Undocumented

I fear the legion of the Undocumented
and how many they may kill each year.
Their names are strange to me,
like invaders from another world;
so many foreign names like
asbestos,
aspergillus flavus,
nitrosonornicotine,
formaldehyde,
cardiac pulmonary disease,
PETE,
glyphosate,
radionuclides,
high fructose corn syrup.
There should be a gigantic wall
of regulations
to protect our people
from these homicidal invaders.

Lofty Heights

Broken backs and calloused hands
dragging a large limestone block;
sand-eaten teeth in desert lands
while priests drink wine and pray and talk;
sun-parched lips cracking with work and heat
as ramps rise toward a tyrant sun
and the slave-drivers lazily whip and beat
blistered skin until blisters run.

The pyramids rose in Ancient Egypt
as emblems for each ruler who had bound
his people to build his stepping-stone crypt
so he might ascend his own burial ground.
Higher, he demanded, as the pyramid rose,
seeking the eye of falcon-headed Horus
and when one pharaoh was buried, another then chose
a new site to continue the endless chore, thus.

While modern humans gawp at these wonders
built in the mysterious and ancient past,
we seem to learn little from their blunders—
wisdom being as elusive as cat-headed Bast.
So while each pharaoh idiotically bethought
himself the steward of the all-seeing Ra,
it was with poorer souls he thereby wrought
the terminating stairways for his flighty ka.

So many died so one might live
on in the imaginations of those to come,
and the pharaoh, in turn, would thereby give
a prime example of vanitas vanitatum.
For while he was embalmed in his skyward tomb
he never did ascend beyond dog-headed Anubis,
but like the rest of us succumbed to his doom
and his crypt measured the heights of his hubris.

Three Perfectly Honest Propaganda Poems

Grave Robbery
He gained fame with assassin’s slander,
attempting to rob the cradle
with a birth certificate
in order to erase the man he envied
from exalted existence.
His platform had always been
the coffin of the American Dream,
and when his predecessor was interred
he went graverobbing with a silver spoon,
looking for gold with which to gild his rotund body,
knowing his choir could not tell the difference
between the Golden Calf and the exhumed Christ.

Golden Grace
The golden cross
laying upon your chest
with its chain and inscriptions,
shielding your heart with
Christ’s image, but
Mammon’s meaning:
rid yourself of such trappings
and keep golden instead your heart
in likeness to Christ’s, or else
forever hide your bloodless beat
beneath a golden forgery of faith.

Incendiary
His voice was as intoxicating
as whiskey
and just as flammable,
catching among the
white neighborhoods like a
wildfire
as the suburbanites echoed
his firewater sentiments
behind closed doors, and then
in open, unabashed daylight.
The flammable rotgut
flowed and burned in the
American bloodstream.

Beware the white dog’s howl.

The Earthwalker

The tombstones arrayed in haphazard fashion
around the church, each headstone black with fungus,
as was the Madonna before whom the girl knelt in a passion
of prayer for her child not yet born among us.
A damp dew lay upon the grass that stained her knees
and the sky was overcast not unlike a vault in a crypt
and it refused to rain, or to shine, the distant trees
whispered in the hushed tones of judgment and gossip.
The church had existed for over two hundred years
and had been the place where many people came
to pray for hopes, and joys, and wrath, sorrows, and the fears
that are the natural heirlooms in Life’s two-faced game.
The stranger sat on the stone bench, not too far from her,
listening to her prayers, and the prayers through the centuries
which were like a bountiful crop whose yield from Summer
had not been harvested to serve in Winter’s ease.
The stranger wore a large trench coat, and a broad-rimmed hat,
and there seemed something odd about his figure and his airs
as he hunched over, watching the young mother while he sat:
so intent, so engaged in the girl’s desperate prayers.
Before she left, the young mother crossed herself again
and said three Hail Mary’s, her rosary clutched to her breast,
hoping the doctors were all wrong, that the child within
would bud and blossom, despite each ominous test.
The stranger, having heard all of her pleas, wove
the countless prayers of that church into her womb,
granting the child that untapped cornucopia trove
of lives and hopes and fears to help her bloom.
The sky remained overcast and neutral, the miracle seeded
without radiance, or thunder, or rain or birdsong,
for while she would be born, just as her mother pleaded,
she would be the heiress of neither good nor evil, nor right or wrong.
Her life would have joys and sorrows, love and loss,
and would be neither blessed nor cursed, but the same as all
who had come before her, offering their prayers to the cross
and hoping for reprieve, or being thankful, or answering the Call.
The stranger stood, then, and stretched his limbs of seven,
the trench coat cast aside and the angel wings spreading to fly—
though he could no longer fly to the luminous spheres of Heaven,
having been cast out eons ago as he gave to God a reply
so lukewarm as to his alliance that God raged and fumed
and smote him from Empyrean like a shooting star in fall
that struck the earth, a cast-out seed that therein bloomed,
granting to that desolate rock a lush, vibrant garden sprawl.
Neutral in the War of Heaven, and Neutral now upon the earth,
he could only grant the gift of Life, serving neither Heaven nor Hell,
being now the Earthwalker, the Waker, Janus, the Angel of Birth—
and whether he served good or evil, no one— not even God—could tell.

