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.