Let it Burn : NaPoWriMo #13

A New Constitution

The Constitution of the United States
was not torn in half
in the fists of a teenage girl,
but murdered, step by calculated step
by men with fingernails so clean
they must be teflon-coated
and alien to the earth,
having never known the hardship
and humanity of sweat-work
with bent backs and hands in the dirt.

Kept under glass, the sacrosanct
smothers in its refusal to change,
words must be twisted to fit
into the puzzled spaces
of an ever-evolving world,
used to permit
any invented atrocity
of a cunning and apathetic mind,
so let it die.

The truths have ceased their self-evidence,
when each individual manifests
their own cultish version of the facts,
a kind of sugar-laced poison
passed from pew to pew
and spewed like Christ blood
from an oil well, flooding
every living room floor
until all these smeared footsteps disappear.

The past must burn before it is rewritten,
before the triggering trauma
of genocides forgotten
can be repeated and relived,
every person born with a barrel
pressed against the resistant flesh
of a tender-skinned temple,
the red-ring of foreshadowed bang
just waiting for a prophecy
fulfilled by sound.

Poem for Anthony Borges : NaPoWriMo #12

Between Death and a Door
~for Anthony Borges

Death doesn’t knock upon the door,
it demands to be let through,
but there are those who refuse to listen.

These seconds seem small
waiting to die, nothing between the end
and the now except this barricade
of flesh leaned against hard wood
and heartbeats pushing blood
out of the body and onto the floor.

This act is selfless, to stand
in defense of the helpless,
to feel an entire existence
kept in the balance
while something faceless
sends its bullets ripping
with white noise and white flashes
through muscle, through lung,
through sound shattered bone.

Five strikes of the iron bell
to stave off twenty more,
five ear-splitting bangs
of skeletal fist pounding
against one shaking frame,
five brushes of bony fingers
against tear-streaked cheeks,
a world condensed down
to the scent of cauterized skin,
to the sound of shrieks,
to the sensation of breath
as a dissipating echo
in the mind.

And when you wake up
in the hospital bed,
your body feels less than your own,
a host of surgical scars
and open wounds no suture can close,
you hear them call you hero,
but you know it isn’t so
you just did what had to be done,
and now, just want to be left alone,
to heal, to feel time return itself
back to that steady second hand
where every tick of the clock
isn’t another triggered gunshot.

Death doesn’t knock upon the door,
it demands to be let through,
but you, you refused to listen.

NaPoWriMo Poem #11

On hanging a bird feeder

If I am a stranger to myself
maybe I’ve always been,
wondering at the man I’ve become,
buying a better drill to drive
these screws into the deck post
when twelve volts couldn’t do the job,
securing this wrought iron hook
to hang this lantern-like object
with its windows only reflecting light
I can no longer discover inside.

And then the disappointment begins
when nothing seems to happen,
days of waiting like a child
for a Christmas morning with no snow
and a living room floor absent
of the gift Santa promised to bring,
sitting in a cloth-backed chair
sipping beers at sunset,
the wind gently flapping
the sun-filtered shade of an awning
while blue-gray clouds ease their way
eastward beyond the trees that lean
into a sky past the fence line.

This is pointless, I think, listening
to that ambient susurrus
of neighborhood noise like ocean currents,
what winged thing would ever want
to visit me in my apathy?
And, of course, nothing answers,
as it always does the thoughts
of an aging mind.

But, life still holds an element of surprise,
life still happens without announcement
of itself, when without applause
a red-breasted finch alights
along that lantern’s metal-railed base,
cocks its head to and fro
as if in ambivalent acknowledgment,
picks up a seed in its black and white beak
and flutters out of sight,
back into the canopy of camouflage trees,
and there’s this moment
this inexplicable pause in the minutiae
of heartbeats flooding my veins,
where happiness finds its wings.

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.

Snapshots #2 : NaPoWriMo #8

Snapshots #2

1.
When you put the horizon
inside a picture frame
it ceases to be the horizon,
becomes a fragmented view
of an experience immersed
in light and wind and sound,
the soft ground beneath you
accepting your footsteps
like the flesh of some mammoth
to which you remain unknown,
and it’s a moment you can’t relive,
even when wrapped in the ghostly serape
of your memory.

2.
Snow clings to these needled limbs
just before sunrise
like white sheets draped
over sleeping children,
peaceful and undisturbed
the air seems pregnant
with chilled anticipation,
a quiet just before laughter
and the trickling calm
of warmth entering the world.

3.
Nature unfolds its palm
to the unfettered sky,
always a captive audience
for this most audacious
of magic tricks.
A perpetual rabbit out of hat,
this cycle of awakening
unto drowsing, a coin drawn
from behind the ear
and tossed up into fragrant air
where it disappears
as if never there.
This is the illusion
of breath, of being.

4.
Blackbird perched on a concrete block
doesn’t even know I exist,
doesn’t know the stresses
of bills past due, or love like a ship
taking on water. He just flies
from one parking lot to the next,
from one danger to another
found right in his nest,
and still, the hatchlings must learn
how to flap their wings
before they hit the ground.

5.
Full moon shining
in through the skylight,
pinning four golden squares
to the opposite wall,
the rest of the room outlined
with a glinted edge of blue glow.
The clock ticks, counting down
the orchestra of dreams,
the metronome of my wife’s breath
lulling me there like ocean waves
smoothing the troubled beaches
of another stress filled day,
washing those angry footsteps
away.

6.
A toddler with a trach tube
still shrieks in glee
at the prospect of new shoes.

7.
I am the king of crickets,
their songs are sung
in praise of me,
a dusk serenade
for my body
incapable of anything
but noise.

Snapshots : NaPoWriMo 7

Snapshots

1.
Something so sad about a rainbow
formed in a parking lot,
and yet, something so vibrantly true,
no wonder the seagulls get lost here
and bicker over the French fries
thrown out of car windows.

2.
In Portland they’ll put a pentagram on your pizza pie,
fill your head with black metal noise,
Pepperoni like the Ace of Spades,
get lost in a book store among the aisles of the new and used
girls with purple hair and nose rings.

3.
Some mountains don’t need to be climbed,
they just stand defiantly in the distance
and ask for your silence.

4.
The red light of sunrise
shines through the gap in the shade
opening a crack of fire in the world,
like an escape route choked with dust motes
in the rubble of a collapsed cave
that only a hand can fit through.

5.
Every tap of these typewriter keys
a transmission, across sonic highways,
tethering my heart to this
ambivalent, terror-filled world.
And yes, sometimes I text myself,
just to see if I answer.

6.
I am not a robot, I say to the robot,
before entering I check the box,
I see the yellow taxi cabs,
the bridges, the bodies of water
that prove my humanity
like they say a pulse
proves you’re alive.

7.
Life is a transmission on radio waves
and a mind is like an antique stereo
that sizzles with static until the right frequency
is found, dialed in, and reality pours in
through the speakers of our senses,
washing us in the sound of experience.

8.
Between work and sleep
and two hours commuting
there’s just the waiting to feel alive again,
all this time not my own
these days circling tile in an empty warehouse
like a shark that eats air or boredom,
sustenance a drained whiskey bottle.

9.
The wilderness calls me brother,
the wild calls me son,
a river like my aorta filled with wonder
and my lust like a bear
with a salmon caught in its teeth.
I’m home here among the trees
and ambience of soft light
as if it is my own body
which glows.

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.