Smoke

He handed me a cigarette
in that cave of foliage,
the same woods we played in
some ten years earlier.

He wasn’t saying much
between puffs and staring off
which was easier than catching up
on the forever since I moved away.

His house was the darkest I can remember:
cigarette butts on every counter,
Burnt pots and torn upholstery,
and heavier silence than this.

His older brother had a camaro
and a mullet and fangs and threats.
His mother worked at SevenEleven.
His father was a ghost.

We were best friends back then
when he came over to my house
to play Atari on my clean couch
and make snacks in my immaculate kitchen

Now I’m just smoking his cigarette,
too big for this small patch of forest,
feeling like an intruder and wondering
about the gravity of smoke.

 

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Venom us.

i am venomous.  a ventriloquist bent on soliloquies drilled into me
like pills under pillows, dreams less shallow than whatever we thought we wanted.

launch me from this stasis, this ice cube life, this pale blue artifice
built of promise rings and friendship bracelets strung of pixels and electricity.

shed me like python memories, swallow me like invisible dust, dance
with me one more time tonight because i’m dying.

we’re all dying to realize who we are.

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This is not our Country

This is not our Country.

Where injustice is tolerated
in exchange for creature comforts
doled out by a heartless regime,
a faceless machine rolling in circles
carving a hole, digging a grave
burying deeper the shrapnel of our dreams,

Our sodden spines are worse than broken.
To be broken implies a strength that was fractured.
Our spines have gone soft. We are no longer upright.
We have devolved to lesser creatures,
turned away from civility by the fraudulent glimmer of “civilization.”

Is that what this is?

Are we “civil?” Is a police state civil?
Where the keepers of the peace shoot first?
And no one asks questions later?
Where daily brutalities against minorities
have become emblematic of our society?

Do you wave that flag?
Will we fight and die for it?
Should we be expected to when
it continues to fail us?

This is not our Country.

Where we no longer have
knowledge of
nor control over
where our leaders are leading us.

Where our votes are miscounted and discounted
until they are discontinued.
Where corporations control the media,
and the media controls our information,
and so we are only as informed as they allow us to be,

and the Freedom to Choose
is the greatest travesty ever perpetrated
upon an increasingly undereducated populace,

Because selecting between the two choices
proffered by an unseen hand;
Isn’t Choice.
We’ve only been manipulated to believe so.
We are under control.

It’s taken decades to achieve such rich complacency
and we are the ugly soil that only grows rotten crops

They sell our sickness back to us as gold
and we’re dying under the weight
blinded by the shimmer
starved by the lack of substance

either too confused to be scared
or too scared to ask the questions
which might break the frothing tide of turmoil.

Though this is not our Country,

there is still love.
I feel it from my sisters and brothers
struggling every day to wrench themselves

from the quick sand of serfdom,
credit interest rates eating away the edge,
rising rents and stagnant wages,
potholes and methodone clinics,
brick walls, bars, barbed wire,
scowls, fists, ignorance,
assaulted by all manner of adversity

and Never Giving Up.

For those of us who derive sustenance
by sharing what we have,
from never turning our backs,
from pouring all of ourselves
into the hope for a brighter future,
we retain an optimism
which is truly one of the most fertile gifts,
which grows the more it is sowed.

But there is a problem with seeing
the bright side get darker and darker,
losing its luster until the day we wake up
and the light has gone out
entirely.

Starving
is a threat of death and
it comes in
many forms.

I fear for the day
when we find ourselves
pushed into that corner
with no alternative to
a violent evisceration
from that dismal place.

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There is a Dark Hallway

There is a dark hallway
It swallows every sound
All the tiny words tossed
Like keys into a blanket
Like coins into mud
Like wishes to the sky
And in our dreams we stare
Into its vaulted expanse
Prying the locks from the shadow
Tracing the inky veins
Picking at them with our numb fingers
In thick oily gloves
For the moments we missed
Or miss
Standing at its eye
My heart gasping
A dying fish flopping
Scared and bruising
Drowning in a foreign world
Swallowed like all the words
Rudely formed and ejected
Like God’s broken children
Unwished and recanted
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Dream #4

Giant obsidian waves cleave against each other
Shining like the coffins of magicians
A mesmerizing undulation.
White knuckles of foam smash and join the frothing sprawl.
The waves crash in through the open windows of this apartment,
Rushing over the wood floors, soaking the carpet.
Michael shuts the window.
His father says,
“Don’t gamble with marigolds. They never last.”
His voice is a needle slowly swiped across the record.
His hands shake dejectedly.
His eye is a portal to aquamarine, Poseidon’s bed sheets.
There is no fear here.
Only wonder and awe at the dark surge,
The secrets that rumple the blanket,
The depth beyond this silence.
Uncrumple the antidote and piece together the notes;
Seek out the hidden melody.
Throw yourself into the fearsome tumult and scrub yourself clean
With the jagged words, hurried thoughts, and magnificent love.
Memorize the words you can’t read.
Your heart will define them for you.
Use them to soak up the impossible,
Let them be the stones that help you cross
The chaos.
Erase nothing because everything fades in time.
Like this dream.
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Waste Management

I am the center of the drain,
The bottom of the suck.
The world passes through me and
I collect the detritus:

The unwanted
Stems and rinds and egg shells,
Clumps of hair and worry, paint chips,
Broken glass and fury,
Dirty bites and foul words,
Dead skin, soggy newspaper,
Burnt crumbs, murk and sewage.

