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.)
The bear still chases me
in my dreams
following me from the car wreck
more than a year later,
with my own voice
as I get cut-off in traffic,
or grinding my teeth
when I have to
work overtime on my days off,
as another submission is rejected
by another publisher.
They say a bear chasing you
signifies uncontrollable rage,
and I know this to be true
because I took a hard knock
to the head
and it woke that grizzly bear
from its primordial hibernation in the cave
of my skull,
and I try to tame him,
but every time I try
or yoga vinyasas
the bear still stirs
and goes chasing me around,
denting doors with my knuckles
and hurling furniture with my
or threatening to maul
a flippant punk in a store.
How many times, I wonder,
have I attempted to lull the beast
with koto melodies
only to growl at the piping of a hichiriki,
or calm him with smooth Jazz
only to snarl at the intrusion
of a noodling saxophone
upon the pitter-patter of the piano?
I must hate wind instruments
and sometimes wish to slash
especially when someone prattles on and on
with self-important conceit.
No lullaby can soothe
the savage beast
of head trauma.
My insomnia, too,
is the bear’s insomnia,
and melatonin pills don’t mellow him out
enough for a long hibernation.
Meanwhile he follows me
from my dreams
into the waking world,
snapping in rage
at friend and foe alike
as the circus of Life twirls on,
the bear handler mauled
by his own mismanaged anger.
No one knew who was truly at fault
when the truck and the car came to a halt,
bumping like bulls in the parking lot
in front of the grocery store, the spot
near the flock-cluttered cart drop-off pen,
a blind spot for the irritated men
sweating in the hot-as-hell weather,
backing out at the same time, together.
Whoever was at fault—no matter;
old man, young man, each mad as a Hatter
and balling their fists for brutal blows—
a contused chin, black eyes, a broken nose.
Their women begged them to let it go,
but the blindness doubled, blow after blow,
and each man saw nothing except red,
wanting nothing else but the other dead
till the old man got the upper hand—
that is to say, a fist packed like sand
which struck like lightning from a clear sky
so he fell to the ground, clutching his eye.
The young man had won, but still he fumed,
and his girlfriend screamed, and he just assumed
she was telling him to stop fighting,
but then came a bang, the world igniting
with a flash and smoke and a deep pain
centered in his chest, a crimson stain
spreading along his shirt, like the bloom
of a too-young carnation by a tomb.
The old man gawped, staring past the gun
with which he shot in his foe’s direction
and, as the blind rage cleared, dropped his jaw
for he had shot and killed his son-in-law.
How tempting, this oft-trodden warpath
with its scenes of carnage and of slaughter,
and so I strike out upon it, a fire-forged wrath
as my armor, a knight inevitably brought here
upon a steed called Memory, a saddle called Will,
the road lined with splattered forget-me-nots
and a clarion calling more blood to spill
while each crucified foe rages, dies, and rots.
The wolves of vengeance stalk the distant shadows
and carrion birds spiral in triumph overhead.
But for whom do they circle, those buzzards and crows
whose beaks are well-fed upon the hated dead?
It often seems I cannot discern between
myself and my foes upon their crosses,
and as I travel along this holocaust scene,
I feel the weight of this armor, and of their losses—
all rusting in the rain, decaying in the sun,
and my burdens breaking the back of my encumbered steed
until I cannot remember but what wrong had been done:
the grudge, the crusade, this self-destructive creed.
Rage exerts a gravity
from its exponentially expanding
sometimes a supernova
devouring all in orbit around it
and sometimes a condensed
in flare states,
and rage is
like a black hole
that may, eventually, destroy a man’s whole life.
It is nuclear fusion
and nuclear fission,
the splitting of atoms
which explodes into hydrogen death,
burning shadows on the back wall
of one’s skull;
a desolation of meaning
within a lurid white glare.
It is the
the hunter’s moon
wherein the wolves howl
and gnash teeth
and war steads salivate
as hoofs hammer headlong
into the frenzied fray,
in random mortar dismemberment
and a sword is gripped intimately
as it enters the bowels
of the foe.
It is shredded accords
and a blasphemed truce.
It is a stone-knuckled fist
cracking a waggish jaw
with the sweet lulling song
And what a song,
such as would sing an eagle
as it crushes the hawk’s spine
in its clutching talons; a song
sung if eagles sang songs
through their bloody
And the Furies, once unleashed,
cannot slake their own thirst.
An ocean of blood
is never enough.
baptize a man’s head
with his own blood,
curbstomping his brains
so everyone can see what he’s
is the most honest expression
of the self;
an act of pure expression
that cannot be undone
and, so, lives on
After all, rage is
a primordial beast
breaking bones in its fangs,
not for feeding hunger,
but to feed the desire
to see its most hated enemy
reduced to mere
on the forest floor.
It is the emotion of
A special kind of art
for destruction’s sake.
to a bladed dance
in our hearts;
Old Testament Jehovah
to rubble and ash;
Heracles destroying all that he loves
to please, at last, Hera
in the only act of worship
she would ever accept.
They may say
you only live once
so “Why waste life raging?”
but it is because you live only once
that rage is so
It is the rawest form of
besides sex, and sometimes
sex can be rage—
rage against the cold, indifferent
as we press ourselves together
in furious acknowledgment of each other,
one entity to another,
to scream our worth,
our rage against cosmic forces
that would unmake
all that we hold dear.
Rage is Love
expressed with the smashing
of skulls, the slamming of loins,
the collision of hearts divided or unified
in the war beat