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.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

#116: August 17, 2006

Long after Timmy's mom and dad had said
good night, kissed him, and shut his bedroom door
he woke to scratching sounds across the floor
and evil growls from underneath his bed--

The old door let a stream of hall light shine
through its loose jamb, and by that glow he saw
the floorboards deeply gouged by four thick claws,
and streaked bed-ward with some rust-colored slime--

Too scared to scream and too afraid to jump,
he listened to the Under-Creature's groans
and cracks like molars grinding down on bones,
and every now and then, a ghastly thump!--

Hours from sunrise, young Timmy held his breath
and finally slept, dreaming of his own death.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

#115: August 16, 2006

When someone writes the history of us--
Some scholar, maybe, hired by our kids,
Long years from now when our bodies are dust
And only stories witness what we did--

He'll edit some and gloss over the rest
For brevity--and so I think he'll miss
Some episodes when we were at our best,
For tales we never told will not persist.

How could he detail moments we've pressed tight
Between us where no alien hand can delve?
Minds meshed, joined through the windows of our sight,
Our molten souls, making one of ourselves?

No pen could write that silent history
Inscribed here in the book of you and me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

#114: August 15, 2006

Don't go--stay here a while and talk to me.
It's been so long I can't remember when
I last had any friendly company.
Pull up a chair...that's it. Now, how've you been?

Oh, I suppose I'm well as can be, dear.
Considering, you know. I don't complain.
Although I could do--abandoned down here
with all this dust and smoke and horrid rain...

Oh, never mind. No use fretting such things
as can't be changed. Time passes, and the world
just goes right on without you, live or die.
See that photo? The babe with fairy wings?
My granddaughter. She's seven in July.
We've never met. But such a pretty girl!

Monday, August 14, 2006

#113: August 14, 2006

If there's wisdom in whiskey, I've not found it;
Just stupor and stupidity inside.
But also happiness--no way around it;
There's bliss in that amber Lethean tide.

An unexamined life's not worth the living,
Said Socrates, who faced death without fears;
It's true, but my exam is more forgiving
of foibles and failures after three beers.

Oh give me booze instead of introspection,
Distill my doubts in bottles, not in verse;
Abet me in this rational deflection
And, if not better, things will be no worse--

Now there's a truth, sunk in this G & T,
Greater than dreamed in your philosophy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

#112: August 13, 2006

I want you to be quiet now--so please
just take a breath and hold it. There, be still.
Lean back, savor the feel of grass, the breeze
across your cheek. Consider this green hill
the breast of earth, and you her sleeping child
pulled to her bosom, nurtured on the milk
of clear blue streams. Try to be reconciled
with trout, possom, and deer, your woodland ilk.

How can we have forgotten this? What kind
of monsters caged in glass have we become?
What noise has made us deaf, what smoke struck blind
our ancient eyes? What poison made us numb?
The cure is here, but we so seldom are,
and cannot hear the old songs from afar.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

#111: August 12, 2006

The sky was absolutely biblical
that day we dropped our lives and headed west--
those spears of light through nimbus piled tall
and sharp enough to pierce the desert's chest

with glory. Then the thunderheads rolled in
and lightning snaked the belly of the storm.
My hair erect with static and my sin,
I watched the rain come down, eroding form;

I felt suddenly lost, thrown off level
like I'd never felt wind through my wet hair--
and something in my soul, not quite devil,
told me to ditch the car right then and there

and leave you in it, simply walk away
like Moses. We made Reno the next day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

#110: August 11, 2006

Tommy did magic tricks for all the kids
for extra cash: hat rabbits, floating cards,
the cup and balls. The job wasn't too hard
and Tom was pretty good at what he did.

But then they laid him off down at the plant
and Tommy changed. He wore a poisoned look,
like he was planning murder, and a book
was always in his hand: The Sorcerer's Cant.

At his last party gig Tom twitched his cape
and glowered at the kids. He uttered words
in a dark tongue. A flock of ebon birds
came out of nowhere. Tom could not escape--
they covered him, pecking. When they had cleared
all but Tom's cloak and hat had disappeared.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

#109: August 10, 2006

Eli sleeping: mysterious as the Sphinx,
and just as silent on our ottoman;
a riddle in a fur coat--no one can
conceive his dreams or fathom what he thinks.

There's ages writ down in those feline genes,
whole histories unknowable to man
told by instinct, and in the graceful plan
of his bones. No human knows what it means.

Perhaps the past is present as he leans
into my stroke, and ancient desert sands
stretch in his arid mind each time he blinks.
As he naps, Babylon rises and then sinks
into the dust. I think he understands
his kind were worshipped by dead kings and queens.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

#108: August 9, 2006

He never would slow down for ambulances,
Ignoring their sirens, lights blue and red,
Denying many dying folk their chances.
"The dying would not stop for me," he said.

He never gave a penny to a beggar;
For homeless folks he had no empathy.
He gave no food nor alms, however meager,
And asked, "What have those beggars done for me?"

