He comes home with a bundle of clay.
Both he and his wife move clean hands
over it and already it begins
to mold and shape in their design.
Each touch of their nurturing hands makes
the form a little clearer, just a
bit more human. Soon they must leave this
beauty in a foreign public place.
Other hands touch this angelic artwork,
and in time pieces and fragments are lost
in the clutch of misguided palms,
storage ideas, and warped beliefs.
In time this sculpture forms fangs and claws,
the owners try and save what they can,
but end up crying, bitten
by their own creation of good intent.
I’ll be trading barbs with you
until one finally sticks –
heavy to your ribs –
making each breath you take
sharp and painful.
I won’t feel guilty
as I watch you labor
to forget my words –
but they are attached
to each of your muscles,
making every move a struggle,
until you have no choice
but to still.
I will lift my upper hand –
raised so high you cannot reach it,
let it reign,
angry and hot,
let it scorch your sharp tongue,
you fall silent.
Sometimes, late at night,
you sneak up on me,
when I am lying next to the man
cleaning up the mess you made.
Your memory comes out
of the shadows, the boxes,
the depths I pushed them in.
It still hits me,
right in the chest –
and all I can think of
is the way you laughed,
your crooked teeth
and the clumsy smile
that hid your sharp tongue
and all the words you battered me with.
I look at him,
focus until his form blurs –
and you retreat
back into darkness,
where you can’t hurt me anymore.
steady on the tin roof,
and rolls down, down, the side
of this old house.
sending critters deep into
the woods, seeking safety
and a place to stay dry.
with no place to call home,
causing destruction and
devastation to happen quickly
The river recedes,
silent and alone,
and the flood is forgotten
like it never came at all.
Hands of sleep
pick me up
and deliver me to
as a mother,
rock me slowly
to crazy, feral dreams.
Sing me to sleep
with hushed lullabies
warming me slow to
the harvest moon.
I used to hear an orchestra
when I heard your name.
A smooth vibrato of climaxing violins,
the soft but lovely tremolo from the violas
with the cello’s bellowing bowed brilliance
shining like diamonds in the moonlight.
A collection of the finest musicians
played out your name as if
it was the most wonderful combination
of melody and harmonies
in front of a sold out crowd
heard by the public for the first time.
The lights dimmed –
my eyes fought the dark to catch glimpses
of the music as it took our souls
and lifted us above everything
to a place we only dreamt.
The darkness moved to corners of the room.
We jumped up to applaud, not just with hands
but with hearts and souls behind the thunderous roars.
The greatest symphony written and it was your name.
Yes – I used to hear an orchestra
when I heard your name.
Now all I can listen to is a bowed screech
from the cello,
a misplaced finger,
and unseasoned hand holding the bow
too close to the bridge.
When you loved me
I was a television remote
with hundreds of buttons to push.
I could have been a vending machine
with salt and vinegar chips, a chocolate cream bar.
N6 would give free candy for life.
The problem with that small equation
and the function of mechanical arts
is that all I wanted was the pressure of your fingers
on the Braille number keypad across my chest.
As time for a snack break came and went,
each lonely candy bar melted in my hands.
Each unwatched channel faded to white,
but my DVR recorded it as an important event.
Then came the noise of someone else
chewing in the other room,
the sound of Brad Pitt from the love seat.
So when the cable was disconnected
and my middle layer left uneaten,
I devoured it myself one night
and only blinked one thousand times
to clear the snow from my screen.
Usual and casual: they look good together;
like a pair of sandy camels in a desert caravan,
loose and meandering from oasis to cool oasis.
They carry cargo in canvas bags.
The components of cargo in the canvas bags
fit together like Tetris blocks.
This is what I love about words:
Not the feeling, but the fitting.
Could this flock of words be a poem
if no one’s heart is bleeding?
Lighting a sour cigarette in
the middle of the night.
I slowly slide the wet window open
so the smoke doesn’t crawl on eight legs
underneath my door, screaming murder
to wake up dreaming friends.
I can only exhale so many gray clouds
before a fire ignites beneath my bed,
dancing out of my doorway,
engulfing my charred body
in black flames.