Bear

I was not
entirely there
so cannot say
for sure
but it feels like
something I put
into the world overnight
has been consumed
by a Bear, THE Bear,
the archetype
who has pulled it apart
and already digested
and spit and shit it out

and here I am staring
into a pile on the side
of the road, saying,
“that was mine” with a mix
of pride and anger

that anything at all
of what was once uniquely mine
was visible, had been deemed worthy
of consumption by an Immortal,
had nourished the Bear and
been passed back
to nourish the Earth itself.


Salt And Fire

There are places on Earth
so soaked in hate that

the only moral
thing to do

after finding new places
for people to live

may be to burn every scrap of wood
from furniture

to framing, fill in every
foundation, break up

all the roads that lead 
into and out of town, then

salt the ground into 
permanent sterility. Every day

you hear of places
so poisoned

that they have forfeited
the right to those locations

and instead should live on only
in the nation of infamy,

country of horror
stories and nightmares.

I do not say this lightly,
for I know every town

is someone’s home and
has at least a modicum

of love clinging to it. I do not
know how to make hate

disappear, and perhaps
I have become hate

when I think these things —
perhaps I should burn myself

then have a friend roll
my smoking corpse in salt

and bury me
in barren ground. But

something must happen
and it is hard to believe

that it will not somehow involve
fire and salt.


Empowerment

I think now and then

that it would be best
if all of us could fall into
amnesia,

tumbling to the ground
without our past knowledge
of walking, talking, sleeping,
shouting, killing.

It would not be
glorious renewal —
I’m no Utopian.

Instead I see it as
a fitting end to things:

all of us helpless, seeing 
every other one of us
from ground level,
lying there uneasily
as if new born, waiting
in complete equality
for an explanation
that will never come.

We’ve lived
for generations
terrorized by
by dark claims of 
mastery from those
utterly in thrall
to a lie called history.

It would be fitting, 
even at such cost, if
they were freed long enough
from that spell
to know how it felt not to be
empowered.

To see the world as it is,
from the ground up.

To squirm.


Our Joy In Their Teeth

Off to the carnival
before they get us
by our necks.  We can
practice shooting
at the fake little gallery game
with the lights and the sad
stuffed critters before we have to
shoot back at them
for real. 

Off to the ocean
for beach frolic
before they grab us
and hold us face down
in the bitter surf. We can
sing and dance and
serpentine away to fight
all the livelong day.

Off to the club
and the stage and the lawns
to toss one back and burn one down
before they toss us and burn us out
of body and home. We can
swirl through the thick
air of their war
and bite right back before we go.

We’ll sit there and snarl 
even if we’re bleeding
and they’re holding our joy
in their teeth
as they hover above us
waiting for us
to show pain.

Goddammit, they’ll say to us,
lie down and weep 
the way you’re supposed to;

Goddammit, we’ll bark back to them,
go ahead and kill us
but we will not give you our joy

without war.


Underfoot

No, he said,
I’m not responsible
for these wings
torn from so many
that litter the ground
for millions of 
square miles.
I was not
the scourge, the 
brute who laid
the lush carpet 
beneath my feet,
am not to blame
for my soft footing.
This crushing sound
from where I pass?
Merely the past, the
detritus of that unpleasantness
having been stirred, echoing
so loudly that it might
drown out anything
left alive, I admit,
but how am I expected
to know that? How
am I expected to 
know what damage
might be happening
underfoot? No, he said,
you can’t blame me
for anything except
walking on what 
was there to walk on.


How To Close A Book

after the first page:
lower the cover upon
the opening paragraph

as you might carefully 
reset bait in a trap,
in the hope
that another will take it
since you will not…

after the halfway point:
rest the book upon its spine
and clap the halves together

with a clean sound of 
finality and rejection, as if
you must let
all around you know
you can stand this tale no more…

upon completion:
lay the volume on its back
and close it

as if something
has changed in you
because of what you are
sealing back into the book
for the next reader,

or for the next time you open it.


Black Rum Funk

I am gray,
I know;

the sky is gray,
I know;

another night
has come, 
another dive into 
black rum.

I turn my head 
toward solid music
to hold me
until I am fully drunk and 

looking young again —
not to say I am
young again — not to say
the mirror agrees with me — 

when I do
this rum lights shit up
and this funk
holds shit down

and what I see
in that mirror looks like
fun and steam,
best moments

of a black rum life — 
this bar lit barely at all,
full of stomp and promise,
brush, rub, tug, groove;

I may soon be
out of black rum
but I’m not yet
out of blacktop;

that band
may be shutting down
but I’m not yet
out the door;

I may be driving
into the dark
but I know where
this road goes

and with any luck 
I’m not going down it
all alone

tonight.


Patreon update

I’ve recently made a number of posts, including a short essay on recent poems, over on my Patreon page.  For the most part, these are available to those who have pledged at varying levels there.

I want to stress that all of the poems I write will ALWAYS remain available here for free.  But in an effort to earn some income from this work, I think that providing more deeply curated and connected selections, along with some expository prose, is a good way to go. 

