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as the world burns (137)

the turn was not a turn

you saw with my eyes

I blinked it vanished


she said no it was

not as you said

the way I knew it to be


the ragged lines spoke

with stranger accents

skewed cognates


the way was only 

the way here

the sole path here


the sky cleared

the sky stormed

the rain was dry


the way here was

the only way here

only me here now


I only know

this language

the words come to me


by birth

by chance

by god


she said yes but

not as you said

only what I said


it was the way

I knew the way

the way I said

(May 3, 2021)

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how history begins (136)

maps do not speak 

as vaguely blurred 

vowels along riverbanks 

where second cousins 

two counties removed 

slur to their mates 

nor sift for finer 

details in pap’s 

bourbon tongue 

(April 26, 2021) 

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neither knowing nor unknowing (#134)

there in the day

to day constancy


there in the grain

of our tongues


as we speak

each to each


of the most

trivial things


there is where

the how arrives


on soft cat feet

oblivious of the night


there is the story

you said then said


along the seams

between dark and light


the story we heard

the story we tell


stitching our scars

along calloused lines


one strangled knot

woven into another


an embroidery

of nooses


until we’re hardened

to brittle words


which shatter all

we once were


thin crystal slivers

from a broken glass 


scattered like stars

across the floor

(April 19, 2021)

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which simple metaphor shapes my day (104)

a different time with new shadows

wraps the light in different patterns

more random more abstract less fragile

less likely to crack like a beetle’s

carapace beneath my careless boots


I roam between my vacant days

then disappear easier than I thought

between quick ire and old resentments

like broken branches slip easily

with the river’s froth across smooth rocks


despite all the engrained justifications

despite the comprised and contradictory

narratives despite the feral rage

I am who I am stripped of language

laid down since birth like shrouds

(January 15, 2021)

Ars Poetica: The Fiction of Truth


Since I do understand the importance

Of narrative, I tell stories without

Telling stories, like now, as I write this

Poem. I’ve created a fiction of me,

Truthfully, yet still a grounded fiction,

Who is speaking to you, someone absent,

As if we were strangers ordered to share

A rough table in a pub. But instead 

of talking about the local football 

team, or rudely about the government,

I talk to you as if you are in love,

Listening, as I speak, rather than write,

These simplistic thoughts upon this blank page,

And pretend you did not leave years ago.

(January 11, 2019)

Good Fences

Spotlights illuminate empty stage with dark background. 3d rendering

 

There is nothing here, she says

holding out her heart.

 

He demurs in silence and

refuses to speak his part.

 

No matter, she improvises,

each stone’s cut smooth…

 

…and takes its place, he smiles,

like fate into its groove.

 

There are no walls, she says,

when nothing’s to divide.

 

The walls are real, he says,

everyone has something to hide.

 

Again, she offers her heart;

and, he has forgotten his part

 

(October 21, 2018)

afterwards

images

 

She picked up his bones

scattered in the yard,

and took them into the house.

 

Her workshop was cluttered;

so she cleaned off a spot, and

orderly stacked them up.

 

Days went by, then weeks,

and finally years. The bones

collected dust like mementos.

 

One day, stumped, she looked

up from her work, and saw

the neatly stacked dry bones.

 

She laughed as she remembered

him, then went to work:

drilling, weaving, balancing.

 

She sang as she worked, happy

at last to be creating so freely

from his humble remains.

 

Finished, she took what she had

made from him, and hung

it from an old oak tree.

 

It danced a hollow dance,

clattering as the bones clacked

together with every wind.

 

In the evenings she would sit,

and sip a glass of wine, happier

than she had ever been with him.

 

(August 7, 2018)