Monday, July 31, 2006

#99: July 31, 2006

Maybe, just maybe, plans don't have to fail
because they're hatched by me. Perhaps no curse
sits on my efforts, and I might prevail
the next time, or the next, bad come to worse.

Maybe, despite the way it often feels
I'm no more unlucky than the next guy.
Perhaps the law of averages reveals
only mathmatics behind each failed try.

It's easy to believe your shadowed dreams
are poisoned by mean-spirted deity;
some sin that no perseverance redeems
stifles luck, murders serendipity--

A shame to leave a door closed in despair,
and never know Success was waiting there.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

#98: July 30, 2006

Once, long ago, before the mighty shift
That split the continents and disarrayed
The seas, on two sides of a growing rift
Two furry creatures, Okk and Enok, played.

Okk was the smartest of the furry clan
And spent his days devising crude machines;
Enok was dumb as rocks (or dumber than)
And carried all the stupid, violent genes.

Poor Enok neared starvation, till the day
The earth opened and swallowed brainy Okk.
And so the dumber ape across the way
Multiplied, once he got over the shock.

Oh, Chuck--the fittest don't always survive,
Leaving the dumb but fortunate to thrive.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

#97: July 29, 2006

Don't move too fast. Remember Damocles,
dining calmly while twisting overhead
a heavy sword suspended by a thread
threatened his instant death. Such times as these
require deliberate movements and slow speech.
The time for bluster and noise is long past.
Learn to slow down, my friend, and learn it fast,
or else learn what that keen blade has to teach.

Perhaps there's not long left before the snap
and flash, the last descent of screaming steel
and final darkness. Still, no need to rush
to fling ourselves into that waiting trap.
It's time we learnt to think before we feel.
You can look up now. Consider things. Hush.

Friday, July 28, 2006

#96: July 28, 2006

I want to stick my fingers in the dirt
as deep as they'll go, drive my knucklebones
through earthworm paths until hard pack and stones
stop me. I want to smear mud on my shirt
and tear it, turn my nails to crescent moons
gritty and black; inhale the rotting leaves
and humus; shuffle out of dirty sleeves
and ring my eyes with earth, like a raccoon's.
I want to be a savage of the soil,
to roll in compost, return to the ground
a lover and supplicant--worship loam
and dance until, exhausted from the toil,
I topple like a tree. Only the sound
of rain will find me there, safe at last, home.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

#95: July 27, 2006

He kissed a cigarette and tapped the ash
into the sound hole of his old guitar.
The streetlight down the block shone like a star,
but we were dark. I threw a little cash
into his case, and at the tinkling sound
the old man blew a cloud of ghostlike smoke
that swallowed our heads. I began to choke,
but my companion just looked at the ground,
stomped slow, then faster, like a wind-up toy
reversed, speeding the tempo with his feet
until he seemed to shake that lonely street
and filled my mind with strange, expectant joy--

He played, and that old flat-top laughed and cried
and smoked like it was burning deep inside.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

#94: July 26, 2006

Eli's become the most annoying cat,
Constant yowling, twenty-four hours a day;
And while Alexei's dumb as well as fat,
At least he doesn't carry on that way!

He hasn't always been like this, you know.
We've had him now for nearly thirteen years.
There was a time when he would scarcely show
Himself, and his meow never reached our ears.

But now he howls and screeches night and day,
For food, stroking, desire to be let out.
Is it hunger, old age, mental decay?
Loneliness? Fear of death? What's it about?

Perhaps he knows he won't be with us long
And hopes to be remembered by his song.

#93: July 25, 2006

I'm thinking about you again, you fuck.
I'd hoped you'd fallen out of sight and mind,
Become, once so malignant, more benign;
Forgot, if not forgiven--no such luck.

An old wound reopened and iodined
Has two stings: one remembered and one new.
Part of me wishes I could pardon you,
Turn a blind eye--turns out I'm not that kind.

I'm not over it yet. I'm not resigned
To suffer and move on; I'd rather chew
Betrayal and spit venom. None can suck
The poison that still renders me half-blind.
Oh, damn your eyes! My fingers itch to pluck
And crush them both like grapes--just one won't do.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

#92: July 24, 2006

"Here's something neat: just hold in in your hand--
you see, it's not too heavy, nicely orbed
and spongy, so your palm sweat is absorbed.
The thing just drinks it dry--you understand?

"Now, hold it up and turn it, very slow,
and in a moment you'll--did you see that?
There, underneath...look, before it goes flat!
That odd protrusion pushing out below...

