Holly Folly

An orchard of holly trees,
thousands unto thousands,
countless,
bejeweled with red berries,
each a crimson drop
of sacrifice,
each a
generation of Man
spawned hitherto
since before Man was Man.
Strolling among the shade
I wonder why we are so
poisonous
as we grow among paradise.
A chill wind blows,
signaling Yuletide’s approach.
They like to say Christ died for our
sins,
but, if so,
why are the berries
still so deadly?
Why do we grow so plump
in our hearts
with a brimming poison?
Christ may have changed
water into wine,
but could he refine the deadly wine
of this bitter berry
into benign water
so we might wash away our sins?

Two Poems

His Prayer
He prayed with his thumbs
crossed,
throat brimming bile,
spittle spraying from snarled lips,
forearms flexing like the forelegs
of a panther in pursuit of prey,
hands straining to the tendons
with an eagle’s grip,
veins pulsating rapidly
with quickened blood;
he prayed with thumbs
crossed,
a vengeful garroter
strangling his exwife
or his chuckle-head coworkers,
his estranged, ungrateful children;
prayed with his
thumbs crossed,
choking the whole world
until only the sound of his
grinding teeth
remained.
He prayed everyday
breathlessly
to a god of death,
his thumbs crossed
around the bulging cords
of his own empurpling neck.

Firm Grasp On The Matter
His painter’s hand had been ruined
by the relentless teeth of age,
crippled in the grinding gears of
arthritis, and so his grasp enfeebled
by a sacrifice to Art and Beauty
yet
he painted such Beauty into the world
with his gratitude for life—
even as his body fell apart around him
he could paint the world with his
gratitude
and none could paint better
than the workaday wonders that he saw
in the passing of routine things
juxtaposed with the inevitable finality
of death’s imminent grip
so close at hand.

Desperation

Gripping as desperately as
the fist-clutched roots of a tottering elm tree
among the dead leaves of yesteryears
while the relentless rains fall
to pummel the soil
in which it slips and slants
beneath its own weight,
I hold onto the eroding past.

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 through 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.