Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Now this is getting ridiculous...

First Modern Drunkard rejects me by omission (see below) and now this--I entered three poems in the SonnetWriters.com annual contest some weeks ago. The deadline was October 15, and the guidelines said winners would be announced no later than November 30. But no word yet, nothing on the website even referring to the contest.

I have to ask: is it me?

Is there something about me that just makes people not want to respond? Is the cold shoulder always preferable to communication where I and my sonnets are involved? I don't know, but it's starting to make me self-conscious.

Anyway, as soon as I hear anything, I'll post it here. I just hope I don't have some kind of voodoo curse that's causing everything I touch to go dead. If I do, sorry Modern Drunkard and SonnetWriters--I know not what I do.

UPDATE: The SonnetWriters 2007 Annual Contest was canceled. Good to know.

Friday, November 09, 2007

What's better: rejection or no answer?

Rejection, of course, because at least then you know.

A couple months back I sent 6 poems to Modern Drunkard Magazine--some of my drinking songs, natch. Their guidelines say that if you haven't heard in 2 months, assume you weren't chosen. So that's my assumption.

But I do still have some poems out to different places and contests, so I'll be updating on that. Also I haven't given up my horror poem chapbook idea. I'm toying with the idea of even trying to illustrate some of the poems myself...but we'll see when we see.

Oh, and today is my son's birthday. Click here to read the poem I wrote him last year on this date. Happy birthday, Will!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Lost

Maybe out there somewhere
there lies a path
overgrown now, weed-choked, stopped
by debris--a fallen log
astir with insect life,
its loosely clinging bark
atwitch
like skin--
where once a person might
have turned aside and found
down rootbound valleys
hidden there among
the shadow leaves (whose negatives
are sunbeams)
something
else.

The woods hide gold that is and isn't
sunshine,
show rending claws that are and
are not bears.
Some things are food and poison, some rain
and dew and blood.

Maybe there was a way
through then, although it didn't
seem so. A poke,
a prod might have revealed--what?
Dog-run, deer-trail, some parted sea
of weeds revealing tracks
beyond my understanding,
patterns I had not the skill
to name?

And maybe after miles, after bright orbs
of white and yellow dazzled me like
swamp gas, will-o-wisps,
for who knows what the cycles,
then
or now, or when, or
soon,
I might have turned and recognized
a flower, called its name,
rhododendron, devil's trumpet, trillium,
felt suddenly unlost and therefore safe;

or else, aswim in plants evermore
strangers to me, no path, abandoned
by taxonomy, I sprint
a barefoot madman through clasping leaves--
green twigs caught in my hair, bugs crawling through
the dirty thatch of my gray hermit's beard,
be so unmade and deliriously free, I would
to joy and to oblivion
succumb.

It could be so.

For now, as lost here in these words
as any child forsaken in the wood,
gone feral, wolf-raised out of sheer neglect,
I find just tangled thoughts, a knotted string
around my hand, so difficult to trust.
What have I snared? What is it tugs and leads
me on around the next
leaf-shaded bend? Whose hand?
Or is it my own dumb animal soul
now bound here by some hidden hunter,
Time?

So many knots, and spoken promises
once breathed, that can no longer
be revised.

Walk far enough, and nothing will make sense.

A poke.
A prod.

Maybe it lies there still.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Epigram

"This can't go on!" the rebel said.
But oh, it could. And so it did.

The Awful Uncertainty of the Artist


Maybe this is it:

the depression/mental illness
that will finally make my work (and life)
meaningful
saleable
interesting.

But,
(oh God)

...what if it's not?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Learning to Say Yes

Just tell them I accept. I'm getting tired
of blowing up balloons that sink like stones.
I'm ready now to loose those trailing strings
and watch their multicolored orbs disperse
to fall, sperm-like, out of a barren sky
toward who knows what airless lack of fruition.

I'm ready to accept, accept it all. I'll take
their golden chains, I'll gladly put them on. I'll wear
quite willingly the yoke, I'll pull the plow until
it sinks, until it wedges in the cracks where lack
of rain has broken, even here, the earth's own skin.
My hooves will throw up clouds of yellow smoke, the dust
made ghostly, powdered, like a broken shell.

I'll put on vestments like a village priest
who can't remember now when he believed,
when God flowed through his brain like liquid light
and haloed all creation through his eyes.
I'll stand up at the altar, say the words;
I'll swing the censer and cough on the scent,
Say prayers, baptize and bless, and listen while
the rain rattles the roof, the windows crack;
inside then, safe, I'll snuggle in my bed
all tired and drunk on sacramental wine.
I'll do it, I accept. Go tell them now.

I'll take it now, I will. I'll take the years,
impotent, yes, but sheltered, weak but safe.
I'll black the stars with ink until no light
can filter through, till all those colored dots
have disappeared. I cannot be accused.

I won't be shamed. I'll sow those borrowed fields
whose crops will feed me better than my own
however bitter they may be to reap.
I'll eat and give my thanks, although the grains
of sand wear down my teeth and make them blunt.

I'll swallow bitter bread and sour wine,
approximating ecstasy for show. I'll raise my voice
until, quavered by age and use, it will not
answer more. And even then I'll make the signs,
and croak the words of near-forgotten prayers
to children, widows, new-deflowered brides,
so strongly no one would ever suspect.
All of it, I accept. It would not do
to give those yet faithful a cause for doubt.

So tell them to prepare it. Let them spin
like hypnotists their gold watch on its chain
before my nose. I'll follow, I'll walk straight
for years--this I can do.
And will.

I'll track it like the Magi's star
until that day when, palsied at the edge
of all, I miss my step--

and falling,
flailing,
snatch it from their hands.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Sonnet Project Reject: Whatever's Wrong with Me

(Alternate entry for April 19, 2007)

Whatever's wrong with me today's been wrong
for years and years and years. It isn't new.
These insecurities were formed so long
ago, there's nothing much now I can do.

Like how I think I'm never good enough
for those I love, hard-wired in the brain;
the way a carved word when the wood is rough
and green will scar, emblazoned on the grain.

And so these trials we suffer in our youth
in many ways are never overcome;
though years convince us of our fears' untruth,
a sound, a sight, a word will strike us dumb

and drag us back to dungeons we well know,
though we thought we'd escaped them long ago.

Sonnet Project Rejects

As my loyal readers know, the key rule of the now-complete Project was that I had to write a new, original sonnet every day. I couldn't store them up, I couldn't write five one day and take a week off, and whatever I completed that day as my project representative, I had to post on this blog. And I managed to do that, for better or worse, 365 days straight--a fact I'm still pretty proud of.

But here's a little secret for you--I did, in fact, write MORE than 365 sonnets last year. It's true.


Every now and then I would write two sonnets a day. Then I would have to pick one to post, and let the other languish in the notebook. Sometimes this happened because I was just inspired, and liked one result better than the other. Sometimes it was because my first attempt struck me as so bad that I had to write something else to keep from embarrassing myself posting that drivel. Either way, I had to pick one, and the other just got left behind.

Reading over some of these rejects recently, I got to thinking that they weren't all that bad after all--at least most of them were on a level with the rest of the crap I published here. So I figured what the hell--why not put them online and let history and the internet be the judge of their quality. So that's what I'm fixing to do. Starting today, with the post above this one. Enjoy.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Permeable

I have to teach myself again to love
this: the fall of sound on sound, like gravel
trailing, streaming, steaming dust from where
the climber's foot just pressed and left behind
the shape of its own absence. There's some-
thing in me forgot, that thought the words
inside, unvoiced, divorced from sound, could live--
as if a root divorced from earth could


Wait, though. That's not it.

I hear
the green sprout snap, while egg-
shaped leaves float, unsuspended, free of sense
above a ground all silently ascream.

Is that just what I meant?

When stolid, solid, soil-bound, brown and dank
with rot and my own sense of gravity--where else?
The petals yellow-golden, pink as flesh
pulsate, vibrate to send the message down
to my subterran brain. Why not? Where else?

There must be holes. There must be tunnels in
from both sides of a boundary. Any one.
Nothing gets through without a broken gate.

Not sound, not sense. Not beauty. Even rain.

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Because It's Probably True": First non-sonnet post


Because It's Probably True


If suddenly the room burst into flames
orange ivy climbed the curtains
black clouds rolled up and out
and hair floating on waves of heat
crinkled, shrunk away
while everyone obliviously slunk between table and chair bedroom and bath beer tub snack bowl ("Nice party, what's this dip?") while at their backs a cataclysm only I could (in this problem) see--
It takes an effort of imagination to feel my arms go up to see my jaw drop to (hypothetically) taste soot ozone methane new sweat on my dry tongue taking the breath with which I'll shout:
"Hey! Fire!"
I've always been the quiet one.
Of course once if I edging toward the door a dampened napkin pressed under my nose saw that no one had noticed (incredibly) the blackening ceiling the cd player plastic bubbling like Yosemite mud (I know, but just bear with me) nothing except perhaps some dizziness and the fact that the softwhite sandwiches suddenly are toasted
then of course would I pop the lock murmuring, as I stepped outside to cool air wet grass green trees that someone maybe ought to call somebody and I've had a great time, thanks, but by the way, some of you might think about
leaving
because it's getting late and a work night and the kitchen is on fire and after all, no one wants to be an ash, hahaha--
But seriously.
I would do it. If I had to.
But even in this dream it ends like this:
everyone turning to stare and smirk or frown or pucker their lips and (even as their flesh cooks off their bones
)
thinking
"Well. Someone needs
attention."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sonnet Boy Comes Out: Reflections on the End of the Sonnet Project


by Scott Standridge, aka "Sonnet Boy"


(photo by David W. Quinn)


Number 365 fucked me up.

