poetry

The Sound

He swears he seen it.
He swears he seen it rear its awful head,
rear its awful head with those awful yellow eyes.
“I’m tellin’ ya, summin’s not right.
Belie’me. Summin’s not right with that place.”
He shit-talked his wife.
Then poured another drink.

She swears there’s nothing.
She swears there’s nothing in that place,
nothing like the rumors say.
“I’m telling you, don’t listen to them.
Believe me. Don’t listen to a word they say.”
She huffed about her husband.
Then took another drag.

Come on down to the bank of the sound.
Come on down to that sweet, sweet sound.

I’ve never touched water.
I’ve never touched water in all my years alive.
I’ve never gone down to that sweet, sweet sound.
or felt the sand between feet,
or let winds sweep me up
and away –
I’ve only seen it from the hill.
Seen ripples of the moonlight
when there isn’t any wind.

Call it “mermaid.”
Call it “monster.”
Call it “magic.”
Call it “BY GOD THERE’S NO SUCH THING!”
But I long to taste water,
whatever they say.
But they still never let me go near…
I’ve still never let me go near…
For “there are shadows here…”

The believers say
that years ago,
something wandered in from the ocean…
Something wonderful… something awful…
They say they heard a voice like Dagon…
“Ancient voice.”
“Unnatural voice.”
“Summin’s not right!”
“Summin’s not right!”

Come on down to the bank of the sound.
Come on down to that sweet, sweet sound.

Do you hear it, too?
The monster calls in the night –
Some voice like Dagon,
some echo unknown.
A song like sirens.
No, a sweet, sweet sound…
Heartbeats bubble, bubble from below.
Look there! Look there! I swear, I see it.
I swear I see it rear its awful head,
rear its awesome head.

Perhaps, I belong to the water,
as always, I’ve wondered…
Don’t go near…
There are shadows here…
Come on down to the bank of the sound.
Don’t go near…
Do not fear…
Listen –
Listen –
The water is calling –
Follow now that sweet, sweet sound…

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poetry

The Museum of Public Shame

is a strangely splendid bit of architecture,
covered in recycled newspaper shards.

The tour guide met me at the entrance
and gave me a badge that read “Just looking!”

We started with a modern piece:
The Jury, it was called. I saw a chorus

of mechanized bluebirds. They turned at me
immediately, and fixed their hollow eyes

upon my lips. They sang so loud I could hear
nothing but “SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK”
“SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK” “SPEAK”
“SPEAK”

Don’t speak, mouthed my guide, slashing a finger
across his throat. We backed away… slowly…

He led me to a room with only Venuses
in various states of decay. Moth-eaten canvas

“No, moth-eaten skin,” he corrected. “Here,
take this,” and handed me a bee suit.

In the corner, I spotted Mona Lisa
in a bed with demons on her chest.

The tour guide chuckled and told me a secret.
He said she was counterfeit – the real one

was called Monica – the real one
was burned up in Rome, in Alexandria,

in Salem, in somewhere. He couldn’t quite
remember. He didn’t seem to care.

I felt my stomach churn as the stench of oil
paintings me made me wonder…

No one asked them if they wanted to hang
on walls, or if they wanted a sentence

in a history book (or several history books).
but don’t speakjust looking… As I left, I asked

how the building stands through time. He said
the frame is made of bones. “But don’t worry.

They aren’t human.”

poetry

The Speed of Light

Disappear with me into the amber grass
that chafes our backs. Last time we looked up
from here, the ice beneath us chiseled out tattoos.
We still have matching ones (at least I do).

Usually, I disappear alone into the weeds
and dream they are flowers. I feel the seasons
spinning around me, but I concentrate on stars
which twirl eternally in their Viennese waltz.

I know that some of them returned to dust
a million years ago. I know that right now,
some are gasping in a vacuum and choking
on dark matter. But I can’t tell from here.

I wonder what you’re thinking. If you long
to return to the sky like I do. If you even
remember all the constellations we made…
or if you care about them, anyway.

You aren’t looking at me, your eyes
are gazing into the depths of dark matter.
At last, I speak. “You see that star?
I think that’s the one we wished on.”

