once a truck could be arranged;

I called your office, they said you were out
to lunch, or in a meeting; you'd been fired,
or transferred to the Cleveland branch, no doubt;
replaced by robots, promoted, retired;

So I sent you a note--it was returned;
I tried the Internet--a 404;
drove by your house--vandalized, gutted, burned,
and neighbors never see you anymore.

Your whereabouts are quite the mystery;
It's almost as if you're avoiding me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

#234: December 13, 2006

I ducked my head and burrowed like a worm
into that dark, tight space; but rigid, stiff
as bone, no pausing to consider if
I should go on--the tunnel hugged my form:
soft, warm, and wet like a volcanic vent
straight to the ocean floor; the scorching air
and musty smell--thinking now, "Do I dare?"
But those walls closed and squeezed, so down I went.
I tugged and pushed and slithered till I looked
on a white light that pulsed in time with my
exhausted, tidal heart; I felt a peace
that burned like cinders--then convulsed and shook,
holding the goal fast in my one good eye,
I thrust toward my eruption and release.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

#233: December 12, 2006

I want there to be monsters in the world:
I want the gates of Hell to crack and split,
disgorge demonic armies from the pit
their black fangs dripping blood, eyes wide and pearled;

I want to hear werewolves bay at the moon
and watch the shadow of a vampire slip
across the threshold; let me hear the drip
of water, and see tracks from the lagoon;

I want the shapeless things dragged from their holes
and all their mythic viciousness made real,
and everything we fear and think and feel
released to feast upon innocent souls--

Let all our horrors look us in the eye
and kill us if they can, or howl and die.

Monday, December 11, 2006

#232: December 11, 2006

Oh, you don't have to get me anything
this year, 'cause heaven knows I've got enough.
I don't know what old Santa Claus would bring,
and I don't care to be loaded down with stuff.

My shoes should last another month or two
if I tape up the tongues and glue the soles;
my hat--why it looks practically brand new!
If I stuff dryer lint in all the holes...

My TV (as a planter) works just fine;
my car (on downhill slopes) runs like a dream.
My watch is stuck at twenty-two past nine,
but that's right twice a day, so it's just keen.

No, I'll be fine--don't worry about me;
I just wish I could afford a Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

#231: December 10, 2006

Young Ed decided he would be a bird
when he grew up: dig worms and learn to fly,
sing beauteous songs--and though of course absurd,
it seemed harmless enough for him to try.

His voice was like cracked glass, though, and his song
Sent frightened creatures scurrying to their nests;
he tried the worms, but his guts, none too strong,
rebelled when Edward put them to the test.

But not to be discouraged, Ed built wings
of cardboard tubes and feathers from the lawn.
He climbed up to the roof strapped to the things,
sure of success, and leaped out toward the dawn--

Say what you will, Ed went out with a bang;
and if he didn't fly, at least he sang.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

#230: December 9, 2006

The sands run out, the glass empty and still,
and nothing stirs outside its dusty sphere;
no hand to turn, no vessel to refill,
and only silence holds its court in here.

The windows darken while the setting sun,
ensnared in naked branches, dips his head
below horizon hills--the only one
who might have told the living from the dead.

Where tramp the feet that once were used to roam
these halls? Where now do vanished voices sing?
Why now a house, where once there was a home?
How does Nothing devour Everything?

The ice glitters on eaves where no one dwells,
and silence blankets stories no one tells.

Friday, December 08, 2006

#229: December 8, 2006

One of these days, my head's just going to pop!
The anger will build up like lava flows
under the crust, worm its way to the top,
find a weak spot, then look out! Thar she blows!

The cap of bone I wear atop my skull
will shoot off like a cork out of champagne;
my hair will curl, and the air will be full
at once of the confetti of my brain.

Maybe the steam escaping through my ears
will make a shrill, annoying, whistling sound;
the power will be such, it might take years
for all my bits to flutter to the ground.

So brush your teeth, kids, and get in your beds;
you sure don't want to see what's in my head.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

#228: December 7, 2006

I don't feel like the earth is getting small
as I get older--rather, it expands;
countries spread out like age spots on my hands,
and now I know I'll never see them all.

The seas get deeper, mountains raise their heads
impassable between the sky and me,
and all the paths of possibility
are closed off, one for every moment fled;

And one day soon the world will grow so wide
I'll be immobile in the face of it;
my final hours will pass by as I sit
and watch the ground race out to either side;

I feel it in the thickness of the air:
the growing distance between here and there.

#227: December 6, 2006

I came downstairs for water, and the chill
of winter night lay heavy all around
like mist--the creaking stair the only sound,
all else was preternaturally still.

I trusted to the memory of space
in my feet, felt my way without the light--
familiarity a kind of sight,
with everything in its remembered place.

The skylight in the kitchen let the glow
of moonlight in as bright as morning sun,
but silver, not golden, and therefore strange,
disorienting--I started at one
of our old chairs: the way it was arranged
was ghostlike, almost human, crouching low.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

#226: December 5, 2006

There's something out here further up the chain
than you and me--it stalks these wind-worn trails
like some grim ghost, and no man here but pales
at the scream it looses every time it rains.

Joe Wilkes was torn to pieces in his bed,
and Johnson shot it twice before he died,
to no effect. To hunt it's suicide,
and we'd all sooner be cowards than dead.

I saw it once: the moon was high and bright,
and there it crouched, gnawing on Bert Simm's bull--
its white fur stiff with blood, eyes gray and dull,
and eight feet tall when standing at its height.

A wild man, stink ape, demon--pick your worst.
But I won't be here next time the rainclouds burst.

Monday, December 04, 2006

#225: December 4, 2006

There's one blue pool out there on Langham's land--
not hard to get to, just behind the shed--
where, if you go on moonlit nights and stand
an hour or two, in it you'll see the Dead.

Sometimes it's loved ones--lost kids, murdered wives,
and such as that--but mostly it's the shapes
of strangers, staring, envying the lives
outside, their eyes black marbles, mouths agape.

They never speak--they just stand there and sway,
and pebbles tossed won't make the shades disperse;
then, close to sunrise, they just fade away
to heaven, hell, or maybe something worse:

A black room with one window to the sky
through which the moon stares like a blind white eye.



Appeared in the early 08 edition of Aberrant Dreams.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

#224: December 3, 2006

Nobody can be happy all the time;
There's no person who's jolly every day.
No human, be he juggler, clown, or mime,
Smiles as they do in any permanent way.

No jokester keeps on laughing through the night
After the crowd is gone, the curtain down;
And no aged guru, beaming from his height,
Withstands all Life's hardships without a frown.

It must be something in the way we're built
Unsuits us for perpetual happiness,
Throws weights over the balance when we tilt
Too far, so sorrow's more and bliss is less

Till all comes even. Still, if that were true,
You'd think the obverse theorem would hold too.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

#223: December 2, 2006

Don't worry, love--another year is gone
and we've all got our scars. The new gray hairs,
the wrinkles round the eyes, discovered cares
we'd not have dreamed before--and on and on.

We wear the passing hours on our skins,
and etched on bone, and woven like a thread
through muscles; and the more we bear, we dread
their number, like a tally of our sins.

But listen: when in years to come you've grown
quite old and gray, and time holds no more fear
than breath--remember then this poet's soul;
recall its warmth, and think of how, alone
through all these ruthless years, you kept him whole,
whose words and love will conquer death, my dear.

Friday, December 01, 2006

#222: December 1, 2006

I want you to believe the things you read--
that brave boys, maybe less than ten years old,
climb stalks to heaven, magic beans for seed,
returning home with sacks of giant's gold;

I want you to believe a boy can fly,
fight pirates with his savage orphan friends;
crocodiles, mermaids, schooners in the sky
over London--adventure never ends;

For giants just get bigger as you grow,
and beanstalks wither, leave you grasping air;
the Captain hooks your shadow by the toe
and nails it to the ground with grown-up care;

So hold on to those beans, my son--you must;
and seal your dreaming eyes with pixie dust.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

#221: November 30, 2006

She got the stems, the gams, the set of wheels,
Start at the floor and right up to her ass;
The slippers silver, ruby, made of glass,
The stockings leave you wondering how it feels
To trace that line, that seam joined at the back,
Old-fashioned, like they drew on in the war--
Nylon was scarce--what did they use it for,
Those soldiers? Secret pantyhose attack?
It doesn't matter--Christ, it makes you choke!
A cuff of lace around the upper thigh,
Right where you'd like to cuff a wandering hand--
Black silk obscuring firm, plump calves like smoke;
Her heels inflame the boys, you understand...
Just listen to 'em burn as she walks by.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

#220: November 29, 2006

His uncle used to make the kids step up
and punch him in the stomach, just to prove
how strong he was. The younger kids would cup
hands around fists; the old man wouldn't move
as each one came forward to take his turn.
The sound of knuckles slapping his plaid shirt
like raindrops, he waited for them to learn
that here was a bastard could not be hurt.

