Mere Words

Fling a handful of words
against the chill rain,
fling the choicest words
into the dark, ash-throated fireplace
and see if they kindle a flame
to keep off the wintry cold.
Cast a lifetime of mellifluous words
into the river
and haul up a fish,
a minnow,
a meager leaf.
Overspread your whole language
as the arches in a roof to keep dry
one’s head
or, lesser, a blanket
on your bed
as you shiver in the nighttime storm.
My words fail
to do what my father’s wordless hands have done.
I have never built a home of words,
but my father has built a
life for me,
a life more easily lived,
a life distracted by
head-down in study,
transfixed by scribbled ink
on flimsy paper,
smooth fingers on smooth pens,
never looking up with proper gratitude
for the wood his calloused fingers worked
to shoulder aside the brunt
of elemental onslaught—
to keep my head down,
to attempt to reach higher realms
beyond wood and fingers and ink,
and still I fail.

The Gospel According To Isaac

And so it was that Isaac, bound alike a kernel in the shell,
yet being of thought and feeling bloomed, if confused,
was carried up the mountainside while the
empty sky reeled around with acute indifference,
and thus came he to know, in the flash
of a trembling knife, the descent of angels unseen
while that senile sire of his being,
that old man begetting all Mankind,
pledged his son deliriously to the vast Void waiting
to embrace us all, and heard he loud the
that can be heard unto all future days
by those fearless to hear while facing the
sacrificial altar of Life. And he came to know the woe
of Ishmael, but worse, for he was near to exile
not only from his home, but from Life itself,
sacrificed by he whose seed begot him,
a seed hereupon nipped afore it could
gain purchase as its own tree
to overshadow the tribes of Israel.
upon the heady slopes of Mount Moriah
a father drew a feverish blade
to kill his son
at the behest of a voice only he could hear
and hereon the demons that would one day
build the Temple of Solomon
bethought themselves how they inhabited
the heads of Man as does vermin
the heartwood of the Cross
and knew they should never want.

Some Poems


For weeks the widower next door
has been blowing piles of leaves,
fresh-fallen leaves heavy with last night’s rains,
his leafblower like the dull bellow of an
imbecile giant
echoing through the woods that surround his house.
Before Autumn he was cutting down dead ash trees
with a high-pitched, bewailing chainsaw
all day, every day,
and using a hydraulic splitter
to create pagan mounds of split wood
for a fireplace he did not have.
At night I can see
a flashlight spearing the darkness
as he leads his yappy little dog
out for midnight potty,
the widower following the dog stiffly
as if half-embalmed in his old age;
or I hear his grunts and groans
as he climbs a ladder
in the blind, moonless night
to pull leaves out of his gutters
and toss them into the shadows.
Every day.
Every night.
The woods resound with his tearless sorrow.

Grow Up

My grandfather once told me
that I needed to “grow up”;
an old man obsessed with money,
obsessed with little slips of green-colored paper,
with numbers in a computer on a flickering screen
at the bank,
obsessed with stock market reports scrolling across
the bottom of a television feed
while chattering heads speak of
market volatility,
capital infusion,
he said I needed to “grow up”
because make-believe slips of paper
were more important than anything else.
Humans do not shed delusions
as we get older,
we only prioritize them,
organize them into concerted conceits
to make us seem “grown up”,
to make ourselves believe that the numbers
are as substantial
as a brick to the face;
and not only does the emperor wear no clothes,
but he is not really an emperor,
no more than the little germ is
that he inhales into his lungs
to grow sick and die
while shamans from all over the country
sing prayers and dance and wail
and the decimal point moves left or right
like a marble between two children
who make-believe the marble to be
the earth rolling between the stars.


