today i forgot my umbrella... today i forgot my umbrella the brutal rain beat my face like a drunken father the sad clouds, my mother, pregnant with child, gave birth on my unprotected head. today i forgot my overcoat the enemy wind tore thru my skin like soft-point bullets i waited for the 6:20 like Simeon waited for the Messiah--Lord, let thy servant depart in peace. today i forgot my umbrella but it felt good to be alive.
Radiation Her hair was a constellation, the lock Berenice dedicated to the gods, unnumbered stars, the golden threads which held her universe in place. Flowing like the mighty Euphrates or the Nile majestic, strong and proud, spilling over shoulder like silken vine. But now they grace the ground like fallen angels-malignant sarcoma, the gloating victor.
Charlemagne "Your rhymes have no reason," said the King to the Poet, "save for pleasantry of sound and beauty of form." "My Lord!" replied the bowing Poet. "But give me the word and I shall write endless verses to your name, endless sonnets to your praise!" To which the King rejoined: "Poet, I require not your pen--but your heart."
green are the leaves... Green are the leaves when you have the eyes to see-e HEART, an infinite winter, will melt when Love springs. e MIND, an infinite forest, will grow when Faith seeds. e SOUL, an infinite sea, will spill when you give the tears to fill.
e heat of a thousand fires... e heat of a thousand fires is in your embrace e force of a thousand blows is in your eyes In vain I have tried to name them with lips' seal broken But found Love is sweeter left unspoken
e Tiller’s Tale Rocking of the boat shall keep the tiller awake So waves are true friends Shaking of the leaf shall not fell the tree If you spare the ax e dark of the night shall cloak the wearer within But clothes are deceit Whispers betray you Lovers and friends, the whisper So enemies shout
î ?e Sweet Lament I lay beneath the tendril vines and feel their fingers brush my scarlet cheek and ivory teeth and taste the chill of death Beside a glade of poisoned trees I eat the bitter fruit And grant reprieves to demon-thieves who stole my thoughts from me Beside a pool of emerald tears I drink the nectar cup And find it burns with putrid worms like absinthe to the chaste CoďŹ€ee, black, no sugar, please its shade to match my soul A callow youth who bought a truth but found its shine was false I dream in colors, wake in grey but live in black and white My eyes are closed so no one knows my world in shambles is Play again the sweet lament O keeper of the night Laced in moss my heart is tossed by your violent strains I hear the ring of distant bells through the graveyard fog and fall asleep in death to meet the judgement seat of God
î ?e Circadian Rhythm To see the leaf as sparrow like resting bird in tree as part of something greater all part of something free To listen to the willows To bask in golden sun With star and moonlight silver on gilded wings to run To bathe in milk and honey To rest in fields of green To hold a hand so loving to serve a tender queen To breathe a breeze a whisper To hear a scream a sigh As summer turns to winter To dream, perchance to die To wake without a shudder to sleep all through the night To make the wind my mother to weep, but never cry To see my heart in body a nesting bird in tree As part of something greater not caged, but something free
(Hello) Hello, Trepidation are you a feeling or a state? When heavy steps of passing years quicken fast your pace Where to run from creeping fears that handcuďŹ€ my escape? (I wish I knew.) Hello, Information are you ocean, are you stream? Are you Master? Are you Slave? Which one takes the lead? If my head will rule my heart how can Love succeed? (I wish I knew.) Hello, Salvation are you a blessing or a curse? When devil-eyes and angel-feet both each have their end î€€ough I bend and do not break why then don't I mend? (I wish I knew.)
Deities Paint peels from the ceiling stale rain from heaven; Wires, pipes, exposed like wounds the lightbulb won't shut oďŹ€ Burns my eyes Dulls my brain Daggers form my teeth Table, chair, and dresser true and faithful friends; Gods in plastic temples the TV won't shut up Sears by mind Scars my soul Deities are cheap Wind blows on the window cries like memories lost Make your cut, scythe of Time I can bear your sting Blade is hot Blade is deep I can take the heat
Harakari If you shoot some poor thing in the chest or head make damn sure before you leave that it's truly dead If you tell grotesque lies straight to someone's face make damn sure that you've got your whole story straight If you can't find a cure for a crippled heart And you fall on this knife make damn sure it's sharp
Ode to Chuck Canvas and rubber sewn to perfection, your laces corset a figure divine. Poison of choice to greasers and the punks, Cobain killed himself but you have lived on. You are more than footwear; you are a bird, Hermes, the winged god, inventor of fire, messenger of Olympia, running to victory like the bulls of Pamplona. High-top, low-top, black, white, red, green, and blue your spectrum of colors like fractured light adorns my feet, treads of a battered tank. I pull you out of my closet and gaze at your galvanized beauty, and shod my feet to face our war path once more.
Manhattan Sonnet My chrome island sits a glistening pearl betwixt two rivers craddling like arms, a jewel in a crown, a door to the world, a loverâ€™s embrace, her beckoning charms. O Mother of millions, your sights and sounds invade my senses, a madcap array of faces and places and streetwise clowns peddling their wares to fools who will pay. Houston to Canal, the 1 to the 3, transfer at Chambers, wait for the next train to take me away, express train of dreams. You look starved today, bone-chilled from the rain. Yes dear, you look of death each falling night, glowing souls fade dim in your neon lights.