Years later, with his aunt twenty years dead,
the boy would tell him how his cousins used
to imitate him, punch their knuckles red
and go home with their stomachs sore and bruised.

The uncle smiled. "The trick is to be tense,
And hold your breath. Makes all the difference."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

#219: November 28, 2006

I'm not the best and I am not the worst,
But somewhere in that glorious in-between;
I'm not the last, nor yet am I the first--
Not dull, perhaps, but surely none too keen.

I'm not Jesus and I'm not Lucifer,
Nor Gandhi, Buddha, Vishnu nor the Pope;
Not Don Juan, though I sometimes wish I were,
Nor Quasimodo, so I've still got my hope.

Not top, bottom, nor too much either side,
I perch upon the apex of the curve
Like some robin too young to try to glide,
Or else too old to muster up the nerve.

No blesséd good, but maybe worth a damn--
It's hard to say exactly what I am.

Monday, November 27, 2006

#218: November 27, 2006

So--is this what you wanted? This malaise
that stupefies you daily can't be good.
Just selling off the hours and the days
of the only life you've got--and all you could
have been, or should have, falls like autumn leaves
leaving only this frame, crooked and bare;
and all that's left of Spring inside you grieves
for fruitless blooms no gardener can repair.

Sure, you could sell the house, and quit the job,
the irresponsibility of dreams
embraced; but in so doing, would you rob
your wife and kids of their most cherished schemes?

Or stay grounded, society-approved,
stable, and so secure you dare not move.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

#217: November 26, 2006

He walks just like he's sliding over ice,
A dancer's grace--the natural dip and fold
of knee and hip, never the same move twice;
his shoes are hot, but his blue eyes are cold.

Down at the Blue Note seven nights a week,
the women crowded like smokes in a pack
to watch him work, to listen to him speak,
they follow that boy to heaven and back.

And out of Eden, up three flights of stairs,
her chin cupped like an apple in his hand,
he flicks a serpent's tongue to taste her skin.
It may be that she'll never understand
what brought her to his dance hall and this sin;
she falls, and maybe only Jesus cares.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

#216: November 25, 2006

I had a robot forty-five feet high
Who came to see me when my folks were out.
We had adventures, that robot and I,
and saved the world a hundred times, no doubt.

Gigantic buzz-saws gauntleted his arms;
He wore ten warheads in a bandoleer.
And together we'd fly over the farms
And forests, making sure the coast was clear.

We fought against Martians as tall as trees
And lizards that put Godzilla to shame,
Brought evil battle robots to their knees
And sent their masters back from whence they came.

Then with rockets still smoking from our flight
He'd put me back to bed and say goodnight.

Friday, November 24, 2006

#215: November 24, 2006

I know one night Death will come stalking me
on padded feet--its fur will catch the moon
and return violet fire, while I, the soon-
to-be-departed, watch the trees. I'll see
a man-sized shadow, maybe, bend the limbs
under its weight, then vanish like black smoke.
The wind will silence then, all at a stroke,
and Death's eyes will leer down like blood-red gems.
Perhaps I'll hear the roar and see him fall,
the slashing claws, the teeth yellow and bare;
or maybe he will catch me unaware,
a sudden darkness that envelops all.
Or perhaps he'll crouch down, softly nose my hand,
and lead me gently toward that other land.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

#214: November 23, 2006

The turkeys are not thankful for Thanksgiving;
pigs also are ungrateful for the day.
Quite selfishly they'd rather go on living
than serve as cold cuts or a meat pâté.

They'd just as soon not lie at center table,
surrounded by potatoes, rolls, and corn;
they'd make a break for home if they were able,
back to the pen or nest where each was born.

It's not that they dislike all celebrations--
ice cream and cakes and party hats are nice;
but they can't approve their own eviscerations,
nor willingly lie on deathbeds of rice.

For you it's ham and roast bird packed with stuffing;
for them, a date with that Eternal Nothing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

#213: November 22, 2006

Oh I've had friends who could not be my lovers
And lovers whom I would not want as friends;
A relationship that starts beneath the covers
Should not surprise you if that's where it ends;

Oh I've kissed lips before to stop them talking
And held a hand to keep it from a blow;
And I have tickled feet to start them walking,
And laughed through bitter tears to watch them go.

I've suffered through the carnal contradictions
Of love and lust, of hate and happiness;
And I've pronounced curses and benedictions
O'er heads I've loved or could not care for less;

You'd think a fool could not continue long
Thus without gaining wisdom--but man, you're wrong.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

#212: November 21, 2006

The way you curve between shoulder and hip,
hands stretched above your head, a violin
of flesh; your sides invite my palms to slip
the alabaster polish of your skin--

I'd fold your fingers, tune your humming nerves
with feather touches down your arms, and know
you vibrant, vibrating within those curves
while I stand straight and rigid, like a bow--

I'd lay my cheek along your thigh and wait,
the hush and stillness; I could disappear
into the music we anticipate,
this symphony that only we will hear--

The way you answer me, taut as a string--
I move my hand over you, and you sing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

#211: November 20, 2006

Watch carefully, for this is not a trick:
I'm going to disappear before your eyes!
Don't blink, because it happens pretty quick,
And I'll be gone before you realize.

You'll posit me a master of disguise,
Say I slipped out unnoticed with the crowd
Like any one of half a hundred guys
Who leave scratching their heads, completely wowed.

You'll wonder, did I somehow hypnotize
The audience, or give the lights a flick
And through a trap door seem to vaporize?
You'll wonder how such trickery's allowed--
While round about your heads my essence flies
And dissipates like vapors in the skies.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

#210: November 19, 2006

This stagnant pond, where once the water flowed
as clear as glass, now lies coated with slime,
little recalling that happier time
of leaping fish and sun, before it slowed;

Before it stopped, the stream talked to the stones
and sang along with songbirds in the trees
who dove to bathe and dine on water fleas,
while basso bullfrogs hummed the lower tones.

Now all is silent; under that thin scum
no serpent moves, no monster stalks its kill.
Nothing but black mud, bones, and airless space.
Whatever sang here once perhaps sings still,
but far away; while in this poisoned place,
all Nature couches motionless and dumb.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

#209: November 18, 2006

The Great Old Ones forgot where they were going,
Took one wrong turn at Mars and oozed away;
When they'll be back we've got no way of knowing,
And Cthulhu's getting lonely in R'lyeh.

The dusty air has dried out all the shoggoths;
The Mi-gos packed their jars, called it a day.
There's nothing going on now at Yog-Sothoth's,
And Cthulhu's blowing bubbles in R'lyeh.

Old Dagon's church in Innsmouth has gone quiet;
The townsfolk all have gone to sea to stay.
The ghouls under the kirk are on a diet;
The Necronomicon once caused a riot--
Now it's for sale, but nobody will buy it,
And Cthulhu's still a-snoozing in R'lyeh.

Friday, November 17, 2006

#208: November 17, 2006

His dissolution came as no surprise
to him; he'd been awaiting it for years.
Stoic, almost Grecian, he shed no tears,
even before it liquefied his eyes.

His arms withered, his legs shrank down to bone,
his ears dried up and fell like autumn leaves;
his teeth vanished as though purloined by thieves,
yet his dessicate tongue voiced not a groan.

For as his body crumbled into dust
and maggots rutted through his sad remains,
his mind still dwelt above in flowered halls;
he thought, through clouds of pain, how God is just
and numbers every songbird as it falls--
right up until the insects ate his brains.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

#207: November 16, 2006

I'm groggy and bone-tired; my brain is wrapped
In cotton and my ass plated with lead.
Coherent thought's a project should be scrapped,
As every second image is a bed.

It's hard to work on just five hours of sleep,
With bland blank screens inducing lethargy;
Bad, bored, and boneless--sluggish, I should creep
Through gardens and find rocks to cover me.

Oh let me dream of dreaming; let me fall
Through scented linen onto mounds of fluff;
Let me rock like an infant there, and crawl
Out only when at last I've slept enough.

And should you find me snoring at my desk,
Please douse the lights, punch out, and let me rest.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

#206: November 15, 2006

I know it's scary now, but just hold on.
You'll get used to the bright lights, the cold air;
The loud noises get easier to bear,
and soon those prodding doctors will be gone.

