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.

Dreams Deferred II

Truly, I should like to have a word
with those latecomers, my dreams deferred,
not to harangue them or make a fuss,
but to see them on the express bus
and sooner upon their hastened way
long before the traffic-jammed midday,
and not so idle in friendly talk
nor wasting time on a winding walk—
look, I have laid out the welcome mat
and I just wonder where they are at
because the hour is growing so late
and I would rather they made this date
to come, promptly, to the open door;
the truth is I can’t endure much more.
I think I have been patient enough
with the overtime, the stress, the stuff
that a man must do to set things right
before the curtain call, the spotlight,
and the theater should be packed well
since the tickets were sent through the mail
at no cost to the masses, the crowd,
since I am not really overproud
and would not charge for what came so free
to my mind, without surcharge or fee.
I need reassurance, some regard
after working for so long, so hard,
but the venue is a bust, it seems,
and no one cares, not even my dreams.
They are out and about, in the park,
or in a cab elsewhere, on a lark,
or taking the subway to a street
away from me and my meet-and-greet.
I am the pariah from a group
that I introduced, kept from the loop
while they go bar-hopping like frat-boys
and parade like divas to the noise
of downtown’s pageantry and pizzazz,
welcome with the pop razzamatazz
that sells so well among Plebians,
yet respected by Bohemians,
while I wait, in exile, from afar,
thinking that I should hop in my car
and chase them down, maybe hit-and-run
to avenge myself for what they’ve done,
and what they’ve not done, these damn dead-ends
who are worse than mere fairweather friends.
My dreams are why I am full of doubt—
to hell with it, I am going out!
I have some body-bags in my trunk
and my dreams all need a place to bunk…

Winnow

Work hard—do not mind the scorn
of the wretched, petty souls,
but rise stronger, yet, each morn,
and labor upon your goals,
ever-fixed on your field,
however loud they may laugh,
for your harvest will still yield
if you winnow wheat from chaff,
deaf to the dim-witted herd
who chew the waste of your wheat—
do not mind them, not one word,
or the crude roughage they eat.
All that matters is your crop
and your winnowing mission;
sow and reap and never stop
in your dream, your ambition.

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.

Wreckord And Rage

The bear still chases me
in my dreams
following me from the car wreck
more than a year later,
roaring loudly
with my own voice
as I get cut-off in traffic,
or grinding my teeth
when I have to
work overtime on my days off,
and rampaging
as another submission is rejected
by another publisher.
They say a bear chasing you
in dreams
signifies uncontrollable rage,
and I know this to be true
because I took a hard knock
to the head
and it woke that grizzly bear
from its primordial hibernation in the cave
of my skull,
and I try to tame him,
but every time I try
Zen meditation
or yoga vinyasas
the bear still stirs
and goes chasing me around,
denting doors with my knuckles
and hurling furniture with my
impatient paws
or threatening to maul
a flippant punk in a store.
How many times, I wonder,
have I attempted to lull the beast
with koto melodies
only to growl at the piping of a hichiriki,
or calm him with smooth Jazz
only to snarl at the intrusion
of a noodling saxophone
upon the pitter-patter of the piano?
I must hate wind instruments
and sometimes wish to slash
windpipes,
especially when someone prattles on and on
with self-important conceit.
No lullaby can soothe
the savage beast
of head trauma.
My insomnia, too,
is the bear’s insomnia,
and melatonin pills don’t mellow him out
enough for a long hibernation.
Meanwhile he follows me
from my dreams
into the waking world,
snapping in rage
at friend and foe alike
as the circus of Life twirls on,
the bear handler mauled
by his own mismanaged anger.

4 Poems

Mirage Magnate
He leads them through the desert
with a mirage of water,
promising an oasis
toward which they scramble
on hands and knees as if supplicants
only to find the shattered statue
of Ozymandias
strewn among the blank desolation
of the American Dream.
Their thirst goes unslaked,
yet they praise him with hoarse voices.

