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I found you Again

 

The long awaited morning has come .
It has come to pass.
I have seen you again.
My dead dread has resurrected
And moved to the seventh heaven,
My tears have ended.
I know I will no longer go tired
Wiping the over flowing tears
From my tiny spherical eyes.
My visage is happy to cry happily.

The long awaited afternoon has come
It has come to pass.
I have seen you again.
I have come out of
The coffin of loneliness
And death will never again
Storm my demanding heart
My friends are good
And indeed very good
But you are best and excellent
Please, my lost one
Clap hands for yourself.

The long awaited e evening has come
It has come to pass
I have seen you again
The dimpled piggy cheeks,
The shiny well created eyes,
The gorgeous happy face-
A face never gloomy and sad.
The warm gifted bosom,
The soft palms of your arms,
And the succulent lips.
I will kiss again
Because you’re the chosen Mary
Among the virgins.
You are homely welcome
And the rest I don’t know.

…………EMMA CHIPUKIZI…….
0787050916-0750122685
THE NABENDE WRITING FAMILY
“Education made our eyes sprout”
Email:thenabendewritingfamily@gmail.com
UGANDA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY

 

Continue reading “I found you Again”

will you then

when comes the mistaken taking of life/Christian one/believing man/that one who’s right as far as you’re concerned/when comes the mistaken taking of life/led, step by step/for reason/all to do now/the asking of forgiveness…/       of the Father…/will you then/…will you then/ decide on His understanding/of love the other/     as yourself

After The Trapping

In the dead of night the little Goths come out-
their startlingly masked, chiaroscuro visage
with fluorescent yellow disc eyes when light finds them,
shining like luciferin and luciferase reacting in the firefly-
and their cautious, staccato, and slinking movements
obvious against the freshly painted white picket fence,
like splashed gentian violet on a wedding dress.

In wistful November
these few straggler raccoons, huge,
come out,
in preparation for their seasonal sleep.

One enters the garden through
the square framed hole we cut for
all God’s creatures through the fence-
tabby, tuxedo, and calico kittens, ‘coon kits,
an opossum jill and her joeys, garden snakes,
squirrels, railroad-line field mice,
Mourning and Rock Doves.
He barely pulls himself though,
then arches high and stretches into his fullness,
looking like a small bear,
before he cases the yard,
before he plans his zigzag, concrete and dirt-sniffing
approach to the freshly filled plates and bowls.

This humongous, ticked raccoon
finds Sassie, a one-eyed tortoise shell cat,
left behind by a moving family
and forever having kittens,
already at the plates;
they eat in peace,
while a shy, grey-faced opossum jack
darts under an elevated outdoor fire pit-
too many critters to feel safe-
until all is quiet again.

Who blessed me with the care and
companionship of these creatures?
My little burghal, backyard zoo.

Bellied Sassie saunters slowly to the right,
to her between-houses escape route,
the masked ‘coon face keeps
checking me for friendliness,
then pins the plate with his wide, star-fish paw,
to get the outer halo of pate on the plate,
while his mate peeks her curious head
out of the fence hole, to watch
these nocturnal goings-on,
or, more accurately,
to fill those autumnal pangs in her belly.

He stares me down, grabs the Oreo I left,
then treads along the cement line to the fence,
makes a short stop to sniff
the calico cat’s grave stone,
takes a step up upon it,
then tries to heave his
exploding November girth
through the fence hole,
this foray for food coming to a close.

Small yellow leaves pepper the place-
I tediously pick them out of the food
every day this time of year-
the rows of wind-gathered, golden confetti
following the lines of concrete squares,
with gentle curves framing
the feeding and lounging areas,
and the goodness of God in the still night air.

Fenna Thomas

On The Transformation Of The Forgetable Ms. Applesauce

I mean, this stuff happens in the deep,
deep homesteading Midwest,
where 10 year old sons routinely
work butcher knives, prepping
pumpkin squash, ham hocks,
for eating or freezing.
I’ve seen pictures of them unshod
in barns smiling,
no safeties on anything.

Once there were Chestnut trees
foresting the American East Coast.
But that Japanese Parasite killed them.
The people of Appalachia
got an economic kick in the nuts,
and the foraging fauna felt it, too.

Johhny Appleseed,
horticulturalist minister
and sleeper in corn cribs,
would put Quakers and hip-hop fashionista
both in their place
with his saucepan cap-turned-backwards.
He traipsed around like that,
then cooked meals in his hat.
No one thought much about it,
or that he might be a nut case.

On the Savannah, Ohio lawn of Amy Sheaffer,
the last, extant, gnarled and knotted
original Appleseed tree still grows
just outside her kitchen door.
It still rains apples. When fall comes,
it just rains apples.

So the kids get tricked-
she makes her applesauce
with star anise, cloves, cinnamon sticks,
and vanilla from Madagascar,
a rich, thick chutney.
They imbibe in grateful near-gluttony.

Once served
in the 1920’s boardinghouse-
cheap filler-

and still is, tepid,

from US Government surplus,
over-sized jars
in public school lunchrooms.

 

 

Romanesco

Fractal vegetable-                                                                                                                                               self-similar, edible flower-
pyramidal chartreuse curds
or lime in color,
this brassica.

Wonder-inducing Fibonacci sequence,
its piquance a hit for North Brooklyn hipsters,
or still-growing, not-knowing bridesmaids
ringing thrice, even quadrice marked-up bottles
of bottom-of-the barrel Crane Lake chardonnay,
snug in ice buckets on outdoor tables.

All in masks,
They don’t mind paying for the experience.

 

I made up the word “quadrice” for this poem. I hope I don’t go to poetry or linguistics purgatory for this! The inspiration for this poem came from my getting my first box of “Misfits Market” produce delivered, and the fractal beauty of the Romanesco cauliflower inside the box blew me away.

 

 

 

 

The Cursing Stones

Ariana, adopted the old Greek ways,

when Nikos died diving for sponges.

She encased her curses into two lead stones:

smuggling one into his coffin,

dropping the other into Naxos deepest well.

She made sure Nikos soul would

carry her curse to the underworld

before it ascended to heaven,

or activated fully on the river of forgetfulness

for Death to see, read, feel her grief.

She had hired the local poet who still

remembered all the magical phrases

and could reverse the flow of words.

She wanted Death

to throw himself to the crows,

split like she was divided inside,

perish the same way Nikos drowned,

damned Death’s eyes to drunkenness

till he became a burden to the earth,

a useless sack of spoiled wine.

As she turned back and

started to look away

she heard Nikos voice echo to her.

She turned around  and  In

the mist that crawled away to the Aegean

was revealed three Cretan hounds snarling

behind the gate of the rich shipbuilder’s house.

The sea, the earth the sky collapsed in her.

The sound of tides, the swirling dust, the rain were

mocking this girl who knew only ordinary curses,

this widow doomed to live a long, grieving life

listening for Nikos sounds until her very end.

Pieta

Perfection can only be seen in the descent,

the glow of spotlights colliding to true whiteness,

the realization that grief touches the ground.

 

Mary, they say, you never experienced birth pains,

but the linen folded eternally beneath your son

shows that his final blessing transferred all  to you.

 

Your tears wash his feet, and I imagine,

you wiping them dry with your hair,

a doting act of love he passed to his disciples.

 

Your grief remains in your soul.

Only the pain is collected in

the last descent of angels.

 

I feel the slow bump when

the descent must hit the earth,

the slight stumble to awkward reality.

 

I wash my feet everyday to honor

the perfect glory I’ve been blessed to see.

 

Note:

This is a memory of the 1964 World’s Fair where I saw the Pieta in the descent of an escalator.  it lasted all of fifteen seconds, roughly the time it takes to read the poem.

The Red Bicycle

(In homage to William Carlos William)

 

Outside was my red bicycle

leaning against the wall

next to a red wheelbarrow

on which nothing depended on.

 

I was the kind of child who

was always daydreaming

himself to victory and today

I would win the Tour de France.

 

So the plan was to practice

beyond my own wobbling peddling,

like the unbalanced red wheelbarrow

my father pushed among the chickens.

 

I felt the heat, the flame of potential speed

where so much could happen

and depended on my straight control

in a world zooming by in flame

 

until the wind was red wings,

only my own red thoughts ablaze

in the warp and the things I hated

of the world were longer in myself.

 

until I flew over the handlebars

hitting my forehead on a

sky blue Cadillac door handle,

the scar following me to the future.

 

Now I nick the tiny flames of memory,

as I push the red wheelbarrow

up the hill as if my life depended on it,

even as it always wobbles down.

