unborn soul

this thing, craved
tho our wish’d be always
uncertain
having learned, since children
of hope’s wanton dereliction
our orbit-paths, paralleling
as might Saturn’s chalk-dust lines
within a prism’s bent-light paradigm
falling together, meeting hastily
and then dispersing
into nothingness
once witnessed collision’s distortions
these guileless verses, whispered into the heart
of an ashen-winged soul
tho yet to grace this darkened parlor
as it pivots in place
and as we cling to its barren sand
aye, she’d find me now
speaking in tongues
praying– in my ash-tree desert
on stone-cut knee
imploring– that she’d receive me
that she’d know me, once
this, my entirety
everything
I shall ever be
found, in all
that I’ve not written down
tho it’d exist, unspoken
thereby incomplete
and tho some squalid evenings
she’d find me weeping
into my poetry’s poverty-trodden squalor
dare I conjure
Yeats– he believed
in magic
the wishful fool
thus, why not I
believe
in thine abiding sagacity
aye, thine benign mercy
o ye– yet unborn soul?

Carried on the Wind

He walked with a peculiar gait. First, his knees would creak forward, then his feet would whip compliantly into place, frightened to be left behind, scuffing the gravel with each odd step. The rest of his body did not move, except as carried forward stiffly by his wayward legs. I can’t say I recall him saying much to us kids. There may have been the occasional grumble or dark muttering, but no actual conversation. Though he had trouble keeping a job, the years as a mechanic, hunched over and banging his knuckles on the cold metal under the hoods of Plymouths, and Fords, and Volkswagens with the damned engine crammed in the back, carried over into his posture. Even as a large man, his stature was lessened, carrying the weight of his defeat.

I had seen the wedding pictures, the smiling, petite brunette and the handsome man he had once been, standing tall, eyes alive with love, and with hope for the future. Now he wore a scowl, and a beard, grown in apathy, and lines on his face deep, much deeper than his years. It was the liquor that had aged him so quickly. His uncombed, reddish-brown hair was long enough to be carried on the wind as he walked. As he approached, people would inch away, giving him room to pass, pulling their children closer.

Kenny and Mark were their only children, nine years old, and seven, respectively. Both had the same haircut, long, but cut in a straight line at the back, and around the sides. Their bangs hung in their eyes. Kenny had Scoliosis. He carried himself with a hunch as well, but it wasn’t the spine curvature which pulled down on his shoulders, as cursed with a burden. It wasn’t a small bend in his back that made him struggle to smile. Mark still had a bit of innocence, just as confused, but Kenny looked out for him, so Mark could still be a kid, for as long as life would let him be one.

Their house was always dark. It was rare that any adults were home. And that was a good thing. If one were home, it might not be too bad. He would drink, sullenly, and not say much, or she would putter around the house, moving things around, attempting to restore some order to her world, though it never looked any different. If they were both home, the screaming would start.

Children don’t understand these things. They don’t understand when the only gods that they have ever believed in fall from the heavens, shattering, as broken mortals. They don’t understand the screaming, the anger, and the fear. They don’t understand the violence. They don’t understand one parent hitting the other with a car, and they should never have to understand such things. He survived the car incident. It would be an overstatement to say that he lived.

I didn’t understand either. My parents divorced around that time, and I moved back and forth between the two for a while. I lost contact with Kenny and Mark. I lost contact with everyone, including myself. On a weekend visit to see my mother, we were driving when we saw him walking on a road that no one would walk unless they had no car, appearing a way that no one would appear unless they had no home, his long, reddish-brown hair still carried on the wind as he walked with a peculiar gait.

We both saw him, and neither ever said a word about it; we barely spoke at all that day.

iron gates of black

up the road
paved, pocked, and grayed
or down it, a bit
near the tall-grass deer field
once a farm
now marked– ‘land for sale’
in peeling, red-paint letters
flattened upon
a square-post wooden sign
towers– a stone home
atop a slim, emerald hill’s incline
the house, several times larger
than those humbler homes
that surround
wrought iron gates of black
grow tall– out of their shadows
the fence-wall, spanning wide
tho the heavy gates, at the center
swung ajar
and I don’t know
who lives there
and whomever lives
there
behind the iron gates
doesn’t know– of me
never, the other seen
never, the gates’ moans
heard
creaking open
slightly more
or less
ajar
tho moved
by someone–
and never
the gates of iron
seen
fully closed

escape

’twasn’t faith
which taught me of it
which made me a believer
’twasn’t religion’s fiction
’twasn’t even love–
for all its doubtful shadows
‘neath its amber-glisten shimmer
’twas pain, absence’s remembrance
that first time
this, my soul, be known– again
heavy, with sorrow
wordless, within its well of tears
those woes it’d never spill over
and I pondered
tho it’d be always a child
who’d been its mother
and I wondered
how– through golden elation
and primality’s crimson passion
and loss’ stilled-water ache
how– a thing such as this
could survive, eternally
no– when I shall pass, finally
so shall its stone-satchel burden

as, tho it’d oft wish
to escape me
we are one

Always

Always.

