How to know if God exists

How to know if God exists

There’s so much to consider:
rain falling on one side of the street
for instance, or dust devils swirling
up in the gravel— harmless tornados.
There’s time, always time,
hours a larva spends chewing holes
through a single birch leaf,
the fraction of a second
between bullet and skull,
a junebug’s lonely drumming
along the side of a yellow house
built by hands turned to dirt
like the empty space a river
finds for a canyon.

I saw a man walk away
from an impossible crash,
his body pinned perfectly
between two tractor trailers,
his Grand Cherokee
a crumpled accordion
of aluminum foil
around such tender pale flesh,
he was a potato
ready for baking.

He smiled for the camera,
surveying the damage
with glass-eyed shock,
wondering if ghosts
could smell honeysuckle,
if the greens and blues of his world
had always felt so claustrophobic,
new dimensions jutting
from the scenery like fog—
wolves have better vision.

Sit still long enough
in a lightless cave
and the sound of blood
thrum-thrumming in your ears
will drive you insane.

A teenager wakes before dawn,
the scent of oil on his fingers.
He kills his mother.
They find her hours later,
still clad in plaid pajamas,
her face all but gone.
He then drives
to the school where she worked,
and tells twenty children
to line up in the hall
like they are going to recess,
tiny reflections on the tile
collapsing like unspooled yarn
after each shot.

The human genome
contains six billion DNA base pairs,
while an average adult body
holds seven octillion atoms,
every one of which
once part of an exploding star,
much older than planet Earth
or any living consciousness
capable of nostalgic wishes.

Imagine a universe
in which every atom
is a Lego block,
and every Lego block
is made of light.
Now, imagine building
a rose petal.
Imagine building a sun.

Imagine choosing which kites
get to fly,
and which get stuck in trees,
only instead of kites
they’re Boeing 777’s
climbing the stratosphere
to avoid a storm
somewhere over the Atlantic.

Imagine planning the trajectory
of every hail stone,
every drop of dew,
every pine needle
loosed from its limb—
Imagine never sleeping again.

When I was a child,
I was taught to listen
for that still small voice
speaking inside my heart.
I was taught that a man could live
for days in the belly of a whale.
I was told heaven collected souls
like a bucket left in the rain,
that dying meant rebirth
in a place without sadness,
where everything was perfect,
nothing hurt,
and the streets were purest gold.

But why then does the body
fight so hard to stay alive,
a shuddering gasp
in every slackening face?
Why should angels with white wings
worry about golden streets
in a world where walking
is itself obsolete?

It’s like asking Death
to define what is beautiful.

Once the forest spoke to me
through the hisses
of leaves brushing against leaves.
The trees said everything
is either dirt or rain or light,
and that God is the breath
between them.

But I remember that morning,
before the twin towers fell—
those great pillars made of ash,
I saw a woman leap from a window,
her arms flailing wisps of flame
trying to catch the sky,
and I knew that God was the empty space
between her body and the ground.

 


Finalist for editor prize, accepted to Jabberwock Review, April 2016

Poem for the eclipse

Think of an eclipse

The sun is a white star our atmosphere makes yellow.
So many children using the wrong crayon.
So many refrigerators decorated with lies,
and magnets from Utah,
above that straight horizon line,
everything a smiley face.

You’re gonna need a better poet.
I’m gonna need another Corona.
This is not the time to get spiritual
about potential blindness.
Think of an eclipse
as a bullet being loaded
into a chamber of light.

More prayers get muttered in the dark.
But every darkness is temporary
except the last one,
in which no prayer can exist.

If the sun wore sunglasses,
the sunglasses would melt.
It’s easy to squint yourself into a headache,
or a kaleidoscope of retinal scars.
To me, the sky is the ocean,
as to a fish, the ocean is the sky.
The sun is the aquarium bulb,
a stranger set on a timer.

Think of an eclipse
as Death putting his eye
up to the microscope.
You may wonder about the skeletal moon,
or why car exhaust smells good
in the cold, but these are just tricks
shadows play on the mind.

originally published in Rat’s Ass Review

Books, books, books!!!

This has been a busy several days for me. I have worked to publish all of my unpublished poetry manuscripts, in a last ditch effort to purge my portfolio and help me move past the desire to publish this old work, in the hope it will inspire me to get creating new work, maybe even finish my novel or write a new novel. So, below, you will find links to the now published poetry collections. I may put out a couple more in the coming weeks or days, but these are the main ones I have been working on the past eight years or so.