Van Gogh Paints His Final Vision

 

It was the light that told Vincent,

the one which always told him the truth

reflected his soul’s desire,

the glistenings of his mind,

that this mass of  gnarled roots

would be his last vision.

 

He could feel the gun smoke

creeping into his soul,

corrupting his thoughts,

the very rays of his world,

even his beloved

hog hair brushes and pigments

 

as he walked the Rue Daubigny

pass the Church at Auvers

he needed to canvas in June

when the flint of its history,

death, faith, passion and beauty

impelled him to create,

 

pass the wheat field absent of crows

which made the world seem more

beautiful with its darkness

hovering over the light of July,

diminished now to ordinary light,

smoke, haze and fog.

 

He felt his world constricted to

a blue room with a blue bed,

a blue chair wedged in a corner

draped in blue shadows

which could not be mixed

to the perfect colors.

 

When he saw the gnarled roots

exposed in late afternoon July beams

he knew that he would not live

to see the first dawn of August,

that this would be his last

perfect beautiful, silent spot.

 

He painted smelling the gun smoke coming,

the smoke turning into a bullet

as he passionately tried to  capture

life itself frantically and fervently rooting itself,

as it were, in the earth and yet being

half torn up by the storm.

 

 

Washing the Corpses

–After Rainier Maria Rilke

 

 

The washers have lived with death

as they have with the lamp,

the flame and the  dark,

the nameless rinsing of limbs,

the even more unnameable nameless.

without histories relative to them.

Their sponges dipped the water

then the silent throat,

trickled rivulets on their faces,

waiting for it to absorb,

to convince themselves more than anything

that the body no longer thirsted.

They only stopped their toil

to turn their head to cough.

The older ones unclenched

the hands of the dead

that refused their final repose.

Only their shadows

jerked the quiet walls,

the net of silent life

extinguishing to last existence

that ignored their shrugs

as the last now antiseptic corpse

was finished and the window shut.

Soft Body Memories of our Grief

We exist in

unkeepable bodies

 

and in the bending over

we decompose

 

for we are

are but the

memory of grief

 

that soft bodies

leave when they die.

After the Sun Has Gone

Oh, when the sun yields child

to the soft caress of the night

 

After the sun has gone.

After the sun has gone.

 

That lifts the wind

after the sun has gone.

 

The last  of wonder and awe

That turns life

from a beach shell echo

 

to  a cornucopia

after the sun has gone.

 

Life without a shell must

shake out the shadows

 

live full to overflowing

less it dry after the sun has gone

 

leaving the child still, beautiful silent

in the beach tide after the sun has gone.

 

After the sun has gone.

 

My Love

My love is like a mysterious wind

Ever changing and always there

Can’t be tamed or controlled

Always waiting to catch me

Leaving as I reach out

And then I catch it

And I fall down

Leaving the earth in a state of euphoria

Where no one can find us

And no one ever will

The Cavern

Cleansing my soul

Reaching down into the depths

Looking for answers

Learning I am complete

Finding my way back with Him

The Way Out

I learned to love myself

I no longer walk alone

I made it through to the other side

I keep fighting

I’ll never give up

 

Regret

Darkness falling

Words empty

I saw the light in you

I wish I had loved you before you left

All that remains is me

Till we meet again

Sleepless nights and endless days,

Counting for hope that’s once lost,

Thinking about the rheumatic past,

Makes me realize what I have lost.

 

People come and people go,

For I would not see you,

You who showed me light,

You who I’ve let go.

 

If only I could turn back time,

Bring back what’s once was mine,

Mend the past for a healing future,

Mend all the regrets and crimes.

 

If, if only I could see you again,

Once more in this shimmering light,

Standing next to me like in the past days,

Watching over like an angel at night,

Till we meet again.

Footprints In The Dark

In the house made of waterproof canvas

We’ll listen  out for the sounds

Expecting big hairy footsteps

Making prints upon the ground

You better make sure the zip of the tent

Is done up nice and tight

And keep one ear, one eye open

Whilst sleeping in the night

You could fall asleep and start dreaming

A nightmare, call it as you will

About the big hairy Sasquatch

Committing the most gruesome a kill

You may just hear him coming at you

A twig snapping in between trees

You’ll be in your sleeping bag

Feeling the shakes in your knees

You’ll reach your hands down

Feeling around with no sight

Looking for torches and axes

To get you through this night

You try stopping your mates from snoring

Only to wake up yourself and see

It was all just a dream that made you sweat

You start you fall back asleep

Then you hear the zip start to move

The seam becoming undone

And before you can let out a scream

Your vocal chords will be gone

Stone in Sand

Pick up the stone as you walk in the sand
pick up as you try to reach the end
the stones are from days of yore
it may be of dinosaurs or life long before
each tells a story of journeys taken
some smooth and some shaken.
I can not tell you which one to choose
hundreds lie along the path of view
some hidden and some calling for you
Feel the wave in your feet
feel the warmth of the sunset
let your shadow grow longer
as you walk to your path a bit longer
wondering why the stones matter.

I gave you two stones long before
when we walked together on the beach
you did not know the journey it had taken
you were too young to think for a second.
you threw one into the ocean
gave me the other to do the same
I told you it will come back w

hen you grow up
all the love contained from yesteryears
I am not walking with you this time
but do pick up a stone from the sand
feel it; let it go back to the ocean again
to come back again with memories.
The stone you gave me long before
reminds me of the path we have taken
I have left it on your desk now
For you to throw back into the ocean.

Oct 2018

The BoyWho Dances in the Light

Shout into the eyes

of sunlight

of the boy who dances in the light.

 

Every dragon’s death

foretells this child

onto even the smallest realm.

 

The Phoenix is an ally

to the boy

who forges worlds.

 

The stars proclaim his shine

this boy who dances in the light.

 

He is the boy

who flies

into the sun

and does not dissolve.

 

His chariot with flashing wheels

races with the rainbow.

 

He is the boy who

sells the golden trinkets

with 1001 truths in the bazaar.

 

Even the baubles know not all his stories

of pirates, pashas, tigers and kings.

 

After all has been vended

this boy with the wondrous tongue

will wipe the sweat of his brow

into the most damask bottle

and proclaim it genie’s breath.

Rainy Weather Laughter

The rain chuckles on the rooftop

and the sound carry’s down the house.

 

The oaks in their amber raincoats

hiss in the water’s tickle.

 

Their sinuses suckle the drops to veins

then shiver off the excess.

 

The wild summer streams are

beginning their running joke.

 

The drought retreats with a frown

to the applause of the scorch grass.

 

The old man and his grandson watch

the slapstick of nature from the doorway.

 

They wave to their bemused neighbors

in their rockers watching the show.

 

The old man hands the child an umbrella

and watches him join the laughter all around.

 

The child delights in the rain drumming

smiles on the harlequin cloth.

MEDIEVAL

Mace-
it packs
a little punch
to the face,

Hitting parts
like eyes, mouths,
that are open,
moist, round.

Less leveling
brother to
pepper-spray
capsicum,
I concede
this requiem.

But there is
sister Mace.
She is non-violent,
a pacifist,

and wraps herself
around the nutmeg seed,
and when dried,
ground,
can feed and feed.

Subtle.
Floral.
Royal.

Nice on
white fish,
root vegetables.

Intricate webbing-
red as
a baboon’s hinie,
but not as stinkey.

Who burried
this medieval
spice?

I would
think twice
before looking
askance,

and hope our repasts
nurture tolerance.

     

     I read that state police no longer use mace on protesters, because it is not effective on alcoholics, drug addicts, and schizophrenics. Pepper spray is what they use today. As a non-violent Quaker, I just use the culinary spice blade mace in the kitchen, and it’s an upgrade from nutmeg, which can be too heavy in dishes. It’s wonderful in cream soups, too! Let’s do things positively on this planet, homeboys and homegirls!

The Whale

We turned around and she was there

stranded between shore and sea,

beach filled with the oily smell of  whale,

her dark tonnage serenading the waves

for the comforting echoes of others,

her great fins offering sand flowers

to the Great Ocean God for her salvation.

 

We mistook her motion for the final dance,

the soprano voice for a lamentation,

the agitation of her great tail for death gasps

for in our experience we are slippery skin

creatures destined to loneliness,

defined to be Ahabs to her kind.

 

The incoming tide heard her prayer and

navigated the sand to slowly release her to

re-float with the high tide, the deeper water

where she be well with herself.

 

And we sat on the beach and watched

her swim out knowing that

the sea can easily swallow a whale.

