Monday, February 22, 2010


This on-going exercise in clandestine exhibitionism known as the Blood/Ghost Ratio will be on hiatus for the next week or two. So will all of my tiresome repostings there of, giving us all a break. I am going to be re-evaluating the public writings I have been doing, deciding which to continue and which to fold. The Ratio will return this March, in one form or another, to a more predictable publication schedule. Don't everyone get all excited at once.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

of the distance yet unmeasured

The hours drain from my eyes, ink for the unwritten tome. Steady shadows mix with flashing lights, growing and shrinking every import I know. What I see, how I feel, the trembling music of old passions and burnt ash. What ever there is in me left, I offer, absent of any other visible choice. What ever I haven't written, I lost in whole. The words left trailing me, I lose with each instant.

I must wait, for all the ache and lonely. I must wait, for all the numbers to crunch, the eggshells I must pace, speaking bluntly to the wind. If you had it in you, you would have spent it by now-- some lucky strutter or some spattered flame. If it was there, it is entirely out of the range of casual sacrifice to the empty and the night. Bouncing only the balls I dropped. Catching only a hint of the ruckus bound to defy expectation.

Tell me now, despite the inconvenience. Tell me now, despite the stained breath of desperation and this last sustained note of lost music. I ask you from these sticks and stones, the wrecked scripture and the destroyed homes. I ask you from these houses built of green kindling and doomed straw, from the smokey depths that seem inevitable. Take my word, or take my hand. Wait with me through these hollow motions. Wait with me until the east lights vague and the rain rules the streets. I only ask for miracles because they are all I have left of praying.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the word

I am the least agent of culture, the abetting eye, the animal agape. Mostly fury with only that brief tepid spurting of sound, the steam of lung and spirit. I sweat through each touch, worry away every intimacy with my endless questions. Always that breathless command, that sudden wall upon all your possibilities. The word, barely aimed, ringing true.

So goes the burden of speaking, the attempt to make a consensus of meaning and granting it that crown. The last spattering of hesitance forever gone, once the chanting starts. Where the heart of prayer is squarely kissed, chosen for the grazing of the lips. Where the grasping only ends in by quick consensus of said and done. Omission and commission become one and the same.

Let the trumpets sound, let the fireworks stream--! Every sense gets their say, every meaning strays from its error given enough time. Bend and stretch, touch and taste, I am awash in variations. Take all the time, then make some more. The word will wait out all your endings. The world will begin with this shape.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

paper hearts

Another moonless night, another velvet sky riddled with the uncertain assertions of stars. Secret lights pushing shadows out into the trees, the wind jostling every hair and limb. The tart smoke of burning pine sweetening each breath, out here on the rusted spire, out here on the broken spoke of gravity. It seems the farther you look, the less there is to see.

Rough red paper and safety scissors. Candies of chalk and chocolate, of marrow and caramel. Lucky charms and liquor quizzes, voices lit with wax and vapors. The bit lip and bitter kisses. Pressed flesh and bible flowers, the reminders and remainders of all this wishful reaching. Paper hearts lingering longer than those of flesh and blood. That tattoo of hope that beats on, alive in each slipped missive, in every beaming glance.

Eye close, weary and coffee black. Tired of watching the littered sky progress, the owls wings and spectacles of all these far flung spells. They open, fixed on that hidden horizon, that day as of yet unlit. The haunted halo of these little cities, the silver ribbons and tattered palms of peripheral California. Roads unseen laying open in the vast distance, welcoming all the troubles that have left, and all those driving all night to arrive. The love letter yet unwritten, the romance of split stone and sore muscle still lingering along the border of hope where all possibilities begin their ceaseless marching. The night as dark as eyes, as lit by all this ancient and unlikely shine.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

true love in gray and blue

From the rain falling like the dancing of angels to the rain falling like the ministrations of gnats to the gauzy droplets of stars seen through the mesh of a fog stained sky, the steps seem predictable. All the old tricks, right there on the table. All the small pleasures, bearing the colors of your heart. Taste the metal on your tongue, smell the oil in the air. The dripping car idling beneath the street light. Morning papers wrapped in plastic, casting drops of light.

Sometimes it is the curve of her spine. Sometimes it is the trickling of smoke from her smile. Sometimes it is the inky wings she wears upon her shoulder blades, granting wishes and leaving traces. The air will smell of her just as it will sometimes smell of rain. Waking I can taste her whisperings on my tongue. Every day I breathe out something I should have said. Every day ends just the same.