How To Make Tea Lay out your china, the cups and saucers fill the pitcher with cream, not too much, just enough to fill stomach and soul. Put on the water, medium flame, wait, wait, wait for it to boil, but don’t go too far; you don’t want the house to burn down or the range to catch fire or something. You need to use cold tap water (not lukewarm or distilled water) or filtered if your tap tastes funky. e kettle is important; choose wisely. Making tea is about the ritual, a solemn rite of relaxation, and the ceremony must be performed with all solemnity and grace. Loose leaf is preferable; tea bags contain poor-quality crumbly stuﬀ. Pour two heaping tablespoons into a strainer placed inside the kettle and pour boiling water over the strainer. Allow the tea to steep for no more than two minutes; any more will bitter it. Take a deep breath, you’re almost there. Remove strainer, pour into cup, cream and sugar to taste and stir.
Shrunken Skulls I am (Word). A mirror to my blackened face, (Word) giveth form to my hunchbacked thoughts, substance to my desires, flesh to my fears, gilded wings to my flight. (Word) is fire, burning my tongue, singing my fingers. (Word) is a knife, razor, cutting through bone and sinew to my heart, fresh blood on the paper. (Word) is evil, wicked devices strung together like shrunken skulls. (Word) is a woman, the vowels like her misshapen breasts. (Word) is a drug, a magic elixir, commas in love, me, the chronic abuser.
Dead Men Talking I have nothing original to say, not like Aristotle or Pericles, or Kafka, Camus, Nietzche, or Monet not like Kierkegaard or Euripedes or Schopenhauer, Dante, or Voltaire not like Ovid, Cicero, or Plutarch or Proust, Marx, Wittgenstein, or Moliere not like Rosseau, Spinoza, or Decartes or Socrates, Plotinus, or Philo not like Kant, Hume, Locke, Hobbes, Donne, or Balzac or Shelley, Keats, Byron, Blake, or Hugo not like Hawthorne, Melville, Poe, or Steinbeck or Roth, Faulkner, or even Hemmingway I have nothing original to say.
Sestina Carbonate I had bathed in a bubble bath of silky sins tried to dry myself in a plushy towel of grace. I had slept in a bed with soft-skinned life and awakened to a rotting face of death. I had dined on a hot platter of lies and washed it down with a cold bottle of Coke. Oh yes, the sweet seductive bubbles of that Coke, like the sugary, perfumed delights of sin which caught in my throat and choked me with lies. I had pondered the meaning of grace: Was it a mere attempted escape from death? Because only the dead sought eternal life. Sometimes I thought our cheap plastic lives were mass-produced, like so many bottles of Coke, just expending oxygen, tiny microbes dying little deaths. I was running from the law, paying for my sins with pocket change. Can I make the check out to Grace? I was pleading the judge and jury, but they knew I was lying. I looked God straight in the face and didn’t lie, told Him I hadn’t lived a pure, unspotted life, asked for clemency and acquittal. Can you grant me grace? He said, “Sit in the waiting room, son, have a Coke, I’m processing a million souls at a time for their sins.” So I sat reading a magazine which, curiously, were all on death? I was bored by the first article. And the waiting room TV was dead. en I heard a whisper: “Maybe all this heaven jazz is a lie? Maybe there is no life after death? Who decided what is sin? You did your own thing? You lived your own life?” Get thee behind me, Satan, I said. You’re flat like this Coke: Syrupy and sweet, but the fizz has gone. God will grant me this grace. en they called my number. I took my ticket to a window labeled GRACE. e teller said, “Sir, our records show you were quite wicked at time of death.” My hand trembled, and I was still holding that bottle of flat Coke. I noticed an advertisement beside the window: HELL IS FOR LIARS. e teller said, “I’m sorry, sir, but you lived a debauched, depraved, evil life.” and stamped my record DENIED: UNREPENTANT SIN. A friendly security guard led me to a black door marked DEATH. e waiting room TV was working now, playing scenes from my life. I chuckled softly, and slowly finished oﬀ the last of my bottle of Coke.
