5.26.2004

A Momentary Love

I was walking objectively
Through your shadows
When you whispered
In my ear, unintentionally,
Like some mysterious variable
Sneaking into gravity.

I joined you briefly
Under the family tree
(It was cool
And so familiar)
Then plucked up a small flower
For you instead, and you
Accepted it accidentally.

I thought for a while
I might stay and share
A bottle of fine words with you,
But the parallax between us grew wider
And our shadows longer
Until you were a child again,
And I was a head
Looking over a shoulder
From an increasingly greater distance
My body carrying me pragmatically away.

My shepharding feet, however,
Have not forgotten the way back.

Misdefinitions

It wasn’t love that brought me home to you,
It was something . . .
Something more like flashes of a movie
In a television advertisement,

Keeping our attention-for-each-other-deficit
In tact. I thought love
Was more like winning a championship,
Hoisting a gold trophy over your head,

And proclaiming to everyone, “Look here!
Look at what I have done!”
How silly we can be when we think
We understand a thing,

Out of misunderstanding, called love.
I was standing in an empty room
Hailing you queen of every green corner
In which I had wanted to place

A token, a heart, a broken down
Lugubrious definition of something
Like me in the way I brush my teeth maybe,
Or the way I throw my hat in the air

At the turn of a season,
But I found myself lacking
The quickest distance between such points.
At least I was lacking it well.

The Drunk's Philosophy

We sat in the corner drinking beers.
You had a few,
I had a few . . .

If only we could sit discussing
These men,
Men like ourselves, but sober,

Until morning,
till all mornings rowed past
Wearing plastic rain coats,

Mounted on rubber ducks
All in a row.
If God is dead,

Where did the duck come from?
If it were my raincoat,
Is morning only murder for it?

Taking your hat off the stand,
Your coat, your galoshes,
You kiss the barmaid sloppily good-night

And wade out the door
(forgetting your umbrella)
Into the seizing rain and I realize

The only truth to be bought
This night is:
I drink, therefore I am.

Buildings and Bodies

Let us say “church”
And see if any dust balls
Spring out of the floor boards.
If we say “grace,”
Aren’t we really just saving faces
For a rainy day?
Who broke the bottle of champagne
Over the hull of our fellowship?
Did it drip and leak
Into the storage closets
And our once-a-week rations?
Inasmuch as we are uncrowned kings,
Are we unragged vagabonds as well
(shuffling tremulously through life’s
drab and dungeon corriders)?
Was there ever a time
When we understood the meanings of words,
The ones we heave about carelessly,
Cannon balls into a field of infantry.

Crippled

After something like several hours
Of stupefied sitting,
Paralyzed self-consoling,

I stretched my legs, not so eagerly,
Toward the end of the horizon
Hoping maybe in other worlds,

In fraternal existences,
Mirrored in similarly opaque words,
Were the sentiments, the fulfillments,

Of all the short-comings here
Shrinking shorter like cotton undergarments,
And I know,

In the way you can never quite explain,
That, though I stretch into valleys,
Redemptions, graces,

All beneath the ever-familiar sky,
I will never move again.

What You Conjured Up

It was good to see you again
But I think I may have been eternally happier
To have stayed naive. Life is such
A handful of horse manure at times
That it’s a wonder the smell
Has not stifled us into submission:

Submission is who I am
And you are the rose whose petals
Lie on the linoleum floor in the bathroom.

I feel I’ve been here far longer
Than time could ever measure in subtle
Slouchings of a head, my head - hitting
The steering wheel at the thought of the music
Hitting the windows like rain.
My knees are bleeding in their consummated
Mormon marriage with the concrete,
The carpet, the thought of you again,
And I know I’ve wondered before
If you would ever end, that is,
Change your mind.
Curiosity, I know, will never be enough
To drag me under so I can just forget it.
It will be too much.