Things are never sorted out with mildewed poems and stiff legged promise. Things are never better for the time that has passed, but for the miles on the memory. That warning light that is stuck somewhere behind your eyes, the dashboard gleam I swallowed with your shine. I tangle in phantom limbs and spider silk, knocking the dust from these old volumes, invoking the usual hosts and flames. Somewhere you worry a lamp shade or crease a pillow with your dreams. Somewhere there is one touch that lingers long enough.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the ghost is gone

This is the price of pale, painted walls. Of rooms that are always empty, despite those that pass through them. The barest electric light shining, beckoning the works of moth and spider. This wan art of possession, this pale craft of inhabitance fading even as the blood flows warm, and the press of fingers claim each detail. Eye flat reflections, even seeing becoming mimicry.

So shone the temples beneath the bright moonlight, so shone the alter sticky with burnt flesh and offered blood. So go the unmarked graves of war and blank aggression, the odd missions made of human sacrifice, the death welcomed to preserve or to free. The sickness that arises from the abundant replicated errors, the roots of compassion all begot from these ancient pains and small measures. Love the bullet as we love the blade. The knowledge that all sustenance costs some life smudged with the greasy grit of funeral ash, to feast is to one day become food. Life devours, and so it shines.

Throughout this night our lucky star still burns, and we spin and spin. Gone are the paths I followed, gone are the words that served to sustain me. Lost hallways echo with the tricks of worship, the dose of death portrayed as mercy, the blank cannibalism made blessed through magic and priestcraft. Worse than the lack of heaven, worse than the friendless shadows, is the lack of enmity. The hours given over to the living dead, the dwindling of meaning once all the old games have ended. The flesh perseveres, long after the ghost is gone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I walk down empty streets, cold beneath bright constellations. Trailing steam and wishes in my wake. The clinking of house keys and dog chain, the link after link of steel fencing shine. Trees still graced by the clench of rainwater. Sidewalks cluttered with mud and debris. Houses sleep with their people stirring inside. Everywhere windows and walls.

I cough and sputter, gravel in my gut and tinsel in my lungs. Weeks past decoration days the eaves still cling to strings of light. I clear my throat and spit, the dog trotting alert alongside. Every bush could hide some enemy, every car might shelter a cat. Trouble might be anywhere, the dog is hoping. There is a clamor of stones in my right hip and left knee. My knuckles burn in the morning chill. I am all the trouble I seem to need.

I drop a few letters in the mail, cross the street as traffic burns on by. Coffee steam by dashboard lights. Ill-lit faces blurred past recognition. Step to the curb, duck the wounding branch. Live out this day's end at the edge of night. See if dawn will let me sleep. I smile and greet a meth-fueled thief, each of us finishing our rounds. Wandering towards home, I am lost in the dreams of the too familiar. I am forgotten inside the haunted house of self. Counting sheep never put a wolf to sleep.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

even stars

So goes the stillness as it leaves, the tender touch of fingers, the static truth of teeth. Flesh and bone only linger so long, easing their way back into the clouds of elements. There is an itch, there was a whisper, there is this moment where there is a tuner and a filter. We see, we say, we slumber upon a roiling bed of quanta. We wake, old and new, desperately focused, beautifully oblivious.

All those crystal palaces, all those verdant fields. The dreams that bind and flay us, so vivid beneath the skin of the world. We wander, all song and story. Never aware that we are telling our part of the only story as our bodies build and boil. Vapors trails and salty tears, animal aspects and the longing for the tides. To be aware is to be lost to history-- not the camera or the picture. Only the film and the light.

We are only of this world. We belong to the forests and the plains, to the depths of the ocean and to the mountain tops frozen in the stratosphere. We are the sunlight sifting through the sky and the steam cleaving to the clouds. Long ago, we tricked ourselves into stories of meat and mind, losing any hope of holding onto our souls. Instead we clung to the abattoir of gods and philosophies, the ritual of the experiment and the autopsy. We long for the wings of angels, and a better life that will replace our own. We fall, not as angels might , but as even stars must. The whole world is turns and tides, devouring itself in fire and deluge, returning again and again to the well worn strictures of this brand new day. We awake adrift in mysteries and certainties, treading water, trailing dust.

Monday, February 8, 2010

another marker

It was closing on dawn and they had whittled away the moon. All that hung was a swept blade or a whispered spoon, glinting in just so much sun. The stars were lost in their reveries, drowsing in their remaindered light. Again my hands were folded, this waking moment a little dry and a little cold. Again there was a horned owl speaking clearly somewhere above me. Just another marker I couldn't see.

