Why So Quiet?

I look, dumbfounded, at the
world, I think of my mom
saying, “don’t stare, it’s rude.”

I look away, in a
hasty search for a new fixation
and think of my dad
saying, “finish what you started.”

I look down at
my shoes, and think
of everyone who ever asked
me, “why so quiet?”

Tread Wear

Steel Belted Radials

They don’t make movies like
they used to, he said, but they
never made tires like this—then he
says it: haltingly, wistfully, as if
it were a line from a popular ballad

Steel Belted Radials

as if Leonard Cohen himself
were standing there before you
casting tire-buying spells with
magical incantations and smiles
backed up by the pedigree of
a pure bred confidence

Steel Belted Radials

spinning, orbiting
they sing against the pavement
with a melody above, apart
from the automotive implication
of a sure grip on a slick surface
or a rolling rampart

against punctures, evoking
scenes of roadside despair
with passengers pressing sad faces
against rain speckled windows
as you labor with a jack handle
against fate itself

Steel Belted Radials

upon the radiant bearings of
the gods, such a car would soar
on a cushion of air, uplifting
inspired, like an ode to a planet
draped gloriously in robes of
carbon monoxide, cinched by cords
of endless highway

Steel Belted Radials

you reach for your wallet
like a magistrate for his gavel
to the background hum of a
grinding economy, and spit gravel
peeling out of the flag-draped lot
and drive, you drive back to the

bottoms where your domain asserts
a stubborn little imprint, the tread sipes
in a dirt driveway, within patterns too
large and convoluted to comprehend
perhaps, and the radio is tuned
to a country song about disgrace
and redemption

All Hallowed

A black cat arches
its bristled silhouette
against a sour green moon
in a newspaper ad
for mattresses.

September thumbed its nose at one keen summer and abruptly closed that happy book. We turned out each day after school to a gradually shifting light and a sense of turning. October’s grid of even and odd days played out like a roll of tickets and we slashed out the calendar squares one by one. Now it looms. It’s Halloween.

We dress out in style, not costume, and hit the pavement, the night before us rising in imagination. We meet up at our usual haunt and set out. The evening is drained of its color and clouds hang like wilted lilies at the edge a tree-clawed horizon, still glowing in the daylight’s wake. Mist is creeping below our knees. Flashlight beams vivisect the malign shadows. But the senses cannot claim what unknown dimensions might intersect with the ordinary on a night when saints and ghouls mingle together.

An election of angry spirits descended upon the hordes of feral children. Eyes open wide, the youngsters saw nothing amiss. They felt the strangeness of a life-eclipsing moment, no more palpable than a sense of being watched. It went unnoticed in the excitement of the holiday. Soul-snatchers unseen drew the essences right out through their tiny pink nostrils, and their animated costumes continued as before, lurch forward from house to house, shouting for sugar treats at the neighbor’s stoop with the echoes of little voices they no longer quite possessed.

We don’t see it happening like that. We are counting candies, sneaking cigarettes and breathing free, wandering the neighborhood with a sense of power over destiny. We have mischief in mind. Trick-or-treat is a make-believe protection racket and every kid knows it. Nice place you got here. Shame if your landscaping got TPed. All this youthful energy and potential, radiating on the hailing frequency of the vampiric, hungry spirits. A dead chill arrives on a gust, like a summons, and we disappear into the cavities between street lamps, wild spirits revolting all around us. We can’t see them. These ghosts, they would burn down this sleepy borough if they could even grip, yet strike a match. But their rebellious fits are as unknown to us as heartbreak.

On the night called All Hallowed the living do perversely antagonize the dead. A police cruiser slows, shines its beam on some trick-or-treaters by the side of the road. Their reflective costumes and glo-sticks shimmer at the burning edge of youth. He sees who they are, there is recognition but he sniffs, like a wraith, to be sure. The officer was himself robbed of spirit as a little punk, on this very lane. His memory of it a latency sunk like stone into forgotten water. He operates on instinct now, pulled out of nowhere. Pulled out of the darkness.

We meander down the last alleys there would ever be, fleeing the warm safety that has driven us, by the length of its boredom, right out of childhood and straight into a kind of nightmare we could not have hoped to guess. We laugh and chatter and eat treats. The glow of our cigarettes, like sprites or faerie traces, inscribe with movement cryptic runes in the darkness. The subtle chill of a watchful gaze seems to tingle upon our necks, we are so ready to be spooked.

Seizures

eyes open at dawn
darting like fish in a bowl
gathering sparkles

~

eyes craving the light
cross and double everything
bountiful mirage

~

eyes speculating
outbidding the richest dark
cunning investment

~

light and distraction
the secret wealth of vision
from the fount of tears

~

these eyes are pennies
their pictures bought and paid for
bagged like possessions


#575 #Haiku

Black Arrow Tonglen

Have the patterns stopped being patterns
or is this something new?

Am I craving repetition and motif while
I cheer the onset of change?

The goose flesh lends a pattern to my skin, which I lug around with me like a favorite sweater. Like a fiddler crab, I am shelled up in it. At night I spread it out and sleep on it. The sky, like old skin, looks tired of stretching itself over the frame. The air is stubborn, full of picky fish bones. You have to pick at the air, most carefully, if you want to breathe it.

I replicate the land with thoughts, streaming
(like fabric spewing out of a big commercial loom.)

It stinks and makes pollution but where
would shameful flesh be without cloth? Ill-defined goals

make it difficult to script these plays. I am
the wobbly table that supports my entire religion.

I rise from prayer, in prayer. I can see that the tiniest details all reek of scripture, holy and encoded within the ratcheting make-work of a creation that cannot seem to stop unfolding. Worry, sharp little digressions, like fish bones in pudding, is self-asserting: Will they have properly placed the blame before they get around to me? Will the cancer of such faithless doldrums feast upon me? Will Christ’s sacrifice be seen to have appeared in a mirror? Could death be a reflection?

Countless archers, all points of life
they all release their sufferings:

the sky fills with it, fills with black arrows.
I magnetize them, draw them all in

—my own pierced flesh transforms into light, shining
purified, the shafts are all sent back

to their quivers, as light.

The fish swim out of the air taking their bones with them and they are gone and nobody knows where. They were last seen on the surface of a street puddle. Their disappearance was a reflection. But everyone is breathing easier, attributing the relief to various causes, including but not limited to the will of God.

Notebook, October 2018

Debate

A conflict settled
by debate, away
will rise in appeal
some other day.

A Hybrid of Life and Death

The disease will not settle
for medicine, nor will the
remedy quarter the disease
doctor bills, they are piling up
a shot of whiskey, please.

Continuance

Things appear
to die, and I appear
to keep living
the welders are in dry dock
assembling the hulls
of sunken ships
at what point in the
figure eight of continuance
can one say end, or begin
at all points
amazing, how gracious
how sweet it is.

Clueful

I’m feeling clueful
today, little hints peeking
out from under bushes
the neighborhood jingling
like a phone full of urgent texts
bits of the crux of all matters
sparkling here and there
like gems tossed out
over beach sand.

Epitaph

Long in the hair and
gray in the tooth
he learned how to dodder
then he died, forsooth.

Pray (sol dep)

In the six regions
throughout the three times
under the one sky
peaceful, happy.


An incoherent notebook-dump from October 2018