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…”

Two Poems

Pride-Felled

And as Macbeth,

cursed by a charmed life,

so, too, those who

lose by winning,

trammeled by their own parade

through the victory arches,

hung by their own medals,

cut by the blade that knights them,

outed by triumph

with a glorious crown of

daggers

at their backs,

fattened by the spoils of war

so that they drunkenly sleep

at their victory feasts

while cannibal forces creep within

to exact the pound of flesh

rendered by such gluttonous winning.

And so, too, as Icarus kissing the

stratosphere

and plunging headlong into the sea;

as Oedipus, blinded by his own

brilliance

and stumbling into a fate worse than the

Sphinx ’s fangs —

so as these do such victors

lose all

through their breathless exultation.

See there?  Upon distant hill?

Sisyphus pushes his boulder up the

Stygian causeway,

thinking himself at the summit

of Mt. Olympus,

but soon tumbles down

with the weight of the trophy

he has won

for fooling the gods.

Just so are we all crowned

with knots upon our heads

in moments of glorious

folly.

Over 70 Million Voices

“We need fresh blood, ”

they say, “for the

millstone of theocracy,

fresh blood whereby our

Old Testament god

may wet his bread

in the ichor of innocence,

dribbling crimson droplets

from his idiot ’s grin,

enough to drown democracy

and baptize America anew

with the biblical ideals

of covenants old.

The earth must be purified

with fire, ” they add,

“and even our charred bones shall

make flour

for our god ’s covetous appetite.

Some Poems

True Love

Listen—is not true love

alike to a well?

Fed from pure rains above

and full without fail?

Yet, such wells are earned

by devout effort,

by spade and shovel turned

to move stone and dirt

and deepen it the more,

then bolster with bricks—

to dig to the earth’s core

requires more than tricks.

But it shall not go dry

if quite respected,

and if by careful eye

never neglected;

whether in desert heat

or in arctic cold,

it will quench quite complete

when one’s young or old.

My love for you, Falon,

knows no arid drought,

gallon upon gallon

never running out,

nor will it spoil with slime

or grasping willow,

or the meddling of Time

or the chill of snow;

bottomless is this well,

bottomless this heart,

come and drink yourself hale—-

let us never part.

“Free Will”

A spider among the trees,

on its thread,

swaying in the breeze,

just overhead,

going to and fro, just so,

dangling high,

whichever way the winds blow

by and by,

still weaving its silk pattern

despite gales

from the thunderstorms that turn

like ship sails

the web it spins for itself,

that silk net

that feeds and sustains its health—

a vignette

to its will, to its own drives,

yet written

like all other spider lives

as writ when

born, inheriting instincts

without thought,

their patterns woven in links

just-so wrought.

And, so, when headwinds unwind

arachnid

weaves as ordained, its own mind

bound as bid

by the web of Fate, of Cause

which, unfurled,

determines all forms and laws

of the world.

Solipsism

A fool could be under reign of thunder

and think it his cravings yet satisfied,

taking to feast as a pig to plunder

and to drink, as rainfall, much gratified

that rain should fall only in his favor

to help wash down his solitary meal,

as he eats till grown tired of each flavor,

still thinking to give the thunder his fill.

Autumn Vayne

By the windowpane

in the library

so sat Autumn Vayne

with lips nigh cherry,

watching the cold rain,

sad little fairy.

Auburn was her hair

and brown her wet eyes

as she gazed out there

at the mournful skies.

“I wish the sky fair—

not this one which cries.”

Afire were the trees

with their flaring hues—

she sighed like a breeze

or a woman whose

man died overseas.

“Life’s the thing we lose.

Death’s the thing that frees.”

The leaves fell like flames

in the rainy eve

and with them the names

she had yet to grieve—

all the petty games

of such make-believe,

such make-believe love,

the green giving way

to the seasons of

young hearts gone astray

like those leaves above,

all wilting away.

Mournful Autumn Vayne

sat and watched the Fall

of leaves and of rain

and hearts, overall—

a vigil of pain

for the forlorn sprawl.

And she sat there long

till her hair changed, too,

fading fast, ere long,

to a copper hue

like the leaves which throng

an Autumnal view.

Just Walk Away

Even now I remember

all the times I walked away,

each memory an ember

ready to flare day to day

with the fire I felt in rage

when wrongs were done unto me,

but I chose to turn the page

on a scorched-earth policy —

yet rage remains, even now

when long removed from those days,

burning brazier, ashen brow,

aglow and blind in the blaze.

Stubborn, I clutch to cinder

and blow on it with each groan,

growing thus wrathful tinder,

but burning myself alone.

(A variation on the Buddhist quote about hatred being a poison you drink, expecting the object of your antipathy to die.)

Encoiled

Split apart, right down the middle,
between inertia and action,
confused as if by a riddle
and divided like a fraction,
you speak to me with a forked tongue
of your loyalties and the law,
but this is not what truly stung—
it was how you unhinged your jaw
to consume the totalities
and digest the contradictions,
the post-modern modalities
like coils fattened on such fictions,
all the while engulfing your tail
so as to not lose track of it,
the recursive act soon to fail
as you eat yourself, bit by bit.

Tempered Steel

By the pain of flame and hammer fall

thereby forged is Man, so one, so all;

by pain and trial and sacrifice,

Man takes shape when wrought within the vice;

some are beaten so smooth and so fine

they seem perfect casts, and, so, divine,

whereas others are much less imbued

with such work, being quite rough and crude;

some are discarded, and some stillborn —

all are melted down when old…outworn;

some serve as swords, and some hoes or plows,

some as bowls, or rings for marriage vows,

and some have edges as sharp as blades,

though intended for the softer trades,

and so cut the Hands which made such slaves

with Damascus folds of flowing waves,

drawing blood to infuse tempered steel

and remind gods what it means to feel.