Wednesday, August 29, 2012

all the words take wing as one

This is not a good day. On a good day, I speak to no-one. This is not a bad day, either. On a bad day, I parley, I kibitz, I oblige the step and flow of commerce. Today it is mostly the unspoken and the unheard, my dull little life somehow both maddeningly entangled and utterly alone. I hold no creed, I take no counsel. No waiting lover, no near-by allies, no grace or strength or current employment. I lurk outside in the dust and the heat, scolded by birds and assailed by the brainless yapping of neighbor dogs. I linger outside, tangled in ancient tongues and glib spells, gathering the ink and blood of my bereft legacy. My last labors, these fitful words.

For the past twenty-five years the bulk of my non-academic writing has been poems. Free verse only occasionally unrejected, published sparingly in dribs and drabs until ten or twelve years ago I stopped the silly cycle of submission and rejection all together. Some years after that I dumped the boxes of my notebooks and journals into the recycling bin. Gone is the ghost of all those wants and woulds, futures alive only in other worlds, tomorrows buried long ago without stick or stone to remember their graves. Gone is the odd ambition of posterity, poet another dirty name only I call myself, stopped abruptly by my own obdurate limits. The only new poems left of me are these scant postings. Such an odd assembly of patch and spatter. Such a piddling plume of smoke left of a fire too long dwindling.

The heat takes its toll in sweat and ambition, beating out the last aestheticism from my brow. The curve of the turning earth doesn't throw me, though I often cannot find my feet. Years counted in notches on the hilt, days numbered in marks on the wall. The wake of the world that was. always half-solemn, half-roused. The world turns its face away from me, all starlight and silhouettes. Of all the mistakes to wear through life, ignorance of one’s true affinities is a mark no mirror will witness. It takes time for some candles to gutter, time for the proof to accrue. I am not now, nor have I ever. And all the words take wing as one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

of hand and hip

Again you bite off more than you can chew, and you choose swallow where spit would do. You can either choke out or struggle on, working for every word you loose, aching for the only thing you own. I would admire that about you, but that is my way too. I start out knowing how bad it is broken. I begin the story knowing how things get worse. The story always wants to keep something of the getting told. The eyes never really bigger than the gut.

So it is one more melting of the moon, another circle around the sun. The starstruck stagger, the mayday dance. The whole mess undone again and again. The furtive touch, the hush and crowd of hand and hip. The languid days, the breathless nights. Moments that entangle the bones of eternity, time nothing next to the salt of your kiss. Another memento stitched to my shadow, the daylight playing out the usual procession of flies and feathers. Another season of drought or drowning, never even a slip or fever in-between.

The romance always burns away, scorch marks everywhere. The weight of remember, the wait of want, all these words we leave when we forget our long residence. The horse before the cart, the flesh before the soul. You wish once, and the rest is surrender. You look to the sky to hold you to the ground. It is prayer, it is process, it is patching the holes in the weave of the world. The warm sun grasps you skintight, your teeth both bite and smile. You follow every hunger, always the answer, always the ghost.

Monday, August 27, 2012

obvious stars

Grapes hang still from neglected vines, though the summer is ripe and the hour late. Birds busy themselves from sky to stem, clinging to the blue before appearing amid the green, slips and flickers that range from drab to gaudy. Words and written without care or caution, dull and treacherous upon the tongue. The flavor of dry, those mutterings of dust. The steady campaign of indistinction winnowing away at the senses getting lost.  A mark here, an absence there. The slow and leaden onslaught of the lonesome night.

It feels a little like the hour of your arrival, glowing in the twilight as though lit from within. The special sentience granted thought and flesh when doused in light, memory worn in the open as a second skin. That vast and liquid lingering of touch and want aligned. The warm reckless day both young and ancient, the eloquence of an infants gaze, hinting of further distance and lives lived out. That magic of meeting you casting whole threads of happenstance as precious evidence, the familiar stranger I will always know.

