Monthly Archives: October 2015

Hagiography

Originally posted 11/12/2011.

Call upon any old saints, any old books;
you’ll find them retired, find them out of print.

Instead, call upon St. Teflon, patron saint of bullet dodgers;
St. Tango, source of comfort against blind divergent storms;

St. Bullwhip, defender against the wealthy;
St. Lifter, overseer of the doomed in all cases. Seek the favor of 

St. Angelcake, who strokes the heads of the raped;
St. Watchfob, who picks fruit and cleans the poisons from the flesh; 

St. Linger, warrior with no hard weapons;
St. Rollie Of The Bones, bringer of square deals and luck. 

Call for inspiration from The Blessed Version,
The Sherman On The Mount, 
The Irascible Conception;

proclaim them from a new Bible written by scribes drunk
on the manic milk of modern circumstance.  Raise a banner for

St. Rattler of the found quarter, pray to
St. Lobster of the century reboot, celebrate

St. Jack at the feast of unicorn meat, open your heart to
St. Liminal of body cameras fashioned

from broken teeth and old lies.
Open the long shot gospel and say it, sing it,

give it all your voice: our saviors appear
on no altars, grace no chapel marquees — 

hang on a while longer
to see if
a saint may rise

to assuage this sharp bone, this death rattle moment,
in time to save us all.

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Sit Anywhere

In your living room
is a star-covered
couch cushion
that is currently serving
as throne for 
your rangy, yellow-eyed cat
who will not stir from it,
no matter
how much
you playfully threaten
to sit upon her;
you are hovering 
above her 
and she stares up
into your face 
with a deep-gene memory
of having been
worshipped in Egypt
showing through 
her jaundiced disdain.
How is it that you 
are not ashamed 
at having the nerve
to offer such disrespect
to another being — 
how do you explain
the casual attitude
that suggests
that one may sit
on any thing or being
one is big enough
to commandeer — 
how do you explain
your disregard,
your protestations
that it’s all in fun,
that it’s only for play,
that you would
never hurt her — 
how do you explain away
this moment that is
a microcosm of
the entire span
of history 
of the modern world?


In Rain-Light Morning

In rain-light morning,
sitting with all that’s inside me
before day’s rush-time steals away
all my intentions, I come to conclusions

and thus also to beginnings.

Some conclusions are best seen
as escapes from
a grudging obligation to care
about what has passed,
about closing books upon
now-spoiled, once well-ripened
moments;

it dawns upon me also
that beginnings
are often about noticing
those small bumps,
swellings on blooms
on fruit trees, that promise
eventual nourishment
if cared for well enough;

sitting now in rain-light morning,
in fall, long before such beginnings
become obvious again, in a season
of fallen leaf and fruit and emptied
gardens now littered with remains
of past harvest and growth;

sitting here knowing
this moment of clarity will pass
and never ripen, but also knowing
that another will come and pass again;

knowing that one day
I shall be able to conclude
that in each conclusion
is the next beginning,
that ripeness is always at hand,
is in my eyes, is always there
in my choosing.


Maestro, Virtuoso, Aficionado

Originally posted 10-26-2011.

Maestro, play on

In the hands of a virtuoso
even a decayed instrument,
ignored for years, attic-bound,
can make a music strong enough
to bend walls.

Maestro, my maestro, play on 

I don’t claim the title for myself 
but my age being its own reward
and punishment at once,
I live toward the words — maestrovirtuoso  — 
as if they were mine to use.

Virtuoso, I am aficionado
Maestro, I am waiting 

What do I call myself now
when, with my instrument
all but played out,
I choose to seek clarity
by using a single string?

Ossessionato
I am obsessed with the hunt

Maestro
I am forsaken

I’ve been told
that nothing made on the single string
is performable,
but here I find myself committed to the single string,
facing an audience
who expects performance.

Maestro, I am the impression of you only
Aficionado
Ossessionato

In command of the single note.
In command of the silence around it.  

Can one perform silence?  

On stage, now, I do nothing,
yet the audience
expects something;  
but what could possibly replace 
the joy of doing 
this, just this, only this, only
this one pure thing?

Maestro, I am aficionado
But I am no virtuoso
and I cannot stop this

though I would not stop this
even if I could


The Office

Ceramic plaque
hung with care
upon a cubicle wall — 
sun and moon kissing.

Alongside the monitor
photos of a blonde boy 
and two younger blonde girls
in baseball uniforms, all
squint-grinning
into the camera.

