the promise

promise me, son
that you’ll feel–
the hawks’ umber-wing September-shrill
that you’ll learn the voices
the deathless legions
borne upon her solitary cry
as it slices open a reticent sky
top, split from bottom
east, from west
north, from south
each, again halved–
and within each space
another world, gifted
if we’d dare its grace, and its peril
within each place
a secret, for those ready
a religion, without gods
a scream, fallen– within a whisper
a poem, greater than any sonnet
ever written
or any ever
to be
promise me, my son
that you’ll live
first
and achieve
last
if ever
you even bother
once you truly know–
promise me this
that you’ll notice
the dulled-shine eyes
of the children of the streets
and that you’ll love
them
without words
always

tho our sparrows may whisper

where once
we’d walked
together
climbing over
our wooded-path stones
now, love, we live
walking these paths, alone
distant, our villages
finding ourselves
sheltered
in different planes
of existence
tho neither of us
higher
nor lower
than the other
aye, nor be we beside
despite
our differing history
quite nearly belying
even those daring moments
shared
neither, thrown–
by fate’s reckless whimsy
nor by the pious condemnation
of our disjointed destiny
but rather, simply
diverged, crookedly
upon twisting, tangled tangents
abstruse, non-linear
still, a harrowed voice
only travels
as does love’s arrow
and tho our sparrows
may whisper
their lonesome songs
and tho we may
on some misty morns
implore
to once more–
belong

muttering shadows

a few key-turns
and a mash of the rubber pedal
she started right up, eager–
front wheels spinning with zealous fervor
spinning freely, in the black-morning air
going nowhere
after a while, I realized
the car was perched
up on a bent lamppost
the windshield, smashed on the driver’s side
bloody
the crash, right next to a boarding house
where two whispering-hippies
a man, and a woman
took me inside, as I staggered
guiding me to a small room
at the front of the house
a gruff shadow at the top of the stairs
stood there, with one arm extended
balancing against the wallpapered wall
it was the color of poverty’s smoky filth
the tarnish no one can wash away
the shadow asked what was going on
down there
the man told the shadow
it was nothing, to go back to bed
and then they shuffled me away
the shadow muttered
and the man muttered
in the small room
just a double bed and a small table
they asked for my phone number
and if anyone could come to get me
I slurred my reply
and the man wrote down the numbers
in pencil
his hands shaking
but his soul filled
with a sudden sense
of worth
the woman dialed
in the darkness
on an old black phone
the kind with a rotary dial
whispering again
telling my fiancée to come
quickly
and that I was hurt
the car had to be left behind
perched on the lamppost
going nowhere
strange, the things that stay with us
the bits of memory, faded colors
stitched together, like a quilt
stuffed, bulging with the mystery
of missing details, of lost moments
and of things, unspoken
pushing at the fraying seams
musty with time’s steady perspiration
tho never giving way
when the police came
to my apartment
I was passed out
at the door
my fiancée told them
that she had been the one
driving the car, left behind
perched up on the bent lamppost
they didn’t believe her
she wasn’t bleeding
but I didn’t go to jail, that night
just to the hospital
where they stitched my mysteries
and lost moments
and those things, unspoken
back beneath the skin
two weeks later
I married her
and tho it doesn’t seem
enough–
nor– have I always been fair
she looked beautiful
on that summer-sunshine day
dressed in white
with tall curls
and small, white flowers
in her hair

red swelter

in the drip-paint barn
to the south, and slightly west
of the mountain-house he’d built
there were hundreds
of glass trinkets
small, abstract sculptures
and such–
glittering baubles
that he’d blown of molten shimmer
aye, the small ways
we fill– the red swelter
of our days
still, I had to throw them all away
after he passed
along with most of the other
remnants
they say
he was a great teacher– of history
and not half-bad, as a rifleman
tho who should dare opine?
our beautiful madness, misconstrued
tho still beauty, lovers
and still
madness
and– I didn’t notice
any students
around
at the end
and– I didn’t notice
anyone else
around
at the end
just the sudden sound
of bulbous glass
breaking
the tall silence
which always follows us
into the red swelter
of our days

