Poem for Earth Day : NaPoWriMo #23

Every day is an Earth Day

time is a construct, and we measure our lives
by these movements of shadows,
the passing hours we tick off
in correspondence with the sun

even if we left the bounds
of this gravity, found our feet
kicking up undiscovered dirt
on some virgin expanse of unspoiled land

in a new solar system
in some new orbit of multi-colored stars
we would measure our days
the only way we know how

by how we lived where we first learned
of our eyes and synchronized the watches
the clocks the chock marks
meant to find the apex of fire in the sky

this whole existence is geosynchronous
from birthdays to every historical page
gathering dust in some vacant library
we’ll always be tethered to this world

even after we’ve destroyed it
and gone searching for the next one

Poem for Waffle House : NaPoWriMo #22

Ode to a Waffle House in Nashville, TN

You’ve never been good and truly drunk
until you’ve entered this little haven
of greasy floors and fingerprint-smeared tables
with its soft glowing lights
hung like Chinese lanterns in the windows
and its cheap laminate menus
sticky with syrup or spilled soda,
mists of grill-seared oils wafting
like waterfall-churned moisture
in the lamps and fluorescents
amid the odors of fried egg, sausages,
hot waffle irons overflowing with batter,
all a-sizzle and sweat condensing
on a short-order cook’s brow
at 3:30 in the morning.

You’ve never lived until after ordering
your hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered,
you have to make a dash for the dirty
swinging restroom door
and spill your stomach of beer-and-bile-laced
vomit, wiping the saliva strings
from your lips with cheap harsh toiletries
dispensed from a plastic hood
engraved with racist logos and lighter burns.

You’ve never seen heroism
until you’ve nearly shit your pants
while choking down a mouthful of burnt steak
with its flakes of open-face griddle residue
attached like artisan confections of American spice
like a living document of countless meals
shuffled onto white plates and under warming wicks
before being served to the inebriant starved,

when the shots start pinging through the glass,
and the patrons start screaming
and your friend slaps at his neck
with blood spouting between his fingers
that for just a moment you mistake for ketchup,
before you see the man, just an ordinary man,
probably just as intoxicated as you,
wrestling the rifle from the naked shooter,
scalding the skin from his ordinary hands,
and the silence settles in like slow-motion
as the murderer runs away
and the freeze-frame glitter of shattered bulbs
cascading into the night
sparkle like displaced galaxies
waiting for the sirens
and the shuttering strobes
and your heart to return to its normal beat.

After all that, you’ll want to shake his hand,
but there won’t be time, and it would hurt
beneath his bandages, and maybe your friend
is dying in the ambulance, and maybe
you’ll ask for a coffee to go
because the adrenaline withdrawal
has left you more drunk than exhausted,
and maybe they’ll say, sure,
it’s on the house
just like your life
and maybe this is your church now,
say Hallelujah for America, amen.

Poem for Ammosexuals : NaPoWriMo #21

Ammosexual

There’s just something about a man
with a big package
concealed and carried or swinging free.
Is that a 9mm in your pants,
or are you just happy to see me?

Bullets and barrels are cylindrical
and the way they fit inside my mouth
can’t just be coincidental,
I’d suck fire from his machine gun
know what I’m sayin’?

I don’t mind unsolicited glock pics,
they get me hard like a carbine,
make me want to fuck in gun oil,
to taste metal in sweat and saliva,
to feel the sensation of steel

as it slides and glides
inside my locked and lubed ass,
a cold but pleasant penetration,
then maybe we 69,
his hands around my pistol-grip stock

and my lips and tongue stroking
the long rigid shaft,
fingers probing inside dark empty holes,
a night echoed with our gunshot moans
until we’re both spent, filled with hot lead.

Respect to the old gods: NaPoWriMo #20

Absolution

The day I took the mountains for granted
I was late for work. The sun was shining
bright and hard through the windshield
on an afternoon fit for postcards: blue sky,
a few white, puffy clouds on a horizon
Bob Ross could have painted
without breaking a sweat.

Days like this, Mt. Saint Helens stands
like a dignified god awaiting worship,
a stoic monument to history before mankind,
when the wild was ruled by things
with no concept of tools or time,
just teeth and claw and an instinct for blood.
But in my haste to meet the demands of a clock,
I passed it without a single thought.