A sign on the wall
next to the sun and moon
says,

“Livin’ The Dream.”

It’s
almost as if
someone 

lives here.

 

 


Righteous Shoot (Talking To Blue)

Tell me if I have this right — 

if I stand before you and
you choose me as your enemy
it is a righteous choice;
if your weapon is drawn,
it is righteously drawn; 
if your weapon speaks,
it is righteous speech;
if I fall after it has spoken,
it is a righteous fall.  

Your enemy 
may not have been
properly identified for you,
may not be clear to you,
but you hunt anyway,
armed and wary, 
assuming that
bullets, once fired,
will exact perfect justice 
by way of having come from 
an unerring (by definition) gun.

Do I misspeak, am I 
getting all this? 
Am I even allowed
to speak about this? 
It’s getting hard 
to understand

what is allowed, what is 
a right, who has what rights,
what descends from 

such righteousness,

how far down
one may descend.


Supremacies

1.
Which supremacies
should we choose
to honor?

2.
Water covers earth,
earth covers my arm.

My arm covers a blindness.  
A beat covers silence

and my own overall supremacy
has it all over English, which of course

is the language of the supremacy
that is most often noticed.

3.
It is possible that silence
has beaten beats.
Is it possible?

If so, what
will become
of dancing?

4.
If I cut my arm,
if I self-harm,

what supremacy do I honor
when I spill, for a change, my own blood?

5.
Water is to earth
as blindness is
to English

as I am to the heart of the matter
as the heart is
to the remainder, the leftover;

all of it under the rule of the arm, 
reaching without being
certain of its grasp.

6.
At night when we are all supposed
to be at rest,

we are troubled by the sound of many wings,
wings of moths, bats, strange birds;

the supremacy here
is that of darkness.

7.
Welcome to a way of life
that’s become as greasy with mistakes and shoddy care
as a poorly washed cup in a sink;

greasy as news photos of con artists
telling lies with wide eyes to children
to keep them quiet and get them to sleep.

Welcome to a way of life
that could leave a slick
on the cleanest water; 

a way of life that could make a street cat
lose its way in an alley where it had lived
its whole ragged time.

8.
What supremacies are honored
by the simple fact of you being allowed
to be whatever 
you want

no matter how often you try
to be something
you are not?

What supremacies does your existence
reinforce? What 
are you allowed
to be supreme over? 

What does it say about us all
that such allowances 
have been made
for you?

9.
There is a spell 
that need not be spoken,
about which nothing need be said;

it is by its nature
made to be left unspoken:

one thing
to rule them all

one thing
to find them

one thing
to bring them all

in whiteness
shall we bind them

10.
We sink into the topsoil
as all things do and lie there
somewhat dreaming

of what supremacies 
we may honor when we rise
again — what spells,

what blood we should spill
in ritual; dreaming of what language
we should chant, on whose arm

we should lean, in what blindness
we should willingly stand
when tomorrow comes for us at last.


Why You Should Have A Clock Radio

Originally posted 8-29-2012.

If you have a clock radio
next to your bed
and you happen to wake tomorrow
to a violin and a steady drum,
do not rise and step away
from the music
into the day too quickly,
thus occupying yourself
with the business of living
instead of the joy of it,
for how often does it happen
that you wake up early for work
with a sweet fiddle in your ear
and a lover next to you?  In fact,
don’t the soft drum
and the sidling of
that wicked, wicked bow
suggest something other than
getting up for work
as the only right way
to start the day?


Problematic

 

now I know
how much of the holy I know
was made
by devils

feels like I’m supposed to
burn my church and
love the ash resulting
unconditionally without mourning

while I can light it all up 
I cannot smile while I do 
I’m sorry
I’m sorry

feels like
there’s nothing
shining now

under the sun

whatever I have known
and have loved
whatever made me
whatever I have made my own

is problematic
is wrong and
everyone has
made it so

my whole world’s
turned into

a forest full
of shock

felled trees
row upon row

without anyone knowing
or hearing a thing

I should have known
should have heard
should have been listening
all along

for the sound of clear cutting
Evil disguised itself
as birdsong and brook and 
hymns to the betrayed sun

it’s on my watch
it’s on my head that
all the holy I know is
devils’ work

is upon me now
falling with a roar
like a deadfall
a broken tree

I’m sorry to mourn it
as it falls upon me
I’m sorry I’m sorry
for mourning at all

but I do mourn even as I see
the need for this reckoning
even as I join in a call for it
I do still mourn

those problematic
once-honored voices
who failed so miserably
at being their professed truth

are part of what I am
and the dread of how I loved them
and that I may have become them
crushes me as I fall 


Beware

In your eyes
a ghost river:

mist settled in hollows along
its tree-dense banks;

steady current riffling by
in near silence;

on the far shore,
a banshee — its cry

a sudden breach
of night’s peace,

a horror song
proclaiming you.


