Tag Archives: poetry

Diamonds And Rust At Three AM

At three AM
“Diamonds and Rust”
won’t leave my head
or hands. Sitting in 
the far room
on a desk chair
that makes more noise
than an unplugged
Telecaster can.
Fingerpicking
my way through,
not singing as it’s
three AM and
the dog won’t bother
to come in if I
can keep it down.
My love in the next room
won’t be disturbed if I
can keep it down.
I try not to move
so the chair won’t squeak.
I try not to sing
so my eyes don’t leak.
I concentrate
so I do not fail
the near silent notes;
so my hands don’t feel
the pain they do
when I am simply
walking around
through daylight chores:
stiffened; full of rust and 
broken nerves while
the sharp diamonds
of my past
are carving me within. 


To Be Treated As A Mockery

The seagull
on the parking lot fence:
laughing, angry, or neither;
commenting on your face,
stature, speech; or worse
on none of that; on 
something unseen in the air
around you. As if 
air around you is the problem;
as if you are the air’s problem. 
You feel you’re suddenly
an exposed shipwreck:
treated as a mockery
not a tragedy;
opened to scrutiny
by the scouring
of a storm; the seagull,
laughing over
your once waterlogged bones,
knows more than you want to 
acknowledge, is
threatening to tell,
is perching on you,
refusing to leave.


At The Top Of The Stairs

At the top of the stairs
lived all my lasting errors.

I used to live there too.
Then I fled down here

and left (or thought I left)
those villains behind.

I looked up for what I thought
would be the final time

and the stairs flattened
and all my lasting errors

slid down and heaped up
around my ankles. I could not move.

Once again, there was
nowhere left to go. 


Things You Can Do Once You Are Dead, Apparently

Appeal
to our
better natures.

Soften public
opinion toward
your parents. 

Annoy and afflict others
with memories of how you lived
and died.

Suggest a better world 
for those who remain,
eventually. At least

remain 
a lesson 
on the way there.

There’s rotting
to be done. There are
cheap shots to be taken

at your expense.
Absorb and deflect them
and in fact cease caring

for what strikes you,
as you were unable to do
in your last live minutes.

Lie there until
someone grows a conscience
and replants it elsewhere.

Feed it 
on your name
and last words.

Water it 
with unruly streams
of your blood and tears. 

Fade from it, or do not.
Not for everyone,
not for long years. 


A Little Distance Between

More than a little 
distance between 
me in a car
being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

and the ones
(you know the ones I mean)
who don’t drive away
from being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

I’ve got my head
in my hands
most days when
I sit on the couch
and think about
how the news plays
on and on the same

look at me there with
my head in my hands 
as I sit on my butt
I’m a circle a wheel
a stone in a catapult
I just can’t
launch myself

through my TV screen
into the fire around
the scenes on screen so instead
I’ll drive fast and carelessly
into the next city town village over
See what happens — aw go on
Nothing’s gonna happen most likely

Most likely the worst
that can happen is a wreck 
and I’ll just be a tragedy
of my own making
The lights will be blue and benign
The tones of the news anchors  
will be mournful resigned

In the next life
I wanna be a boulder
no one can find a use for
until I’m hurled a little distance
over the walls of a fortress
I can wait till the next life
for someone else to get justice


Enough For An Encore

When his life had finally failed
to the full extent possible,
he screamed and wept out loud and 

his failure became as unto 
a drum solo that broke
the air in the room

so that all who were present
sat there flushed with the heat
of his shame and the beat

of this last collapse.
You really were wailing there,
man, said one to him after.

That was hot. He sat back down,
praying agony would grant him enough
for an encore. 


Nothing To Shout Out

Decent heart,
improper body.
Old story. In fact
old man story:
spirit too sour,
flesh and blood too sweet.

Thanks tonight to decent bed,
to rest and random touch.
Thanks to light through
blinds laying bars across
bedspread and bodies. Almost
how it was when I was confident;

cozied up almost to arrogance;
almost tight with it,
almost no light between.
Now there’s nothing to keep 
us together. Nothing in which
to glory. Nothing to shout out. 


Agony Light

Some memories
fall on you 

then stick hard,
burn like napalm.

Others slide down,
make happy gas puddles

where you splash
until the napalm

you already wear
ignites them.

You in flames forever, 
no matter

the pool or river where
you fling yourself,

seems to be what’s been
allotted for you.

You in flames no matter which
Bible verse, contrived or authentic,

you turn to 
for comfort.

You tell yourself
others will see better

in your agony light,
sustain themselves over your fire,

stay warm in darkness.
You tell yourself it’s enough

to be this and dry out within
until all you are is fuel.


Yesterday’s workshop…

Yesterday’s Zoom workshop on “The Poetry Of Place” had twelve participants and was, I thought, pretty successful. I’ll likely do it again in the summer or fall, with some tweaks to timing of activities (and maybe some prework…) but overall I thought the conversion of a live session into a Webinar was OK.  