It happens that the earth was glutted by so much recent rain. It happens that the dawn unfolded with its usual retinue of egrets and crows. The song bird clutter in the trees and on the power lines. The slow waking spirals of vultures, dazzlingly still in rapturous flight. I have heard frogs chirping a few times in the warmer tides of these storm swept nights. I haven't seen frogs around here in years.

I have witnessed the green fields of winter turn to summer golds, and those dry fields hidden beneath the pavement. Watched the tattered housing and cheap store fronts change and fade, blocks turning to streets and streets to so much more gutter. Raccoons and rats work their angles, crows forage from plastic cups and paper bags. The world bent to casual appetites, the sun has lost another bet to the storm and the night. Another dusk frittered away by a spattering of rain. Another dusk without a moon in sight.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

out there

Faith makes its arguments from the lack of evidence. Faith insists from the heart, it proclaims from the soapbox of experience, that perpetual as if, that sense that unseen eyes are upon us. Faith places its placards beneath windshield wipers and beside the pizza coupons on the screen. It always know better than you. Faith always has a lot to answer for.

Biology breaks it down into deceptively simple chemical markers, behavioral alchemy based on the pressures placed upon our shared ancestral pool, and upon the recent received wisdom of culture. We see the bushes shift and sway, then we see an animal burst forth. We learn to expect the hidden, anticipating ambush, projecting an enemy from the insides of our minds. The price of mistaking an empty wood for an ambuscade is a dose of anxiety and some wasted time. The price for mistaking an enemy waiting for an empty wood is everything. There are errors that are much cheaper to make than our notions of perfection allow. We learned to hedge our bets, walk careful, and talk low. We learned to pray to unseen actors, just in case.

I wouldn't say that there's nothing out there. Most of our many modern cultural mistakes have been those of hubris, thinking because we get one answer right, that we have aced the test. We bury old truths for shiny beads, listen to the voices of mechanized ghosts and forget how to sing. We package ourselves so carefully and completely that a hermitage would be a redundancy, believing sad, statistically impossible models of utility and success. We treat our deities like football teams, cheering our one truth on towards victory. The spirit only knows freedom, the religion only knows restraint. Whatever is or isn't there, it isn't what you think. It isn't what I think, either.

We are a convolution of happenstance and time. Each of us is a community, derived from an ancient compact between animal and plant, each cell a temple of this mystery. Swarms of viral agents, legions of bacter, armies of fungus. Sense and sentient is a continuity, rather than a pinnacle. We stare in the mirror and think ourselves chosen. We think we are stars when we are at best a colorful walk-on in an long complex ensemble show. We are shaped by the secrets of the eldest of hungers, we are altered by the world we turn and twist. There is dismal sorrow and great joy in us. But those things were there before us, and they will be around long after we are bones, junkyards and strange statuary of stone and bronze and steel.

Words are sounds and words are music. Words are art and they are tools. I use them liberally and with little care. Without giving away the playbook, that is the point. We are bound and released by language, and by silence, by act and stillness. Some journeys are laden with purpose, some seem to refute even the notion of meaning. Some aim for heaven, some for hell, some for the wealth and comfort of the world. Some strive for nothing more than absolute extinction, sleep of sleep, retreat from all that is manifest. I leave a trail of ink and kisses, wandering ever deeper into the unknowable.

Friday, February 5, 2010

day by day

Was there still a moon that knows me? Was there some poignant satellite, some folded romance or finger-light trifle? Something left to look for, once looking is allowed. Maybe it is the season, maybe it is only me. The light goes on, the light goes off. I forgot the color that means go.

I swallowed that truth, like a swallowed some fortune. There is a romance to the dealt hand, the finished set. There is completion to the chance that is taken last. At least this moment done, this war ended. At least there is something more in the crusts and rinds, the tea leafs left once the meal is done. That chance that last is surpassed and surprised.

The calendar promises everything, so many more days to sort out, so many marks to make. But look to the sky to reach this last sentence. Look to the heavens before you settle on rain. I look out, hoping that this shine will reach my eyes. I look out, seeing my hope gazing back.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

we all wait-

Another hour has fallen from the table. Another day begins, the clockwork turning with dogs barking and the weather just aching to change. Fingers stumble over the same set of smudged keys and unknown reasons. A light burns in some window, someone steps gingerly upon an unmarked grave.

