Friday, November 19, 2010

The Long Hello

It is a rambling paragraph of sentences
Made up of long goodbyes
Punctuated by hello.
There can be no intense reflection
On the things cast aside
If you want it to flow,
And get on with the next chapter.

Some liken it to drinking the desert,
All sand and cactus needles,
A glass at a time.
Parched, pinched with a wicked thirst 
Begging for a drop of water
Like a hobo for a dime.
Behind a crate of depression apples.

I see the garden amid the lizards and dunes,
The snake still striking at my heel,
Interrupting my stride.
My friends say it’s mirage made hallucination,
Or maybe a chemically induced trance,
Or simple righteous pride.
But I can see clearly the tree of life.

Bus People Redux

I can not give like the bus people give
I can not love like the gym dogs love
I live with them as a crow among
Cardinals or the mourning dove singing
His dirge as the lilacs come to life.
Like an old spinster aunt, treated polite,
Deferentially, kindly if a bit superfluous,
With her Bichon Frise in a t-shirt.
I walk through the corridors giving
Pleasant looks and peasant stares.
The hands move and lights change,
Microsoft is up at twenty-nine twenty,
The new phone can remove ugly warts
And even will lay a million golden eggs.
But the clown is warning the village
That it is burning down, flaming out,
But all they can do is laugh thinking
The circus has again come to town.

The Feather Knife

I must have been ten years old,
Maybe eleven, the years begin
To overlap, bleed into the next
Leaving a residue of amnesia.
He stood behind the counter
Ready to halve a watermelon
with a knife tensely clutched,
But it might as well have been
A pen, a slide rule or a feather boa.
The point was not the blade
In his tired, frustrated hand,
But the desperation in his heart.
She inched subtly to shield the boy,
He ran the defenseless fruit through,
Exposing the bright red flesh.
Now she questioned if her strategy
Was wise, and he played along
Making the menace seem real
With each sudden, successive division
Of the wet, sweet, beaming, fleshy fruit

This will teach the teacher
Not to bring her problems
To work, especially my work.

I guess I knew what was going on,
Still it was hard to tell the difference,
to understand the plain looks, silence,
Caused by fourteen hours that had cut
Into the affection and had drained
The words from his mind and the
Patience bone dry from his soul.
And multiply that by forty years.
So much is laid at the doorsteps
Of our parents, and to some justly
I guess, but there was nothing there,
Just a love that had no words,
Only the sacrifices loudly ignored,
The generosity dryly spit on.
And so he played the act well,
And got his meaning understood.
I’m thankful for me it finally came,
A little late, but in plenty of time

Must I Wake?

Can it be recaptured
And should it be?
The woman with
Three noses and one
Breast of chicken
Over raab and polenta
Dipped in battery acid.

Before logic and proportion
There was the free fall
Of words and ducks
Down a rabbit hole
And into the tea pot
Tempest of walled in angst.

But now that is behind
Me and the new age
Has brought a new
Covenant and awareness.
Must it all make sense?
And symbol to concept
Seamless like a cracked
Brunswick bowling ball.

Tortas Ahogadas

I see the savage in the mirror
Connected and cut off.
I see but can’t place the face,
Living in two worlds.
The place intimately known
To the last brick
Whose ways seem foreign.

The evening horizon burns low embers
Huddled, cramped knees to chin
Blinding, orange yellow filtered by dust,
Piercing a shadowed darkness.
Tongue still burning from chile de árbol,
Sweat drying on over heated skin,
Burning like a radiator in the dark.
A covered pickup, slits open, flap up
Bodies tangled, passionless,
Fatigued, half waking, resting

Relax, just relax, relax, relax.

Should feel alone,
Should feel cut off,
He only feels home,
Far, far away.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Six Paintings, Two Women

These movies always seem to end in blood,
With bullets in the sanctuary, or swords,
A well placed ax set to root out turbulent  
Consciences that won’t blink, stutter,
Stammer a weak retort or feeble line.
The hero almost never dies at ninety in
Bed with a deep thought or well placed quip.
No, it’s a freakish disease that comes before
Hair turns grey and fertility has been tested.
The time when lilies are overcome by poppies.