Occult of Personality

Look Westward
and witness mediocrity run amok
like Lemmings following Lemmings
into fatal banality.
And by looking Westward I mean to look
at West’s Word,
Kanye West’s Word, his
Bible of celebrity, the Way of Yeezus
and Kim West’s self-worship;
hereby witness the blah-blah-blah blasé
in its purest form.
Look:
they groom their personas, like expensive
lap pets, creating a cult
of personality,
and yet only a few Occultists are purview to their
true souls—
their vapid, soulless shells
not unlike corn husk detritus
discarded en masse by the
cornfed social media industry.
They are famous
for being famous,
just as the town drunkard is drunk
by imbibing drink; but at least he is
entertaining,
if only for a while,
and famous for a reason.
But here, in America, every day is
a Saturnalia, a Feast Of Fools
when we hoist these unremarkable
dotards
upon our shoulders and tell them
they rule the realm of our
interior worlds.
Nor is it mere Pop Culture, but
Refined Culture that is infected by this
hallucinogenic brain worm.
Instagram poets give
a gram’s worth of
vanilla poetry
and are celebrated for their
lowest common denominator ruminations.
They speak of “accessibility”
as if poetry requires ramps,
all the while failing to see that
their poetry is what premises
wheelchairs
for their readers’ minds.
Crass and callous? A low blow?
Yes, but this is not resentment—
it is an exorcism of demons.
This is salty
because salt is needed
to expel the demons.
You may be part of the cult,
but you are not Occult; you do not know
the false idols you worship, nor are they
as real as some false idols may be.
They are carved not from granite
or gold or jade, but from
silicone, makeup tutorials, wigs,
Photoshop, video editors, cgi,
angled lighting, scripts, staged stunts,
studio touch-up, auto tune, PR firms,
incendiary comments, outrage-baiting,
political photo ops, two-year-old boundary
testing, and, of course,
bland envy. The masses envy,
as any person naturally will,
and have just so happened to latch onto these
commodified homunculi
and invested into their fetish forms
the wistful wish-fulfillment
via surrogate, via avatar
for the mediocrity that they,
themselves,
embody. These mirages of
self-referential product placement
are emblematic of our own commodified
lives, only with better
adverts and media presence.
The advertisement
is the product being sold; the product
is the advertisement. We are
a recursive, epiphenomenal loop.
Celebrate the
lackluster self
by celebrating the cardboard cutout
celebrity.
Being unmerited
is a merit now.
Being untalented
is a talent.
Being mediocre
is being extraordinary.
And witness the faerie glamour
worked upon their idolaters!
Reality star actors
staged and cheesing for the camera;
cheesing like a canister of whipped cheddar
mass produced and
cheaply bought
whereby the casual eater might tip his head back
and fill his mouth with a single press of the
Yahoo article, the MTV video, the smartphone app.
And there are the Youtubers
high on excitement for
themselves,
buying into the self-hype so that the
groundless self-involvement
becomes infectious through vectors of
pixels and soundbytes, the memetic
Lovecraftian horrors worse than
body infestation films
and psychodrama thrillers, their smiley personas being the
synergetic amalgam overtaking
subscribers with channels, websites, and
podcasts—
it is the invasion of the podcast people.
Subscribe to me and I’ll subscribe to you.
Follow me and I’ll follow you:
the definition of herd mentality, and the blind
leading the blind. A circle-jerk of
dickless sycophantic narcissists, the paradox of it all being
the only thing about them that is remarkable.
To watch them is to watch us.
Celebrate us.
Celebrate the US,
the cultural equivalent of a
wet rag
that cloys and clings and
waterboards with mediocrity.
And if the Kanye Wests of the Western World
“speak to truth”
a billion bobble-headed people
are there to nod in pop-headed Pop
idiocy, and self-righteousness,
the clarion battle cry issued for
their keyboard crusades from
Kim West, or Taylor Swift, or
whatever other idol of outrage and public standing
is embroiled in another hype-generating skirmish,
rallying them to their mean-girls jihad
with words as fake as the
silicone lips from which they sputter
in perpetual duck-face.
We have come to the uncanny valley
and laid down in it to die.
We are so accustomed to
fake people
that real people being themselves
is the uncanny valley we all fear.
All is plastic.
All is real.
Nothing is fake.
The gluttonous eyes of billions
render all things real in the worship thereof.
Plastic prosthetics were once used to compensate life,
to supplement deficiencies, the mutilations of
war and work,
but now life is a prosthetic
and we live through synthesized polymer demigods,
mutilating Reality to please them.
We pollute the earth with plastics
so why not also pollute with it our
newsfeeds, our houses,
our televisions, our hours, our hearts,
our minds?
Manmade artifice is preferable
to Nature’s artfulness.
All is plastic; all is dildo.
Even our president is a
reality tv star; a man hailed by his base
for being “real”, “genuine”, and
“saying it like it is”
as he lies upwards to a hundred times a day.
A pyrite president
for a pyrite nation.
We crave fool’s gold
for it gleams and shimmers and shines
falsely
and only fools would mistake it for having
value,
or values,
and so our president embodies us
in all of our cherished contrivances
clutched so dearly in the
halo of a digitally constructed lens-flare.
We are a nation that values
spectacle over substance.
We love the flamboyant mask
for blinding us to the vacuous conceit.
And like Kanye West, and Trump, and
Taylor Swift, we begin to believe in our own
masks. We are subsumed
by the forgery.
The Heartland of America
no longer beats true,
but is set to a pacemaker.
The Promethean flame has been replaced
by an LED blacklight
and we are too mesmerized by the dark glow
to notice the bloodstains illuminated upon
the Cultural murder scene.
We value the distraction
over the revelation; the coverup
over the truth.
And if you think you know your heroes
by the persona they present
know that you may very well know them,
for they are the product whose purpose
is to sell itself—like a pet rock
or a paperweight
in the paperless digital age.
To truly know them
is to know your own mediocrity.