You shrug. “It’s probably
dead already,” you say,
and walk away.

poetry, Uncategorized

Apoptosis

you start off predestined
to die. the gods
in your chromosomes
decree
that you shall live
in this body
a certain number
of days and then return
to stardust.

do you know?
perhaps
there’s something deep
within you
that fears
your judgement day
is coming… soon, you will
break

apart into a thousand
minute stars.
stars… which burn with fury
though they are
lifeless. stars,
like you,
are set in their days.

each day,
i try
to beat your gods,
to protect you
from dying
like trench soldiers…

by thousands…
by millions…
so
i hold fast
to your bodies

even as they rot…
you poison new cells
but you’re all
that i know.

so
i will hold on
as surely

as sun shines
(which is to say

temporarily.)

poetry

Symbiotic

What a thrill –
cried the cat,
his paws
swatting clouds.

His comrade
helped him –
compelled him –
to leap.

If a cat
is a masochist,
a flea
is no parasite.

poetry

pretty house

there’s a house on the hill
with gingerbread sides.
it’s got sugarcane windows
and rock-candy bricks.

see candy apple trees
with peppermint bark.
a lifesaver swing
hangs from a red vine.

children always say
“it’s such a pretty house.”
that was the house
where they wanted to play.

grown-ups always say
“it’s such a pretty house.”
on zillow, they estimate it
at 1.1 million.

the house has two stories
and a million more
it could tell –
if it liked talking.

inside,
cotton candy
cobwebs deck
the drafty halls.

a gingerbread man
sprawls out
on the sofa,
gobbling up red hots.

another
obsessively sweeps
powdered sugar
off sticky tiles.

like the house,
the inhabitants
aren’t much
for talking.

they’ve sealed
bedroom doors
with royal icing
over the years.

the chocolate floors
don’t give much
traction. but hey,
they look so sweet.

and even as the chocolate
is melting away,
if you stand on the lawn,
“it’s such a pretty house.”

poetry

From the Dock

The clouds have always said I belong to the water –
I can’t help wonder if they may be right –
I remember what it’s like
to run –
eyes closed –
into this very lake
and to feel the water
sneak through cracks in my skin
and slowly replace blood –

I remember what it’s like
to run
out of this very lake –
in sudden, icy sobriety –
and into the snow –
to feel water
crystalize around me –
a cage like a castle –
I ruled from that palace
beneath the cloak of pines
where the clouds couldn’t give me up to the water –

I remember what it’s like
to stare
across the lake
and watch the waves shimmer like tears
and call my name across the snow…
not loud…
just murmurs…
a heartbeat from the depths…
until even echoes dissipated…

I remember what it’s like
to emerge from a cocoon
and to feel the deadness of the winter
descend with the water’s silence…

I remember
as I sit –
waiting –
and sometimes I believe
I hear the waves whisper as they kiss the shore –
but I won’t seek refuge in the snow
anymore –
and I won’t run with closed eyes
like a sleeping child –
this time
I will listen –
listen to the water –
and wait.
I will let one foot
dangle off the edge
until the water pulls me in.

poetry, Uncategorized

Strange Fog

Mute dawn
seems
in supernova glow
again today.

Beneath gray sheets,
our eyes lay
naked
to rays that should blind…

This time, we wish
ears
had lids
instead… for

we hear
of another garden
taken
as offering…

We breathe
sick sacrifice
second-hand.
Some wear masks. Others

evacuate. Then…
come virulent winds
and we know
there’s no other way.

But not you.

You say
it’s “water”… or
“ocean spray”… or
“just fog”…

You close your eyes
to ash
and soak in
sweet toxicity.

You cough more
than you used to…
but
“that’s just how it is.”

I wonder if
you’ve
ever known
blue skies…

But you
insist
this strange fog
will pass.

And you won’t leave…
So I’m forced to
watch
you dance…

you dance…
in the acid rain…

 

*My heart goes out to everyone effected by the NorCal fires.

poetry

When Tasked With Reconditioning,

the planner foolishly thought
the brain would be laid out
like the streets –
associations like interchanges –
traumas like stop signs – stop –
then proceed.

the skeptic foolishly believed
poltergeists are as fictional in mind
as in films…
Down haunted halls of the amygdala,
solid phantoms roam and dance and laugh
and kill.

the poet foolishly forced
every memory – every object –
into symbol
so that tree equals him equals
fear equals man equals self
equals pistol.

the addict foolishly strangled
the planner and the skeptic and the poet
so it could
rule the brain as a puppet rules a stage…
Perhaps one day, it could kill the ghosts
for good.