Christmas At The Feeder

Here’s to fortune and health
for all the downy woodpeckers
I’ve ever seen on my feeder

It’s almost Christmas and I feel nothing
but fear for myself as I wish good cheer
to every last feathered one of them

Before they disappear forever
into the next mass extinction
may they feast and be merry

all the way to the end (and
may the squirrels I accidentally support as well
have a twinkle in their eyes as they pass)

It doesn’t much feel like Christmas to me
but when I see the animals I’m reminded
that part of the world

thinks they’ll be talking to each other
at midnight on Christmas Day
and they’ll be saying calming things

about some baby or another born to save us
If we make it to the Second Coming
I’m sure there won’t be many animals 

left to talk about it
So for now I’ll encourage them to eat
and smile at their heads bobbing in and out

because as the song says
it don’t feel much like Christmas time
To me it’s more like Good Friday

and grief’s darkness and I’m thinking
we won’t make it to Easter 
and the stone will sit there unmoved

with a raven and a dove perched on top
for a few seconds before they topple
into the dust 

Of all the myths we’ve lived by
the one I have the least faith in
is the one that taught us to think death

while awful was impermanent
so complacency in the face of extinction
was a rational state of mind

The downy woodpeckers fly in
and eat when they can and when they go
they’re gone

and it doesn’t feel like Christmas
or hope or belief or even joy 
will stick around for long

once they’re gone for good


The Origin Of The Modern Serial Killer

You long for the frontier
of old, long for 
the joy of getting a medal
for your massacre skills.

These days,
you have to be
discreet.

Get a secret tool
you can use 
with black iron edge or
silver that sings.

Learn to swing it,
where and how
to stop it.

Start your practice
at home, move it to
the car, at last strap
yourself and walk among
your targets
like an old school
hunter, settler, pioneer,
colonizer deluxe;

bloodline cleanser
one hundred and fifty years
too late to go public — 
too bad 
they don’t pay for scalps anymore:

you could have made a killing.


Eros

Hands, fantastic
element I adore;
touch, medicine
against my eternal
submergence;

skin upon skin, preservation
I cannot offer to myself,
though salvation lies beyond
that moment of submission
to perfection; 

eyes, beloved
altars; sound
of conjoined breathing
rising and slowing,
a chant in the cathedral.

I long for such divinity
as if I would be lost forever
without it. I lose myself
for it, find myself beyond it:
here I am. Thus, I am.


When The Check Gets Here

When the check gets here
we will open the front door
For the first time in days
we’ll go outside to the sunlight

(that’s been here all along
but which has felt more like the agent
of exposure and threat
of relegation to the street

than the giver of life and joy)
When the check arrives we will dance
the grocery dance and sing the song
of the one small luxury for each of us

bought alongside the staples we will take home
to our empty shelves that have whispered of death
every time we have passed them
for — who can recall the full amount of time?

It has seemed like forever
or maybe a month of those
When the check comes we might heat the house
We might leave a light on all night by mistake

and not curse it in the morning
Maybe we will offer the good cat food
two days in a row
and rejoice in the purring

We will stare at the gas gauge
a little less carefully and turn off 
the calculator nagging inside
for today anyway

When the check comes in
we might swear to never get this low again
When the check comes in 
we might swear to never ever getting this low again

Every check’s a prayer these days — 
not an answer to a prayer but a prayer itself
We fold our hands around it and ask it
to take away pain and give us hope

to free us from the tyranny of barely getting by
and the guilt we feel for buying one small luxury
The side-eye from the people in the stores who see it
in our carts otherwise full of shame

They might be suffering too
whenever they’re waiting for their next check
but we look at them the way they look at us
and somehow forget that all of us

are in this by someone else’s design


Where Is The Center?

Where is the center?

There were solid dreams there
once. Once it held stone and tree;
sheltered fox, eagle, and all the hope
of the ocean. Once, it was
the paradox of sky above us
with its origin in our depths.

Then, we sold it cheap
for false peace.
Handed it off for promises 
of distant wealth. 

In its place, 
a deep hole light can’t crack. 
A cavern that once held
a molten core
now glimmers
with rime ice.

When the wind whistles
across the mouth of that pit?
What a thin dirge.

We pass through,
singing along.

When we catch 
each others’ eyes,
it’s all we can do
to stifle our screams.


Cold Guitar

She’s on your mind

as you struggle
into the club

with your gear,
coming in from cold

that will bust your guitar’s finish
wide open into something like

a road map if the case
is opened too soon.

There you sit with a beer
staring at the case,

thinking of songs for her
you haven’t written

that you promised yourself
you’d write, and now

would be the perfect time for it
if only it would warm up.

Then again, there’s tomorrow
to consider, and spring eventually,

and the right song takes time
and heat and more time; and 

the thought of her is receding now,
the previous urgency diminishing

even as the time comes
to pull the guitar gingerly out

and play your songs for strangers,
songs you wrote for her

in warmer days. Songs
you are selling, if you can,

to anyone who will listen.


Morning, November 2019

A corrosion of our shared faith
in how sunrise should feel
to a night chilled face.

A wasting disease
of our individual hopes: failing, wilting,
drained of heat and blood.

An injury to the bones.
An insult to the stones
below our feet. A consummation

of historical tangles
of wrong paths and missteps
and mythic levels of stubborn denial

leashed to pure and wholesome
Evil. It puts words
into our mouths no one

fully understands,
but we speak them
anyway. In this ending,

all words trend toward
inscrutability. Confused,
sunrise stumbles on without us.


