Monthly Archives: May 2019

Pyres

They tied people
I might have loved 
to stakes placed high

on piles of gasolined wood,
bound them with ropes
they bought on my credit.

They set those pyres alight
with bills I handed them 
from my wallet

and when the condemned
screamed, they turned
my music 
up loud enough

to make it seem 
that the cries of the immolated
were distant,

discordant coincidences
not in the soundtrack
from the start.

I bowed my head 
and looked at my hands;
empty, supplicant,

stinking of
accelerant, blistered

and scarred from heat.

They also held my tears
and though I wept for it all,
though my weeping

should have added
salt to my wounds,
they barely stung;

when I looked up
at the ones tending the pyres,
I saw my hands there.


Throne

It must have
felt good
to have grown up with 
a God that looks like you.

It must have made
for interesting Sundays, listening to 
words someone like you pronounced
long ago in your voice.

Must have been enough
to make your every current desire
feel like a holy command, every heavy debt
a wound waiting for redress in your deified heart.  

Now people are pushing
new pictures of God,

claiming God has a different voice,
a long-hidden Word.

It’s must be hard to imagine
that all your throne years

might be coming to an end.
What now for you? Right now,

sitting there with your fists
balled up tight, your eyes 
rolling rage, you look like someone else — 
yet somehow, still very like you.


Gardner Street

On Gardner Street the cobblestones
no longer hide under asphalt.  It’s an
axle-breaker 
road, used by some

to cut from Main South
to a faster route to downtown, 
one not as direct but with 

fewer obstacles once you get past
the hard historic rumble
of Gardner Street.

Even though driving down Main Street 
offers a straight shot it’s never been easy
to get to 
our shiny downtown from Main South,

even before the rebuild,
the driving out 
of the old tenants,
the tear down 
of the old church,

the ripping of old fabric in favor of something
artisanal and pure and much more 
wholesomely rough;

if they haven’t
paved a condo courtyard down there 
with vintage cobblestones yet,

they will. 

Back on Gardner Street,
right near

the new Boys and Girls Club

(located off of what they used to call
Kilby Street
until someone decided

that name
reminded too many

of who ran the corners there;

GPS still calls it Kilby Street
though all the signs
are down and trashed)

drivers not already
in the know
keep slamming into

that open pit of exposed cobblestones
and either brake hard
or break down hard.

Townies know better. They know
what’s under
every shiny new surface. They

know what will render
your shiny ride useless.
Know what it means

to be shined on. Know
what their streets 
used to hold. Know

real people live on Gardner Street
and they don’t always 
just pass through.


My Books, My Guitars, My Body, My Shadow

Here are my books.
They have mattered
through most of my time;
right now, I’m not sure how
they continue to fit into me.

Here are guitars, drums,
cuatros, basses, more;
they have mattered as much
as the books, although now
they hang and sit dusty and ask
why they are still here.

The downward slide
of my aging hands and eyes
sweeps me away from
how I have self-defined.
I can’t make things work
as they always have worked.

It terrifies me daily
that I wake up
with no sense 
of what will be gone in daylight
that I could see and grip
in the dark of the night before.

Here is my body.
The shadow behind it isn’t talking right now,
but no book or song can keep it silent forever. 

This has always been true,
but at dawn each day now
I hear it clearing its throat.
I didn’t read about this in any book
and the music I swear
I can hear now and then

isn’t anything I want to learn to play.


The One In Which I Trust

There — a poet 
saying

soul, crystalline,
illusion, diaphanous,
eldritch, mystic,
heartstrings, crystalline
(again);

and another 
saying

justice, aggression,
oppression, supremacy,
revolution, war,
peace, justice
(again).

Over my shoulder 
the voice of one
saying

nuts, bolts, 
pencils, slipjoint pliers,
leaf-litter, lighters,
smocks, lighters
(again);

this is the one
I turn to hear,

the one
in which I trust.