Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I watch the young run and jump through autumn leaves
In all my years, I am those leaves
Red and golden, as they rustle by a cold wind
I watch the young trundle in joy through deep snow
Soon I will be that snow
After the spring
Their summer
The last autumn of our lives
The winter foretells us beneath a graying sky--it is time

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Have you ever had a dream of the dead coming back as the dying?
Their old white skin; their breathing in and out, in and out
This ghost dies once more
I ask: will it come in and out as a haunting sorrow, this dream?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When my dreams fell to the ground like loose change,
I bent down to pick up the broken pennies and dimes
But I thought:
"Nah, leave them for someone else."
"Someone whose heart succumbs to a fool's gold."
I felt richer for being poorer, but sadder just the same
I was leaving behind an allure that lost its shine
A young man, I feared, at this place would find his misfortune
I lamented how sidewalks, dreams, and loose change take you in
But I was hungry with no place to sleep and the old sky looked like rain.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I was drunk when I walked the night with staggering steps. An empty bottle swung loosely in my right hand. The street lights burst like dying stars. It was pitch black. I licked my upper lip and pulled down the peak of my cap. With a drunkard's wind-up I tossed my bottle and heard it break loudly against something I could not see. Sirens began to wail. In the distance I saw red flashing lights and heard the rush of vehicles. "They must be after me," I thought. I made my way through the darkness, staggering and falling. That night I was scared as I hid in my bed. Maybe they would blame me for the failure of the lights, as some blame me for this godless world.

By morning, the power had turned on the radio. The newsman said a electric grid burned out and left the Eastern Seaboard in darkness. There was much rioting and looting, numerous people were killed in the blind violence. I took a broom and dustpan and found the broken bottle. Quietly I swept its shards into the pan. I would hide the evidence in case the news was wrong, and my pitch left us in blackness.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I've got a tattoo of a highway atop my right shoulder. The broken white lines meet my skin. When I feel tired at work I'll rub my shirt across from where the tattoo begins to where it ends. People ask me why I do that so often. I tell them I injured my shoulder when I was young and my fingers help the pain. Sometimes I wonder if there are secrets and lies in all of us, if a highway touches all our skin. I wish, too, that each of had a tattoo we could lay down--and drive to where dreams come true.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Take me to the open flame
To the brightness that burns eternal
Illuminate me
Radiate me with your warmth
I am cold
I am in darkness
Give me your life fulfilling heat
Give me your brilliance
Take me on,
Lead me by your steady, burning beacon
Guide me as if you, the sun, were my shepherd
Never extinguish
Never die
That is for mortals
Our souls may belong to you and live in us
If it is true the soul exists
And only if you the flame burn eternal

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I saw an old fighter tied to his bed.

It was late at night and I couldn't sleep so I went to the emergency ward, not because I was sick, but I needed to get better. I needed to see the realness of human suffering. Not the way they die in movies--bright white skin, beautiful hair; the wide eyes of those who are loved and who can love back. I needed to see the hurt in others. Those who suffer their whole lives and who die alone. I needed to touch them. Comfort them. I wanted my sleeplessness to go away.

The old man tried to lift his frail body. His eyes were vacant. His mind was gone. No one was at his bedside. I saw him clench his fist and roll his shoulders as if he were trying to throw a combination of punches but the ropes knotted around his wrists held him back.

I said to the nurse: "Who's that?"

He said: "Some old club fighter from the fifties. He's punch drunk. He keeps thinking he's back in the ring. Stupid sport, if you ask me."

The nurse went to his bed side and pulled the ropes tighter. I heard the old man give a painful grunt.

"I thought you were maybe a relative?" The nurse asked me.

"No," I said.

"Then you don't belong here. You gotta go."

"Sure," I said. "I couldn't sleep, that's all. I'm no relative."

I walked out of the ward of the dying and rolled my shoulders. I was no fighter, but I threw a few small punches and thought: "What a stupid sport. What a stupid sport that nursing is--to tie an old man to his bed and no one knows your name."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I hate the pettiness of happenstance
The Astral smallness of all of us
The Human Cry!!
The remote chance of evolution among burning stars?
The tiny randomness of life
The death of the barely known
The Human need!!
Paint me bright like the burning star!
Oh Lord, find me
Paint me bright!
Take the pettiness of happenstance to another world
I will worship thee, Oh God
Guide me into the temptation of something
Make me and us as whole as the universe is large
God, I will embrace thy Word!
Take me there; the shores of your eternal happiness

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Inside this rancour I know a broken heart leads me
My mortal feet along blackness to death as a friend
Oh, my eyes!
Spare me,
The decaying, sightless, Godless night in sadness
I pray to the morn to give me life, new direction
All will be better
The sky will clear
Wings will lift me
I will be as whole and beautiful as a dream

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I was at a Chistmas party once as happy as a song when a mysterious doe eyed girl spoke to me of a sadness in her life.

"My husband left me,"she said. "Weeks ago. I have no one now."

I told her some people drift together, the same people drift apart. It is called the human condition. The ebb and flow of life.

She smiled slightly then disappeared into a woven crowd. I never saw her again, though I have thought of her often over the years. Her beautiful soft eyes. Her voice as sweet as Christmas sugar. I wonder if in time she's drifted to a sandy shore.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

His face was dead. In the back alley that separates the bar called the One Lucky from a city Church, he was jumped from behind. His face crashed against the concrete. He was kicked. They cursed him and left him there to die. No police arrived to investigate the faceless, bloodied man. No one traced his life. No one followed his last footsteps into a dark alleys where he met the mad fury of others.
Sometimes I go to Thrift Stores and buy cheap Chinese art. Plastic, tasteless, fakeries with no pretense of the beauty of the great dynasties. I purposefully buy the worst I can find, with the factory strokes, the cheap wooden frames, the garish insult to the genius of creative labour. I bring them home and hang them on my wall. I order bad Chinese food and taste red sauce and fried, salty ribs. I'll drink Tsing Tao beer till I'm a little drunk. Then I'll call a friend to see how he's doing, even though I know he's dying. We'll talk about his cancer. But I don't tell him about the bad art or the bad food. I hang up the phone. Next week I'll do the same thing--buy more fake Chinese art, call my dying friend. Maybe, I hope, this strangeness in me can cancel out the sadness of life. Or maybe the mockery of beauty cancels out the importance of life, and I've been fooled by cheap plastic all along.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My home is a ramshackle shed. There is no electricity, no heat, no insulation. Just desperate old rags plug the spaces between the planks of wood. On winter nights when the wind blows hard I see my breath; I think of death. I sleep in my clothes, the blankets that cover me are threadbare. I just want it to get warm and live. My life is like a ramshackle shed. If I had a book of poems I'd burn it. But I don't even have matches and a chiminey smokes easy only in my minds eye. In the morning, if my heart still beats and my blood isn't frozen like a winter stream, I'll go to the library and get warm. I'll find people just like me. Some are different; they got skirmishs inside their heads. I ignore them. When I get food in my belly, like the soup from the church kitchen, I think I'm going to live long. But at night it gets cold. The rags pressed between the wood planks shake from the wind. Lucky I don't have matches, or I might light the rags and close my eyes and feel the warmth come to me like a last summer breeze.