I hadn't really expected it. In the days leading up to that sonnet, that goal I'd been working toward so tenaciously for almost exactly a year, of course I'd begun to feel nostalgic for the daily writing experience in which I was still involved but to which I would shortly say adieu. I wondered happily what it would be like finally to reach that goal; whether I would feel its absence when I stopped, like a hole in the fabric of my day that used to be patched by cloths of various colors--sometimes gray, sometimes black, often brown, but occasionally a surprising splash of color that made the whole swath seem more brilliant.

Yes, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

And why not? I was close to completing a project that, though I'd started it more or less on a whim, had grown into a fairly monumental hunk of work. By challenging myself and being unforgiving about the rules I'd set at the beginning (a new sonnet a day, every day, no matter what; no piling up sonnets to give myself a day off; posting online required, no matter how bad the final product), I'd assembled, amalgamated, and otherwise conglomerated what amounted to a poetic journal of my internal life for one entire loop around the sun. By holding myself to it, there near the end I had already written more than twice as many sonnets as Shakespeare--Shakespeare! Allowing the obvious quality vs. quantity argument, I still couldn't help thinking that was something to be proud of.

(Side note: it's a complete coincidence that the last day of the Project fell on April 23, which is generally considered to be both Shakespeare's birthday and date of death. I'd love to be able to say I planned it that way, but I didn't. Sometimes you're just lucky.)

So as The Sonnet Project drew to a close, I was pretty comfortable with the idea that, whatever the quality of individual sonnets, I'd more or less managed to prove my professor's point: I hadn't written 365 bad sonnets in a row. Oh, I'd written bad sonnets, lots of them--they're not hard to find, a few clicks on the "Go to a Random Sonnet" link should be sufficient to prove that...or hell, even a scroll down the front page--but I'd written a lot that were not too bad at that, and even a few that I thought might actually be pretty good. And to be fair, not all of Shakespeare's efforts were masterpieces either.

They can't all be gems. Even when you're the Bard.

(A quick aside about that professor: I've always attributed the offhand comment about writing a sonnet a day as a good method for mastering the form to the University of Arkansas's Skip Hayes, a novelist and short story writer of well-deserved reputation who taught a couple of classes I was lucky enough to take. However, I've come to recognize the attribution as problematic, since a) I'm not sure now I was ever in a writing class he taught, and b) if I was, I'm pretty sure it wasn't for writing poetry. Still, somehow he's become the avatar of the idea for me, and it's still possible he said it. I'm blaming him, anyway, justified or not.)

(Another quick aside, this time about the project's genesis. Readers of the blog who are not in fact people I see regularly in real life--I think there might be one or two of you out there--might well ask the question a few of my RL friends have asked long since: why sonnets? Well, the fact is I've always loved formal poetry, for a couple of reasons. The first is, I like the idea of poetry as song--and while I admire people who do free verse well, I haven't read very many I can dance to. Sound good? Well, it's half a lie--the fact is, I do read and enjoy free verse, all the time--you pretty much have to, if you want to read much poetry these days--and I read plenty that's exuberant and musical--though it still seems to me the difference between a structured blues tune and free-form jazz. I admire creative improvisation, but I also like a good 1-4-5 chord progression; it's comfortable, and it still gives you room to bare your soul. And to paraphrase a great poet, Jack Butler, "you don't have to invent the guitar while you're playing it."

(But the real reason I chose sonnets is b) I can do them. I've tried free verse. I filled notebooks with it in high school, notebooks that still sit bundled in the attic of my parents' house, their duo-tangs rusting, dusty and accusatory as buried bodies. Maybe someday I'll pull them out and look at them, but most of the time I figure it's better some things are forgotten. The fact is, I suck at free verse. I know it. I can prove it. I can't solo over an instrumental break. But--BUT--I can hold down a rhythm. I can strum. I know the chords. And what's more, I like to. No six-string pyrotechnics for me--just comfortable blues.

(I have a lot more to say about form--how the openness of free verse so often leads to over-indulgence and bloat--many poets, bad ones mostly, use the lack of structure as an excuse to explode; and while this can be beautiful, more often it's just messy. I could talk, for instance, about how the restrictions of a metric line force you to be creative and critical, both of words and of the ideas under them, in ways that you wouldn't be otherwise. My favorite sonnets in the Project--and this happened A LOT--were ones where a metrical or rhyme requirement forced me to rethink what I was trying to say, and through that rethinking I discovered something deeper and more truthful that would have remained buried otherwise--something that fit. There's a reason formal poetry has survived so long, in my opinion, and this is it. But this quick aside is too long already, proving my point about the danger of overindulgence when there's no restriction.)

Over the course of the year I felt I'd done just about all I could. I'd written a lot of so-called "light verse," even though I think that term is a little denigrating, as if poetry that makes you smile is somehow less useful than that which makes you cry. (Jack Butler, with whom I've had the honor of corresponding, compared the poet to a singer, and pointed out that singers are entertainers--therefore, why shouldn't a poem entertain? Why is that not a sufficient goal for the poem? Life is funny--or can be, if you let it.) I'd written a great deal of love poetry, and more than my share about sex. I'd written narrative poems, short stories in 14 lines, that when they came together made me feel like a storyteller as well as a poet (and in a variety of genres too: horror, of course--here's my fave of those, the one I think was most successful--as well as noir [another fave], science-fiction, and Southern-fried mainstream/literary [its own genre, with conventions as rigid as Romance]). I'd written painfully revealing personal memoirs, celebrations of nature, a political protest poem, and even attempted to raise cubicle life to the level of poetry. Plus many other experiments--mostly failed--that I couldn't categorize. I even created my own goddamn sonnet form! My point is, I'd covered a lot of ground.

And it hadn't always been easy. I remember one night, on vacation, sitting scrunched against the bathtub in a tiny hotel bathroom at 11:45 p.m., scribbling madly in my notebook to beat the midnight deadline (resulting poem here, for better or worse). One poem I wrote in a car between my best friend's house and the restaurant where we were having dinner--a friend I see maybe once a year, and who I'd rather have been visiting with--but by then I knew that when inspiration struck, I had to grab it (resulting poem here; whether worth it or not). And the hardest, when I was nearly delirious with a bacterial infection that made me so dizzy I could barely sit up, producing by any standards one of the worst sonnets of the year (here--but I wrote one, damn it!). And then the days the poems just wouldn't come--inspiration nowhere to be found, the muses buggered off to Greece, and me slamming words together like mismatched blocks. It was tough, sometimes.

But then, sometimes, everything just clicked and in less than half an hour I'd have something I thought was a little jewel, and that made me feel like a real honest-to-God poet. Like that swatch of fabric that ties the whole day together. There are a few. I'll let you find them, if you're interested enough to dig.

They can't all be gems; but then again, well--some of them can.

So as I approached #365, I did so with a mix of nostalgia and relief. It would be nice to be finished. It would be relaxing, not worrying all day long about where my material was coming from. It'd be cool, for a change, to be able to kick back after dinner and turn on the tube rather than breaking out the notebook. I'd no longer have to run from the kids to the silence of our bedroom, nor shush my wife until I was finished with the day's offering ("I just have the couplet to go, Hon, honest--just, please, just give me a few goddamn minutes here..."). The Project was practically done; I'd done it. I was looking forward to the end.

And then it came: the Last Day. I'd been turning over ideas for the farewell sonnet for a while (not writing it--that'd be against the rules, as I said--but still thinking about options for how I might attack it). I wanted it to be good, but I knew that if I tried to make it Super Special, I'd likely just end up ruining it. I hadn't written 364 sonnets in a row thinking I had to knock it out of the park every day, after all. Stick with the method, I told myself--do your best, get it down, and get it out.

In the end I settled on making it a little song--which those who know the man's work can clearly see owes more than a little to Tom Waits's "Take It With Me" from the monumental Mule Variations album--as a way of saying goodbye to my readers, goodbye to the Project, and goodbye to that part of myself that I'd invested in this curious endeavor.

It came to me rather quickly. I probably wrote and revised the whole thing in about twenty minutes. I logged in to my Blogger account, typed it in, spell-checked it, and hit "post."

And then I started to cry.

Seriously. Out of nowhere, the tears were running down my cheeks. I had posted during my lunch hour at work--yes, I did some of my writing at work; when inspiration struck, I had to get it down--and suddenly I was on the verge of becoming a sobbing mess. I left the building, mustering as much composure as I could, went out to my car and sat in the front seat, openly weeping. I felt kind of silly--even as I sobbed, I couldn't pin down what it was exactly I was crying about. Maybe part of it was the maudlin sentiment in that last quatrain, the farewell that could be for lost friends, or dead relatives, or your own squandered youth. But that wasn't all of it. I mean, I like #365, but even when I wrote it I knew it wasn't that good. And while I am a big sentimental softie, I think I'm immune enough to my own stuff not to blubber every time I think of a lost puppy in the rain.

But I couldn't stop. For maybe ten minutes I surrendered to the tears, the last lines of The Project running through my head. Eventually I regained my composure, straightened myself up, and came back inside to finish my day at work.

In the days since, I'm still a little mystified by my reaction there at the end. All I can figure is that the Project--which I really did start more on a whim than anything, a "let's see if I can do this" dare with myself--had achieved such a place of importance to me that coming to the end was really like saying goodbye. I'd experienced a similar crying jag only once, when on my last day of my junior year abroad in Cambridge, England, literally in the middle of a sentence about something meant to be funny, I was ambushed by sobs and broke down in my college friends' arms. And while the reason then was easy to understand--many of those people, dear friends and companions all, I knew I would never see again--the way it surprised and overwhelmed me was the same. Because I guess in that case I'd been concentrating on not thinking about leaving, because otherwise I'd have been unable to pack and go.

The happy ending is that I did go back to England, two years later. (Even wrote a poem about it.) And while it's true you can't really go back, I did see some of my old friends, which was sad in its way but also wonderful. And if The Sonnet Project has held a similar place for me emotionally--this effort into which I'd put more of myself than I'd realized until that last moment--then maybe I'll come back some day. Maybe even today. Or tomorrow.

