the smell of success (20171207)

the entryway to the house
was tiled with black slate flagstones
irregular, rough

i don’t remember
how many times i stubbed a toe on
the stones mortared in place
with sandy grout as wide as a
farmer john sausage
but my big toe remembers
how easily the skin split
how freely the blood flowed out
like an old testament sacrifice

that was some cold shit to sit on
when the weather got cold
or as cold as it could get
in southern california

grandma came over almost
every day of the week
to cook with my mom and eat breakfast
with us every day
and she was old already

i remember sitting on it
when i was still too young to go
to school all day
once after my mom and my grandma
had fried an entire pound of bacon
in a cast iron skillet that
stayed at that house longer than
any of us kids did

i took that plate of bacon
an entire cooked pound
caramelized and crunchy
and a little black because my mother
hated flabby, flaccid bacon
and i don’t know what that says about her
i took that entire plate
and sat my ass down
on the cold slate flagstones
and tried to eat a pound of bacon

i remember cold stone
through corduroy
like ice through crappy gloves
that aren’t rated for the cold
i remember the smoky incense
of that bacon making a sweet savour
unto the lord
a soothing aroma
but i don’t remember them
taking the plate from me
or laughing at how i thought it was all for me
i don’t remember crying about it
though i cried at everything
since i was so sensitive

i can close my eyes
and feel that flagstone
when i sit at my desk
and i can smell that bacon
and the plate
the plate is in my hands
but is empty
without even the shiny raindrops
of grease

tides (20171205)

you hang in the sky
a morning full moon
pale transparent stranger
alone in winter white expanse

i’ve known you forever
as long as i’ve known
the moon

i don’t know you at all
don’t recognize
these changing faces
that wax and wane

while you pull at my tides
i beg for cloud cover
and remember how you cut me
and how i had to cauterize
my own wounds
so i wouldn’t bleed out

elegy (20171129)

i pass through a cold spot
the paranormal experts
tell me this is a sign
some formerly corporeal being

is absorbing energy because
it wishes to communicate
or otherwise engage
with a world of mucus-leaking
sacks of wobbly flesh

who’s a good boy?

i don’t discourage the flickers
at the edge of my vision
the sound of jangled tags
the clacking of long toenails

happy to ride a bus
i’ll get off only when they make me
without a known destination

still

lately i gaze
out the window at a soft horizon
and feel the need for heaven

the third season (20171121)

red autumn eye
looks southward now

through heavy coat
hard to feel its gaze
but the eye lingers over me
like twilight spiderwebs in my hair
counting out my time
dawn by dawn

i set my feet upon the earth
send down roots
among sycamores
among eucalyptus
i can stand a cold morning or two
yet

i haven’t seen a paperboy
in years
/forgive the sexist terminology
i am aware of it and i’m working on it/

i haven’t heard the
satisfying smack
of atrocities landing in my driveway
or my neighbor’s driveway
my neighbors drive away
my neighbors driven away

i do not read the news
still, it reaches inside my chest
night time hands
separating organs from fatty membranes

autumn red eye
roll south
take these shuddering breaths with you
take these neighbors
who drive away
who don’t read the paper

roll south

host (20171116)

the millstone turns heavy
powered by blood
torrents of thick red
jam coagulating where it pools

and there’s no grist to grind
only chaff left
from the threshing floor

but grind it does
the wheel grinds
it is all it knows how to do
and so it turns and grinds

we bake our bread
with rough husk flour
we bake our poor loaves

black on the coals
of our ancestors’ bones

bitter is the crust
with no spot of fat
to grease the pitted stone
that is our only sustenance
and nothing to wash it

down but overflowing glasses of
gall bitter from our own hands

this is our bread
our communion

/pen/umbra (20171113)

no silhouette cut by diamonds
no sharp crisp edge of a shadow

you need a cloudless sky
and a summer sun for that

the fog bound star in the sky
gives me a fuzzy edge

vampires don’t cast
reflections in mirrors or shadows
because they lost their souls.

what of my caterpillar-soft double
writhing on the ground
attached at the feet
attached until i float
attached then not at all

what sound does a shadow make
the creaking of bones?
the grinding of teeth?
the paper on paper whisper
of a moth’s wings?