A Very Hot Afternoon

The heat is a pendejo querida

a street full of melda de vaca, mi amor

steaming, stinking, like a hungry puta

who takes mi dinero and gives me crabs.

Sleep with me chica. Cool me down

in el rio d su chocha.  Por favor.  Por favor.

Mariposa de su womb. Pajaro en mi boca.

Do not steal my crumbs and fly away.

Tu coolo is una ballena.  Lo adoro.

It’s as hot as the clouds that stampede

like los cascos de los caballos salvaje.

Your centavo feminino blends with

the eibas y el calor making me want to

 comer naranjas amargas contigo en la cama

or a picnic with you a orillas del rio del Paraiso

watching the lotus bloom.

 

Translation of Spanish:

 

pendejo querida- male pubic hair, my love

melda de vaca,  mi amor- cow shit, my love

puta- whore

mi dinero- my money

chica- girl/woman

el rio de su chocha.  Por favor- the river of

your pussy. Please.

Mariposa de- butterfly of

pajaro en mi boca- bird in my mouth

Tu coolo- your ass

una ballena- a whale

Lo adoro- I love it

los cascos de los caballos salvaje- the hooves of

wild horses

centavo feminino- womanly scent

ceibas- kapok tree found in Puerto Rico

el calor- the heat

comer naranjas amargas contigo en la cama- eat bitter oranges with you in bed

a  orillas del rio del Paraiso- by the shores of the river of Paradise.

 

The Art of Dying

The Pandemic has closed

the theaters and cinemas.

 

On stage a lone actor commits

suicide in the loneliness.

 

On screen the two lovers run to each

other against the march of soldiers.

 

The actor’s death is an extravagant fake,

a nod to the art of dying a good stage death.

 

The lovers perform erotic asphyxiation

until the man seems to fall deeply asleep.

 

The actor pulls the dagger from his neck,

red silk flowing freely from his throat.

 

In the light motes coming from the projector

Sada realizes that Kichizo has died.

 

The red silk now entombs Sensei Omiya

like a gown as he reaches out to Sada’s cry.

 

Sada kisses Kichizo for the final time

as she removes Kichizo‘s blade.

 

Sensei Omiya drowns in a swell of red silk.

“Sada, my child, what shame have you brung?”

 

Sada cuts Kichizo’s penis off cleanly carrying

it inside her as she madly wanders Tokyo.

 

The projector clicks off, the house lights fade.

The transformation is done.

The performance is over

TO DREAM OF THREE SNAKES

The Nino de Atocha statue
in the front persona of the house
floats on a cloud of marijuana smoke,
the heavenly white base chipped,
pocked grey from neglect.

They murdered the pine trees.

Not even on their property.

Drunk Uncle pruned them,
so the birds wouldn’t crap
on their five non-garaged cars
until they looked like
eight asparagus spears in a row,
branches tragically amputated,
trees leaning like the guest who staggered out
the side of their house once during a party.

That’s how you kill a tree.

Two late winter pines began to keel,
so they hired Mexicans from Jackson Heights,
the cheapest labor they could find,
and cut all eight down.

And left them there,

behind the fence,
a dam, embedded now with barbed wire,
for crepuscular vespertine, and nocturnal
wildlife kin to dodge,
like homo sapien sapien would
with land mines.

They shot the trees.

The landscape has teeth missing.

It’s the back of what looks like
a grey metal airport hangar now.

Property value down by 10 K for everybody,
for yard-turned-car parking garage convenience.

Pocahontas’ Grandmother Willow would tell them
to follow their paths straight to hell.

The smell of skunk herb
wafts into and around my homestead-
aging-out MC Stoner Boy is still in his mother’s attic
mixing, bass boost rattling adjacent houses.
There is no escape. Incessant, deep thuds
marinate brain stems

for years. The quiet neighbor
on the other side
is very old and sick. Says nothing.
Maybe he knows that
when the shadow is ignored
and inflates the group- little neighbor mob-
it’s like trying to talk the finer points of
metaphysical philosophy
to a lobotomized Frances Farmer.

Drunk Uncle once pointed to his
left upper-arm tattoo in passing-
a cartoon-like, third world Christ Child with a halo,
in a deluded and desperate attempt
to proclaim what a good Christian he was.

Yet he and his 50 K-a-year car parking garage
and night-shift security worker acquaintances
grind shit-faced dancing
with Latinas they barely know.

Upon first acquaintance, Stoner Boy
once offered, “Hi! I’m Hispanic.”
I did not offer, “Nice to meet you! I’m Caucasian”,
as I don’t greet in that way. Ever.
I was so thrown.

The pine tree is considered sacred
in most world cultures.
It shelters birds, squirrels, chipmunks,
raccoons, opossums, porcupines-
it gives us pine nuts,
the most coveted and nutritious
evergreen seed in the world.
We decorate our homes, cabins,
baskets, generous with the cones,
hang them glitter-sprayed on Christmas trees,
or just hold them in our hands,
marveling at their sacred geometry,
at the beautiful gift Gaia has given.

I dreamt of three snakes last night.
Each got progressively bigger.
The last was swimming through
a central waterway on my property,
its circumference as big as a sewage pipe
that takes it all outside of your house.
It had little feet-fins in front, like primitive fish,
to help it walk- that’s how huge it was.

I am not called to roll a faux joint and tape it
to the mouth of Nino de Atocha,
or stuff their mailbox with so many packs
of rolling paper rendering it unusable;

I can hire artists from Brooklyn’s Bushwick,
bloody starving for cash in this pandemic,
just to embarrass them-
have them surreptitiously climb up at night
to paint a mural on the exposed hangar surface
of Drunk Uncle knocking back Corona after Corona-
once he left some dead cat on my front stoop
in a Corona beer box with no note in January –
one of his aging, baby-mamma sisters dutifully carries out
his beer bottles in huge blue bags,
slung over her back for recycling,
like a hunchback, labored Santa- that’s her job.
They can paint Stoner Boy, too,
savoring another blunt toke just huffed-

But despite unconsciousness, selfishness,
inconsideration, and lawbreaking in a flailing city-
the dream snakes announce that I am the one
heading for some transformation-
some big-ass transformation.

I need to breathe.
I need to move,
and live where trees lives matter.

EGGTOOTH

                               Inspired By The Poetry Of Robert Lax                         

                                                            cranial

                                                            calcified

                                                            pipping

                                                            point

 

                                                             chipping

                                                             chipping

                                                             chipping

                                                             chipping

 

                                                              tapping

                                                              tapping

                                                              tapping

                                                              tapping

                                                                   

                                                              if

                                                              I

                                                              stay

                                                              here

 

                                                              I

                                                              will

                                                              die

 

                                                               fissure

                                                               split

                                                               light

 

                                                                how

                                                                lush

                                                                the

                                                                violet

                                                                dusk

 

Dr. Faustus Thanks the Devil and the Word

The poem rumbles in my brain

and wakes me at three in the morning
as if my devil branded me with his pitchfork

reminding me of our inspired bargain

 

My nemesis love calls me to the fiery sheet

his impish pride burning praise in me

that swears fealty with bloody words

 

Oh poetry

how your satanic verses

chum and shudder in me

sharking nightmares to dreams

and my words to the exquisite limbo

doomed to fall short of true divinity

 

The poem squatters in my mind firmly

fixed in the ninth circle of treachery

offending my soul

crushing my heart

 

It takes and takes and takes

and never gives not even

granting the guilt of dirty lucre

 

Words are my blood

Poems damn my veins

My quick-fire brimstone lines

are my epitaph

 

I am both cursed and blessed

to this addiction

yet I hope this passion never cools

only  flames and reflames

 

Oh Poetry immolate me

burn me to the purest ash

leaving a diamond legacy

 

The poem is not a song

but the fire inside the song

the sulphur mistaken for honey

 

Oh dulcet sounds why and thank you for

making me an exile from life and tomorrow

a lonely sad witness to the world

 

Why and thank you for

fating me to this fiery covenant

Beyond the Dying Cloud

When a cloud dies

doves and eagles

dip their wings

in mournful ‘memberance.

 

When the sky dies

it rots black

in despairing soot

of ash and pain.

 

When the moon dies

it’s mourned

by the elliptical kisses

of the planets beyond.

 

When a planet dies

the universe gently cradles it

and lullaby’s it to the sun

until it falls to sleep.

 

When the universe dies

the lonely sad earth knows

that all the trees will go dark

when the world dies.

 

 

Down Here (For Papa)

They said only the good die young
But I don’t know how true that is.
Guess they had never met you.

Around the table that day
All too numb to feel anything.
Thinking of the times
We can never replace.

