White diamond among black coal,
the star amidst the dark night,
a grain of salt in an onyx bowl
or a pin-prick of pinched light.
Bereft Before Abloom
Child among the stones and mosses,
born beneath the crooked crosses,
futile hopes snipped fresh in the bud,
unblossomed in the blood-red mud
while parents prayed through stinging tears
to He who held the heedless sheers.
Do not ask me my thoughts on Choice
if you sing choir with the same voice.
Do not preach to me about Life
while He whets His unfeeling scythe.
Countless gardens have never bloomed
because the Groundskeeper presumed
to prune and pluck at paradise
with no thought of virtue or vice.
The lightning split the night sky
from the slumbering mountain;
just a flash to a sleepy eye
and then down came the fountain,
yet the mountain did not stir,
but slept on in the deluge;
in lightning, rain, and the blur
of a night without refuge.
The mountain shouldered the rain
as a titan of great strength,
and though hail fell, showed no pain,
nor flinched from thunder, at length.
The storm bloomed full in its rage
atop the tall crag-crowned brow,
but was as words on a page:
it felt none, nor ever, now.
Standing afar, all alone,
I wished to not flinch at such,
but though I felt cold as stone
I could not bear half so much.
The Pitcher Plant
So open with your heart
and offering to slake thirst
while your dewy lips part,
but your love is coyly cursed.
So many fools fall prey
while praying at your deep well,
try however they may
to flee from your floral bell
the knell sounds in silence
as they struggle in vain awhile
they drain of defiance,
added at last to the pile.
Drifting, dissolving, dead,
they begin to quickly fade,
by your false love misled,
by your moist embrace unmade.
You suggestive wanton!
You receive all who so dare
to accept your taunt on
good faith in the balmy air.
What cruel sort of love
deigned you should love cruel?
Was it a god above
or Nature who hates a fool?
He smoldered within the mirror
while the late evening drew nearer,
a Summery Saturday night
after a long stretch of daylight.
The mirror was a wedding gift
from his parents, before the rift
that had ruptured in its due course,
bleeding out as a bad divorce.
His wife watched as he primmed himself
in her mirror, nearby the shelf
where their old wedding photo stood,
the two of them framed in fake-wood
and kissing in front of a crowd,
all of their parents very proud,
but now he dabbed on some cologne
and combed his hair, (full but two-tone),
while flashing his straight white teeth
rounded by a beard, like a wreath
that was finely trimmed, each hair snipped,
and, not noticing her, he quipped,
“Still lookin’ good, you handsome stud.”
His wife waited, feeling like mud
while he got ready for “Poker”,
a word spoken like a Joker.
She said, “That’s lots of cash, Jason.”
But, being like a Free Mason,
he never spoke about his games
or any of his friends’ real names.
He would just say, “I sure will win
with a little help from some gin.
Then I’ll get in the scoring zone.”
Despite the cash, there clearly shown
packs of rubbers through the leather:
things they never used together.
The rings reminded of the ring
on her finger, a gaudy thing
he had exchanged in a Pawn Shop
for money he earned with a mop
in an old fast-food restaurant—
the place they met, their Friday haunt
now closed down, its windows broken
and its name nevermore spoken.
“Can you stay home tonight?” she said.
“I’ll make some fresh banana bread.”
Adjusting his belt, and his crotch,
he then checked his true Sterling watch.
“Sounds good for breakfast,” he replied.
“And how about eggs on the side?”
She saw herself past his shoulder:
the wrinkles now looking older
than he looked in his corduroy
and cowboy boots, dressed like a boy
ready for a good do-si-do
and maybe, too, a rodeo.
He could have passed for his thirties,
strutting despite his old hurt knees;
like a rooster touring his coop
and crowing loud atop the stoop
while all the hens gazed in wonder
as they felt his booming thunder.
Whereas her figure had swelled plump
long after she had lost her bump
to a sharp scalpel that had left
her cute navel a scar-crossed cleft.
Marginalized in the mirror,
she saw things now brighter, clearer,
and knew that the once happy Past
passed like a young boy, running fast
to the end-goal, to be a Man,
while yearning to shorten the span
so that he never grew wiser,
becoming too soon a miser
who forgot birthdays on purpose
and treated life as a circus
eager to pack it up and go
leaving her behind, a sideshow.
Anyhow, he prepared to leave,
buttoning up each cufflink sleeve
and putting his wallet up front
to bulge his pocket, give the runt
the outline of a bigger hound
to be picked up from the dog pound.
And yet she was in the doghouse,
knowing he left to hunt the blouse
at another girl’s street address,
something that, if he did confess,
he would do without any shame,
saying, “It’s just a Poke-Her game,”
all the while grinning with an air
She glanced at his wallet laying
on the bed, its stuffed folds splaying
to reveal a lot of money.
Her tone pleading, she said, “Honey,
I hope you and the guys have fun,”
while her world was coming undone
as she watched the man she married
grin at himself, his face varied
from the face he wore with his wife
in a normal day of his life.
