I was as the candle quite bright
in the corner, amidst cobwebs,
aflame, yet misplaced in the night;
alike tallow as its glob ebbs.
My tallow dribbled down to aught,
the flame fed by a finite host,
burning the wick away to naught—
no more, now, than a smoky ghost.
The bright light I gave was unseen,
lit only in neglected nooks,
and though I burned both bright and keen,
I commanded no second looks.
Forgotten, forlorn, extinguished,
a puddle lax in the drip pan,
melted by the ambitions wished
to be illumed within my span.
Yet, I burned nonetheless…so bright,
if only for sake of burning,
giving it my all for a light
meaningless in toil and learning.
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.
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…
To be like that little wood duck
in the center of the large lake,
floating on lambent waves—such luck
to have freedom with which to make
a peaceful day of Summer’s calm
away from this dust-dreary room,
the water and sunshine a balm
to soothe the stubborn shades of gloom;
to paddle my feet without care
in limpid waters all one’s own,
not confined to this stagnant air
as I rest and mend broken bone…
Was it a dream, this wilted bud
wasted among the trodden mud?
Was it a hope, this crumpled page
discarded near an empty stage?
Was it a wish, this broken quill,
nib splintered so the ink would spill?
Was it desire, this flint-struck flash
extinguished unto lightless ash?
Is it despair, this fatal sigh
when longlived aspirations die?
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.
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.
Brother, you must stand tall
even when all others
lean on a crumbling wall
like woe-stricken mothers;
stand against the headwinds
shouted by cold tyrants,
whichever way it ends
stand tall in defiance.
Stand tall within the flood
and tides that pull afar,
and as they sling their mud
remember who you are,
for to stand tall right now
as they tear all else down
is to gild your stern brow
with a luminous crown
that will guide others hence
as a beacon of light;
stand tall with the good sense
that you will win this fight.
A midnight too cold, I do declare,
as I tremble in such air
as breath of a frost titan
while stars shine, but do not lighten
with the twinkle of dreams thus outcast
in dark gulfs that last and last,
and I wonder, in such chilly air,
if they twinkle and they glare
because of prevailing ingratitude,
wishing me a change in attitude.
But I cannot, anymore than they,
being ever-fixed as night and day,
and so I think they have no right
to judge me this or any other night
for they, too, in darkness shiver
as if alive and all aquiver
though grown bright each as the sun
and hypocrites, every one,
they are too distant to know of woe,
being far above, and me far below,
but should they wish to condescend
then by all means, come on, descend,
and let us have a sun at night
to warm the hours as a sun might,
but if they should, please be so good
as keep some distance, or they would
burn the earth to blackish cinders
with their resplendent splendors—
indeed, keep thou to that great star chasm
or wither the world, not unlike sarcasm.
Am I belligerent as blood-red Mars
that I should begrudge such long-dead stars?
No, more so Saturn fully crowned
with the ringed dust I have found.
But enough! Hear now the truth I give
and know the truth withal I live:
I clutched at stars once, quite defiant
and thought myself a looming giant
only to find a firefly therein dead
in my hand, a streak that bled
a constellation, a glittering stain
to remind me oft, and to oft remain
so I might know the truth of such dreams
and all above that gleams and seems.
Pardon my breaststroke
but the undertow will take me
not with my eager acceptance, thank you,
but with mortal fatigue,
meanwhile your undead body
to ashen shores
so you may make
after having razed the world
and all of its myriad “illusions”,
attempting to delight in the
joys to be had
rather than throwing yourselves
upon the pyres
and giving resolution
where your philosophy’s resolution is due.
You wish to beat us down
with the bones of the departed,
striking our hopes with a cruel
“You too! You too!”
as if we were not aware
that even headstones crumble,
and, yes, we know that
we ride determinism’s
along the continuum of life—
it is no hollowing revelation.
but while you numbly nestle
into the shoreline’s ashes
after you have smote all meaning
in your estimation,
and while you stubbornly mutter
your mantra of “malignant uselessness”,
I cannot help but note the irony
of your continued existence;
for while you champion mass extinction,
the puppet does not burn himself
to rescue himself from the supposed
“conspiracy against the human race”.
Actions speak louder than words,
and you seem quite disingenuous
while you gleefully lob
Molotov cocktails into the sea
like bottled letters
meant to reach distant shores.
It is an ironic joke, you know—
the one about the
who refuted his own thesis
by showing up
for the book signing.
we are meat puppets
tangled up in our own strings,
but only you seem to be
high-strung about it.
strumming other people’s
has always been lucrative,
even if money and ambition and
further the delusion
Perhaps you should use the ashes
for your late-term
I will make my sand castles
as I please.
Somehow I doubt your
ash castles will last long,
and, besides, wet ash
burns the hands
which shape it,
yet will never clean the hands
of the hypocrisy
that stain them.