Faerie

She was riding unicorns again
through a magical fairy world,
laying limp beside the dumpster bin
in an alley where litter swirled.
Princess of otherworldly delight,
she waved to the fairies, so flashy and fleet,
while tomcats faced off to fight
over a tabby crooning in heat.

She was a changeling, she ofttimes thought,
coming home for the first time;
a creature whose place had somehow bought
another’s role in a more magical clime.
Fanciful fairies twirled all around her
like a brilliant firework bloom
as the need for another hit bound her
with its pixie euphoria, its bewitching doom.

At last she saw the wicked queen
in a pothole puddle of rainwater,
like a mirror horrific and obscene
showing to her a wayward daughter.
Aching, she saw the wicked queen
reflected in her burnt-out spoon,
the face pockmarked and pale and lean
like a waning midsummer moon.

Dream Awake

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It came with the fog, rolling off the creeks and lakes and the river and assembling from the mists in the dark hours, disappearing at the touch of morning light, like a terrible dream. It prowled the farm, always seeking the cattle in the pen, feasting until it was glutted, roaring and then circling the cabin while the boy and his mother trembled in each other’s arms, clutching dreamcatchers to their hearts. At dawn they would leave the cabin and count the heads of the remaining cattle, calming them and attempting to milk them as their eyes lolled in their sockets. Even after the mother and son had cleaned up the gore that splattered the ground, the cows trembled and lowed in fright. They all awaited nightfall to once again endure the dark hours and their bloody horrors.

