Words for the Fallen

The graves, the graves,
of so many (heros and victims
and murderers, all laid out
side by side by side

on the pavement in the glowingdark,
the still-pulse of retired corpses
waning in the darkling sparkle
of the onrushing, hurtling

(as in a mind-arousing scream
or blood-spitting knife wound)
sunset, ruptured by our steel
and fire, eager to bury

the fingers and toes reaching
through the soft humusitic soil)
speak of the travesties,
the inhumanity to man,

the self-indulgent, the self-satisfying,
in spite of other voices
a grave should never
have had to bear.

And by foot
upon that grave
I mean
imprint of
unfounded anger
as oxen to
plow till grind
the earth
where our
flesh will someday
rubber and canvas
to tears
that soften
dampen the
brown brown

oh how subtle and mischevious
can be how unrelenting
undermining despite all the mining
to us to make us so a-
so un-accursed but we
become a log in another's
an enjambment in a society
looking waiting maybe hoping
be enjambed oh Savior
Saviored ones who flee
ninety-nine and make
hand come find you

It wasn't that we hoped
To live some outpaced distance.
We liked the evening sky

Too much. We liked the star-
Tide drawing us in to where
The undertow drags us away

To dark & vast depths
Of something once called sleep
Once called dream, and there,

In the predawn postdusk
Quickly blackening haze,
We lose a certain self

That's still stretching,
Like having just slept,
Toward light not coming.

Well, unfortunately this program is too good at fixing errors because the spacing on this one is significantly different in some parts but the software left justified it all. Oh well.


Imagine what they said
When they found out
About the eclectic heavens
That spasm and bleed
Over ants and flees
And lilliputian organisms
Like a general
With the wool still
Solidly bunched at his shoulders
At the onslaught
Of the year’s icy garter.
Like a wall of hermits
Or the bellow of many hollow dogs,
The dyslexia gods,
Is the uprise of saplings,
Complete with the greenest trunks
To ever cast shadows
Against the moon-scarred night,
That dance, often, in silly hats
That have bells.
Ding, dong, ding, dong,
But which is dead?
Me? You? Silly hats?
The coroner fell asleep
Long ago
And the gravediggers
Have lost their shovels
Looking for the answers
In a bottle of milk.

You Can't Get There From Here

Some things can’t turn
Over a new leaf.
Some things can’t call

Time-out in overtime,
When the vicious animals
Overrun the court.

Some things can’t tell
When night dampens their shoes,
And some can’t make

Light of the obvious,
The death that sits cross-legged
On the tombstones having

Tea and crumpets,
With rumpled fingers.
Some things can’t be

Explained by the visible
Outline of summer
Just beyond the horizon.

They wait for the parliament
Of seasons to vote in
Their manifest rights

And make applesauce
Of their oranges
And drooping-hipped pears.

Of the Numbered Days

Nothing equals
the drunken barter of yesterday and today.
Their indigo wine is the holy matrimony
of past and present, the union of was and is.
I know that what I said
Is only a libation of admittance.
Is there only this handful of dull pencils?
Is there only this box of broken crayons?
Our crowns depend on the turning of a page,
the exhalation of a breath, the dying of an only child.
Everything stands between
the ocean and the shore
in the footprints that already lead nowhere,
where cripples are afraid to walk.
The blood of many martyrs purges tomorrow,
and even the pavement cracks
at the thought of eternity.

The Disupkeep of our Origins

Was it a leaf caught in the fluid currents of a creek,
Sucked under and churned in gradient eddies,
Baptized beneath the rapids of bolemic rocks
While an Indian shoots an arrow
Into a nearby sycamore drooping
Under the weight of leaves that will someday
Fall into the choking fission of riverlike
Time that moves in a surge that rattles
Men's lives like proximate graves?
Was it a half-eaten apple, golden-brown
Like the heart that someone somewhere
Must have, bobbing between escapes
Like a hitched breath, soft and cidered,
That might cross a boy's golden-brown
Complexion and barley hair, ripe for the harvest,
As he leaves his spittle drifting, beside the bobbing
Apple, slowly away from him in a creek
Under-glowing with copper-plated stones,
The pimple-fleshed river bed?
Was it a chewed leather boot,
A dog-eared novel, a candy wrapper
In the inevitable fishgrip of this waterfallish
Tumble-momentum that ushers everything
Into a razor sharp burial,
A constant downgrade, de-evolution,
Fallback to a neanderthal mind,
Cast-out into utter foolishness?
Maybe it was just a cow jumping the sun-christened moon
That fell by Darwin's hand into the raging machine
Of dying water rushing, as a man
To his eager doom, into deficiency
And slowly thinning into cerebral baldness.


