Tag Archives: poems

Worry

He put his worry on the table
where he could watch it steam
and bubble. It made a rat sound
while he watched: almost a coherent
word at first, but the more he listened
the less he understood. Worry’s not
for understanding, but for feeling.
You don’t have to understand a thing
to know what worry is. It just is.
It sits there being. An essence that needs
no adjective, no modifier. He walked away
from the table but the voice of worry
and its slow heat is not going away,
no matter what. 


Warning

Pay attention: they’ve put a new hit
out on us. Anyone holding something other
than their Sun-bright view of this world
has a target on them now no spell alone can erase.

One eye out for the ambush, one eye
fixed on possible sniper’s nests; once again,
we must learn to live in the Sun’s kingdom
where Gray means nothing to the keepers of White.

Look out, my folk: there’s an ancient contract
with our names upon it. All their scopes trained
upon the time between twilight and dawn;
they only love the Sun, allow for nothing else.

Eyes wide open, all: as always, they wait in daylight
to seek those who step aside from their plain view
and their easy explanations. Under the light
of their Sun, we have dared to have shadows. 


Cats And Politicians

The morning writing I’d conceived overnight was going to compare cats and politicians. It isn’t going well. I like cats too much to do that to them and in fact I don’t think they are that much alike

until Coco, the elder of my pair, black, long furred, cranky, loyal to me above all other humans, once again sticks her claws into my bare foot to remind me of my morning routine

and to insist upon a spell of chasing the red dot until she is done with the exercise. I almost always submit to the demand but soon enough grow tired and stop until she huffs away

to find another annoyance — pawing at the bookcase doors, pawing at a yet-to-be-opened window, yowling in the kitchen for some yet-to-exist perfect food I’ve refused to offer

then coming back to where I’m trying to work to fall sideways before me and purr, illustrating her continued support regardless of my many failings. Sometimes I sit back and close my eyes

and pretend it will end if I ignore her, but it never does. 

All this time Miesha, the younger cat, sits and watches. Never engages unless I break down and offer more food, then shows up to eat and leaves to return to her observational duties. I worry

that she is half the age of Coco and is absorbing knowledge for her own future shenanigans, working through potential changes in her calico head
to make herself both more adorable and more successful than Coco

who is back from the catnip now, poking my foot. “Don’t you want to be immortalized in these words I am fashioning through your behavior?” She just pokes my foot again. I resort to the spray bottle,

thinking about the unopened window, the cold outside, the yowling in the kitchen. Miesha is watching birds now as I’ve obviously become stale. Coco comes back in and falls at my feet

and I’m still trying to think about politicians and cats, but the nagging and the constant insistent pain of Coco’s claws is making me so hopeless about ever living up to my promise as an artist

that I do not think
there is much left
for me to say
as one morning soon
(unlike any politician I know of)
I will likely die of despair
for never having done enough
to satisfy any being’s needs.


Before You Blame The Former Guy

Before you say
this is all new

Before you blame 
the former guy for launching

this parade of coffins
this festival of sneer then shoot

Before you thank
your current stars and future votes

and press keys or buttons
to share a lazy meme or simple choice

look at any shadow
you fear today and then

tell me it’s not just the same old darkness
taking on more weight

Shade thickening shadow slipping out
from behind what has always created your comfort

Coming on from behind
bank redlines and yellow crime scene tape

Coming on from behind reservation borders
and internment camp barbed wire

Coming on from burning bars
and raided social clubs

Coming on from surreptitious clinics
in a perpetual rain of blood

Before you blame the former guy
for everything you loathe about today 

look at all the former
that drew up the latter

Look at the throng of ghosts
massed behind that big bright flag

you like to imagine ever meant 
the same to others as it does

to you who still love to hear it snap
in the breeze

like a symphony of boots
coming down on necks almost like yours

but never enough like yours
to keep them from becoming dead


This Ain’t It

This place, my home,
narrowing to the width
of a sick dropping falling
from a sick hole. 

Or, it was always this way
and I’ve gotten bigger —
not much, but enough
to see difference 

between what I used to think 
was vast and what I see now as
already small  but tapering off even more
before it falls to the bowl,

the smell noticeably
more acid than rose,
now that I know
what a rose can be.


Sick To My Stomach

Sick to my stomach — is it
bad milk or White Male
Death Cult shockwaves, 
bees in my right brain,
yellow jackets in my left,
the stinging from one struggling
to overwhelm the other 
and the battle rolling, rolling…?

Sick to my stomach — is it
their laughter or their disregard
or both, the buzzing of all
the insects around me disorienting
the air itself so it all smells
like vomit, the coupled scent of roses
and lead, the flavor of
how long the disappearance of good
will be, can be, might be…?

Sick to my stomach…is it
the year? the news? the unexpected
drama from so many who should 
have known? This is the Church
of Worship of Churches. Its incense
opens nausea windows in the world
we have known, people voiding
their rights, the bees making
a last stand against it all, 
enraged, fighting, going for 
their eyes, their balls…their unholy
conception of a god’s will. 