suburban gardens

crawling in the garden
its stinging tail, twitching
long, and pointed
such anger
such compulsion
to injure
a murderer’s quiet rage
jailed behind tiger-hide stripes
black bands painted upon saffron
leaving me curious, and fearful
I watched as it twitched
my skin chilled
under summer’s red zeal
knowing– if it came at me
if it dared approach near
I’d kill it
grinding its saffron pulp
beneath my shoe leather
to be sure
and why not?
with a million more, just like it
twitching somewhere
terrifying the men, the women
and the children
of suburban gardens
how might this
one
be missed?
and who would even know?

thus, without measure

the age of a soul
never known
by time’s ticking animus
thus, without measure
only this flesh– burns to ash
under the pyre’s spiraling swelter
and an expiry
thus, just more dust, scattered
but shall we ever return?
the way Benny was screaming
his hoary desperation
into the tall night
aye, into the deafened desert
in that moment, I’d believed him
yes, he’d loved her
and isn’t that
all
that any of us
really needs?
to believe
in
something–
before we depart?

immortal teacher

sunshine-summer love
we’d deserved more
than what we’d taken
of this dusty place
that poverty which we’d accepted
our souls, displaced
we’d given enough–
we haven’t much time
here
these amber days fall over
swiftly
still
and when the moon is full
laced, and sheer
in its mist of tears
too distant to capture
on the warm tip of a finger
aye– I can recall
our wilderness, shared
then– when we’d danced
within our doubt’s shadow
this– still, held closely
thin and dark, it whispered
and seduced
tho we’d wished it be gone
tho we’d wished it to stay
for what then, would save us
from our loneliness?
such a clumsy beginning
and the door-slam, stark ending
tho the first, always–
begets the next
always, in time–
you’d deserved more
you’d deserved more
of me
regret, I’ve known–
to be
the immortal teacher
and the only deity
and tho you’d never read
my poetry
these black-rose words
kept, then, only by my heart–
I know not
if I’d been
a lesser man
or if I’d been blessed–
a winged-spirit, greater
when known
only
in part
tho I smiled in your sunshine
and tho we often laughed
I console myself
now, with solitude
and with these small notions
which pretend to be large
perhaps–
it’s better this way
yes, perhaps–
aye– every poem
I’ve ever written
both before, and after
has been
a goodbye

Anno Domini

’twas a serendipitous gift
that our restless paths
might cross
and I’d known
from the first glimpse
auburn tresses, tossed
wishful and curious
late-Spring’s
wondrous sun
hungered
to caress
our decades of loneliness
and its warm amber fell over us

through tall windows
loving even this darkness
we’d both known
oh, how you glowed
and how would we know
what’d soon follow
how could we know
what’d come of this
within
the wide-blossom burgeon
of a moment, shared
everything
becoming divided
a demarcation
etched across
time’s wave-ocean glass
a luminous delineation
and a speechless epiphany
a before
and an after
and tho heathens
we’d now our own
Anno Domini

That already known

in these reckless exchanges
the truth of it emerges
from its shadow-keep
that already known, but forgiven
while still unspoken–
that I am loved–
but that I am not enough
and who shall ever be
enough?
I am who I am, love
I am what I have become
carved by these years
these many hammers and chisels
and tho now forsworn
my chest still heaving
‘neath my own fallen debris

I will be that which I shall be
I will live, for a short while
I will brush against the warm skin
of a few souls– passersby
and they, against mine
be I, this fortunate
and I will, in time
have spent
aye, and on some chasmal evenings
have squandered
all that I might ever have been

Midnight’s secluded palace

Gray-haired wizards gave electric music to despair’s lonesome tone; we drank our ale from tall tin, and we listened– as the band played, and we later kissed, tresses pulled, then let slip ‘tween curled fingers’ grasp, white teeth nibbling– in a hunger, at last remembered, and within Midnight’s secluded palace, poetry’s chipped-sickle wraith, diminished, returned to its grave.