"There, now it's gone. Don't ask me what it was.
I bought the thing last week in Chinatown.
Get this: the man called it a Devil's Egg.
Strange--then last night I thought I heard it buzz
like a hornet's nest, and dreamed a scaly leg...
Hmm? No, man, just a dream. There, put it down."

#91: July 23, 2006

I'm smaller now than I was yesterday,
When I was smaller than the day before.
I'm worried that if things go on this way
Pretty soon you won't see me anymore.

Day after day I just continue shrinking.
I have to pull myself up on the chair;
I barely reach the doorknob, and I'm thinking
This time next week I simply won't be there.

If you come looking and can't find me, just
Stand very still and whisper out my name;
Check every blade of grass, each speck of dust,
And if I'm gone, I'll thank you all the same--

For as I fall through subatomic space,
Blinking neutrinos will sketch out your face .

#90: July 22, 2006

It's easy to forget how to be moved--
to let Mozart float past as if the air
was empty; as if your unemotion proved
something (you look so cool when you don't care);

You get trained to ignore beautiful things:
paintings--the riot of Van Gogh's night sky,
Monet's serenity, and the bright wings
of stained glass angels, never wondering why;

But every now and then (one hopes) you fall
into a place of shocking loveliness
and it shivers you awake, a clarion call
to daily beauties unseen and unguessed--

Then, for a while, you dance in sound and light,
a lame blind man restored, and given sight.

#89: July 21, 2006

There might be mermaids swimming in the seas
And singing songs to lure the sailors in;
Serpents and giant squids too, if you please,
In those black depths were no light's ever been.

There could be Bigfoots in the northern woods,
Living in caves, eating berries and nuts;
And Yetis, muching whatever their food's,
With thick fur to warm up their frozen butts.

A Loch Ness Monster hid for years? Why not?
Dragon or unicorn? I won't say no.
Although my friends think I've gone off my dot
And that I'll change my mind as up I grow--

I just don't think, because I've never seen one,
That necessarily means there's never been one.

#88: July 20, 2006

Sunset--the dying star had just gone pink
and thrown a fiery halo around clouds
purpled like bruises. Gray light like a shroud
edged our drunk eyes. The sun began to sink,
half-circle on the flat line of the day's
last breath, then sectioned to an arc it stood,
bright as a knife blade in a pool of blood.
The sky turned crimson in diminishing rays.
Suddenly the entire world went red--
my hands, your eyes, the bottle at our feet.
I could have done a murder in that light.
Then finally the sun vanished, and night
descended on us like a sheet of lead.
One breath, and then the darkness was complete.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

#87: July 19, 2006

"Sure, Jerry was a ass. But that don't mean
he deserved what he got. There's plenty folks
what take it too far when it comes to jokes,
and Jerry wasn't near the worst I seen.

"But still, he shoulda knowed ol' Ox McPhee
was not the man to make look like a fool.
Remember Ross, that prankster from high school?
There's a reason he limps now, 'tween you and me.

"Yes, I was here that night, and I saw Ox
grinnin' like a grim skull, beer down his face,
and Jerry laughin' while that brew fair steamed.
That poor sumbitch. I bet he never dreamed
he'd end up under twenty ton of rocks
down at the quarry. McPhee's dad owns the place."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

#86: July 18, 2006

It's sweat and spit and that ripe carnal stink
that wafts up from between our shaking thighs,
blood rushing to the face, the throat, the eyes,
and also there--the pulse won't let us think
of consequence, just heat, the hot slick skin
and flesh, throbbing and parting with a cry,
heels hooked behind my calves, and I could die
in that wet heart of you--you pull me in
and we are sliding, pulsing, driving deep,
my hand over your eyes, your open lips,
and tongues of fire along your neck and breast,
your nails striping my back, teeth at my chest--
all friction and motion, sunk in your hips,
moments from ecstasy, and hours from sleep.

Monday, July 17, 2006

#85: July 17, 2006

Jared Williams loved animals. Each night,
before he went to bed, he'd set a dish
of food out for his cats, feed all his fish,
and stroke old Rex. Then he'd turn out the light.

And every morning Jared woke at nine,
again stroked Rex, fished out his poisoned friends
and flushed them, before searching end-to-end
his property for newly-dead felines.

This will seem strange, until you understand
above all animals, Jared loved Rex,
whose bloated body still lay on the floor.
And loss sometimes twists love from something grand
to something dead, which no balm resurrects.
Daily Jared visits the pet shop for more.

#84: July 16, 2006

I'd never before held a blue-tongued skink
Till last summer at the new petting zoo.
No one told me how much the thing could stink,
Nor, if it should start pissing, what to do.

So I stood still a moment, paralyzed,
With warm lizard piss dribbling down my wrist,
While the zookeeper, not at all surprised,
Just smirked at me. I was, in a word, pissed.

