Dinner with the Hemiingways

Published in Apeiron Review, Sept 2014

 He can’t sleep
so why should you.
Lights are on
at the morgue; they’ll
unzip him for you.

The man on the slab stops at the neck.
His hand is cool between yours, and
you’re shaking when you find
the divot in his finger, proof
of that last exertion.

Brown, curly hair fringes
his opened skull, the interior
exposed like the rubble
of Coventry Cathedral.

It’s catching, they say—the melancholy,
the lassitude, a germ in the tears perhaps.

You’re afraid, but
you might risk it, knowing
once you close your eyes
you could fall long into
that hypoxic darkness too.

It took a while.
After a few false starts,
putting it off and putting it off
until the time was right­— when the money
and the gun met, then he finally
lost the argument
on the drive over.

The view from the St. Johns bridge
is a postcard bearing bad news.
When you’re ready, go stand
on that exact spot, look through
his eyes, and try to change his mind.

Video links here

 

The Plains of Asphodel

Nothing bad happened.
Nothing good happened.
Just another day on
the plains of Asphodel.

No appointments missed,
no announcements came.
The moon dipped
her wrists in tides,
the earth went ‘round
the sun again.

I rose above
the spectral blooms
to be noticed, rescued
or cut down.

A feckless air drabs the sky
in softened muddy, loden hues.
And a river lolls—cool and dark,
indifferent, dead; just painted there.

Abandoned to this field of ghosts
its grasses clutched in sucking clay,
I wait among them, as pale and dumb.
Nothing happens, good or bad.

The Subtle Art of Possession

It’s easy to hide in the confusion of madness:
anonymous among the riot of lunatics
undetected, deep in a Haldol fog,
slumbering in lithium’s cotton hush.

But where is the sport in that?

He’d rather sit with you face to face,
his vespine countenance searching
yours for human superiority:
A smug grin under a squinted stare.

There will be no hysterical laughter
or Latin curses, no grotesque gestures,
threats or prophecy. Just a conversation,
sane and bland as accounting or laundry.

Where is your old serpent, the reptilian brain?
he asks, scanning for traces of that vestigial
wildness, the ancient sentinel and its good sense.
His probe returns no sign of the beast.

Good old fashioned instinct
abandoned in favor of modern intellect.
The two of you have a laugh about this,
neither of you anything less
than a peer of God.

He has found your misplaced certitude
and hands you the sledgehammer
which you accept, sound in the truth
of following your heart, which has now
been re-calibrated for self-destruction.

You’ll heave the instrument of your undoing
into the walls of your soul as if it’s the perfect
and right solution, the logic of it—pristine
and beyond reproach, coming too late
to understand that the Devil’s secret weapon
is your rational mind.

Published in New Millennium Writings, 2012

Three Things that Happened in March

Violets purpled the stunted grass
under the last wintering sun, and

a greening verve stirred and
yawned, perfumed lilac zephyrs.

Amid the bustle of bloom and sprout
the April suicides made their lists

and wrote in their letters, the reasons
why spring wasn’t enough.

 

Published April, 2015 in Right Hand Pointing, Issue 85
tied for first place in the March Title Challenge

The Comfort of Gravity

This pedestrian psalm:
a gray meditation on

the ordinary, an escape from
the pedantic, officious cage

and collar, and debt, oh debt—
short leash pulling me home.

Psalm nests in a prayer
saying, no more waking up.

But like a hair anchored
to a long, deep root, a

tenacious cling rouses
me to low clouds again.

What is happiness, exactly?
It might be a promise that

all emptiness would be filled,
every cavity returned its contents,

hunger sated, the answer spoken,
the answer, understood.

All roads are conduits of time.
We never move from place to place,

but through a membrane of now
and now and now.

Space was never there;
matter never mattered.

Eternity is too frightening
a prospect, so a linear myth

convinces us of the safety
of falling, presumes the certainty

of solid ground and its
gift of collision, crash, and

thud, before we come to rest
in the end of weightlessness—

the end of everything.
This is what happiness is.

Published at Linus Gallery (online), July 2015

J’Arrive

The sky is gunmetal.
The air says a storm
passed through.
The grass is stunned,
the trees can’t talk yet—
still processing.
I just got here, but it seems like
this road still goes somewhere.
Look for shelter; the time for
wandering is over.

Published in Open Minds Quarterly, May, 2015
Winner of the 2015 Brainstorm Poetry Contest