If you’d like to consider being a part of that community, the link above can show you how to do it. in addition, there’s a permanent description and link to that site in the pages seen at the top of the Dark Matter site itself.

Thanks for your time.

T


Preface

There is a floor in a house with a spot in the corner.
There is a story about the spot that no one is willing to share.
There is a loneliness in the house that manifests in the spot.
There is a story about the loneliness that no one is willing to tell.
There is a tree outside a window that casts a shadow on the spot.
There is a story about the tree that no one is able to translate from its original tongue.
There is furniture in the attic that may or may not be stained as the spot is stained.
There is a story of the stains that no one is willing to affirm.

Every building is a metaphor, of course it is;
the floors, the basement, the furniture, of course they are;
the stains on the floors, the whispering creak of the settling joists,
the tight fits of seams loosening with age; of course they are.
Every house isn’t just home but also prison and memory sink,
gallows, refrigerator gallery, slaughterhouse and hideaway,
of course it is, of course;

but it also is a place
where people live. Where people
want to live or at least have to
stay while they get past the metaphor
into simply getting by.

There is a story about how someone does such a thing.


Soft Monster

It was hope
that kept me here

long after
I should have fled.

Hope, soft monster,
makes light work

of final plans
and end games.

Not to suggest
that things were easy

after hope had sunk its teeth
into my skin

but once bitten
I was diseased immediately

and sick with it,
I stayed put.

Now, weary, unable
to move on, 

I sleep cuddled in fever
with hope and 

long for an end
to symptoms:

obstinate survival,
longing for dawn,

sporadic optimism,
slight joy at odd moments

when I feel like
perhaps all of this

is worth
all this trouble.


Hell Of A Wind

Here we have
an ordinary man

feeling more or less pain
who thinks something
needs saying
about it.

He wraps
a prehensile tongue
around the trigger
of a rifle

and learns
how to pull with it:
a broad rush
of words on the wind
crossing his ear delivers
instructions; it proves to be
not easy,
but not impossible
for a quick student.

There’s a hell
of a wind

blowing out there.
Lots of people 
listening,
stretching
their tongues.


Life’s A Beach

In the morning I wake up
dripping and soaked in
politics or what
some of you call
politics when I think
politics is a code word for
the ocean 

I live in and I can’t
get out and don’t really
care to try.

I know a lot of people
who drown in it. I know a lot
who tread water
and even some
who thrive and race here.

Some of you think I’m weird for staying here.
You say hey, life’s a beach. Get out of the water
when you can. That ocean
is fun to
look at now and then
but all in all you say gimme

sand and land and sun and fun.
Time to turn, you won’t burn.

You call me out for staying
out here. You call me
obsessed or fussy with it.

The only reason you have a beach
to get out onto at all
is because of this ocean that
would just 
swallow you in an impersonal
flash or splash
while you lie there.

I stay dripping with politics because
having been on the beach in the past
when a wave broke over me

I prefer to feel
what’s around

as it’s happening
and not be caught
by surprise.


The Sleeping Cure

If those of us
troubled by this life
were told that 
a collective nap
could solve everything,

would you be among the ones
to lie down?

If you were convinced
a Grand Dream
could shift the gloom
if only all of us
dozed into it at once,

would you 
close your eyes?

If you 
thought this was all that was needed —
all of us asleep and dreaming
of better times
while having no consciousness
of the present,

would you
surrender to

the sun burning you,
the snow drifting over you,
the ocean surging over you
as you slept
among the bones

of the ones
who remained awake?


Another Anthem

To be fair, right now I’m mostly
whistling as I pass
this nation-sized graveyard.

I have been dissatisfied
with every option 
that’s ever been presented to me.

Yes, I could have claimed
the easiest identity
and tightened my grip

on a White illusion of 
safety; could have
raised a banner 

on behalf of the Native
that lay hidden in me and 
fought a valiant, visible

losing war; could have straddled
that weathered fence and swung 
a leg on either side of it until

it broke under me
and I died as stupidly as I would have
if I’d chosen anything else.

I have America to thank for 
these choices, I know: 
a choice of skewers, a plethora

of demises. In the long run
we’re all as dead as flagpoles,
no matter what flags we fly.

Is it worth the fight at all?
I’m comfortable saying no,
for the moment at least. Right now

I’m sitting in smoke and mirror land,
thinking about writing new music
in case songs survive what’s coming.

They’ll need lullabies, dirges,
everything from ditties to pretties
to small hymns to whatever is left

of the nature we’ve grown to know.
The only song I hope
they will not need again is

an anthem.
As I wait and fret
about the end, I pray:

whatever choices I have left to make,
let me never have to raise my voice with others
in such a song as that.


Sometimes

I wanted to give up
on poetry

but I kept falling 
into it and sometimes

I was wet with it
when I got up

and sometimes
I drew my finger

through the wetness
and sometimes it was 

dew and sometimes it
was blood and 

sometimes you could see it
after I was done and 

sometimes it said something
or looked reasonably 

presentable and sometimes
I presented it and 

people sometimes said
it meant something to them

and sometimes it meant 
to them what it meant to me

and so sometimes I still 
call myself a poet and say

I haven’t given
up quite yet.