Eliot tribute poem that no one will publish

Love song of myself

I.
~Do I dare to eat a peach?
… Do I dare disturb the universe? — T.S. Eliot

When the evening spreads its legs
like a glitter-skinned nymphomaniac,
let’s just admit our carnal desires
about impermanence, let’s fuck fire,
let’s drink to the death of dreams
to impossible futures
we’ll never live to see,
let’s admit that we too shall die
before winged ghosts descend the sky.

In the hospital they come and go,
discussing their options for chemo.

Tempus fugit, tempus fugit,
even clockmakers become obsolete.
Time hums like a warm circuit
in the guts of my memory.
These drinks on ice help me forget
the robotic nature of progress,
how factories of smoke and frowns
replace hearts in human chests.

Time hums like a drill on a tooth,
like a tire on the edge of the road,
obsolete gears still turn unseen
as time hums its mathematical proof,
theorists take turns cracking the code
between colors gold and green
time hums, a perpetual machine,
a rose that grows that’s never preened,
a spiral unending that never began,
yet we obsess about the unknown end
what it means to be a leaf on the wind,
to watch rain water pool in my hand.

In the hospital they come and go,
discussing their options for chemo.

Tempus fugit, tempus fugit,
time makes my heart a whirlygig,
a universe expanding until too big
to fit in this body, a snapping twig.
I’m dying, with every breath.
I’ve become best friends with Death,
a skeleton, the picture of health.
Is time flying?
Or do I fear my dying?
If I said I’d rather be dead
no matter the chatter of my psychotic laughter
you should know, in my heart I’d be lying.

For all my days, I’ve known nothing of love,
though I’ve burned with passion’s burden,
its transient taste like a shot of bourbon,
scratches the skin and leaves it raw,
until a scab forms, darkens and hardens,
so, how do I measure the truth?

For all my days, I’ve known no happiness,
except in youth when so naive
I thought the secret up my sleeve,
that lemons made lemonade,
flowers come from clouds and rain,
but time reveals all emptiness,
until we measure truth in dust.

I’ve seen the night turn lustful in the barlight,
the way time works like two stones rubbed smooth,
how forgetfulness becomes a benefit at the end.

I should have been a blacksmith’s hammer,
used to fold and bend the steaming steel of the gears.

II.

The evening basks in the afterglow
of a lifetime’s cigarette ends,
the flared embers of inhalation blends
into a sunset horizon, a blood-red horror show.
Should I visit my grandfather,
should I inject my veins with ice water?
It’s been ten centuries since I prayed,
since my childhood was a path to Hell
a purple popsicle stick dropped down a well,
dark water rippling and reflecting light
like calmness emanates from stormy night,
a whisper that says, Don’t be afraid.

Would time prove itself an arcane nothing,
an illusion like sight, to fret and to fight for?
An ocean swelling, swallowing the shore?
Is time truly so arcane,
to render all minds devoid of their names?
Such loneliness hides in the offing,
just beyond the grasp of our fumbling fingers.
The sinner said, “I was blind, but now I see,
how the candle’s flame signifies nothing.”
Jesus said, “Follow me, across the sea,
your fear is nothing,
as you are nothing.”

Would time prove itself an arcane nothing,
a soundless tide, devoid of names,
flotsam and jetsam stars in a ceaseless wake
of lifetimes’ reflections, hospitals and churches,
crosses turned to raven perches,
houses made with popsicle sticks
torn asunder by hurricane fists.
Is time truly so arcane,
it makes all things exactly the same,
if only the mirror revealed this phrase:
Your fear is nothing,
as you are nothing.

Rust reduces us to spoonfuls of dust,
while we flick our cigarette ash,
and sip our bourbon from the flask.
I am as you are and we are vanishing fast,
though these years drip like honey
down the throat of a bear
the bear stays hungry,
devouring all prayer,
a beast oblivious to questions asked.

No one can tell your dust from mine,
scattered and blown between the pines.

Should I put a gun in my mouth?
Should I sell everything in my house?
The sweetest wind blows across the South.

No one hears the words in the susurrus.

The voices carried from the past,
rustling between the wind and the leaves
a prophecy hidden up the sleeves of the trees,
the voices of ghost poets sent to guide us,
away from the shadows of ourselves,
our bodies nothing but soundless shells.

For Okla Elliott

Elegy for the poems lost
~for Okla Elliott

I did not know you and I never will.
Why must breath whittle itself
from the bark of broken dreams
into a quiet fist, holding nothing?

Is this what it means to be tiny,
temporary as a ribbon of light
fluttering across the water?
In the fiber optic ether, they whisper

untruths and vindications,
a eulogy for unfinished works
and the cruel, callous benevolence
of a universe robbing the night,

silencing heartbeats, silencing songs,
drumbeats, the metrical enunciations
of tongues flicking against teeth,
a guitar pick placed perfectly

through three stings in the neck
of a guitar never to be played again,
its cherry-scented case unlatched
at auction, and then museum,

beneath glass and filtered light,
they’ll come from miles
to wonder at the source of magic
and words like timpani behind their eyes,

it’s the common music of lustful love,
threaded and stitched
through every palm, every throat
crying to be heard and held,

held until morning
removes all misconception
about permanence of the dark,
something the insomniacs will never learn.

