poem


poem10 Jul 2017 08:37 am

Who painted the sky
with brushes of fire? In streaks
of cometious flame?
That artist moved
on to another canvas
long before his creation
could be witnessed, seen, admired

Everything we see above
belongs to dusty past
Those splots of light scattered
like Pollock’s drips—chaos
or order? Only aficionados
and art critics will debate

while a student sees points
of light and imagines the lines
between, makes connections,
draws shapes, scrys symbols
Divining the dimensions of destiny

Only a student possesses
such confidence in the face
of monumental impossibility. And only
a master realizes the futility

of over-simplifying the stars
knowing each one isn’t a drip—
it’s a galaxy, crammed with worlds

where destiny is dwarfed by possibilities
too numerous to imagine

and pauses to admire the artist, instead

Sunset By Félix Vallotton, 1913 – http://impressionistsgallery.co.uk/artists/Artists/tuv/Vallotton/19-25.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55156972
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poem03 Jul 2017 08:21 am

                            The years
pass and pass, and still she feeds
the snakes in her hair
one by one, wary of bites.
She has forgotten the names
she first gave them, forgotten
just how many bites,
but not her scars,
hard as bronze,
rough as sand.

                            The days
pass and pass, and still she can’t
stop studying the wind-churned foam.
She dons sandals,
sunglasses, a large grey hat
steps quietly into the sun,
steps quietly in to the crowds.

                            So hard
to see the monsters here.
She sips a coke, nibbles pizza,
mourns that fruit doesn’t taste as sweet
when not stolen from the gods.
Children shriek against the waves.
The snakes hiss in her ear.

                            She lifts
her hand to the hat.
Later she will find some living food.
Later she will sing to them.
For now she watches the shifting sea,
lets the salt fall on her lips.
She is only skin and stone.

Monsters Exhibition (Palazzo Massimo, Rome, 2014)‎, photo by Sailko
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poem26 Jun 2017 11:39 am

mirror, mirror
you needn’t be shattered
to slice into my flesh, my bone
who is fairest? never me
look how you twist the light
it’s not mere age, no
this nose is mine, same as ever
bulbous and broad
hair, lackluster as straw
after a day on the stable floor
skin wearing a sheen of oil
near reflective as glass
and downward
this dumpling body
my ogre thighs
their friction could spark fires
their quakes, level cities

if I could blame a curse
claim some dark geas
has distorted my beauty
made me into a beast–if only!
no, the plain truth stares me down
reminds me of why I stay locked
within this tower among clouds
where word by word
I have laid these bricks
to hide my ugliness from the world
never myself

Portrait of a Lady (Plastic Drawing) (Lyubov Popova, 1915)
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poem19 Jun 2017 08:00 am

The River soothes,
the River strangles,
it rushes beneath the moon
unstoppable.

At the River’s edge,
the funeral pyre rises above
our sweat stained shirts,
our calloused hands.

We drink,
we sing,
we wait
for the procession to arrive.

I cast a glance.
The River rises,
the River falls.
I know what’s out there:

The River Monster,
beneath the rushing water,
with eyes of onyx,
patient as the coming dawn.

The procession approaches,
mourners cry,
prayers are spoken,
we position the corpse,

feet pointed southward,
downstream.
The River Monster
gurgles with delight.

Its odor is masked
by the scent of basil,
rose and jasmine,
sandalwood.

The chief mourner
sprinkles water,
three times he circles the pyre,
before lowering the torch.

Flames rise,
the corpse roasts and crackles.
Water splashes in the dark,
the River Monster nears.

The pyre warms the night.
We bake and bask,
we drink and sing,
thankful.

Soon the pyre crumbles,
ash and charcoal
enter the water,
hissing.

We stand back
as the River Monster
crawls ashore,
swallows the smoke

then disappears
into the River’s depths,
where it will wait,
patient as the coming dawn.

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poem04 Jun 2017 08:00 am


On a world where alcohol
kills the natives with the inevitability
of a bullet through the head,
it takes a special sort of bartender
to pay the rent each month.

Finding thrill-seekers,
the young and the foolish,
who don’t have the sense
evolution gave a gibber bug,
finding them night after night
after night after night,
wears a body down,
dulls an agile tongue.

Finding the depressed,
the suicidal and near-,
those tired of life, ready
for one last experience
that can rouse a flicker of interest
in a jaded cephalothorax.

Too, the impulse buyers, the
I’m-tough-enough crowd
(they’re not),
and if you get enough trade
to keep the doors open….

So many bodies!
Takes a strong back
(even with power tools,
back hoes, et cetera)
a young back, too,
working long hours,
or the dead stack up.

Lax laws on this planet,
but do-gooders from off-world
(humans, the Sirius, the Thalxa, many more),
they keep getting in your face
like you’re doing something wrong.
But, you have a solution.
Quick or dead, know what I mean?
And you have helpers, young and strong,
a backhoe, power tools.

