Monday, January 14, 2013

Poem to be published in “best of” anthology

"Out of the Ad Space" has been voted by readers as the best poem of the September 2012 issue of Aoife's Kiss. It will be reprinted in the "best of" anthology Wondrous Web Worlds Vol. 11 in 2013.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Time to Grow Up Where There's No Time at All

You simply do not exist, they assert with buttoned-up stares,
Though I’ve detected salty scents on the curled tongues of butterflies,
And feet-shapes where the grass and clover straighten their necks.

Get your head out of the mist, they keep telling me,
There are no such beasts in the world.
But I think I saw you once, at the corner of my eye.
Yes, I truly think I did! And you were big and fleshy and sad,
Just like the drawings in my secret book of folklore and myth:
Those spider silk pages always turning beneath the moonlight.



First published in the April 2012 issue of Mythic Delirium.

The Politician’s New Heart

His donor
Endured the wealds of Donegal
Was quite short, would always go on and on
About sea levels, altered migrations,
The disenchantment of her trees.
Today, her heart will absorb the dark spill
In the concavity of the man’s chest
Whose first thought, after surgery
Will be a green campaign slogan
Followed by a childlike urge

To climb things.


First published in the September 2012 issue of The Speculative Edge.

The Goblins Came

The goblins came, the goblins came
To eat, to eat, to eat your feet
The goblins came, the goblins came
To pick you up, to throw you down
To slash your throat, to dance around
The goblins came, the goblins came
To gnash their teeth, to lose control
To get revenge, to shred your soul



First published in Issue 51 of The World of Myth Magazine.

The American and the Armenian

The American and the Armenian
for Tati

She sits in a café
reading the poems of an American.
Her eyes steal the surrounding sunlight,
illuminate his rising words.

He sits at his desk
reading an email from the Armenian.
He is touched. Flattered. A bit sad
he cannot visit the café.

And although an ocean stands between them,
they do not feel so apart when using words.
They do not feel so alone:
For their hearts know the same achings of love.
Their tears flood the same fields of war.
Their pens write of better days to come.

In a world of several billion people,
on a planet spinning in & out of control,
the man and woman have come together
peacefully, through distance and words.

It was Sagan who wrote: Earth, from a distant point,
is a pale blue dot. A mote of dust in a sunbeam.
This, the man and woman have seen in their dreams.

And although they will never walk Rome together,
or share a view from the Smoky Mountains,
he is with her in the café,
she is beside him in his home,

For no one is truly separate
when you look at the world
from great heights.

 


(From the book Wilderness & Love)

Out of the Ad Space

Out of the Ad Space

“Those who linger long in false reflections
run the risk of soul abandonment.” – Future proverb

Out of the ad space – today’s woman:
Flawless skin. Hair a curtain
shot to heaven in waves of synthetic color.
Angled, porcelain white cheeks, carmine blush,
gilded lashes, breasts robust and firm.
Thin-thighed Aphrodite. The pixels of her eyes
stream elite parties. A glamorous you.

Out of the ad space – today’s man:
Perfect 5 o’clock. Metrosexual stud hair
in waves of combat colors.
Chiseled, masculine face, tan skin,
winning smile, chest wide and strong.
Designer-jeaned Adonis. The pixels of his eyes
stream quixotic adventures. A gallant you.

Out of the ad space – today’s marketing:
Target everyone. Categorize customers
in waves of insecurity, vanity, fallow lives.
Scan pupils. Upload to optic nerves:
pricing, privacy, promise of PERFECTION.
Narcissus-headed Cerberus. The pixels of its eyes
stream fallen empires. An ersatz society.



First published in the September 2012 issue of Aoife’s Kiss (and voted
best poem of that issue by readers).

New Pattern

I walk the suburban streets.
Hands in pockets. Black hood tight
In the autumn drizzle.
            A mind no longer my own.
            The voice, the venom
            The awful mother tone.

Chains hold back barking dogs.
Instincts sharp. Teeth protect
Their tiny green islands.
            We stand our ground.
            I grunt, I growl
            They yelp and back down.

Who senses intrusion, murder,
The way birds sense storms
In the bloody summers?

Who knew it was I that came and went
Through the left open windows and doors
Of complacency and trust?