Another Day Like That

A long gone day has just
Brushed its tail
Along the outside of my window
In a darkness that seems
Sudden
And shocking,
And I thought I saw
Something like a sunset
Creeping,
Hunched-over, the under-cover
Spy of all elusive summer noons.
I wept today
For the silence I keep
In the dandelion coin vault,
Imagining that it may never
Scream again
In quite the melancholy anguish
I’ve always wanted it to.

5.20.2004

The Man from Babylon

With one finger
He pushes aside the knife
His mind turned toward

Him, and squats by the river
To wash the other man
From his hands. A third

Sits on a rock behind
Him, but neither knows
How to be a man.

Looking back, the first sees
A glowing angel, his back
To him because, he assumes,

He can’t look, and, stooping
In the water, he feels
A tail grow out and tuck

Between his legs. He returns
To sit beside the frontier
And the angel, not looking at him,

Asks, “Are you here for me?”
The angel lowers his sickle
And looks, then, at the animal

With glowering sorry eyes,
And the animal sees his reflection
Shivering there like Janus,

And droops his head only to see
God emerging out of the ground
Between them and the angel

Says, though it is God’s lips
Moving, “Woe, woe, the great city,
She who was clothed in fine linen

And purple and scarlet, and adorned
With gold and precious stones
And pearls, for in one hour

Such great wealth has been laid waste.”
God grows into a towering city
As the animal’s tongue falls,

Severed, to the ground, and the angel
Goes to the wormwood creek
To wash his reaper.

Speaking of Feelings

We sat
In a bench by the window
With carbonated skyscrapers
Stretching between us,
Pawing at our words.
We negotiated
Carefully around them,
Pilots patrolling a foggy,
Carnaged cityscape,
Searchlights diving
Into office windows,
All business at this hour,
With shades unpulled
Revealing our hesitant nudity.

Sister

They’ve done everything
right, and yet somehow
they are hiding below
a toadstool; they
are standing in dark
corners looking
for spare change;
they are drowning
in the fiction they’ve
created with hopeful
dreamy eyes.
There are two patriarchs
looming over them
waiting for them
to breath, to move,
to step off narrow,
lemon-scented line,
and they, motionlessly,
are afraid to love.

Severing Pieces

I, like a lower case cross,
Burn in the midnight
I created myself
And I tell you
I didn’t think it
Would lead to this.
But how was I
To know? The weather
Comes and goes
And we will simply
Sit on the hard
Concrete and whisper
Of the days that
Go and come, charged
With the feelings
A single eye can
Sear into eternity
Like words jumping
Out of our stars
In the sky
And settling down
In our laps
To lick at our faces.
But stars are just
The death of our
Quivering voices, filled
With the tug
Of meanings we attribute
To things and people
And places and the conjunction
Of those things
With the leaving of them.

Impressions of You

I
I thought I saw you once
In the long Ohio December
But it was really January
And it was really your sister.

II
You danced, in the quiet light,
Beneath the dim music,
With a friend while I
Rode off to some future engagement.

III
Your hair leaped to my eyes,
Though your eyes never had,
And I formulated a title page
To a new, uneasy chapter.

IV
In the market place,
You talked him down to save
Me the money I had slipped
Casually into your oracle.

V
Coming home, we spoke
To self-duplicities at some
Distant reunion, and you flickered
In the candles on the dinner table.

VI
At great distances, I rolled over
In some filament of morning,
To the phone ringing
You into my head.

VII
I felt the chase sneak
Into my eager toes
And I came close –
You will never know how close!


VIII
To be quite frank, I never
Saw you with him, and then
You were, so I sat and drank punch
To keep my stomach from falling out.

IX
Then you hopped, little rabbit,
Between two gardens,
Wanting one, and leaving
Only when it rained.

X
Finally, though I’m really not sure,
I saw you walking toward the sunrise
As the moon set behind you
And a star fell into my hand.