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The boy’s father had tried to stop it once, and had been buried the next morning. He had been a tall, silver-blonde Swede with an easy smile and big hands. He had been a good shot, too, and was certain he could slay the beast with his rifle. He had faced what he thought to be worse beasts on his travels Westward: the fickle ocean, the duplicitous crew, the thousandfold mendacities of those awaiting him on the American shore, the selfish wagoners with whom he ventured Westward, and the wilderness itself. He had, against the odds, forged a trail and met his wife among the welcoming Cheyenne. Together, they had settled in this valley between the mountains. Now the Swede was buried here, far from his home and his old gods, and his wife and son remained.The day after the Swede had been killed, a man appeared. He strode casually across the field, naked, his face smeared with crimson wetness and his eyes white-rimmed, his teeth set in a bloody grin. His black hair was long and full of twigs and briars and sticktights. Upon his breast he wore a leather-strung necklace. A single, large bear claw hung from it, curved like a crescent moon over his heart.

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“Cheyenne whore,” he said. “Send the blue-eyed child to me. Let me feast on his misbegotten flesh. He is an abomination in these lands. His presence is blasphemy. I will feed on him and turn him into filth, as I did his father. And where his filth falls the land will celebrate with flowers, for his life is a slight against the Spirits.”
The boy’s mother kept her son behind herself as the man spoke.
“Give him to me now,” he said, “and I will give him a quick death.”
“Never,” the mother said.

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The man’s grin only widened. “Then I will come dreaming,” he said, “and I will devour the womb from which he sprang.”
When the man left—sprinting across the fields and up into the mountains— the mother took her son inside the cabin and told him to stay hidden while she worked outside. She was a small woman, but strong and determined and wise. She cleaned and oiled her husband’s bear trap. That day she slaughtered a calf and put its meat upon the trap, setting the trap near the cabin, its chain nailed to the porch’s thickest post. She then went inside and comforted and reassured her son until nightfall.
That night the man came dreaming once again, and so the beast returned with the fog. He ignored the cattle and went instead to the cabin, circling it and snarling and growling and laughing. His laughter was suddenly cut short by the sharp clang of the bear trap; of steel teeth on bone, and a terrible scream. The mother told her son to stay silent and then she ran outside with her husband’s rifle raised.

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But haste was her master, and haste was an incautious master, as was desperation and, too, hope. The beast was no ordinary bear, and so the bear trap was not crafty enough to ensnare him. He had lived for centuries learning the wiles of Man. Rather, he snared the mother with her own trap, having fed it a branch as thick as a bone and then having feigned a yowl of pain. The mother realized the ruse too late. She fired once, and struck true, but he was no ordinary beast, and so the bullet pierced without wounding. He stripped her of her gun, pressed her down to the earth, and breathed charnel mist into her face.
“Before I kill you,” he said with a grinding growl not unlike thunder. “Know that I will feed upon your son at next nightfall. I will eat him slowly, and shall relish his blood and meat.”
He then silenced her anguish with his large maw.
The boy cried all night, trembling in the lonely dark. When morning came, still he cried, and he heard the man calling from beyond the cabin.
“Half-breed,” he said. “Count the hours. Mark the moon. I will come for you at midnight, and then my land will be cleaned of your filth once and for all.”
The man left, and the boy emerged from the cabin. He buried the remains of his mother and went into further mourning. He drank little and ate nothing. At length, he was exhausted and fell asleep beneath the shade of the porch. The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was a spiderweb gilded with the rays of the sun.

The boy dreamt of his parents beneath a starry sky. They waved to him, then ascended to the stars. He cried in his dream and an old woman came before him, her wizened face smiling. She had black eyes that gleamed, but they did not frighten him. Her smile comforted him. She took his hands in hers, and put her hands on his shoulders, and on his cheeks. She had many hands; many arms. She was Grandmother Spider.

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“What is wrong, child?” she asked.
“My parents are gone,” he said, “and soon I will be killed by the beast, too.”
“Must you?” she asked. “Must it be so?”
“What else can I do?” he said. “Father’s rifle did nothing. Mother’s trap did nothing. He will kill me! Why does he hate me?”
“Because of both sides of your blood, child,” the old woman said. “Because he fears what you could be.”
“I don’t understand,” the boy said.
There came the caw of a raven up above, flying overhead, and he tried to watch it go, but the old woman kept his head firmly forward; her eyes peering into his own.

