Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lament for the death of the Zombie King

I read about it in the newspaper, but they got it all wrong.
I know how it really went down: his flowered crown
had wilted badly in the moonlight. Such a shame,
really. He was such an impressive specimen despite
his pupil-less eyes, and lack of the usual social graces.

Personally, I will miss, most of all,
his penis, rotting away it's true
but so uplifting. Some say he was
circumcised as an adult, but I believe he let
nature take its fragile course.

Not that the sex was great, or anything.
He had difficulties focusing on the task
at hand, perhaps because his hand
wasn't his own to control, but still his charm
made up for his deficiencies in -- what's the word?

Performance. That's it. And he did try as well
as anyone similarly situated could. Besides
I was drawn by more than just his sheer animal
magnetism, if you must know. It was his voice
or the absence thereof. Such beauty in silence

I've never experienced before. Imagine, then
my surprise when finally he uttered what proved
to be his final word to me, only last week, but
already an eternity ago subjectively speaking.
Just the word: "Platypus" and then he stopped

moving for good. And I thought it was a joke,
you know, some sort of April Fools' gag, but his arms
fell to his side like hydraulic lifts when the fluid runs
out: slow and a bit squeaky as they descended.
I tried mouth to mouth, but his lips prevented

a good seal, and breathing was never
one of his strong suits. So, yes, I cried for a bit,
I'm not ashamed to admit it. Love is hard to find,
and a soul mate? You can answer that question
as well as I. Still, I can't help wondering

if somewhere, someday, we'll meet again
in a better world, one without the obligatory
stares and fearful looks, where two people can live
out their dream without regard to what animals
might come between them. Especially the slugs

which, I confess, I found hard to explain
to friends and family, both. Not that they
weren't cute, in a slimy sort of way, once you
got used to the smell. I used garlic and butter
to fry them up, when they got to be too much

to bear. Escargot without the shell, I told him,
and I swear, I almost saw a hint of a smile.
But that's me, trying to remember the good times
because I'm just an optimist, at heart. And what
else do you expect? Losing a lover

is always hard, hardest on the one left behind
with only her unfulfilled dreams to keep her warm
at night. Which by the way, is still when
I think of him the most; in the long hours before dawn
his friends all around, all their arms outstretched,

reaching to God, or whatever strange call they heard
as they carried me along, part of their festive swarm,
more happy, more alive, than I've ever been
before or since. And always, always, following
his lead, one step at a time, into the gloom.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Tara Birch poem just for you

A Tara Birch poem just for you, written while waiting for my son to steal away my computer so he can write an essay that he should have written yesterday (so it's a good thing he's a smart boy and gets all A's in school and causes us so little grief that sometimes we forget he is here and as scared as any of us)

last night I couldn't read the screen
with the biographical text of all the important
parts and counterparts

the major actors, the lesser characters
the smiling, charming effusive director
relentless in his praise for the city
of his dreams, the fabrication he made
that still stands

I couldn't read -- until I tilted the frames
of my eyeglasses, adjusted
the light flowing from there to here

inside my retinas, inside the excited rods and cones

how entertaining to grow old!

Last night, the dark returned to my head,
I lay in bed, dreaming awake
of the essay I'd write:

redemption was to be the theme, how it can't
be coerced, how it can't

be denied by God or Man or demons in drag
fluttering their hands, demanding allegiance

to hate. It was to be the best thing
I'd ever write, but now I won't.

It summoned me last night and now
it's recalcitrant,

refusing my call, refusing to speak
in the open light.

There are many pains I've acquainted myself with
over the course of this life:

self-inflicted burns, cuts, ingested poisons
and the sad sweep

of bleary looks at ceilings and floors and
bedspreads and skin

indifferent to touch. And of these? The worst
was the heart

filled as a balloon and drifting apart, pushing up
forcing itself out

uncontained as I lay on the couch, silent
and afraid of breath, of each beat,

of death as a welcome home, as surcease
for the void of what comes next

each second, each tick
of the clock or the watch on my wrist.

my nephew has found himself again
in the hospital, the cold blue tubes attached
to his arm

coming back from swimming in the murk of himself
which means of course

the brain he has refuses to work, refuses to match
the rhythms that others have
turing on, turing off in patterns of thought:

excite, repress, excite, repress --

those aren't the ways his brain accomplished
his task. instead it stopped
taking command of itself, stopped turning off

just pushed and pushed and pushed
the damn button until it stuck and his body
seized up, pale, ghost-rigid beneath

his poor parents' fear.

my brother says he spoke just once before giving up:
I know you're here.

why am I not here? a good question and one
I'd prefer to elide

because poetry has not been on my mind

unless forced out by a game

I listen to my daughter scream, or to her songs
parody songs the young always find

so amusing to sing:

Gawd bless my underwear!

and I read of a woman who was raped and then
sentenced to death by yemeni men

for adulterous relationships (but really for defiling
her husband)

and then she was saved because a small child
had wormed its way into her womb

and for two long years after birth she has lived with that thought, that her child saved her life

but for only a brief, unrelenting span

knowing his birth day, the remembrance of that
would also be the remembrance of the day they took him from her arms

to finish what had only been paused

I think of that woman, and her child, and the way
the earth turns

in our own backyards, grinding into the path
of the holocaust to come

unless we stop

for each of us is  private, and lost to ourselves, threat,
for all of us a too large to think about threat

and you ask where has she gone?

she's been disappearing for years

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Romeo & Juliet are co-dependent

The darkest stars pierce hard a human heart,
but Juliet, so fair and white, is darker yet.

I'd burn desire out but I cannot. 

She is my globe and I her moon. To part
would court catastrophe; grief and regret

would leave our shades behind while bodies rot. 