Graduation

Two hours
Until the world
Like an irritable dragonfly,

Accepts the wind
With quickly beating wings
And moves off to find

A place in the sun.
Let the talkers fix their tongues,
Specimens pinned

To a Latin name,
And the tradesmen jingle
The coins in their third-

World pockets. Never
The goblet to suffer the blood,
Never the earth to entwine

The sky, never the eager
Christian man to transubstantiate
His friends and lovers,

Never the story we have told
And are still telling with words
Like satellites on re-entry.

A Euclid thief lingers
In our prayers
And testemonial dreams,

When the sink is full
Of our pulp, like a man
Swallowing several church bells.

At the stroke of freedom,
Let us ring into the hollows
Of our illucid futures

And shift our weight
Uncomfortably out
Into the summer furnace

That growls in the shadows,
Versatile and sterile,
That we have yet to see.

Deja Vu

This is the second time
The world has spun
On other axis’, secret ones,
Restricted by those
Who know what it means
To be notorious.
I look through the frosty
Winter window, with oracle eyes
Into a room with a fireplace,
Warm like sleep
Late on a summer day,
And imagine winds
With made-up minds
That walk with striding
Certainty. I’ll go where
They take me
And mark the words
Jotted in the space
I empty: “The prisoner
Andrew Nichols shot
In the stomach while
Attempting to escape.”

Coming Home

Such a curious thing:
Like a bee circling
The lips of a flower,

Like a trace of a man
On a slim transparency,
Like ripe berries

Jellied and preserved
In glass bellies
In our inconstant cupboards,

Like a first kiss
Stolen behind the schoolhouse
Or a last kiss,

As the doctor
Pulls the umbilical plug
Out of the cold and silent wall.

5.14.2004

Come Rapture, Come

Let the waves crash where they will.
Let our credits fill the space
Where the sun once rose.

Let the dust shake Off
Of our homecoming feet
And dance in the easterly wind,

The warm breath from before the world
Caught in the spokes of angel's chariots
That came, come, and wait in the cloudy

Tide to cover the earth again. It's just enough
Of a hand to hold, just enough
Of a meeting of eyes, just enough

Of a smile to cling to hope
Like the coming of spring,
Gathering our breath into baskets

For the final plunge, the atrophy
Of icy water taking hold and numbing
Our wounds till they become scars.

Then the boughs which bear our burdens
Slip from their pale winter garments
Into beautiful nakedness.

Ripples

There are so many long long ways.
In my house of winter,
All windows face east

Toward spring,

And the driveway slurs
Into the edges of the world
Like each color of the rainbow,

Melting into the next,
Or like two words
That sound nearly the same,

And summer slowly rises,
Like water in a storm,
Into winter's throat

Singing quietly.

I step out my door
And see a cloud cut across me,
And suddenly, it resembles

Your hand scooping me
Out of the water.

The Second Best Feeling

Pink crab-apple blossoms fill my windows
And asian lady beetles their sills.
The aroma of fresh-cut grass
Blends with the scent of new sheets
Signifying summer.

All My Yesterdays

It's always quiet in this holy place;
I shuffle toward the front down worn-out aisles,
Empty now,
Waiting for another Sunday's trails
To cast feet and knees upon its red carpet.
I stand, tears falling from my face,
Not quite knowing how
To find the yesterdays I lived before.

They dance and trickle through my mind and long
To be more free
And join in chorus with the songs I sing,
Free at last, free at last! And more
Than this, they want that freedom to be strong
And ever-unbreakably
Enduring, never (oh never!) again to ignore

That call, never again to seek return
To those keyless locks and chains I left
So far behind.
The room fades and I feel wholly bereft
Of all hope. I drop my gaze and stare
At the quiet floor. They say to live and learn;
If you seek, you'll find.
In this quiet, I feel unaware

Of God, of all holy powers stirring,
And alone, trapped in empty churches. All
Seems somehow lost,
Yet in this loneliness of carpeted walls,
Somehow separate from the pulpit wood,
There is a growth in me, a strange maturing
That underbids its cost
And shows me this is really for the good.