Rich-incarnate, self-incarnate
Of something unself,
Greater, older, diviner,
Less common.
Wet and slimy on my back
To hard and set,
Cast to shape
And waiting for whips and chains
To tear the canvas
Into canyons carrying rivers
Bloody with unfair.
My back a part of You,
And others, other parts.
We all are.
Those deep scars
Fill us,
And the wet plaster
Melts into them,
As we unite
My fault, your strength,
I’m cracked, you mend,
The way a body should work,
Each part compensating for another,
Feet walking so the nose doesn’t have to,
Nose smelling because the hands can’t.
When it’s all dried and assembled,
It hangs from a cross,
And we are all too small,
But that back still bears my shape,
And that arm anothers.
Total, overarching, it is You,
And at the same time,
In a smaller way,
A way held only in plaster-dried cloth,

Of the Here and Now and When it Goes Away

We all hang in the balance
As time waits
Like a cat guarding the mouse hole.
It can't end like this though.
When it's over, do we sit
And enjoy victories spoils
Or do we playfully paw
Our cornered prey
Until it scampers off
Like long deceased prayers?
The weight is on the ordinary:
That barn, this tree, those birds,
But the days of brainstorming
Are nearing their end
And after another May or two
I may find the hours longer.
I can't make more of this
Than the bricks already laid,
When all the castles in the distance
Seem stronger
And my shining armor pales.
Is it only then
That I will hang by my neck
From everything I accomplished?
When it's all over
And the dusk of all my days
Will I chase
My tail in circles
As my shadow grows long
And heavy,
Drooping from my feet
Like wet cement,
Like the cheeks
Of a fat trumpet player,
Bringing in the evening
And shutting the door
Behind it?
This is where
Soul meets spirit,
Where home meets house.
This is the translation
Of my nameIn tangible entities,
The epitome
Of familiar places.
So on with the celebration.
Let the confetti of my future
Fill my days
As long as it falls from
The change of address forms
I dismantled secretly
In the sneaking dark.


(for Hannah)

She, in the train wreck,
Fallout, burning, searing flesh
Beneath the beating of a faint heart,
She, as I remember her, spring lily,
Ivory princess, beside the table
Smattered with watermelon flesh,
She, with an icy smile,
Eyes extract of the Milky Way,
Orion's belt loops,
Hair like the hot shower steam
That fogs up the mirror,
She, in the fabric-like
Tangenting of days and weeks,
The necessary orbit,
Inter-stellar, undeserving
Of such earthy earth,
She, with a sharp severance
A shifting wind, a falling leaf (loneliness),
A heart that waits to be invested,
Burns and courses through fire-like
Days as much a living entity
As she herself.
It's too late – a notice
Is in the mail.

Finding Out

(trying to fill the corners of a day with no corners)
And it hurt;
the emptying of myself
into a second too small,
yet the biggest of all of mine.
They say it is the time of rebirth;
the temper of May now settles toward summer -
toward inevitable never.
(struggling to stop a wheel that won't stop turning)
And she,
of all seasons,
she became the passing clouds of years and years
above a myriad of earths prior mine
that longing eyes glimpsed,
four fingers and a thumb extended
and never touching.
(breathing toward the slow, near-stagnant non-passage of time)

To that point,
when I knew finally, absolutely, abruptly
that you were what I had cowered to deny,
I held you,
a bar of wet soap threatening
to jump when squeezed,
and I tried, as Sisyphus tried,
watching the rock roll back down,
to expiate the churn of useless emotion,
smoldering in me like melted plastic,
with food and conversation,
with anything alien enough from thinking.

It all rose like an unwillingly brandished fate –
an unavoidable fulcrum
upon which all pivoted
and, like a cherry-bombed teeter-totterer,
all perished –
upon a sharp breath I couldn't restrain,
a twinge in the fossilized hibernation
I understood,
and fell with the finality of an executioner's ax
severing, justly, me.