The honeypot ant stores its trove
in its abdomen, bloating, fat, swollen as if
to burst,
engorged like a water balloon
stuck to the faucet head,
distended with cornucopian liquid
until the workers gather round
in the winter months,
to feed from the golden stores
that they offered from their wages
to feed in their time of need,
like honeydew welfare,
feeding until the honeypotis
like a government in deficit
until the times of plenty return
and they distend again,
growing large, but not truly
stuffed by the workers once again
for the winter months that will return,
that will always return.

The caterpillar grubs along the
tree branch, crawling, toiling,
nibbling at the summer foliage,
working to weave a womb to
birth itself again,
to take to flight on beautiful wings
and vacation in sunnier climes
away from its former life of inch-by-inch
drudgery, to
drink nectar not unlike the gods,
but only if he is born on the right branch,
only if he is not eaten by birds, by
spiders, by wasps, by
consumed from within by parasitic worms,
and then, even if his metamorphosis
he can splatter across a chrome grill
on highways of speed and tech and
he could never have dreamed of.

But look at the dung beetle,
obsessed with his toil,
covetous of his dung, of his
stinking heaps as he
tiptoe-sprints like some absurd
or, perhaps, Atlas,
shoving the bowel-ball along its way
as if it is his own
he is a Prime Mover,
in a manner of speaking,
his whole world before him,
reeking with conceit, his conceits
rolled-up before him until he is
blind to all else but his
Randian preoccupation,
paranoid with his pretense
that his fecal ball
is the world itself.


Is not the act of filing paperwork
like a pagan ancestor
sticking his trembling hand into the
stony mouth
of a giant idol and praying
(with sweat-salted lips)
that the rains will come
and the food will be plentiful?
Did not our pagan ancestors quiver,
not knowing whether that
stone-silent mouth
would answer their gestures of faith
with modest blessings
or whether it would remain
cold, quiet,
unstirred by pious pleas?
I stick my hand into the mouth of
and pray,
wondering if it will
grant my meager prayers
or whether it will
bite off the hand offered
to slake its bottomless throat
as countless others queue behind me…


You scratch my
I’ll scratch yours,
maybe even skim it,
so long as my commission
is paid in turn.
Blurb for a blurb
is the going rate in this
circlejerk of authors who are
corralled like livestock
by the stud-farm publishers.
Like the Art world
where galleries stoke the value
of a few select artists
so those premiere galleries can
cash in on their
rigged insider trading,
so, too, authors
are pressed to praise
what does not impress
as it goes to the presses.
What goes around
comes around
in a marketplace of
And the blurbs are hyperbole
taken to such a degree
as if to be a secret signal
or warning
through unintentional satire.
“This generation’s War And Peace.”
“Would unnerve Bram Stoker.”
“I could not put it down, yet was fearful
of the next word.”
“Love In The Time Of Cholera
meets The Idiot by way of
Rudyard Kipling.”
“Kaleidoscopic usage of adverbs.”
“Will affirm all the worthwhile things
in life, awakening the heart of the reader
one page at a time.”
There is no difference
between sleeve jacket hymns
and porn-parody except
one is sleeved in plastic
and the other in latex.
It is MLM levels of
hype, the hyper hype
done with a strained smile
bordering on a psychotic breakdown.
The books may have spines,
but the authors don’t,
or perhaps they have no taste,
only a hunger for exposure,
even if it is exposure as a
Or perhaps in this
dog-eat-dogshit world
it is better to swallow one’s pride
and expel a hairball blurb
than be choked to silence
when publishers refuse
to groom your works, works
lost in the multitudes of
willing to sell their souls
one blurb at a time
for a blurb of their own.
It is a game
full of winking,
but you must never blink.
It is a farce of superstition,
yet you must believe.
Blurbs are the
conman’s currency, the
conman’s creed, the
conman’s rites,
the concentrated extracts of reviews
slavish to the publishing companies,
and, if you don’t mind,
please compare my book to Dickens
as I would like to evoke his everyday whimsy when readers read the blurb on the back of my book. I, in turn, will compare your book to Shirley Jackson so as to resonate with lovers of gothic literature, even if your pastiche of her work is diluted and amateurish to the point of absurdity…