The police don’t know a goddamn thing.
Searching for me in the city,
In the summer, a man stalking housewives.
            Knives fresh off the stone.
            The blade, the butcher
            “He always cuts through bone.”

Now I walk your tree-lined streets.
Rope in pocket. Demons afloat
In the crisp autumn air.
            Yards full of quiet toys.
            New play, new pattern
            Hello girls and boys . . .

And the police will stretch further back.
And further back. Indefinitely.
Until one of us disappears.


First published in the October 2012 issue of Twisted Dreams Magazine.
Also published in the October 2012 issue of
The Speculative Edge.

Illusion for the Web of Roads

I.
We all begin: sunrise boat ride through the teardrop channel; exit to the entrance. Horrible, unknowable heads pecking the air around our nakedness. We hold them with our wet mouths, vertigo in a vortex of piercing voices, an influx flood of diseased light too unlike the heart’s electric signal, the pulse in paper thin eyelids. And pain. And the odor of nightmares. And the edgy, sharp, strange things non-flesh. We merely want back the wet primordial dark, seeing and knowing all we’ve come to know.


II.
Silver glass orbs break over the heads of aged orphans. Beards of long dead kings appear in mirrors of sanctuaries. I lie in bed, an endless stream of weapons pulled from pockets, their chambers empty, tips broken, aim bent by leaping rats. I move through the Labyrinth. The Minotaur breathes down my spine. Theseus swipes at my feet. I run for the river. It lifts and turns away, fills the white clouds black, the black clouds red. Concrete-fed fish plunge to the junkyard riverbed, crumble beneath the weight of millipede-legged armies.

III.
I lift the gilded knocker of an unseen structure, cough hot air and flies, blink long veins of lightning. The door rotates: door unhinged and burning, door decomposed, door within doors, door leading to other doors, door absent-stolen, doors around my waist like rings of Saturn. An endless flock of blackbirds twists itself like a wet rag, their feathers spiraling to the ground over blood-soaked cities. And words of war I no longer hear, enemy eyes I no longer see, the dead soldier rising from her grave to dance like a white flower in the rain . . .

IV.
Forest for the trees falls away, reveals a mountain for the bones, a cave for the memories. The disease crawls in and settles like heavy smoke, burns the white flags in endless raids. The sky fills with wet primordial dark. Voices of every pitch and tone swirl about my head, petitioning for my soul. Fuck them all! I long for cycles, to taste the Earth’s sweet energy. I lift my gun and we enter temple. The mouths of gods snap shut. Illusion melts into a web of roads. O Soul! O Bliss! There is no structure. There are no doors.



First published in the January 2012 issue of Sein und Werden. Also published in the September 2012 issue of Liquid Imagination.

A Bit of the Mystery Come

A fall wind blew over the home,
And to and fro went birds on the wing,
And leaves all tumbled down singing summer . . .
A single leaf brushed the windowpane—a mirthful,
Spiral dance to the wilted grass, content in having
Known seasons and skies, having done its part.
I shut my eyes, breathed my way into the moment,
Let drop the binding chains of control and choice.
They popped on the grass like child-blown bubbles,
Released a primeval song buried deep in silence.
So I went out to hear it, to gather it in my arms
And toss it high above my head to fill the valley.
Now, a winter wind blows over the home,
And to and fro go birds on the wing,
And snowflakes all twirl down singing summer . . .

A bit of the mystery come and gone;

A little kept



(From the book Wilderness & Love)

Charon Falls into the Styx

A crotchety old man stands on the shore of the river Styx. While waiting for the ferryman he takes off his tie. Then he takes off his suit jacket. Next his shiny shoes, slacks, black socks, and pressed shirt. Tighty whities fall to the mud and are stepped out of. He always hated being dressed like that. Why didn’t they bury him in his overalls, like he’d asked?

Charon emerges from the fog in his creaky wooden boat. To the old guy’s bemusement, the ferryman glances down at his shriveled hoary pecker and begins to snicker. His head falls back in a hoarse guffaw, black hood sliding off a hairless dome. He laughs so hard he loses his balance and falls backwards off the boat and into the river, his oar flying straight up. Spitting hot water out of glowing teeth, he doggie paddles back to the boat and clambers on, still laughing. Bright tears streak down his sunken pale cheeks as he picks up the oar. The geezer scowls. That is not very professional, he thinks. This guy must be losing it. He is not fit to be a psychopomp.

