Another gun poem : NaPoWriMo #10

A penis is a warm gun

The measure of manhood
can’t have a snubbed nose,

this open carry seems indecent
in the presence of children,

yet, here we are, waving
our dicks around like trophies,

impregnating the air
of coffee shops and grocery stores

with that curdled milk odor of death.
Shooting off at the mouth,

shooting off from the hip,
stroking these polished barrels

and stocks in orgies of masturbatory
fear mongering for what?

A good guy with a cock
keeps his happiness at home

and shines up his chrome
to internet porn when he’s alone

like an ordinary homophobe.
Maybe it’s less manly

to keep your junk in your drawers,
to keep your chamber cleared,

to keep a pistol only capable
of shooting six girls before needing reload,

but at a certain age it becomes obscene
to think of anything but a future

where the young can decide for themselves
which wounds they’d prefer to die from.

The Weapon of Ownership : NaPoWriMo #9

A person is a weapon

A gun is just a tool,
something for the red cloud of violence
to seep through, an arterial spray
that spatters the canvas
of homes and city streets
with chaotic disregard
for where its color will land.

Remove the tool,
and this violent fog
will still leak from our pores
like blood-tinged sweat,
finding a new outlet,
be it fist, or tooth, or stone.

What is a law, but a rule
meant to be broken?
There will always be forces
that work against
this cohesive reality,
atoms vibrating themselves into fevers,
shredding the silk curtains
from the windows,
pulling the skin from the bone.

The human animal is not to be trusted,
one thin sliver of glass
separating consciousness
from instinct, separating words
from gut-throated howls
and knuckles dragged
through dust and dirt,
these tight circles
of territory, not to be infringed.

Convince a man that he owns the world
and other men cease to have faces,
become thieves wearing shadows
coming to club the light from the skull,
coming to plant a different colored flag
on this hill of nameless graves.

This is the primal law
written somewhere beneath the jaw,
remove every weapon from the Earth,
melt the steel, burn the wood,
pluck every fingernail, pull every canine
from every snarling mouth,
and we would still find a way
to choke the life from the other,
to lay claim to this body,
to prevent sharing sips
from a single glass of water.

Poem for Jonathan Pitre : NaPoWriMo #6

Butterfly Boy

~for Jonathan Pitre

If a boy can be a butterfly
let the wind lift him up,
the entombment of the spirit
is but temporary
in this most fragile of flesh,
it deserves to float free,
free from the weight of this body,
free like the feathers loosed
from the tail feathers of the hawk
circling the tall cliffs
and the chasms in between,

free like the stardust
illuminating the spiral arm
of the Milky Way
that cuts through the night sky,
free in the way light is free,
spilling over the crests of waves,
over the tops of the mountains and the trees,
through the windows and into warm pools
touching our animal skins.

No one deserves this pain,
to break open like an over ripe plum
at even the touch of a mother’s hand,
to blister from even a kiss,
to be rubbed raw in the gentlest of winds.
No one deserves to be deprived
of joy, deprived of that tickling nuzzle,
the wet nose of a dog against the neck,
the spontaneous laughter
of something so cold on your cheek.

The life of a butterfly is so brief,
but its beauty cannot be contained
in these these moments, these seconds
of fleeting fluttering of wings,
these delicate filtrations of sun
like Sunday’s of stained glass
settling between the petals of our fingers
but for the shortest of breaths,
before returning to the ether
from which all being is born.

NaPoWriMo Poem 5, Gun pastoral

Second Amendment Pastoral

If guns grew on trees much green would be gone
from the world, replaced with gunmetal gray,
perhaps a pink camo dogwood here or there,
the rest turned reflective and dark,
like American hearts.

The hills would become congregations
of slouching, heavy boughs
cloaked in deathly funeral-like robes,
a procession of morose ghouls
producing their yearly harvests
of yet more life-taking tools.

How long before the weapons
outnumber the souls, outnumber
the blades of grass in the yards,
outnumber the stars?
And yet, the hands reach up
for such deadly fruit,
just to feel something colder
than the memory of a mother
with black opioid eyes.

Is this the utopia we deserve,
land of breath by Russian roulette,
land of nitroglycerin smoke,
black residue left on the fingers
of the firing trigger fist,
land of forests where the wind
through the limbs
sounds like a chorus
of haunted pitch pipe barrels
whistling in the key of apathy.

If guns grew on trees, we’d tell the children
not to climb them, to build their play houses
in the graveyards instead,
just to shorten the distance
between growing up and playing dead.

NaPoWriMo Poem 4: Small Town Hope

Death in a small town

Past the river, past the bridge
past the flaking green paint
pockmarked with rust,
past the sign that says
JESUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS,
JESUS IS COMING AGAIN,
past the graffitied overpass
spray painted with names
and illegible gangbanger tags,
past smokestacks billowing
pillars of dissipating gray vapor dust,
past the homeless hitchhiker,
his shouldered bag of all that he owns,
his dirt-streaked thumb a prayer
to a weather vane, to a long-necked bottle,
to a cushion between his body
and the concrete beneath his body,
past the used car lot selling years
scrawled in white chalk
across windshields
like promises of life-expectancy
to a world occupied by ghosts,
past the lines of railway cars
loaded with wood pulp and tar,
past the flowering trees of white and pink,
past the skeleton hands of petrified bark,
past the dog park empty of dogs
and the flickering light
of the fast food marquees,
past the boarded windows
of the last remaining video store,
past the woman alone in the street
with a rainbow umbrella
and a stainless steel cane,
past the potholed side roads
and the dim alleyways caked with grit,
past the parking lots crowded
with loose paper and decrepit RV’s
and black birds hopping fearless
between sets of shuffling feet,
see, they’re still lamps buzzing to life
in the bluing calm of dusk,
still light amongst the shadows
not swallowed up, still estranged companions
finding comfort
in the simplicity of a hug.