I wanted so many things then, all at once:
to run, to scream, to breathe
into redundant expiration,
to grind out the granulated thoughts,
mash out the coagulated thoughts,
into pieces I could salvage, could understand,
and sift through them, picking out
the little parts of me I might want again someday.
(longing to vomit my emotion all over the carpet)
And then the sinking feeling,
giving up struggling and trading air for water,
trying to stand while I could feel
my insides dripping into my shoes,
my knees begging for the carpet,
my tears begging for the eyes
and I denying all of it
with a smirk and a flippant remark.

And why spring?
By the sarcastic tongues of angry fates?
By the resurrected, nail-pierced hands of Christ?
For the warmth of tears?
The buds of loneliness?
Totally undistilled, it blurred through me
with only a flash of myself,
a thousand fears and dreads
meeting, for the first time,
an air I no longer breathed,
but only viewed outsider-ish:
the greener grass
monsooned around me,
swelling into a grand unutterableness,
beating the guts I had grown comfortable with,
like the fury of a spoiled child,
like all the adrenaline surging
to meet the blood quickly vacating my veins.

And quiet.
(stuffing into attic boxes things I took for someday maybe granted)
Still the loud pulsing of emotion,
the heart pumping blood into the carpet not so far away
and yet a distance of slowly dripping years removed,
but quiet.
The cold struggle against acceptance,
an ancient dance, unrhythmic and familiar,
raging in a silent haze in a head a neck away from separation,
in a room with no windows or doors,
just a cloud of silence,
red, like the bleeding of hope in a single moment,
and austere, spartan,
exactly what it is and no more,
the candor of a mirror,
the glare of static water.
(struggling to frame existence against necessity and desire)
And this paradox of overwhelmed quiet and screaming panic
fills every part of me
like rainwater breathing into fresh potholes.

A Moment in Mexico

In the square at Ixlawacan,
Where the earwigs fabricated
Gatherings upon the gazebo ceiling,
Where white-panchoed Mexicans
Tapered decorations from the fountain
Outward to the trees surrounding
The plaza for the fiesta, while Americans
Showed The Jesus Film in Spanish
On an overhead projector
Just across the dirty street
From the spaceship that played
A strange music we never forgot
And gave rides for a peso,
The drunk, familiar stranger
That passed in rumors among
The Americans, talking between
A boy and a girl,
Looked into her oyster eyes
And asked, in English as fluent
As a whiskeyed southerner,
"Is 'e yur boyfrind?"
And she blushed and looked
At the boy who looked back,
Evasive eye to evasive eye,
And blushed.
"No, we're just friends," she said
Upon the platter of the following silence
That intruded like the fluttering
Of many cockroaches.
"We're just friends," the boy affirmed.
"We're only friends."


Departure Delayed

These penultimate moments,
The waiting of the hunting
Just before the chasing dogs
Denude the target
For the shooting
That keeps most people from hunting,
The sitting under the tree
Waiting for the apples to gravitate
To a point not quite seen yet,
Tend to coalesce into an impatient
Counting down of immeasurable days.
The crash and burn of those days,
Just fracturing the night
Into fragments that fall
To the ground in patterns
Resembling trees or tall buildings,
Sting like the epitaphs
We read standing
On our graves, waiting,
Suddenly, to die,
And the morning slowly drifts
On like innocuous storm clouds
With no one to rain on,
Having reached the oceans edge.



Upon the laurels of evening,
I will ride
Or make my bed,
When the sun is turning in
To say its prayers,
And all candles are snuffed out
By evenings oblique,
That feeling of inadequacy,
The moon smeared on the windows,
And melancholy,
The beckoning of beds to bodies.
Tomorrow, I am Phoenix;
For now, I will decay
Into the shards of past
That remain
When all else is enveloped
In future
And lies dormant
In baskets on the porch,
Ears drooping
Onto the cold linoleum,
Waiting for breakfast
And the scraps that cling
To our plates,
And they will lick
Into the corners
Of evenings still unmade
With rough tongues
And leave loneliness drool
In shapes that resemble
Rings and fences
And 2.3 children.
It’s time to pass
Into my several world
And find the matrimony
Of easy-picking and wormless,
Fruit that doesn’t cling,
But doesn’t sing in harmony
With earthtones,
Blushing at the thought of the fall.
If such a place exists,
Then I will pitch my tent
And invite evening in for the night,
For a game of poker,
And for the chance to gamble away
Every orchard.