Charon squeezes water from his cloak as the boat scraps bottom. Between a few rogue chuckles he motions for the naked man to step aboard. The old-timer complies and stands opposite the ferryman. For a few moments neither speaks. Finally, Charon solemnly holds out his upturned hand, trying his best to suppress more laughter. The man narrows his eyes in disapproval, lifts a flat, wrinkled butt cheek and pulls out a gold coin from the crack of his ass. He leans over the boat, dips the coin in the water a few times, and offers it to Charon, who takes a step back.

“Keep it! Keep it!” the ferryman laughs, dropping the oar to grab his heaving sides. “Please!”

And for the second time in all eternity, Charon falls off his boat and into the river Styx—only this time, he is sucked beneath the waves. His cloak rises to the surface where the geezer pulls it from the water and wraps it around his grim bones. Cries of suffering arise in the distance. Sneering, the old man picks up the oar and waits.
 
 
THE END


First published in the October 2012 issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly.

Bright Moon Stray

I knew Ed was a werewolf the night he climbed into bed at 4 a.m. smelling like dog. It was a full moon, too. I know this because it coincides with my menstrual cycle. Afraid, I bought a gun and kept it beneath my pillow. This morning I shot him in the head with a silver bullet. Now I’m being led through flashing lights to a police car. Some thanks. Kendra, the cute girl next door, stands on her porch with her dog. She is damn lucky to be alive.


First published in Flashshot on January 2, 2012.

What We Are

What We Are
 
It's more than "I need you."
Merely that doesn't
send enough love to our hearts.
 
It's more than "I love you."
Our souls know the journey
goes far beyond words.
 
It's this (yet more than;
a poet can only go so far) —
 
We are the shining light
in the palm of a god.


 
First published in Kane County Chronicle, May 2008.

Though Unseen, Her Soul Is Lucid

And soft, like thoughts
on snowy evenings.
The amber fire inside her
warms me.

She is filled with sympathy;
cries out when injustice
sets fire to the world.

She's a subtle understanding,
like Braille across the enigma
of wounds in the heart.

And though unseen, her soul is lucid.
A poetic ideal
I've always wished
to become.

And bright, like clouds
on snowy evenings.
The amber light inside her
calms me.

She is filled with symphony;
sings out when justice
takes hold in the world.

She's my one true understanding.
A quiet hand reaching for mine
when my head is low, when I need love…

On a snowy evening.
In the amber glow.



(From the book Wilderness & Love)

"A toad trilling..."

A toad trilling
after a spring storm
calms the soul, breaks the heart



From the book Wilderness & Love.

The Empty Thrush

The wind carries thrush notes
down from forest to field,
circling flowers, bouncing off bees,
snapping spiders off their webs.

It serenades old memories
from the mind's lethargy,
calls me to an inner sanctuary –
a world a woman's heart has built.

I cut through tangled vines of solitude
and step out into the world.
Warmth and beauty fill the landscape.
The paths become many.

I saunter down a trail and fill with hope,
come to a garden made of stone.
Here the sky reaches so high that I
become an empty voice.

I see her beyond the stone wall,
among caged birds and dying flowers.
Sunset has covered her eyes like eyelids.
She pivots inside time.

A thrush sits upon her shoulder,
its song now vacant from its breast.
Her eyes break like windows
as a storm blows in, floods all their color out.

I run to her in a yell – alive, determined,
each step sinking deeper in mud.
Her image pulls away, turns to mist.
I collapse among the cherubim.

And so it is that an old song can wither away
and spin quietly down the drain of time –
no longer allowing one to love
the way they were once loved.



First published in Poet’s Haven on September 10, 2008.

Ted

A man alone
one candle burning
in a cabin with bombs





First published at Alternative Reel on February 3, 2011.
Also published at catfishgringoriver on April 15, 2011,
and in the October 2012 issue of Twisted Dreams Magazine.

Sleepover

On her back, veins warm with blood, sunk in cold leaves of grass. Temples sore, stoned by reverie, silent between rows of moon-colored tombstones; his sanctuary of rest. She clutches at her heart, counting stars without saying numbers, barely clinging to the skin of her soul.