Life since the end of the Project has been surprisingly unsurprising. It's rather amazing, really, how easy it was to fall out of the habit of writing every day; how quickly other things rush in to fill that space where the poetry used to be. And disheartening too--but then again, it just proves that if you want to be creative, it doesn't come easy. You have to struggle for it. At least when you're an adult, with kids and a day job and the sundry all-consuming responsibilities everyone somehow manages on a daily basis. When you're a kid, a student, it's easier.

So don't grow up, kids. It sucks.

Funny thing is, I still don't know if I'm a poet. I don't really feel like one; I just feel like a guy who wrote a bunch of poems. In my mind, that's a distinction.

But I am proud of what I've done. I think I've got something here. I think I might be able to do something with parts of it. But whether I do or not seems kind of extraneous right now--the creating of the stuff is one thing, the doing stuff with it is a separate thing. They're not the same process. Obviously--I mean, we don't live in a society where you can write to a waiting audience when you're a sonneteer. It's a solitary thing, something you have to do for yourself. And I did it. I did it. It's done.

But it's not, really. I'm still doing it.

And that's the best thing, really. Still to be doing it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

#365: April 23, 2007

Don't say goodbye--it sounds too much like death,
and I will not be called upon to grieve.
Let's sing together till we've lost our breath,
and take a little with us when we leave.

Please understand, I've tried to do my best
with every bit of hope I've come upon.
The time has come to stop a while, and rest--
so take a little with you once I've gone.

May all your paths be crooked, and the bends
reveal at each turn something grand and new;
may you die old, surrounded by your friends
who love you just as deeply as I do.

We'll meet again--though when, we cannot know;
so take a little with you, when you go.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

#364: April 22, 2007

My feet propped up, a cold beer on my thigh,
lawn freshly mowed, my shirt still damp with sweat,
and dinner coming soon, but not here yet;
I sip and belch and watch the world go by.

I brush a fat mosquito from my jaw
and savor my mild alcoholic haze,
while in the west, the sun's departing rays
turn clouds purple and pink, like Mardis Gras.

There's something fraught with meaning on the breeze,
with daytime done, and darkness just a hint
of shadow underneath the spreading trees;
but search for Truth can wait--the Spring is here,
its flow'red gown on the bosom of the year,
and soon enough we'll wonder where it went.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

#363: April 21, 2007

How does he do it? Just seven years old,
and already an expert at discord.
His blue-eyed glare makes parents' veins go cold;
he cuts down to the dark blood with a word.

With sadistic precision, lashing out,
he somehow hits exactly the right things
to murder my restraint--I twitch and shout
and twist, a puppet strangling on his strings.

I know one day maturity will come
as much to ripen him as rescue me;
so make haste, dotage, pull us safely from
this grim morass of young hostility.

And if I'm senile when the fighting ends,
at least my son and I might part as friends.

Friday, April 20, 2007

#362: April 20, 2007

A Roman candle, fuse smoldering low,
hot balls of colored fire all set to fly.
The strokes count down: five-four-three-two-one--go!
It sprays across the bosom of the sky.

A cannon packed with pearls and powdered milk,
its load primed for a target hard to see;
a rod of glass rubbed with a swatch of silk,
just tingling full of electricity.

The roar--the load delivered miles away!
The charge--discharged with sudden, crackling might!
One splatters on the mountains, streaks the clay;
the other shocks to shivers, heat and light!

Bazookas, silos, smokestacks, volcanoes--
it means something...but what? Nobody knows.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

#361: April 19, 2007

Out in the field, a throng of wildflowers:
each lifts the tiny burden of its head
unsteadily, and spatters drops of red
upon green blades, as though some claw had scoured
the meadow's skin, rubbed raw; nothing beside
but sparse, elongated shadows of trees
that twitch and lock their branches in the breeze
to sieve the light, and show the fawn earth pied.

A minute's walk returns me to my chair,
computer screen, and three blank, not-quite walls;
fluorescent bulbs banish the shadows' play,
and black glass separates the here from there--
too thick to hear the flitting songbirds' call,
too dark to watch the sunlight fade away.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

#360: April 18, 2007

Name anyone--now, when you take a breath,
one of his atoms flies into your lungs.
All history parades across our tongues,
and every exhalation conquers death.

For matter, not created nor destroyed,
but changed only in form, must then persist;
and all who existed must still exist,
though parts of them be differently employed.

Therefore, long after I take my last taste
of Einstein, Shakespeare, Lincoln and the rest,
and go to particles--don't be distressed,
my love, for nothing in us goes to waste:

In breasts unformed, in breaths untaken, we
will be together, elementally.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

#359: April 17, 2007

Forgive me, love, for what is it infects
my sometime thoughts; for when I draw away
to force you come to me; for when I lay
apart, seething your sleep; where intersects
desire and almost-hate--what can it be
that drives me punish she who keeps me safe,
who shields me as from hot machinegun strafe
with just her naked flesh? Love, forgive me.

What's unlovely in me should not intrude,
but does--and nothing in me can explain
how, when you lie against me, warm and nude,
down in the very joining-place of you
and me, how any meanness could remain
so untransformed--I know not, what I do.

Monday, April 16, 2007

#358: April 16, 2007

Hid in the roots of that thunderstruck oak,
black with disease, pus boiling from his skin,
sits Sigur's toad--who for his namesake's sin
has crouched there since that dark day he awoke.

His fiery tongue, as fell as any dart
impregnated with venom, chokes his throat.
The earth grows rotten from his fetid bloat,
this cancer in the forest's living heart.

And there he'll squat, caked in poisonous mud
where weeds grow yellow and no creature dwells
(the stink of him keeps even flies at bay),
until a maiden born of Sigur's blood
can lift the curse (though how, no legend tells)--
and then, like ice, the beast will melt away.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

#357: April 15, 2007

Somewhere down in the catacombs that lie
beneath this manor house like spiders' webs,
all labyrinthine--where the stale air ebbs
and flows, like breath of monsters soon to die,
you'll find the Viscount's tomb. Look for his mark:
a raven on a red field strewn with bones.
Remove his banner, lay aside the stones:
the secret you seek sleeps there in the dark.

But do not go if you've a dread of death--
live out your days in ordinary time!
For something conscious shifts there in the slime
that hasn't been the Viscount these ten year.
A dead man's wares are never bought but dear.
Listen--the tunnels echo with his breath...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

#356: April 14, 2007

When I came back, the fields were just as green
as two years past. The buildings were the same.
The old faces peeked out among the new,
but slightly changed. And though your words were kind,
the spaces in between them stretched too long,
the friendly clasp of fingers broke to soon.
Already, then, you were forgetting me.

Later, alone, as I wandered between
college and house, a thing I couldn't name
turned my steps toward the back fields, where the blue
cold light and waist-high weeds bent and entwined.
I shed my clothes--for, naked, we belong
to just ourselves. Beneath that foreign moon
I walked back, silent, like a refugee.

Friday, April 13, 2007

#355: April 13, 2007

"Young counselors of Crystal Lake, beware!
Jason Voorhees is prowling on the bank.
He can't be stopped, he moves just like a tank;
He doesn't think, and therefore doesn't care.

"His meaty paws have snapped uncounted necks,
His machete cuts campers down to size;
He'll shove those pruning shears into your eyes
while you lie naked, waiting on hot sex.

"His mom might shove an arrow through your throat,
but he'll just bend you backward like a hinge.
If half-drowned, rotting retards make you cringe
you'd best not go anywhere near that boat!

"Impaled or gutted, smashed against a tree--
you're doomed, kids, DOOMED!" Old Ralph said. "Wait and see!"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

#354: April 12, 2007

"Look, I'll make you a deal: just shut yer trap,
or else I'll shut it for you. How's that sound?
One way, you keep that dame across your lap;
the harder way's a hot date with the ground.

"What now, a heater? Second time today
some gunsel's thought the gat in his right hand's
the whole world by the tail. What can I say?
This type, a beatdown's all he understands.

"Here, gimme that! You're gonna hurt someone.
Now what to do, since Plan A just got scrapped?
Somebody's always giving me his gun.
Punk, you'll take it and like it when you're slapped!

"C'mon, let's see if Gutman comes across.
This'll put you in solid with your boss."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

#353: April 11, 2007

The trick is looking busy every moment;
the actual business barely enters in.
Hard work and deadlines met pass without comment;
Appearing to be idle? Mortal sin!

So cultivate a deep, thoughtful expression:
set eyes asquint and knit those heavy brows.
Better go blind than make the wrong impression--
less seen, the less suspicion you'll arouse.

Hold paragraphs of jargon at the ready:
a baffled boss keeps projects off your plate.
Drop lines of code, delib'rate, slow and steady,
and never finish early or leave late.

'Cause what you do just doesn't count for beans,
so long as what you're doing can be seen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

#352: April 10, 2007

Look, no one here's your friend. The enemy
is all around, just waiting to attack.
They finger bloody knives behind your back--
the only difference is one of degree.

There's some who wouldn't stretch to cause you pain,
but likewise would not help except for pay;
and others who, depending on their day,
would crush you even absent promised gain.

And then there's that sadistic, scheming class
who make it their life's work to crush young dreams;
through great expense and convoluted schemes
they plot your ruin--they're after your ass.

So best cast off that idealistic blindness--
for Time has soured the milk of human kindness.

Monday, April 09, 2007

#351: April 9, 2007

I've got to pluck the gray hairs from my beard;
it's not a case of vanity at all.
To be so shallow surely would appall,
and aged wisdom's hardly to be feared.

Rather, the case is one for seeming neat.
A lone white curl 'mongst whiskers brown and black
appears a remnant of my morning snack,
a souvenir of what I've had to eat.

Therefore with tweezers and these close-chewed nails
I seek out the offenders on my face.
I rip and tear 'til there remains no trace;
small scissors serve where such extraction fails.