That frightened-looking fellow with the beard
and that exhausted woman on the bed
will keep you close and warm, and on your head
will place like jewels all they had hoped and feared,

and give you strength to bear them, like a king.
So close your eyes a moment and be strong.
This world, so loud and cold, is not a place
to hold too dear; and right now everything
you need is holding you, kissing your face.
Don't fret. You'll have this sussed before too long.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

#205: November 14, 2006

When there's nothing left to fuck up, and the clouds
Rain ashes from the burning atmosphere,
When stars wink out like Christmas lights, and clear
Blue skies give place to poisoned purple shrouds,

When tiny creatures turn the oceans red
And drop new fossils toward the ocean floor,
Innumerable black bones litter the shore
And toxic sludge strangles each river bed,

When Earth tires of our foolishness and throws
Our deadly unconcern back in our eyes,
When everything is sick and nothing grows--
When Was becomes the victim of Is Not,
And Consequences overwhelm their Whys,
And God lies dead in His heaven--then what?

Monday, November 13, 2006

#204: November 13, 2006

November, and the Bradfords are ablaze
in residential spaces where they grow
each a lone, burning matchstick; now the rays
of setting suns all round about them throw
a panoply of color: orange and red,
like tangerine and pomegranate flesh,
and yet already browning where the dead
and flamboyantly dying cells enmesh.

Ahead another autumn, maybe two,
topheavy, all their fruitless limbs will crack
in middling winds--uprooted then, and new
ornamental arbors will fill their lack.

Many of us are losers at that Game--
though once we stood as proudly, crowned with flame.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

#203: November 12, 2006

In Spring the Moon is full here every night
And faeries strew gems 'mongst the morning dews;
The sleepy owls blink in the golden light
While gnomes polish their stones and mend their shoes.

In Summer dryads sleep beside the brooks
And willows trail their fingers in the waves;
The Sun drives trolls and ogres to their nooks
And firefolk dance over forgotten graves.

In Autumn shadows stretch like bony hands
To tangle up the Moon, and spirits walk
The fens where werewolves hunt in growling bands,
While banshees wail with faces white as chalk.

All Winter, aging angels come and go;
Their molt blankets the frozen earth like snow.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

#202: November 11, 2006

Suzie Excusie would have been on time,
Except her daily planner skipped the date.
She would have called, but couldn't find a dime,
And anyway, she's hardly ever late.

Suzie Excusie would have called you back,
But vandals cut her phone line for a lark,
And also painted all her windows black,
So she dared not go out--she hates the dark.

Suzie Excusie meant to feed your fish
the way you asked her too--but then that night
The President told her his earnest wish
She leave at once for Greece, on the next flight!

Suzie Excusie wonders where you've been.
Why don't you call her? She thought you were friends!

Friday, November 10, 2006

#201: November 10, 2006

The human hearts in jars began to beat
in Dr. Stein's laboratory last night,
with no pipes, electrodes, nor eerie lights--
just formaldehyde and rhythmic, pumping meat.

Sensing a miracle the doctor rose,
returning moments later with his wife
who gasped and sputtered, "Herbert, is it life?"
To which her husband shrugged and said, "Who knows?

"They cannot reproduce--they lack the parts--
and without bodies, where have their souls gone?
With no minds, how to query their intent?"
And so the baffled couple watched the hearts
pulsing unhurriedly until the dawn,
uneasily unsure of what it meant.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

#200: November 9, 2006

You should have seen the look on your mom's face
the moment she first touched your crowning head,
as you pushed your way into the world, and spread
the veil between her womb and sight, like lace
over a window, drawn and then--so bright!
Both in her eyes and bursting from her skin,
a radiance of love she'd stored within
and then, opened by you, shone forth her light.

And standing in that glow, with its gold rays
dazzling and nearly blinding me, I heard
your voice and saw you lifted, pale and wet,
and trailing clouds of glory--so amazed,
I wept, and spoke entranced a single word
whose sound and import terrify me yet.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

#199: November 8, 2006

Down in Cray Wood an ancient black oak grows
And stretches spindly fingers toward the sky;
In Autumn, when its limbs are bare and dry,
It sounds like rattling bones when the wind blows.
Leaves flutter like dark moths around its feet
And moonlight pools like water round its toes;
Mist rises from the damp earth, twists and flows
Through spaces where the light and shadows meet.
And some nights, when the fog sits on the peat
And the old moon hides itself, wherever it goes
When spirits walk, you just might hear the cry
Of owls, or ghosts long dead, while the cold beat
Of hearts unbodied pulses past to fly
Out toward what destination, no one knows.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

#198: November 7, 2006

I got up on the wrong side of the bed,
Quite literally--my forehead smashed the wall,
Caving the sheetrock. "Jesus Christ!" I said,
And stubbed my toe on moldings in the hall,

As though in punishment for blasphemy.
My throbbing toenail, scraggy and ingrown,
Snagged the carpet, and like a flesh Slinky™,
I tumbled down the stairs, bruised to the bone.

For a moment I lay still and tried to breathe,
My eye gouged on my dislocated thumb,
Awake just moments--I could not believe
The Three Stooges film my life had become.

I limped to my bedroom, put on my clothes,
And while shaving, sneezed and sliced off my nose.

Monday, November 06, 2006

#197: November 6, 2006

My son, forgive me--however I'm screwing
you up, I swear it's not the way I meant
to do it. I just don't know what I'm doing,
nor can I judge results from my intent.

Each day in horror I can see you growing
higher up, older, further from me too;
It kills me that I've got no way of knowing
what my failures and faults will do to you.

When you're a man, and I have watched you living
the way you've learned to live by watching me
for years, I hope that you will be forgiving
and know I wasn't all I'd hoped I'd be.

I'm sorry, son--please don't despise your dad,
who never could have dreamed he'd be this bad.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

#196: November 5, 2006

O Lords of Nature, shield this fresh-flung seed
From strangling rains and fierce, germ-scattering wind!
Give these young roots the footholds they will need
So I won't have to fertilize again.

Nurture these seedlings, let their blades unfurl
Green banners in my battle for this earth.
Under this dirt I've hauled, let tendrils curl
And wrap my yard in verdant, springy turf.

Let no erosion wash away this grass!
Three weekends' labor lies upon yon slope.
I'd hate to think that I'd busted my ass
For nothing--so, ye gods, fulfill my hope!

You safeguard Nature's blessing--please bestow it
And grant me peace...until I have to mow it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

#195: November 4, 2006

Don't say the word "forgive." Don't even breathe
if you intend to give voice to the thought.
It's worse than pointless; how can you believe
my mercy could at any price be bought?

Would you request the dying man forgive
the serpent who put venom in his veins?
Or the broken prisoner who's condemned to live
forever bound, the maker of his chains?

It burdens me, this hate--its bitter taste
that always taints the sweetness on my tongue
and lays even the smallest joys to waste
so that, like soldiers, dreams die hard and young.

And yet I cannot slough it off, nor yet
can I forgive, while I cannot forget.

Friday, November 03, 2006

#194: November 3, 2006

I like to think of you laid on the bed,
on crumpled linen, as if just tumbled there;
recumbent, unselfconscious, flushed and bare,
your pulse the ocean pounding in your head.
I love to draw the organs of my sight
along your ribs, your breasts, your naked feet,
with the essence of us trickling to the sheet
between your thighs and drying there; I might
compare you to a goddess couched in air,
an Aphrodite spent and sweating light;
But that's not how I think of things. Instead
I want you solid, mortal, with your hair
all mussed; groggy with lust, legs sore and spread,
immodest, messy, imperfect--and right.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

#193: November 2, 2006

I don't know what to tell you. It's not there.
I've turned the taps, but water will not flow.
It's not that I'm lazy or I don't care;
I do--but where it's gone, I just don't know.

Maybe I need to exercise my mind,
Think more, and deeper; read philosophy
Instead of children's books. Then I might find
A theme to answer these sad quandaries.

No need to read further--just skip ahead,
or else look back. I'm just filling up space.
As soon as this is done I'll go to bed
And hope tomorrow will correct this waste.

My apologies. Now I'm almost done.
Come back tomorrow for a better one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

#192: November 1, 2006

I found a hole that was almost my size
and so I laid me down a while to rest.
I pulled the dark brown earth up to my chest
like a blanket, then I yawned and closed my eyes.

I didn't mean to stay--but soon the sound
of wind through weeds enervated my brain,
and when I thought to stir myself again
I'd sunk too far into this hungry ground.

Maybe somewhere above me flowers bloom,
and mother birds feed hatchlings in the tree
whose leaves cover this man-shaped patch of grass
where now I lie, immobile and entombed,
dreaming that, someday, travellers who pass
might stop and wonder what became of me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

#191: October 31, 2006

They prowl the darkened roadways like a plague,
all teeth and hair and indistinct contours
obscured by mists that roll in off the moors
so that only their intent is not vague--

Their tattered robes and ruined faces tell
of difficulties faced and hardships braved
like fiends that dragged themselves from ancient graves
to make your neighborhood a living hell--

You well may lock your doors and turn your keys,
but nothing will dissuade them from their haunt,
unless you give the fiends just what they want
and hope they'll grant you merciful release--

They're coming through the yard and up the street!
They're clawing at your door now--Trick or Treat!

