Self-Portrait

This is me:

laconically bored

sitting in the stands

watching from above.


This is me:

focused on the moment

tracing a rune

across the killing floor.


This is not a mirror,

a simple reflection,

rather, a dissection,

a slow flay, where


skin peels off

in thin sheets until

only raw red bits

of sin cling to bone.


I am a myriad,

shattered.

I am a scar,

angry and raw.

(October 14, 2021)

No Partitions

Beneath the bed, I hide

my sack of broken secrets.

They leak into my dreams

like drops of rain sift slowly

through limestone to form

deeper pools, darker caves.

I wake to put them on again

still damp, clinging to my skin.

Through the day, they etch

their strangled blue runes

onto my hollow bones

with a cold acid. I become

a flute to my fears, a crescendo

of trills like dying birds.

(October 8, 2021)

Today and Every Day

We drown in our waste,

as history fragments, like

ice shelves to the sea.

(October 1, 2021)

Set and Setting

“till we turn to see 

who you were, who you are, everpresent, vivid 

luminous dust” 

            -Denise Levertov 

Like wolves feeding on a fresh kill 

steaming in the snow, each dead second 

is pulled apart. No matter the effort, 

time disallows the past to continue 

fully formed. The future devours us 

leaving little tufts of fur and bone bits 

to decorate our current troubled paths 

and explain away our broken sorrows. 

I am hungry for something I don’t know, 

a freedom from imposed obligations, 

an escape to a place I am not known. 

Yet, where I am, and who I’ve been tangle 

like the strings of old puppets in a crate, 

waiting for someone to haul them away. 

(September 28, 2021) 

Happiness

Happiness

—after Jim Harrison

The wine and whiskey, I am certain,

do not compliment the anti-depressants,

as well as I wish they would; yet, “all this time

counting the mind, counting crows”—

I pour a new glass with a touch of ice

to begin this conversation:

Hell has come to us as a heaven

we will never know, like Sappho’s apple

dangling slightly beyond our fingers

which grasp only at still air.

Where do we go when things fall apart?


In 1978, Buddha’s birthday

was three days after my eighteenth.

I was a crumpled bag of emotion:

my father had died two months earlier;

I was in love (and still am) with the girl

I would marry. I moved, two months later, 

125 miles to the north, leaving my hometown 

forever, yet still trailing all my doubts and fears

behind like crows along a fence line

who caw and flutter, marking

their constant presence with darker eyes.


We think we can escape ourselves,

ignoring the crows flying in and out

between the twisted oaks nearby.

We flee burning madly as we go;

yet, we can only be ourselves,

and, most days, that is not enough

to keep our fears balanced tightly

like circus clowns spinning plates

atop long fragile poles through the night.

(September 15, 2021)

So Afraid, Always Afraid

“but in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself”

—Albert Camus


Any tremble

through the trees

contrary

to the first

wind, the

next wind,

or no wind:


always afraid,

so afraid

to simply be,

with no

definition,

with no

place to go,


no

walls left to build,

no excuse

left to believe,

no end;

then again,

no end.

(September 12, 2021)

Negation

I’m lucky not to drown,

second by second, as I 

walk down the street—

what with all the lies

and recriminations

I mouth, then swallow,

like a gluttonous beast

devouring itself wholly.

Perhaps it’s fate not luck

which keeps me afloat? But that

requires some god to blame,

and explain the curses directed

daily over rosary beads, like 

mendicants to a self long lost.

(September 5, 2021)

Map a Return Into the Ocean’s Lost Metaphor

There is no causality, no maze

to transcribe into memory,

simply a chance to breathe

near the bottom of the stairs;

and, like a mouth singing 

arias, I crack open the bones

in my chest to find a way

into the warm flesh, to dip

my worn fingers slowly in,

to feel the heart’s contours

define the next last moment,

to map another return into 

the ocean’s lost metaphor.

(August 25, 2021)

After Image

With disdain,

he turns

from the mirror,

leaving

himself

behind

like a cicada’s husk

caught

on a tree’s bark.

(July 29, 2021)

Night Terror (a reading)

Night Terror

“When are we not in a dream?

…when are we not skeletons?”

—Sy. Hoahwah

I don’t remember 

the dream before,

I cracked my head hard

against the wooden night stand;  

the fine grained ephemera, 

which held the dream together, 

burned like flash paper into the air.

A lightning ball exploded 

my darker vision, as the dream,

too agile to cradle, threw me 

deftly from sleep onto the floor.

Not existing fully in the fluidity

of sleep, nor the concrete warmth

of the morning window’s light,

I held my head in my hands,

eyes shut, as the lightning flash

faded, leaving only the muscles

in my neck to burn like trees

broken during the night’s storm.

(July 16, 2021)