If it makes me look younger, that's a plus
unsought--so let's just keep this between us.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

#350: April 8, 2007

Go on and pour me two glasses of wine;
I'll tell you when I need some more to drink.
'Cause lately it's been hurting me to think--
a few more snorts of this and I'll be fine.

There's brisker pipes than poetry for dance,
Old Terence said before he had to die.
He was my friend--I can't think he would lie;
so quaff quintessence while you've got the chance.

Our life's enjoyment lasts but for a season,
and Death's duration is eternity.
Why not enjoy a cocktail, maybe three?
They call the thing a "liver" for a reason!

I've heard the grave's a private place, and nice;
but just try getting tonic there, or ice.

#349: April 7, 2007

Where that old bait shop was by Potter's Creek
is now the First Communion Church of Christ.
The Pastor gives his sermon every week
over by where they kept the livers iced.

The smell of minnows still hangs in the air
along with words of redemption and sin;
the odor's just a cross they have to bear
who want to learn to be fishers of men.

The Pastor uses God's love as a lure
to draw them in, and often that works well;
but he can also howl at those impure
whose souls flop toward the frying pan of Hell.

For most folks, worms and spinners get the bite;
but now and then you need some dynamite.

Friday, April 06, 2007

#348: April 6, 2007

The day after we moved, we heard the screams
and voices start behind the cellar door.
Stored boxes disappeared; we had bad dreams.
That's why we don't go down there anymore.

The scratching in the attic gave us pause.
Raccoons or rats, we thought; one way to tell.
We found the rafters gouged by phantom claws.
That's why we've shut the attic up as well.

The laughter in our bedrooms drove us out;
the kitchen poltergeist broke all our plates.
Dead children singing--what's that all about?
We hear them all night long through heating grates.

That's why we're out here huddled on the porch,
wishing for peace and quiet--or a torch.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

#347: April 5, 2007

If God will damn me for my disbelief,
I guess I'll go to Hell, given the choice
between the meek repentance of the thief
and one who, terrorized, will not rejoice;

For something in this rebel soul resists
salvation offered on a sharpened knife.
A God like that, if such a beast exists,
will have to gnash His teeth and take my life

and be content. And if He does His worst,
if my absence from that great list of names
who feared him so inspires His holy thirst
for blood that I must be fuel for His flames--

Well, I'll be damned with no deathbed regrets,
who could not love a Tyrant for His threats.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

#346: April 4, 2007

So everything is crap. Now that's a fact
that can't be changed by fresheners or words.
No matter what you say, nor how you act,
the whole damn place is asshole-high in turds.

Sometimes someone will get the bright idea
to clean the floor, tidy things up a bit;
but soon an avalanche of diarrhea
buries his good intent in heaps of shit.

It always flows back in, just like the tide.
It's one big global, stinky, septic loop.
Perhaps it's nature, not to be denied:
we've all evolved to live and thrive in poop.

If so, humanity's in quite a mess;
but folks get used to anything, I guess.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

#345: April 3, 2007

A rainy night. The shadows on the streets
elongate in the flicker of the lamp's
moribund bulb. On subway grates the tramps
lie still as corpses in their winding sheets.

The guns in my front pockets chill my thighs.
I pull my collar up against the cold.
The city's dirty, impossibly old,
and plays with us, like wanton boys with flies.

I know that Death is waiting at the end
of this wet night, whether for me or else
some other slob whose luck ran out too soon.
But sometimes that Old Man smiles like a friend.
Sometimes I feel like buying what he sells.
And sometimes, that street light glows like the moon.

Monday, April 02, 2007

#344: April 2, 2007

When first I slipped my hand under your shirt,
I shivered like a thief, stealing your heat
and softness. How my eager fingers burned
down to their tips, while cradled in my palm
your beating heart set fire to my blue veins.
I smoldered like an ember, and your voice
enflamed my skin to blazes with a sigh.

Later, my steaming hands undid your skirt;
My tongue on your thigh traced that secret beat
as if in flames. And who knows how I learned
to handle fire that way? Or where the calm
that so possessed me sprung from? What explains
how phoenix-like, consumed, I could rejoice--
be born anew in you, and, burning, fly?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

#343: April 1, 2007

Le Pétomane trained for a baker's trade,
but longed to make his fortune in the arts;
alas, the only talent he displayed
was to control the timbre of his farts.

Some might believe an ill wind blew his fate,
but he transformed it into something rare:
with practice and the will to crepitate
he built the world's most tuneful derriere.

He played the Moulin Rouge, and soon his name
was counted 'mongst the most well-known in France.
And Frenchmen still today tell of his fame,
whose art was making music in his pants.

The story of Le Pétomane is true;
and there's a lesson in't for me and you.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

#342: March 31, 2007

I'm giving all my poems to the poor.
I hope someone will put the things to use:
level a table, patch a wooden floor,
boil 'em for soup or press them down for juice;

Perhaps they'd stop a draft or silence squeaks
on staircases; or maybe when it rains
they'd catch the drips under your ceiling leaks,
where once they caught the drips from poets' brains;

Cut paper dolls or fold them into hats,
or add them to a casserole for spice;
wipe oil from dipsticks, fix bicycle flats--
whatever purpose for which they'll suffice;

I offer them for free to those that need them,
so long as no one ever tries to read them!

Friday, March 30, 2007

#341: March 30, 2007

I'd never felt the warm air on my skin
before, and all the mysteries of light
were closed to me, a world of black and white
in which I shivered, colorblind and thin;

I'd never even known what sweetness meant
before, and honey struck my senses bland
as watered milk; sugar transformed to sand
and nature's nectars all for me were spent;

Until I tasted you, and dipped my tongue
into the honey of your lips, that flowed
in golden waves over and in between
the join of mouth and mind--till your face showed
the color of the sun when it was young,
azured the sky, and turned the meadows green.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

#340: March 29, 2007

All nature is a harlequin today:
its motley-colored cloak patched green and brown
is trimmed in gold and lined in thunder gray;
it twirls and dances till the sun goes down

While birds like thrown knives cut against the breeze,
their shadows whizzing past like tiny clouds,
and stick vibrating in the trunks of trees
to awe spectators gathered now in crowds;

It juggles sunspots dazzling to the eye
and whispers verse in greenbranch-rattling rhyme,
and when the daylight bleeds out of the sky,
it tips its tri-corn hat to scoundrel Time

And exits like some poor vagabond king,
exiled, but noble and uncowed--ah, Spring!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

#339: March 28, 2007

Another world, another time and place,
a different set of circumstance and fate,
on planets in some strange quadrant of space
whose orbits odd moons circumnavigate,

Staring at skies blown orange instead of blue,
where blood-red oceans wash out emerald sands,
where animals monstrous to me and you
roam gracefully o'er undespoiled lands,

So distant, with our bodies so estranged
from all we know or ever hoped to do,
if we should meet, when everything has changed,
so that we both are alien and new--

I hope, my love, that you will stay with me,
whatever creatures we might come to be.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

#338: March 27, 2007

If it were up to me, I'd grow a beard
as splendid as a billy goat's. The hairs
would dangle long as any that appeared
on first-prize winners at tri-county fairs.

With violets and daffodils I'd braid
my bristly bounty there beneath my jaw;
with ribbons so majestically arrayed,
I'd wag my chin and thus inspire awe.

All who beheld my bushy, glorious tuft
would beg to run their fingers through its curls.
Expertly combed and styled, well-groomed and fluffed,
I could command the men and woo their girls.

I'd have the best chin-duster in the biz,
if it were up to me. Hey, wait--it is!

Monday, March 26, 2007

#337: March 26, 2007

The thing was made of donuts and green beans,
of coffee grounds and spoiled scrambled eggs;
its eyes oranges; its hair was collard greens,
and celery stalks and corn husks were its legs.

It pulled itself out of the garbage dump
and slunk along the river toward the town,
and where it touched the bank a ghastly lump
would fall and turn the tide a sickly brown.

And when it reached the square, it roared just once--
then fell, a fetid, evil-smelling hill;
and though we covered it with earth, for months
the stench of its decaying cursed us still.

But that's long past, and nothing's left now--save
the rainbow-brilliant blooms that dot its grave.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

#336: March 25, 2007

Out here on Monster Island we all grow
to fifty stories high. Our footsteps sound
like thunder, and the shock waves rend the ground
down to its molten magma core below.

Our arms are slimy, sucker-covered ropes
that crush your ships like empty jugs of milk.
We trap airplanes with radioactive silk
and respirate destructive isotopes.

We grind your coastal cities into dust
beneath our mighty feet, pull down your towers
and with our fearsome elemental powers
we punish mankind's technologic lust.

Behind the tidal wave and sonic boom
we rise and come--your creatures, and your doom.

#335: March 24, 2007

Down in my secret lair, bathed in the lights
of databanks that mark these final hours,
imagining my doomsday satellites
that ring the planet like a crown of flowers,

With squads of henchmen ready to command
who at my word will terrorize and kill,
and every government in every land
moments away from crumbling to my will,

I think of how my grandma said to me,
"Though life is long, its greatnesses are few;
and of all men, most fortunate is he
who dreamed and did just what he hoped to do."

The countdown starts, the crypto-failsafes buzz--
and I can't help but think how right she was.

#334: March 23, 2007

The Spartan council dares not take the chance
to go against the Oracle's dictates;
therefore 300 march on the Hot Gates
clad only in their leatherette Hot Pants.

King Leonidas wears his manly beard
(his only patch of Spartan body hair);
he waxes legs and abs and pecs with care,
and yet nobody seems to think that's weird.

'Oil up your spears and ope the breaches, men!
Let those fey councilmen back home debate!
Now thrust and thrust again! Now penetrate!
Up to the hilt, my Spartans, stick it in!

'Show Xerxes's horde what true manliness means!
A lesson for all future kings and queens.'

Thursday, March 22, 2007

#333: March 22, 2007

Let's not do things by halves: go all the way
or else stay home. We want no milquetoasts here.
We need men in whose blood courage holds sway,
who grin at death, and smugly smirk at fear.