Half a life NaPoWriMo #2

On turning 40

Half my life spent in a retail box,
the other half searching for a way out.

Half my life spent praying to nothing,
the other half disbelieving myself.

I carry this collection of failures
like a Fibonacci snail shell,

a haunted home for past voices
most of them my own,

a drowning whisper of ocean
in this isolation chamber mind.

So much time spent rebuilding
that which doesn’t exist,

this idea of the human heart
like a fragile tinderbox

where the secrets are kept.
What am I but I leaking vessel?

What is this but an education
without end? It’s never in sight

though I convince myself otherwise,
feel the pendulum shift

as I step over the fulcrum
of this metaphysical seesaw.

I’m moving easier now,
picking up speed,

with this weight on my shoulders
carrying me faster forward.

Ode to a shoplifter

Ode to a shoplifter

You give yourself away,
swivel-necked and mercurial,
a body that vibrates
like an animated scribble
just outside the coloring lines.

Even when at practiced ease,
there is a sense of paranoia,
a stench of marijuana smoke
clinging to a camouflage coat,
or something wilder underneath.

You’re trying too hard
to relax, to be just another wallet
folded and stored away
in the pocket of a passerby
looking for the easiest possible path.

The aura of desperation
glows like iridium on your skin,
it’s a sheen of unclean dew,
an irritant caught in your shoe
that will never be found.

Still, you’re a dancer with shadows,
moving between the aisles
like a marked card
in the deck of a magician,
pulled from the bottom again and again.

It’s a kind of music
that wants to be touched,
this cat and mouse game with luck,
it’s worth it for the adrenaline rush,
emerging through those automated doors

unwatched and for just a moment
uncaught.

Funeral

Funeral for a firearm

We’ve had a funeral for facts,
an unceremonious good-bye
to ways of measured truth
like lives held in teaspoons.

We’ve had a funeral for children,
a self-fulfilling prophecy
of profits killing kids over and over again
and politicians cashing the checks.

We’ve had funerals for friends
from work, from class, from church,
from the naval yard, from everywhere USA
where people carry death like spare change.

We’ve had a funeral for democracy,
electing stars of reality TV to play their roles
in high-back leather chairs
while leaving bloody fingerprints on every door.

We’ve had a funeral for decency,
choosing comfort food over truth
to keep a small, singular orbit
of revolving warmth inside such fragile cells.

We’ve had funerals for our selves,
sleeping with enemies under our pillows,
sleeping with enemies under our skins,
choosing to exist inside a currency of sins.

These illusions are self-evident,
to those with eyes open wide,
we’ve spent less time mourning these lives
than worshiping the source of the crimes.

Always time for hating yourself

Lunar phase

so the moon is a sliver
against the turquoise and mango-tinged dusk
mountain ranges gone purple and gold
where the light hits the snow,
the black orb of the illusion,
what’s hidden in shadow can still be seen
just before the sky goes black.

in twilight, I find the darkness
before the darkness can find me,
and pry its skeletal fingers
into my skin like knives
digging around for buckshot
or bullets shaped like my mother’s face.

I want to sing the stars a love song
about the rapture of yoga pants
and summer clothes
but in this age I’d be called sexist
or worse, for daring to admire
women without their consent,
for objectifying shapely buttocks
held in spandex or stretched cotton,
for peeling the thin veil of apple flesh
from the core of my wicked thoughts.

I am an animal surrounded by animals
tying themselves to fenceposts
and then struggling against the ropes
to gnash and spit
inches from each others faces.

just say what you have to say
before time robs your words of their power
and leaves you fingering another dead flower
left in its vase for too long,
the water in the bell end
turned a fetid brown, rancid with decay,
there’s always someone picking fresh bouquets
just as there’s always time
for feeling sorry for yourself.

Among nature again

The truth of a waiting world

Is that another snow-capped peak
rising in the distance
or just cumulus clouds stacked beyond reason,
impossible to discern the difference
looking through a hillside of evergreens.

Even here the hum of highway
persists among the solace of tree and stone,
plots of grass sit occupied by random strangers
and their dogs, intermittent laughter,
the chatter of conversation fragments,
the haggard breaths of joggers
travel like the echoes of bird song,
the cries of the red tail hawk,
the chirps of a chubby squirrel
foraging amid the leaves,
it’s peace, it’s warm sun
on the back of my neck,
interlocking puzzle pieces
of this moment in time,
each passerby a story
independent of my own.

The flowering trees are in full bloom,
bright plumes of pink, white, cornflower blue
popping like fireworks
over the tops of the houses
along the road’s edge,
explosions of color frozen in full spark,
jutting against the sky
like alien manifestations of joy.

I’ve climbed the hills of this dormant volcano
still budding with life, I’ve stared
across the reflections of its reservoirs
and looked out over the descending valleys
where human achievement diminishes
itself from a cityscape to an ant farm,
and I have felt anxiety slip away,
the only threat here the promise
that the universe will keep its secrets hidden,
that every beautiful and dangerous thing
will reach the same unknowable end
and then be unable to reveal its truth
back to the waiting world.