PARIAH

 

life:death:love:theft

 

Eulogy / Elegy
ghosts of silence

 

fukushima franco

Another Standing Rock poem, reposted

Dakota

How beautiful must the world be
to make me stop and notice
I am a narcissist?
I’m so far away from the plains,
the rolling weeds and sagebrush,
dirt-dry plateaus cracked like ancient faces.
I’m so far away from open fields
stretched equidistant to every inch
of the empty and aubergine horizon;
the sky seems endless as a child’s imagination,
white puffy clouds like floating castles
turning purple and gray along the dust bowl rim,
with rain shaft ropes tethering those
mountainous zeppelins to the Earth.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me care about the future
my children will live to see?
Some hold onto hope like eagle feathers
in their hands, have seen the stars
through a portal of smoke
cloaked in a buffalo’s hide.
They have stood for centuries
at the edge of a graveyard,
watching the white man dig more holes.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me want to live here
inside its nebular womb?
With every breath, the timeline of existence
shrinks backward one step.
In my heart, I could wear a headdress,
I could smell the burnt leaves
wafting like spirits around my skull,
like voices turned to ashes
swirling and sticking to my tongue.
I could sing songs around the fire
in a language I never learned.

How beautiful must the world be
that I shut off these engines of dinosaur teeth,
that I throw my hardhat to the ground
and climb down from my mechanical cage,
that I brush the crushed grit from my jeans
and embrace the joyful tears
streaming down my face
with so many arms around me,
welcoming me home like a long lost son,
turning to stand in line
against something as intangible as time?

How beautiful must the world be
that I admit I’ve always been wrong
about everything I’ve ever believed?
This world must be beautiful,
with its birds, its light-flickered murmurations,
its ponds with surfaces kissed
by hungry fish mouths catching flies.
It’s a beauty that never asks to be observed,
and that is just what makes it
so irreplaceable.

Thanks to New Verse News and James Penha for originally publishing this poem. You can find it here.

New writing update:

Happy so share some new writing news. I have some new work appearing at Uut Poetry this week. My poem “The proof is in the pudding, Twitter poem #3” went up a few days ago. Check it out. My thanks to the editor.

 

Also, this week, I was honored to be part of the memorial issue of Unlikely Stories for Michelle Greenblatt. I wrote a poem specifically in her honor, and they included two other pieces of mine in the issue. Thanks to Jonathan Penton for allowing me to contribute to this. Michelle was a wonderful human being.

 

The second issue of Crow Hollow 19 debuted last week, including the brutally honest work of 14 talented poets. Take a read and let them know if their words moved you.

 

crow face

“What war is good for” published with TruthDig!

My heartfelt thanks to the folks over at TruthDig for sharing a poem of mine today. The poem “What war is good for,” a piece about America’s unending dedication to death, is now live on their site. You can also listen to me read it. I appreciate every person who takes any of their time to read and share or comment. Cheers, and have a good holiday.

truthdig
War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

Two exciting updates:

A couple of exciting things to report. First, my poem “Live Man Dead Man,” a response to the Maya Angelou poem “Caged Bird,” is in issue #3 of EXPOUND Magazine. You can read the entire issue here. Many thanks to the editors for letting me be a part of this issue, which features a ton of stellar work.

Second, I just found out that my poem “The Artist” was featured this past week on Verse Daily for their Weekly Web Feature. This poem originally appeared in FRiGG. I was ecstatic to see my work featured there, so thanks to Verse Daily for that wonderful surprise, and thanks again to the editors of FRiGG, Ellen Parker and Dennis Mahagin, without whom that would not have been possible.

Thanks for sticking around.

Featured poet in September CALLIOPE

The September issue of CALLIOPE Magazine has just been released. I am in there as the featured poet, with eight of my poems included. Thanks again to Robert Olson for this opportunity. I would ask anyone who thinks that all my work is filled with some form of hatred (an accusation that honestly makes zero sense whatsoever) to please read the work presented here and find something to be offended by. There are several familiar faces in this issue, including Heath Brougher and Barrett Morrison. Do check it out and thank you for being a friend to poetry, something that has to continue to prove its relevance to the world.