Blood is our curse; her blood exciting mine.
Entwined, they brings us an apocalypse

that we are helpless to deflect. Malign 

in purpose and intent, this passion grows
with no limit. And as the sun's eclipse

portends ill fate, so is this love that flows 

between myself and Juliet, a sign.
Juliet is the doom I can't decline.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Hi, it's me and I'm dead

I've killed myself, again, and let me just say (if I can) that this time cremation is out of the question. No more ashes for me, my friends, but no worms either. Just send me overboard to feed the fishies. I know, dying so far from any large body of water may prove ionconvenient to you (not to mention the environemtal laws you might break) and may seem a bit excessive, especially since I'm not one to complain or nag, at least not in my present state of decomposition. Nevertheless please respect this last request I'll ever make, unless I really do decide to return as another homo sapiens sapiens in what dreams may come (oh please, don't we all steal from the best every once in a while?). So, tata, my dear friends. The wake's on me. Love, [Name withheld by request of next of kin] Ps. The Jameson's that's left is first come, first served. Sorry about the Baileys: It is finished -- along with the rum, the cognac, and that one merlot from Washington State I'd been holding onto all these years. Nothing like diazapam and mixed drinks for a grand send-off, don't you agree? Best 30 minutes I ever spent! Too bad the rest of you missed the party. Better luck next time we're well met.

The ignorance of bliss

The sounds you make remain within my head, as lights that shine amid persistent pain. Under their spell, I molt, I change, I shed Constraints which once were chains, but now are threads Unraveling, unwilling to constrain The sounds you make remaining in my head. Their music, not your words, which fail to wed Their meaning to the joy I ascertain. Under their spell, I molt, I change, I shed The world and all its fatal charms. Instead, I listen now to wind and clouds and rain; The sounds they make remain within my head Like whispers of a future that lies just ahead; A place, a time, a vision I would gain. Under their spell, I molt, I change, I shed. And yet, this mystery to which I’m led By you is frightening. I can’t explain The sounds you make remaining in my head. It is rebirth, returning from the dead As Lazarus came back to life, again. The sounds you make remain within my head. Under their spell, I molt, I change, I shed.

Friday, December 29, 2006

years and years of american fears

this food lays in my belly the wine suspended above bubbles of a gaseous diaspora while the colored boys run to see their necks stretched again in the pinafore skirts and lollipops of white girls under the age of that age this my century o lazurus who died and rose and died again for our unknown sins that evil lice spread while the indians sang amazing grace that old hymn on the road to their graves as the blues shot the greys and everyone played cards in saloons where the judge called the tunes that we danced and we danced in the night of no moon women and men stepping out and leaving our boot prints in the dust of places that don't exist because we marched our millions of soles in lockstep for this is our country each life and each death each slave and each brute for unto each is it written that nothing is given without the salute for the guns knives bombs and parades topped off by a sailor's big kiss just to sell magazines and these faces and tears treaties and pleas anger and anguish in the names we've unnamed and the peoples denied sent to visions of hell where the earth opens up and the devil says put some bling on her butt a cross on her neck and nylons on her thighs so say hello to the burqa say hello to islam say hello to your karma say hello to alarm for this is the world that your fathers have made and your mothers approved a world of nothing but pictures to entertain and amaze a world formed for the insane so my stomach's upset with food no one but no one knows I don't need a pain a sting a rebuke a crime and a craze where what I eat sends a message of waste and disease and of lies that I know we'll repeat to the end of my days

Saturday, December 23, 2006

An elegy for the remainder

I I am consumed by ice, it's crunch, the bitter taste of chlorine in my mouth, the cold, hard spikes which sting my tongue and my teeth. It is Christmas, someone said, the season for gifts, but I have nothing left; not even words. You You are pensive, afraid, giddy, weak, the strongest woman with the fullest watery eyes, the weepiest voice. When we meet, you laugh at the birds, still circling above in the unlikely heat. What a relief, to see you smile, as if the world is all right. He He stretches his fingers, cracks his neck, keeps his own counsel from pouring forth into our grief. Anger waits behind his face, as impassive as stone, as reluctant as mice when the cat is awake. He eats, he sleeps, he feels the unknown creep. She She bothers everyone. She bothers herself, the words scratched out as well worn chalk, too well known, too well heard. Her mouth opens and the alarm always sounds. In the quietest time she bangs out her songs, the notes fresh, the melodies long. The Deceased Time was his to command, so we think, as the clock inside ticked down, as the matters concerning him were made right over the last week, the last day, the last hour. The last word was brief, just like the Christ he never cared to meet. The Circle of Life The children know it exists in their heads, not their hearts. A phrase for the dying, a hope for denying the immoveable end of flesh and bone, of eyes that will dim. We repeat the words no one believes. A litany which cannot be broken.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Punish me

Hit me in the mouth with your back hand and make me spit blood. Let me feel your knuckles crease my face right above my left cheekbone. Yes I've been bad, so bad, again, love, bad enough to burn. Don't make your excuses. Don't run to your room, letting me escape to roam the streets with my drunken gait bumming cigs, and crawling home at noon, my hair a mess, my dress ripped and torn. Don't put it off, again. I'll never learn until you insist a swollen lip, a purpled eye, a broken arm is what I deserve. What I need from a man so listless in bed, so absent each night, is a little pain, a battering ram to force me back to your arms. You ain't that guy you say to me, but I want to hear an angrier voice, one crossed with acid etched in chrome, taking away my buzz of bourbon laced with coke, reminding me that I belong to a brutal guy, the nastiest boy in town. A man who knows how hell's unleashed with a lash across my back so bare, hungry for its stripes. But then, each time you brush aside my pleas, retreating to your car or den, leaving me with nothing but this rancid life and the thought that you don't give a damn.