Her thoughts are projected onto the silent-movie sky. There is such electricity in the senses when one remembers a subtle and typical thing: that third kiss, given quickly at the carnival for luck; a phrase spoken at the same instant, followed by sweet laughter; the things that reel people in, onto the same shore of an island all their own. There are dozens of those remembrances tonight. She waters the grass with them, and it seems to grow tall and protective around her shape. At some timeless hour, she closes her eyes and faucet-drips into sleep.

At first light, as the sun pulls shadows across her tight, seashell body, a woman approaches with a Styrofoam cup of coffee. The moment momentarily gives way to opening-flower fragrances, the mute symphony of sparkling dew, and the dawn song of birds. The girl rises without words, accepts the cup and sips. She is quiet but thankful.

The woman looks to her and manages a fragmented, but honest smile – for herself, and for this girl; the skeleton and beating heart of her son’s happiness, so vital in his last hours. My angel, he’d said, close to his passing, with the brightness a known truth brings.

That day enters their minds as sunlight chisels and breaks away the nightly fragments. What remains in darkness will sleep, and sleep well. The woman looks to the girl, and the girl is looking away. Neither is aware that they are sharing the same memory, at the same moment, as they begin to walk, hand in hand, towards the car.



First published in The Interzone Poets 1 (2005)

Shadows Falling from the Heart

Shadows Falling from the Heart
for Kelly K. Moran

Before they fell in love
he'd met her heart in a dream.
It offered hope and beat within him,
brought soil and light to the trees.

Then she came to him, full-bright,
an unearthly light across the fields.

As she spoke
her voice lifted flowers from the gray.
They swelled and broke the silence within him,
brought blue to the sea.

In such time she carried him, sleep-quiet,
placed his broken body in the arms of angels.

When the shadows fell away, one by one,
they could see that his heart resembled hers.
An undeniable sign.

Oh love, mysterious thing,
as vital to life as the stars are to the universe,
you are what gives God his sight.



First published in Kane County Chronicle on October 25, 2008.
Also published in Ancient Heart Magazine on September 11, 2010.

Saint Agnes

Intense faith
Against Diocletian
Against degradation
A rise and fall—
falling as the Lamb.

Chaste body
Against fire
Against sword
A fall and rise—
rising above the apse.

I’ve been swept away
by the floods of doubt
as the Holy Spirit
tried to fill my soul.

Today, pulled to shore
by the arms of purity
Not my patron saint
but no less benevolent.

And now
a larger part of me
can believe.



First published in The Interzone Poets 4 (2006)

Outside, the Silent Garden

Wind
and rain.
Silent flowers under thunder.
She tends the garden
by staring through the window.

A downpour of thoughts
mix daydreams and doubt,
splash in her mind
and channel off.

The green in her eyes
runs down her cheeks
like unripe berries
falling and bouncing from sight.

She’s waiting for new scenery
with laughter in her pockets.
The hair across her shoulders
sleeps.

And the heartbeat beneath her skin
waits patiently
for his kiss.



First published in Daily Love on December 3, 2011.

One Sand Grain of 6.5 Billion

I wonder too much in the morning,
alone at breakfast with the sun coming in.
I wonder as I drive. I am never in the fast lane.
I wonder at work, taunting deadlines
every time I turn my chair to the window.
I wonder mostly at night, and most wondrously there:
Often I walk beyond the city lights,
crack some beers, throw down a blanket.
And with my back to the earth I stare, straight up,
to as far as I can reach…
Thoughts morph into moths, land around puddles of questions:
Potent, energized questions that the moths roll their tongues over.
Each one drinks, each one fills with a question.
Then off they go, quick as lightning, zipping back
and forth across my head , bouncing off my skull
with mind-aching determination.
The questions know no answers exist here,
so they break through my eyes like bats from a cave.
Up they go, zigzagging their way to the great mystery,
the thing that holds this cloudy blue marble in its black grip.
How they get past Earth’s gravity is a wonder in itself.
But they do, and they go and go,
and they leave me all alone with my impatience.
How fast do they travel? How fast does an answer answer back?
This concerns me. I mean, I could tell myself
that one plus one is two—that is quick—
but at one time that question was brand new.
The answer came slower. One had to be sure.
Sadly, I know that my questions
will never come back with their answers.
Perhaps a black hole gets them,
or they’re vaporized by the creator of the universe,
the entity that has caused [Holy War] between [Great Apes].
No, my questions will remain unanswered.
I am just a human being and the answers are something different.
With that, I rise. My brain now a single grain
dead center in the smoky air of my skull.
I shake the blanket, watch the loose grass take air.
The night sky carries on as it always has, as it always will.
The moonlight lands in my hair
and I walk home in silence, kicking stones.