The Now Room

The dog is asleep, black and white,
in
Her cushion bed on the floor,
and
My eyes hurt because it's two
in
The morning and I'm sitting
a-
Wake, dazed by the music of strange
5/4
Signatures, pianos and drums
and
Other expressions holding me
from
The dark outside, and I think
to-
Morrow might arrive before
i'
M ready. Oh God, touch me
in
A pinprick to bring goodbye
to
Tired eyes and send me
sen-
Sibly to bed, before I lose
all
Of everyone I've ever
been.

Beyond Arcadia

If I could pass beyond Arcadia
And the fake perfection
That leads astray,
That props me up
On anxious legs
And helps reference me
To the fool I once was,
I could stress the maskless me,
The initial me, the unfamiliar me,
And compose a new face
That chance may sing someday
In helpless harmony
With the distance I always feel.
I am numbered
By my unfounded claims
That flounder and fail to serve
In conquering all
That separates me from myself,
That line the walls
In pictureless frames.
Patience is a virtue
Blushing can't achieve,
A candle can't ignite,
A sorry can't erase,
And I thirst for something
Done under better intent.
Miles and miles
Of length and width and depth
In varying degrees of eternity
Are more than a choice
Could untangle.

Ten Count

Don't get me wrong -
I'm not a nature-lover,
Tree-hugger, green thumb
Environmentalist
Or preservationist
(One foot in the all-American
Ever-coursing river,
The other looming
Over a wildlife preserve
Or Indian camp)
But I saw, twice
In one day (twice!),
Trees being lumbered
To make space
For man's incessant
Technology, and I thought
What happens
When there's nothing to chop
Down but ourselves?

Somewhere, beneath
the plasteel, bandwidth,
Copperwire, cornerstones,
And all the "man" we find
Necessary, is a nature
Bleeding from the mouth,
Eyes swollen shut
In painful black and blue,
With lumps and scars,
In a state of semi-consciousness,
A drunk man sprawled
In a doorway in the late evening,
Slowly disproving Darwin
And going the way of all things.

While You Were Out

I took the liberty
Of organizing your library
According to the number
Of sins in each book.
Those with the most
Are along the far wall.
I am forever scrubbing
These dirty floors,
By the tainting of my heart,
The tainting of all hearts.
Where the lights were out
I turned them on
Hoping the flies in their globes
Wouldn't cast too much shadow.
I drank a bit of your wine
And ate a bit of the supper
You had prepared for tonight.
I'm sorry if it was your last.
Everything is in the order I found it
(Except the afore mentioned things)
And I buried a few coins
In the front yard.
I also trimmed a few of the trees
That seemed to be producing
Too much fruit.
They made the other trees look bad.
When you come again
I hope you will take notice
Of my house keeping efforts.
Best wishes
And farewell.

Pacing in the Parking Lot

The night bares its wooden fangs
And I put my nose on my shoe,
Importing steps, exporting saline,
Waiting for this generic evening
To immature into a puddle
I'll probably step in.
Are cloudless skies
Some divine gag
Meant to elicit
The midget inside me?
Pacing doesn't resolve
Into a rabbi's closet
And crying invents momentum
Equal to the tarot
In the stars
That grimace in my wake.
I feel capable of eternity
In these shoes,
In this place,
At least, the part of eternity
That lasts until morning,
When the sun snares the tear-
Entrapped me on the pavement.
Parts of me cringe
At the thought of day.
Give me my vampire
That sucks out my only life
Onto an asphalt platter!
I'm happy with without
When I imagine
The thickness of union
And its retreatlessness.
I like parking lots.
I need the speckled sky
Looming above, a black
Umbrella at a rainy funeral,
And the impotent answers
I shudder to attain.
I can't compose fortune
With ink and paper
And there's no harmony
For silence.
Maybe I'm too mute and deaf
To stand in opera
With one whose tenor
Reaches scales
Weighing out possibilities
Beyond my range to pitch.
If I find a tongue,
I'll hold on
And ask to be renamed
Something beginning with "her,"
Or I'll simply lie
With my head on the curb
And hope to dream
About climbing
To where there are answers.