When I become clogged,
So befouled with clutter and rot,
Stifled and stunted by
The spoils of love and war,
Stopped with refuse and the refused,
The completely unhinged and maculated,
I cannot gasp to scream.

I stew
A festering meditation
Akin to death
But less composed.
A monk born in a septic tank
Muttering filthy mantras,
Scratching at the infection
With clotted lungs and soft eyes.

I no longer have a taste
For the world which flows through me.
Rank water and rotten fruits,
The cascades of garbage swirling
Toward me are like sandpaper against my heart;
Abrasive, the gnashing teeth of a petulant shark,
Salted whips on my wet skin, a storm of thorns.

I feel alien. Uncomprehending,
I swallow the endless assault.
Gorged on rot and sludge and disappointment,
I feel myself succumbing to the indolence, eyelids crusted and heavy,
Forever distant from the dwindling vestige of sky.

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Looking Deeper

I think about your eyes
And how they drink up the world;
How all these Flashes of beauty, orchestral movements, these saturated montages are folded up and secreted away.

And the world that you’ve accumulated inside you is a place I dream to know.
And I wonder
Where do all these vital fragments travel to when they disappear into your eyes?

Do they shoot straight to your heart,
An electric current of staggering magnitude,
To shake you and warm you,
To stir you with tingling awareness?

Was I ever one of those?
And how long did I reverberate,
Riccocheting through those magnificent chambers?

Are there pieces of me there still,
Shrapnel embedded in those tender tissues,
Vibrating with your more significant breaths?

I would be content to live there
Peering up at the distant light
filtering in through your cautious corneas,
Letting your visions float down to me
Like leaves in fall, like flower petals in Spring,
Like wishes, tiny yet profound.

I would gather them there in the
Warm shadows of your left ventricle,
Wheat paste them all around me and fall in love
With everything you fall in love with.

I wonder this when I fall into your eyes.
I wonder where I’m going, and I wonder
How long you would let me live there.

Because there are already pieces of you inside me,
and their celebrated permanence is as real as anything I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

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A Troubled Refrain

These red rocks rise out of
an ocean of powdered sugar,

Immense swells of earth
frozen into a frothy storm
of rock and clay, ice and snow,
past and present.

These petrified fortresses guard
the secrets of Time;
God’s quietest moment held deep
in the cold keeps and proud ramparts.

A hundred-year sunset brushed
into the stone and sealed away,
the hushed beauty too magnificent
for our petty scope
held in a mountain’s indelible memory.

We are
So small in this:

A cancerous beetle in a canyon
that echoes the ghost of Eden.
Insignificant as a lonely moth
hiccuping at the moon,

And yet so necessary and vital
like every newborn’s first breath.

We pull through the creases
of these giants’ weathered palms
dragging our own miniscule vitality
through the folds of a Divine
life line

Pursuing our own fortunes
with bloodshot eyes and
restless hearts,
deafened by the defiant rhythm
of our forward march,
our celebrated entropy,
intransigent, transient

Ghost notes haunting
a troubled refrain.

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Bucket List #1

I want to dance in the
perfect lighted cornea of
an infant’s honest eye.

I want to whisper in the
delicate hollows of
the most somber flute.

I want to tiptoe over the
flowering tastebuds of
two lovers’ wrestling tongues.

I want to sit in the
weathered hands of
a beggar wise and destroyed.

I want to be the change.

I want to ride the
rhythm of a flag in a typhoon,
my heart chasing
the furious beating.

I crave an angel’s aptitude for indulgence
and an elder’s diligence for prayer.
I want to know my place.

I want to spit scatt like
a rainstorm dancing from
rooftop to fire-escape.

I would like to
kiss every mother’s pain and worry away
and sing them all to sleep.

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Mo(u)rning cross Country.

Long shadows cast
by defrosting Cows
moored in a sea of green,
Tail swishing cudd gnashing;
Dreaming cow dreams,

Silhouettes of churches
and the errant wind turbines
Waving their arms in chorus
Cheering me on as I drive into the sun,

Old farm houses disintegrating slowly
Lonely
As lepers;

The smallest towns are just
clusters of buildings gathered
round ancient churches
hoping for answers.

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