First published in The Interzone Poets 3 (2006)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Man at the Window

Dog-faced man at the window
Holding cigarettes & whiskey
Holed up in a spilt-rebuilt city
Where angels with burnt wings
Weep chained to roofless churches
And ghosts of sinners roam free
For the passed out & pissed on
Seeking fleshy sins, the cocks of boars
One more smoke, one more stroke

And the dog-faced man
Just can’t drink anymore
Just can’t think anymore
He feels sick
He feels sick to his stom—
And out comes his heart



First published in Alternative Reel on February 3, 2011.
Also published at catfishgringoriver on April 15, 2011.

"It isn't her fault…"

It isn’t her fault
that our hearts fell from the stage
or that some impish god
pulled broken the strings.

Now it’s tar and tears, a new pavement
over the old road we drove:
intersections, car crashes;
dead love merging with the moonlight.

Those memories we made?
A bitter lick of blood
falling from the tongue of yesterday.

And they drip
drip
drip...
into a widening pool.

I hope it will end soon—
I prefer silence when forgetting you.



(From the book Wilderness & Love)

Imagining a Change in Form to Establish Roots in Meaning

The oak outside my window is alive in a way I cannot experience. Its body is an entirely different world; its DNA venerable; its essence alien.

I sit here writing, taking casual sips of coffee, curious about the nature of things like trees. And suddenly I’m overcome by a peculiar longing: I want to become a tree—to know its tireless and entirely purposeful aspects; its large-scale existence, unapologetic, held tight to a benevolent Earth; its indefinable, perhaps unknowable simplicity.

I want to know what it's like to give shade to bookworms, picnicking lovers, sleepy children; feel the temperature fluctuate across uncounted days and seasons; to be visited by myriad animals with all their dependences; to absorb warm light; to drink cold rain; to burst into flower-song.

I imagine I am this tree: alive in that way I cannot experience; my body an entirely different world, my DNA plant, my essence something akin to a god.



First published in the November 2010 issue of Naturewriting.com.

Heart-shaped Cocoon

A folding of your wings;
home from gliding
across
the clouds.

You’re weeping—
you’ve discovered
that eternity
exists.

Now you understand
why we hurt so badly:

You saw love without its veil,
and the gossamer threads which lift you,
which pull you straight down;
which brought us together,
which tossed us apart.

But we’re still in love.
We always have been.
We’re only transforming our love
into something new,
into something better.

Hence our lonely days, our poetic hearts;
in separate beds, in perpetual dark.

I once had wings
and that same urge to fly.
And I did, and I stood at the edge,
and I wept your same tears.

Yes, I once had wings too—
who do you think gave them to you?



First published in Daily Love on November 5, 2011.
Also published in the February 2012 issue of Long Story Short.

When We Would Touch (old unpublished poem)

When you would touch me, touch me then,
a slave of bad weather broke free and saw the sun.
The storms cried themselves dry.

When I would touch you, touch you then,
food inspired itself to wander with heart.
Hungry lands were plagued with joy.

When we would touch, touch each other then,
a messenger of time put forever in my watch.
The universe was inside our music box.

When we would touch each other then,
the angel with eternal faces smiled upon us,
confessed that nothing begins nor ends.

And when a day came that we touched no more,
nothing had really changed at all,
for our love had been woven within time and music—
just as that antediluvian oracle had promised.

Winterbloom

Winterbloom
for Kelly K. Moran

A cold front arrived
in Chicago yesterday,
and life was lulled
into a wintry nap.

I wear the brown scarf
you made for me,
stand in front of
yellow witch-hazel in the snow.

Here I pace the line
between reverence and concern,
thinking how hard it must be
to survive in the cold.

I turn and gather these thoughts
while rubbing my hands together.
The wind shakes the trees
and I must go to you—

There, I will keep you warm . . .
Each day, until the leaves return.



(From the books Collected Poems and Wilderness & Love)