Like that deep voice
Of yours singing along to
Amazing Grace
Or the way the room got quiet
As your words filled the space

It’s true that the grief
May never get better
But these are the memories
I’ll hold to forever.

Lookin back on the times
You’re recording out,
Under that old tree.
Taping home videos
of your little babies.
Or the peppermints on Sundays
Jesus loves me all the way to
O Beautiful Star
Hey Papa you remember
All those times you
Caught me with your guitar?

It’s true that the grief
May never get better
But these are the memories
I’ll cling to forever.

Teaching me to climb,
Reminding me to pray,
Soft spoken as you were,
You knew just what to say.
The strongest man I’ve ever known
I’ll always think of you that way.
Yeah and even though it’s hard
With how lost we feel
It’s the pain that reminds me
You gotta hurt to heal.
But we’ll surely miss
you down here.

December 1, 2019

Painfully Clear

I tried to bargain away all

the sickness and death

in my life  with the

skies and mountains.

They refused to disperse my

pain in the sunlight and clouds.

The void rejected my life,

eternity denied my love.

The moon stayed its silent course

watching my fate fade away in the night.

Time denied my burden.

The wind swirled to heaven

seeing me coming near.

The waters cascaded away

fearing my touch.

God was on vacation

and not due back until

two days after my passing.

My heart opened wide

and I emptied my pain

on its breakers and shore

until all that was left was words,

these words in the color of clarity.

On this Acre of Unspoiled Comfort

On this acre of unspoiled comfort

the hard winds blow once again now.

Through this acre of unspoiled comfort

the house falls once again now.

This acre of unspoiled comfort

so unlike a broken cry.

This acre of unspoiled comfort

once so sun caressed with smiles.

This acre of unspoiled comfort

once standing on unburied dreams.

This acre of unspoiled comfort

lingering near death.

This acre of unspoiled comfort

praying for its life now.

This acre of unspoiled comfort,

now I pledge my love again.

On this acre of unspoiled comfort.

The Loss of Words

A woman’s beauty is light on the eyes,

best pinned in thoughts, not weighed down

by beautiful lines that cannot halt wrinkles.

 

The dying frost of dawn does not

feel sorry for the gravity of the nest

knowing the wrens inside can fly.

The ode is limited to its chilling beauty.

 

The sublime pleasure of discovering

on a stroll the transitory pleasures

of another’s pedestrian secret life

is only weighed  down by

future speculations of their destiny.

 

The gentle grace of a grazing fawn

killed by the hunter’s bullet

is elevated by the photo

caught before the moment.

 

The moon rises only on a setting sun

yet  the calf of a homeless man

is wondrous reflected in the night’s light.

Even the suicide jumping off the bridge

is beautiful in the dark fall.

 

The butterfly takes flight

in the shout of the

lepidopterist’s child

hoping to catch it in his net.

He goes home sad not

knowing what he has

lost with his heavy words.

How to Read a Difficult Poem

Keep the things

you don’t understand

always near you-

in your pocket

or wallet-

so in idle moments

at the bus stop

or in line at the post office

at the bookstore

or coffeehouse

you’re thinking

until the inkling

of realization comes,

even if it’s

just a mark or two-

even if you have to

look it up in the dictionary

or on Wikipedia

or ask a smarter friend

or maybe even God

until you are certain

that you have

properly applied yourself.

 

The Other Blessing Before the Curse

Before audaciously

flying

in the strangled gleaming

of the last glory

of extinct clouds

rising

I asked my soul

what is the purpose

of having

the last thought

of mankind

or any

dreams

Oh Jinn

give back

the last of me

stolen and not yours

 

The Jinn replied

they blessed you

don’t you remember

or dreamed that you remember

it was that memory

of some things

and everything

that started your world

and ended this

and theirs

It started

and finished

just the way

you wished

 

 

Shutting DOWN

If I shut the border,

no one will shut their window,

hide in their closet,

lock their door.

 

They would shake the blinds of moths,

bring the dog in from the doghouse,

let the cat feast after the mouse hole

has been plugged with a door wedge.

 

In the distance

the train whistle blows

dispersing mist and rain.

No one steps off nor boards.

 

The bird nest is not abandoned.

The hollow of the tree stays hollow.

Nothing has shut down at all.

 

My pen scribbles a poem

only to watch the black words

return to the reservoir.

 

I open the dictionary to the word “hope”,

but the page refuses to settle

until I put all the words in them

face down on the writing table.

 

My stoma grumbles louder than my stomach.

I shut my cancer in the mother-of-pearl.

My wife’s cancer is placed in the

small valise of all our memories.

 

I can’t shut down the museum.

It already is.

I can’t shut down the cinemas.

They already are.

Only the pharmacies are open.

 

I shut down my mouth

on my broken jaw

with five missing teeth

only to feel the maw of death.

 

I shut down the ash of my childhood

into a golden urn of my own design.

 

I shut down America, I shut down God,

putting them both between the now

empty covers of the dictionary missing hope.

 

I shut down my passions, my emotions

in the moldy basement of my despair.

My shut down love is chained in the dungeon.

 

Shut up, shut down,  I repeat  to myself,

until those words lose all definition,

until my lips are sealed in pain and

the only thing left is my total shutdown.

 

 

Do Not Silence My Words that You Hear

Don’t take away my words

by not repeating my poems inside.

My poetry is revolutionary

as a floating feather.

Close your eyes and catch it

knowing the vision is in its flight

and not where it falls.

Pick it up from the floor

and it becomes a Cobra

spitting, aiming to poison you.

A Very Shaggy Wake

Outside of town a man died

naked beneath a nice tree.

 

Some said  he was old

and that the tree was an elm.

Some said he was young

and that it was an oak.

Others, that he was a child

and that it was a magnolia.

 

The only thing they agreed on:

that he was naked, dead, under a tree

and they felt sorry for him.

 

So, the Widow Smith secretly

dressed him in her husband’s best shirt

because she was still mourning

the loss of Tom’s chest.

 

Mr. Aglet, who owned the shoe store,

privately donated the old Nike’s

Timmy abandoned when he went to Harvard

because Aglet missed Timmy putting them on.

 

Haberdasher Scye donated his swankiest cufflinks-

the one’s left behind when a newlywed customer

learned that his wife was in labor—

because Scye hated the look of an unadorned shirt.

 

He then gave his favorite top hat

for no man should be buried with bad hair,

his finest knee-high dress socks

because that’s what funeral’s demand.

 

He than gifted his finest silk tie,

a nice leather belt of the man’s waist size,

and just to finish the look

 

a properly somber black jacket and pants.

 

Optometrist Eyear noticing the man

was squinting rather oddly

crafted a fine pair of designer spectacles

that fitted perfectly on the dead man’s nose.

 

Everyone in town felt good about their gifts

and the funeral was well-attended.

It wasn’t until he was deep under

did they notice that they forgot the underwear.

 

They found them, the next day,

the one thing that knew him best,

hanging high in the branches of the tree.

 

 

Bearing the Light of Seasons

Winter

The rain sheds  precious jewels this winter night,

the oaks untangle their branches in clarity,

musky solidarity, and affirmation of their place,

an unlearned wisdom  of existence  that

allows them to bear the staggered light of

unhurried clouds spreading their endless laughter to all those fixed below.

 

Fall

The cold, crisp wind of change kisses and abandons all the oaks of the field.

They shiver off their acorns knowing

they must be naked for the dark days ahead.

The clouds dark smiles are just beginning

to bear their light for winter’s derision.

 

Summer

The sunshine dances with the wind

and the oaks of the forest sway

in the merriment of unfiltered days.

They embrace a child’s shadow,

generously mixing it with their own,

bearing a tempered light for those

who breathe beneath their branches.

 

Spring

Diamonds of rain embellish the thirsty oaks

and they drink it in in tangled unity,

not scornful of the others judgement.

Fickle clouds grudgingly bear the light

until the sun forces them to share

its unending generosity with everything below.

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For you, the Unnecessary Dead of the American Dream

You were unburied

10 years before I was born,

pulled from the Arie riverbed

the day Nagasaki burned.

You died like a samurai

in your daughter’s arms,

bowels flowing,

head severed cleanly,

falling to the water

amidst the silence

of dead human trees

with their bark skin turned inside out,

among the screams of the living

realizing that not even water

can stop their burning away.

 

You were unburied

65 years before I was born,

killed by the big guns

with Conestoga wheels in the

ravine near Wounded Knee Creek.

You died running with your nursing infant in your arms trying to touch the flag of truce,

your child still suckling long after

the Great Spirits call—  still suckling

as you were piled in the mounds

of mothers with no ghost shirts.