And on his deathbed, in his final blindness,
He muttered curses with his dying breath.
"Why should I show my fellow man a kindness?"
He gasped. "Nobody cares about my death."

They covered his face and then put out the light,
And all agreed the old man had been right.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

#107: August 8, 2006

When little Mike was only four years old
he leapt from the rooftop, trying to fly;
and for a while hung cloud-like in the sky
(impossible, but he'd never been told)--

His parents saw him floating near the roof
and shouted, terrified, "It can't be done!"
Poor Mike believed them (he was a good son)
and crashed down like a stone, as though in proof.

We're taught this from a very early age
by well-meaning adults, who clip our wings;
who mistake fear for safety, words for things;
who cannot see the outside of the cage--

Who've forgotten what children always know:
the trick to flying is the letting go.

Monday, August 07, 2006

#106: August 7, 2006

When someone said the autumn moon was full
I crouched and curled my fingers into claws.
My body itched with hair; I stretched my jaws,
a sudden fang-sprung trap. I felt the pull
of tides in veins and rode the shift in phase
into animal realms. The smell of blood
spoke to me in a tongue I understood.
I traded clumsy steps for lupine grace.
And if I'd met an old man or a child
I would have ripped out trachea and bayed
my blasphemy into God's silver eye!
But then I looked and saw it was a lie--
I shrank and slunk away, no longer wild,
beneath a new-moon sky where few stars played.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

#105: August 6, 2006

The well is dry, its walls not even moist;
no pebbles to suck, no underground lake
to dig to. If you've got a thirst to slake,
look elsewhere, stranger. Once we had rejoiced
in flowing water, danced on singing stones
that rang with our footsteps like bells of glass.
The stream writhed with salmon, with trout and bass
enough for all. There--you can see the bones
cast in the dust like runes. Now our lips crack
and we read in that charnel earth a curse,
as if the very world had died of thirst
and we, the vermin living on its back
were doomed as well--unless a savior rain
redeem us, bring our host to life again.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

#104: August 5, 2006

The shadows in the corner of the room
are whispering tonight. The cold hearth flames
turn walls to water; from that fog-thick gloom
the dead advance and rise, calling their names.

The old inn, empty as cicadas' molt
but for this tired old man, cannot be said
to breathe as some homes do. Behind the bolt
it is, like most its custom, cold and dead.

All through the night the phantoms tell of want
left from their castoff lives, but never lost.
There's nothing to disturb me in such moan.
For if I'm haunted here, I also haunt:
a live man in a dead world is a ghost,
and no one in the graveyard is alone.

Friday, August 04, 2006

#103: August 4, 2006

I don't know where it goes when I don't watch it;
It's tricky and nervous, easy to scare.
Though I strike like a rattler, I can't catch it;
I jump and turn around--it's always there.

I've tried windows, but it's too smart for that trick;
I end up looking like a Peeping Tom.
I've tried the old mirror-stuffed-in-my-hat trick;
It winks and blows me kisses, like my mom.

But still I'm sure the moment my back's to it,
Away it flies on some fantastic trip;
I just can't seem to catch the bugger do it!
But I keep waiting for that fatal slip--

One day I'll catch it, and that will remind me
What pleasure to find empty air behind me.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

#102: August 3, 2006

Old Man McReady came out once a day
to check his mail. We kids would watch and wait
to snicker at his robe of gold lamé
and his three wire-black hairs greased to his pate.

Sometimes we called him names--Nancy, Old Queer
--though we had little notion what they meant.
But we saw the man's pained eyes, his quiet fear
as he shut the dark door. Then off we went.

We were young then, stupid and careless cruel
as only children can be. As I grew
I learned about compassion, guilt, and shame.
Too late for Theodore--that was his name.
He wound up at the bottom of his pool
and dead ten days before anyone knew.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

#101: August 2, 2006

The king walked the old roads, until he found
the flowered path he'd followed long ago
to his fortune and kingdom. His step was slow,
his visage grave as he looked back. The sound
of songbirds made a heaven of the wood,
and petals carpeting his homeward path
perfumed his very breath, sweeter by half
than other airs on earth. He understood
how lucky as a young man he had chanced
upon the path he chose, how easily
he might have been waylaid or lost instead.
The sunlight rained through budding leaf and danced
on streams that babbled softly through the trees.

"I never should have come this way," he said.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

#100: August 1, 2006

A hundred sonnets? Jesus Jumping Christ!
Can you believe that shit? I know I can't--
You'd think that half as many had sufficed
To purge my compulsive poetic rant;

And yet I barrel on, out of control,
Pounding iambic observations home,
Torturing rhyme and stripping bare my soul,
For what? Some kind of OCD syndrome?

They can't all be gems, and alas, they're not--
Quantity over quality, I fear.
But if I reach for stars and miss--so what?
You try a sonnet a day for a year!

No, failure in a grand attempt's no sin;
Even blind hogs root acorns now and then.