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

Repealing the 2nd Amendment : NaPoWriMo #18


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.

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.

Gun violence poem NaPoWriMo #3

A gun speaks

Find me saddled and snug
against the warmth of a woman’t thigh,
on the inside, tucked into a garter.
Find me hidden beneath socks
and loosely spilled ties
in a bedside table, or squeezed
between a mattress and box springs.

There’s nothing I like more
than being cradled
in a palm, cruel and callous,
not sweaty at all,
ready to deal out death
the way I spit out smoking shells
like teeth from a street boxer’s mouth.

Find me on a hustler’s hip,
on a policeman’s hip,
on the top shelf of a lawyer’s closet
or the back glass of a redneck’s Ford.
Find me under the gas station counter,
under the driver’s seat of a war vet,
under the pillow of a man who can’t sleep.

I’m here, never more than a reach away,
never more than a moment
between the deep breath
and a thumb on the safety switch
between the silence and the sharp calamity
of a split-second decision,
an exit wound the size of infinity.

Find me loaded, always loaded,
in the seconds that speak like bells
like air raid sirens of the heart
like 911 calls where the operator shouts
“Slow down! Slow down! Try to stay calm,
help is on the way.”

Find me fingerprint clad,
blood spatter like liquid veil,
discarded or still vaguely grasped
in the limp hand of a child,
of a broken thing,
of a moment once fulfilled
that can never be undone.

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.

April fools poem

The danger within

Is there anything more dangerous
than a mirror?
Even bullets are limited
to the confines of the flesh,
the damage they do
is subcutaneous.

A phosphorous grenade may burn
the muscle from the bone,
but even that is a kind of mercy
compared to seeing yourself.

So much happiness depends
on self-delusion,
a wrinkle once made in the brain
doesn’t fade, can only be amended
with adjoining wrinkles,
and every memory must be faced
in reflection.

It is said that Narcissus drowned
trying to kiss himself
on the surface of a lake,
but maybe the story is wrong,
maybe he wanted to strangle the snake
living behind his own eyes.

If you break the mirror
you don’t break the spell,
you only create more tiny versions
of yourself, with sharp, jagged edges
that cut your fingers
if you try to pick them up.