Thinking on the Way Home

1. Driving
We'll honk and pass
And pass and honk
And feel good about summer,
At least for this hour,
Lost in the paper shreds
Of a calendar day,
And when the clock
Rolls over to tomorrow
And whispers of yesterday
Bittersweetly in my ear,
I'll think of future
Tomorrows and yesterdays.
It's hard to say
What each would mean.
Passing a last truck,
I see open interstate
Scrawled between
Me and Mansfield,
A sleeping 71,
Circumstanced in sprezzatura
Glowing beyond Shakespeare.

2. Dreading
You shattered your goodness
On my thick head
Several times already
And I can see you
Poised to strike again.
Seven years bad luck
Pales to three years alone,
Three years you smashed
And called good.
The splinters of such years
Could fill a pin cushion
If they weren't
Imbedded in my flesh.
Does it mean
More than I think
Or do I just
Think more than I should?
It's a riddle in wolf skin
Besetting an innocentFlock of evenings
Wanting to eat and drink
And not be wary,
And I am weary.
Nothing tastes better
Than the feeding hand,
Full of good,
Bitter than glass fragments
Still fresh
With my own blood.
I can already feel my life
Pooling up between my toes,
And in the arch
Of my right foot.
I can hear it
Screaming to believe,
Knees screeching to the carpet,
Arms open to the sky
In that one word,
Why!

3. Dreaming
All my inner voices growl
With the same inflection
And I'm too good
At fooling myself
To find the difference.
I want,
With all my atoms,
To believe in sleep,
And in sleep, dreams,
To believe that driving
Will solve my problems,
That I-71 leads home.
But all my years,
And the intake of my,
Lately, eyes
Want to bind and shackle
Those treasonous words,
Declare war
On their taxation
Apart from representation.
Harness me to another yoke
And let me till
The bloody battlefield,
Then give me my carrots
And let me lay
In my straw
And dream.

A Love in Seasons

Chase away the cashmere tears
Exploding from your eyes.
There's more to this than you and I.
The tears that fall, that plunder,
Are little more than work and wonder,
And the black rain that racks my shutters
Listens for the sky to mutter
Trodden words from weakening tongues.
I remember when I was young
And season's fruit the trees behung.
How the golden leaves warm the earth
Celebrating autumn's birth
And how the vagrant wind drives our worth
Through vagrant lives from summer's fold.
How we all have grown so old.
The fog that fills my lungs is cold.
It rolls off my shoulders
And shivers and shudders.
It plunges past me and grabs my skin.
My confidence is wearing thin.
The glistening cobwebs peal away,
Cool and grey, day to day.
How it soon will pass me by.
There's more to this than eye to eye.
Overhead, the cherry moon
Waxes and wanes
As seasons change,
As hours pass and swoon,
As mornings shift to afternoons,
And some would call me strange,
But I am just a trinket on the shelf,
A picture framed in maple wood,
A fading face, a fading self.
But there will be other times
For every rhythm and every rhyme.
How we all will feel sublime,
(And yet we all will feel alone)
Walking barefoot on the cobblestone,
My only company my shadow
Breathing heavily at my feet.
Oh, how I'd hoped to find retreat.
Cherry blossoms from the meadow
Lay enlaced upon the street.
There they moan and whine
Waiting for a glimpse of time,
Just a touch of some immortal,
Just a touch of the divine.
How the foolish ones will chortle
At the dust of man's decline.
How it all will fade away
And quickly waste to dusty clay.
The purring rain that licks my windows
Drags its claws along my brow.
It seems there's always something more.
Winter's feet will find the shore,
And sweep away the summer's dust
Beneath the rugs of seasonal trust
And unearned lust.
It can never be how it was before.
The wind will gust
The rain will snore
And painful leaves will find autumn's floor.

