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Friday, July 29, 2016

Night Terror

I saw a deep craggy cave
In a tall rocky wall
In a forgotten canyon
A thousand feet tall.

All manner of evil
Every fevered child’s dream
Clung to the rocks
Like the bile in a scream.

The cavern yawned wide
Like the entrance to hell
Like the entry to perdition
In a molten red well.

Or, was it but a vision
Of all I once craved
All packed in a dank hole
In a bottomless cave?

No matter, dear friend.
I know it was real.
And I will not return
To a grave I did seal.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Patiently

If you patiently wait
Just before the tawny sun
Dawns
You may kneel upon the shore
And listen to the
Surf
Sing his love song to
The waning moon.

If you patiently wait
In the blush of ochre
Light
You may cast your eyes
Upon the bashful
Moon
And behold her pale
Receding gaze.

If you patiently wait
The shameless orb will
Wake
Beyond the eastern sky
And chase the virgin
Moon
Into her dark and
Distant bed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

No Photographs

I have no photographs.
They simply record a fragment
Of an instant
But fail to notice
The fierceness of life
Sparking in her eyes.

What can a matrix of print do
To capture
What she expressed
Beyond any artificial recording?

Her life was
Edged
Like the blade of a sword
Was passionate
Like the mother of a cub
Was extreme
Like torrents of rain
But was also
Exceedingly gentle
With a feather touch
A tender tear
And a whispered pledge.

No photograph can compete
With the memory of a woman
Whose presence lives
Beyond the technology of time.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Never*

The volley of rifles
Over the gravesite
Made me involuntarily
Jump.
I wanted to comport myself
Like the law enforcement professional
I was
And I was embarrassed
At my response.

Then I understood that flinching
Was precisely the proper response.

We must never grow accustomed
To the raw edge
Of unnecessary death
Among the many
Or the one.

Years have passed
And gunfire has become familiar.
It rings down the boulevards
Then above the graves
Echoing forever
In the hearts of the bereaved.

Years have passed
And my badge now rests
Along with all the accoutrements
Of the profession.

But there is no retirement
From the blue fraternity.
My brothers and sisters
Unknown to me by name
Are intimates
By the connection of brotherhood.

Dallas will long be remembered
As will Brooklyn
New York
Chicago
Los Angeles
And every City
Town and Village
Every Federal, State
And County department
Who has inscribed the names
Of their fallen
Upon the memorial wall.

Years have passed
But the sharp pang of loss
Never recedes.

Never.
 
 
 
*This is not an effort to wax poetic. It is, rather, an expression of the dismay that ought to afflict every true heart, at the loss of five Dallas police officers killed in the performance of their duties. In the last 24 hours several other officers have been shot, and at least one (from a small Missouri department) remains in critical condition. Seven other Dallas officers are hospitalized following the horrific event is Texas.
 
The deaths of African American males at the hands of poorly disciplined officers are equally abhorrant, but this must not be understood as one death in answer for another. Every life is precious.
 
As for me, I am not a white man. I am blue.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Rider and the Writer

I have taken my quill
And blunted
Its sharp point
Shredded its feathers
And drained the ink well.

Words stutter
In my mind.
They blur upon the page
And mastery of structure
Meter and meaning
Evade me.

It is as though
I have been thrown from the saddle.
But I am a rider and a writer.

Restoration requires
I sit the saddle.
Requires
I fashion a new quill.
Requires
I refresh the ink well.

Both the rider and the writer
Need not speed to return.
All of life is a walk
Before it is a run
And a word
Before it is a sentence.

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.