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.