Six portraits hang, but do we look at them?
As we sit there blank to the space,
Trying to forget and so create our own
Reality out of fog and pearls;
That to live means scratching an itch,
Or dull a sharp hunger that only returns
To tell us that this is worse than futile,
A message that gets lost in the wireless.
But there they are, the ghosts of youth
Lived as if they had already caught
The spark and thrown it back,
Because in fact they actually had.
Six images that are there to remind us,
To remind me of what friendship is.

The only sure measure is blood.
That much is certain, is beyond infallible.
Immolation at the hands of a paper hanger
Masquerading as Fredrick the Great.

She walked down the Franz Josef Strasse
Like so many times since the bunker,
Decades since her release, but never saw it before.
Frozen this mild spring day amid the gentle drizzle,
And buds beginning to shed quiet perfume,
Petrified into horror by a humble marker.
Putting fingers into the grooves, she notes they
Were born so close and died the same year.
Sophie is in the ground as cowards sing her courage,
While she continues to walk the streets,
The white rose will simply not leave her in peace.
I can not say that I was too young to know
I can’t say this blood did not touch me.
And does not still indelibly stain my
Wrinkled, spotted, dripping hands.

Spring is Near

Fat Tuesday passed with out a horn,
Or worthless beads being thrown
To drunken tourists by the canal.
He didn’t feel like going to the
Last frenzied grasping for flesh,
Before the shriving leads to spring.
He had been there before and
Knew the routine all too well.
He decided that he would take
A running start into the dessert,
When the dried brittle leaves
Are burnt into a cautionary black
With regrets and talk of the grave.
Once you’ve left you shouldn’t want
To repeat things, in your heart
The sad truth is that you don’t.
But the mind is a garden maze,
Memory an old voodoo curse.

Did you think I would make this easy?
The toll is not that steep to pay
You must simply choose me everyday

Showing a curl invisible when dry,
Wet hair contours the neck and cheeks.
Wanting to be indifferent as those
Eyes are, he continues to try
To know that he does not know the
Pale green shadows lost in time,
From an abandoned, burnt out house
By a parched, flowerless meadow.
In the sea are rocks and reefs
Of memory, longing and illusion.
The emerald screams shrilly:
The past is septic, but still breaths.
Is covered over and wrapped tight
Trying to burst out, boiling, seething.

The birds feed by the statue
Of Saint Francis in the snow.
Darting and dodging around
The metal cage filled with seed,
Not abandoned on a frozen day.

Prairie Style

The idea he had was to put the door
Off to the side, slightly off center
Hard to detect, obscured by leaves and
Branches, hidden, nothing terribly grand.
So it would blend into the landscape
And preserve cherished privacy.
It was madness to keep the hall
Wide open and accessible to all,
Or even to acquaintances one step
From being strangers on a street corner,
To bring them into the shelter and share
The warmth of the fire was to tear
At the underpinnings of sanity,
Upsetting, overturning the inner balance.
I see the flat plains stretching out
to the mountains and sky with a shout.
When the home is open to any
With out discretion or prudence
Then the inner chambers become a mess
Confusion rules a game of chess.
With pieces flying and tempers fraying
And no peace in a disturbed hearth.
Outside fresh paint and decorative brightness
Inside loathing, nausea and darkness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Don Cheadle