Maybe I’ll sprout wings
And fly
And someday melt the sun
Until it fits in my hand
Or beat the air
With untrained hands,
And when blue becomes saturated
With the tears that only black could cry
We will fight
And barter blows
For scars and ruptured understandings.
It’s not enough to understand;
Blood is required
In exchange for whispers
And whispers don’t even exist.
If escape is a verb,
Then surrender is death.
Surrender is the lure
Of inexpensive days
Stretched to cover times loom,
Stretched to hide the unknown.
Cardboard sanctuaries
Make prayers thin and hollow
And allow knees no carpet
For repentance.
I would light a candle
And offer a midnight vigil
To saints who can’t see
Through soul-thick walls
But it would consume me.
And liberate me.
I’ll take the long step down
From the soapbox facade
That I’m not on,
As I cross into something
That would green all yellow
And dream in shades
Of whitened black
And blackened white
That intersect at help,
At vacant parking lots,
And at desperate whispers,
That say more than words.
I am Icharus,
If not Lincoln,
But never Sparticus,
Letting others fill my walls,
Letting others bear my cross,
Others whose names
Resemble conspiracy,
Anarchy and s e p a r a t I o n .
“I” should be lower case standing alone,
But grammar is against me;
It wars,
And fights,
Unfair, southpaw,
And I am striking the air,
Running in vain
With all that strives against me.
What I need is holy matrimony,
A joining of parts of me
I divorced
And forgot,
The faces I keep in other selves.

This Road

This road, faded grey and weather-beaten, hard, like long-settled volcanic regurgitation, pours hot over the countryside. It marks an end of every green Elysium, a border beyond which the living cannot pass.

This expanse of rock and scars, sewed up like Frankenstein's monster, as thin as a heartbeat, but drawn out into the vast horizon, chunks at the edges, ruffles like a wind-tossed scarf, flakes, cracks, secedes from its union, and lies in rubble to signify its state.

This artery, enamored with rubber, carries a consistent flow of traffic converging, in time, with its destination. We use it as one might a slave, indifferently, as we press our tires to its face.

This concrete fabric stitched up with miles of yellow and white thread, stretches into the distance until it melts into the sky. Behind me, it ventures from places I've been, merging, eventually, with places I'm going. Of course, it has its splits and jogs, divergences and tributaries, and can seem to lead awry or roundabout, but ultimately it takes me where I want to go.

The Capo

The light massages its silvery surface and I could see my reflection if I held it before me. It’s beak is coated inside with rubber to maintain, on a guitar, an equal tone of increased key. The grip, also, is overlaid with rubber for easy application, though the spring at its nexus is rather tight and difficult to work. This is so that, when in place, eating at the guitar neck like a police dog, it won’t slip and cause the strings to buzz, a wholly unpleasant sound. Thus, the capo, when employed correctly and skillfully, has an altogether pleasing tenor, one of content assistance and cheerful modulation, making change easier.


The Naked Truth

There was a time, in the growing up
Of boys, immature, that naked
Was a funny word, a funny thought,
Before the days it began to imply
Things it oughtn't, for we all owned it,
In a sense, and we would sit around,
Boys, in the calm of late night
And early morning and joke about
Every man naked under his clothes.
We said it because of it's truth;
Clothers were but a cover-up
For our innate nakedness,
The plight of mankind, eternally naked
And needing to cover it, and the elders
Somehow heard of our jesting
And thought it course and, of all things,
Immature (for we were, and how
They thought otherwise will forver be
Unknown). What followed were reprimands
And talkings-to and other nonsense.
After all, what's so wrong
With an observation of the obvious?
I wonder now if there weren't
Denial in their accusations,
But we knew, under all their fine
Garments and window dressings,
Their were naked men, as afraid
Of exposure as anyone.
It strikes me as odd that
Even out leaders refuse that
Which is common to us all.
That is not to suggest
That I think we should all be naked
All the time, rather, that it ought
In some manner, to be discussed,
Because hiding it won't remove it,
Ignoring it won't destroy it,
And there are some who falter
At the realization of their nakedness,
Of their humanity, and think
That they are utterly alone in it,
As if we all were somehow a part
Of our clothers and owned
No true flesh, no nakedness,
And they fear to be exposed
For the abnormals they suppose they are.
It's not that we ought
To dump our garbage
On a Sunday morning alter,
Or stand at the pulpit
Before the congregation unadorned,
But these facts of flesh,
Of mortality that we all share
Ought to be shared to overcome it,
Fight it, to realize we really are the same.
A wise man once said:
"There's something about being naked
With a group of guys
That opens you up to a new level
Of relationship with them."
It's the comfort we take in what
We all share, but there are always
Elders and those who condemn
What they themselves have
But refuse to speak of,
And there's nothing to do
But pretend back which is why
We'll all continue simply
To be naked under our clothes,
Until one finds the courage
To step, naked, out of line,
And deal with it.