Monday, October 30, 2006

#190: October 30, 2006

"I had him stuffed and placed him in the hall
above the fireplace. See--there he hangs.
His glass eyes catch the fire, the dagger fangs
polished and bared. Hm? No, man, not at all!
I like to tell the tale. I show his head
each chance I get. Mark you the silver coat,
hairs tipped with black, like quills. And near the throat,
my bullet hole. One shot! And he was dead.

"What's that? Oh yes, it's true about the moon.
It's well you visited me on this date;
you get to see him in his trophy state.
Talking of which--we'd best get upstairs soon.

"It's nearly dawn. Let's leave him while we can.
You wouldn't want to see him as a man."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

#189: October 29, 2006

My brother came roaring into the yard
at such a speed I'd never seen before--
standing above the seat, legs pumping hard,
and only me between him and the door;

I shuffled right--my brother turned the bars;
then left--he jerked them back, a devil's dance;
and then the impact--breathlessness and stars;
blood stained my shirt, and more than mud my pants;

Ron tells the story still: "an accident."
He tried to dodge, but I fled in his way.
Bad luck, sure, but no malicious intent;
We were just kids--such happens every day.

He laughs--too much, I think--voices insist
that part of him is sorry that he missed.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

#188: October 28, 2006

No time tonight, so this one's going to suck.
You might have come here hoping for a gem,
But this is not going to be one of them,
So if you hoped that--sorry, no such luck.

Blood from a stone or turnip will not come,
and you can't milk a fish; best not to try.
There will be music again by and by,
But now the strings of Orpheus' lyre are dumb.

Habit can do a lot, but just so much;
The rest is magic, or perhaps a spell
Of the spiritual sort--so who can tell
When he may not be visited by such?

If it's ninety-nine percent perspiration,
You still need just a little inspiration.

Friday, October 27, 2006

#187: October 27, 2006

There's something making noises in the sink.
I hear it when I go to bed at night.
It seems no sooner I've put out the light
Than I hear that sick scratch, and clinky-clink!

Sometimes I never even sleep a wink
For nightmares of what's crawling up that drain:
A snake of matted hair, or something plain--
A severed baby's finger, pruned and pink...

My mouth goes dry, but I can't get a drink;
Instead I keep the covers pulled up tight
Until exhaustion overcomes my brain.
It might be nothing; then again, it might
Be something fit to make me go insane!
How will it end? I scarcely like to think--

Thursday, October 26, 2006

#186: October 26, 2006

I guess I want to tell you you were right.
I would have taken any chance I got;
and whether it were done for love or not,
the difference to me then would have been slight.

I claimed I was in love--and that was true,
the way you only are when it's your first:
amazed, inflamed, drunk and yet dying of thirst
not quenched by paltry words like "Love you too."

So I was mean and stupid with desire...
But think of this: as leaves turn gray and bland
after a brilliant fall, so too the hand
of memory paints the past in swaths of fire;

Our chances to be that special are few.
Just think of it, now--it could have been you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

#185: October 25, 2006

O brew me up a batch of bitter beer;
Distill me whiskey from your sourest corn;
Stomp wine from grapes too early in the year,
And serve it to me straight--I am forlorn.

My ankles swell, my stomach gives me pain,
My nerves are dull, all sense begins to fail;
And bitter thoughts entirely rule my brain,
So quick with that new wine, moonshine, and ale.

The beer is medicine for aching joints;
The whiskey cleans the pipes and fires the blood;
The wine invigorates heads it anoints
And makes life's mysteries well understood.

Let me be drunk on bitterness and bile,
And turn it thus to sweetness--for a while.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

#184: October 24, 2006

Say something sweet to me before I go;
Say my love's sweet as candy wrapped in cake,
it's yummy as chocolate chip cookie dough--
and tell me quick, while I am still awake;

Compare my smile to strawberry ice cream,
and my kisses to rows of candied dates;
my voice spun sugar, airy as a dream--
and do it now, before it is too late;

My dear, these days are sour and malformed;
it's cold, and soon enough we will be dead.
Let's have our love perfect, sugared and warm--
write icing vows on hearts of gingerbread;

Though life be cruel, no matter how it hurts--
let's give each other, love, our just desserts.

Monday, October 23, 2006

#183: October 23, 2006

I've been a fool who leaped into the air
convinced that he could fly; my wings were strong,
my feathers well-ordered--but I was wrong,
and broken bones rewarded my bold dare.

I've been a simpleton who set to sail
in washtubs, searching for a paradise
of palm and honey--it was bad advice:
half-drowned, I learned only new ways to fail.

I've sought to break my orbit of this sphere,
but gravity has bound me tight as rope;
I've loaded rocketships with little hope
of liftoff, while I counted down in fear--

But through a little window stars have danced
on velvet...and I think I've got a chance.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

#182: October 22, 2006

The next day Paul's gravestone had fallen down,
the granite split on that rain-sodden lawn
as by a thunderbolt. The new dig yawned,
a manhole-sized black wound, all edged in brown.

McKee said grave robbers were sure to blame--
a clever lot, as he chose to believe,
who might thus tunnel down and so relieve
Paul of whatever jewels befit his fame

in death. But we all knew it wasn't true.
We'd heard the oaths Paul swore on Devil Hill
with wine running like fresh blood down his beard.
And we could see the tracks the mud held still:
one set, leading away. And so we knew
his vengeance would be worse than we had feared.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

#181: October 21, 2006

I'm standing at the bottom of the stairs;
I see your bedroom door open a crack.
No one can stop me now, for no one dares:
You've got my toe, and now I want it back.

The grave rot rolls off my corpse like a fog
over my tattered clothes, all brown and black;
It wasn't easy climbing out the bog,
But you've got my toe, and now I want it back!

You thought it just a keepsake or a bone
You could display as a macabre knick-nack;
You didn't know I'd come out of my grave
To find you shivering, frightened, all alone
Under your sheets. Now you cannot be saved.
You've got my toe, young man--I WANT IT BACK!

Friday, October 20, 2006

#180: October 20, 2006

His patients called the dentist Dr. Smiles.
A more sadistic man ne'er ran a drill.
From his office the cries rang out for miles;
his waiting room was full, quiet, and still.

He'd knock out crooked teeth and overbites
with hammers, chisel roots while patients screamed.
Later, mouths full of even, pearly whites,
they claimed it not quite as bad as it seemed.

But for the doctor no excuse would do:
"Of course it's torture without novacaine!
But joys bought cheaply are held loosely too,
and beauty's trash if not purchased with pain."

Those who sat in his chair never returned,
nor had to--their straight smiles had been well earned.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

#179: October 19, 2006

I don't feel like I've used my brain so much
these last ten years. Not like when I was young.
Things vanish right off the end of my tongue:
birthdays, names, anniversiaries and such.

I don't spend time on philosophic dreams;
few ethical conundrums seize my mind.
Sometimes I feel I've just been flying blind
one day to next, with no stops in between.

Perhaps I once considered my own thoughts,
believed beliefs, held certain meanings deep--
but now I walk through life as though asleep,
my brain tied up in unsolvable knots,

My self subsumed in routine, hypnotized,
and dying, dead, before I realized.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

#178: October 18, 2006

The door burst open like a storm, and Stag
blew in. Bill Delisle stood up, like he knew.
No words--belly to throat the blade sliced through;
Mr. Lee unzipped old Bill just like a bag.

Bill gasped and stared down, clutching at his gut
with bloodied hands. The barroom was so still,
I heard the suck and slip of innards spill
through gaping flesh poor Bill could not hold shut.

And whether it was money or a girl
or some point of twisted honor caused the fight,
we didn't know, nor did it matter then.
But what I can't forget about that night
is the sudden calm between those angry men
as one of them slipped off this evil world.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#177: October 17, 2006

One day I'll tuck my hands behind my head,
Put my feet up, exec-style, on my desk;
Leave the voice-mail's blinking eye angry and red,
Turn my screen saver on and get some rest;

One day I'll just lean back and close my eyes
And shuffle off to Dreamland for a while;
Let coworkers debate the whats and whys
Behind my sleepy Bartleby-esque smile;

Perhaps my beard will grow down to the floor,
My fingernails curl like a ribbon's tail,
My PC obselesce while I just snore,
The company bankrupt, the markets fail--

And one day I'll wake up, and stretch, and stand,
And step into a more exciting land.