Others children’s children still

Ghost Dance and tell your lore.

 

You were buried

32 years before I was born,

shot in the back after

you had dug your own grave.

Shot in the back after

you had watched your house

burn in a kerosene blaze.

Shot in the back after

you knew the children

were safe in the swamp.

Shot in the back after

all of Rosewood burned

from the fury of white rage.

Shot in the back

until you were erased

from existence

except in the memory of tears.

 

What am I meant to do?

It’s summer and the

magnolias are blooming,

the cherry blossoms are ripe,

the black hills spruce

admits its forever mildew stink,

reminding harvesters not to

ever make it a Christmas tree.

 

I call out not knowing your names,

giving you invisible ones

that will reflect your death and life.

 

What am I meant to do?

Your unburied ash, spirit,

your buried charred bones

exists in wretched longing,

your names bleed into

the riverbed, the ravine, the clay.

I mourn as I freely travel the spaces

that others had trampled over you.

 

What am I meant to do?

Everything

Everything’s broken, diseased, sold and resold.

The pandemic’s breath blows on us.

Everything’s is devoured in a hunger never filled.

So why do I see a glistening in the distance?

 

In the day dream, a forest appears on the border.

The scent of lavender and lilies exhales out.

In the nightmare,  the zodiac is sucked into

the black hole of a distant dissolving galaxy.

 

You wonder the miracle, if it comes,

will arise from darkness or dawn.

Will it arise from the first

natal nightmare or dream?

Seeing Jaws Again (A Movie Poem)

Her name you may

or may not recall.

It was Chrissie,

the body in the sand dune.

 

You do remember the shark,

the blood on the water,

death spreading like

a virus in the town of Amity.

 

You do remember that

the beaches should have been closed

but Amity was a summer town

that lived on summer dollars.

 

You do remember the shark

doing what it was built to do—

killing Mrs. Kintner’s little boy

on that beautiful July 4th day.

 

You do remember Mrs. Kintner’s

cold blooded slap

on police chief’s Body

warm blooded face.

 

“You knew there was a shark out there.

You knew it was dangerous

but you let people go swimming anyway.

You knew all those things

 

-BUT STILL MY BOY IS DEAD NOW!”

 

“She’s wrong,”

the mayor says.

“No, she’s not,”

Chief Brody acknowledges.

 

Suddenly you remember

reading a news piece

that Mrs. Kintner (Lee Fiero)

was a victim of the pandemic.

 

You realize there is no

police chief, scientist, grizzled old salt

banding together to do the right thing,

uniting to triumph over disease, death,

 

Only the orange hair President

standing deep in the drowning tide

smiling and waving and

telling everyone the water is fine.

 

“We are all Mrs. Kintner  now.”

 

 

Note:

 

The final line is a quote by Mary McNamara,

the obituary writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Prayer on Walking a Small Part of the Trail of Tears

What is the land

but dust

but mountains

but forrest

but mud

but lost sorrow

 

What is sorrow

but torn soul

but wounded skin

but a trail of tears.

 

This day

the Chickasaw

Choctaw

Creek

Seminole

Cherokee

 

wipe the

white mans dirt

off their right foot

with their left foot

 

wipe the buffalo’s blood

off their right hand

with their left hand

 

walk bloody

bare right foot

to wounded left foot

on the dust

of their ancestors

their sacred hills

 

walk away from

The Great Spirit

to the not greater

white man’s God

slow sad right foot

to slower left foot.

 

Walk dragging their

dead still right foot

to still left foot

far away from the sun

of their monumental land

 

to this country

of bullets and blood

marching, running

blue right foot

towards gray left foot

in a frenzy to erect

bronze monuments

to all their dead

 

And when they cry it’s

the prayer of the white man

buried in Indian pain

 

May the wind

that is blowing

now and always

the dust of our memory

blow beyond your

fear of us

and all different

colored spirits

 

May the wind

turn from you

and only return

until you love not

the scars you

put on our backs

 

May you open your

eyes to unbuilt land

and see finally

The Great Spirit

calling every one

to share the

sacred hills

even the dust

with all that

have always walked

right foot to left foot

 

Cancer

It’s a fizgig, a gadding

of damp powder

hinting to explode,

assuming your surname

without any legal ceremony.

 

It flip flops you with trust

burrowing into the one

perfect position,

sleeping ahead of you,

waking you when you fall behind.

 

Not at all heavy, yet the

heaviest thing you’ll ever have.

Every breath heavy with airy death

that stunts your budding

wings from taking flight.

 

You measure the weight of

every thought until it always

pulls you down and your soul

takes flight jut to live…

 

…and you don’t t bother to chase it.

 

Notes:

a fizgig is both a flirting woman and a

firework of damp powder that fizzes or hisses when it explodes.

 

gadding is to go around from one place to another, in the pursuit of pleasure or entertainment.

The Logic of Up, Down, Hell and Death

Up

 

A seed is a forest-to be.

A rock is a mountain-to-be.

A drop is a river-to-be.

A river is an ocean-to-be.

A cloud is a sky-to-be.

Clouds are an aspiring heaven.

 

 

An apple is a pie-to-be.

A brick is a house-to-be

A house is a city-to-be.

A city is a state-to-be.

A state is a country-to-be.

 

Down

 

A country is a war-to-be.

War is a bullet-to-be.

A bullet is a death-to-be.

Deaths are a city destroyed.

Death is a house fallen.

A house fallen is just bricks,

apples not grown, pies never eaten.

 

Death

 

Death is

the hell of  war,

the hell of the bullet,

Death is

a city, country fallen to hell,

hell is the fallen house,

bricks tumbled to dust,

rotten apples,

poison pies.

 

Death is the hell

of a heaven never found,

clouds never made,

rain never falling,

oceans never formed,

rivers never to be,

rivers dry from a dam of bricks,

forests never grown,

seeds never planted.

Defining Moon Glow

The moon was neither

voiced into creation

nor was it defined.

 

It was just parted

from the dark ink

of God’s voice.

 

Alphabets don’t

exist on dark vellum

just illuminated papyrus.

 

God doesn’t have the power

to banish those things

that have always existed.

 

He can’t create the perfect night

just pull crows out of it,

really, the simplest of magic tricks.

 

The small orifice below the cheekbones

exists to project the whiteboard

scribblings of the human mind.

 

Man is sad because he knows

that his words and thoughts

fall short of God’s magnificent language.

 

The moon witnesses what

is below and above its light

and keeps both their secrets.

Messing With the Sky

The light was so bad I made some clouds—

little cotton balls taped to helium balloons

drifting up to the heavens.

 

The first were the standard balloon animals:

dogs, sheep, horses, giraffes, lions.

 

They folded conventionally but

became much more creative creatures

with more cotton piled on.

The orange poodle became a bison,

the sheep a yak, the horse a hippopotamus,

giraffes just puffier and more absurd giraffes,

the lions awesome saber tooth tigers.

 

I added man, men, woeful enough that they needed a woman to tell them what to do.

Later I made the men sheep and the women lions.

I gave the dogs rabbit ears.

The sheep were now wolves.

 

I made the sky ark a canopy

to cover it from the dissolving sun,

a fluffy river to slack its thirst,

filled it with cotton candy gold fish

glittering bottle nose dolphins and sperm whales

echo locating each other’s existence,

populated its banks with palm trees and oaks

to shade all the other animals airy heads.

 

I created and created until the

creation created itself.

Lions became oaks,

sheep became mountains,

dogs became gods

wanting only attention

and belly rubs,

demanding all cloud creatures

know themselves only through

the smelling of each other’s asses.

 

It rained the last of the rain,

the last bit of piss left in their bowels,

rained until they could only poop.

 

I was irritated by the smell.

I was irritated by the noise.

I was irritated by how

they didn’t let me play my piano,

or continue creating my house

or not let me go to bed.

 

I was locked in place

and couldn’t look back.

 

I wanted to cover my ears

but my hands were gone.

I wanted to cover my nose

but it had broken, fallen off

into a pillar of salt.

 

I shouted until someone

or something heard me

and covered my mouth

with a primate hand,

stopped my ears

with a canine paw.

 

Creation

had stopped my creation

knowing that I hadn’t been satisfied

with what I had done

that very first day

and needed a reset.

The Poet’s Gun is a Rose

The poet makes his gun out of any old thing:

sticks of words,  bird song, the swish of trees,

the pitter patter of the growing city around him,

 

The poet’s gun is never just a gun.

His poems are never just words.

 

Today, the poet’s gun is a rose—

thorns of wounding,

warnings to admire its scent and beauty

from a respectful distance.