The skies empty out their aviaries. Bird descend to feed in flock and feather. I know them in color and in song, but most of their lives are a mystery. Why the abrupt finches here, and the haughty humming bird there? Which company will the stoic woodpecker keep? Their secrets kept better than the language of creation. All the smoke and mirrors, and still this lost cadence.  All the gathered certainties and still we serve a greater lapse.  Our heads are splitting, our hearts choke on shadows. We serve out each sentence beneath a gleaning of obvious stars. Clumsy and telegraphed, we mumble away our caution to the cavernous night.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

now and then

Another swallow of coffee and the stage is set. Another cup emptied and the deal is done. The comfort of a hard floor, the labor of a shifting sky. The words always off doing something. The words always staying out all night. All the father's pacing, all the cups nesting in the cupboards. Kitchen lights and carnal knowledge, and everything changes save the places and the names. The years swell, the decades break, and you wake up on strange sands upon a familiar shore. The day ashine all a sudden, a stone polished beneath the clear and icy waters of a lingering spring. Here again, then gone awol with every sailor ashore.

The years have mostly gone bust, each one a little quicker, offering a little less. The sad stories settle into the cozy kitchenette, crowding all our plates and knees. We make some room with cups and elbows, sip and swallow as best we can. Hospital trips and lonesome hallways. Watching our feet as the elevator comes and goes. The precious moments all aglow with their vernal luster, our mouths learning to speak the tongue of dust and tomb. We prepare ourselves for the odd departure, counting out each empty bed.

The truth is not so much I keep my own counsel as I mostly talk to myself, alone save for the mercurial retinue of cat and dog scuffing up my wake. I mutter away beneath the roiling firmament and upon uncertain paths. Stars fall down and mountains crumble. Whole cities are swallowed by the sea, to dream forever the difference between the drowned and the damned. Stuck out of time, without so much as glasses or a watch, I mostly  must make due. Here today there is no tomorrow. Here today another treasure to bury without chart or map. Drink it down, hope for one more.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Every moment is a mark missed, every moment a step mistook. The sun in my eyes, my feet stepping on shadows until nowhere is the only place to go. The flesh sings of the warmth and the wind, fueled by the shifting tide of breath and blood. It sticks around long enough to ignore all the signs and the warnings. When the end walks on in, it hardly merits credulity, the moment so persuasive that we forget it is the skin of change. The difference never noted, the ache and sigh of existence only here on a visa. The tole and clang of being just a dream of flying kept tight within a leaf lifted by the wind. The soul declaims its empire until the world exclaims its extinction.

How they love to insist we chase our dreams. How they love to proclaim lives lived in the moment. As if the magic of desire was enough of a reason. As if the answer of every prayer did not end the same. Weary bones and ashen faces, imagination our most powerful institution. Our mortal shrines lit with these dreams of forever, though the sad handful of years we have have mostly gotten the better of us. Our blessings spread like our promiscuous blood, the web of ancestry spun and spun. Names given and names taken, hunched shoulders and shadows squished. Rags and bottles and bones, sold for whispers and that lilting song “I wonder.”

Immortality takes forever to prove, but a moment to debunk. The earth rumbles, the sky shifts, the heavens ready their arsenal at random. Salvation a luxury leftover from survival. Respite only evidence that the bullet found another breast to pierce. Matter stalks its likes and druthers, waiting for a break in the explanation, waiting for a gap in the defense. Life and death only cause and effect, horse and cart. Without the one, there is no other. The train arrives at the terminal, every car empty and well lit. The station boils with all manner of intention, never slowing to answer. Moving like a statue made of closed eyes and wishes. Moving like a fire that reveals at once the location and duration of the soul.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I draw the fire down until my fingertips are scorched, blowing the last of its smoke into the wake of the fitful winds, piddling away with the dust. Bad habits both wear and are worn, hanging out to dry with the rest of this mess. I cough and tamp down the last ember into ash. I cling to the essence of the air, still and dense and somehow always empty and always overfull. I am tatters and greasy rags, painted onto a screen of dust and gauzy sunlight. I am in a moment of an era of thirst and friction. Even my kisses are covered in dirt.

And so our days turn to deserts. And so our dreams flicker as the oases that spring from the mirage laden depths. Every breath a kindling spark, our hearts so full of straw and hope. Every word so thick and solemn it cannot help but seem a joke. Whole speeches set sail, so full of simple folk and bright untarnished tomorrows. Whole sagas sink out here, where the world and earth meet at the crossroads and rochambeau. One always turning, spun against the other. And so arrive our clear cruel nights.