Rope, Knot, God, Ground

When you get to
the end of your rope,
tie a knot and hold on. 

By which is meant,
you’ve got to let it go
if you are going to tie it.

Which means of course
you’ve got to let go
and let God.

Which means
you have to have faith that the same God
who created and established gravity 

will suspend it just for you 
this one time just so you can tie that knot
and hold on.

Which means
that if it really pleased God,

you could just float there 

without needing the rope 
or the knot
in the first place.

That God must want you
to die of absurdity, must be
a capricious entity;

you are
a joke
to them.

Why don’t you just let go, 
forego the knot,
see what happens?

Maybe there’s a God,
maybe there’s no God.

Maybe you’ll float

or maybe you’ll fall;
maybe the ground’s
not far at all.

Look at the end of the rope up there,
growing smaller and smaller
as you descend.

Bye, bye, rope. Bye bye, knot.
Bye bye, God of caprice
and mutable law.

Something’s rising
toward you
from below.

Hello, unknown landing,
soft or hard. Hello, 
place where cliches end.

No rope, no knot.
Solid ground, 
all the solid ground you need. 


Thanksgiving Eve

Revised. From 2008.

Yes, I know the first official Thanksgiving Day 
was ordered to celebrate 
the massacre of 700 Pequots 
in 1637.

Yes, I feel accountable
to those dead 
for joining the annual amnesiac rush
to hide behind the lie
of a feast 16 years earlier in Plymouth 
that is used these days 
to screen us from how we cruise 
upon an ocean of blood.

Yes, I annually balance 
that shame on the end of a fork.

Yes, yes, to holding tight to the memory
of death in the fields around villages
burning like candles on the shore
of Long Island Sound.

Yes, yes, to the horrid past alive
in every bite of every American dish
eaten every day.

Yes, yes, though,
to days off and family
and people unseen since last year;
to knowing some of these faces
will likely be not here next year,
perhaps not even 
my own.

Yes, yes, yes.
Yes to our own remaking.
Yes to surviving the remaking of others.

Yes to the remaking of myths
through truth applied more as lesson,
less as bludgeon.


No Light

Trying to enjoy the odd last light
of the odd last days of our empire.

Trying to see past the dark beyond
into the expected tomorrow morning

exactly as I’ve waited for it my entire life.
Dreading my entire life. Praying against it

for my whole life, though it kept on coming up
and pouring through. I did what I was told

and tried to love it, to find the beauty in it.
Here I am today where the light is shade-odd

and I’m trying to love it
and the beauty as I’m told to

and all I can think of is 
light ending to bring me the night

and let it be that I need not
wait again to leave that dark

for a beauty
I can’t find at all anymore.

 


Point

a point can be made of anything
if you grind it long enough.

any point can stick you, or pierce
another. any point 

can be used to draw blood
or break a hide whether tender or tough.

you say, what about that warrior who said
“be like water.” what about water, you say,

water has no point? but direct it tightly enough
and it cuts through anything from stone

to time — any canyon shows 
how sharp and durable water’s point

can be, how much past is laid waste
behind it.  air, you say, air has no point?

tell me, what word that has ever torn you
was not at first a reworking of air?

a thought well sharpened can kill. anger
comes in spikes. temper, temper,

harden, hone; pull all we are
into the service of the spear. 

a point can be made of anything
worked hard enough, ground down enough —

even us, softened with fear;
even us who think we could never, could.


Heads up

Sorry for the reduced output of late.  Dealing with an attack of something stomach related, possibly pancreatitis, and it’s knocked me for a loop.

I’ll be back in form in the next day or so.

T

 

 

 


On All Fours As Predicted

as has been predicted
we are down on all fours
eating sand — smooth

pink, hard graveled, 
laden with plastic and glass,
oil-caked: whatever we find

we swallow because we must
eat or die. we are down on all fours
drinking sewage or other foulness

because all we have left is foulness.
drown in scent and hard swallow.
this is how we see ourselves now.

as has been predicted on all fours,
understanding slightly more
of what that’s like. there were so many

who told us it would come to this
and now we semi-get it but we still think
we will rise up in a bit and things

will return to normal. we only semi-get it
as was predicted. this is normal now.
we will have to be down a long time,

longer than this, if we are ever to rise.
those who’ve lived here on all fours longer
stretch and prepare. as was predicted.

as their time down is done. if there will be
a rising at all they are ready. we remain
on all fours though they will lift us.

if we let them.
if we can vomit that poison.
if we take note of what has been predicted.


I Have No Metal

I have no metal.
I have no funk.
Lost my folk, my jazz,
almighty punk.

I sat my guitar back
in its case.
Laid the strap 
over its dimmed face.

Easy now. The down.
The slide. 
Rest the music.
Close the eyes.

I know one song
from start to end
and here it is.
I recommend

you play it slow
and soft to start.
Crescendo till
it breaks a heart.

Need not be yours,
need not be mine.
Just count it off
just one more time.

I have no metal
and crashed my punk.
My funk and jazz
have run to junk.

I have no song
to offer here.
Close the door.
Disappear.


You Done Good

After all
had ended,
the only thing 
he lacked was
hearing

“you done good”

from the one person
he’d never heard it from;

when it was clear
that it would remain
forever unvoiced,
the air filled with ash

and ever after
he would choke
on any accolade
received.