A single grain of sand
slips through the hourglass
and with it falls
whole buildings, cities,
empires, crumbling to dust
in an instant,
so brief, the demolition,
and yet so many years
to build it, to amass
the sacrifice of days, of skills,
of lives, all
now gone
with the smooth slippage
of inevitability, the giddy
evanescence of the material world,
sand unto sand, the
humanistic mandala imprinting
the earth
erased by restless winds, by
sleepless tides,
burying pyramids with gravity’s
intractable pull
and the erosion
of fickle electrons.
There is no compromise
to be found
in the sinking sands of Time.

The Lighthouse

You do not
warn of danger
when you virtue-signal from atop your
white-collar ivory tower;
the desperate blink of your
is but a distraction, is but a
siren’s call
for those of us in
straitened channels of
blue-collar shoals.
Your flashing guidance
blinds us
as much as the dark of night
and so
Black and White all
capsize together
in the coral teeth of your
treasure-strewn whitewater
you are not on the
for anyone’s well-being
but your own
as you gnaw the unified bones
of the shipwrecked dead.


Scott saw the lake from the highway,

sprawling at a lower elevation beyond the

guard rails and the trees that rose between.

Its green surface was still, untroubled,


undisturbed by the windless afternoon

while Scott drove by, going home from the

buzzing, banging, screeching noises of the

Amazon warehouse; the rush as he dashed

from one row to another, scrambling to pick

and pluck and rummage another profligate

item, Made In China, that was as needful

to the average consumer

as a scarf in summertime,

trying to meet the quota demanded of him,

minute by minute,

hour by hour,

day by day

unto endless days.

Going home to an empty apartment

after a twelve-hour shift

was like

dumping himself into a box

in accordance to his bin number

and mailing himself out the next morning

once again

to the same Amazon warehouse

to pick and pluck and drop all over again.

He wanted a vacation.

A real vacation.

He wanted to go to that lake —

not to fish

or to camp

or to swim,

but to plunge his car

headlong into the depths of it and let

that placid stillness envelop him

as he sank to the bottom,

apart from the hectic human world,



lungs filling up

while his life emptied out,

and the tranquil bosom of the lake

sealing up, like a wound —

reconciling him within its serene silence.

The real horror of his


was that it went on and on and on.

“God-Given” Gifts

He visits museums and art galleries

to see the master works of sculptors and painters

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He goes to concert halls, opera houses, jazz clubs,

to hear deft musicians play songs

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He attends theaters and goes to the cinemas

to watch brilliant actors become other people

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He watches comedy shows and standup routines

to laugh at the witty jokes comedians tell

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He looks after the runaways, the prostitutes,

the transvestites and the vulnerable,

enticing them into his car, talking to them like

an old friend, kindly neighbor,

philanthropist in times of need,

taking them

somewhere remote, quiet, and alone,

and he bludgeons them, stabs them,

strangles them, rapes them, kills them,

chops up their bodies, takes


for his own home gallery,

disposes of the remains

and then he calls their relatives on the phone,

mocks them,

tortures them with his firsthand accounts,

relives his depravity through their fresh tears,

and he

leaves complacent clues at the scenes of his crimes

to taunt the cops,

watching the News media

to rejoice in his grand debut,

becoming famous as the anchors

talk him up to

Godzilla proportions of destruction,

and then, satisfied, he

lays low for a year,



returning when the ruckus has subsided,

cultivating his celebrity once again

with a second season of murders,

elated as his alter-ego alias

passes along the lips of those who

pray against his trespasses,

and eventually he

betrays himself,

outs himself so he can be celebrated with

loathing, with infamy,

with international intrigue

through books, movies, cult status,

fan mail, declarations of love,

becoming a cultural phenomenon

as famous as Raphael or Elvis,

and all because

he has a God-Given gift, too.