Lost In Sand And Surf

Born at hightide, buried to the chin
among countless others on the beach,
shouting, coughing, the froth surging in
to drown all within its lounging reach.

Openmouthed to sing my song aloud,
I receive a swig of salty surf,
sputtering words, too much like the crowd,
our voices a chorus without worth.

Where are those who dig free from the sand,
those who escape the insensate tide?
They rise from these deep holes and can stand
in sunlight, moving with a strong stride.

Still, the rest of us remain entombed
while waves wash over the thoughtless trend,
never heard, never seen, each one doomed
to scream into the surf without end.

Ah, but could I not dig myself out
by merit of my mouth and its bite,
by my teeth, by grit and bit and bout
to lessen the sand that holds me tight?

Or is that sand not of the hourglass
and, so, the holding hole that is Time?
Do those who are dug out truly pass
beyond, or are those lands but birdlime?

“Things Happen For A Reason”

A young Australian girl reclines,
her legs dangling from the dock,
tacklebox, fishing poles, lines;
blind to the saltwater croc.
Her Sunday dress is pure white
like flowers before the Fall,
her hair modest and braids tight;
no ribbons or bows at all.
The girl hums a hymnal song,
lines drifting—not a quiver
to hint that something is wrong
within the silent river.
She hums a song about love
and the paradise that waits
after death, in realms “above”
such as the old Bible states.
She remembers her preacher
and a sermon last season
that was premised to teach her
“Things happen for a reason.”
He said, “Egypt’s children died
as proof of God’s great power.
Pharaoh Ramses could not hide
his child from that fateful hour.”
When she asked him how she might
avoid incurring God’s wrath,
he said, “Keep yourself pure white,
and stay on the righteous path.”
The croc springs up from beneath
like a devil from below;
she struggles, but the sharp teeth
clutch tight and do not let go.
She screams out to her father,
her mother, Jesus, her god,
but the sound drowns in water,
crying, helpless as she pawed
at the beast’s face, its wide snout,
slowing as she drowned slowly,
as she bled and faded out,
the death-roll now more holy
than any psalm or prayer
she could say in her defense
within Nature’s cruel lair—
no rhyme or reason or sense.

Unfelt Rains

What is human grief
but rain on stone?
Whether long or brief,
it dries where strewn
without scarring rock,
or carving rune—
no such stain or pock
outlast the moon.
The tears always dry
and stones remain,
the years pass us by:
the cosmos reign—
they reign, unfeeling,
forgetting all,
the cold stones wheeling
while hot tears fall.

Roughspun Heron

Though stirred by the slightest wind
in want of flight, without the wont,
I tumble, end over end,
the word of Fate a wayward taunt.

My wings are frayed and thin
and depend on the whims of air;
I cannot fly like my kin
whose wings of flesh and feather dare

the stirless sky, or the storm,
but must keep to currents of chance,
yet…such is also the norm
for all things born of circumstance,

for all things in manner made
to be as Nature chose for them
must likewise be as so bade
by fold and form, by stitch and hem

and come undone at the seams
by wear and tear, by mold and moth,
by Fate which compels such dreams
to animate both flesh and cloth.

Moments

A single grain of sand
slips through the hourglass
and with it falls
whole buildings, cities,
empires, crumbling to dust
in an instant,
so brief, the demolition,
and yet so many years
to build it, to amass
the sacrifice of days, of skills,
of lives, all
now gone
with the smooth slippage
of inevitability, the giddy
evanescence of the material world,
sand unto sand, the
humanistic mandala imprinting
the earth
erased by restless winds, by
sleepless tides,
burying pyramids with gravity’s
intractable pull
and the erosion
of fickle electrons.
There is no compromise
to be found
in the sinking sands of Time.

Vacation

Scott saw the lake from the highway,

sprawling at a lower elevation beyond the

guard rails and the trees that rose between.

Its green surface was still, untroubled,

silent,

undisturbed by the windless afternoon

while Scott drove by, going home from the

buzzing, banging, screeching noises of the

Amazon warehouse; the rush as he dashed

from one row to another, scrambling to pick

and pluck and rummage another profligate

item, Made In China, that was as needful

to the average consumer

as a scarf in summertime,

trying to meet the quota demanded of him,

minute by minute,

hour by hour,

day by day

unto endless days.

Going home to an empty apartment

after a twelve-hour shift

was like

dumping himself into a box

in accordance to his bin number

and mailing himself out the next morning

once again

to the same Amazon warehouse

to pick and pluck and drop all over again.

He wanted a vacation.

A real vacation.

He wanted to go to that lake —

not to fish

or to camp

or to swim,

but to plunge his car

headlong into the depths of it and let

that placid stillness envelop him

as he sank to the bottom,

apart from the hectic human world,

uncaring,

detached,

lungs filling up

while his life emptied out,

and the tranquil bosom of the lake

sealing up, like a wound —

reconciling him within its serene silence.

The real horror of his

life

was that it went on and on and on.

Betwixt

At the pinching snip of Love and Loss,
the intersection, that fateful criss-cross
of scissors cutting like conjoined knives
that separate, at length, two lovers’ lives—
Atropos and her unyielding blade
pressures us together, made and unmade,
the freshly cut edge, and the sharp ache,
that defines and destroys within its wake.

Jack In The Box

Death is an old jack-in-the box,
the coil wound tight as music plays,
springing out with a grin that mocks
and startles at the end of days.
There is never laughter, nor mirth,
in this ancient jester’s dealings—
the old crank wound round at our birth
is never stopped by our feelings.
And we always know he will spring,
this jester with his mirthless grin,
yet the shock still has a sharp sting
as we face the box, the coffin.

Man Up

Black and white cat screeching
with a badly broken back,
its limbs flailing, reaching—
a useless, aimless attack;
claws spreading, fangs flashing
in the chilly rain that falls,
gut bleeding, teeth gnashing,
while a small child, somewhere, calls.
Neither needle or stitch
can mend all this damage done,
and, kneeling in the ditch,
I see the blood burst, then run.
Guiltless, my hands in gloves
rummage for mercy to use,
and I wonder what loves
we might, someday, likewise lose.
Penknife in trembling hand
unfolding a silver gleam—
I feel myself unmanned
by the cat’s tormented scream.
Releasing the cat, now,
clutched in Death’s unflinching grasp,
I rub my clammy brow
and hear it gurgle and gasp.
The rain falls cold, meantime,
and I see the cat’s gashed eye
caked black with blood and grime,
yet alert and asking, “Why?”
I put away my knife,
the cat still writhing in pain,
yet clinging to its life
though life itself is a bane.
Turning to go away,
I am haunted by a word
echoing to this day:
“Coward, coward…you coward…”