without mediation, wolf takes matters into his own hands–20191201

only his head
is big enough
to fit inside

–you have a problem, wolf says

he takes a long drag
the cigarette coal glows and dies
like a highway patrol car’s lights

–you think time only moves
in one direction

–you’re hung up on a metaphor
time is a river, you think
once you pass over a spot
it’s gone forever

i push my back against
the dry cave wall

wolf followed me here through the rain
worst storm in fifty years
now his coat is ragged and sopping
while i have a small fire
a bundle of sticks

i beat him to the cave
by all rights
i get dibs on shelter

he gets the storm

–it’s all good

he spits the butt into my tiny flames

–i’ll be back ten minutes ago

signs and portents of the new year, 2019 written on the last day of 2018

a dead man
appears to me in a dream
shuffling from side to side
grinning sheepishly
he apologizes
for dying
and leaving things
undone

a blue bag of dog shit tied
to the leash
swings in and out
of a cone of light
like a censer
during mass

beads of sap
from the latest tree trimming
glisten like globes of glass
on the sidewalk

a broken mirror
shaped like a child’s drawing
of a house
turned such that i
cannot see my reflection
only the silver sheen
of light

two owls in the night
one invisible, screeching
a second, caught in the beam
of my flashlight
frozen like a ghost projected
against the night sky
silent

postcardia (20181221)

take my heart

find it weightless

i have emptied it
day by day
scraping away
the inside lining
with bloody fingernails
pounding flat the walls
with bruised fists
burnishing the
paper-thin membrane
with my palms
until my bones
have shown through
the skin

weigh my heart on your scale
it is empty and without weight
your feather will drag
the balance down
to strike the floor
resounding like a gong

nothing in my heart

your hand may pass through it
as if through mist or
a rainbow’s shadow

o dog-headed god
watch as my heart rises
it will ascend
watch it ascend
let it ascend

restoration hardware (20181124)

let the lies
be truths
the ink blood
skin words
write yourself
write your grievances
on sheets
where the darkness
laid its head
and found
momentary peace

a single chord
works in all keys
your fingering’s right
but the string
still buzzes
frets are just headstones
hiding bones
let them find
momentary peace

i have momentarily
made peace
with weakness
cravenness  a close ally
shrugging my shoulders

 

forlorn (20181028)

crow
in the yard
digs through trash
among words
i’ve tossed out

it finds one with still
a little life
plucked from the ashes
of other
dead phrases

i feel the crow disturb it
through a pulsing umbilicus
that runs across a cracked driveway
and fragrant rosemary
with impossible blue blossoms

it runs under the door

straight into my gut

the word throbs in his beak
like a thumb-size mass of organs
wrapped in a greasy membrane

he will unseam this word
tear out the stitches
pierce it with his black beak
devour the marrow

it will become his

it will become his word
and on his black tongue
it will be his song
as he rises from the ground

i throw rocks at him
my loud visitor
to scare him away from
the bins
but he eyes me with contempt
and with my hard work
in his glistening maw
he takes to the air

i do not
pursue

his feathers are so black
so very like the night
and this

paper is so

so

white

conformation (20181011)

you rise out of water
majestic
gray
as if breaking not
only the clear surface
but also erupting from
the riverbed

but you have fallen
from some greater height
propelled by the very water
you petulantly divide
cling to the earth
refuse to let go
resist all forward movement

the water will tear you down
the river will carve you up

i race past you
on the surface
like a miniature cloud in a sky
weightless
casting my weightless shadow

water will take me
and i will go
i spin as i pass you
declaring my verdancy
even as i change

even as you refuse to
gripping the mud
with your fingers
curled into claws

but the water will tear you down
the river will carve you up
you will be moved

your fourth dead body (20180521)

your fourth dead body
lies in state on sunday
on pillars before a home
a house on a busy main street
still sleepy on sunday afternoon
not a funeral home
just a house and no crowd of mourners
but three modestly
well-dressed people
gathered behind the coffin

it’s a few blocks
from that taco shop you want to try

post obedience
involuntary body viewing
the second time
you have been surprised
by a corpse

the grass is green
cut short at the house
clouds part by the hand of god
like god is karate chopping the sky
the opening reveals a sky bluer
than the ache that
lives in your bones
creates a vacuum
the clouds refuse to rush back in
instead the heavens suck the air
out of your lungs

you are too far away to see details
of the face
but the sun reflects
off a brown forehead
you can smell pomade
thick massaged into black
permanently styled hair
what you took for beads of sweat
is mortician’s wax
pilling on skin
that will not ever sweat

you have stopped breathing
your breath has fled
like a soul on the lam

a police car pulls up to the curb
maybe to ask
why they have a body on their lawn
why the casket is open
why the corpse is sweating
why can you smell it

why are cops who have gathered
around the corner
laughing with each other
like one just told a joke

traffic lets you move
and you breathe
and the body in the casket
does not

friendly game of cards 20180505

me and wolf
flop down on the ground
because he refuses to sit
at a proper table

i deal cards
some variation
of five card poker
don’t know what the name is
it’s the wolf’s game
after all

i keep my eyes on him
while i reach for the pretzels

–wouldn’t want to lose a hand
he says, wheezing at his own joke

i bet a finger
he spits a bloody tooth
into the pot

i win
but the hell will i to do
with this tooth

he deals
and i realize that his paws
are delicate human hands
porcelain white
china doll small

i find my self staring

he lunges
swallows my finger

–best attend to your cards
he says

NaPoWriMo Day 25

make a mess of it all

dissect living flesh without anasthetic

sow seeds to pluck later
sin’s littler flowers, rose-scented petals
so many, many thorns

feel the bones around the eyes
zygomaticocfacial foramen
posterior lacrimal crest

exotic birds waiting to sprout feathers
or fossilize like the ancient dinosaurs
they are

look at the t. rex skeleton
who says
hens don’t have teeth

NaPoWriMo Day 16

mockingbird you

put your
whole self in

smart ass
smart as
take your pick

repeat everything i say
adds a few phrases in my voice
–stop hitting yourself
it offers and
–i know you (are) but what am i

oil slick wings
a song of sanded butter
you grate on my nerves, blackbird
you vex me, jackson–you vex me

i will feed you bits of me
wrapped in freshly baked bread
still steaming from the oven
from my furnace-hot heart
you will shut that beak for good
when you have–

take, eat; this is my body

–been poisoned

that’s
what it’s
all about