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.
look in the eyes
or in those moments
the subdued sighs
no one knows
how they might survive
even one more day
four more hours
two more hours
to its end
some way, we muddle through
until that day comes upon us
which none shall survive
and at that moment
when the rusted keyhole closes
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
through the clover
as to be
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
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
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.
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
as had the day
I’d thought I’d known
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
slumber’s blissful forgetfulness
until a new day’s dawn
My thoughts, this day, betray me. Can it be– that hope only endures for the duration of an embrace?
Faith, the frightened child which it is, the sullen runaway, huddled, amidst the litter of abandon, shivers in cold loneliness. A half-smoked cigarette, found, like death’s treasure, dangles, quivering in wait between her lips, as she holds the last match, letting it burn her fingers, until ash and bone.
By heralding horn, within fable’s adorn, borne drifting in tales, the myth of the poet, exhumed, is exhaled. While poets hold the hand of god, defiled, we lesser beasts feast on pieced facade. Cloaked in golden rolls of smoke, rhymes, baroque, elope within covetous words bespoke.
Imposters, marauders, lead royal maidens to spoil’s slaughter. Each, as each loses their head, bled crimson-red by aureate shards, learns the hard lesson of mere artful bards, having been misled. The poets are known, after the poets are dead.
Bitterness, hope’s cold remains, sees only malice, returning the same. Anger, is but sorrow with thorns, tears turned to ice, as sadness had warned.
As an aside, I saw a post the other day which said that art, in its various forms, is hope. Sage words, and I wish I could remember who to credit. Thank you.
Sunrise ignites the trees, gifting amber warmth to the chosen side, as long shadows creep away into the exile of winter’s disgrace, aye– reaching, dark fingers clawing across the earth’s circumference, aching to feel the sun’s love again. That hand once held– has been severed, and cast out.
Lonely darkness forsaken, the mad tyrant, misconceived, wishes only be forgiven its perceived misdeeds; the thieving vagabond, the whore, the cannibal, the devil thought blackened, hungers to know grace’s compassion, if only once more.
As I recall, I saw some shadows of winter’s trees one morning, and then this happened.
This morning, without thinking, I took my son’s hand, gently placing a kiss into his palm, as I do with you. I thought upon what it might mean. It is a promise– to love, always, to love completely. I am given.