Five, Five, Five…

A translucent cloud,
only barely there,
neither thick nor proud
floating in night air,
as a frayed grayed dove
in want of sun’s rays
while drifting above,
born of misty haze.
Thin, ghostly stratus,
do you think desire
something your status
might survive, that fire
which burns with a stare
that blinds and dissolves,
an unrivaled glare
round which earth revolves?
Stay true to the moon,
phantom of the night,
or fade all too soon
like ghosts at dawn’s light.

Just Toxic Enough

Sometimes I feel overcrowded
and wish to be more like a
black hickory tree—
the kind of selectively antisocial tree whose
toxins
wither almost everything near it
to give it space
so it can grow its foliage
(without throwing shade)
and grow its roots
(without groping)
and drop its nuts
(without worrying about
the consent of whomever
is actively feeling up its
hardwood
from down below).
It is not “manspreading”
or
“mansplaining”,
and it doesn’t make me a pig
or even a
pignut,
nor is it crass cynicism—
it is just a want of
personal space
and some quiet solitude
and natural boundaries
as I keep to myself
to avoid the eager whine of the chainsaws
and the hungry woodchippers.

Medley II

Honesty
As a frog squatting
upon the lily pad
he was comfortable when seated
on the truth,
eating falsehood’s flies as they
buzzed about,
the pests unable to escape the long reach
of his honest tongue.

Recluse
Strewn husks among the cellar
ricked up as exoskeleton refuse
beneath the watching dweller—
that skittish, fiddle-backed recluse.

What Is Rhyme?
What is rhyme
but the happy happenstance
of apt language through chance
and Time?

Bottom’s Up
Spare me the corporate mea culpa
and just go ahead and pin the tail
on the donkey, you
jackass,
because I am tired of hearing you
bray your prewritten lines
of plausible deniability
like Bottom high up in
Titania’s bower
while the whole center stage
revolves around you.
You are
looking for a fall-guy,
even if the body’s already cold,
and you pretend, (as you often do),
as if you did not stage this
magnum opus of
magnum onus
upon the rest of us down below
while you handed out scripts and gave
stage directions.
You want us to bend over
and take one for the
production team,
all the while the
tell-tale tail
is pinned where it belongs:
on your fucking forehead.
Yeah,
it sounds like you are
talking out of your ass again,
but it is the same line you always
pull out from that
tandem-team donkey suit
you’re always wearing while your
brown-noser
is bringing up the rear,
even as you lead the farce
ass-backwards.

Medley

Viewing
Most human thought is
best left unseen, like a closed
casket funeral.

Prayers
Never had he once prayed for rain
to strengthen the crops in any field;
but to mock the tears of the slain
and drown the graves of the men he had killed.

The Sailor’s Curse
“Cranky Christ on a crook’d cross
wi’ a crotch full o’ itchin’ crab!”
he said after tasting her special fish sauce.
She punched him in his belly flab,
at which he was at a complete loss.
She said to him, “Watch ‘er goddamn gab!”

The Biggest Predator
The twin seastacks rose from the salivating surf,
pale, jagged sandstone towering above the earth,
and through the frothy ocean, like a tongue between,
the ghost of the world that was could be seen
in the backwash waves that thrashed up and fell away,
terrible creatures swarmed within the spittle spray—
they tore at one another within a bloody tide,
bickered and bit, fought and fed and died,
all dissolving within those tumultuous waves,
even the largest among them but simple slaves,
for they were the feast and the furor of Mother Nature
who devours all creatures, despite her nomenclature.

Simple-Minded Stories
Rinse and condense—
no space on the
bumper sticker
for nuance or context;
black and white bullet points should proliferate
but reiterate only one thing:
we good, they bad.
Let me tell you a farfetched fairytale
easy enough for a child to follow:
Once upon a time
in a faraway kingdom
we good,
they bad.
The end.
People throughout history have loved such
tribalistic myths,
but I fail to follow the bandwagon.
The stakes are so high,
yet the plot so thin
and the characters dehumanized
beyond any personality.
I cannot suspend disbelief
as the contrivances compound
in the lazy storytelling.
Here’s a truer story
with more substance to it
than the cliche plot
that has been told again and again
throughout history:
Once upon a time
some people thought life would be
easier
if they had to think less—
the end.
Except that last part is fiction
because this story has never ended.