When I realized what I had done,
a sadness overtook me,
a creeping darkness like coffee
soaking through a rag,
and I scoured the skyline to my right
where I knew it should be in sight,
but it was too late, it was gone,
I had done what I hoped never to do
and I felt instantly ashamed.

Up the road a bit, a car was on fire,
with men in yellow coats
spraying it down with white jets of water.
Its frame had gone the ghostly gray
of charcoal briquets just ready for cooking,
smoke lilted and turned in the breeze,
billowed off its charred carcass
and up into the hills toward the mountain
as if someone had prophesied this moment
and set a pyre of invention for sacrifice,
an apology to the old world for being ignored.

It felt like my heart was burning
instead of that car, and I vowed
to never forget the beauty of the ancient again,
to always pause and acknowledge
things bigger than myself,
to pay my respects in reverence past due
although I knew, this too, would be forgotten
and I’d soon be just another pissant
milling about
oblivious to the giant
living and breathing beneath me.

Death factories : NaPoWriMo #19

Life in a firearm factory

America the assembly line
of machined metal and mechanized death,
the safety-goggled eyes and oily hands
wiped on aprons like butchers
in a meat shop, the tiny screwdrivers,
etching tools, and the steadfast resolve
of building that which built a nation with death.

Inspected for quality, inspected for failure rate,
inspected for accuracy, inspected for safety,
each weapon fired at least forty times
past the door that forbids loaded firearms
of any kind, except the ones made inside,
hand-crafted and precision-assured,
checked to insure deliverance
is an unimpeded death.

The workers file in six days a week,
they punch their time cards
and sip their coffee from stainless steel,
they store lunches of sandwiches
wrapped in plastic and potato chip bags
in latched boxes in lockers,
they watch the clock just like you,
counting the minutes until shift’s end,
those hours between themselves
and the faces of their husbands and wives,
the welcome comfort of clean sheets and a pillow,
the warmth of a lover’s body
next to them at night, a sleep-weighted arm
draped over their waist like waiting death.

It’s a job like any other job,
except in the ways it isn’t,
each weapon cleared for shipment
a potential murder or guaranteed tool of war,
a serial number traced by the ATF or the FBI,
another statistic measured and cited
on the nightly news alongside images
of their week’s work with death.

This pistol stopped a robbery,
this pistol was used in a robbery,
this pistol shot a single mother,
this pistol was fired by that single mother’s son,
this rifle held off insurgents,
this rifle was used by an insurgent,
this rifle took 17 lives, took 22 lives,
took 26 lives, took 42 lives,
in Texas, in Florida, in Connecticut, in Nevada,
this rifle did just what is was supposed to do,
I built it, inspected it, went over every millimeter
before sending it out into the world
like a parent hoping the best
for his children with death,
and this is the right of every American.

Repealing the 2nd Amendment : NaPoWriMo #18

Repeal

Impossible to repeel a banana
once the skin is off—
the fruit must be eaten
before the air turns it black,
like a buckshot poison for the gut.

Impossible to retract words
once expelled from the throat
through the tongue teeth and lips,
no ticky tack paper to be rewound
into the lungs on a spool,
no apology to make the spoken unmouthed.

Impossible to unbreak a law
a mirror a precious vase
hurled against a wall,
the criminality remains
like spiderweb scars
caked white with dried glue
in the cracks of the skin.

Impossible to unchange
that which has changed,
to put every stone
back in its home on the range,
to shovel the snows
back to the peak the avalanche unleashed,
to uncarve the canyons
and straighten the rivers once snaked,
to smooth all wrinkles
from a traumatized brain.

Impossible to unpull a trigger
once it has been pulled,
no bullets on strings
stopped and reversed
at the cock of a hammer
or pulse of the heart,
the shot will stay shot
as the dead will stay dead,
even if you remove the slugs
from their bodies or their heads.

What’s done cannot be undone,
what’s made not unmade,
only destroyed burned down
dismantled piece by fucking piece
like an empire of matchsticks
oblivious to the frictions
of their blue tips against red tips
working like a war on common sense
until smoke becomes spark
becomes a heaping mound of ash
for others to write their declarations in
and start the whole damned thing over again.

