Monday, January 28, 2008

Poem IV

Your lips are a fragment of my soul
That alighting on my cheek
At the corner of my mouth
Color the world in the shade of my dreams
Surrounded we are painted
An impossible ideal
Manifest for the instance
Of a kiss
An angelic perfection
We the divine
So that when I lift
My eyes heavenward
All I can see
Is you

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Poem III

Sunday morning, white light through curtains
Illuminates a vista upon youth
A child waking in a quiet house
And finding sanctity in solitude.
It remains that soft-focus bedrooms
Dust-streaked air and nebulous quiet
Are a cradle for creative wanderings
Hatched weak and watery from dreams.
Yet adult vanity places value
Higher on poems, stories, miniatures made
With tools once held in much smaller hands
Employed on a monumental scale.

Monday, January 14, 2008

We Need A God Who Bleeds

A young man and his father sit at a table over breakfast. The young man is on break from college and holding forth enthusiastically about his ideas. The old man listens thoughtfully.
“People always say that God put us here and God can take us away. I say that we put God up there and we can take him way.”
The old man peels a banana.
“Think about it. Think of all the wars that could be avoided, if we just got rid of the God idea.”
“People’ll always find something to fight over,” the old man says slowly.
“Yeah. But it’d be one less thing. One less thing that people would kill for. One less thing that people would take a bullet for. When did God ever take a bullet for anybody?”
“I seem to recall a little something about him giving his only son.”
“Yeah? Well, how many people have given their only son for him? Do you think Mrs. Jones down the street wanted to give God her only son’s leg? Do you think these Iraqi women on TV, wailing at funerals, want to give their only sons to Allah? No. They feel compelled. Call it fighting for honor, or freedom, or whatever. It’s all draped in God, and without that moral certainty, no one would fight. I say God needs to fight his own battles. Smite the infidels, or whatever. God should take his own bullets.”
The old man sits for a moment and ponders what his son has said. Then he takes a long drink of orange juice and clears his throat.
“Well son, it sounds to me that what you want is a god who bleeds.”


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Poem II

I will disappear from home and
Reside on highways
My life a movement leaning west
Gaze fixed on setting sun
Towards the fullstop of a continent.
Scream cliffs downshift
Gentle sigh of waves on rock
The sky in March reminiscent
Of a womb pregnant
Lying tender on the hills.
A mailbox will I have
A wheelbarrow for groceries
A life alone contemplating the unmade Earth.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Poem I

Poetry is the past memorialized
It settles on memories like dust
That disturbed explodes into forms
That swirl in the light to settle again
Somewhere at the edge of perception.

What lies prone and coated
Camouflaged in gray skin
The undead leavings of shed birth
Obscured through stasis
And the quarantine of time
Packed away or discarded
A bit of rubbish that
Contained a banknote
Forgotten until bills are due
Forgotten but
For a lingering detail

Even innocent forms cast shadows
As familiarity breeds contempt
And demons are angels evolved
Into songs once known
Words spoken through glass

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The couple walks slowly down the sidewalk, their only attestant an October sky. A brisk autumn wind infiltrates their coats, fluttering the scarf of the young woman, howling in fury as the man pulls her close. Their thighs brush softly; she inclines her head upon his shoulder, the pause between footfalls lengthening.
The end of the journey is reached. As the pair of shadows collides, so do the bodies, an oasis of warmth, of contentment, in this bleak, stone-embossed metropolis.
In a city that has forgotten humanity, there is a remembrance.
In a world that has belied loveliness, there is an emergence.
His hand reaches up to lower her hood, a veil pushed aside from the face of a bride, the sun, the jealous bitch, hides behind a cloud to conceal her wrath.
Never has a light so bright shone beneath the lids of Venus.
Like a savage seeing for the first time his own reflection in a pool, he reaches forth, tentatively touching a cheek so soft, so lovely, it pierces to his heart faster than any bullet, any blade.
A ripple breaks the reverie of a primitive mind.
A smile bolts the cell to an imprisoned heart.
He leans forward, his lips seeking hers; they meet upon an altar, two lives joined by something as tender and as fragile as a kiss.
Never has steel so strong flowed in the veins of Vulcan.
No comfort found in the womb of Eden can compare to the solace found in her eyes. To be lost forever gazing into their warm depths, seeing all that is perfect, all that is pure. God is found alive in her iris, heaven in her arms.
A warm summer day: she lies upon a patch of green, the sunlight and her hair merged in golden harmony, cradling him in her arms until sleep performs its grand heist.
A darkened room: she sits in a chair with his child at her breast, flawlessness replicated, the amalgamation of two selves given a physical form.
This is beauty.
This is she.