Bible Babble
You
renounce Babylon everyday,
but should it truly displease you
take up hermitage in the
Appalachian Mountains,
comforted by the holy works
you cherish
and never bludgeon the brains
of others with your cherished Book;
do not banish the vices or voices
as if misremembering that
Jesus overthrew Caesar;
no,
rather,
he banished himself, outcast
in ascendance.
So, run to the hills
and in your sacred pilgrimage
keep a vow of silence,
otherwise you profane the Word
with that which you would
condemn Babylon.
For when in
Babylon
you are a Babylonian
even as you preach against its temples,
but worse,
for you are a holier-than-thou
hypocrite.
You have a
stained-glass heart,
and how easily shattered
the panes are—
as easily as any glass house
David might live in
as he readies his stones.
Stop cowering in the skirts of
the Great Whore
and venture out into the
Wilderness
should you be in earnest—
do not return.
Do not preach, at one moment,
against the sins of your Mistress
and at the next moment
sleep in a Babylonian bed.
Become the martyr to your purported
puritanism.
Go now:
go steeled in your faith.

Orange And Black

An October road, orange on black,
like obsidian beneath falling rain,
so slick and gleaming, forward and back
while wet shadows along the winding lane
wash up like alluvial shores,
the lamplights gentle on the front windows
of bricked-up glass, small-town stores
half-dreaming, half waking in rows.
Boughs detailed with orange flecks of light
or else darkly blank as fat thunderclouds
while they line the sidewalks to the right
like chandeliers partly covered with shrouds;
Hollow-eyed houses, empty of life,
with columned porches aglow with light—
each half-glimpsed raindrop a silver knife
that flashes as it slashes through the night.
See the church with its river-rock face,
dark and wet as if the river still runs
over the stones all set into place
long before the town known for its bourbons.
In the graveyard trees sway with the wind
while their weather-withered branches disrobe,
orange leaves tumbling, end over end,
glanced in the sullen light of a lamp’s globe.
The maple tree has an orange crown
and black branches like charred sorceress bones,
the leaves soot-sided embers come down
among the sprawling, stygian headstones.
Orange and black—all orange and black,
the colors of Halloween all around;
spire to cupola, eave to smokestack,
and splashing in the puddles on the ground.
From afar, now, the town is aglow
in the dark, silent sea spread all about;
a bright river boat drifting below
rain and shadow mingling along a route.
Orange and black—as if a pumpkin
left out at night and gone halfway to rot—
a Jack O’ Lantern with its plump skin
half-burned, its grin’s inner flame just too hot.
Neither asleep or awake: a dark dusk,
this town in October’s darkening eves,
flame and shadow consume the wet husk,
light losing the battle as Summer leaves.

A Smattering Of Rhymes

Effortless Beauty
What a lazy seamstress the sun can be
to embroider the sky with her ragged gold
around cotton clouds clumped so messily—
yet, the prettiest patchwork quilt to behold.

If By Design
The angels are spitting once again
from that raincloud overhead,
but whether in spite from some sin
or to bless the garden bed
I cannot yet begin to know,
but it is quite a curious thing
to think their spite might even bestow
by design an inevitable blessing.
And so I begin to wonder
about Lucifer and his disdain—
did he want lightning and thunder
only to grow the crops with rain?
And if all behave as so designed,
what of Man and his battle lines?
What of the fermenting fruits of his mind—
does angelic scorn grow the best wines?

Wasted Timber
I have heard certain poets read their acclaimed poems
to a crowd who clapped like biblical rains
for poems that seemed tottering, termite-eaten totems
propped up only by many PR campaigns.
With headwinds from a publisher or university
vouching loudly with flative-voices meanwhile,
the poems rang hollow (neither heartfelt or witty)
and I knew them not fit even for the brush pile.
They treat some poets like they are the mighty masts
for upholding the sails of their literary fleet,
and I thought myself seemingly one of the outcasts
who felt oddly marooned at each meet-and-greet—
because it seemed a shame that so much timber
should be cut and stripped and thinned to render
works that could not spark a single ember
when the bonfire of hearts should need tinder.

Pre-Mortem Autopsy

Coroner, just staple it to my faint forehead,
the cause of death; and tag my twitching toe
before you put me with the legion John Doe dead—
beneath this morgue’s cold, clinical glow.

Coroner, I do believe you will soon find
that my skin is quite thin when you cut in,
for I’ve a soft-cover for both body and mind,
never having a hard-cover, though a shut-in.

Coroner, when you split me open, look to see
the heart that beat so hard as I composed
what my brain fain thought to be poetry;
that heart still beating— open, but also closed.

See how my heart quickens, hastening to pace
as the scalpel ascends, my soul laid so bare,
and look at the agony on my febrile face—
the pain of seeing how you do not care.

Never had I thought to go under the knife
while yet living, Coroner, and all those times I tried
to make for myself a literary life
are now lost among the others that have died.

No numbing agent, and no rigor mortis—
I can feel with every nerve, though I lay inert
upon this operation table, a corpus
awaiting the body bag and then the dirt.

And do not hold back the medical school
whose students seek to become as staff—
let them observe the dissection of a fool;
perhaps one should like an autograph.

Wait, are we to needle and thread already?
Careful as you stitch! Do not twist or jerk!
The spotlight fades and I am feeling quite heady—
Watch out! Have a care! This is my body of work!