 

He fired it in the air knowing

that a gun that is a gun

is a little brook of death,

but since his gun was a rose,

it was dangerous and beautiful.

 

His verse exploded

blooming petals

shedding its crimson

like dew on the water.

 

It felt like rain.

It felt like pulsing veins.

It felt like life being knocked over.

It felt like love bursting through.

 

The gun was a rose

and the gun was not death.

Out of anything he made it.

Tomorrow, it would be water.

Soul Cleansing

The soul is not a drip-dry thing.

It’s needs constant washing and wringing

to function cleanly.

It needs to tumble on high heat

to wear just right.

Hand wash it and it will shrink in protest.

Line dry it and you might think

it will smell of heaven but

it is the rancid smell of tussle and

toil that will stink the neighborhood.

And, oh, by the way you should never

bleach a thing that is already bleached.

Don’t use stain remover for that’s its job.

No starch, please.  Stiffness is not needed.

The same goes for heavy or light ironing.

Follow these directions and

the soul will last your lifetime.

It will protect you from

all the stains of the world.

My Voice Should Die on Land

I am not a sailor.

I am meant to die on land,

ashes spread above sea level,

or in a coddled urn above the hearth.

My voice is paper and

where I choose to exist,

a white world that is not sky—

this voice of mine.

I have no ensign.

My heart beats soft, beautiful words,

a language of stars,

that knows that the twinkle

was once magnificent suns.

Still Lfe

It’s in the shading.

It’s the way the light is written.

It’s the way the observer takes it all in.

It’s the way it convinces one that the world will last.

It’s the way it plants a seed in the mind,

the way it touches one inside, lives inside

the streets of memory, inhabits one’s emotional house,

sunsets, harbors, all the great perfect things

that exists in the brief eternity that loop eternally,

that convinces one that the extraordinary

is the purpose of existing in ordinary time,

that every moment lives for the perfect still life.

The Killer Poem

Poetry can kill you

when you shut

yourself inside of it.

 

It doesn’t want you

looking for better words

in other poems.

 

It wants to cage you

to the corners

of a sheet of paper.

 

It doesn’t want you

to breathe the thing

it won’t allow.

 

It wants you to use

just enough imagination

to finish it and

throw the overflow away.

 

For the time you write it

it has its own imagination

that refuses to acknowledge

that yours exists.

 

Until it’s done

you are it’s prisoner.

 

Only then will it open up

and let you breathe,

let itself breathe.

A Helping Hand

The seed planted with our small help

becomes a crop.

The flame carefully kindled by us

ignites  civilization.

Now we must

weed our blighted hearts

to feed the moral fire

of our hungry minds.

 

 

Wings

Man has

a map of the galaxy

for his body,

a map of his genes

that are his universe.

He has

a defense or attack

for every chess move

housed in Watson’s memory.

But precious of all,

he has

the ability to

grow crops,

to put water in the

hands of the thirsty,

to make

the right screws

to fit the peace machine

that makes our

better angels fly.

 

The Last Piece of Cake

There once was a race of cake men

equally divided between

birthday and wedding types,

each born into whatever flavor

was selling that day—

usually chocolate or vanilla,

but towards the end Neapolitan-

whose faith was strong.

 

They succumbed to the next door

country of cake eaters,

who reveled in their two week

long cake eating festival.

 

The eaters would line up with

their forks and plates

and slice off a big piece of

cake men as they fled to

the nearby country of pie people

who granted them asylum and citizenship

because their people were

mainly rhubarb and mincemeat

and we’re suffering through fruit blight

that was destroying their fabled variety.

 

Soon the festival yielded

to a full scale invasion.

You see, the cake eaters were

tired of waiting in the sample line.

They ate the cake men to the last crumb.

 

With all the cake gone they ate the pies.

But by then the idea of cake was a lie.

The cakes were now  mostly pies.

 

When the last forkful of pie

was in the cake eaters mouth

it screamed:

 

I will not be eaten by anyone

who can not see my beauty.

 

The eaters never thought that a cake

could be admired and never eaten.

They had no sense of the art and beauty

that was the filling of the cake/pie men’s faith

 

That last bite of pie became poisonous

and from then on the cake eaters

(who were now forced to make their own)

could never fully have their cake and eat it

without throwing up or dying.

They were now forever doomed to eat

their meat and vegetables.

 

 

 

Dead Poem

What will happen

when we

stop writing poems?

 

What will poetry become

when we stop inspiring

and the beauty of words

is silenced or rejected?

 

We will leave the writing table

and descend into the valley

to find new sounds and laughter.

 

We will drink the last water

from thirsty mountains.

 

We will listen

to the resounding

music and laughter

of our own dark forests.

Eating Sky With Henny Penny

When the giant bagel fell from the sky

everyone complained when it blocked the road.

Even when children cut it into pieces

and passed it out, lathered with shmear and lox

the town folks refused to eat the manna.

A host of angels descended to clean up the mess.

The town folks rushed to the angels,

still neglecting the heavenly bread.

When the last crumb had reascended to heaven

and the angels began to flap their wings

and take flight, the town folks begged them to stay,

but they would not. Instead, they left behind

a talking chicken to remind them when the sky fell.

Soul Tailoring

I asked the haberdasher

to make me a new soul.

something inexpensive

and lighter than 21 grams

with a loose fit.

 

He made it,

draped me in it

then disappeared.

 

I went home

and hung it in the closet

.

The next day

I couldn’t figure out

how to put it on.

So, I left it in on its hanger.

 

Overnight it got darker

and had become a shadow.

 

In the light it went white.

I draped it over arm

and went for a stroll.

 

It feel out of my grasp

onto the sidewalk,

picked itself up and

followed perfectly behind me.

 

By twilight it had become invisible

and was complaining loudly

that it wanted to go home.

 

I took it back

to the haberdasher

like it asked of me.

 

The store was closed

and empty of every soul.

His tools had been left out.

Sadly, the master had gone home.

 

 

 

Opening the door

I am scared, mommy

like I was in the summer storm

many months ago.

I tremble in my feet and hands

as I was in the deep puddle,

eyes open, screaming, shaking, mommy,

dark words want to come off my tongue.

Mommy, I am shaking as I come

down the stairs, light as a ghost.

Make me some milk, mommy

milk, if you see me there.

The Minotaur’s Triumph

Gone in the labyrinth

of dense words

is the thin golden clew

that is the salvation out

for the gathering of lost poets.

The thread doesn’t exit

to the center,

to meaning,

just a thick grove of forest

where they meander forever

in the definitions all around them,

each footfall erased in

the revision of those before.

The Deaf Listening to Their Poetry

The poet signs his words to the deaf.

The screen behind exposes his faulty hands.

He is silent.

His hands a fire.

 

He knows there will be unintended words,

new meanings to old and familiar lines.

The muddle is his creation,

their new meaning, new poem,

both treachery and rebirth,

their dawn and twilight, their light and moon,

both hawk and silver fish gliding, swimming

high in the silent moonlight clouds and sky

of the noisy rewrite of their imagination.

 

He reads his words on their shirts.

Cloth sells better, than ten thousand books.

The swift river of lines comes in their colors too!

His restless words settle in for the show.

He feels like a naked stranger in an open door.

 

 

When his hands stop, the applause comes.

The deaf are enthusiastic clappers.

Something about getting off on the vibrations

created by their hands, he figures.

He’s happy when they come up to him,

signing new syllables

to be printed on upside down books.

 

Remembering Prayer

There will be a time when God leaves you.

Maybe summer. Maybe winter.

The last thing he will say:

Keep searching.  Keep finding.

Seek me in the trash, the womb

lungs and heart.

He will leave you agape and stirring,

just a memory prayer

to say as the sun rises

and you wonder whether

winter or summer

has the holiest months.

Dig, Dig, Dig

The long way to heaven is to dig through the earth.

Walk with me.  Fall with me.

Be the helmet light in the tunnel.

Hold my feet less I fall into the abyss.

Shackle your friends to you,

foot to foot, arm to arm.

The long way to heaven is to dig through the earth.

Pull me from hell, while all the others

jerk us to heaven’s salvation.

El Lenguaje de los Fantasmas

Mommy, esta di descubrí el lenguaje de los fantasmas

Ghost talk? What are you talking about, Jonny?

Si mommy.  En serio descubrí.  Escúchame.

Ghost talk? What do they say?

Para saludar dicen: hoo hoo.

Para decir que sí, dicen: Hoo

And how do they say goodbye?

No lo sé.  They haven’t left yet.

Mama, today I discovered the language of ghosts.

