Needless Storms, Needless Nightmares

Through the belly of the midnight storm,
like Jonah in the wallowing whale,
the world remained all aswarm
with rain and wind and biting hail.
The downpour fell heavy as if thrumming
like a blacksmith’s hammer upon the sword
held in Christ’s mouth, his Second Coming
among thunder and lightning—a wrathful lord.
Trees thrashed about in terror-blind mobs
as if to uproot themselves from the earth and go,
and black clouds shrouded behemoth knobs
while the Dragon’s wings deafened all below.
And among the fraying thunderhead
there floated ever after the Reapers,
phantoms wandering from bed to bed—
bad dreams visiting peaceful sleepers.

Broken Crown Kings Free Giveaway

Anyone who follows me knows I try to post a poem or piece of fiction each day, sometimes several times a day. Over the last year and a half I have published over three hundred poems. Broken Crown Kings is the culmination of this marathon. Currently the ebook is available for a free download if anyone is interested (for two days only). Many poems have been revised and modified from their original form. There are also two short stories included which concern the purpose and the pretenses of poets. One, titled “Ukiyo” was originally called “Poetic Justice” when I first published it serially on this site. The other short story is titled “Ashes, Echoes, And Empires”.

Three Retroclassical Poems

The Suicides
In Dante’s verse the Suicides
became trees beset with Harpy claws
that broke branches and rent their sides
for defying the most “selfless” of Nature’s laws.
As I walk along this forest track
and hear the ice-limned trees all scream
and snap and splinter— crack, crack, crack—
I wonder what, exactly, was Dante’s scheme.
For trees do not themselves slay,
but fall by insects, blight, and weather,
harried by things beyond their say,
one alone, or many together.
Rooted in place without hope
to move against natural assaults
nor able to adjust, compensate or cope—
wait, perhaps we do share the same faults.
After all, what can a man really do
when his brain is insect-eaten and blighted
except let self-destruction fell him, too,
powerless against the Harpies of his head?

Mnemosyne
Goddess of memory,
chthonic widow
holding vigil for
an embalmed life
in the catacombs of the
hippocampus,
wandering as an exile
from her own shadow
and
weeping for yesterday:
you are in want of
forgetting,
to be as
urns emptied
in restless winds
or corpses caving inward
with burrowing insects,
dissembling toward
oblivion’s dust.
She wearies so
beneath the weight she carries,
like Sisyphus pushing his heavy stone
up a hill of remembering
only to let it roll down once again
into willful
repression.
What stone does she carry except
her own calcified heart
hardened with the density of its
yield?
The years have not been kind to her,
for she remembers them,
and they pull at her like
needy children
greedy to suckle
the same teat.
Passing through a forest
of hands,
she cannot fend off the shades,
longing for the River Lethe.

Repression
Hippolytus clenched his chariot reins
in fists so tight they seemed to choke
desire itself and, thus, recurring pains
from an id restless with each spinning spoke.
But as the wheels ground along the beach,
frothy with the sea’s lusty surges,
a bull emerged from the tidal reach—
a beast born of suppressed urges.
The horses bucked as if struck mad,
frothing at the mouth like the sea,
and though dragged, it was not so bad
since Hippolytus felt it chafe sweetly.
Trampled, at length, beneath his horses,
Hippolytus felt as if he had been ridden
by Phaedra in thrall to resurgent forces
which was quite thrilling, it being forbidden.

Thirteen Ways Of Looking At An Overpass

The overpass shouldered the highway
like a god of expedience,
its head epileptic with midnight traffic
soon forgotten in flashes.

The two teenage boys
tossed their innocence away
in the form of heavy
cinder-blocks,
crushing the skull
of some random woman
in her family minivan.

The columns of the overpass
were like the columns of the
Parthenon—
lofty, large, dense,
and, perhaps,
destined to puzzle
future archaeologists.

Beneath the Egyptian overpass
a car burned out, its blackened
shell
like a giant scarab
dead from rolling the sun
into the sky
for another day of
war.

The cars merged onto the highway,
the overpass
a river crossing of
wildebeasts,
and the tractor trailers but
crowding crocodiles
eager to cut them off.

The overpass collapsed like
the infrastructure bill,
its Left and Right sides as
uncompromising
as gravity.

The lampposts at night,
their haloes burning orange along
the facade of the overpass;
braziers burning along
the mysterious face
of a Sumerian temple beneath the moon.

A homeless man slept in the nook
of the overpass,
rain and wheels
composing a restless lullaby
for his drug-rattled head.

Walking home alone at night,
she sank beneath the shadow
of the overpass,
drawn down like Persephone
into lightless lands.

The joke went over his head
loudly,
like a semi
grinding eighteen wheels
upon the overpass.

He often rerouted
regret
like backed-up traffic
waiting for the police
to reopen the overpass—
with peevish hand gestures
and a few choice swear words.

Her body hovered above his,
navel up,
hands and legs in an overpass pose,
passion a surge of
rush hour traffic
along her erogenous lanes.