Monday, October 16, 2006

#176: October 16, 2006

Like Mithridates I've drunk poison straight
to steel my guts against life's miseries;
I've meditated on ignobe fate,
pre-tasted pain, sampled calamities;

It's pulled my eyebrows down, and lined my cheeks
around the corners of accustomed frowns;
it's fixed my eyes asquint, so that for weeks
sometimes I see no colors, only browns.

Maybe it's made me strong--but now I find
my tongue's so burned with vinegar and bile
it's hard to taste the sweets, and to my mind
it's easier to grimace than to smile.

With curses simpler than a prayer to speak,
I wonder if it's better to be weak.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

#175: October 15, 2006

The cats are yowling on the churchyard fence,
their eyes like yellow lanterns o'er the gate;
And anyone who had a lick of sense
would be on his way home--it's getting late.

The bats are circling there like windblown leaves
before the thunderstorm; the autumn moon
becomes a jewel of blood. No one believes
the dead are restful now, or will be soon.

The steeple clock tolls like a funeral bell
and on the path twigs snap where no man treads;
the tombstones stretch like angels out of Hell
and shadows flutter wraith-like round their heads.

So shut your eyes and hold your breath and pray
for one more hour, and dawn, and All Saints' Day.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

#174: October 14, 2006

Don't ever go to dig on old Bone Hill,
no matter what you hear 'bout buried gold.
There's things crawled through that soil ten centuries old
that, certain autumn nights, may crawl there still.

Strange voices down valley now and then
roll out from Bone Hill's foot like roaring waves;
their owners rest uneasy in their graves
below--their ghosts are not the ghosts of men.

So if you ever go there with your spade
to turn that cursèd earth for riches' sake,
first let the priest say rites over your head.
For in Bone Hill they're angry and awake,
and do not care whether you are afraid
or not--these nameless, ever-watching dead.

Friday, October 13, 2006

#173: October 13, 2006

I'll start this thing when I feel good and ready,
So just hold on, try not to wet your pants.
The race goes to the tortoise, slow and steady,
And not the hare--now just give me a chance.

A few deep breaths--one in, one out, and ahhh!
Yeah, that's the stuff. Some stretches--one, two, three...
(I should have had that massage at the spa;
My muscles are like knots--feel 'em and see.

Okay: we're counting down t-minus zero!
So shut your eyes and slowly count to ten.
I'm psyched--I feel just like a superhero
All set to save the world...All righty then:

Now turn me loose! I'm chomping at the bit!
It's time to start this sonnet!

                                                      Say what?
           
                                                                           Well, shit.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

#172: October 12, 2006

You'll miss me when I'm gone--you'll turn around,
searching the chairs and corners of the room,
But I'll have disappeared like a new moon
Inside a starless night. I won't be found
Out on the porch, a beer popped in my hand,
Nor in the workshed cursing at my tools
For small betrayals; nor hid among the ghouls
And witches trick-or-treating. Understand
That once I've gone, there'll be no finding me,
However long you call my name or weep.
Lack of success will wear down your resolve;
You'll have to give me up eventually--
Except perhaps at night when you're asleep
And mysteries are easier to solve.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

#171: October 11, 2006

The Hearse Men came the night my father died.
I saw them from the window on the drive:
their wagon black, stained velvet draped its sides,
and two black horses, more dead than alive.

Six men fell out in old coats and top hats,
then scrambled in the house on spider limbs.
Their eyes shone in the moonlight like a cat's.
They took my father's corpse and left with him.

I ran downstairs to see what they had done
and found my father resting in his bed.
He smiled at me, the fever in his cheeks.
My mother clutched her rosary like a nun.
It was the best he'd looked in many weeks.
In less than two hours the man was dead.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

#170: October 10, 2006

She never leaves the house--she stays shut in
among her clocks and oriental rugs;
The light through dusty drapes falls sick and thin,
while shadows flit along the floor like bugs.

Each lonely hour her prized grandfather chimes,
a sound more like mad laughter than like bells;
In Fall the house is damp with mold--sometimes
the wood floor sounds like screaming as it swells.

And still she sits folded in antique chairs,
or else she paces hallways in the night,
nursing the candle flame like her own shade;
And no one comes to see if she's all right,
and dark things curl and skitter on the stairs,
and the moonlight cuts right through her like a blade.

Monday, October 09, 2006

#169: October 9, 2006

Analphabetic acts all out of school;
Benighted buggers bustling by the bay;
Decrepit crim'nals, crooked, cramped, and cruel,
Forever found freeloading--what the hey?

Gangrenous goblins gobbling Goebbels's guns,
Heaving a heavy hamster out the door;
The jammy jack-of-all-trades gyps the nuns,
And no one comes to visit anymore.

Nonsensical sensationalized sense
Passed off as poetry, but where's the good?
Republicans lather, repeat, and rinse,
And Democrats do not, although they should.

I picked this peck of purple prose for you--
No need for thanks--your silent awe will do.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

#168: October 8, 2006

She got it done the day she turned eighteen
with money she'd skimmed off her parents' change
from errands to the grocery store. Not strange,
then, that she'd want this branding to be seen
only by those allowed. A special mark
and secret, hidden from a curious world
who'd never guess this quiet little girl
was something dangerous there in the dark.

And so she went to college; grades were good.
She haunted the library most weekends--
papers to write and other things to do.
She was thought bookish by most of her friends;
but lonely nights in her dorm room she stood
naked before her mirror, and she knew.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

#167: October 7, 2006

What made me think I was the one for this?
What momentary madness seized my brain?
I must have lost my mind. I can't explain
This monumental study in hubris.

I have no talent for it; nor have I
The patience I would need to find a way.
I don't know what to do, nor what to say,
Nor how to go about it. Well, then, why?

Too many fairy tales, I guess, where kings
Were made from beggars stupid and unlearned
But bold enough to try--and thus they earned
A happy ending, among other things.

But I'm a frog, no prince, and I have found
To date no fairy godmothers around.

Friday, October 06, 2006

#166: October 6, 2006

I want to do things that are bad for me
and damn the consequences! Tip my hat
to doctors--thanks, but no thanks--and feel free
to bathe my arteries in more trans-fat.

Maybe I'll take up smoking, drink too much,
and never exercise or go outside;
stop brushing teeth, use junk food as a crutch,
and get one of those cute scooters to ride.

I'm so damn tired of looking at labels
and using measuring cups to dish my meals--
feed me more of your organic fables,
I'll show you how a pressed garlic clove feels!

But I've got kids, and premiums to pay,
so I'll be good--at least for one more day.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

#165: October 5, 2006

Because of my bad dreams I lie awake
in bed and toss my sheets until the light
oozes like honey through the drapes, and Night,
dispelled, slinks darkly westward like a snake.
All through the day a feeling I can't shake
enshrouds my foggy brain like linen gauze--
uneasiness without obvious cause,
not lessened by what catnaps I might take.
For when I sleep, my bedroom windows quake
and shades with spider legs and tiger claws
crawl over creaking floorboards fit to break
under their weight; they draw up to their height
to smack their slavering lips and stretch their jaws--
then I wake up, my hair and knuckles white.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

#164: October 4, 2006

On Mount Leblanc, the Indian lit his smoke
and flames painted the flat planes of his cheeks
as red as blood. I'd camped with him for weeks
and found him silent. Now at last he spoke:

"Beware the night the wind howls like a beast,
but no leaf stirs nor maple bends its branch!
The Wendigo roars like an avalanche,
and calls your name! For once the storm has ceased,
you'll feel the blood a-boiling in your feet--
O fiery feet! O burning feet of fire!--
and run through snow and over frozen stream,
leaping and bounding, faster, ever higher,
till both your legs are ashes, and the heat
transforms your watery soul to clouds of steam."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

#163: October 3, 2006

The smell of damp earth swept into the room
and covered the two sleepers with its scent.
Silently one arose, got dressed, and went
down the back hotel stairs into the gloom.

At length his roommate also came awake
and rushing to the window soon espied
two figures on the rustic path outside
between the hotel and the mountain lake.

And even from that distance he could see
the moonlight glowing in her demon's eyes,
her teeth bared like a serpent's o'er the head
of his companion--and before his cries
had roused the inn, the sleepwalker lay dead,
his killer fled to immortality.

Monday, October 02, 2006

#162: October 2, 2006

Why should we drug ourselves into unreason,
Watch unnatural colors twist and fade,
But that our eyes can't take another season
Of natural hues so stolid, dull, and staid?

Why should we drink ourselves to nightly blindness,
And so shut all sensation from our brains,
But that reality favors the mindless
And only the insensate have no pains?

Why should we shun the world before our noses,
Replace it with a false but pleasing ruse,
But that we know the bloom is off the roses
And such a sense is nothing great to lose?

