Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon

 

Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon

 

Dear Jeff: The glow here betrays our fantasies,

and between day and night and that uncertain

moment when neither holds sway, I have gained

a toehold on consequence. Who knew darkness

could shine so? Last November the surgeon

incised my belly six times but no light oozed

out and little crept in. I say little, but feel

a peculiar radiance emanating from my middle

which I can only attribute to the moon, although

the medical professionals would say it’s just

gas. But what do they know of Sheng-Yu or

Li Ho, of jade wheels and spilled cups? Last

night, to honor our marching sisters, I looked

to the cloud-filled sky and toasted them and

our ancestors, the poets and scapegoats, friends,

allies, compatriots, Five White and Jackboy,

shedding a solitary tear of joy in the process.

We won’t label the other tears, but I shudder

at our country’s current course and how the

bulging wallets of the rich continue swelling

at the expense of the poor and unhealthy,

the elderly, the unacknowledged, and those

living on the fringes, in colored shadows.

If we meet in person on some desolate, moon-

free road in a country that could never be,

how will I know you but from the ghosts and

smiles sparkling in the surrounding fog,

and the little voices singing their sad tune

of happiness into the night. This is where

we stand today, but tomorrow? Look for me

on that bench. I’ll be the full-bellied fellow,

the one with an eclipse leaking from his shirt

in a six-point pattern, two glasses in hand,

wine uncorked, ready for reptiles and politicians,

mirth and causation and good conversation

in brightness or tenebrous calm, whichever

needs replenishing more. But bring another

bottle. Or two. Talking makes me thirsty. Bob.

 

 

* * *

My poem “Letter to Schwaner from the Toad-Swallowed Moon” was first published at The Hamilton Stone Review in October 2017. Much gratitude to editor Roger Mitchell for taking this piece.

 

 

Two Poems Up at Lamplit Underground

 

My poems “The End of Something” and “Poem Ending with a Whimper” have been published in Volume 3 of Lamplit Underground. Thank you, Janna Grace, for taking these pieces.

Lamplit Underground is a beautifully illustrated publication. Please take a look!

 

Poem Up at Vox Populi

 

My poem “Postcard from Pandemic” was published in March at Vox Populi. A week after the poem was published, I was laid low by the corona virus. Mine was a mild case, but it rendered me worthless for most of a month. I’m appalled by the nonchalance a large portion of the population displays towards the pandemic, particularly in recent days. Please wear masks, practice social distancing. Show that you care for others. Masks should not be political statements.

I am grateful, as always, to editor Michael Simms for his continued support.

I wish you all good health and peace in these troubling times. Stay safe!

 

 

Politics

snake

 

Politics

No snakes here,
but a little voice

says the mice
will return,

and which
do you prefer,

the one that
gnaws open

ramen packages
then craps

on your plate
or the one

who takes
its prey

under the house
and swallows

it whole,
leaving

no bones
behind?

 

dc

 

“Politics” first appeared here in January 2017.

Scarecrow Calls Out the Man

Scarecrow Calls Out the Man

These things I cannot name: that finger of night
between fear and peace, in which darkness both cloaks
and hugs the wide-eyed. A snake, in the open. And that space
behind the watcher? Perhaps it is easier to call it something
else – a gasp, or the immeasurable measure. A presidential
folly. My friends, ever cautious, swoop in and away, taking
with them only those grains they need, unlike you. What use
is a hoarded larder if it rots? How does one come to want
everything and nothing at the same time? A gilded house
spotlights wealth, not right. Is this edifice your legacy,
your monument to self? The heart monitor’s blip paints one
forever, your pursed lips, another. But even the concrete
you cringe behind lacks permanency; regard your hands
and all they can’t stuff into your pockets. Loosen that
coiled tie lest it choke you. Accept what the mirror sees,
and await karma. Though you will not hear my voice,
I offer this: may the combined weight of your lies and
larcenies, your unpaid debts and power plays, rapes,
casual racism, privilege and coarse, childish taunts, merge
into one fist-size bankroll placed upon your chest, and
fueled by the gravitational forces of forty-four black holes,
slowly, with each turn of the earth’s axis, press down and
down and down in search of that shriveled organ, and finding
it, pluck out and replace it with one resembling that of a
genuine human, one honoring respect and love, empathy
and humility. I am the sum of integrated, discarded
pieces assembled to observe and warn, collecting only
diminishment and the means to become less. Wanting
little, the world welcomes me. It arrives free, honest, on
wings, bringing wealth beyond your reach, your greed.
I own nothing. I know nothing. But this: I name you
Scourge, and laugh at the smallness of you. I name you
Farce. I name you Empty. I name you Gone.

 

* * *

I feel old and tired and angry, unable to speak coherently. So today Scarecrow’s voice will have to do.

“Scarecrow Calls Out the Man” first appeared on Vox Populi in August 2017.

 

If We Burn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

If We Burn

What flares instead to replace our
privileged nights? And which

assemblage of words could reorder these
deaths into comprehension,

change I can’t breathe from epitaph
to actuated plea for help?

Are words ever enough?
Can we stack our indifference and fear

into a mile-high pyre, and torching it
watch them rise to nothingness,

disappearing through the clouds
into the streaming light of cold, dark stars?

Raise your hands and sing. Blow softly
upon the ember. Inhale and recall.

Do you still feel? Will you breathe?
Every fire needs oxygen.

 

* * *

“If We Burn” first appeared on this blog in December, 2014. It’s also included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform

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The Box

image

 

The Box

Opened or closed, the mood
descends

with the pull of tooth and
tongue

and discarded sound in wet
grass,

its odor mingling with
cordite

by summer pavement under the
canopy,

six plastic flowers faded by the
sun,

and photographs scattered over scraped
earth,

where we stand bound and
apart,

I reach toward
you

and find only
air.

 

image

“The Box” first appeared here in May 2015.

 

Returns

baby birds

 

Returns

What good is a rock
if the people fall, if truth

remains but no one
hears the long grass

rattle, and words
burst into flame

and gas, and life
poisons itself with

greed and the deficit
of compassion.

No body exists to bury.
I am trying to return

to a place of open
mouths, of nests and

groves left standing
despite their value

to the market. Which
pocket do I empty,

what song do I leave
unsung. Tomorrow

always becomes
yesterday, and today

flakes away into chilled
ash, carried over

rooftops and clouds,
never to be seen again.

 

gargoyle

“Returns” first appeared here in September 2017.

Senate (Tritina)

 

Senate (Tritina)

Not imposition, but welcome.  The way
cooperation welcomes coercion, turning the
tenor of the intended phrase, opening

the statement to interpretation, opening
a point without dissension, in the way
of politics, agreeing which fact will shape the

morning, which truth will determine the
next word and the subsequent, as if opening
the issue, claiming to have found the way,

one way, the only, but never actually opening.

 

* * *

A tritina might best be described as the lazy poet’s sestina, consisting of ten rather than 39 lines, with the end words of the first stanza repeating in a specific pattern in the subsequent two stanzas. The last line includes all three end words.

The patterns:
abc
cab
bca
The last line uses the end words in sequence following the pattern of the first stanza.

This first appeared on the blog in March 2017.