The poems all spill, the stories ramble. The old ones always coming around again, full of bones and names and the flavor of stars and campfires. So many told and telling, is it a wonder to get stuck on just one? The birds in the air, the beasts of the fields, all our pitiable burdens. All our secrets tattooed on our tongues and fingers. All our slaughters lingering on our lips. The blood sings of brother and mother and sisters and brides. The earth cluttered with our burned down fathers and built up lies. One prayer no better than another, out here where no one listens. One feast ends to deny some further appetite. We turn one way or the other, the sky sputtering away in fits. One word the same as another when the wager won't change.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Transcendence is all about the wait, here in our choked-out summers and heartfelt bets. Given enough time and spite everything will change. We shrink and rot towards those golden autumns, wearing away in torn nails and frayed touch. The flocks unfold their eyes and wander, we spread out wide our dreams to fly. The hour bared never like shoulders but like teeth. The moment betrayed  before it has passed. You alone arrive unscathed.

There you are hiding among all those birds and flowers. There you go descending with the wind. Each breath drawn tight then abandoned. Each step like a warning of better things to come. You linger like rain along the ocean. You shine like the startled fall of sudden stars. That taste of salt. That sheen of sweat. All the lovely skulls so full of your eyes. All the lovely flesh so blessed by your bones.

Even this won't last forever. Even you will become another before the wheels wear down. I will slow to a leaky faucet tempo. I will pace an encumbrance of dust. The dreams go wild as the memories stretch and dim. All that is familiar pasted against the wide horizon. Crowds and strangers cluttering the flickering days. Still there is that bluff of sky, that reach of solemn pines. Your eyes lit with bright laughter somehow amid the blue above. Your laughter threaded through these slips and patches, your skin as warm and true as spring.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

the ridge-line and the rail

Every new day, it is the same old thing with me. I ink my thoughts in ashes, I paint my mind lacquer black and set it out to dry.  Something fought or sang or drank in rounds. Something learned beneath the cover of night and tree. The limits of illumination, the monsters that await just out of sight. A quick relief of sadness and consternation. Every prayer choking on the dust and following the river. A way an intention worn out of doors. Each soul owing its substance to distant heaven. Each shadow pressed from some endurance of the sun.

Oh, and how the wheels spin. Oh, and how the flags unfurl. The wind revealing the only wisdom, change the very flesh of existence. The sun beats down on the back of my bald head. My eyes struggle with age and dust and light. The birds have all but plucked the vines clean of bitter green grapes. The dogs make further discoveries, digging at breach and root. I am silt in the stream. I am the broken string missing the true note. I carve my message into the blunt electric vacancies, I make my message from the charred interment of blood and bones. Every slaughter always something's feast. Every lapse the measure of some other.

I suffer from the usual suspect ideologies and the typical infernal weakness. Heaven and hell have already been allowed too great a say. Now high on the ridge-line of the next dark age, I hide what flames I render. A curl of smoke climbing up the tree limb, a tiny spark hidden behind my hand. I abide the habitual ideation, that flavor of gun metal measured with the sudden searing of my own flesh. That feeling like an echo of my long and dreary incarnation, the hollow place that can not be filled by god or love or labor, just the abrupt punctuation of a flash of powder and a slug of tungsten. The murder of all intention, that leaning over the flimsy railing. That insurmountable obstacle to all that I would or wish, these idle words laying graven upon all this bright and bounty. Every flight of fancy repurposed from this mouth full of mortal oaths and failing light.

Friday, August 17, 2012

it hasn't happenend yet

The sky tumbles and the dawn arises, band after band stitched with star and dark. The crosshairs of the dream give way to the camouflage of the day. The way all our eyes are tuned by wishes, watching for the one we want. The way every story starts out telling the sort of story it will be. A bramble of clouds, a babe in the briar, the long times, the far away galaxies. Branches bend and the storm gathers. A dove cries and cries. These are our sky scrapers. These are our stadium shows.

The barter is in tense and skins. The trade-off made of the by and by and the blessed be for the work of spine and the weight of spade. You would be the dawn, save for the hours. You would be the fire, except there’s all that smoke. Want and want, hunger and hunger, we write our names upon these skies and trees. The din of music, the crush of bandwidth. Barking dogs and flitting finches. Our faces only give away their secrets in the mirror. Our hearts only ever lit by the moon.

