Saturday, February 15, 2014

Will you be able to shut off the sound of the mad ramblings
Of the drunk and insane; will you live comfortably day after day
Witness to their struggles, prisoner in their wars,
Will your compassion save them?
Will you be strong enough (sexy enough, fit enough)
To put your body between a son and his father when things
Go too far?
Are you strong enough, moral enough,
Woman enough
To appear at least to be what they need, what they want,
And expect,
While rearing a boy who need never be that man?
What happens, when you realize these men are only adjacent;
And despite their promises, their desperate need to provide,
They’ll never be able to keep you safe?
How will you keep from killing these men?
When you feel them wearing you down, ready to feed
On what’s left of your vitality
In their struggle to win at King of the Hill –
How will you keep from throwing away the little bit
That you own
To escape their madness, the infantile hunger of their damaged souls,
The devilish charm of their decay?
How will you last one more day
Without bundling your child into a cab

And running far, running fast. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

I saw the van pull abruptly to the curb
Across from the church, where I stood at the side door,
Keys in hand
“You want to fuck with me?” he roared, leaping
From the driver’s side, door ajar, as his wife likewise did
He raced her to the passenger side, “I’ll fuck you up,
Just like I did your brother!” And reaching inside he beat
The boy in the backseat, while his wife flailed her arms,
And swallowed her screams

We heard as one, that other day, the screams
That transcended five brick stories, up the echoing shaft
The shock and keening pain, the horror of a mother and
A father, as they beheld
The battered body of their son
A young man, who crawled, as a lark, through the ceiling
Hatch to the top of the freight elevator, to take a ride
And went missing for a weekend

And there were others.
My mother’s wail, beating the car window
While I stood in the front yard, where I’d just told
My stepdad, that Grandpa had died, and she heard
And they left, seconds after they had arrived
And I stood with my sister and brother, and probably
Did not cry

But now
It’s just the children in adjacent yards
And their games.
I hear, and tell myself
They are not being beaten
They are not in despair
They are not dying
It is drama only, they play at suffering
Practicing, though they mustn’t know,
For what awaits them. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

"You know, Sir, this looks much better with my glasses off." 
"You put your glasses back on, Euchariah, and face facts!"
~ Dr. Seuss 

There is no differentiation between, say,
strands of dark hair, in the dark,
or on the high terrace, tree-tops
in the gulfs between the night-lamps --
So many stars of unknown origin,
seen from light-years ahead in time.

Hours of glowing dawn,
of day's unyielding scrutiny,
no more than footlights' glare;
when you realize you're standing just inside
the momentary flare, and looking out
perceive no difference in the shadows
of the crowd, no breath,
and no distinction there:

Come down to earth
and lose the scale of it.

I don't think I can stand on your high terrace
in the night, with the darkened room behind,
and cool air breathing all around 
without each time considering
the way the sky's black paint bleeds
and blurs the lines
between the spaces of the room, and 
that greater space outside.
Where each obscurity becomes
a possibility.

Close your eyes:
what you can't see is limitless.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Good Friday

I have failed at Lent except to name my failings
have drunken reeled and stumbled blind to facts
and fallen down

Prayed with bishops, and lusted even as I prayed
"Simul iustus et Peccator"
the smoke and mirrors long since broken, blown

Brought up to go it alone

And now they tell me, sin is the failure to trust
in God; we're to assume the manna rain, fulfillment
and release

When all along I thought sin was to say too much,
to take too much; to murder and
disturb the peace.

Even if you make the right choice, you're forgiven
so why not yearn, why not want, to hunger
for the dangling fruit upon the tree?

Somehow the apple branch becomes the Cross,
and I the man who kneels to steady the spike;
the bludgeon wield

And all my heart that hungers blindly bleeds
into the hollow soundless void of ages,
upon the gilded pages

Saturday, April 30, 2011

oblivion; the twilight grass illuminates the small-town eve with hope
and she in apron gleaning crumbs of praise will wait
to see what God will offer in exchange for joy
the mark, the plain, the measure of the frame, and the ancestral freight

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

i would joyfully shred a thousand (or two)
newspaper hearts over you,
i'd throw myself away
and call it passion;
the unoriginal sin.

but i have counseled those who crawl
love's muck of flood-strewn wrack,
who paw at memories, and lick the leather uppers
of reproach,
i've held the heads of wounded men
and kissed away the tears of some,
and so i know
too much.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

poem for Dean

Banging on an empty kettle,
and stretching rubber binders
across a candy tin

A wind-up bear beats
a snare, a whistle-bird to tweet
the treble,
surgeon's hands to
pluck the strings

What register emotion:
an onion for devotion,
a vaccination's dart;
none replace
what's been missing,
not the hugging or the kissing.

If I only had a heart.

Sing to me a symphony
of blood and bone and flesh;
the pleasure at the end
of a long and lonely stretch.

Nevermind the violins.

Tap the time it takes to meddle
in Nature's careless miracle;
to change a thumping tire

Soon enough, there'll be grandeur
where the pillows used to languish
and we'll dance the lovers' part;
here the lyre, here the oboe
Prop our grins upon our elbows,
when we finish as we start

Soon enough, you'll awaken
where you find your life's been taken
Now you finally
have a heart.