Notre Dame

To gamble against that grand extortionist,
Time,
as he continues his protection racket,
and to inevitably lose,
exchanging the going rate of
dust and cobwebs,
mildew and mold,
faded paint and creeping cracks,
with the punitive rate of
cinder and ash and crumbling stone
is a hard payout,
especially as beautiful stained glass
melts again into sand
which we cup futilely in our hands.
Time is not only thief,
but judge, jury, and
the repo man,
and to expect anything else
is to expect the sun to rise
at nightfall, the skies
to lay down like the oceans,
and the dead to live once again
to embrace us as in days of old.
Time is our landlord
as well as the vandal.
Criminalize the graffiti
and he becomes an arsonist—
begrudge the insatiable blackmail
and bemoan the black smoke as your
beautiful lady’s soul
wafts darkly into the heavens.
She has gone under the knife
to remove his careless scars
only to be smote by his
pendulum blade.
And yet, even as Time
ravages with his blade and his fire
we join together,
hand in hand,
to suture tightly the hemorrhaging wound
before it can bleed us dry.
Together we hold each other up
even when the world is burning down.
We cannot hope to conjure again
a cathedral from the ashes,
but we can seek sanctuary
beneath the pediment of the human heart.
Like Quasimodo in mourning
there is a beauty to be found
in so much ugliness.

Terminal Illness

Sometimes I miss the schizophrenic skyline
with its scintillating, insomniac lights;
I miss pretending the scatterbrained city is mine
with all of its vertiginous depths and heights.
But I am populated enough, on my own,
to not need the chaotic, churning crowd
where personal space is only ever on loan
while the claustrophobic air gasps aloud.
The traffic is bumper-to-bumper neurotic,
thoughts rushing through an over-scheduled brain
and each neuron is stressed as you hear your clock tic
while you try to catch the earliest subway train.
In the city you are always running late
and never have a chance to breathe in between
one terminal and another— the city simply will not wait,
like the White Rabbit racing toward the Queen.
I would rather stand from afar, in the dark countryside,
and look at the lights from that sleepy distance,
calming the White Rabbit while the hours abide
to let him regain his breath, and his sense.

Human History

Some say Time is a river
and some say an Indian giver.
Some say it is a loop
circling around like a hoop,
whereas others attempt to spoil it
as something spiraling within a toilet.
But Time, you see, is a cage
and our history is a coprophage.
Iconographically, it is a sow
born and bred in the Now;
so myopic that it is almost blind,
seeing from the front as it does from behind,
rolling around in its confining cage,
claustrophobic unto a rage,
its nose ring preventing it from digging
to escape the spiral-barbed rigging.
It sees each wall as if for the first time,
and despite the familiar rust, dirt and grime,
and the bloodstains and the tattered skin,
it rams the fanged walls of its prison.
Afterwards, while wounded and bleeding
it comforts itself with frenzied feeding
upon its own free-flowing blood
as it trickles upon the filth and mud.
Perhaps it is disgusting behavior,
but there is no deliverance, no savior
to open that cage and let us out
as we snort and squeal and seek with our snout.
The sow is scarred
and barred,
wallowing
and swallowing,
we are that sow—
stuck in the Now.
It is no mystery,
our history.
It is a boar,
and nothing more.
Even when birthing a farrow,
we are confined by the narrow.
Even when it eats its own shit
we are the same as it.

Cronos

Cronos, the Present, is a cannibal king
gnawing at the bones of his stillborn offspring
and castrating his father with his pendulous blade,
the Past and the Future, his ancestor and heirs unmade
with his endless ascension to the impending throne
of Cause and Effect, this ceaseless Sisyphean stone
that grinds on and on, up and down, without end
and never settling for good, like a restless wind—
what a horrific king to devour his own young
until only he remains, a blasphemous emperor among
the shivering sandy wastes of the spinning hourglass
where grains neither fall nor rise, nor ever pass
beyond the fulcrum’s gyre, all at a strangled standstill
while the Present chokes on what has been, and what never will.