And then this rank reptile--I swear to God!
Clucked its blue-tongue and sighed, "Ain't that the way?"
His keeper didn't seem to think this odd...
And so I left, with nothing more to say.

I never darkened that zoo's door again;
But I still have the nightmares--and the stain.

#83: July 15, 2006

Eleven years ago the sky was clear
and brutal blue--the yellow fireball sun
melted groomsmen, made bridesmaids' makeup run.
I, sunstroked, watched for my bride to appear.
Even the Baptist preacher sweated more
than normal, staining his button-strained suit.
We'd thought a garden wedding would be cute,
little dreaming the summer hell in store.

But then the music played, and I looked up,
and down she came, with petals in her train
like snowflakes, the garden blooming all around--
My love, delicate as any buttercup,
breathed toward me like a cooling autumn rain,
and I drank in her beauty like the ground.

#82: July 14, 2006

Who had this room before? Last night, let's say--
young lovers, having told their parents lies
to steal off on a secret getaway,
covered by pseudonyms and alibis

And sheets smelling of bleach? And was the sun
blocked by vinyl-lined curtains thick with dust?
Was that star spanked and spurred and made to run,
racing the fire-fueled engine of their lust?

Or did the soap-streaked bathroom mirror see
a pair of children jumping on the beds,
their folks exasperated, old as we,
gray hairs comically windswept on their heads--

Negotiating quiet for ice cream,
and hoping like all hell the sheets are clean?

#81: July 13, 2006

If God were not watching for our mistakes,
And Jesus could care less where mortals find
Their pleasures, and the Holy Ghost don't mind
Your stealing and your lies (just no big shakes)--

If Kharma's wheel don't roll around to crush
The wicked man for his carnal misdeeds,
And good folk aren't rewarded, nor their needs
met, neither here nor in life's afterblush--

How would things change for you? How would you live
With no assured justice, no holy writ
To guide your footsteps? What if this is it?
Would you stop being kind, or cease to give?

Would it be the end of guilt and of regret,
If what you see is really all you get?

#80: July 12, 2006

I was swimming in water so warm and brown,
clouded by the strong sweep of my gray tail,
snapping up morsels at will, when a pale
swift silver streak drew my attention down.

I struck, then pain I'd never felt before
jerked my head up, sunk its fang in my cheek
and pulled--I fought it till I was too weak;
spent, I let the fiend drag me toward the shore.

And then, such light! It dazzled, struck me blind--
unfiltered clarity I'd never seen:
the patched-white blue sky, grass so violent green
that for one sweet moment I couldn't breathe.
Rough fingers in my mouth, I didn't mind...
then one sharp pain, splash, and my dull reprieve.

#79: July 11, 2006

Fact is, everyone's haunted; not a face
that passes in the street but has its ghosts.
Spirits are not confined by time nor space--
only by us, their living, breathing hosts.

They take up residence behind our eyes,
project themselves on every empty wall.
They love to jump and catch us by surprise
with half-forgotten tragedies recalled.

They nestle in our guilt, feed on our shame,
and hide in phrases better left unsaid;
They chill us with a look, kill with a name,
and leave us shaking, wakeful in our beds--

These spirits who still roam where they should not,
Who don't forgive, and will not be forgot.

#78: July 10, 2006

I've never found a hippo in my bed,
Nor giraffes hiding beneath my basement stairs;
And when I go to clean the storage shed,
I've not surprised a penguin hiding there.

I've yet to discover a nest of writhing snakes
In my grandma's old leather steamer trunk;
Not even a lion, for goodness sakes,
In the attic--just piles of dusty junk.

Coyotes in the pantry there are none,
And iguanas are also something scarce;
Piranhas in the toilet? Not a one;
And dust bunnies, not tigers, under chairs.

I don't think I can stay another minute
In a boring house like this with nothing in it!

#77: July 9, 2006

All this will soon pass into memory
My love, and whatever small price we pay
For a moment's fleeting pleasure, who will stay
To accuse us of this petty thievery
Of time? For it's from Time that we must wrest
Each moment of gladness; and we must steal
Our bodies' warmth and pressure, and the feel
Of us locked tight, like gold coins from a chest.

The years stretched out before us may be dry
And bare of the bounty that flowers yet
In such abundance--and we may regret
These instant treasures we let pass us by.

This Summer stays a moment, then it leaves;
So come, my dear, and let us love like thieves.

#76: July 8, 2006

He wants a girl who doesn't ask questions
and takes no for an answer. She should know
that how she turns her gams is just one
thing he'll be looking for. Booze makes him slow
sometimes; that's why he likes his women quick
as racehorses, to take up that gray slack
in conversations--molls who know the trick
of magically providing what he lacks.