Line 3:

Yes, mama. Seriously, I discovered it.  Listen to me.

Line 5:

To say hello they say: Hoo hoo.

Line 6:

To say yes they say: Hoo.

Line 8:

I don’t know.

My Poetry Is Like This

Writing poetry for me is like fishing in the wind:

You shoot your arrow-net into the air

and after many failures you snag an ugly bird

that you make beautiful the more you see

that it really resembles you.

Earth’s Trick

The world is the ultimate trick

It grants man thunder yet steals his lightning

every time.

It makes him think he has the sweetest smell

of every thing

even that his shit does not stink

that taming fire was his best theft

of all time

that a caged dove heralds peace

in our time

the best of love

that time is a curse and not a gift

that the wolf is the enemy of pigs

that the world spins straight on its own axis

that he has a mind of his own design

that the red rose blooms for him to smell

that cancer is part of its mortal revenge

that nature taught man how to frown

that it would steal his nailed smile, if it could

The world is the ultimate trick

and it poisons him to think she’s his motherland

 

BTW

I gawked at her nine mind years

hooked three heart weeks later btw

f’ed a year before the day btw

three dogs, no kids

but she can really cook

so we lived happy btw

friends, church, family, dogs, house,

night, day, time all slipped away btw

yes, we aged, grew old-er btw

fell into cancer,

bad weather, lost it all, but well insured btw

no perfect couple, marriage but still around btw

until our slow last gasp,

last glance in the sun’s cast btw

on our old back porch with no one

Blindspot

God,

do not send the sunshine

down in thoughtless

torrents.

Please

do not obsess on light

falling on all of your making,

graciously falling

everything on earth.

For  we

are things of the shade,

and the light falls too

hard on eyes

Blind

to all your light.

Bless

Bless the blessings.

Bless the moon

for bestowing dreams

that illuminate the soul.

Bless its beams.

Bless the way it reveals

revelations in the dark,

black letters inked on white vellum

daring to be read

that release the heaviness of the mind

in the lightness of eternity.

Bless the idea

that frees, not oppresses.

Bless words that shed

their flesh for the revolution.

Bless the protest sign

that replaces the trigger.

Bless the chalk mark that teaches

and not outlines a body.

Bless the creative mind

that marches with determined feet.

Bless the gravestones never needed,

those living bodies never

requiring  homicide reports.

Bless all the never used bullets,

the limbs that remain whole.

Bless all those who die

in their right time,

their memories properly recorded.

Bless their smiles.

Bless your laugh.

Bless the eye

that sees, believes,

that still has vision and faith.

Bless all the prophets

who were right.

Bless the heart

filled with good emotions.

Bless the choir of our tongues,

the hymn that uplifts.

Bless all the times

that God has granted us

the chance to do the right thing.

Caught in the Pryer Storm

The hot night rain drenches me in sleep

opening a bow to prayer

amidst the lunatic birds swarming

in the dark heat.

Magnolias are split in dreams

heavy with bolts and tears,

flowing in the cascade

of cracked mirrors.

All is unmoored from my memory,

surviving on communion.

Dear Jesus am I not more profound

than thy mad swirl?

The Earth Rejects Man’s Anagrams

From form
vile evil
in the shade of hades
sire and rise
the lived devil,
the tornado donator
that is the heart of the earth.
God denying, dog hating,
it listens for silence, the license
to edit the tide to its whim
and sink man’s canoe in its ocean.

In Praise of Difficult Names

Wise are the parents who give

their children difficult names.

 

Names that are a chant to God,

a sacrament with every utterance.

 

Or names that light a fiery rebellion

in the mulling brain.

 

Names that speak of the glory

that was before the slave ships.

 

Names that display the wonder of sky,

the Eagle, Buffalo, Wolf, Deer.

 

Names that should hurt and choke

when mispronounced.

 

Braves names spoken

by brave and unafraid people.

 

Names shouted loud by those

who fearlessly, openly love.

 

Those who dropped their names

in the easy English soil, reclaim them!

 

Speak it in the accent of the old country,

the tribes of the African plain and rivers,

 

the screech, rumble of the clouds, creatures that gave you your forever sound.

 

Gather your jewels from the ashes.

Mine them until they get their attention.

 

Collect the pieces of your lost continents

from their miscomprehension.

 

Your difficult names predate centuries

of their arrogance, ignorance, prejudice.

 

You are history

not their rewrite.

 

Don’t explain your name’s meaning

to those who have forgotten your story.

 

You are the original and

they are the stereotype.

 

Bend your syllables, vowels

into a new understanding country.

 

Keep your difficult names

proudly unassimilated.

 

Keep it

your home.

Today, I Will Be the Promise

Today I will be

an apple bringer,

a sower of Job’s tears,

a healer of grief.

 

Today I will be

the tarty sweet fruit

passed hand to hand

in the peace caravan.

 

Today I will be

the cooing melody

among a flight of doves.

 

Today I will be

the candle of the night

that shines the best

of my country.

 

Today I will be

the wind that spreads

the camphoric cries

that can not be blown out.

 

Tomorrow the world

will grant justice

for the obstinate tears shed.

 

Tomorrow God will

dance and sit amongst

in the wake of his beautiful moon.

 

Tomorrow the residue of his love

will turn the screams into almonds

that we will eat with him.

 

Tomorrow we will witness

the miracle of all fallen songs

blossoming into tulips.

 

Candy Button Land

I want to go live
in Candy Button Land,
for the news everyday
gets so out of hand!

Chubby bubbles of color,
round like mandalas,
where squeaky clean lanes
lead to five wooing hues.

I’d first go hug peach-
she reminds me of the beach
with umbrellas,
and those doughnuts
that you blow up.

I would rest my head on violet,
add some white, how I’d desire it!
Pastel softer,
like fluffed pillows-
he just mellows.

I’d flip, melt, big dot blue,
then shove off in a barley canoe-
would go wading after paddling,
with my feet a’ splish, a’ splashing,
and throw back into the water
fish who’ve stranded.

Next I’d bask by gladsome yellow,
like a resting, rock-perched turtle,
take in dynamizing rays,
-Vitamin D drops had their day-
recharged chakras, freely flowing,
guide my way.

I’d lay atop of green
search the stars for craft unseen-
this one bubble,
points skyward Hubble,
readied to discover
for crop circle lovers:

who took the trouble?

I want to go live
in Candy Button Land.

                                                                                                                          Writing poems for children is calming for me, as is coloring for adults. I wrote this on 05/27/20, as we near the end of the quarantine in NYC, where I live and work in my community as a clinical social worker in private practice. It was written for 9-14 year-olds, but when I read this to an adult I know, she said “I want to go live in Candy Button Land right now, too!”

 

Facing It

The tears fade in

the screaming inside howling brick.

It is our cancer

swirling around,

stone, flesh and home.

Our history is in its eye,

our profile in this wild night of carnage

slouching towards mornings. We turn

away and the brick frees us.

We turn back and are inside

our granite selves forming in the sculpting wind,

erring in the perfect sad light,

different, broken-whole.

Our names are erased from brick,

letters spreading like smoke

in the all defining wind.

It drops in the field of its birth,

a flash in the silent mud and clay.

It shimmers on my wife’s white blouse,

and when she walks away,

settles in memory.

The wind chisels a robin

falling, dying in my stare.

The cloud of my neighbor

floats towards me, pale eyes

trying to define me

but I am not a window.

Her face is lost in the brick

and the wind erases her,

the street, their signs,

the names of those in houses behind.

 

Souvenirs

In the Charleston marketplace, a boutique auctions off

detailed limited edition replicas of black history: a slave

who hugs his chains upright over his porcelain hands,

is sold for $1200.00 to a man with a black Amex card,

a horde listening to the Emancipation Proclamation

goes for the same amount, Malcolm X gets $1000.00,

MLK just a little less, the OJ bobble heads sell for $60.00

in the store’s gift shop while the white Bronco in

slow pursuit complete with flashing police lights

and breathless live commentary garners $2400.00,

Rosa Parks languishes at the rear eventually getting $300.00,

Eric Garner, Treyvon Martin, Rodney King are

part of lot sold for $500.00 clearance and a free

Black Lives Matter T-shirt, George Floyd gasping out

“I can’t breathe,” enshrined in a porcelain halo nabs

the same price, while the last figurine, of his murderer

being embraced by a very happy Donald Trump is

purchased by a man in a MAGA hat for $10,000.00.

 

 

A Day for Love

Pick a day.
The random date generator chose:
January 13, 1835
There are still generations formed
from those that fell in
love, married,
birthed sons and daughters
on that day.
Each an unrepeatable existence.