Snowstorm Prophecy

Originally posted 1-12-2011; originally titled “Snowstorm.”

If you ever become 
an estranged middle aged son 
of still living old people,
ever become an estranged brother
to middle aged siblings,
ever develop a middle aged
heart, lungs, and back,
you will one day reach a point
when the shovel and the snow
will defeat you, body and soul,
right in the middle of digging out
from another snowstorm

as in a new moment of despair
you realize there is no place left
to put it all; when you realize

that although you long ago
abandoned 
the swagger of
the over the shoulder shovelful toss
in favor of 
the carry, tip, and dump method,
there will come a moment 

when your back will nevertheless
feel broken,

your chest will be
caving and exploding,

and you will cough
each time you move.

You will have
a moment of thought about 

how far you are
from your still living old parents
and your middle aged siblings
who are likely standing helpless
in the same storm.

You are going to look up and see
families on your street
digging more vigorously
than you are,
see their children laughing,
see their cars beginning to move.

You are going to think of
your aged parents and
your unhealthy siblings
in the same storm,
struggling as you are to dig out
but doing it together,

and you are going to be 
ashamed.


Certainty

Driving home tonight, and just before I get to my final turn
the streetlight turns a couple kissing on the corner
into the silhouette of a bear.

I arrive and exit the car to see the back yard teeming
with moving shadows as headlights shift the darkness
back and forth across the grass and between the trees.

A moth flies into my face as I come to the front door.
It’s not so cold here tonight though
there is snow north of here; still, in late October, 

any insect still moving is a shock in the dark.

How can I dare trust anything I see, anything at all? 
I ask for nothing except certainty on the smallest scale,
and I’m about ready to pull out my eyes to get it.

This is the story, this is the news, this is the editorial
no one wants to read; no one wants to admit we’re all longing
to fall into a blind moment, to stop seeing the world as it is,

to stop the shadows from moving back and forth across our paths,
to stop our people from changing into beasts before our eyes,
to stop before we have to admit

that nothing we’ve ever known is still safe and sure.


It

Originally posted 10-21-2007.

Understands that it isn’t enough to be beautiful.
Knows that it’s not enough to be smart.
Has a regret or two every minute.
Allows them in then forgets them.
Able to move when it’s threatened.
Knows how to run.
Models itself on great mistakes of history corrected.
Has a motto it will not make into merchandise.

Ought to have been born later.
Should have spent more time outdoors.
Should have been aware of its unlimited scope.
Chews as much as it can before it swallows.
Longs for more teeth.
Makes do.
Learns incrementally.
Is at peace with what it has become.
Is ready for a new flag.
Is ready for a new book.
Is tired of being ready.
Is ready to jump.


Mad Old Mad Wrong

Mad old mad wrong
wall hanger of a man;

mighty weary worry wart,
soldier in a dogged war;

finding himself forgotten by
digger and dug alike, suspicious

of change and youth
and their glib prejudice

against his wealth
and his jowls and his fatigue

regardless of how’d earned them;
mad weary, worried, back to

a wall he’d raised, put his own
back, his own back against

his own wall, mad at all who
he thinks backed him up to it;

mad and worried and wrong,
warty with anger, his hand

on a raised shaky weapon
with only himself 

to salute and command
and target and obey.


October, 2015

I wake up,
see that this is Hell,
then go back
to sleep.  

I wake up, 
see that this
is Hell, then go back
to sleep. 

I wake up, see
that this is Hell, then
go back to sleep…  

I wake up,
thank my skin and my wallet 
that I am lucky enough 
to have a good enough bed 
that I can choose 
to go back to sleep 
when faced with Hell…

I wake up.

See that?
This is Hell.

I go back
to sleep
wondering
how long a person 
has to sleep
before they can be 
declared dead, before

they can go to Heaven,

before I can go.
I can’t sleep any more
than I have and this, this
is Hell, this is 
not a good look on me —

disheveled, wide-eyed 
and riled,
staring scared
out the window
at how much is on fire;
how do I extinguish Hell? And

how do I now,
how do I ever
fall back to sleep?