This rare face came alive
and he hummed just like a beehive,
its combs brimming with sweet honey,
or a day in May: warm, sunny,
the fields alive with flowers,
Though those colors had not been Ours,
she thought, since the day we married.
No, our colors have been buried
deep in the Past, deep in the earth,
just after our son’s awful birth.
My colors wilted in their bloom,
uprooted, torn to make some room
for the fruit of our Love, the child
he hated, abused, and reviled.
But it was my body that died!
My body ripped apart inside!
Then we couldn’t make love at all
and his love became very small.
After all, it’s true, what they say
about Love and how it won’t stay,
but fades over time, no matter
how perfect the daily platter.
He just never valued something
if it couldn’t warm his dumpling.
“There’s a good movie on tonight,”
she said, clutching the pistol tight.
“It’s about a second chance…”
He did not give her a first glance,
turning away from the mirror,
checking his watch, the time nearer,
and so, heading to the door,
he said, “Good night, babe…” and no more.
She heard him start his king-cab truck
and leave the driveway, her eyes stuck
on her reflection in the glass—
eyes wide while completing a pass
up and down her war-torn body;
all used up, her forlorn body.
She aimed the pistol at her heart
and, at the bang, she broke apart.
Were I divided, virtue from vice,
the golden wheat from blighted chaff,
what would then be the sum sacrifice?
What remainder after such math?
Would one and the other be the same
or would one be greater in size?
Would the difference favor my shame?
What value would I have in your eyes?
If I was split, (the cream from the curd),
which part would be greater? Sweet? Sour?
Would you, seeing my parts, spare a word,
or would you flake out, like buttered flour?
Perhaps we are both more than presumed,
much more than the sum of our parts.
I only hope we will rise and bloom,
the recipe a blend of hearts.
Shieldmaidens and vanguard,
defenders against Death
while his salvos bombard
to snuff another breath.
Rally athwart the tide
like Moses the Red Sea,
however deep and wide,
save them from misery.
The frontlines overflow
with the sick and the dead,
yet you fight, toe to toe,
with Death, and bed to bed.
How can mere mortals thwart
the Reaper on his row?
They are a sundry sort
united by a vow.
It is a vile battle
when a virus spreads swift
from cough to death rattle
and gives us such short shrift.
No glory exists here,
nor vanity or sloth.
They must work despite fear
and the ominous cough.
Fight off the Valkyries!
Let them near no bedside!
Counter the dread disease
and each grim deathbed bride!
For like their hooded groom
reaping with phantom airs,
the Valkyries bring doom,
taking us unawares,
and so our nurses stand
as one, afore the foes,
with scrubs donned, shields in hand,
fighting through highs and lows.
Despite their own trauma,
despite their own sorrow
they tend to Man’s drama
to ensure Tomorrow.
It is a pet peeve of mine that is fed each day
by people who do not understand what they say.
“Fed?” they might ask, confused. “Yes,” I would then reply,
“But only figuratively, otherwise I
would be as stupid as those who seem to believe
that you can quite actually feed a pet peeve.”
The Stock Market is more
than logic, more
it is the ritual of cutting
the head off a chicken
and muttering a few words
to perform a hoodoo spell,
thinking that the starvation in your belly
disappears as the ritual is completed,
reality is boiling the remainder of the chicken
to make some soup stock
and swallowing it down
to keep the belly full.
Reality is the chicken soup that feeds you.
Superstition is the belief that
without the ritual itself
you would starve to death.
And the Stock Market is nothing but
several chickens running around
with their heads cut off
and going to waste
while the people on
starve to death from want
of more substantive stock.
A heart hanging from one sleeve
and from the other, sleight of hand,
there comes what some may conceive
a double-dealing wedding band
bet by the sly Queen of Hearts
on a deck stacked with a Joker,
thus rife with many false-starts
in games of Love so like Poker
where a Full House might well win
lest beaten by Five of a Kind,
and the only gambling sin
is losing the game in your mind.
How like children in full run
neath the ever-fixed sun,
and the daylight hours never done.
How like finches in the sky
twittering love’s lullaby
over the barley and the rye.
How like gold koi in the lake,
scales sparkling while wavelets wake
and eternity in their make.
How like the buck and the doe,
leaves above, lilies below,
frolicking wherever we go.
How like a husband and wife,
forever this lovely life,
never fearing Time’s reaping scythe.
When high or low, green or gold,
we are as children grown old
as the Summers of true love hold.
Should it end, this Summertime,
and chill to a colder clime,
yet would love glow gold on the rime.
…makes a dancing bear
of us all,
treading empty air
as we fall,
a grizzly creature
all the rage
to be the feature
on Love’s stage.
Such a fearful bear
to be whipped
but going nowhere,
the hide stripped,
so sad and funny
earning some money—
dimes a show.
So shortchanged, it seems,
yet we still
tarry on with dreams
while tears spill,
striving to be tamed
beaten till so lamed
wearing a beanie
and flinching keenly
at each word
from our strict mistress
with her whip,
hoping she’ll hiss less
from the hip
and perhaps kiss us
ere too long,
become our missus,
(just stay strong),
for we’re her star pet
not her stretched carpet
or throw rugs.