They're hard to find--most simply wink and pout,
and drink and smoke too much. In fifteen years,
their looks long gone, their luck long since run out,
they'll blame their fool short-sightedness on tears.
They still won't see him, grinning through the smoke
of his Cuban, as at a private joke.

Friday, July 07, 2006

#75: July 7, 2006

We never said goodbye; because of this,
I find myself watching doorways, stairwells,
for a flash of gold hair. I hear the bells
of tin bracelets I gave you for a kiss
each time the wind startles the neighbor's chimes,
expecting any moment you'll appear,
smile, settling a stray hair behind your ear,
and take my outstretched hand, just like old times.

Even the empty spaces in the crowd
between shoulder and hip, bent knee and shin,
impossibly trace your outline--a ghost
formed by your very absence. If allowed,
I'd dive in between strangers, scattering most
what I long to embrace and gather in--

Thursday, July 06, 2006

#74: July 6, 2006

I can't conjure up beauty in this place--
birds detonate, rose petals droop and fall,
and butterflies pop like soap bubbles, replaced
by fluorescent lights and gray, carpeted walls.

Aeolian hymns with their sweet, airy sounds
are drowned out by the copier's clank and buzz;
Euterpe is no longer to be found
down here, and I don't think she ever was.

Satyrs and nymphs are hiding here, no doubt,
and disciples of Dionysus too;
but they cower, afraid to be found out,
and don't frolic--there's too much work to do.

The keyboards clack, the flickering screens entrance,
and nothing here may bloom, or sing, or dance.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

#73: July 5, 2006

Give me some breathing space, you thick-browed goon!
Back off a step or two, or else I swear
I'll turn that lazy eye up to the moon
With a one-punch adjustment. Have a care.

Think I won't cross your eyes and dot your tees?
Don't make assumptions you've no basis for.
Want to see some shade-pullers? Look at these:
Five on this hand, and over here five more.

I've knocked to catatonia bigger brutes
Than you, you grinning ape, you bug-eyed mutt!
You knuckle-dragging, pigeon-toed galoot,
Get out of here, before I crack your butt!

Still want some? I thought not. Go on, now, shoo!
Who else would like a little? Huh? How 'bout you?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

#72: July 4, 2006

That day Dewayne was digging by the fence--
just eight years old, hair like a tuft of straw
under his cap. On my way out I saw
him crouching there, and haven't seen him since.

Then later on that week, the local law
came by to call. I told them what I'd seen:
the boy, the brown post fence backed by the green
forest, the shadowed path its open maw.

It's what I didn't tell them haunts my dreams:
in the years since, when night closes its claw
around the new moon, out in the intense
quiet of that untravelled wood, the raw
throat of the horned owl startles me to sense
the fading echo of that poor boy's screams.

Monday, July 03, 2006

#71: July 3, 2006

It's easy to perfect a stranger: see,
the girl in the next car, her silent song--
she shuts her eyes, sexual, throws her long
straight hair around in aural ecstasy;

Not hard to conjure up a life, with boys
and music at the center of it all;
no cares but whether such a beau will call
and whom to kiss, and when, and where--such joys!

Hard not to be jealous of one so young,
with freedom spread before her like a map
to be explored, and years yet till the trap
of age, hid in experience, is sprung;

But then the signal goes, and off she flies--
I stall, the greenlight shining in my eyes.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

#70: July 2, 2006

The temperature is eighty-one degrees,
but just because we choose to set it there.
I sit with a book balanced on my knees
in our comfy, overstuffed reading chair.
Beside me, my tea glass has got the sweats
(a junkie half-full or -empty of smack).
The weathermen are calling off all bets
for rain, and even inside we are slack
and listless. Were there only a few clouds
we might be drawn outside to work the yard,
set out the sprinkler, mulch it, spread manure.
But what's the point? Hot hopelessness enshrouds
such efforts, dries the topsoil to a hard
cracked slate, on which no marks may long endure.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

#69: July 1, 2006

Nectar of barley, happiness of man
(and hoppiness as well), to thee I sing!
Elixir neither glass bottle nor can
may long contain--such joyfulness you bring
to wearied hearts beat down with cruel life's cares,
oh rain your foamy blessings down on me!
Thou potion of forgetfulness, which spares
the troubled soul its mournful memories
and thrills the mind with possibilities
the sober brain would scoff at and dismiss--
if not for such besotted visionaries,
what boons to humankind would we have missed?

And so I tip my glass and tarry yet;
If beer were woman--good God, I'd marry it!