Polish your swords and strap your breastplates on!
Be ready for the herald's doomsday call.
Thine enemies won't taste another dawn,
so bring it strong, or bring it not at all.

Affix the banners on your wagon frames
that tell how fiercely you intend to fight!
Tis time for kicking ass and taking names,
so lend the warrior clan thy proxy might!

We snarl at those whose hearts would council peace
from out the high thrones of our SUVs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

#332: March 21, 2007

I've got to cheat tonight, for I am sick.
My sinuses have knocked me on my ass.
I hope I will be feeling better quick,
and moving to the front spot in the class.

My head is stuffed with mucous, you can see,
and though I blow my nose, nothing comes clean;
My friends are getting worried about me,
and don't know what this rank illness could mean.

My brain is fuzzy, thoughts are imprecise,
and all that's constant for me is my pain;
so please bring me a washrag and some ice,
and let the cool drops sprinkle me like rain.

Tomorrow let me rise up from my bed
and stuff some ibuprofen in my head.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

#331: March 20, 2007

Don't fool yourself: you're not important here.
You're not the one it's all depending on.
And if one day you were to disappear,
only a few would notice you were gone.

If cataclysms opened up the earth
and tipped you screaming downward into Hell,
the Company would keep its market worth,
and in a few days nobody could tell.

You're just a flea wrapped in this monster's fur,
and if you hopped off, nobody would care.
Another would slip in right where you were,
while, miles behind, you tumbled through the air.

Your absence would not leave the faintest scar;
consider, then, how free you really are.

Monday, March 19, 2007

#330: March 19, 2007

Let's dance together under winter skies
in frozen fields with snowflakes at our feet,
and with those blue diamonds that were your eyes
pierce through the mist where earth and water meet;

Let's saunter out upon the frozen lake
where lace-lines mark our steps across the frost,
and in that elemental give-and-take
forget the lives we lived and years we lost;

Let's hold each other close here in the snow,
though neither of us cloud the air with breath;
and let the moonlight cast its silver glow
upon the stone that marks your bed of death--

And from the crossroads let me rise and dance,
who, while I lived, so seldom had the chance.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

#329: March 18, 2007

So once upon a time there was a prince
who travelled through his kingdom in disguise.
The idea was, of course, to get a sense
of whether all his subjects thought him wise.

He went to village squares and public inns
and listened to the peasants and their speech,
hoping to learn how many were his friends
and what lessons his enemies might teach.

But folks talked only of their family woes,
the theatre, the weather, next week's joust,
of children's grades and teenage daughters' beaus,
and not what policies the king espoused.

The prince, dejected, slunk back to the castle;
it hadn't really been worth all the hassle.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

#328: March 17, 2007

My darling is an angel of the vineyard,
of barley malt and spirits all distilled.
Songs worthy of her praise have never been heard,
and won't until this Cup of Life is filled.

She brings me grapes pressed down to their quintessence,
the nectar of the fragrant, bitter hop;
all liquors taste the sweeter in her presence--
without her, champagne corks refuse to pop.

No cocktail that will ever be invented
can make me drunk as I am on her voice;
and no extract that's ever been fermented
could dethrone my intoxicant of choice.

Give me your lips, my love! Let me drink deep,
and stupefied upon your bosom sleep.

Friday, March 16, 2007

#327: March 16, 2007

I want to eat your brain. Is that so wrong?
Or so surprising, given what I am?
You'd not begrudge the wolf a leg of lamb,
and my innate hunger is just as strong;

You think it's fun to be the walking dead?
To have your flesh and limbs drop off this way?
We did not choose our state, nor you for prey--
so be a sport: give us a little head.

Civilization's grinding to a halt;
our hordes like locusts overrun the earth!
Those not yet dead already curse their birth.
The end is here--but that's none of my fault.

I'm only trying to spare you needless pain.
So stop being stubborn. Give me your braaaaaaaaaaain!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

#326: March 15, 2007

The crocodile exposes deadly teeth;
you only have to mark his bloody grin
to understand what danger lurks beneath
the muddy Nile for those who blunder in.

The rattlesnake is called a gentleman
for warning victims well before the bite.
You can avoid him--anybody can;
with care, your risk of venom will be slight.

And yet you, monster, sounded no alarm;
your eyes were kind, your smile seemed sincere.
So thinking myself safe from any harm,
I lowered my defense and wandered near.

And now you laugh to watch my face grow pale--
for you are barbed alike at tongue and tail.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

#325: March 14, 2007

They still don't know what happened to the kid,
but I remember everything: the way
the air felt hot and close on us that day,
gray-bottomed clouds all pressed down like a lid.

He turned to me just as the ground grew wet
with that first rain, his fevered eyes alight,
his fingers round my wrist, the knuckles white
and whispered of my promises and debt.

"Don't let 'em come!" he groaned. "I seen 'em, John!
All white as grubs and screechin' just like bats!
Those eyes!" He choked, and that was all he said.
Next day I went to look, but he was gone.
Blood on the porch; they said it was a cat's.
An offering. Still, though--the kid is dead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

#324: March 13, 2007

Those people who you didn't want to be
have got you in their address books these days.
They call your wife and ask her out to tea,
invite you to their children's grade school plays.

They talk to you as though you're one of them;
whose empathy can never be in doubt;
assume you join in every stratagem,
and care about the things they care about.

You well may grind your teeth and clench your fist,
but in the end it all shakes out the same.
You know you had your chances to resist,
yet here you are, with just yourself to blame.

This is exactly what you thought you'd hate.
But now you're part of it, and it's too late.

Monday, March 12, 2007

#323: March 12, 2007

Some folks move fast enough to catch their dreams,
or dream slow, so they're easier to catch;
while others sweat and groan and dig and scratch
and make it look much harder than it seems--

Still others find themselves precisely placed:
success flows to them like rain through a pipe;
and patient ones wait till green hopes are ripe
to pluck them ere their season is erased.

But most have one chance at that questing beast,
one moment full of opportunity
that, seized, directs their fortunes to the good,
and missed portends lifelong futility,
tortured by how they would, and could, and should
have clutched the dream they touched, and then released.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

#322: March 11, 2007

See, J. C. was a fuckin' rock star, man!
He laid down all the moves, knew all the tricks.
That long dark hair, that sexy Dead-Sea tan--
no fuckin' wonder He got all the chicks.

This one girl used her hair to wash His feet!
Some fought to touch the collar of His shirt.
That crazy, man! The babes lined every street,
so blind, devoted and naive, it hurt.

Don't get me wrong--J. C. was cool to me.
But some among the others in the band
got jealous of Him. Jude especially.
If you'd been there, you'd almost understand.

Still, someone's got to play the front man, see?
And looking back--hey, better Him than me.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

#321: March 10, 2007

Somewhere across the universe one night,
a boy was sitting in his thinking chair
when something in the quality of light
dazzled his eyes, and gave him quite a scare;

For all at once he felt the vast unknown
opening in his mind, just like a door;
and suddenly the boy felt more alone
than any creature ever had before;

And having once but put aside the veil,
illusion could not fool the boy again;
he knew the cosmos empty, cold, and frail--
Himself its maker, and sole denizen.

And so he dreamed the world, and dreamed us too,
to give his lonely mind something to do.

Friday, March 09, 2007

#320: March 9, 2007

My mind is full of things I didn't do,
of fantasies that sit and gather dust
and opportunities fallen askew
like tombstones toppled on the graves of lust.

The girls I failed to kiss, who might have done;
those temptations I shunned in junior high;
the parties skipped, the unexperienced fun--
like flames they flicker once, and then they die.

O Children, don't just sit and watch your youth
fly by--no, take a lesson from my fate!
It's best to try it out now--that's the truth!
Do it! Because too soon it grows too late.

Regret the things you've done, not what you've missed,
and let the saints and simpletons resist.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

#319: March 8, 2007

When everything is years on down the line,
and nothing present seems of consequence;
when causes come unmoored from their events
and concretion divorced from its design;

When planning for the future circumvents
the now to such a grim totality,
and pyramids of possibility
sit desert-stranded, distant and immense--

When, stripped of every hopeful recompense,
the roof caves in...hey, listen--come with me.
Instead of willing planets to align
just so, let's try for once just being free.
Let's see what inverse worriment invents.
C'mon, let's go. Hold tight now. You'll be fine.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

#318: March 7, 2007

The blackguards have invaded us again!
Our winter-born defenses suffer breach--
they've compromised the bathroom and the den,
encamped near ceiling joints, just out of reach.

These Black Knights of the Kingdom of the Bugs,
behold their chitin armor and dread wings!
Their antennae snake out from under rugs--
and Sarah, bless her, just can't stand the things.

Quick, to the battlements! Roll magazines,
step out of shoes, deploy poisonous baits!
Rob colonies of coprophagous queens!
Make sound with pesticides our porous gates!

Let larvae shrivel in their stinking holes
and may no god have mercy on their souls!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

#317: March 6, 2007

The Holy Fool rolled in from Dunlee Town
with crooked teeth and feathers in his beard.
He wore a dented stovepipe like a crown,
and from his weaving path the townsfolk cleared
each obstacle, as though they were afeared
of interfering in his holy quest.
The old folks all withdrew whene'er he neared;
the children pinned red ribbons on his chest.
Ma said she hadn't liked the way he leered
at her, as if the whole world were undressed--
but Papa thought him just a harmless clown.
Then finally, at the Constable's request,
we turned our backs and, as the sun went down,
over the rise the old man disappeared.

Monday, March 05, 2007

#316: March 5, 2007

Will knew something was wrong. He saw right through
my fear-strained smile, where worry lined each cheek
like hard-pressed pencil marks. I tried to speak
calmly, but even three-years-old, he knew.

I had to bring him back. He did not play
while I cleaned out my desk, dropped photos in
a box (his birthday snaps, that carefree grin)
and tried, and failed, to find something to say.