Still there are times it gets you down:
dawn after a slow night, the rent overdue,
midday in the pouring rain,
your birthday spent alone,
and you think,
I coulda picked something easy,
plenty of jobs with less stress,
better hours and better benefits,
and no one trying to lynch you,
but hell, you fill a void,
you’d have no custom
if you weren’t needed,
right? And so you live,
to kill another day,
in humble service.

image: CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2969474
Absinthe Paul Beucler à Bart (25 France) par M. Ringel
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poem29 May 2017 08:00 am

As you are devoured,
your thoughts and memories are replaced
by a succotash of former victims,
by memories of other meals,
of boat trips you never took,
of hockey games you never saw,
of first love, last love
of betrayal, the doing and receiving of it,
of sights and sounds you’ve never known,
and other memories:
initial penetration of the skull,
the vicarious thrill of consuming another’s
most intimate thoughts and perceptions,
of being at once violator and violated.
But soon the inexorable diminution takes over,
memory after memory, belief after purpose,
the you lost as the not-you expands,
until you are nothing at all,
save images and impressions,
remembered by someone else.

Ohne Titel by Wassily Kandinsky, 1923, watercolor, pen and ink on paper laid down on board
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poem22 May 2017 08:33 am


She’d have walked through more walls,
Spent more time at rock concerts
so loud she fluttered in their breeze,
Hesitated less, danced more,
Cared less about her looks,
Butted in where she wasn’t wanted,
Haunted Big Tony within an inch.

But she’d always have told him no,
Especially that last, terrible time;
When she wasn’t yet a ghost.

 

Image Female Ghost, painting on paper by Kawanabe Kyōsai, Meiji period, Cincinnati Art Museum
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poem15 May 2017 12:59 pm

Before they encountered us
the Fomalhauts
possessed no concept of self-indulgence
worker bees, folk called them
the proverbial dull boy
never mind the head appendages
or the scales
or how they reproduce through the mail
(they had no spam).

Before we met them
they had no vigilante justice
they found our pornography
appealing, and soon invented
their own, which usually arrived postage due.

We introduced credit cards,
bank loans, compound interest;
they found these novel concepts.
We took them on tours
of our marketplaces
where every price, it appeared,
had been reduced.
Amazing the debt these aliens accrued.

It was direct-mail advertizing
that really did them in–
at first the spots were, well, naïve
but as the ads race intensified
the Fomarketers learned that sex sells.

Fomals sporting overlarge
sense-enhancing gear in black plastic
tore open packages claiming to contain
freeze-dried mail-order brides
(really just powdered food products).

Winsome young Fomies were
tearing open their mail too
receiving proposals of marriage
from princes
wrongfully deposed
handsome
generous.

A few months later – captivated
by artificial insemination
and our hi-tech DNA manipulation,
Fomies were popping larvae all over:
Twins!
Triplets!
By the broodsac!
The boatload!
while the non-brooding fomals
postal donors of GM gametes
(not one of them a prince
or even a duke)
took no responsibility at all.

Most of these unnatural offspring
were grievously flawed–
injured by experimental methods
that would never have been allowed on humans–
although they were available in a variety of colors
and with naturally perfumed excreta

We converted them to our religions
(no matter which, so long
as they selected one or another).
We gave them nihilism, narcissism,
solipsism, existentialism
(not to mention pessimism).
We sold them anti-depressants,
antioxidants, anti-coagulants,
then we upped the anti.

The Fomalhauts have recently been
reclassified as a vanished species,
unfortunately extinct. Their culture
and civilization, so many millennia old,
suddenly defunct. A sad coincidence,
so soon after encountering us.
They will be missed.

Image By http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/07/c0/a5d1fb011c297b84fc9be592c41f.jpgGallery: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/L0040470.html, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36096354

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poem01 May 2017 08:31 am

1904_bathroom_fixtures_(advertisement)

Old man Wisteria (fortune teller)
saved stones, red sealed envelopes
inside claw-foot bathtub, and bones
from his dinner. He cast them in dirt
then burned to soot, taking the ashes
& marking a line across the apartment
where the demons were supposed to stay.

Old man Wisteria’s wife (a psychic) died
ten years ago. Since then, the neighbourhood
cats claw at his door, worse than a minotaur
in a maze. He waits. Come morning, he empties
the tub full of black letters that fall off the page
(his eyes are bad in his old age, he only sees
the future in a house of bones & knows he doesn’t
have long in his apartment anymore). He stacks
the paper into the cracks of the doors and windows.
He waits, again, for morning.
When the downstairs neighbour (the tea leave reader)
finds the body, months have passed. The old man’s mummified
to his chair, his stones and bones and empty letters
over his skin like a tattoo. Like a riddle for
a fortune he left behind.

The cats still come. A black one with a patch
of white over his eye–his third eye–in the shape of
wisteria is the loudest. The new owners (father & mythic son)
don’t know how to get the claw marks out of the doors
or how to throw away stones that turn up the window sill, tangled
with petals, red thread, and vines leaves, spinning
counter-clockwise out the frames.
The old man waits. And waits (as a spirit-self)
until morning. His future, now, always the same.

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poem10 Apr 2017 08:41 am

Lilien_corpse
Possession is nine tenths of death:
a nine-pointed pattern laid on a black marble floor,
a nine-clawed dragon breathing ash,
a nine-forked bolt of lightning burning down cities.
What slips in, when the last sigh slides
between chapped lips, when the last twitch
stills, that’s what ghosts carry with them
into shadow, or what carries them where gods can’t reach.

Closure, for the lucky, shuts the door on haunting.
What grace exists beyond the grave lies in having the strength
to drift beyond the past, or even the present.
The dead, in endless future tense, loop in and out
of our sight when the quantum entanglement of their dreams
brushes ours. Ghosts trade memory for a map out,
trade passion for a path, and what we call back
begins at the ragged point where fate cut the thread loose.

Nice and tidy.

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