were we to ruminate on this word a bit
we might see that it is bigger
than forever–

without fail
without reservation
without condition
without limit

Always.

without doubt
without intent
without vulnerability
without start
without end

Always.

if a word were a deity
it would be

Always.

dangling frays

I listened to some poets today, and the Mexican poet read a poem about prejudice against his people, and the black poet read a poem about oppression against his people, and one white poet read a poem about depression, and another hated most people, so he proclaimed, while one fellow read a poem about being black–when he wasn’t, and they all wore proud, colorful flags until ragged tatters and dangling frays, and they shouted veiny, red-faced spittle, thrusting young fists into the compliant, fluorescent emptiness, as I watched wondering– who my people might be– feeling rather gray.

one more day

look in the eyes
or in those moments
unguarded
notice
the subdued sighs
no one knows
how they might survive
even one more day
four more hours
two more hours
counting down
to its end
and tho
we wonder
how–
some way, we muddle through
the moil
until that day comes upon us
which none shall survive
and at that moment
when the rusted keyhole closes
leaving us
locked inside
our silence
we might find
what we’ve always known
that there’s nothing else–
and the gravestones
in the still fields
tilt and lean
under a flickering sun
as the years pass
pushing up
through the clover
overgrown
so slowly
as to be
unnoticed

down in Sunburn, Carolina

down in Sunburn, Carolina
I hadn’t seen him in years
tho he wasn’t much changed
his skin fitting a bit more loosely these days
he’d a bit less hair, to shelter his thoughts
still, caution stalked his words
a memory of notions, become daggers
we spoke of old times
father and son
we spoke of wills, and of burying your own
the dark lake held a Bass
in its shimmers
and shadows
she was a wise, old girl
thick ‘round the middle, nearly two feet long
wiser than the thousands of fisherman
who had come before us
countless fragile men
privately aware of their mortality
as they tossed in their lines, determinedly
upon seeing her, watching us warily
I knew that I would never fish again
and we stayed, mostly in the shade
speaking of old times
father and son
down in Sunburn, Carolina

flickering fluorescence

The black man in the straw hat held his beloved burgundy pride tucked and folded in his breast pocket.

“Good morning.” he said, passing by.

“Good morning.” I said, nodding in reply.

“There’s a man who believes in something.” I told the boy.

Leather heels clicked a dimming rhythm as he took his belief with him.

A wrinkled white-haired woman scowls at me in the checkout line, and I smile, as the dollar meal trash shimmers in swirling cyclones outside.

There is no truth. What we’ve found is truth’s wraith-shadow, its memory, before having changed its mind. We hear the howling silence of its absence. Truth is not the stoic red-suit palace guard, nor the blinding pyrite of dawn’s deja vu.

Truth is mischievous nymph, a red-dress whore spinning a purse through the thick air of streetlight-evenings, fast to spread her pleasure wide, never staying long enough to be held. By four am she’s off fucking someone else, filling her aching hole, and by daylight, she’s gone.

The wrinkled woman genuflects before her meal under phallic flickering fluorescence, while cackling, gap-tooth tramps blow trenchcoat-businessmen in the damp shadows of smudge-color motel rooms nearby.

Above the impoverished, decadent fray, she feels forgiven, aye, dignified. And that’s enough– for most, as scratched plastic reflections stare back at each, between the white flickering.

Two AM Half-Moon

a two AM half-moon glared
bright as full
dusting the dulled obsidian
with the crushed bones
of the day’s wither

I’d been reading poetry– all evening
into the deep of night’s squalor
one poem, after another, and another
many of the writers, greatly acclaimed

“How can you do that for so long?”

“I’m looking for something.”

“Anything..” I drifted

and I kept reading
the words, slurring, blurring
as each drunken hero fell, stumbling
into dismissal’s shadowy obscurity
I kept reading
until all the heroes I’d sought
some, once admired
aye, nearly worshiped
had perished
as had the day
fallen

I’d thought I’d known
loneliness
before this
tho I hadn’t–
I’d only known
its distant moans

and I closed my eyes
offering breathless thin-whisper goodbyes
cast into the half-moon’s dusty sky
craving a hastened arrival
wishing only
slumber’s blissful forgetfulness
until a new day’s dawn