Water has its spells and steel its persuasions. The distant sea and the beckoning blade. All the bled out dreams and notions of cold tableaux. A compulsion never the same thing as a freedom, though they are much the same taken from nature. No-one knows, and still offer wan prophecy. No-one knows, and they would rain the world with their frogs and gods. The hand is only stayed because the sickness demands its action. Survival at its most perverse.

Sleep is another battlefield, too fraught with fire and ache to handle along with all these waking hurdles. Words are empty and ephemeral, spat out symptoms, droned out directions to places that no longer exist. The clock keeps winding down. We all wait, when there is nothing else we can think of. We all wait, claiming every little fire as our own.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

so what

The saddest light spills from your eyes, as the moon grows crooked whiskers and gentle music fades. The light pours out from this sliver of your unblinking gaze, this trick of layers of technology and the odd drift of physics. This trick of memory and the ebbing refractions of my untidy mind. I remember most the times I made you cry, so even in pictures when you were well past me I imagine the hints of tears. It was what we have in common, well into this other, further world. It is how the life of our crimes so exceeds any of our lingering kindnesses. So this other moment is only another moment that is spent, and reoccurring in my heart.

I am brutal and I am broken, and I am terribly unrepentant. My sins and my hubris, my violence and my bile, all just symptoms of this fumbling. This journey through the graveyards of gods and truths. This illness that wears me each day more and more. Uselessness too is a muscle: you need to work it to keep it strong.

I know still that you remember me. The depths of my passion, the earnestness of my touch. The hunger for you with which I trembled and I sang. I know that you remember, so I know you would never want to see me again. The bad dreams, the broken promises. That sadness that only the truth can light.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

cleaving close

Speaking, we cleave close to ghosts. The secret wanderings of our words, the mingling of meanings and of tongues. Each breath exhales small histories, these exalted mysteries of culture and of kin. Each sentence both the inscription on a tomb and a marker towards tomorrow. Quicker than blood, our voices tell us of the inheritance we honor, and of all the intentions we leave behind.

Culture moves with Lamarckian speed, with the magic of the written word increasing the weight of old knowing we can hold. We write with-in the ley lines of knowledge, the collisions of cultures and of faiths. We write out the terms of conquest and the songs of surrender, the inevitable melding that translation takes as it's due. All a species, with tens of thousands of breeds and bands. The blood is slow, our ancestors a gathering legion.

I owe the glum worship of the Greeks and the Romans. I owe the varied Semites and the intense beacons of North Africa. I owe the ravenous drives of Viking and of Germanic freebooters, the iron of the Celts, and the mythologies of a dozen different tribes. I owe those earliest ancestral wanderings, crossing deserts and oceans 40,000 years ago. The civilizing press of the Mongols, who worried about goods and order, not about gods and temples. Then the brutal feudal wranglings of Europe, hungry for the wealth of the majesty of China, the silk road lavishings of work and want. The great scholarship of Islam, preserving those Romans and Greeks my illiterate and barbarous ancestors would have just as soon burned as read. And the blood debts of slavery and migrant exodus, the hope and lie at once of the American gamble. I haunt each page with multitudes, thinking I am speaking alone.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Remembering a kiss that cut my lips, I taste tequila and blood. That tangled fervor, fire smoke and sea air, a collision of bone and limb as I held you by your hips and hair. That native urge to devour encompassing every thread of intent. Your flesh radiant with the residual sunlight, glowing beneath the hot press of my hands. Salt on my wounds, the grip of ice spilling from the hidden starlight, echoes of the ocean grinding fresh sand from so many lost stones. That one moment when you were most.

There is little evidence left. A tattered photograph in a dusty box, a few cards and letters imbued with every essence of passion and belief. Chains of bitter strangers strung out between us. A series of constellations and collisions. Dreams more real than the sorrow that waking brings. The harrowing brevity of that journey from enchantment to bereft, the mirror not even holding a clue to this inevitable transformation.

These lost passions, do they sink into the sediment, awaiting the drift of continents to reveal their ossified remains? Do they resonate so intensely in the senses that the ache of their absence, the repetition of their honed impermanence gain them the huddled passage of ghosts, to stretch and creep in wheels of spent feeling in the dark stretches and the lonesome places? As the only proof of experience crumbles, as memory bleeds into fiction, as history becomes myth, what traces remain as matter steams into new and graceful states? The exchange of breath and appetite, this ancient grasping we wore the way any soldier wears the Iliad, the way all water carries the word. The overwhelming flavor of a moment where everything was possible.