Calamity

Calamity plunges headlong, a fall
of seraphim wings wreathed with a fireball,
like the burning whirlwind witnessed by
Ezekiel, cloud and fire mounting high,
and where she lands her impact arrays pyres
of hopes and dreams, even petty desires,
all aflame—aflame! Whereso she crashes
like a lightning bolt whose coming flashes
out of the clear blue sky, oft unforeseen;
no trumpets, heralds, or bird signs to glean
foreknowledge of her dizzying fallout
nor time to catch one’s breath as we call out
in despair to the loved ones we have lost
within a New Era wrought at their cost.
Calamity is a spear thrown by God,
and we can do little, shocked and slack-jawed
from the suddenness, the swift ruin wrought
by powers beyond us, and what we thought,
what we presumed previously of life
and its routines, the shrill blow of a fife
discordant with the melody we learned
hitherto, the music sheet henceforth burned
and all other notes now sounding quite wrong
as we march off-rhythm to this new song.
The level ground upon which we once stood
is an impact crater, our neighborhood
in decline, literally, the downtown
concave, the downtown sliding down, down, down
in the aftermath of the Advent come
and its smoldering throne, its ash kingdom
where streets are all dead-ends, alleys are traps,
and home is a bait for countless mishaps,
comfort gone cold, taxidermied, hung high,
out of reach, gaudy, a gleaming glass eye
looking over us in our time of need,
as futile as any rosary bead
or a prayer belted out in despair
to mute, blind, deaf, dumb, illegible air.

Calamity is no city planner,
though she sits in the governor’s manor,
and she is not elected by our choice,
though we can encourage her—not by voice,
but by carelessness, selfishness, ego…
Yes, ego, that parade whereby we go
marching into Calamity’s crater
to serve ourselves flaming soot, to cater
our own Wake, all bedighted in embers
of what had been, that which…who remembers?
Not me. I am distracted by the light
of fresh Calamity in fireball flight
across the vault of heaven, that high vault
that cracks to a fissure along the fault
and rains down as a meteor shower
to flatten every tree, home, tower
until neither king or pauper can find
the false-hope of refuge to hide behind.

Calamity renovates as she likes,
gentrification and ruthless tax hikes,
pushing out the old tenants, the squatters,
and even landlords, all ledger jotters
who think themselves their own masters, the kings
of the domains to which such pretense clings;
none are spared the cataclysm, none spared
sorrows such as sown, reaped and quickly shared.
You do not schedule your life anymore,
but live by the timetable you abhor…
Oh, but Calamity strikes once again
and so, scheduled, must set aside my pen…

Transformation

Change is always so difficult
it is a husk you peel and molt,
killing the old self in due course,
removing old habits by force,
revealing the sore skin beneath,
aching exoskeletal grief,
and then weaving a raw cocoon
from the scarred ruin you have hewn
as a fresh scab congealing, hard,
itchy, burning, till you discard
what was bled to render its flesh,
a stygian-carapace mesh,
and, by picking it, contemplate
the old, scar-borne truths which you hate
and then you confront what you hide,
tucking yourself away, inside
all that you rue, resent, and loathe
about yourself, that husk you wove
to become a pupa of change,
awakening to find—so strange—
a stranger unfurling your wings
to fly free from the former things
that defined your self, saving face
by discarding face, to erase
what had been for what would now be:
a murder of myself by me.

Change

This ancient chrysalis chafes,
keeping too close to the skin,
like one of those small bank safes
magicians lock themselves in.
Sealed tightly shut, I do doubt
that Houdini could escape,
and I only want out—out!
It is an ironic jape.
Life is a zombie’s coffin,
a Pharaoh’s dusty old tomb
like what they put Karloff in:
a mummy with little room.
You suffocate while wound-round
in bandages of the past,
yet however much you pound
the old casket lid holds fast.
To break free, you must first die,
yet to die you must first grow,
shedding larval husks to fly
like the Mothman, on the go.
Perhaps the bridge must fall down
before we hear the warning
of that cryptid, leaving town
while others are still mourning.
Of course, on the other hand,
change comes when least expected,
Mr. Hyde taking command
while the signs are neglected.
It can be like Dracula
waking to a brand new age,
exchanging moldy moolah
for fresh ink on a crisp page.
Turning over a new leaf
is not so easy as said,
no easier than the grief
that comes when mourning the dead,
or eating the dead, like ghouls
who hunger for what is past,
the bitter, nostalgic fools
in cemeteries amassed.
This living-dead life idles
like Frankenstein’s creature bound
to bygone flesh, the bridles
electric, but with no ground,
so the charge does not charge,
but burns the assemblage whole,
death remaining, by and large,
despite the jolts to the soul.
True change comes when least wanted,
like the full moon to a man
whose lupine life is haunted
by every monthly span.
It visits us, like a ghost,
a poltergeist in revolt,
possession unto a host—
a demon we cannot molt
as it rearranges chairs,
smashes dishes, shatters glass,
bringing to us the nightmares
which, at sunrise, should then pass,
yet they do not, subsuming
the day-to-day life we knew
until the shadows looming
become a stale cocoon, too.
And then great Cthulhu wakes,
disrupting the status quo,
and amidst the floods and quakes
we lose all we used to know,
finding ourselves lost, afloat,
like flotsam in tides so strange
that we regret this brash boat
moored on the island of Change.

Tumbledown

In a small corner of my head
squats a ramshackle little shed
where I place on a cobwebbed shelf
all the dreams I had for myself;
boxes upon boxes of books
all covered in dust—no one looks
at such things, away from the sun,
along with other things I’ve done;
stories…poems…by the hundreds,
like waste that clutters other sheds,
stowed away, unread and unloved,
where doubts and bitterness have shoved
worlds of wonder, flashbacks of days,
where the black mold of Time decays
the flimsy whimsy, each thin page
lost to mildew—that necrophage.
Sometimes I glance in the windows
and see the books there, lined in rows,
but I rarely go in…rather,
I know it foolish to gather
dreams from a rickety old shed
soon to collapse within my head.
So I wait…frown…sigh…shrug…then leave,
forsaking all, lest I deceive
myself with hope that any book
could be saved from that moldy nook.
Yet I return, despite the mold
growing rampant and taking hold
with its toxic odors and spores
permeating the air indoors,
and I read from the books, sometimes,
horror, fantasy, and some rhymes,
unable to leave what I should,
the fool’s hope stronger than the wood.
The shed trembles as if to fall,
yet I remain, each crumbly wall
a part of me as much as aught,
just as each book is my own thought,
and, so, should it crash at long last,
(which it will, the die just-so cast)
I will be among the remains,
among the books and wood and panes,
decaying together, the whole
as always was, body and soul.