The Moon’s Glow
He was as jolly as the Summer sun
in a clear sky above golden fields
and so she seemed, too,
beaming with the light he gave
in unconditional generosity,
but however bright she glowed
with borrowed light
she herself remained a cold place
hard to inhabit.

Sylvian Psychoplath
A clutter of stemming words
in search of fruitful meaning;
clusters of inchoate imagery
without the thinnest shade of
sense,
like a drug-addled hypochondriac
thinking herself a dryad
at the mercy of a logging company,
lost in her own fussy blooms
as she traces the trifurcating twigs
during a whirling tornado
without an eye of calm.
The heartwood bleeds sap,
obviously,
yet one wonders if the
axe
taken to the trunk
was merely trying to cut straight to the
point.
The burl-knotted bosom
unburdens itself
in warty bunches,
and even when chopped up
and stacked in ricks
the woody worth of it is
dubious,
the dryad’s blustering smoke
a deliberate obfuscation
on whatever illuminations might reel
from the hearth
such tangled brush feeds.
And yet
there are mushrooms growing
along her thoughts
which I think quite fine,
even if poisonous as a
gas oven,
every single one.

Stone Dreams
Cleaved shelf of stone
jutting out from hills heavy-headed
with shaggy pine;
cleaved shelf of stone
rugged with old thoughts
like a giant’s brow troubled
by dreams that trickle in icemelt
as the sun rises unseen
behind a pale sheet of snowfall.
I have known dreams as steadfast
and bare
as such stone,
dreams blasted long ago by dynamite,
yet have not worn away
in skirling winds
and seasons of thunder
and tantrums of quakes.
Time wears on
and the stone dreams remain,
more silent than beds of snowfall;
more lasting than the roads
that divided them.

The Slow Suicide

I have oft slain myself
with many leisure hours
spent idle on a shelf
while my dear dream sours—
squandered much in repose
when I might have else gained
much more, or so it goes,
had I not thus refrained,
and in wasting the hours
wasted myself in course
and whatever powers
of mine might provide force
to propel with the stream
of my goals and desires,
profligate unto dream
while my dull life expires.
So many my phases
spent sawing my own thread—
sawing my thread with wear
as Atropos raises
her scissors as fated
to spur strident regret
as I see the frayed seams
and how I also whet
Death with layabout schemes,
for languid was my mode
when ample time blessed me,
but now that I grow old
I am no longer free
to seek diversion for
lounging as I so please,
but must face Death’s black door
and the chill in Fall’s breeze.
I who have taken day
and made a dull, dim thing
of every sunray
that could crown me a king
with the riches of Time,
(a precious rare tender)
rather than this crime
as my own self-lender
indebted evermore
and never to be repaid
as the mortgage grows more
with debt indolence made,
for I am a turncoat
against my own season,
a suicide whose note
was slow in its treason.
Hark! The clock strikes again
as day drains to the lees—
it is a mortal sin:
suicide by degrees.

Night Terrors

I have always been beholden to terrors
in the dark of night—fancies, demons, errors
of my own unbridled mind, a lunatic
while there burns the moon, a wick
which casts shadows inside my skull
in between waking and sleeping, the lull
where Reason is dethroned and exiled
and the demons all clamor, going wild,
and more often than not, these nightmares
are conjured forth when daylight glares
to shine on those whom I most cherish—
my family, my wife, all whom perish
when in the fit of these frightful dreams
wherein I can only listen to their screams,
unable to save anyone from the boogeymen
that come for them, time and time again.
When I was but a boy I saw many rings
of demons in my room, flying with bat-wings,
and even now the Hat Man visits me
along with Shadow People who stare darkly.
And yet, however fearful such things are
they are not the most fearful, (not by far),
than when I wake up right afterward
in the witching hours, when nought is heard,
because I have mourned a thousand times
during such nights, as the moon climbs,
and even with my love beside me in bed,
she lays still, silent, eyes closed as if dead,
and I fear for her in this parody of Death
even though she always yet draws breath,
for there will come a day against which I
can do nothing, no matter how hard I try,
and so I know a future will arrive when
one or both of us will never wake again,
Death having the final laugh, at long last,
for every night we mocked him in the past.