There's Truth in wine, I've heard my elders say;
There's not, though--and I like it best that way.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

#161: October 1, 2006

A beggar met a gentleman one day
Between the castle and the Channel piers.
His Lordship stopped him to inquire the way
And thus allay his Lady's travelling fears.

The beggar wore a coat of tattered rag
All caked with filth and spotted by the rain;
Old age had made his features twist and sag,
And he breathed raggedly, as if in pain.

The gentleman repeated his request;
The beggar stared, and answer made he none,
But put his hand upon his Lordship's chest,
Moaned piteously, and like a mist was gone.

The Lord laughed to his Lady, seeming brave,
But slept a fortnight later in his grave.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

#160: September 30, 2006

I admit tonight I feel a little groggy--
There's no use pretending it isn't true;
My eyes are red, my brain's a little foggy--
Three afternoon beers will do that to you.

So poetry's not foremost on my noggin
Tonight, and for that I apologize;
Fatigue and stress and alcohol is cloggin'
The pathways I traverse when cracking wise.

I had my reasons for getting all buzzy
So long before the sun sank in the west;
No poet always makes a gem, now does he?
He hopes you'll skip his worst, and read his best.

The muses who refuse us will return;
Meanwhile let Bacchus smack us with his urn.

Friday, September 29, 2006

#159: September 29, 2006

When Everything is better, we can sit
Just quietly and watch the sun go down;
We'll smile and play pinochle quite a bit,
And never have a good reason to frown.

When Everything is perfect, we can play
Piano for an after-dinner song
And never fight, nor fuss the day away;
We'll all hold hands and proudly sing along.

When Everything is settled, we're all friends,
And everyone's as happy as can be,
We'll hold no grudges, never make amends,
And revel in the peaceful company.

We'll seldom raise our voices, never shout--
But I don't know what the hell we'll talk about.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

#158: September 28, 2006

From what I know about the human heart,
it must be made of something malleable:
pliant when young, springy (at least in part),
supple, elastic--sadly fallible.

From what I know about the human brain,
it must be made of somewhat firmer stuff,
so facts and figures etched in will remain
forever, so long as there's room enough.

And yet as I get old, a paradox:
things graven on my memory disappear
like words from wind-worn, ancient desert rocks,
getting fainter and fainter year by year;

Yet my love, writ on water, somehow stays--
miraculously, magically, always.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

#157: September 27, 2006

Down by the stream where Maddie used to play
the field mice forage wild acorn and seed,
while bullfrogs nestle wetly in red clay
and wildflowers shiver where hummingbirds feed.

Three coins glimmer beneath the shallow waves
where tiny fingers pressed them years gone by,
and like a revenant crawling from its grave
a buried doll's arm reaches toward the sky.

Not far away the old house, crowned with leaves,
peers out cracked windows on a weed-choked lawn,
and nothing but the wind through rain-warped eaves
could tell you who lived there, or why they've gone.

All night down by the stream the bullfrogs call
their lovers, and the darkness covers all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

#156: September 26, 2006

All things not moving forward start to sink,
sometimes by weight of inertia alone;
they're swallowed just as sure as any stone,
though sometimes not as quickly as you'd think--

It might take years to reach that final deep
where quicksand sloshes over mouth and nose
and fruitless struggles bubble to a close
with no one standing by, even to weep.

It's hard to gain momentum back, once lost,
with no vines hanging low enough to grasp
and ankle-deep mud sucking at your boots,
reminding you of streams you never crossed
before your feet stuck here as firm as roots,
so quick you hadn't even time to gasp.

Monday, September 25, 2006

#155: September 25, 2006

Turn off the lights we used to study by
and lock the books in their glass-fronted shelves;
keep literature and poetry to yourselves,
and let Nothing offend the heart and eye.

Let microscopes and glass slides gather dust
and store experiments each in its place;
stop pointing telescopes at outer space,
for Nothing out there's worthy of our trust.

Shut universities, empty the schools,
Put bars across every library door,
and turn the erstwhile students out to play;
For now the earth's inherited by fools,
who will not hear what Reason has to say,
and Nothing really matters anymore.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

#154: September 24, 2006

Once in a while the quality of light
around us shifts, and suddenly the hues
that just moments ago had seemed so bright
are siphoned of their brilliance. Petals lose
their kinship with the blood, and fields once green
turn drab and sallow. Blue sky drains to gray,
and nothing in which beauty has been seen
retains its color. While I cannot say
whether the change happens before the eye
or behind it, I wonder, when it goes
and everything returns to its true shade,
do those primary and tertiary glows
come back as strong? Or when those colors fade,
does part of our perception also die?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

#153: September 23, 2006

It's like, you know, that thing that someone said
one time before we went out to the bar--
something to do with circuses and bread...
I can't remember. Where'd we park the car?

I am so drunk. Oh yeah, the point of it
was how we don't consider what we do
because we get distracted by the--shit!
How long's this paper been stuck to my shoe?

So wait, this is important: we don't think
about the stuff that really makes us tick;
instead we entertain ourselves and drink
until--hang on, I feel a little sick...

Hey, there it is! Thank God. What did you say?
Ha ha guys, real mature. I'm so not gay.

Friday, September 22, 2006

#152: September 22, 2006

Just turn me loose and maybe I'll come back--
but keep me here and I'll be sure to roam;
some ropes cut tightest when the knot goes slack,
and sometimes foreign countries feel like home.

If you can prop me up I'll give you strength,
but lean on me and we're both bound to fall;
some journeys can't be measured by their length,
and some folks travel fastest when they crawl.

Tell me a story, but don't make it true--
I never can believe such tales as those;
Say someone loves me, but don't say it's you,
the less you feed this thing, the more it grows.

Just 'cause something's a fact don't make it right;
it's sun-up now, my love: kiss me goodnight.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

#151: September 21, 2006

The story's often told about the snake
who befriended a frog to hitch a ride,
and doomed them both halfway across the lake--
his snakiness just could not be denied.

Likewise the scorpion wooed the ladybug
and promised her he'd still his murderous tail,
yet killed his love, and with a mournful shrug
Proved proofs against his nature bound to fail.

Just so am I, who, though I try my best,
can't stop offending those I long to please;
Though I grind teeth and pound upon my chest,
the beast inside always wins his release.

I'm not trying to be an ass, you see--
it's just some things come naturally to me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

#150: September 20, 2006

Empty out all the books--crack all their spines
and shake until the pages dance like leaves
in autumn winds; rattle them till the lines
break regimental ranks. Roll up your sleeves

and toss the paragraphs into a tilt,
make punctuation spin like weathervanes
till sentences like wasted wine are spilt
into the carpet, leaving awful stains.

Impose chaos on order like a god
and don't stop till the pages all show white
as swaddling sheets--then with a stately nod
sit down, take up your quill, and start to write.

Just try to press the pen down hard and fast;
it's difficult to make these scribblings last.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

#149: September 19, 2006

After so long, the cool breeze on my skin
is sensuous and strange; new lovers sigh
like this, and coolly draw each other in,
tracing with smell as with another eye
the contours of themselves. So too the smell
of freshly sprouted leaf, green as its flesh,
comes to me now where all was burnt and sere
mere days ago--as if begun afresh,
the earth were building its new Eden here.

But this is fall, not spring, and so the growth
that bursts forth now is doomed as soon as born.
A false beginning, which promises both
birth and decay, evening after the morn.

Between the summer fire and winter freeze,
this bittersweet season, this autumn breeze--

Monday, September 18, 2006

#148: September 18, 2006

The Devil isn't hiding in my bed--
I've turned the mattress and torn up the sheets,
made sure it's solid at both foot and head,
and checked it all again, in case he cheats;

Neither is Old Scratch lurking in my books--
I've emptied shelves, ruffled the pages too,
pulled cases down to check for secret nooks,
even interrogated binding glue;

He's not in my TV--I checked the tube--
Nor magazines depicting today's style;
nor on the Internet (I'm not a noob)--
Satan.com's got no info worthwhile;

Whenever I go where they said he'd be,
There's never any Devil--only me.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

#147: September 17, 2006

To show his love, our father dug a pit
as deep as he could reasonably dig
and broad as our tiny backyard would fit
(no swimming pool nor basement was so big);

He filled it to its rim with broken glass
and rotting boards with nails jutting like teeth
rusty with plaque; scraps of polished snipped brass
concealed serrated tin-can lids beneath;

And finally when he had it all complete
he took us out and led us to the lip
of that torturous maw, whereat our feet
cramped, shaking, fearful of the smallest slip:

"I love you," Dad whispered, hands on our heads.
"Don't make me toss your asses in," he said.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

#146: September 16, 2006

I can't forget that night among the Tombs:
exhausted from a day pressing the sands
with blistered feet, my wind-raw face and hands
sun-cooked, and lacking any other rooms
I fell down in the shadows of the stones,
longer each moment. I ignored the words
etched in that sand-worn rock. Some carrion birds
who perched nearby scrabbled for ancient bones.

