Turn-Styles

Trimmed Excess
As a bonsai tree
trimmed of cluttering branches;
so, too, poetry.

Enochulum
Firstborn in the cold lands of Nod
to a killer exiled by God,
in a place abandoned by love,
forsaken by Father above—
and yet how is such nascent sin
borne by a boy hapless by kin?
Enoch, child from an outcast seed
and guilty by blood of his breed,
whose father envied a brother
for God’s love, more than another;
Enoch, son born to roam the earth
without hope, joy, mercy, or mirth,
who roams while the wilderness wide
beyond the vale of Edentide
and neath a God who should begrudge
Man as made by his cruel judge.

Parasites
Cleptocrats never believe
that they have ever stolen,
by sleight of hand or up the sleeve,
for an empire fat and swollen
on the blood of their employees
upon whom they feed,
never knowing themselves as fleas
on a dog they slowly bleed.
They believe they built the edifice
on their own, and all alone,
blind to the truth, as Oedipus
upon his shameful throne.

Good Jazz
Not that busy jazz
where instruments trip and tangle with
one another
in a confused, rambling clamor
of crazed pedestrian traffic,
but jazz removed from the hustle and bustle,
as slow and moody as the haze
of smoke lingering long after
she has gone to bed,
the ashtray breathing thin
while its sultry plume is aglow
with the insomniac skyline
of a restless city—
while she turns in her dreamful sleep,
mumbling a name
like a wish in the cold blue twilight
of endless longing.
Perhaps piano keys
dripping like raindrops
off the eaves of the somnolent stoops
and trickling along the
black-gloss streets, alight with
the city’s neon blood,
or the steadily pulsating drums
that lull with their thumping ease,
the distant rhythms
of faraway apartment life,
and that soothing bass
echoing up to the ceiling of the soul
like a subway train deep in the
heart of the city
felt at the cloudy heights
of a slumbrous skyscraper.
Nothing is so fine
as sleepy jazz
reverberating in the
dreaming glow of the midnight city.

Word Salad

There are cockroaches scurrying
in the jumbled salad bowl
of the midnight special,
unashamed within the neon light
of this downtown diner.
Do not try to persuade me
that they are almonds
as the other patrons praise the chef
and vomit profusely on the counter.

Another Smattering Of Poems

Panis Caelestis
The strength of his faith was just paper thin
like the bread of the angels, a wafer,
and so he stacked up the toppings of sin
to make an hors d’oeuvre of the bland flavor.

Pride
Pride is as the hard seed
deeply buried in the
hardened earth
and coiled tightly
in upon itself in a shell of
stubbornness.
But how beautiful our
potential
when we crack that shell
and allow ourselves to
open
as the bud unto its
bloom,
presenting sincerely our soft-petaled
humility
to the open sky
and its humbling elements—
to drink from the pelting rain,
to bask in the glaring sun,
to blossom unafraid
of being trammeled underfoot
by living with our hearts
wide open.

Trigger Warning
Stop your crying—
it’s just birdshot.
You’re not dying
from some heard thought.
I’m shooting off
at the big mouth,
so turn and cough
or migrate South.
I’m the kettle,
you’re the hot pot:
while you’re fretful
take your potshot.
I do not care
if the mic’s hot;
free speech, free air—
I’m no robot.
I’ll speak my mind
as I so please,
both fruit and rind
without surcease.
Be glad it’s not
a stronger shell
like some buckshot
or truth to tell.

Poems About Poems

Slam “Poetry”
Attitude
without latitude,
far-reaching
like a star leeching
only to die
in the stage-lit sky.
Showing a lot of sass
and growing to critical mass—
appeal by keeping it real
as to how you feel,
a plastic feel, a scenery meal
of emotions with the drama
overlarge, yet small—a diorama.
Overrated while masturbated.
Your slam doesn’t jam
except like jellied ham.
It’s Instagram spam,
flimsy flimflam.
Anyone can rhyme,
given some luck,
given some time,
given a fuck,
but the scheme
and the theme
have more to score
than a mediocre meme.
Wade out of the shallows,
fade out from the tallows,
parade out to the gallows
and try to hang
with my gang
of poets, of know-its,
before you blow bits.
Show some class
even when wiping your ass,
because the masses
can give only so many passes
to the pretentious
before they lynch us.
Try to understand
that even in Wonderland
you are undermanned
with whatever word-rhyme
allows meaning and flow,
without catching, like birdlime,
to halt you as you go.
There is always a speed limit
for someone of a dim wit—
you are only veering left and right
with one headlight,
like a car on slick roads
while sliding on toads
come out to feel the rain
and listen to the thunder,
not of applause
as you blunder,
but of a worthy cause.
And while you seem to know
how to put on a show,
that foghorn sure does blow
every time you roshambo
for your petty tugboat row.

Rupi What’s-Her-Name
A confection of
colorless cotton candy
lacking
substance and sophistication
and sold popularly to
sweet-tooth instagram sycophants
from a mollycoddled generation
longing for safe spaces away from the
carnival grotesqueries
of life.
Put her cotton candy words
in your mouth
and they dissolve precipitously;
easily digested, for there is nothing
of substance
in their wispy conceits.
Eaten and forgotten
upon the same instant,
nothing lingering as an
aftertaste—
nothing to chew
as it
vaporizes vapidly
on the malnourished palate.