Friday, January 4, 2008


It was early evening, and an ashen light had settled on the bathroom like a layer of dust. A young boy knelt before the toilet in an attitude of fearful reverence, his gaze directed through the window above his head. His eyes brimmed with tears, blurring a vision of the sky made fugitive by passing clouds and the boughs of an oak. Outside the wind howled, the branches waved, and the tree seemed to delight in its obstruction. The rattle of leaves fell on the boy’s ears like mocking laughter. A gnarled limb stretched forth in accusation; the boy inched slowly backwards. The limb’s progress halted at the windowpane. He watched it bob hypnotically, his eyes divesting of tears like upturned buckets. His heart, already beating painfully, increased its rhythm to match the insistent tap of wood on glass. Beyond the door and down the hall his parents spoke in low tones, and the sound reached him as a quiet murmur. He sniffled and gingerly rubbed his right shoulder, which still ached from his father’s grip.
“How can you tell me not to worry? He’s my son, for chrissakes.”
“He’s my son too, but you’re scaring him. Did you see how pale he was? He was shaking life a leaf.”
“That’s because he knows he did something wrong.”
The boy shivered in the sterile gloom of the bathroom, curling his toes beneath his feet. His shoes and socks were still at the neighbors’, forgotten in the hectic moments after reality burst in upon make-believe. He struggled to piece together what had happened, but his young mind failed to draw parallels between action and consequence. It was all a jumble of faces and light; the dim glow of afternoon in the girl’s bedroom, the sun drawing its sequined hem across the floor in a final flourish. He and the girl stand in what remains of the golden light; he almost smiled at the memory of her laughing eyes and flushed cheeks, and wondered if he himself had looked half so pretty. A sudden crescendo in the wind outside shattered his halcyon vision, and his lips tightened over chattering teeth.
“But he doesn’t understand what it was. He’s so little, you confuse him by getting so upset. And, quite frankly, you confuse me, too. What can’t you just let him be?”
“Because I care about him, and it’s time he stop being confused. Other people are tired of it. You saw how angry the neighbor was, dragging Joey back here.”
“And you think she was right to do that? What do you really care about, your son or peoples’ judgements?”
The chill of the tile floor transported Joey to a moist, sealed place. His head filled with the sound of his own heavy heartbeat, a cadenced tremor that shook his delicate frame. The sky darkened beyond the window. He closed his eyes and saw the girl’s mother. A cruel twinge pinched his chest at the memory of her shadow falling across their shining patch of carpet. The girl gasps and drops the silk scarf she held behind his neck. The large woman looms over them, imposing as Vesuvius. Joey felt again the tears behind his eyes and the grip of the woman’s sweaty palm through the thin fabric of his t-shirt. A sour taste filled his mouth. He opened his eyes a bit to allow the tears room. Rocking back and forth, he felt them warm on his cheeks, and watched as they fell to collect on the toilet lid. They formed a polluted puddle, black like his mascara.
“That’s bullshit, and you know it. I just don’t want my son to become a pariah. You remember the little league tryouts, how the other kids made fun of him, calling him a girl, a sissy? And what about that time he took his damn doll to school and came home crying because some boys stole it? Jesus Christ, imagine if those boys had seen him today!”
“Those boys are terrible! Making fun of Joey because he’s different. He’s not like other boys; he doesn’t have their energy, he likes different things.”
“That’s because he spends too much time indoors at the neighbors’. I always wondered what he was doing over there all the time. Well, all that’s gonna stop! I’m gonna make a man out of that kid if it kills him, and I won’t have you coddling him anymore!”
“Coddling him? Oh Christ, you’re so full of shit.”
The escalation of his parents’ voices mingled in Joey’s ears with the throb of his pulse. He felt suddenly the icy tips of his fingers and toes. A strange weakness, a kind of cowardice born of the moment gave way to a fresh wave of tears. The bathroom dissipated into a liquid blur, and the image of his father shutting the door rose clearly in memory. The face had been in sharp profile, expressionless and dark, a hedge against the light beyond. The door had closed with a soft click. Joey knew it would open soon, and was ashamed of how his father would find him. He wiped furiously at his face, backs of hands across cheeks, fingertips to eyes, forearm under nose and across lips. They came away glistening, streaked with mucus, rouge, tears, lipstick and mascara. Anxiety swelled in his chest. Looking at his hands, coated with the proof of his transgression, he suddenly felt ill. His lungs constricted, and he began to gasp for air.
“Excuse me? Don’t talk to me like that, woman.”
“I’m sorry. I just don’t see how you can blame me for this.”
“I’m not blaming you. All I’m saying is that a father knows best how to turn his son into a man. You have to trust me.”
“Fine. Do what you want, then. Spank him if it will make you feel better.”
“It’s not a matter of me feeling better. The boy needs some iron put into his spine and that’s the best way I know how. Whatever pain he gets from a whipping won’t be half of what he’ll get from the other kids if he keeps this shit up.”
“Then do it. Just hurry up, dinner’s getting cold.”
Joey’s breath came faster and faster, higher and higher. A stone rose slowly inside him, approaching his throat. He felt his eyelids grow heavy, and a sensation of weightlessness began to alleviate the stifling heat and pressure of his body. His fevered thoughts grew softer, quieter, as he relinquished himself to a blissful reverie. He saw, as if in a dream, a girl, young and fair. She twirls a dandelion between her fingers, and Joey lies beside her in the grass of her backyard. He notices they cast no shadows and senses that the sun has set. He wonders how he can see in the dark, and realizes the girl emits her own light, as if the sun had taken refuge in her body. She twirls the flower slowly, smiling as she catches his eyes. Lifting the flower to her lips, she expands her cheeks and softly blows. Dandelion seeds explode outwards, catch a warm breeze and sail over his head. He watches them disappear, then turns his sleepy eyes back to the girl. She holds the naked remains of the flower in her hand.
“You killed it,” he says.
She laughs with a sound like the tinkling of small bells.
“No I didn’t, silly. I helped it get away.”
Joey closed his eyes upon her words. He saw small points of light dancing behind his eyelids and wondered if they were the seeds of a dandelion. The stone reached his throat and stopped, expanding in tandem with the slowing of his heart. The pinpoints of light extinguished one by one, and a uniform darkness filled the void of his vision. Now a stone himself, the darkness enveloped him, and he sank into its fathomless depths. The bathroom door opened. A voice entered:
“Son? Don’t be scared. I want you to know that this will hurt me more than . . . ”
The voice faltered.