The overpass had no
emergency lanes,
much like life.

Some More Poems

Deicide
With an envenomed tooth I write this
as in biting spitefulness of the hydra fang
with which the conceit of all gods die
as their devotees carry their crude idols,
(carved in likeness unto themselves),
stumbling gleefully toward the temples
whereupon to perform
their own grandstanding
apotheosis.
Know that you blaspheme
the sacred earth
from whose heart comes this
marble
into whose purity you deface
with the vain mask you wear
during your sermons of selfhood—
know that your vanity
corrodes beneath its own rigors
the fragilities of feature
carved in such godly visages,
thus fracturing that which is written
with a vainglorious chisel.
But take comfort, crumbling stone,
in knowing your vengeance, in turn,
against this fang
that melts all that you hold sacred,
for it shall succumb to its own venom
in due time, surrendering itself sweetly
to the acid of its own
nihilism.

Fall Scene
Fireflies flickering
in the wheatfield, the
stalk filaments below them
bronzed by
shadow and moonlight.

Anxiety
Anxiety like a single shrill
screech from a violin savaged
by a sadist’s razor-edged bow.

Poseur
Pity-party poetry
proffered from a power-point podium,
as dead in delivery
as a mummy in its sarcophagus
waiting for its gender reveal.
A lot of glass heart merchants
in the ponzi scheme of this
new century
always accruing interest
as people vacation on beaches
of shattered crystal shards,
cutting themselves
not to feel something, but to
post something to faux-feel
for fleeting instagram click-chicks
with shallow selfie-styled emotions.
Catullus never condescended
in the first-world forums of
Ancient Rome
to wail for attention,
nor sank so low to overcompensate a
lack of emotion
with a flailing pantomime of feelings.
And as much as Walt Whitman was a
self-obsessed narcissist
tone-deaf to his out-of-tune
Song of I,
he never but felt his own words,
however poorly expressed with
maudlin mediocrity
and shameless shades of adolescence.
I only spit spite to precipitate
rain
over the
hash-tagged mass graves
into which so many have
deliberately swooned to fall
with such self-satisfied melodrama,
gleefully delirious with their own
bandwagon sorrows.
Grow flowers over them, I say,
or, better yet, let thorns
grow like barbed wire
in trench warfare
and let the earth swallow them up
unto silence.
The sound and the fury
signifies nothing
and then a thousand other
wails rally to answer it
until the world echoes with
woeful dirges
and falling bodies.
So many wails and falling bodies,
all overlapping upon one another—
it is not unlike a
silence,
no one taking prominence
and everyone lost in the tangle of
each other’s self-interest.

Three More Rhymes

Like Father, Like Son
Cain, thus, was banished to the land of Nod
for having slain his nearest, dearest kin
in wrathful jealousy, alike to God—
emulation being the greatest sin.

The Trick Called Civilization
The mad jester kept the chainsaws spinning,
fumbling their juggle with nary a frown
as he lost fingers with each catch, grinning
until it all, at last, came crashing down.

Hunter’s Mark
Death is a master hunter, both patient and grim,
whose skills cannot be countered, or even reckoned,
and each of us is marked—a trophy of his whim,
an arrow notched for our final hour, down to the last second.

Three Poems

Cataclysmic Sunset
The flaring fray at the end of day
flings its fluorescent wings above the earth,
carrion angels angling for radiant prey
and the darkening, hearkening surf;
like seagulls swarming a dying whale
having stranded itself betwixt land and sea,
decaying in the froth of the swell
while a half-sunken sun’s shadows stretch over me.

Uncelebrated Banquet
No one cares for poetry
lost among common dross
like half-chewed debris
all along discarded floss.
Poetry is the sticking bits
of Literature, and its centuries-old meal,
and though novels can give the shits
it is of poetry they have had their fill.

Gross Anatomy
The East Coast is the pushy, commandeering cock
of America, New York the tip at the end of the stalk
distended and fidgeting like the restless dowsing stick,
heady with its own swollen selfhood, the overladen prick;
and Washington DC is the painful, pulsating prostate—
dysfunctional, corrupt, cancerous at an alarming rate
while the Midwest is the crop-pubed balls,
funny-looking in their denim coveralls
and swollen with a cornucopia bounty
from each cornpone, slow-sperm county,
and the West Coast, or suggestive mons pubis,
is inclined with the grandeur of its belying hubris,
extending out from the gut, with its navel, an outy,
weird, bold in the sun, yet somehow pouty,
while Texas is…only Texas, a fatly puckered wart
that seems to bleed, occasionally, if only for sport,
whereas the South is the pale, hairy, atrophied,
scab-bitten ass of America, flatulent with the need
of an outhouse for its shames, its secrets, its guilt
that its old pride celebrates in the stinker it has built.

And Kentucky, you are the sweat-marshy taint,
I’ve lived in my whole life—don’t tell me you ain’t.