12.10.2003

Words for the Fallen

I
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.

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

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

IV
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.

Wasted

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.

Plaster

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,
Now,
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,
Us.

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
Approaches,
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.

Breakup

(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

1
Spring.
(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)

2
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.

3
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.

4
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.

5
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.

6
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."