It is something like a song, save all the notes catch up before the song is over. It is something like a story, only we are the ones who always end up told. It is the plan we can feel only once we move away. Fingers stumbling over keys, fingers fumbling with zippers, buttons, and clasps. All this hurry must mean something. There must be a reason for all this shove and rush. The next and the next one after. Always that sense of staring off towards some distance. Always that sense of knocking the next hit right out of the park.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

post lament

A swathe of crows sweeps across the dusk. The cat dashes across the yard. Snarls and snips and columns of dust. Clouds trail messages after the wind. Root to branch and back again. Memory slowly dries along these lines. Soon the telling is all the time that is left. Soon the measure might as well be a million miles. There are no soldiers left out here. Everything gets left behind.

Solace comes in with the tide, comfort riding on the unsettled sky, gull and crow arrive to untie the dawn. The cool breeze a set of loosed bones, dancing across these unladen skins. Another day, and then another. The whole deal set out like funhouse mirrors. The whole deal made so long ago everything is bound by law. The cause and the reflection. The litany of labels, the ziggurat of stacked chairs and crowded shelves.

The world wakes up to another sleepless night. The sun lingers on reserve while the sky bucks and rollicks. Children make their way back to school, always saddened by the exodus from the heart of summer. All those bright hopes hung from pegs in the coat room. All those true loves stuck basking golden in the sun. The rest of it work and circumstance, the tree limbs swaying out above the bandstand. The rest of it the flavor of a shed lament, long and gray and ashen upon the tongue. A tale told, believing always in the bounty of further tomorrows. A tale told to the flocks and swarms, after the masses already lost. Yet another, all I say. Yet another is enough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

digging a hole

I can't tell if it is smoke in the air, I can't tell if it is dust in my eyes. The day is a blur, the winds are changing. It isn't what the cat left buried. It isn't what the dog dug up. There's always some season to explain it all. Always some theory here to sacrifice. I take it in while the fields are burning. I write that the world burns yet again.

Somehow I am still that sword once broken, somehow always the secret lost. You live the story long enough see how you get sorted out. A glimmer in some telling, a question forgotten long ago. Ancient claims of worth and wonder, battles taken and loves unbound. Receipts and maladies, scars and stitches. Kisses that  linger while the fire burns on. The prophet at long last at a loss.

I hem and haw, I shuck and jive. Always hard at work going nowhere. Always changing channels, searching for just one song. Time only ever tells us what it wants. We weary our way throughout these skins of oblivion. We trod our way into a whole other world. The abrupt discoveries, the slick incantations, all this evoking air. Every layer another scripture. Every bit deeper the unyielding hosts. The firmament always astir, however steady the course. The moment always burnt down to the bones.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

a cat is not a clock

Midnights come, midnights go, the stars glaze over, connecting dots all across the sky. The ghost trawls the blood, coiling through smoke thick and whisper deft.  It asks its questions and is given riddles. It asks for grace and is given words. The shift in the material always a measure of some recording played before the court. A burnt brow glowing in a sheen of sweat, the heat another index of every change to come. The clay pressed and pushed, the work witnessed once it has finished, the sentence given once it is served. Call and call, it will never come running. Time is spent, time is burned. A cat is not a clock.

Even so, I have seen some shipwrecks. Even so, I have been known to wager true. No second guess ever gets counted if the first one comes out wrong. Once it get broke bad enough, every horse could be a king. The rest are these island wishes. The bottle unstoppered, the thoughts all get let loose. The question spills out, and it will never be unasked. Why not tempt fate when every arrow shot must fall? Why not bet again when the swallow will certainly fly? Nothing ever so certain as faith.

The night crawls on, all heat and hunger and breath like prayer. The easy pitch of unseen wings, hints left itching their way into flesh. Hands reach and fold, clinging to these ancient labors in the dark. That folded flower, that insistent ink. The touch that feels like a sudden light. The kiss that clings to the slow dissolve. Memories and the movies, poems and unearthed shards of pottery. I can read the numbers, but I can not tell the time. Call and call, I remain unbidden. If it is there, I can only claim it. If I was witness, I still can do nothing except say.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


By now you know the story, always a little sad, always a little the same. Something then about the sky, something about the spelling. An old romance, the spark and stumble. For some reason here are fireworks, never mind the season. For some reason it leaves you like a song, after pawing at your attentions. Always really that thing you mean I seem to be missing. The tradition of the open stance shaping every stanza.