And whether in my fitful desert dreams
or else in truth, all night I heard a voice
like thunder down a well, that roared in pain
or vicious anger--such inhuman screams
I might well have gone mad, had not the noise
stopped like a breath once sunlight shone again.

Friday, September 15, 2006

#145: September 15, 2006

The zombie pulls himself out of his grave
and stands, a rotting husk against the night;
But no abandoned house, no island rave,
Nor shopping mall arrests his failing sight.

He sniffs vacant boulevards hungrily
and lunges toward a cat he cannot catch.
A squirrel perhaps? He cannot climb a tree;
The chattering rodents are more than his match.

No teenagers cavorting on the stones;
No graverobbers to fall under his teeth.
No satanists--he's withered and alone
As any three-week old memorial wreath.

He's hungry, has no victims, and he stinks;
"Things sure ain't like they used to be," he thinks.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

#144: September 14, 2006

Two polar bears sitting on spring-green hills
look up at constellations shaped like hearts;
nearby my lover shows her collage skills--
cut flowers and butterflies comprise the parts.

White paper folded width-wise happens next,
inscribed in thick-spread crayon "for my Dad";
and then another card devoid of text,
hand-painted--for a two-year-old, not bad.

Then photographs--my little Thea Rose
just bloomed, minutes old, pinking in cool air;
Young Will straddling a mountain--what a pose!--
surveys the lowlands with a conqueror's flair.

And you--your tulip smile and solar face
make this gray cube not quite so bad a place.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

#143: September 13, 2006

To make a friend is easy: you just say
your name, shake hands, make small talk for a while,
discover common interests, exchange smiles,
and make a date to meet again next day.

It's keeping friends that's tricky. Life's not slow,
and objects not held tightly will get thrown.
Distance and time separate, or unknown
offenses turn our comrades into foes.

It takes an effort--which is why I'm glad
that through the years you never loosed my hand
when my grip faltered; now I understand
what rescued riches I might not have had.

I thank you now for such tenacity.
May all your friends be more like you than me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

#142: September 12, 2006

There's chicken on the grill for those that want it;
there's ears of corn and baked potatoes too.
I ain't fat! If you got it, why not flaunt it?
You wish your swimsuit looked this good on you!

Hot dogs, burgers--come on and eat your fill, folks!
(Well howdy, Pastor. Pull you up a chair.)
Get seconds--you don't eat it, no one will, folks!
And waste's a sin; just ask the preacher there.

What, Gluttony? Now let's not get medieval.
Those monks had way too much time on their hands,
categorizing seven kinds of evil.
But eating evil? I don't understand.

If God didn't want folks to overeat,
why'd he make all the critters out of meat?

Monday, September 11, 2006

#141: September 11, 2006

She went to work in 1943
in California shipyards by the bay.
The Navy steel sang like the memory
of her young husband, half the world away.

But ringing hulls could not quiet the dreams
of ships like those she worked on all ablaze:
the whine of Zeros over sailors' screams,
the enemy sun ringed in blood-red rays.

Later, she'd have believed she'd seen it all
with sixty years between her and that shore;
till Tuesday, when she watched the Towers fall,
and smoke blacked out the sun like clouds of war.

The tears and fire and blood that she saw then,
she'd hoped she'd never live to see again.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

#140: September 10, 2006

There lived a wizard once beside the sea,
not long ago nor very far away.
He was the finest wizard he could be
(though such was none too fine, I have to say).

He'd call small waves to pull sandcastles down,
and rains to dampen picnics on his beach;
though some say he once made a poodle drown,
such magic was, in fact, beyond his reach.

His shack was built of driftwood and whalebone
and trimmed with golden scales and spiral shells.
For many years he lived there all alone,
reading his books and practicing his spells.

He died a happy sorceror, and sleeps
cradled in his beloved briny deeps.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

#139: September 9, 2006

Do not tell me the truth! Are you insane?
Nobody wants that in this day and age.
Tell me something that justifies my pain;
Make me a lie that feeds my righteous rage.

You think because I ask, I want to know?
Our questions now are all rhetorical;
Prejudgement's quick, and wisdom is so slow--
thought's easiest when categorical.

Tell me what I already think is right;
Confirm the things I always have believed.
Let me sleep soundly in my bed at night,
assured in prejudice, my guilt relieved.

Honesty's not as noble as you make it--
although it's useful to learn how to fake it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

#138: September 8, 2006

"Hey, babe--I got something you'll want to see,
but if I show, you got to show me yours!
It's stiffer than the drinks this barkeep pours!
That's funny, right? Aw, c'mon, talk to me..."

...

"You come here much? I think I might recall
a beauty of your 'caliber,' now Hon.
Can you help me cock and load my Love Gun?
Hey, I'm just playin'--can I give you a call?"

...

"Man, dead tonight--well hi there, little lamb.
S'a mirror in your pocket there, perchance?
Cause I can sure see myself in your pants!
Ow! Hey, no need for violence, baby! Damn!"

...

"Hey dude, let's split. Ain't nothing going right.
How's I supposed to know it's lesbo night?"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

#137: September 7, 2006

A little goblin lives under my chair
and pinches me when Mommy says "Be still!"
At quiet time in school he pulls my hair
and forces me to talk against my will.

In church he sticks his horns up through the pew
and hurts me so I just can't keep my seat.
While Baby's napping he slips off my shoe
and makes me wake her, tickling my feet.

If it weren't for that impish little sprite
who gooses till I'm jumping like a flea,
I'd be so good--I'd do everything right!
My folks would wonder what's become of me.

But he's still down there, waiting for his chance
to jab me with his claws, and make me dance.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

#136: September 6, 2006

The fire does not go out--not though the coals
consume their skins and don a coat of ash
as gray as boredom; not though the pop and flash
of that initial heat that sparked our souls
to conflagration sputter down and fade
to silent smoke, where once the roar of flame
had driven us to frenzy; though we blame
these bellies loosened, those dark hairs now grayed.
My love, we've spent our fuel in prior days;
we've burned green wood and thrown up such a cloud
it blinded us past reason, care, and doubt.
To burn long at such heat is not allowed.
Though we burn low, the fire does not go out.
One breath: the cinder sets the world ablaze.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

#135: September 5, 2006

Just what's the fucking point of all this crap?
I'm getting hoarse shouting into the void
to no echo--I'm also quite annoyed
that now it seems I fell into the trap
of counting myself better than I am,
smarter, with enough talent to succeed
where others toil in vain. It's vain indeed--
the truth is, if my words were worth a damn,
if anything I said was worth the ink
I spill giving it form, that now and then
I'd get a glimmer, sparks to give me strength.
But no--I scream and cry until at length
it's clear things aren't so hopeful as I think.
And while I keep shouting, my voice gets thin.

Monday, September 04, 2006

#134: September 4, 2006

The pods are raining down from outer space--
their fiery tails trace atmospheric burn;
thousands of extraterrestrial sperm
ejaculate from their moon-shadowed base
aimed at our egg-like Earth. They pierce the land
and from the smoking holes sprout purple roots;
leaves like ships' sails spring from skyscraping shoots
topped with onion-shaped bulbs. This phallic gland
emits a perfume never smelled before
by earthly insects--an ammonioid scent
spiked with ozone. Whatever beast it's meant
to lure is one our planet never bore.
No green thumbs among this invasive horde,
lucky for us. Back to the drawing board.

This sonnet appeared in the print publication Dreams & Nightmares #82.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

#133: September 3, 2006

Take up this bloody stone and mark the heft
of it; notice its finger-curling weight,
as suited to the right hand as the left--
you see? Now drop it, before it's too late.

That rock has been the death of twenty men.
You may well laugh, but I tell you the truth.
Ask Penny Hinson or her sister, then;
their widow's weeds should furnish you the proof.

Some objects, fit so perfectly to task,
compel the use for which they seem designed.
This stone's function is murder. Do not ask
why it is so. As well to seek God's mind

for what He meant when He shunned bloody Cain,
or marked mankind for its eternal pain.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

#132: September 2, 2006

The little man edges out of the wood
and knocks the dry clods off his hobnail boots
just as the sun becomes an orb of blood
and creeping shadows blanket the gnarled roots;

His road-worn coat has holes in the elbows;
his tattered trousers mud-caked as his shoes.
Burst vessels spiderweb his swollen nose;
his face, once jolly, darkens like a bruise.

The bottle in his fist helps him forget
the shame and pain he's left, the stories told
about him in his former village yet:
how he, of all his kind, first lost their gold.

He spies the thief sleeping in his back yard,
fingers the knife and smiles--this won't be hard.

