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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Open Letter From Temptation

I have been watching you.
Perhaps you felt an invisible hand
Pulling from the shadows
Drawing you back.
But I never touched you.
I have no intention
Of so doing.

It is enough that you know
I am here.
I am always here.

I am the construct
Of your misgivings
Your hidden notions
And unprofessed desire.

I have always been watching you.

Eventually you will turn a corner
Into my chill embrace.
But, I think you know that
And you both fear and welcome
Our interview.

You cannot “unturn” a corner.
There is no backtracking.
Ah, but I will explain in more detail
When we meet.

In the meantime
I will be watching you.

I am always watching.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Clay Bowl

I am a clay bowl
Tossed
Into the summer wind
Destined to fall
To shatter
Into a thousand
Small shards
Sharp
And edged.

I will settle
Into the good earth
To be discovered
On a distant summer’s day
And they will say
Look what we have discovered!
Proof there were once
People here
Capable of crafting
Elegant bowls
Of kingly purpose!

They cannot see
I was nothing more
Than a clay bowl
A child hurled
Into a summer wind.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Summation

I took my badge off my chest
And put it in a drawer
Knowing I had no need for it
And would not wear it anymore.

I took my uniform to the cleaner
Told them to fold it in a box.
I took the clip out of my Colt
And hid it beneath my socks.

All the equipment I had used
For more than twenty years
I carefully put everything away.
They had no further purpose here.

The only thing remaining
Is the hat that I had worn.
It sits high up on a shelf
Next to cans of beans and corn.

A man is more than what he was.
He is more than what he’s done.
A man is not the sum of where he’s been
Of battles, lost or won.

My life remains unfinished.
It’s a night without a moon.
It’s a rhyme without a meter.
It’s a song without a tune.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

When the Lights Fade

When the lights fade
I settle into
The easy rhythm of night.

The concerns of day
Wash over me like breakers
Dashing against rocky crags.

It is difficult to let them go
To loose them
To cast them off.

The warm bowl of my pipe
Is comfortable in my palm
As I puff smoke rings in the dark.

One muscle at a time
I command my body to relax
Erasing the accumulated tension.

Soon enough the morning sun
Will commence a new day.
But tonight I rest in the soothing darkness.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Toe Tag

Atmospheres of smoke and whiskey
Mingling with sour sweat
Followed him
The way shadows dog drunks
Into alleyways.

Every word was a sneer.
Every thought evaporated before it finished.

He teetered before me
Bracing against a brick wall
Inventing threats to hurl
Like pipe bombs
Down my throat.

Others may lean away
But I did not
And that confused him
So he amped up.

I did not flinch
And that made him more angry
Which was something like
Making midnight darker.

His spittle salted my beard.
I grabbed the hem of his shirt
And wiped my face
Planning a hot shower
A half hour later.

He asked me twice if I knew his name.
I told him I did not
But I could get it off his toe tag.
That’s when he said I was too stupid to kill
And too smart to hurt.

So I bought him his next bottle
And let it do the job for me.

So much for being too stupid to kill.

Laugh and Spit

Laugh out loud!
Laugh and spit into the air
You, who have edged your sword with blood.

Surely you must know a place to hide.
Somewhere deep in the earth
Where bullets and bombs are jokes
And the accoutrements of battle
Are but gossamer and lace.

Your foe scales your heart
With matchsticks.
They are phantoms
Upon the rungs.           

You prevail.

The alcohol in your cup
Is as raw as kerosene.
Take it like
Holy Communion.
Feel the napalm in your gut
And laugh with me.

Laugh out loud!
Laugh and spit in the air
You who prevail.

Lonesome Memory

It requires I but close my eyes
To again see Spanish Moss
Draped over Mississippi Live Oak
And Bald Cyprus.

I again find the aroma
Of magnolia and lavender.
The southern sun bakes my shoulders
And I am once more along the banks
Of the Old Muddy
The Father of Waters.

My speech slows
Breath deepens
And my toes anchor
In that red rock road
One more time
For old time’s sake.

Were I to stay
I would smell the smoke
Feel the fury that remains
In its bloody soil.
Maybe that’s why the dirt is red.

Ghosts of Dixie linger
Telling truth mingled with lies
But intoxicating me
In the vastness of mystery.

It is best to drain away all the pain.
Taste the salt on my lips
Wondering how long it would take
To float to New Orleans
Clinging to that cypress log
That just floated by
In my lonesome memory
As silent as the years.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Meter's Running

Where are we going, mister?
I’ve got a full tank
And the whole night.
There’s nothing in front of us
But an empty highway
And static on the radio.

So, where are we going, mister?

Wherever you’re headed
I’ve been there before.
Whatever you need to see
I’ve seen.

It would do no good to tell you
Whatever it is
You think you need
You do not.

But I’m up for the trip, mister
So the door’s open
The meter’s running
And I’ve got all night.

That dark lonesome
Waiting to fill your belly
Has ten thousand names
Each of them sadder than
The one before.
If you want to meet them
Mister
I’ll introduce to you each one.
But, I promise you
Mister
Every one of those names
Will cost more than you can pay.
Remember this
Mister
My meter’s running
And when the sun comes up
You will pay my fee too.

So, where are we going, mister?

Kind and Soft

She was kind and soft
When I was jagged
Torn and weary.

What can I tell you
About her?

She was the welcome
Of gentle mornings
On the Carolina coast.

She was the golden orb
Of a harvest moon
Above Midwestern fields.

What can I tell you
About her?

She was the haunting call
Of a solitary snow goose
Hovering above a Montana pond.

She was the hollow lonesome  
Of abandoned farm houses
In Kansas plains.

What can I tell you
About her?

She was the mysterious presence
Of Ozark lakes
In a moon-glow night.

She was the salt and tang
And the sleepy heat
Of Old Mexico.

What can I tell you
About her?

She was snow-draped
Tennessee pines
On a winter's eve.

She was the hushed crackle
Of a hickory fire
In a cast iron stove.

She was kind and soft
When I was jagged
Torn and weary.
 

Desperation

I shed my life
Like a snake does its skin.
Turned a corner
And started again.
But it don’t matter
Much anyway.
It takes more than
Just turning away.

The past somehow
Follows me around.
It disregards both
The smile and the frown.
It must take more
Than trying again.
It is harder than
Deciding to win.

I wanted to leave
Some kind of trace
To prove that
I ran in this race.
But all that
Seems silly now.
It takes more than
A hope or a vow.

Guess I’ll rise up
And try one more time.
I’m in for a dollar
In for dime.
I’ll give this
One more try.
I’ll do this thing right
Or I’ll die.

Aw, but listen to me.
Ain’t it true
What will be
Will be?
Here I stand
With my back to the wall.
It takes desperation
For a man to stand tall.