And when he asked me why you let me go,
and saw my face grow dark, I saw my fears
reflected in his eyes--blue, bright with tears
to hear me, broken, say "Son, I don't know."

And now he's learned that friends aren't always good--
a lesson I'd unteach him, if I could.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

#315: March 4, 2007

There was a fire once on a hill in Spain
(it might as well be Spain, as countries go);
it raged through wind and snow, through sleet and rain,
and what its source was, no one seemed to know.

The flames' bright glow could be seen miles away:
a red-orange haze that simmered o'er the trees.
It burned night after night, day after day;
the smoke, like sandalwood, incensed the breeze.

The miracle inflamed more than the wood,
for people living near that magic pyre
swore its undying blazes boiled the blood,
consumed the brain and heart with God's own fire--

And should that flame die out, the world would end!
But ah--it never did go out, my friend.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

#314: March 3, 2007

She's screaming just as loud as she can scream,
throwing her toys and stomping little feet--
a siren wail, a back-teeth-grinding bleat
that roars and pours out of her like a stream.

This two-year tantrum titan, royalty
whose stubborn ire is writ down in her genes,
whose ancestry were famous for the scenes
they caused (yes, she comes by it honestly);

No binkies--she will not be pacified;
and past a certain point, not even treats
will stem the flow of noise that so defeats
our reason, uncontrolled and amplified--

O Thea, how I dread your screeching wrath,
and hope it quiets once you've had your bath.

Friday, March 02, 2007

#313: March 2, 2007

This cubicle looks like a dead-end street,
a blind alley I ran down by mistake
to hide from predators I had to shake,
their growls drowned by my breathing and heartbeat.

So now they've got me trapped; they lie in wait.
Only my dull routine holds them at bay.
The benefits and fat twice-monthly pay
keep them outside, just like an iron gate.

And so I sit here, staring at the walls
that cage my sanctuary, unafraid
and unfulfilled--all tame and bored, but paid,
pecking at keys and answering phone calls.

They're out there still, as silent as a snake,
just waiting till I finally make a break.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

#312: March 1, 2007

I know it seems impossible right now
to stand up and get out, when movement strains
'gainst this easy inertia in our veins
like thickened oil. Why try, and further, how?

This dull impossibility of change
has sunk our feet like boulders into clay
down through this present life. Late in the day,
the very thought of alteration's strange.

But listen: there's a thrumming in your breast
I'll nurture with my breathing like a flame
through our joined lips--till everything that's tame
in you is wild, flown free to lives unguessed.

Then everything you want is what you'll be.
It's not impossible, my love. You'll see.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

#311: February 28, 2007

I think there's something stirring in my house
up in the attic and behind the walls
at night when I lie fitful in my bed;

For every now and then a shadow crawls
on spider legs across my sleeping head,
and through dark crevices invades my dreams.

My mental vision flashes blue and red,
water and fire entwined in warring streams,
and steam enshrouds the creature's face and form;

So that I only hear it: clicks and screams
that shake me like a willow in a storm.
I wake up sweating, cold, my temples sore--

And in the darkness, something like a mouse
skitters and disappears across the floor.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

#310: February 27, 2007

The night wind blows like death across the moors,
the last black breath of this sick, gasping earth
whose dank, already rotting corse is wrapped
in cerements of fog; let us not speak,
but silent as the stones round ruined kirks--
we shadowed sentinels with naught to guard
but darkness--let's yet find joy where we may.

I'll show you mine if you will show me yours!
Take off your velvet cloak (which must be worth
a lot), and from that bondage where they're trapped
spring free your thingies! Here among these bleak
and shadowed woods, safe from those preppy jerks
at school who laugh and pull my Vlad cape--hard--
let's show we can go Gothic--all the way!

Monday, February 26, 2007

#309: February 26, 2007

I came out of the sun into a room
washed bloodless underneath fluorescent light,
and there he sat: vindictive as a ghost
in sunglasses, a dirty baseball cap
and overalls, brand-new--the slack legs rolled
up tight and snugly tucked under his thighs.
His gnarled hands clutched the wheel rims like a curse.

And even when I fled that whitewashed gloom,
my doctor's good report in hand, the sight
of that legless trunk--prophetic, almost,
sat like an evil omen in the lap
of possible future, heavy and cold,
harbinger of what cruelties gods devise;
if needed, proof: it can always be worse.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

#308: February 25, 2007

Put pots under the skylight where it leaks,
and oil up every hinge on every door.
To fix the stairs, apply woodscrews to squeaks;
nail rolled linoleum back to the floor.

Try not to tear your socks on carpet tacks,
and pack rolled towels round drafty windowpanes;
go spackle well the spidered ceiling cracks,
and pour some caustic chem down hair-choked drains.

If walls are marked with crayon, grease, and muck,
one coat of paint works wonders, I've been told.
Now then, you'd best reserve that moving truck;
it won't be long before this pit is sold.

Just let the next poor suckers right this ship;
meantime, we'll find another house to flip.

#307: February 24, 2007

Some mornings when he woke up, and the wind
rattled the glass and roared like ocean waves
across the plains, a tumult in the wheat
and scrub snaked once or twice against the breeze,
just so that, to a man still half in dreams,
it might appear that something shifted there
unseen between the stalks, beneath the grain.

And late at night, thinking of how he'd sinned
those years ago, and of those shallow graves
between the amber rows tucked snug and neat,
he wondered what rough beast lurked in the seas
of those deep fields, whose shrill unearthly screams
on moonless nights laid all his evils bare,
and disinterred the corpses in his brain.

#306: February 23, 2007

The slatted light through half-turned window blinds
makes convicts of the figures on the floor,
sprawled like a massacre, their sightless eyes
half-lidded with incline. Around the dolls
a traffic jam of plastic cars, a zoo
of sawdust animals--and on the bed,
fields of embroidered flowers gather dust.

In fact the captive air here whorls and winds
with motes between the window and the door.
The warped wood underneath you breathes and cries
at any movement--though within these walls
disturbers of its sanctity are few.
Just those whose sorrows summon up the dead--
for whom the past is frozen, and unjust.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

#305: February 22, 2007

I think the trees are whispering to me
in languages I've not the skill to learn--
all sibilant, susurrous, all breath;
and also how they sway against the breeze,
the way their branches bend and leaves vibrate,
these also are the grammar of their speech,
heavy with meaning as ripening fruit.

If it's what I imagine it to be,
if in the acorn's dip and blossom's turn,
in creak of greenwood and in seedling death
encoded lies the history of the trees--
perhaps one day, if we are not too late,
if wisdom has not fled beyond our reach,
these ancient, verdant songs will strike us mute.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

#304: February 21, 2007

I've learned to turn my eyelids inside-out
and pop the saddle joints on both my thumbs;
to turn my ankle all the way about,
and shoot spit-streams through spaces in my gums.

What's more, now I can burp the alphabet,
amplified with a funnel and a hose;
I'll dislocate my shoulder on a bet,
and can, at will, shoot milk out of my nose.

Yet every day when I perform at school
Margie, the girl I'm trying to impress,
just walks on by, uninterested and cruel.
Her distance leaves me flummoxed, I confess.

I must keep trying, though--I know she sees.
I guess some girls are difficult to please.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

#303: February 20, 2007

I can't hate anybody when I'm drunk;
Three beers, the anger all just melts away.
I find my stores of surliness have shrunk,
And so, dizzy forgiveness wins the day.

I feel I could embrace those enemies
Whose very names send shivers down my spine;
Mountains of spite I've built up by degrees
For years disintegrate in casks of wine.

So pour the whiskey out, and let's be friends!
Let spirits overcome wrongs of the past.
Good alcohol can more than make amends
For sorrows; pity is, it will not last.

But while my hand curls round this glass of beer,
It's not a fist--so you've nothing to fear.

Monday, February 19, 2007

#302: February 19, 2007

Nobody talk to me. I'm in the mood
for silent introspection and release.
Though it's not my intention to be rude,
I must insist you leave me now, in peace.

Go pester someone else for your reports;
shriek deadline dates to others of your kind.
For I've retreated to those lush resorts
and sanctuaries of the quiet mind.

Don't ask for new development round here;
my coding's on the cortex, not the keys.
Format the hard drive, wipe the whiteboard clear,
Shut down the mental PC, if you please.

So dim the lights and make your speakers mute.
My brain is fragged--it's time for a reboot.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

#301: February 18, 2007

"Jim King the Iron Stomach," read the sheet,
and what a show that eater gave the town!
Starting with week-warm milk and rancid meat,
he'd open up and hand the foul stuff down.

Next Jim chewed light bulbs, razorblades and tin;
he washed them down with some acidic stew.
And always smiled, the blood slick down his chin,
shards in his gums--and how, nobody knew.

Then one off-season, Jim took ill and died.
Food poisoning, of all things, don't you know!
Trichinosis--pork inexpertly fried
fermented in his guts and laid him low.

So take this lesson from poor old Jim King:
you can't inure yourself to everything.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

#300: February 17, 2007

THREE hundred sonnets? Holy fucking shit!
That's quite a whopping number, you'll agree.
The end's in sight, it's far too late to quit;
I'm pressing on till anniversary.

I've filled up seven notebooks with this scratch
And emptied better than a dozen pens
Arriving at this tricentary batch,
So now I'm in it till the bitter end.

And maybe once it's done I'll rub the claw
That used to be my writing hand and sigh;
Unknit my brow, unclench my aching jaw,
Put down my quill and set my notebooks by;

Resign my meter and abjure my rhyme--
But then, what will I do with all my time?

Friday, February 16, 2007

#299: February 16, 2007

The sun sinks down behind a mound of toys.
Don't pick them up; just leave them where they lay.
Pull covers over sleepy girls and boys.
Draw down the shades: time to call it a day.

Bring them raggedy dogs and teddy bears,
And baby blankets no doll could replace;
Put nightlights on, drape housecoats over chairs,
Listen to prayers, and share one last embrace.