Family lore and crests
enshrine the first kiss,
the birds that soared the sky,
the color of flowers in his/her hand,
words spoken and written in the heart,
the dress she wore,
the beard he had
and discarded or kept,
the Fahrenheit/Celsius of
the exact hour, minute second
of their first heat,
the time that their fingers
stopped accidentally
brushing against each other,
the number of teeth
shown in the first smile.

Count the time
from first hello to last goodbye.
Enshrine that number
of seconds, minutes, hours,
days, weeks, months, years,
in the tales told about them
by their children.
Knit together
all the overlapping
welcomes and farewells
into the colorful threads
of all the houses born and fallen.

I look at that history
and I love you
solidly in the echoes
of all the past.
You fill my time,
even my sadness.
I have gazed too long
Into the light of you.
I only see
the burnt-in after glow
of all the whiteness.

Wind Shear

The oaks perceiving the assailing breeze shiver off  their nuts, swallows and squirrels

 

upwards to a dark fearful sky

that camouflages broken peace in the wild promises

of the swirling winds.

 

Night breaks night—

smashing every compass point in impatience.

Bricks stem to snow, the wind ghosts every leaf

in mournful woe.

 

The wasp tail shears enter in breathing

a final winter to her old house.

 

Inside her chest the wind hornets sting her,

with the loneliness of the yet and not yet to be.

 

The sofa pillows fly down the stairs

saving her small barking dog ascending the dark.

 

She hears black birds caw to her in the chaos,

the bully air stabbing in sharp awe,

stabbing her aware.

 

She knows it now.  She sees the reason and agrees.

 

Puppy Love

I drop  to my knees
begging you please
I know I’ve disobeyed
I just got excited
please forgive me
there’s only one
and only you
who feeds and cuddles me
like you do 

Dog

Two hearts

Abandoned

Holding on

Unwilling to let go

Head held high

Despite feeling sorrow

No one else left

They’ve all flown away

Couldn’t they’ve waited

For one more day?

Waiting for the Hungry Ocean

I am oxygen for you are the sky.

We exist only
because rain has formed the sea.

Our memory is buried
in every tide.

It waters swim inside
the roots of our blood.

The fluid of our language,
rippling stories in the school of words.

The bits of dreaming
are collected in clay pots.

Our thoughts are birds skittering
in the branches above the swirl.

Existence is the milky fish eyes
floating lifeless on the ocean’s surface.

Our kisses evaporate in the air,
not even dripping onto the
silent sea life nor sinking into the marl.

Our love is a bowl of feathers
waiting to form flight.

Until then are only meaning
waits in the icebox for the oven to warm.

Underwater, famished mermaids are eager to eat
the dreams and hopes of our sated angels.

Shelter in Place

My dog finds a conch nestled in the sand-
half dead, half alive- in the foaming tide,
She paws at its exposed pinkness
ignoring the hermit crab seeking shelter.

The conch shrivels beyond its lip
the scent of dead flowers pouring out,
my dog in a frenzy to taste its exotic flesh,
this beautiful creature sheltering in place.

Resisting the urge to pluck it from its shell
I pick it up and toss it beyond her scent,
beyond the fear, disease, the quarantine
I must always return to in silence.

As the shell sinks back to its home,
I now know everything dies in the sand.

Shelter in.

Hymn For Our Past and Future

For my reversal and recovery,

For my wife’s lost womb,

For a future free of cancers,

For the old brick house

toppled in the wolf tornado,

For the new cradle being

raised on an ancient cry of earth,

For the mothers who died

never seeing their children wed,

For rescued memories stuck on cardboard,

For dawning days of gray hair

and salt crusted smiles,

For all the altars yet to be built and crossed,

For all the twisted trees floating on rippled tides,

For all the roads, maps, stains and travails

that forged our life, created this prayer,

this hymn I sing.

Waiting on the Promise

Wait, I spoke
to the highest star.
It winked
and bowed to dawn.

Wait, I spoke to the low sun
that set.

Wait, moon.
It just glowed on,
gracing, gifting me with bright words

Wait, I spoke to my sad heart.
It beat as a heart does,
disobedient less it stop
trembling and just soon die.

Wait, to my brain
questioning all the high lights,
the bright horizon near,
all the lunatic noise.
They looked forth
changing faces, never silent, stopping.

Wait, I spoke to my love.
She answered,
Yes, heart.

My Preop Wish

One night when skies have donned their stars

And parted the lunar drapes

Scattering silent bats to afar

To huddle with their mates,

We’ll fix our eyes northward, my dear,

To distant lush Spring realms

Where musicians play songs with cheer

And nothing overwhelms.

 

And we shall travail lovely streets

With restaurants and bakeries,

Serving all your favorite treats,

And just your recipes.

Here we shall build a homey manor

With ovens to bake tarts,

Rooms I can pen my psalters,

Hearts sharing each’s art.

 

 

On Seeing My Old Crooked Tree Uprooted After the Tornado

I loved this old crooked tree

that refused to grow straight

with the sky but willed itself

to stretch with the horizon,

limbs resisting what every oak

near it wanted— to kiss the sun.

 

It had a brother, long since cut down,

its stump never uprooted, ground to chips.

Decades of weeping, trying to caress its kin,

had left it defiantly stunted, a hunchback

to its grief, its refusal to be another proper tree,

limbs desiring earth’s comfort to cloud’s hope.

 

The tornado swept south and

my old brick house was

left a blasted finger to its whims.

The old crooked tree was uprooted

like all the others oaks, yet granted the mercy

of caressing its waiting brother in its final fall.

 

My wife spent the time after the uprooting

like all the others after the storm,

dealing with the adjusters, collecting

the ashes, saving the memories that remained.

No thoughts of trees preoccupied her

and I was convalescing from cancer surgery.

 

Before we moved into a temporary place,

before the winds of rebuilding where beginning,

I asked for a quick drive by to see the damage

because I only imagined the destruction

from the aching confines of a hospital bed

and needed to firmly root it to mind and soul.

 

The reality was a little worse than the imagining.

The roof was gone, only an L of bricks remained.

The PTSD, anxiety, the sheer exhaustion

was already planting in my wife.

I cried for her. I cried for the last sight

of the old tree hugging stump, earth beneath.

 

Collecting Beach Glass After the Storm

I never thought brick dreams could tumble in the wind.

My wife collects our scattered memories in a undersized bin

like a child on the tide line collecting beach glass and seashells.

She listen for the sound of blood amidst the dying wind

mistaking rustling pages for her breath cycling in and out,

her pulse beating on the surface of paper, cloth and wood.

She searches for artifacts that match/mismatch my cancer-

the progeny the tornado left scattered in the brick and wallboard.

 

I listen to the wind and rain ping on my ward’s windows

unaware of her scavenging, unable to sleep in the harsh light

that doesn’t erode the pain or the glitter of memory,

the constant Kabuki of nurses, doctor and blood drawers,

the chant of machines that make me mistake

the sterile for the sacred, the soundtrack for the profound.

I see my wife in the mud, inches from my eyes,

putting away the jagged, clear granules of our life.

Grandchild

Talking with a

Quarantined grandchild

On the phone

Making him feel

That he’s not alone

Listening with empathy

To all that he has to say

Wondering when

I can hold him

In my arms again

I WILL WAIT FOR YOU

 

I will wait for you
when the need for me
make your thing stand
like a sword looking for what to stab.

I will wait for you
when you are done
feasting with Felicia and
holding secret meetings with Hannah.

I will wait for you
when the need for me
tear through your boxers
and you beg like a child
promising to run on volcano.

I will wait for you
when Aisha close her shop
to reopen it for Sulaimon
and you run home
like a man demented beyond redemption.

I will wait for you
when your numerous adventures
make me turn to face the wall
and you complain how badly
my sleep took away your sleep.

eyes

eyes

more like lies in disguise that cries every time

they dare open

so is it not better to keep them closed?

no,

instead i decided to ice them

with my prose

red as the rose

that fell apart as it grazed my cheek

and didn’t smell so sweet

anymore.

march

i miss

the kiss

of the sun

on my thumb

on hot winters day

march comes and goes away

without letting me say goodbye.

11:24 pm

i’m lost

come find

come save

let in

only to find

there wasn’t a me to begin

with.

liquid oppression

liquid oppression

define a suggestion

that brightens up the day

or night

you come without a single fight

reminding me of what time it is tonight

and might never be again

droopy suppression

causing infection

on the forefront of my brain

the pain

keeps me grasping at the insane

telling me to look into the darkness

whenever i need a mirror