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“Embrace both sides of your blood, child,” she said. “Reconcile your heart or perish. Dream awake, child, as the beast cannot. Dream awake, for it is the only way to save yourself.”
She let go of him, then, and he began to drift away from that stelliferous, eternal night.
“I wonder,” the old woman said, her voice fading. “Will you dream of blood? Or will you dream of something more…?”

When the boy awoke he saw that the sun had nearly set. Dusk flared across the mountains, red as blood and furious as fire. He sat up with a start. He had slept near to nightfall! He leapt up, ready to run inside the cabin. But he paused, his eyes alighting upon something in the spiderweb. It was a raven’s feather: black as midnight, but shimmering like starlight. He took it from the lithe strands, with a gentle hand, and went inside. The old woman’s words echoed in his head, crisscrossing like spiderwebs until their spool wove an idea in his mind.
Going to his father’s escritoire, the boy sat down and took a sheet of parchment from among the small stack that his father had kept for writing lists, mail, and journal entries. There were books along the wall, too. Included among them were Almanacs, old Nordic Epics, vocabulary words translated by his mother from Cheyenne into English and Swedish. The boy had been taught all three languages by his mother, and she had taught him how to write. Using his father’s whittling knife, he sharpened the feather’s quill. He then dipped the tip into his father’s inkwell, blackening it with ink as the shadows stretched from the mountains to blacken the valley. He wrote for a few minutes, as the valley darkened, and then lit a candle.

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Feverishly, he continued to write. He wrote the same story in every language he had been taught. It was a simple story, direct and to the point; practical and economic because he needed it to survive. With each iteration of the story he envisioned the story more clearly. He wrote until he could at last dream awake. Thus, he dreamt of a small raven, the quill in his hand scribbling to swirl the mists of the creeks and lakes and the river together, wherewith was manifested the bird. The raven was sharp of eye, and sharper of beak, and swift and light and small, and so it formed from the valley’s mists quickly. With a flourish of his quill he sent it over the valley, toward the mountains, even as the dreaming man dreamt his bear from the same waters.

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The raven saw a cave with its keen eye. Swiftly, it entered the cave on silent wings. Within the cave was a flat slab of rock, and laying upon this slab was the dreaming man. The raven alighted upon the dreaming man’s chest. He did not stir, for he was dreaming deeply, his soul roaming in the form of the bear. The raven therefore snipped the leather necklace, untethering his soul from his body, and flew away with it, flying out of the cave and into the open air once again.
The misty beast below saw the raven, and his necklace, and so he roared and paid chase. The raven led the bear far afield, as was written, coming to the center of the mountains. There was a tarn at the center of the mountains, for it was the navel of the world, and this tarn was where the raven dropped the necklace: on an island in the center of the reed-rimmed tarn.

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The beast roared, racing upon all fours even as he was left behind by the raven, and yet knowing where the connection to its human body resided. The beast ran all night, but when he finally arrived at the tarn and parted the reeds, the sun was climbing the mountains. The beast clasped the necklace in his bloody maw and fled across the tarn’s crystal-blue waters.

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But the sun surmounted the crest of the mountain, illuminating the navel of the world. The light struck the beast and that terrible dream faded in the burning glare of dawn, as did its terrible soul so that beast and man both dissolved forever, never ascending to the stars as the boy’s parents had done.

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The necklace fell from the dissolving beast and sank into the waters. The waters were fed with countless eons of bloodshed, darkening to a fetid crimson. To this day the tarn resides in those mountains, red with all of the bestial hungers of its cursed treasure.
There had been temptation in the beastly claw when the raven held it. The boy had sensed its bloody power and its beckoning guile. He could have taken it for himself and lived forever, as the dreaming man had done, feasting on the flesh of whatever, and whoever, he desired. But he did not write that story. His story, he decided, would not be written in blood.
The boy grew up, on his own, as both a hunter and a farmer, caring for the farm and the wilderness, and writing into being the things that needed to be. And, though the loss of his mother and father was great, their blood wrote on with his own, living on in his words and deeds and the narrative of his life. He learned the power of dreams, and of the written word, for what is reading and writing but dreaming while one is awake?

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