Next time I’ll include the use of a couple of interactive tools I use in my corporate work to gain some more immediacy in practice sessions. I wanted to keep things simple this time around.

Thanks to those who attended, and I’m certainly going to add more topics to the menu over time.  If you have any ideas you’d like to see, you can put them in the comments…

T


Fallen

Of course you are cancelling
every appointment we’ve made
and now you are not speaking
in any way we like to call civil
or polite.

Meanwhile I’m
flat on my back
in a supermarket
where I’ve fallen in front of
the prepared foods and salads.

I don’t know how it happened.
No one’s trying to help me, except
for the worker who’s asking
if I need a cart for what scattered
from my arms when I hit the floor.

Of course there’s no point now
to thinking about missed jobs
and phone calls. The ceiling’s 
interesting. A bird’s flying from girder
to girder. He seems certain

of landing where he intends
to land. I’m afraid to rise as
I don’t know if on my feet will ever be
the right place for me to land

ever again. Of course no one’s
calling to offer me a place to land
that’s any safer than on my feet
so I can fall again. I might just stay here 
where having fallen is safer than waiting to fall.


Some Place To Call Ancestral

I had my share of it, they say,
and now they don’t want me here.

One share, two shares, five shares, more:
who do you think you are, they say?

What do you think you are owed? 
Nothing, I say. All I want

is my name and a scrap of corner light
from my old bedroom. Some place

to call ancestral. I’m not
to the manor born but once

I squalled and squealed here
and I believe that still echoes.

I don’t believe this is about
what I’m owed or even about

who owes, you see. 
This is about honoring the part of me

that should have staked my claim
when I still trusted you.

I didn’t think I’d even
need to ask and now we are here,

or rather I’m here and you
are there with your stake and claim,

your chains and surveyor’s transit.
Mine, you say, as you set up 

on my stone. I don’t even want
that, I say. It’s dark here

and a little light
from the family window

would be enough for me.
Nothing more tangible.

Nothing that you need 
to surrender. 


Family Home

The darkness in this home 
is the depth of a hall closet

where things are hanging
that haven’t seen light in decades.

Dust and mildew, but also
whatever was left there

after the last family wedding
anyone remembers attending:

the brutal one. The terminal one.
The dark ceremony with all

the strength of its memory
breaking though and overwhelming

the shields of thin plastic 
draped over the shoulders

and lapels. It’s been decades
but there’s no room for anything else,

in the house, even if the door to the closet
closes again and locks hard. 


The Ghost Upstairs

The guy
doesn’t bother
taking the cover
off his unregistered car
to move it ten feet
down the curb. Didn’t hit
the neighbors’ car which is 
kind of a pity as that might have been
the last straw, 
last act in the ghost play — 
he’s been a squatting ghost
for far more than a year now;
lots of banging, lots of
dragging heavy things,
lots of late night
visitors, lots of doors
left open, not just unlocked,
wide open at all hours. 
Was supposed
to have moved at the end of last month
but something
went wrong with that
as has been the case
for the last three years between
the ‘vid
and the eviction moratorium.
Between compassion for him and 
agony for the rest of us. No, 
I don’t know or particularly care about
where he’s supposed to go.
Fatigue has put a cover over
my compassion. No,
I surely don’t know
where we were supposed to go
or what we’re supposed to have done.
Anger has torn the cover 
from my tolerance. 
All I know is the rest of us
are dog’s-old-bone tired
of living with the ghost
and if we don’t get some rest soon
someone’s going to
rip that cover off his car
and have it towed
straight to Hell while he 
chases it all the way down.


Last Stop

Long road. Decent
scenery. Occasional 
rock falls spilling onto
the shoulders, more often
sheets of gravel across pavement,
left there by runoff.
Careful, careful, you say.
Not too fast, you have
time. A long road
demands time, requires
attention when you
are this far
from one home
and not close enough yet
to a new one. There may not be
enough time left to get there
of course but on the way
you need to be careful, 
careful, especially as you
approach what you think will be
the destination.  Being
too eager is how you slip
from the road and go
over the edge, dragging rock
and gravel with you
as you roll screeching
your resignation all the way
to the silence that will flood 
your stop at the bottom.


Aging Into The Work

Begin
by switching 
from late night 
frenzy jags 
to mornings
before the coffee 
has finished brewing,
changing
your work wardrobe from
naked or T-shirts and briefs
in bed
to full dress
in whatever you decide 
to see as your office,
refusing to rely
on inspiration in bursts — begin
not carrying a notebook
everywhere and letting
the lines come and go within
as they see fit, trusting
the Work itself will put
those that would matter most
back in your hand when the time
demands it.  Continue like this
for as many years as you have left
to spend on it. It may be few,
it may be many, it may be
none at all and of course 
the Work itself
will continue without you
but when all is done,
take comfort in how
serious you were
about finding your own way
in your fading light.