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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Old Women and Aged Sloops

Leaning upon a rail
At the harbor
I gazed intently
Along the waterline
Of the old wooden-hulled
Sloop
Imagining the ports she visited
The gales she weathered
And the salty surfs she plied.

Yet
For all her miles and years
Here she sat
Swaying softly
At her fresh water pier
No more to wander the seas
With cargoes of spices and tea.
Her ancient hull creaked
Like the bones
Of an old woman
Complaining at the most mild task.
 
Her furled canvas
No more to catch the seas’ breeze
Was lashed to her rigging
Like the pale tresses
Of an old woman
Bound and bunned
No longer the mystery
Twined in the hands
Of lovers.

Along the bow
Her name flourished
In gilt
Proudly etched
Given in majesty
And burned into the brains
Of every crew who served her
Like the Victorian name
Of an old woman
No longer bestowed to new daughters
Registered in yellowed
And fragile pages
Of maritime memory.

Old women
And aged sloops
Brittle bones
And teak decks
Wrinkled faces
And wrapped sails
Gather in mystery and memory
In a wonder
Both singular and sensuous
Swaying softly together
In fresh water ports.

Predator

The quail lay quietly
In the tall grasses
Knowing death patiently waited.

I intended to flush them out
Before the muzzle
Of my gun.

But, in the reeds
Stalked a more patient predator
Meaning to roust me.

And, I wonder
If I spare the quail
Will he spare me?

My Dreams

My dreams
Have bones
Muscle and sinew.
They cover in flesh
Yet are pale
Bloodless
Lifeless.

My dreams
Haunt the minutes
And hours
Of my days
Begging life.

My dreams
Gasp for breath
And choke
Knowing
They must remain
In the dark
Silently sleeping.

 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Night Hooves

My eyes gaze
Into utter gloom
Fixed upon midnight.

My senses condense
Into the singularity
Of sound.

Distant
Yet approaching
Thunder night hooves.

What steed must thrust
From withers such as these!

A pale horse comes
Treading thermals
Pounding stone
Flashing rivers
Vexed neither
By mountain nor prairie
Closing miles as inches.

Coming as fever.
Coming as storms.
Coming as dissolution.

Coming for me.

Blade

Slowly
She brought my palm
To her lips.

Her thin breath
Warmed my skin.

Her warm exhalation
Coursed chills down my spine
Pooling molten in my loins

Slowly
Deliberately
She traced the tip of her tongue
Along what she said
Was my
Lifeline.

There
She said.
Now, you will live forever.

I had no answer.

My breath caught in my throat.
No words formed in my mouth.
My vision narrowed and dulled.
No manly response effused my body.

For all her assurance of long life
She slew me
With no blade nearly as edged
As her maiden tongue.

 

 

Jacket

I shrug on my
Jacket of courage
Which
I know
Is a ragged
Moth-eaten
And shabby garment
Hardly able
To turn the winds.

I wrap in it
Hoping
The elements will not notice
My utter lack
Of preparedness
To endure the gale.

Perhaps
If the lightning does not flash
Too mightily
And I do not move
Too hastily
Mars may not notice my frailty
And fear.

Perhaps
I may come through the squall
Intact enough
To secure a needle and thread
And a patch or two
To mend this old jacket
So I may stand my post
And do this again
Tomorrow.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This Old Town

Dry winds have sanded
This old town
For a century.
It stirs and whips dust and sand
Wearing the bright
Red star
On the Texaco sign
Into faded pink.

Limestone markers
In the church cemetery
Blunt into unreadable inscriptions
Dissolving all memory
Of those who once turned
Their shoulders to that same wind.

Main Streets' store windows
Are marred with remnants of tape
Once posting signs
Advertising pork chops
Wide-track tires
And garden hoes.
They are as opaque
As the cataracts of those
Who, as children
Once gazed through them at Christmas
Dreaming of bicycles and baseballs.

The old dance hall is now a pawn shop.
The Palace Theater is reframed
As a martial arts academy
And Western Auto was razed after the fire
With nothing taking its place
Between the Rexall and Post Office.

This old town
Sanded by wind and time
Breathes slowly
So slowly
Exhaling memory and dust
As life expands around her
While concrete crumbles
Lumber warps
Paint chips
And people leave or die.
 
But doesn’t the wind blow forever.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Bunny Hop

I was young
And climbed tall ladders
For money.

Some ladders were nearly
V
E
R
T
I
C
A
L
.

The space between the rungs
Was beckoning death.

But the electric lines
Through which I’d threaded
Promised I would never feel the
Pain
Of a crash landing.

Sometimes I fantasized about
Deliberately
Taking that plunge
Pressing the idea into me
The way light
Presses into the tender pulp
Behind the eyelids.

I climbed rung by rung
Like
The Bunny Hop...

I put my right foot in
I’d take my left foot out
I’d put my right foot in
And I’d shake it all about.

My family and friends would come
To the wake
And exclaim how I looked
To just be asleep.
They would remark on how noble I was
To give my life
For the support
Of my young family.

But I would lay there thinking
They’d be amazed
If they knew my last thoughts
Before I fell
Were of
The Bunny Hop.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Lonely

I am not lonely enough.

My heart cries out
Not for intimacy
But isolation.

The Divine always exists
In a state
Of perfect loneliness
Having need of
Nothing.
Not even company.

If I am to taste
The smallest sliver of God
I must let loneliness
Ferment in my heart
Until I am drunk
On the wine
Of separation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Lion's Mane

Tonight I will lay my head
Upon the lion’s mane.

There is safety in peril
Where my breath mingles with that
Of the beast.

Massive paws
Bladed like swords
Will encompass me
Though I will not fear.

The tail of the beast
Slashes like a whip
Cracking the air
Like musketry
But I will sleep in peace.

I trust in the Unseen
Who is stronger than the threat
Of lions
Whose paws soothes my flesh
But rends the adversary.

Tonight I will lay my head
Upon the lion’s mane.