Friday, September 01, 2006

#131: September 1, 2006

A pack of savages rushing the goal,
Driving balls before them like frightened sheep;
Firing into the net, they fall and roll,
Exultant in the dance of sprint and leap.

Loosing barbaric yawps high-pitched and shrill
They stamp opponents' feet like they were flames;
To them, every direction is downhill.
Sidelined, I struggle to learn all their names.

Somehow I've got to harness this: to teach
Then how to dribble, show them where to stand,
What goal- and corner-kicks are, how to reach
For passes with their feet, not with their hands--

They charge me when I whistle for the ball;
I'm Rome, and they're the warriors of Gaul.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

#130: August 31, 2006

We like the Past because we know the way
it all turns out. We cannot be surprised
by unexpected twists, and traps disguised
in primrose lose capacity to sway.

With that, the Present simply can't compete;
the Unknown crouches, spider-silent, hid,
waiting to spring and drag us down amid
the bones of plans we never will complete.

Look back, the path is lovely, green, well-lit--
no shadows hiding monsters set to prey;
Ahead the dark repels the light of day
and could conceal an Eden, or the Pit;

The Hell of it is, there's no going back.
Shaking, we watch the Future fade from black.

#129: August 30, 2006

If I could find a stranger who would trade,
just for a while, I'd love to switch our ears
and listen for the differences it made,
find out if I hear things the way he hears--

I'd like to see things through another's eyes,
pop-and-swap with a woman or a girl,
view feminine sunsets, maternal skies,
and see if we're both seeing the same world--

I'd take another nose for smelling flowers,
another skin for touches to compare,
a different tongue to sample sweets and sours,
try out a new hairstyle, try on new hair--

So should I disappear without a trace,
look for me wearing someone else's face.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

#128: August 29, 2006

Sometime after the meeting's second break
my head tipped forward, and I felt the walls
expand like nightmare hallways; half-awake,
I tumbled like a barrel over falls

into black nothingness; fuzzy and warm,
no reference point for tracking my descent,
I floated, fetal, senseless to the form
my body took as down the hole I went.

Metamorphosed, my fingers spread to wings
leathered and clawed; horns sprouted from my head.
I felt beautiful, strong--bodies of kings
broke in my taloned feet...Then someone said
something about reports. The vision fell
and left me homesick for that other Hell.

Monday, August 28, 2006

#127: August 28, 2006

We kept the magazines under the bed,
flooring a box of comics like treasure
hid in vestries: our icons of pleasure
forbid, our saints of sin whose votives fed
our hungry eyes. We saw them naked, spread
like angels crucified, opened and speared
to teach us mysteries--such mists they cleared,
such veils lifted, like God showing His head.

We begged mercy from Diety we feared
no more than disappointed moms; we said
we'd quit those pagan paths, but always veered
astray again--raptured by that pressure
firing our loins like Pentecost, which led
back toward a glossy heaven no less sure.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

#126: August 27, 2006

The door's been locked for over fifty years,
and boards warped over windows shut out light
like fingers meshed to shield her from a sight
that, admitted, would demand screams or tears.
Cobwebs, of course, adorn like Spanish lace
the corners of these long-forsaken rooms;
but even those weavers have left their looms
dust-choked and still. The decades' damp embrace
springs mold on curtains, spots bedsheets like ink
and floods to sagging ceilings its dank smell
unsensed save by itself. A stale wind blows
through cellar doors and rises through the chinks
in floors. What else rises no one can tell,
and if a spirit walks here, no one knows.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

#125: August 26, 2006

Beginning's tough when there's nothing to say;
And, once begun, you have to follow through.
But you promised you would write one every day
And Goddammit, that's what you're going to do.

One stanza down--see? That wasn't so tough.
Almost halfway through, by my reckoning.
Pretty soon you'll have it written well enough
And you can go and do some other thing.

Like read a book, or have another beer,
Or both--why not? You've earned it, after all--
Creating out of nothing. It's quite clear
A reward is in order, before last call.

Nothing comes out of nothing, Shakespeare said.
This sonnet proves him wrong. Besides, he's dead.

Friday, August 25, 2006

#124: August 25, 2006

It's Friday, thank whatever gods you find
in this imperfect world, this fallen land,
this kingdom of the Boring and the Bland--
and let me out before I lose my mind.

I've sat here as long as I think I can;
I don't think I can sit a minute more.
My feet are both asleep, my ass is sore,
and I'm losing sensation in both my hands.

This typing-sitting-staring's for the birds--
let's frolic through the fields and shed our skins,
with forty-eight hours to indulge in sins
would leave our bosses blushing, lost for words.

Let's drink, fart, fuck, and howl at the full moon,
for Death and Monday morning come too soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

#123: August 24, 2006

I don't think I could walk down a white line;
No matter how sober, I'd fail that test.
Careening like a clown, I'd draw a fine
And get shamed in the papers with the rest.

I probably couldn't level my arms out
Like Jesus on the cross, bend my elbows
And prove sobriety that way. No doubt
I would inexplicably miss my nose.

Then, broke (I lost my day job in retail
For dumping coffee down the boss's back),
I couldn't pay, they'd take me off to jail,
For klutz-unfriendly judges cut no slack.

One of these days lack of coordination
Is going to lead to my incarceration.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

#122: August 23, 2006

Experimental viscous glowing goo
Dripping like whiskey from a moonshine still;
Convex lenses that offer up a view
Through veils of flesh to God's most secret will;

Something meaty is pulsing in a vat
Where electrodes spark on blue cadaver veins;
Arcane machinery squeals like a cat
And something in the dungeon shakes its chains;

The air is charged with static and mad dreams
As, on the brink of Immortality
The doctor grasps his lever, while the screams
of Reason
drown out cries of "Blasphemy!"

Thunderheads cast their fires down through the night;
Below the hunchback dances with delight.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

#121: August 22, 2006

Somewhere under this hill Chris Peters lies,
who last summer dug out a woodchuck's den.
Poor Chris was swallowed when the walls caved in;
Leaf-fall perfects his shallow grave's disguise.

His parents never knew where he had gone,
assumed him kidnapped, lost, but never dead.
The hill's leaf litter changed from green to red
and the Peters still are searching for their son.

A cruelty of hope. Under the hill
their baby's bones are cages for young flies,
and only wildflowers mark his resting place.
I dream on quiet nights lightning bugs trace
his path, and one hushed, lonely spirit cries
for Mom to come, although she never will.

Monday, August 21, 2006

#120: August 21, 2006

When I was young we'd watch a silly duck
get blasted in the face with a shotgun.
His bill askew, he'd smirk and curse his luck
and then get shot again. We laughed, what fun!

A Mexican mouse speedster taunted cats
while Mammies danced on chairs, afraid of mice.
No one back then thought to inform us that
it was racist, anachronus--not nice.

Maybe it wasn't good for us. Maybe
these images shaped us in ways unknown.
But I never joined the Minutemen, not me;
the Klan and NRA I left alone.

I remember when we kids could watch the Grinch
steal every Christmas, and not even flinch.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

#119: August 20, 2006

The color starts to drain out of the sky
and charcoal fires incense the evening breeze.
Mosquitoes buzz like bombers going by;
Cicadas thrum like heartbeats in the trees.

Ground spiders now sleep in their dusty holes
and birds have settled in for evening rest
while thunder, like an empty promise, rolls
off the tongue of shadowed clouds far to the west.

A stifling August night in Arkansas:
box fans and beer our momentary reprieves
from sweat-soaked sheets that rub our sunburns raw.
The wind here barely stirs the paper leaves.

The crickets' chorus hails the deepening night
while bats wheel, bank, and murder in their flight.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

#118: August 19, 2006

I saw him walking out beyond the field
in that ghostly hour between dark and light.
The waist-high stalks parted for him, then sealed
his path behind, like water. He was white
as cotton, his broad face framed with black hair,
which made his features stand out in relief;
I saw him young but grim--in that dark stare
each of his years had written down its grief.
He did not hesitate, like one who knows
no matter what he does he's going to die.
The field grew dark, and deepening shadows
obscured his distant steps. I don't know why,
but I called out a name. He stopped and turned,
our eyes met, and the wheat between us burned.

Friday, August 18, 2006

#117: August 18, 2006

That night we lay there necking on the couch,
all breath and furtive fingerfuls of flesh,
so new to one another still, and fresh
experience like a jewel in a pouch
of black velvet, waiting discovery
and opening--I opened up your blouse
and you opened up to me in that dark house
your mouth and thighs; then you were off of me--
Dim in streetlight, you stepped out of your pants
like a pale spirit slipping off her skin,
leaving me thrashing, wrestling my blue jeans;
and then, before we even had the chance
to think we were at it again like teens
revelling in the mysteries of sin.