Outside the night is dark and cold and deep,
A wide world where a child's easy to miss;
In here it's warmth and coziness and sleep,
A father's bear hug and a mother's kiss.

So close your eyes and lie snug in your beds,
While dreams drift down like snowflakes round your heads.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

#298: February 15, 2007

It's time for TV, time to watch the tube!
Just check your brain and cut those pixels loose.
So what if those elites call you a boob?
It's Thursday night, you don't need an excuse.

It's sit-coms, infotainment, news and sports,
Reality and Un-, plus new game shows;
Doctors and cops and lawyers of all sorts,
Not to mention Funniest Videos.

You work all day; it's time to rest that brain;
Just let your passive peepers do the work.
There's calm that no Zen Buddhist can explain--
Besides, the Dalai Lama is a jerk.

Palm that remote, write down the Phrase-That-Pays,
And bathe your boiling brain in cathode rays.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

#297: February 14, 2007

My love opens me up just like a rose
and so discloses my heart to the sun;
she places golden grains there, one by one--
without her ministrations, nothing grows.

My darling covers me like rich brown soil
and tucks my seedling dreams in humus beds;
from frost she shields their drooping fragile heads
until fruition answers all her toil.

And so whatever blooms spring from my soul,
whatever slender shoots rise to the air,
what fruits ripen and bend their branches there,
whatever once unformed grows true and whole

from this spare, fallow garden of my mind
is thine, my love--is thine, is thine, is thine.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

#296: February 13, 2007

Show me your tarot cards and crystal ball
and tell me what the Hanged Man signifies;
give all your fortune-telling friends a call,
for I could use some forward-thinking spies.

Pour out the tea, interrogate the leaves,
teach me to read the line-graphs in my hands;
for Time's a mystery no child believes,
and Death a riddle no one understands.

Because we can't go back and start afresh,
as possibilities grind down to none,
the way we fear a shadow more than flesh
we seek to know the worst, and have it done.

So cast your bones and tell me what they say;
for mine will be as bare and dry, one day.

Monday, February 12, 2007

#295: February 12, 2007

If one goes jumping over candlesticks
in search of greater glory than he's earned,
with all those fire-defying tumbler's tricks,
one should not be surprised his pants get burned.

If one sits in a corner rooting pies
in search of stewed fruits over which to gloat
and finds nothing, again it's no surprise--
dessert-despoiling children should take note.

For no one's ever lived a nursery rhyme
and fairy tales aren't called such 'cause they're true.
As each childhood is sacrificed to Time,
all grown-ups soon unlearn what children knew.

So turn the tap for water, and be still;
remember what became of Jack and Jill.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

#294: February 11, 2007

Behind a wall of crystal, where the falls
crash down like thunder over shark-tooth stone
bleached by the salt and tumult white as bone,
imprisoned there, the giant Gnorthak crawls.

Its thousand armored legs click on the glass,
searching for purchase in its flawless jail,
and all those charms of holding still will fail
to keep the brave from shivering as they pass.

For even when the cataracts there roar
and its dread form is hidden by the spray,
the Gnorthak's rasping mandibles still grate
loud enough to be heard a league away.
One day quartz shards will stud the valley floor;
you'll hear the Gnorthak scream, but far too late.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

#293: February 10, 2007

We sent a cat after the attic rats,
and then another, thinking that one lost.
So now we've got a clan of attic cats
who cannot be removed without great cost.

We thought of sending dogs into the fray,
but escalation hardly seemed the best.
We then resolved to frighten them away;
they yawned and licked their tails, quite unimpressed.

Their rafter-scratching keeps us all awake;
they yowl like murdered ghosts when they're in heat.
And that ammonia stench, for Goodness' sake,
makes me say things I'd rather not repeat.

It's hell, and lack of foresight is the cause.
Listen: the pitter-pat of little paws...

Friday, February 09, 2007

#292: February 9, 2007

"Do not go swimming in the drainage ditch.
Remember berries are not safe to eat.
Don't crawl through weeds, unless you want to itch,
and look both ways before you cross the street.

"Don't converse with nor take candy from strangers.
Don't run between cars after soccer balls.
For children must be vigilant of dangers;
and always, always come when Mother calls."

"But how, Mom," asked young Edward, "can I play
with all your prohibitions in my head?
If this cruel world's as dangerous as you say,
hadn't I better hide at home instead?"

His mom looked at her son, then at the door--
wondering what she'd procreated for.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

#291: February 8, 2007

The sudden storm flooded Mark's neighborhood,
so we rolled up the cuffs of our blue jeans;
two chubby, graceless kids, just in our teens,
we waded to the center line and stood
(the water curled around our feet, and rain
bejeweled our hair like dewdrops in the crowns
of oaks) intoxicated by the sounds
the brown flood made pulled down the concrete drain.

And all our clumsy adolescence seemed
to wash away with it, and in its place
a childlike carelessness we never dreamed
we'd lose propelled us, stomping, down that creek,
and kicking plumes into each other's face--
so joyful neither one of us could speak.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

#290: February 7, 2007

That night those years ago, up in my dorm
she lay down on my twin-sized bachelor's bed.
The lamp cast its own shadow o'er her head
and smudged to indistinctness every form
and feature, so that in my memory
there's only heat and softness, breath and skin,
and frost off blinded windows creeping in
to edge my nakedness with ice--till she
opened wide arms to fold me in, and pressed
me into her while I shook, as with cold;
we crested there, and she held me immersed
in that warm sea of her, told me to rest.
Linda. And I was twenty-one years old.
She never even knew she was the first.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

#289: February 6, 2007

The trees were swaying out there in the dusk
between the bright blue afternoon and me,
that leaf-wind noise, that green pine-needle sea
that rose and fell in waves of forest musk;

And I was thinking things can't be as hard
as this, not when these voices in the air
give promise of what secrets they can share,
not when the breeze has beaten down its guard;

The very breast of nature so exposed,
it heaved as though under a lover's touch,
enough to make me stretch out this bare hand
to put aside the veil, strip off her clothes,
and like a lover start to understand
these mysteries I'd never known as such.

Monday, February 05, 2007

#288: February 5, 2007

You'll find Golgotha Church up on that hill,
whose carpenters and masons worked in bones;
with monks' skulls laid in her foundation stones,
She's stood six centuries, and stands there still.

The ribs of holy men her chandeliers,
and torches made of thigh-bones fire those halls.
They say at night the silver moonlight falls
like water through her silent, charnel tiers.

And so, with God's machinery laid bare,
with bodies stripped of flesh and purged of lust,
perhaps these penitents have made their peace.
But when the wind blows through her, and the air
goes gritty with a thousand friars' dust,
she moans, and it sounds nothing like release.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

#287: February 4, 2007

Another mulligan tonight, I think;
I just can't seem to get it going yet.
I'd rather put my feet up, have a drink,
and lose my troubles through the TV set.

It must be disappointing, should you care--
if daily you should turn this way your eyes
to find my poem answering your stare.
If that's the case, then I apologize.

I try my best--I think I'm doing well.
Two hundred some-odd sonnets in the book,
I count more good than bad, but who can tell
before unbiased critics take a look?

My muse tonight has suffered this defeat;
but through it my project will be complete.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

#286: February 3, 2007

I met a stranger in a hockey mask
who strode implacably toward town today.
Just who he was I didn't stop to ask;
machetes make me step out of the way.

A little later I passed on that path
a joker in a sweater, green and red,
with finger-knives: one, two, three--do the math;
a charred fedora on his bald, burnt head.

Just when I felt my courage start to fail,
I spied, in blue coveralls, Captain Kirk!
Except he had a knife, and looked real pale--
and when I said hello, he went berserk!

That I beat it but good I need not mention;
as for those three--there must be a convention.

Friday, February 02, 2007

#285: February 2, 2007

He's up the tree like lightning, to a height
that makes me gasp; he hangs there like ripe fruit,
as if the rocks, the creaking wood were moot,
as though to fall from there were only flight.

He's heedless, rushing headlong toward the street
behind a rolling car or bouncing ball,
exasperated by my panicked call,
the fright that cracked my voice and froze my feet.

He's beautiful and ignorant, and I
was just the same before I knew life stung,
before experience made dangers clear.
That's really why we so envy the young,
who can't believe we never try to fly--
who tell our age by how we've learned to fear.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

#284: February 1, 2007

There's sunken treasure strewn along that reef
they call the Graveyard. Well it's earned the name,
with fifty foundered vessels to its blame--
three miles of coral, keen as new sharks' teeth.

The riches in its caves defy belief--
doubloons of Spanish gold and precious stones,
all guarded by drowned sailors' sentry bones
and safe since their descent from any thief.

Though some still try, they always end the same.
Some nights along the beach you hear the groans
of divers clutching wounds that burn like flame.
That poisoned rock, and what else lies beneath,
has turned sweet girls to bitter, widowed crones,
who curse the God that built it, in their grief.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

#283: January 31, 2007

The tremor shifts the ground just like the sea
and throws us gasping, earthsick, while the waves
rise and turn ancient bodies from their graves,
turn Now to turbulent turbidity.

The Past buries the Present in the loam
suddenly liquid, churning temples down;
and like a goddess shrugging off her gown
now Gaia bares her breast through brownish foam.

The force that separates mantle from crust
and pulls the work of centuries apart
like motley costumes splitting at the seam
reveals to us the wages of our lust,
transmutes our bodies into wisps of steam
upon the planet's fiery, pulsing heart.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

#282: January 30, 2007

"You'd better use that thing between your legs
before it withers on you, mark my word!
Get out and drink your life down to the dregs,
for one day soon the thought will seem absurd.

"When you're as old as I, you'll spend your days
scratching your head and wondering where it went;
and memories of all your favorite lays
will show themselves treasure and time well spent.

"So go on, now, and stick it to those girls!
Don't worry if they're pretty, fat or thin.
The time's too short! Plunge in up to the curls!
'Cause who knows if you'll have the chance again?"

