Poem Ending with a Whimper

 

Poem Ending with a Whimper

The best liar wins.

You can’t stop talking
and the truth embedded in strands
frays with each word slipping
from your cruel mouth.

If I tilt my head just so, I see God.

Or what passes for God at the periphery:
a fly stain on the window, the redness
at the eye’s corner, the shrike’s beak.

Silence fills me daily

and trickles out in utterances and sighs
meant only for you.

Who lies best?

I look to the ground for answers.

What replies is a tail between its legs,
a headless shrug,            a whimper.

 

 

“Poem Ending with a Whimper” was 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!

 

The Draft (with recording)

 

The Draft

All memories ignite, he says, recalling
the odor of accelerants and charred

friends. Yesterday I walked to the sea
and looking into its deep crush

sensed something unseen washing
out, between tides and a shell-cut foot,

sand and the gull’s drift, or the early names
I assign to faces. This is not sadness.

Somewhere the called numbers meet.

 

* * *

“The Draft” first appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art.

Variations on a Theme

darkedinburgh_shadow

Variations on a Theme

1. The Long Night

We envy the shadow its attributes, its willingness to subside,
but what of its flesh?

I lay in the field and wept.

Think of the fragrance, the moist leaves
enveloping the still

warm body. In retrospect, I realize that I should never have left, that air
returns to voided space despite all attempts to disavow

light, that wind and rain and soil alike filter through the chest’s
cavity, that stones may bear one’s touch in perpetuity.

At nineteen, death had gifted nothing to my world.
At twenty, little else remained.

So close, so lovely.

 

2. The Loneliness of Shadows

Light collapsing around a point. The two-headed flower.

In my dreams, no one speaks.

Not the thing itself, the bud bursting forth, petals ablaze with color,
but rather change: the process reinforced.

Sleep seldom shows such kindness.

Or its fruit, redolent of sun and rain, withdrawn and shriveled,
and finally, ingested.

Yesterday I woke damp but unafraid.

 

3. Alchemy

Stones never talk, but they rise from the earth, appearing as if by invitation.

The way silence lines an unfilled
grave, which is to say as below

so above, an infinite murmur open to the night.
And other notions: transpiration.

Waste.
Sublimation. Calcination and burning.

At times I have withdrawn
like water from the air’s

body, fearful yet reckless in the act.
That evening the moon flickered and the shadows lay at our feet,

and all the words we never framed,
the bitters our tongues could not know, the wasted

music and abandoned caresses, those words,
sighed into the ground, leaving you adrift, alone.

But how else might one transform darkness to light?
Or the reverse.

huey_ef

 

This originally appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine in April, 2014, and was first posted here in July of 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.

Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses Against Me

keep-off

Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses Against Me

And when I roll over, my toe finds a hole in the not
inexpensive 400 thread count percale sheet and rips

down its length, and I wonder if I should extend this
metaphor to include walls and the unbearable weight

of societal collapse, or hatred with small hands and
minds or faces like pale disks of whitewashed emptiness

glaring at my friends, or, well, my wife and me, across
the restaurant’s laminate booths or the potholed street

by the bus stop. I recall the woman’s sneer and hushed
commentary that afternoon, and though I wanted to

correct her mistaken assumption (hey, lady, I’m not
Hispanic) and redirect her bigotry to the correct ethnicity,

I chose instead to smile and wave goodbye, to drive to
the polls and cast my ballot, one drop in that dark bucket

of nothingness, floating alone, perhaps to coalesce with
others and attain some sense of parity and belonging,

or to remain outcast, bewildered, wondering how this
could be, what’s happened to us, my home, our country.

* * *

This first appeared on the blog in November 2016.

real-patriots

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.

* * *

And there are those who still follow him…

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

Who Will Know

 

Who Will Know

If I drip like snow from the roof who will know?
When I throw stones at dead men who will know?

The mother’s ghost rests in a razor-filled moat.
He purses his lips, laughs, says who will know?

You are the night sky above the red-cloud horizon.
When I fade like twilight, tell me who will know.

Which vein traces love, which proffers denial
as our blood starts flowing, and who will know?

Unanswered prayers line his frozen pockets.
When he unclenches his tiny hands, who will know?

This man’s tongue repels truth no matter the hour.
If we hear only what he allows, then who will know?

 

* * *

“Who Will Know” made its first appearance in May 2019 at The Local Train Magazine, a publication out of Bangladesh.

 

Confession to Montgomery, Asleep on the Church Steps

bagels and cream cheese MGD©

 

Confession to Montgomery, Asleep on the Church Steps

If I walk quietly by
it is not to avoid disturbing you,

but rather myself. What
could I give you

but another bagel, the
boiled dough of nothingness

rising in cloudy water,
delaying, perhaps, another

guilty twinge. You have no
answers but when you

speak to the air, sometimes
a smile creaks through

the broken words, and I
think even in this cloistered

darkness we may close
the circle between halves

and might-have-beens,
an understanding, if only

in the language of bread
and coffee and the

disregarded. But today I stride
on, without pause, counting

on nothing that can’t be
pocketed or spoken aloud,

my steps echoing down
the alley and its secrets,

along the crosswalk’s painted
guides, under the sagging

power lines and through
your streetlight’s dim halo.

 

Homeless

 

This first appeared on the blog in January 2016, and was published in Compassion Anthology in March 2019. I have not seen the man who inspired this poem in over three years. I hope he has found shelter and kindness.

 

In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I Am Looking For


tulip

 

In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I Am Looking For

Balance. The ability to stand on one foot, on a tightrope, and juggle AR-15s,
ethics and dollar bills, while chanting the U.S. Constitution, in tongues.

Or good health.

Unweighted dreams.

A mechanism for disagreeing without needing to annihilate the opposition.

Doorways without doors, truth without fear.

A simple tulip.

One word to describe that instant between thought and pulled trigger,
intent and wish, the elevated pulse and sense of diminished space and time.

Sanctuary. Regret. Apology. Respect.

A tonic to the bitterness, a foil to the sweet.

Fitted sheets that fold. Uncommon sense.

Love in the abstract. More bacon. Smiles.

A closet that embraces everything you place in it. Everything.

The means of unfiring guns, of reversing wounds to undamaged flesh,
and rounds to their magazines, full and never used.

Self-organizing drawers. Due process.

Mothers who know only tears of joy.

One peaceful day.

Just one.

 

lights n sirens

 

This first appeared on the blog in July 2016. The poem was a response to an email asking a question intended for someone else: “What exactly are you looking for?”