Inaugural poem for Donald J. Trump

For the America that could have been
~inaugural poem for Donald J. Trump

When I piss in the shower,
I piss for America,
for a world without water
and a body nearly too tired to stand.

Somewhere an entire city boils,
spooning their showers
from a hissing toilet tank.

When I jerk off at work,
I jerk off for America,
watching my semen like hot snot
slide its way into the mouth
of a white porcelain sink.

This is true happiness,
job security like a throbbing hard-on
begging to be stroked
while the homeless shoplift
bottles of mouthwash
to chug themselves into the hospital.

I order my cheeseburger medium well.
I order my cheeseburger for America,
an America of FDA-approved cancer,
and reality TV politicians,
movie star presidents,
where you can add “gate” to the end of anything.

I welcome my labored breath,
the coming numbness
of hemispherical lightning,
being fed through a tube.

I welcome the odor of the hoarders
and their living room of pungent chaotic comforts
that will become my life of isolationism
and hermit crab-like skittishness.

I will become a nicotine patch.
I will become my favorite NFL logo.
I will become the half-eaten doughnut
left in the box at the AA meeting.
I will become the opposite of content,
wrapped in a trauma blanket,
rustling like a pile of leaves
with something hidden underneath.

America, when I shriek, I shriek for thee.

Poem written on Christmas Eve

Hope is a bird reborn
~for Maggie Smith

Fitting that the sky stays muted today
that shade of tombstone gray
where the light seems to strike and die
like a bird against the glass
of a window it thought was just more sky

I’m at that window
searching the scenery for clues
that the world isn’t ending
I’m at that window
wishing I was anything else
maybe the squirrel hunched on my deck railing
scratching a frantic itch
in its ribs
like that is all that matters
and if I opened the door
and shouted “we are all going to die!”
it would just bolt through the crisp leaves
and find another place
to scratch its itch in peace

Somehow things continue
outside the realm of Twitter
and FBI conspiracies
reciting the word “emails”
ad infinitum

Somehow the small magics
of flight and song and solstice
continue to work their physics
oblivious to protests
and the promise
of a new nuclear arms race

Somehow people are still sharing
Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones”
like passing a heart
grown in a petri dish
from hand to trembling hand
and remembering
the ones that beat inside them

I stumbled across her other-worldly eyes today
and drew a sharp breath
that such a shade of blue
could still blaze a path
out of the hopeless ether of winter
and find me
stop me in my tracks
make me believe in poetry again
and its prophets
put here like fire
to warm our hands by
on the coldest days
of seasonal affective disorders
and losing democracy
like a bird of broken bones
twitching in the brittle grass

Do you remember what it felt like
the first time you buried something
the way the light seemed to illuminate
all the wrong things
and odors were all mismatched

a coat smelled like a fireplace
a book held notes of copper and wet dog
your hands were reminders of rock and dry dirt
the powder of gravel rising up like steam
from a passing car
carried the scent of a lake turning
a cricket kept and crushed in the palm
a jar opened to expose
the dried husks of once vibrant beauties

Everything is wrong
except the notion
of reincarnation
in the phases of the moon
that even as men with flat-black stares
line up groups of people before their barrels
where the earth breaks away
like a mouth ready to swallow
there remains something unending
and unknowable
beyond our eyelids
every time they close
and right now a bird’s beak
is just cracking its way
free of its speckled shell

For the Standing Rock protesters #NoDAPL

Water Protectors

~to those at Standing Rock, ND

For water, I freeze.
For water, I bleed.
Under this veil of riot shield
and blind eyes turning
away
from history repeating.

For water, I suffer
concussion grenades
For water, my jaw—
bruised and broken,
rubber bullets and graphite batons
barricade and barrage
the flesh
of those willing to stand
where they say do not stand.

Water, bringer of life
how can you belong to anyone?
Water, source of all growth,
my body belongs to you.

See this moment.
See this moment,
and let it change you.

As money cannot be eaten,
oil is not for drinking,
so why is your smile
shiny and black
with that crude
caked and congealing
between your teeth?

For water, I render
my face to the gnashing
of a dog’s barking bite.
For water, I accept
this martyrdom
of a body that history may rewrite
but the Earth knows all secrets
in its silent witnessing.

An Almost-Prize-Winner available online now

The winners and finalists for the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize are available to read now at Jabberwock Review’s website. They have been made available as a preface to the print issue releasing next month. Please make your way over and check out the great work from the writers. My poem “How to know if God exists” is a finalist, a piece that relates poignantly to the anniversary of September 11th, 2001. Please check it out and let me know what you think. And congratulations to the winners and other finalist, whose poems are all excellent.

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