For Lack of Better Words

Under the evening canopy of loneliness
On the barefoot concrete,
Rough and calloused from the day's trudge
And punctuated by the recent rain,
A part of me walks
Circularly, desperatised by a clear sky.
Each eye, each wink, makes each step
A bachelor party, a remembrance
Of all the things - the person - I can't have.
We wasted hours on the trampoline
In the front yard, talking,
And inside watching movies
On the couch, my arm trying
To be around you, though
I wouldn't let it because
Of your dad at the other end
Of the couch and because
I wasn't sure. A tail
Of cloud entertains the moon,
Throwing its orgasm across
The poorly-lit parking lot
Outside the church,
And I pass, infinitum ad nauseam,
My car, a quiet tear of a lonely night
Waiting for me
While I jump a puddle
Baptized by the moon's candor.
I knew what I had to do,
Knew it like the wind
That flayed the autumn trees
That almost seemed to say it.
Parts of us still lingered
On the trampoline, the arm
That still wanted one more chance.
We knew those parts,
Knew them like the wind
That echoed with the very voice of God,
That hushed my flailing prayers.
I crossed to my car under
The slowing breath of the moon.
I had to tell you,
And then we would be friends, again.
We would be just friends.

Once It Was Me

Time doesn't seem to count
On the nights like these,
With that unexplainable feeling
Of too little hanging over me,
Like the lights that
Painted our togetherness on the floor.
I feel emptied,
A glass of spilt milk
Waiting to be refilled,
Especially on the nights like these.
Your words were kind
But belonged to someone else.
They chant into memory
Our moments of a year ago
That sour as I ponder them.
I sought this solitude
But never wanted to find it -
Not like this.
Every day I feel I am running
From a hunter that never catches me
And never loses me,
And I don't know whether victory
Is escaping or being caught.
It doesn't matter;
Nothing matters but the hard table
Beneath my elbows,
The cold November air
That sneaks in the windows,
And the rain that melts
Harshly into the pavement outside.

September Together

The world was all above us,
Distant, dark, serene.
The trees that bent their curled boughs over us
Seemed other-worldly.
Laying still, with the trampoline
Bowed under us, heads toward the center,
I think the world did not really exist.
The words we spoke
Floated between us,
Completely immaterial.
Your aura awakened the night
And tainted it a brilliant mix
Of vibrant colors.
The entire ambiance,
The darkness, the old and squirrel infested tree,
And the toys scattered throughout the yard,
Seemed placed there for our benefit,
To serenade our foolish emotions
And coax us into something
We would later regret.
I could feel your smile
Though I couldn't see it.
The wine of our togetherness
Made us long to tarry
In our self-conceived perfection.
But I drove home
Back into the world I had abandoned,
And waded slowly through time
Seeking the next splattering of us,
The next time your presence
Would mark all things other-worldly.

The Face of Death

In the black, black sky that hangs over me
Rests the ugly face whose motives pause
The pulsing blood of hearts contained in flesh.
His ghastly eye intrudes upon the mind
While tears as dark as blood besmear his sharp
And poignant smirk. Again he apprehends
My conscience, quickly paling in his deep,
Enchanting stare, piercing through my skin.
A thousand crystal freckles fleck his face
With light, lying of the things within.
His black robe is cast from strong shoulders,
Looming like distant foreboding mountains,
To blanket naive faces with woes of fate
And fear. He swiftly shreds the silent night
And fills it with the howls of loneliness
Like grey wolves on the edge of shadowy forests.
In an instant, unsuspecting minds are taken
Through years of wasted life and useless fears
To memories as fleeting as the wind.
A spear of light, that shreds the leafy canvas,
Strikes the glowing water, singing softly,
While children play and skip flattened stones
Off pools flattened by the morning fog.
The ebb and swell of music can be heard
Rising through the reeds above the marsh
While dragonflies and damselflies exchange
A symphony of smoothly whispered words.
The light of morning nuzzles weary eyes
And chases off the shadows of despair.
Its golden fingers stroke their tired faces,
Rubbing off the stains of yesterday
And searing new life into jaded hearts.
The crusty blood smears drying on their cheeks
Are simply splotches from the masterpiece
Of artist's hands, in genius, streaked with love.
That brazen eye, lurking in the dark,
Slowly sinks out of timid mortal view
As morning greets its travelers with peace
And wipes dangling tears from their aching eyes.