The trees! : NaPoWriMo #17

The Douglas firs

These trees, these trees
don’t need another poem
written about them,
another poet waxing philosophical
about what it means to breathe,

but here I am offering myself
to the tabernacle of greenery,
feeling like Dale Cooper
with my coffee and my childish stupor,
awe-swept and mouth full
of sweet cherry pie filling
and flaking, crumble crust,
a substitute for my lack of words

to describe those slender trunks
congregating skyward in tight clusters
of dark and light lines
breaking the horizon
into perpendicular designs
like a massive set of slatted blinds
drawn sideways, but the sun still peeks
through the cracks before swallowed
in the depths of the wood,

and after so much upward growth,
there’s the branches and the boughs,
a fingered inversion of roots unseen,
so much like a consciousness
pulling in perceptions of the world,
divining water siphoning pollutants from the air
like a mind turning madness into portrait,
and isn’t that the way of life,
just a brief excursion from nothing,
for such a fleeting observance of beauty
before returning to scattered seeds.

Poem for the Second Amendment : NaPoWriMo #16

Needs of a gun enthusiast

I don’t need a gun
to tell you I love you,
to know the anxiety of your absence
like a tiny corset pulled taut
around my still fluttering heart.

I don’t need a gun
to watch the moon appear like a dime
in the blue haze
of a wishing well sky,
and to wonder what it reveals
about a person, which face they see
in the Rorschach canyons
and deep crater shadows.

I don’t need a gun
to stir my mashed potatoes
in with the brown gravy,
to move my food around my plate
like river churned silt
instead of eating
when I’ve lost my appetite.

I don’t need a gun
to protect myself
from the ambient sounds
of an empty-except-me house,
the creeping footsteps
of rain begging for change.

I don’t need a gun
to become a criminal,
to touch that which isn’t mine,
to discern the nuance
of a painting’s pebbly imperfections
stroking my finger through the landscape
centuries old on a museum wall.

I don’t need a gun
to write my poetry,
each line like a gentle suicide
that never takes my life,
just pushes me a little closer
to those crosshairs
where time and chaos collide.

PNW poem : NaPoWriMo #15

Northwestern state of mind

In the Pacific Northwest they say “these ones,”
what about “these ones,”
how do you like “these ones?”

They walk in the rain
just like walking in the sun,
no umbrella, just jackets that shimmer.

There’s a way about the people,
a gentle affectation in the eyes
as they listen to each other speak.

There’s a kindness in their disregard
for the homeless camped
on their sidewalks.

Roof is pronounced as “ruff,”
and you’ll hear many an utterance
of “oh jeez” in casual conversation.

But when you’re out here,
there’s never a doubt
you’re living your best life,

watching the clouds envelope the hills
like cobwebs caught in trees and eaves,
the foggy dreaminess of the drizzle,

sometimes a sundog casts
its iridescent glow amid the billows
of light-formed statues,

and it’s like a lantern lit
from the inside, a reminder
of the star on the other side

of this daydream.
The rain is rarely more than intermittent,
and soon, soon the sky will reveal itself.

Trump’s Democracy : NaPoWriMo #14

Kakistocracy : The New Constitution part 2

Let he without morality rule them,
let he devoid of decency close his fists
about the throat of the world
and throttle, his spittle-flecked lips
frothing white, his face flushed bright
with the tantrums of every subverted wish.

Let he without conscience be king,
his sagging skin but an ill-fitted coat
cloaking the hideousness of his greed,
the unscrupulous and the craven
leprosy of want, a blood-filled sack
covered in pus and wet dollar bills.

Let he without humanity declare himself
dictator of the masses, the masses clamoring
for a new Jesus to usher their souls
into the fire pits of penance and self-deprecation,
tomahawk missiles sounding like horns
blown from the mouths of archangels.

Let he without intelligence lead them,
bumbling and stumbling, foolhardy and blind
into the next Dark Age, a cavernous catacombs
of blank-screened smart phones
and television monitors caked in dust,
a continent sealed in walls of bones.

Let he without grace state his amoral decree,
The truth is but a noose swinging
and wound from fake-fibered news
in these gallows of country turned cataclysm,
and the people will willingly slide
their heads through the holes!

Let he without gravitas guide them
as he strokes his member for all to see,
ejaculates vile filth onto every belief
while they bathe in it, rub it like salve
over their faces and eyes and gaze upward
awe-struck, slack-jawed, begging for the trickle-down.