Simon Peter

I hear roosters in the distance,
And I can feel my weight sway
On the loose footing,
Like sand washing up in the tide,
And I fight it;
I fight the moon and its gravity,
And the changing winds
That whisper, in the distance,
Of coming storms.
A denial for every day in the grave
Or, perhaps, a day in the grave
For every denial.
I might as well be buried now,
Alive or dying,
Headstone reading: "Simon -
The house on the ocean,"
For I am too good even for sand.
Is there sarcasm in a name?
I'm sure he felt it so,
As he sank into the water,
His eyes turned from salvation.
Of all the names . . .
And he must have wondered,
As I often do,
What rock feels like under the feet,
At the equating of houses and faith,
At the wise men, unswept away.
Were they the crumb in the corner
That God couldn't reach,
Or were they just well-hidden,
Transparent to reveal only linoleum?
I wonder if they build
Sand castles in Israel
And what they call them,
For I feel no part my name,
As Doubt becoming Rock,
And think perhaps a rename
Would be appropriate,
If I could only pinpoint
My exact inadequacies
And weep bitterly at my weakness,
Which is not at all Manly,
And I wonder at the irony
Of such a name, a part
I can't act well it seems,
At least, not when it seems to matter.


In the drown of turbulence
Coexisting in me,
I can frame perhaps
Three entire entities,
Speaking each from what they want,
And I drunkenly stumble,
At times, separating them,
Not knowing which movement
Fills which pigeon hole.
No amount of experience
Makes this easier.
You tell me you are you,
But for that, I am me,
And even you are a part of me
Yet saying you are different.
Be more vague
And maybe I will
Accurately dissect you from myself.
It is delicate - loosening
The unidentified tongue,
Trusting it harbors no venom.
But I wonder if I myself
Am venom, or some resemblance,
Because, without any great evil,
I am slowly poisoning
What I might have
Once called faith,
But now, for a lack
Of internal literacy,
It has lost its name,
And most value there equated.
Its depreciation is measured
In doubts and lack of common sense.
I wish I could say
You rang more clearly,
But my own bias
Has clouded more than one
Evening sky. One would think
Deception a sharper tone,
Or self a king
Unmuddled in a crowd,
But all voices seem
Equally frappéed into a mess
That spills, nearly daily,
Over my future, staining it
With a tint of helplessness.
When help comes
In punctuated spoonfuls,
Half a year outbids
All ocean beds,
And I really do wonder
At myself, and whether
I made it all up.


Graves afford ease,
for any who want it,
those who let dirt
house their sloth,
let grass gwo
as crowns to
their apathy,
and somewhere
a newspaper is printing
a nameless obituary,
a morgue tags a toe
an autopsy reveals
death comes to all,
but not when
or how or why.
And why would
we speak of it?
Our epitaph's
are expendable
because we all
carry them
and there is no cure
that words can conjure
for them.
So we'll continue to die
in silence,
from mute voices
or deaf ears,
each screaming
his own plea,
begging to be heard,
to be helped,
and so caught
as to distill
all others.
And we'll keep
playing house,
everything is okay,
waiting for our turn
to lie down
and die,
six feet beneath
an able and waiting

After Burning Burning Out

I saw them bury empty carcasses
of men in gluttonous earth with no regard
for the hearts once bespattered with their lives.