Her clear blue eyes were transparent
Pathways into an ancient soul,
Burdened with newsprint and torture.
The pimply baby fat of her cheeks
Pointed to the years still to be scarred
By the rantings of mad pisspot emperors.
She spoke of a tyrant rigging an election,
Unapologetically public, a matter of course, 
With extortion, murder and the lash.
Her voice, earnest, shot arrows of justice,
As I listened, attentively indifferent,
Deflecting the onslaught, pretty much
Mocking her stern intent with passive
Nods, full of show but vacant of meaning.
See, I remember another time, or
Better to say I was reminded,
Of another dark secret on the front page,
When the machete fueled a river of life
Drained out and genocide went missing
From dictionaries on the East River.
I’ve seen too many of these bloated
Troglodytes eating chocolates, dressed
Like over fed doormen with medals
And ribbons from imaginary wars,
Grasping to be king of a dung heap they
Force the people to live in while they
Bask in unnatural pleasures by swimming pools.
Yes I saw the news already, but didn’t read.
It’s the same story and I know the ending already.
I’ve already tried to stir the pot, and my arm is tired.
Once it was my brown eyes and baby fat
Ranting to empty heads and blind brains.
And now I am the straw hat, shamed to
Know that I was once that girl and now am
Simply an tired, cynical, fat old man.

I Thought of Resurrection Day

Numbered markers on spikes blending into mist
Hugging low over damp ground,
On a hill from a B movie where teenagers
Meet deaths, gruesomely contrived,
By escaped lunatics or crazed homeschoolers.
But this is no five buck picture show,
The feeling isn’t dread, but a strange peace.
Not for me, no, instead for them,
The victims of enlightened compassion.
In the shadow of grey photos
Are the tattoos and burnt out ovens,
The barracks are museums,
To deny the denier with scorned laughter.
We feel righteous anger
And a satisfying sense of superiority.
But here behind prefabricated exurbs,
Past the promethean reach of city lights
There are no names,
No families to cry or shout never forget,
Because to forget was the point.
We had our own solution to the problem.
Now the buildings are boarded,
Others cater cocktail parties,
And the pasture; a golf course.
The graves are on a side road
Off a county artery leading from a parkway,
Behind a wall of trees and a chain.
All I could think of is what it will be like
When the trumpet finally sounds
And the weak are made strong and wise,
When beauty conquers decay,
When the abandoned and forgotten
Children will inherit the entire earth.

Three Funerals

How is it measured:
The distance between points,
Each step a thousand miles
Reached in an echoed whisper,
Through cold water flats
And shotgun shacks,
On street corner bus stops,
Or behind shades,
Sung to fevered babies.

The wet dew frozen
Freezes once lush blades,
Now brittle and crushed
Under once confident steps,
Become halted and heavy.
The wind stings, the trees naked,
Showing no hope of thaw.
Gone the raspberry afternoons
Spent in antique gazebos
In the park by the dry canal,
As the July thunder calls out
To the rain waiting in clouds
For the moment  to burst,
Saturated, sustaining green life.
Gone that moment you first realized
That you were holding your
Future tight to your chest.

She was tall and proud and beautiful,
And she was broken down the middle.
Try as I might I can’t put my eyes
Into hers to see what she saw.

Flesh of my flesh,
Bone of my bone,
The blood of my soul,
Where are you now?

It is a pain I will never know,
This pain that I sing of,
An agony not to be
Sung of in ignorance
But foolishly, perhaps, I do.
Since the harvest was too soon.
The furrows too deep.

You, specter I do fear
more than the others
Your lesson too clear
Wrapped in the shadow
I do not want to enter.

We parted the place wanting to forget,
Setting out to anaesthetize memory.
Some hid alone, I hid with the pack,
But my one companion were those eyes
Whose soul was fissured by a crack
In the simplicity of black and white
There is more truth than in color,
Which is simply garish and vulgar
With all its hypnotically distorted hues.
The monochrome is like a chart 
Tracing a line shot from the past
Into the present future;
A bruised heart wrapped
In an innocent, knowing smile.

I’m glad the shadow drew me away,
A merciful shield from the flesh
That laid like melting clay,
To point me to the past,
A reminder of what’s to come.
Not just of plain oak boxes
Or the torture before she succumb
To the cold plot dug deep.
So that these images do not melt me
And drive me to the anesthesia,
And hollowed eyes and wrinkled faces,
Creased by tears of a barren house,
But lead to what is new, what is real.
What is true, what is Risen.