Grandpa sucked on his beer. "Believe me, kid:
don't do it, and one day you'll wish you did."

Monday, January 29, 2007

#281: January 29, 2007

Down in the swamp, so deep no juicy worm
can squeeze its fat bulk there, the Blurpin lies
with copper scales fastened over his eyes,
and chained so tight there's hardly room to squirm.

But squirm he does, and bubbles of his gas
swim anaerobic fathoms to the air
where they ignite like fiery warning flares
and singe the wings of vultures flying past.

They say one day the beast will break his chains
and seek the wizard out who built this jail,
though that old man's long dead; still, he won't fail
to make some warlock pay for all his pains.

Beware, practitioners of the magic arts:
the Blurpin's coming, flinging flaming farts!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

#280: January 28, 2007

Hold on to this, before it disappears
and leaves you empty-handed, clutching air.
You'll miss it as the cold, relentless years
stretch on and on toward death--so have a care.

Now pick it up and turn it toward the light;
commit each ding and dent to memory.
You'll polish it to shine after tonight,
and bless this call to perspicacity.

So put this moment in your treasure box
against the leaner times that lay ahead;
put velvet over it and turn the locks
on what was done and seen, and heard and said.

Now keep it sure as silver, dear as gold;
you'll live on this someday, when you are old.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

#279: January 27, 2007

Let's have a drink and sing another song,
clasp hands and wander back from now to then;
for moments here are short, and life is long,
and who knows when we'll come this way again.

The world is full of strangers, cads, and thieves,
and far too nearly empty now of friends;
the years fall through our arms like autumn leaves,
and happy seasons early meet their ends.

So come, embrace and call me by my name!
Lift up your glass, and I'll salute with mine.
In years to come, nothing will taste the same
except our love, and this fruit of the vine.

Let's drink our memories, for they are sweet--
My friend, my brother, till next time we meet.

Friday, January 26, 2007

#278: January 26, 2007

Stop to consider Edgar Manfred Sands
in these, the last few moments of his life;
who thinks not of his children, nor his wife,
but only of sales figures in his hands;

Too busy with columnar loss and gain
to note the twinge in his chest growing strong,
so by the time it's clear there's something wrong
he's on the carpet, doubled up in pain;

And so Edgar's life ends: fluorescent light
cold on his pallid brow, crumbs in his hair,
the keyboards' clack and static in the air
as gray cube walls enclose his final sight.

Now then: if you were Edgar, and you knew
it came to this, tell me: what would you do?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

#277: January 25, 2007

My Stabby Thing won't fail to break the skin--
its tapered end is blunt, but hides a sting;
it's pointy and precociously sanguine
and made to penetrate--My Stabby Thing.

My Stabby Thing must be handled with care,
or else there'll be a sticky reckoning;
it has been known to give folks quite a scare
so be gentle with it--My Stabby Thing.

My Stabby thing is quiet, clean, and quick--
it only needs a bit of anchoring;
then cock and press feel the gentle prick
and know it's done the job--My Stabby Thing.

An apparatus worthy of a king,
my pen-shaped pal, My Wondrous Stabby Thing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

#276: January 24, 2007

I've suffered half a hundred spider bites,
but still can't sling a web or climb a wall;
the kids all laugh at my bright spandex tights,
and every time I try to fly, I fall.

I tried getting exposed to gamma rays,
but then I just got sick and lost my hair;
and I'm an earthing--our sun's yellow rays
do nothing for me, which does not seem fair.

No super villains look up my address,
just bill collectors and religious folk.
As caped crusaders go, I'm just a mess:
powerless, impotent--a super-joke.

I may not be bulletproof, swift, or strong,
but I still want to save you. Is that wrong?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

#275: January 23, 2007

Before Jamie exploded, we all thought
that maybe she was just a little tense.
Given her stressful job, it just made sense,
but now, in retrospect, we all guess not.

She had some trouble with the intercom
just after the board meeting's second break;
she suddenly turned red, began to shake,
and then went off just like a cherry bomb!

Was it her boss's lousy attitude
that drove the poor girl finally to combust?
Or was it pent-up, boiler-pressure lust
for that muscular mail delivery dude?

Good workers can be so hard to replace--
especially so, I'd wager, in this case.

Monday, January 22, 2007

#274: January 22, 2007

"If everything did happen for the best,
you'd think we'd all be better off by now.
Forgive me if I'm not that much impressed
with what the Plan's accomplished here, or how."

"But God counts every sparrow as it falls,
and things are how they have to be, my friend.
The thing is to be ready when He calls,
and not bemoan results until the end.

"Do not be sad--if such a Plan exists,
then even tragedy performs its task."
"No matter how my preacher friend insists
on dumb acceptance, questions must be asked--

"Two answers, neither one likes me one bit:
there's no plan, or there is, and this is it."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

#273: January 21, 2007

He only missed one day--whether some spell
of sleeping, or some illness, laid him low,
some brain disorder, he would never know--
but when he came to, everything seemed well.

A single revolution of the sphere,
during which life had gone on while he stayed
completely out of it--he, undismayed,
began again, perceiving nothing queer.

Twenty-four hours lost--he felt no change.
And so his life continued on from there
until its end; his mourners, unaware,
entombed and left him, sensing nothing strange.

But if he'd had that day to live again--
Christ! What a different life it would have been!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

#272: January 20, 2007

When he was blind she gave him both her eyes,
and did not see him blink and turn away.
Her ears were deaf to all his alibis;
she'd bite her tongue rather than tell him nay.

And so when he withdrew from her his touch,
he left her on a plane devoid of sense;
she, never having dreamed there could be such
a world as this, abandoned her defense.

The darkness in the sockets of her skull
ran down like oil over her mouth and nose,
and all around her, limitless and dull,
the universal wavelengths fell and rose;

The planets turned, the moon drew back the sea,
and no one noticed--nobody but me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

#271: January 19, 2007

Dracula's got arthritis and the shakes,
can barely flex his fingers anymore;
Igor's acquired a morbid fear of snakes,
and so can't even crawl through a trap door.

The Monster in the dungeon's learning dance,
so villagers sleep soundly now, and free;
And Larry Talbot's buggered off to France--
his wolf act knocks 'em dead in gay Paris.

The Creature keeps submerged in his lagoon;
he lets the buxom bathing beauties swim;
and Dr. Griffin's leaving London soon--
he swears by Christ we've seen the last of him.

All night the zombies fidget in their graves
and ghosts sing dirges for the good old days.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

#270: January 18, 2007

He walks down stairs composed of human beings
crouched on all fours, like dogs at his command,
and stretches out to you a taloned hand,
his bearing and composure like a king's;

All round about his head the colors shift--
the world is suddenly liquid and strange;
his thoughts entire geometries derange
and set all moral sanity adrift;

His cape a devil's wings, his eyebrow creased
with fury, his top hat an altar stone
whereon is sacrificed and stripped to bone
your remnant mind, awakening the beast--

So best sit back and just enjoy the show,
in this strange world of Zé do Caixão.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

#269: January 17, 2007

The things you want to do have all been done;
that means they must be possible, you see?
How nice to know such hopeful ancestry,
how comforting you're not the only one!

And if that comfort's cold, it also chilled
those aspirants awake in days gone by,
who started from their bedsheets with a cry
and shivered as though they'd almost been killed.

Your darker mind reminds you few succeed--
few reach those possible, unlikely heights;
and dreams of failure keep you up some nights,
gnawing your nails with strange, psychotic greed.

Try not to get too caught up in that game;
succeed or fail--we all end up the same.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

#268: January 16, 2007

"I don't know who she was or where she went to
after that moment we locked eyes and smiled;
I stared at her much longer than I meant to,
those cloudy eyes, that hair--I was beguiled.

"Beguiled's a word you don't hear very often,
but here I swear to God it fits the bill;
and had my ice cream not begun to soften
I might be standing, staring at her, still.

"But people only do things when they've got to,
and so I paid the tab and walked away,
thinking only how much I'd rather not do
those other things I had to do that day."

Grandpa sighed. "After I finished that cone--
well, kids, I never felt so damned alone."

Monday, January 15, 2007

#267: January 15, 2007

I want to think of something nice today:
of warm spring days with flowers in the breeze
and blossoms stuck like sequins on the trees
that rain white petals earthward as they sway;

Of sunshine warm as honey and as bright,
that strews each speaking stream with flecks of gold;
those days of growth when nothing's very old
and always hours to go before the night.

For now the morning sky is cold and gray;
the pines trap vapors in their canopies
and harsh, odorless winds set birds to flight.
Bare oak limbs rattle, threatening a freeze,
and rain streaks every window like a blight,
and sunny thoughts can't keep the chill at bay.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

#266: January 14, 2007

The seventh night of rain we heard the crack
of concrete echo up the basement stair.
We found the crumbling wound behind the stack
of crates old Mr. Johnson had left there.

Next morning, water stood a half-inch deep,
all smelly, streaked with grease, unhealthy brown.
All day the ichor continued to seep;
the rain showed no intent of slowing down.

And when that stinking fluid drowned our shoes
we rented out a pump from Loughlin's place
and set it churning, nothing much to lose.
The rain strove hard, but couldn't keep the pace.

We found two skulls, and more human remains--
and still ain't seen the end of them damn rains.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

#265: January 13, 2007

If I could stand to drink my whiskey neater,
Tequila without triple sec or lime,
It might not make this old life any sweeter,
But surely it would save a lot of time.

If I could down the gin without the tonic,
Or gulp martinis, holding the vermouth,
It wouldn't make my woes any less chronic,
But it would make them shorter, that's the truth.

But I can't drink my spirits any faster;
It's wine and beer that makes my soul-weight float.
And while that leaves me less prone to disaster,
It takes a while, and also gives me bloat.

It's sick, perhaps, but life can make you sicker;
And wine is fine, but liquor does it quicker.