I Am e Executioner Sympathy is withheld from he who pulls the switch, no sympathy for the devil. I am the bringer of death, the taker of life. I am spit upon. Behind the executioner’s black mask my face is blacker, heavy with the knowledge of my chore. I have shed blood for the Law. I have shed blood in in the name of the State. I am a soldier, obedient to the cause. I follow my orders. Sir, yes, sir. I do not question authority. I am a death merchant, cheating my costumers from their mortal frames. My victims are hooded and blindfolded. I am powerless to stop their fate that lies in my hands. e sentence must be carried out. eir crimes must be punished. I know this. I know my duty. And yet. And yet. I die each time I pull the switch, with each fell of the ax to the block, each drop of the guillotine, each time my finger fondles the trigger of the coupe de grace. Had I the power, had I the strength, to burn down my gallows! I am more a prisoner than they. For them, death is an exit. ey face it but once. I have a time card, boss. I go home from work like the butcher and the baker. Yes, I am the butcher, too. I must live with myself. I must see the faces of the heads I have removed from their shoulders. Sleep is not an escape. ere is no rest for the wicked. But I am not evil? I am but the instrument of God, the sword in the hand of Jehovah? I am no vigilante; I am licensed to practice. I am trained to kill. I consider the crimes of those I dispatch. Some are great. Some are small. My sins are also worthy of death. Yet justice spares me. Why? Why? Why does one man take the blame for us all? Why does the crown of thorns rest upon one brow? Why does he bear the lash? ey thrust a spear in his side. ey mock him. What has this man done to deserve such abuse? But I must perform my duty. I take up the nail and hammer. One through each hand. One through both feet. He screams. Blood. Blood everywhere. I am the criminal. He is innocent. But his suﬀering shall end tonight. Mine shall not. Someone will care for his body. Someone will lift him down from that tree. I am a butcher. I am the executioner. Who will care for my soul?
A Hundred Acre Blues I. TIGGER, GET YOUR GUN Always happy am I? Carefree, you say? Yes, I act the clown and fool for you. I bounce around, always ready to play your foolish games, but if you only knew that my total confidence is a lie, my bravado a show. I am scared. Tiggers never get lost but they do cry when nobody sees my soul I have bared. My stripes I array to disguise my pain a camouflage cloak I lose in the bath and paint on before they drip down the drain. I wear a fake smile, but under my wrath rages. One day when no more I can take these woods I’ll shoot up. One day I will break. II. EEYORE IS EMO I’d shoot up these woods. I would break one day. But I never forget to take my meds, can’t feel anymore, just a stuﬀed grey haze, a hundred acres of wandering dead. Depressed I am not; they just think I am. I am dying to speak, to open my mouth but Pooh and the rest just don’t give a damn. anks for not noticin’ me. Or my house. I am but sawdust, yet I feel the sting of their condescension like a hot blade each day I am forgotten. I could sing my lungs out but would they even stay? My nailed tail has forsaken me again, but that’s okay: so have all my dear friends. III. PIGLET, INTERRUPTED It’s not okay. For all of my dear friends think me a weakling, a cowering lump of pig flesh to trample upon, pretend courage and nerve I do lack. Yes, I jump at the thought of Heﬀalumps and Woozles
and the sound of the howling wind at night. But though my frail limbs be like limp noodles, I am Piglet, hear me roar. ere is might within this small frame, these bones like wrought steel deceptive under my body petite. My stutter is my guise, my roar a squeal, but though my words slow formed may be, you treat me like a child, not a peer. Prepare to see the lamb a lion, O fine bear. IV. CHRISTOPHER ROBIN DELUSIONS I saw the lamb a lion, O fine bear, I saw you in our Hundred Acre Wood pondering, think, think, think. You would share your honey with all who asked, so good a bear were you, of very little brains, but very much heart. Alone I was not when I was with you. I am not insane, as my doctors say. I remember our spot where we romped and played deep in the green glade. Piglet was jealous of the bond we shared. Murder most foul he plotted ev’ryday. He hated me. He hated me, I swear. Were you a phantom, a childhood scheme? Was it all in my head? Was it a dream? V. RABBIT FREAKS OUT It wasn’t in my head. It wasn’t a dream. I swear those crows were eating all my crops. Where is my shotgun, my killing machine? My scarecrow in vain endeavors to stop these foul little beasts. A murderous rage my being doth fill when Tigger appears, mischief to make. I would take up my spade and wipe the grin oﬀ his face with one spear to the head. Yes, I am a nervous wreck. But what of it? We each our demons face. We each the strongman endeavor to best. We each the dragon endeavor to slay. So cut me some slack when I get like this. My brains are all here. ey’ve just gone amiss.
VI. POOH GOES TO REHAB My brains are all here. ey’ve just gone amiss to the tree with the honey, where my thoughts go each day. Addicted to the sweet kiss of the amber fluid am I. I’ve sought its elixir from street-corner dealers, from junkies and addicts, bears just like me. Oh Mr. Sanders, where is your healer, your savior to come, from this hole to free? Piglet does not understand your travail. Tigger is clueless to your soulless eyes. Eyeore is obsessed with his damn tail. Rabbit is a jerk, cares not for your cries. Christopher Robin‘s love is oppressive. Your illness grows with each day successive. VII. OLD AGE CATCHES UP WITH OWL My illness grows with each day successive. I lose my memories each bit by bit, piece by piece until they all seem regressive, the clock moving backwards tick by cruel tick. My feathers are falling out, my beak bent and crippled, my wings can’t fly anymore. My bones feel used and worn, energy spent. I never have guests or knocks on my door. Pooh and the rest never visit or ask for advice. All my stories go untold. I putter around the tree house, the last of my noble line. I feel so very...old. I think I will lay down now and die. If they ask where I went, just say “the sky”. -