Sunday, November 25, 2018

Poem Sunday

Poem #5

This poem is not about you.
These words are an arrow shot through
The black canvas of night
Which leaves a white hole that you call the moon.
These lines are a leafless tree dying on a coppered plain,
A claw clutching at empty metallic overhead blue
Attached to an underground body writhing in pain,
In the last clonic spasms before it gives up the fight.
This tree was not planted; it just grew.
I alone am the one to impugn.
This is not at all about you;
This poem was never about you.

This hand on your knee
Is also not about you.
This touch will not set you free
From imagined bonds of hopeful patience.
And all my deliberate reticence
Is not enough time to infuse
Your eager numbness with enough feeling to know to refuse
The tap tap tapping of my fingers on your thigh.
This was always just a bundling of words that must end with a sigh


Sunday, November 18, 2018



What was the way we used to be
When were the times we used to meet
How was that day we rose to greet
What were the words we used to say
What was the price we had to pay
How was the way
Supposed to be
How was the day
Supposed to feel
Where was the why we used to say
Who were the they that filled our days
Whatever you said to make me stay
Why did you quietly kneel and pray
What was the way we used to have
Where is the time we used to save
Why was the way we used to seem
Now just a view we see in a dream


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Poem


Driving home down South Main from grandma’s in a blizzard
Mom clutching the wheel, wordless.
The girls are asleep in the back.
I’m wide eyed, wide awake
watching us hurtle through black outer space
as the star flakes rush past our hyper-driving ship,
wondering what galaxies we leave in our wake.

Heading for mom’s house
And then off to dad’s house.
Mom’s house and then dad’s house
Every other weekend.
Wednesday night dinners
Summers and holidays
Back and forth along the road
This is your home too, they always say
But home is a singularity
Not a multitude of infinite stars
Dispersed across the vastness of space.
I'll never go to Mars
I'll never visit Andromeda

I have always been en route
Traveling from one place to the next.
Going from this home to that.
There’s always been one place I’ve wished to find
But with millions of stars rushing past,
How would I know which one was really mine?
I have been forever seeking a place to rest;
How was a boy supposed to choose which one was best?

Home is always someplace else,
Over there, a place to someday go,
Never quite right here.
Home is a quest,
a thumbtack on a secret map
I had taped behind my desk.
Home is an idea, a wishful destination,
A journey without an arrival.

This is my son in his home;
He knows no other.
I will see him tonight again in this house,
After the last knot is thrown,
and the wounds are all sealed.
Winter now comes round again.
The snow is just snow rapping the windshield.
And stars are just fiery balls of distant hydrogen
Lighting cold worlds I’ll never get to see.

But I am still traveling along the road.
Ever the itinerant wanderer,
Ever searching for a home of my own,
Wondering about worlds I wish I had known.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018


The Stakes

So what are the stakes?
What are we even playing for?
Is there an ultimate prize
Or is it just a war of attrition,
A battle to be the last man standing
In a land of sudden silence
If you bother to stop and listen

Was this all a big mistake,
A wasted siege of long
Abandoned castles.
Perfectly executed plan
But the enemies are long gone.
The shadows in the windows were cast
By motionless wooden fakes.

Tell me the stakes.
What will you put on the line?
I have pushed forward my own last dime
While you have one foot in shallow grave
And one toe tip dipped in a frigid lake.
Everything is more interesting when there is something at stake.
Everything is more interesting when you can’t afford to lose.
Everything is more interesting
When you’re down to your last chip
When you're all out of time.

But consider:
There’s nothing at stake
You’re sitting around an imaginary table
With imaginary friends
Condemned to the same imaginary fate.
The game itself will have to suffice.
Your pile of chips is just a glacier of melting ice.
And the cards are shards of splintering trees.
There is no heaven.
There is no hell.
No redemption.
No eternal gnashing of teeth.
There is no final justice,
No pearly gates,
No hounds of hell.
No one is there to tally your scores.
The second you rise from the table
All your winnings disappear.
It's the nothingness you've always feared.

A youngster arrives to play
And wants to know the stakes.
You are now one of the grim grizzled veterans
Nodding your heads with knowing grins.
This is when the game really begins.
The cards keep coming, round and round.
Dry mouth, inelastic skin
Rasping thirst no stream could ever slake
There are no stakes.
There are no stakes.
You remind yourself.
There are no lakes of lava waiting to steam your sins
You say a heart breaks but what is that sound we hear pounding in your chest?
You can’t lose what you never had.
Bet the house, push all in.
Bluffing is the same as playing;
Your full house, your royal flush
Your lonesome pair of smudged black threes.

The Kings are all fakes.
The Queens are all fakes.
The Ace up your sleeve is the only true thing
But it can’t be played here;
Here, everyone is watching.

There is only this moment in time
When you play this card,
When you play that card,
And you play your last card,
Before the earth quivers and shakes,
Before our hearts all start to shudder,
Before this one true heart breaks.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Poem Sunday


Early morning twilight before dawn.
Gray clouds gathered      stacked to ambush a rising tepid sun.
This is the time when the doctor makes his rounds,
Silently stealing from room to room    like a thief.
He takes what he needs,
(The nurses never know)
The history of present illness,
Of past transgression,
Skeletons in closets,
Of all conceivable redemption.

He parts curtains, appears like an apparition
Before half-awake humans in unfamiliar beds.
Whispers queries into their dreams  
(knowing the secrets that hide in dreams)
Whispers, always in muffled whispers.
He casts his questions from a chair.
He rises. Moves closer. His voice the hushed intonation of morning prayer.

I’m going to pull back the covers
Let me lift your gown
You will feel some pressure.
You will feel the prick of this needle.
This one will need the knife.
This one has secrets to tell.
This one has blood to spill.
This one still misses his wife.
This one is pedantic.
This one is lost.
This one sees right through me.

He takes the measure
Of half conscious patients:
Heart rate, temperature, blood pressure.
Presses the flesh of
Bodies nominally solid,
Bodies that veer toward evanescence.
(Resistance must always be calibrated)

He takes he takes he takes what he needs;
The stale smell of sloughed skin,
The faint stirrings of putrefaction.
Samples of pungent ochre urine,
Pus swabbed from festering sores.
Shavings of raised scabbed nevi
Gathered all in a dark bag of unmentionables
He takes  
heads on sticks,
Rings of skeleton keys,
Marrow sucked from hollowed bones,
A stray clump of grayed hair on the pillow plucked.
Vials of fluids, chronic excrescences.
Skin pallid or pasty or yellow
Turgid ankles, blotches on backs
Mottled toes
Bodies bruised blued
Red limned eyes, matted lashes fused.
All revealed now by the pale light of dawn.
All revealed in the aching moan of first sun.
The doctor sees all by the spectral light of dying moon.
These are the treasures of morning plunders,
This harvesting of illness and brokenness

And now there are whisperings
heard from the tangled clots of covers.
The doctor must lean over
to hear words that are not words
but an ominous rattle in your chest.
The corrugated exhalation of fear
that hops unbeknownst
Into his dark satchel of stolen treasures

Hours later, orders placed, notes all written,
(and then the daddy daddy let’s play, honey honey would you do)
when he goes through his secret stash------
The bag is unexpectedly light, unburdened.
This is all that’s left;
That dying rattle in your chest
That clings to the the inside craw
Of his healing broken down being.
All the rest is gone.
Fallen out the flaw in the bottom of his bag

All the rest is gone
Except for this wheezing,
This rasping rattle in the center of his being
That’s followed him all the way home.
It starts as a tickle in the back of his throat.
It starts as a tickle
It starts in the back of his throat

That escapes as a cough
Before he can cover his mouth