I was solemn
from the ascension
of variously colored souls,
men meeting God
in a bleeding hope,
and I groped,
in what seemed dark,
for a corpse to hold,
and I urged life,
prayed life,
with spirit laid on hands
and watched wounds open
to the searing eyes
they had hidden from.

I saw them glowing by the light of cedar
crosses, their silhouettes becoming res-
urrection on the boulder rolled away.

With suitcases
full of changes,
they left the week behind,
becoming, again,
the dead they were before,
and I wanted, harshly,
to grip their faces
with hypocritical hands
and shake them out
like a trampled rug.
What was it for
if not for real?
But I watched
the living
accept a path of death
not even placed before them.

I saw them shining like transfigured Jesus
on mountains each their own, refusing descent
when already they had fallen off.

In the end,
they dragged their soles
across the concrete
in apathy,
and I thought
what's not to care about?
So I stood,
my feet yoking with concrete,
utterly unaccepting
and, eventually, uncaring.
As I looked
up from the pit
I had fallen in,
I realized it was my own
and the death
that hung on their faces,
gripped at mine.

I saw myself marching with them into
graves pre-labeled, one for each, a dis-
tant look upon my face from falling short.



Smooth the varitone melodies of my heart
to one concordant hymn of praise
and quell my trite augmented roots
that sting with intoned inelequence.
Flay my weathered scales of forged remorse,
contrition tempering dischordation
and burying octave differences
behind the composition's frame.
Beach the tremolo of weary pitch
and bring me to a coda's rest
where hallelujahs spring from key
and not from sour dissonance.
Bathe this stagnant opus in the gleam
of absolute resolve from tense
suspension, hanging dominant
in verse with vast diminished fear
And raze crescendoed appetites of songs
in tenor and in tune amiss
and bleeding out the tempo of
the only metronome of worth.

The Walnut Tree

Is a home dependent on unbroken?
Does rain fall on no particular roof?

He came arrayed in water
wanting my mother to adjust
(beating hard on the windows
wanting in)
a flower girls dress
the dress was in the car,
the man was in the house,
the storm was inbetween
and it flexed unanticipated
muscles; out lights flickered;
thoughts flickered -

he mentioned the tree to be
chopped down, walnut,
(huricanic anger
wanted the tree)
and growing in the front yard,
if it didn't fell itself
in surrender to torrent
and tempest,
and at camps and even
in Europe, hand met hand
protesting the fall of the house
of squirrels -
(and it huffed
and it puffed
but it was the big tree
that could
and it fought,
huffing and puffing itself,
against the surrender
of altitude.)

It may fall, he committed,
but he, and other fretting minds,
hoped walnut could with-
stand weather,
could play its war games better,
could find a faster route
(surrender might mean suffrage
in that house, for rain)
to checkmate, even to stalemate,
extra fire wood found in the yard
or on the trampoline even,
but if it weakened
it would still outstrength
shingles and hardwood blueprints,
if the hand of unknown gods
or unknown fates so guided -
(it hungered for that roof
it strove to smite
the shepherd's sanctuary
only a driveway

I saw later, the tree
still standing, that the dagger
could have reached the heart,
plunged with a cold, wet hand
and twisted,
(its legs were too strong
that day)
removing tissue and blood
and leaving an open wound
that future foes would squirt
lemon juice in, insult
to injury, wet furniture
to orificed roof, no mercy
for the family inheriting
an ill-placed walnut tree,
but ill-placed, apparently,
has no bone with ill-tempered,
(it stands and waits
to be tested again
and the family prays
because it still stands,
and will until blooming
(until chainsaws and
labor crews
sound its demise with)



In the eternal frolic of sun and moon
Breathes the drench of hunger,
Caressing between desire and passion
A bottomless gleam.
I remember dreams of morning,
Gentle and island kissed
By an evening smile,
And I remember the flicker
Of entwined fire,
Wedding the whisper of blood and angel.
Sleep is a perfume wanting the flesh
Of beds and candles.
It worships wine doves
And haunts chocolate drunkenness
With a mating of love and luck.
Some gods bleed champagne;
Others devour vast bouquets,
But they all cherish the glisten
Of life unwound to naked,
The unleavened loaves of forever’s skin.