Even so I was never one to get anywhere. The one seems the same as the other, the kaleidoscope of faction and philosophy never too vivid or shiny enough to hold my eye. I plod on and on, passed by hare and rat and snail. Every line like Achilles struggling with the infinite. I allude to evidence unseen, fact and faith the same in the absence of any proof. The words dissemble and rearrange, the same old crows before a storm. The same old sturm and drag, and still the road awaits.

If you stopped reading here, you'd be done by now. The point no more than punctuation. The wind in the sky and the longing of the star, a weary sort of wonder. No surprise but still a party. No discovery but still some time was killed. Nothing but this certain stillness. Nothing but the feel of promise brushing against your flesh. A whole lot of words scratching at some lost limb. Every arrival that forgets to satisfy. Still I drive it until the wheels come off. Still I tell it until every ear is gone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

the wrestler

The day is shot, this dusk a struggle. The weight of beauty dissolving into time, you stretch and grasp. Clinging to each stilled moment, holding dearly every laden breath.  That hushed and sultry beauty, the sun leaving some autumn sky, a woman seeking something off at sea. Use them like they're lucky charms, use them like they staked you to your prayers. Every touch and fumble, every spell of sheer romance. They love so much the way you bleed. They love how well you have learned to fall.

I'd be the first to spell it out, though somehow it seems like cheating. Naming names and taking numbers. Tumbling at the first hint of distress. The world is the work without you. The world is just tangle, tooth, and ache. I tire of these eked out kisses. I tire of these worn-out plots. The dream delights once you take it apart. Anything makes sense when you've torn it into pieces. The trouble whether with faith or fact. The part plays you once you've got it down.

All the stars ignite, all the greens go out. The dust scuffed steps of each vague inducement. Work is a wish in the world. Direction somehow always this labor of love. This aimless act of passion, this hackneyed bit of make-believe. These sticky reasons, these slippery slopes. You always start with the rough and tumble, get your licks in in the clinch. You only follow because you know where I'm going to go. The only struggle left is letting go.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hamlet out to sea

What of all these winds and whispers? The drift of the song, the spill of the moon. The pieces of mislabeled prayer still sharp in the white hot sands. The mirror of heat and atmosphere distracting from the notable absences. The words still slavering from every mouth, strange and indelicate, as if the point of speech was too polish teeth. Dumb gods leaving dumb holes in every heart. The song just won't shut up.

Always my dead poets, forever my lost love. Moments measured in the depth of shadows cast. Out here where I become part of the problem, this endless cycle of bluff and crash. Fragments doppler out from their ghostly sources. Rippling like the attentions of some spell, washing through in waves and impacts. Dense belts of tethered air bruising every soul they sweep. The proclamations claimed of flesh and bone. I spit out a mouthful of grit and promise, rumbled to the core. I peel back the translucent skins of each syllable, blind to all my crimes.

I don't know how I got here, I don't even know where I went wrong. The gusts and gales and usual suspects. The pomp and threat and every damned day. The steady ache of atrophy echoing from my bones, the easy blues of the grifter, the henhouse always either roostered or foxed. Burnt pictures and tattered letters. The cold wind lapping the pale moonlight. Every witness either lost roads or dead stars. The song splitting fences and gnawing bone.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

briar rose

Would that a kiss would wake you. Would that your dreams weren't a drowning all their own. The sickness slipped into your pierced flesh, a tickle from a thorn, mad whisperings in the blood. Then this enduring stillness, a breath held forever inside a heart of smoke and glass.  Then this twilight always just when the sun is about to go out. These endless ages, this obdurate idea of being. Far away however much I wander. Only ever touched by thought and light. Surely a kiss could not hurt.

I have watched the walls fall down. I have seen the sky collide with the sea. The bullets fall blameless, the symptom of a riven soul. The facts all suddenly contention, nothing melting so slowly as a notion. Words cling and gush, every cause and claim has changed. The hours stretch and the year eludes. One day all skies will be gray. Now the sun is setting, blue shadows stick and push. Now this time is ending, stilled to a beat of your heart.

Always another season lays waiting. Always the blood stalks this dream. The threat of sleep unending in these strangely wakened days. It isn't the spell so much as the odd conviction that we were all here before. A beauty so unyielding it bruises the mind, clinging as the sparks grow dim. A mistake so utter that I never could learn I was wrong. Endurance itself the proof, counting on and on. That kiss becomes the poison it longed to overcome.