Cancer Song

(for my mother and all who endure it)

It marches to the dripping
Of the gaunt, scarecrow IV
Decorated with drooping, hanging
Family pictures,
And to the slither of platooned
Nurses in white smocks
Up sterile white halls
Filled with sterile white silence.
The youth group sent cards
That sit on the dresser
Beside her bedpan
And she laughs,
With her children and her
Husband who wants to be
A thousand times Sparticus,
At their self-portraits
Which require great imagination.
She makes her struggle,
Her daily walk,
Down the hall and back,
Her only form of exercise,
Then goes to sleep in her
Hospital bed, which seems
Pyre-like to the family
And they pray for miracles
And white blood cells
Then look out
The window over the glowing
Night-scape of Cleveland.

Nuclear Shadows

I've seen pictures -
Ground zero evaporated
Like puddles in the aftersun
Of rain. I wonder,
How did it feel to kill
So many in one
Breath, their last,
And fly away smiling?
I don't blame you.
You were taking orders,
But the pale oriental
Outlines, the shelter
Of bodies against
The radiation,
Cannot understand that
Like us, sensible people,
And will never have a chance.

Black Velvet Bride

Sometimes, when I think
Of all the force-fed retrograde
I've thrown into the world,
Birthed unleashed upon unsuspecting
Mankind like Frankenstein's
Hideous villain, my claim
To holy matrimony seems
Self-usurped, betrayed
In the deep places, the parts
Capable of murder
Though not with these hands,
But with words, thoughts,
Deeds, the everyday self-
Succumbing and voluntary
Surrender, crimson lips
Creating other lovers, prostitute
Legs spread on the wedding's eve
Defiling the smooth satin
Sheets of the marriage bed,
Consummating broken also-ran.
That bride, when I see her,
Holds an apple in one hand,
Hammer and nails in the other,
Her cheeks flushed
With self-inflicted guilt
And shame, a noose
Around her one time lily neck,
Dressed in smooth black
Velvet, not the white
Innocence you see,
A rebel opposing reason, love,
Trying hard to nullify
The blood-stained dowry
That won her hand,
And still you stand
At the altar, at the union
Candle, beckoning me,
Known unvirginal, unfaithful,
Adulterous, hips swelling
At the taste of my own dust,
At the feel of the very word
Forming in my mouth,
Unregretfully into intimacy.

Like Jonah

It's like a dream I watched myself live
One life, some time ago;
I find myself sitting
With a pile of thoughts I hate
To sort through, all because
Of coincidence.
And what I call coincidence
May, in fact, be some divine reaching,
A finger breaking the surface tension
Of a well-plotted life, making me shudder
At the ripples that don't belong,
Or the street-side beggar
Masked in royal robes.
When all the tumblers click into place,
It's hard to call it any less than fate.
Monkeys can't type out Shakespeare
Striking random keys, but you
Seem to have evolved from Darwin's nothing.
I can't float away from the road at my feet
Or stop my trance-like walking;
Something shoves me forward
And I get the sinking feeling of being
Separated from my exit
By five lanes of rush hour traffic.
I don't know how to get to where
I don't know I'm going, and I won't
Until I've spent three nights
In the pit of a whale.

The Calm Before

Where the purring swallows,
their unpruned shadows surfacing,
stop to rest, a sagging wire
coursing vigor from the house
to the barn and back,
the air exhales a nervous
twitch, halfway hitched
between the throat and mouth,
the half-life love exhumed
in droppings splatting on a car,
a road, the green of grass
sloshed with dewy shiny
black in the aftermath
of Sunday morning mass
both given and taken
by the wind that winds
through the hackled countryside
with a heckle and a handshake
over dryad handshake
promenading home.