Busan

Sandy’s coming up from the bottom of the street,
calling for her dog again — fat graying pit pull
who hardly seems the runaway type, too slow
to be hard to catch, too big to wriggle through
a fence; maybe the gate’s broken or too easy to open?
I’ve never walked down to see although it happens 
once or twice a week that I hear her calling the dog:
“Busan, BUSAN!!” An odd name. Of course
no way to know why she chose it. Maybe given
by a past owner. Maybe she got the dog long ago
in Busan. I look across the street and see the dog
standing behind a car; it stops its slow escape
and turns to look at Sandy lumbering toward 
the top of the hill. Soon the leash will be reattached
and they will turn back to the insecure yard 
at the bottom, where Busan will hang out in the sun
and Sandy will recover from the effort
of getting them home until the next time it happens,
when the chances are good that I’ll be sitting here
still, mystified by Sandy, Busan, and their patterns
that lend themselves to incipient insanity
as they lead you to expect different results;
for instance, right now I’m saying “Busan” 
out loud, tearing up, and thinking
of my dead father, the veteran, yet again.


For The Days

I’m just here 
for the days when 
I don’t drop a cup or
a bowl into the sink,
for the days guitar strings
feel right again for even
a single song, for the days
the floor doesn’t yield
to my spongy feet and send me
staggering into a reach
for a wall, the fridge, 
a door jamb. I’m here
for the days coping with
bothersome skin,
psoriatic scalp, 
anxious pumping
of my thick blood by
my ever-strained heart.
I’m here for the hope
of touch yet to be given
and received, for peace and
finality; it’s too much to hope
for closure, too late for
resolution. I’m here for days
that feel more or less 
unremarkable — no peak
or valley experiences, nothing
unique, nothing to write home
about if I were any farther
from a place that feels like home
than I am right now, leaning lonely
on the door jamb, waiting for 
my feet to get firm enough
to take me where I need to go. 


Say So

In the center lane,
the one cars use
to go straight through
instead of turning 
left or right,

the driver
of a dark blue Nissan
is smiling, car dancing
to what from here sounds like
Doja Cat while her child
wiggles in the passenger seat
more or less in time with the song
and their mother’s glee.

It hurts more than a little
when I turn left
away from these 
happy two and go back
to my empty home

where no one’s
waiting for me
(right now anyway)
and where the music
I play in the empty house
doesn’t make me dance 
(I miss her too much for that)
and it’s not going to change
(not soon enough anyway)
whether or not I say so. 


How To Go Quietly

Your dilemma today? How to go quietly.
You’ve lived out loud for so long
people think of you as embedded 
in a permanent echo of yourself.

The air is calling your name.
You can’t escape it. You are
honored as much as you feel 
cursed and invisible — the others

don’t know who you are
other than what they’ve heard
on the wind. You know you are 
at once better and worse; 

more real, less solid. More
thick, less angelic. How are you possibly
going to get away from yourself
long enough to become silent and more real?


Video: two poems

Made a public post on my Patreon site… I did a recap video of two of the poems I did last night in NH.

Give it a listen, and if you’re not already there, consider becoming a Patron for more exclusive content.


Procrastination

There is enough to work with:
ample material, strong skills,
easy place to work — so why 
is this so difficult now, this
necessary stitching together
of old parts and new findings?

I’m apparently ready to be defined
by a failure, as if it would
render me immortal. Truth
is, it’s as likely to make me
invisible once the news,
now broken, is ground into 
scraps and is no longer clear
to the historical eye.


CRT

They don’t want you
wreckdiving
for fear, they say,
of sharks. 

For fear,
they say, of you
getting trapped and 
being swallowed.

Somewhere
in the wreckage
maybe an explanation
and perhaps a breath

of truly fresh air.
It makes no sense 
but maybe under the waves
there’s a better flag there,

one you could stand for
and salute in a clean
upright way in spite of
all the ocean above you

with its weight of
drowned history. Or, 
maybe it won’t be
that way at all for you

and you’ll come back up
struggling and gulping
but at least you’ll know.
You’ll know how the bodies

went overboard and how
rescue was forbidden or at least
restrained. You can decide then
whether or not you want to swim back

to the shore you left where
they’ll be waiting for you
with the same faces 
they’ve always shown you,

and what you want to say
and do as you come up on shore
with new eyes for them
and their own suffocating fear.


It All Happens For A Reason

It’s such a wrecked world,
such a messy place

with piles of little damages and
headshaker…injuries? murders?

mistakes? Here are a few
that do not look so accidental;

consciously painful to consider
this, unconsciously thrilling to think

that someone’s orchestrating 
all the chaos and that there’s no such thing 

as accident here.  It makes the world
more orderly for you to think

that it takes more
than random incidents on a preset path

to cause such devastation.
Gives you a reason to whisper, God,

and even though it seems insane to say it,
that soothes as much as it kills. 


Everyone Is Burning

Common wisdom says
if you find yourself on fire
you must stop, drop, and roll
until there is no more fire,

but no one follows that up
with any wisdom at all about 
what to do with all these ashes
and hard charred hunks
left behind by the flames.

It would be good to know.
There’s so much of this
going around
it’s hard to distinguish
smoldering people
from the land on which
they suffer,
the land onto which
they’ve fallen

rolling in agony 
until they either 
put the fire out
or spread it to
another,
and then another.