Lugubrious
Soap opera soapbox antics
and papier mâché frailty,
the outsized pinata of an
easily busted heart
spilling suicide notes
written on Starbucks napkins.
Before you go hang your
Emo effigy
from a church’s belfry,
don’t.
Your pity-party has got the
Fire Marshall
peeved.
Mellow out the melodrama
and the melancholy
you melon-headed colic baby.
You treat your podium as if it was a
chopping block
and every time you step up to it
the greatest tragedy is taking place.
Your persecution complex is less
saint
and more
sanctimoniousness.
What are you a martyr for?
Love?
Who isn’t?
Cupid has made a
St. Sebastian
out of everyone, whereas
some of us wear the quills like wings
to ascend the past
and you act like a canary in a collapsing coal mine,
but you are just high on your own
gas.
You don’t have a broken wing,
only a
compromised spine.

A Meth-head To His Madness

Eddie was fascinated by flashlights,
as all Meth-heads are,
and he would click a flashlight
on and off
as if sending some SOS signals
to a UFO among the stars
as if he hoped it would
come down and take him somewhere else;
or he would aim the halo at the walls,
dragging its luminous circle
up and down
as if trying to bleach with light
the stained, decaying world clean.
The more Eddie’s teeth rotted out
and the more his skin bled
with cankerous craters,
the more obsessed he was with flashlights,
turning them on and off,
on and off,
being able to turn off the
flashlight,
but never his disease.
All the haloes in the world
cannot save Man from himself
and before the end
Eddie told me of the time
he saw the Devil—
not when he was taking,
but when he was being taken
by his Stepfather
in the old, mildewed shed
while his mom was sprawled out
on the trailer’s living room floor,
high on acid.
“No angels saved me back then,”
he said,
“and none are gonna save me now.
None are gonna save nobody.”
I told him, “That’s why people have to
save each other,”
and he laughed—
a laugh not of madness,
but of insight.
“What do ya think I need savin’ from?
It ain’t the Meth.”
He turned the flashlight off.
“That’s just the way out.”

Some Quick Poems

Rumor
A single soft-whispered word
rising gently as a bird
can destroy all that we love,
its wings blasting from above
like the giant Roc of old,
growing fat with each tale told.
Though born so oft Sparrow-small
and meek as a Robin’s call,
it can perch upon your tongue
and therefrom become far-flung,
though a Halcyon afloat
and so idle in your throat,
it grows bigger, breath to breath,
with nary a single death,
but rises upward once more
like to the phoenix of lore
burning with a ceaseless light,
its tell-tale feathers so bright.

Garroter’s Guitar
With a Garroter’s deft finesse,
he pulled the angel hair taut,
strangling from the chord a scream
that crescendoed as a
guitar solo,
silencing the cut-throat bar where
smoke swelled in suffocating waves
within the morbid gloom of a
killer evening show.

Blood-Red Leaves
The ancient stag
was crowned in years of wisdom
and wariness,
knowing well by instinct
the Death Sentence that came
with dying leaves
crunching underfoot.

Still Life
He whetted the blade
of his sharp palette knife
to start his crimson phase
with the perfect still life.

The Nihilist’s Delusion

Pardon my breaststroke
over oblivion,
but the undertow will take me
inevitably
in time,
not with my eager acceptance, thank you,
but with mortal fatigue,
meanwhile your undead body
bloat-floats complacently
over oblivion,
coming eventually
to ashen shores
so you may make
ash angels
after having razed the world
and all of its myriad “illusions”,
attempting to delight in the
ruination
of the
joys to be had
rather than throwing yourselves
upon the pyres
and giving resolution
where your philosophy’s resolution is due.
You wish to beat us down
with the bones of the departed,
striking our hopes with a cruel
tattoo of
“You too! You too!”
as if we were not aware
that even headstones crumble,
given time;
and, yes, we know that
we ride determinism’s
compulsive waves
along the continuum of life—
it is no hollowing revelation.
Excuse me,
but while you numbly nestle
into the shoreline’s ashes
after you have smote all meaning
in your estimation,
and while you stubbornly mutter
your mantra of “malignant uselessness”,
I cannot help but note the irony
of your continued existence;
for while you champion mass extinction,
the puppet does not burn himself
to cinders
to rescue himself from the supposed
“conspiracy against the human race”.
Actions speak louder than words,
and you seem quite disingenuous
while you gleefully lob
Molotov cocktails into the sea
like bottled letters
meant to reach distant shores.
It is an ironic joke, you know—
the one about the
self-professed nihilist
who refuted his own thesis
by showing up
in person
for the book signing.
Yes,
we are meat puppets
tangled up in our own strings,
but only you seem to be
high-strung about it.
Then again,
strumming other people’s
heart-strings
has always been lucrative,
even if money and ambition and
etcetera
further the delusion
you decry.
Perhaps you should use the ashes
as eyeliner
for your late-term
Emo phase?
Meanwhile,
I will make my sand castles
as I please.
Somehow I doubt your
ash castles will last long,
and, besides, wet ash
burns the hands
which shape it,
yet will never clean the hands
of the hypocrisy
that stain them.