Archive | October 2011

Two Confessions (Too Many)

Lover and other
With pen and paper —
(And which is which,
I wonder?)
Cleverly obscured hearts
On costume sleeves —
Hide messages
In warm wood and steel string.
Does the object
Ever comprehend
Her subjection?

But he said it to me —
Lover, other,
I’m not sure —
That with a song
It is better
Not to tell,
Before he told.
He should not have told me.
And he should not have told.

The autumn cloaks are stunning.
They make it harder to hide
My greening
And the blush.
(So much easier to conceal,
In the springtime.)
Always she,
And she,
And she.
So you see,
He should have kept it close.

Eggs in a nest,
Frost and fog,
Sugar baby seeds,
Or maybe a Georgia rattlesnake,
Blue-sky sweetheart,
All is forgiven,
And the fragile barricades fall.

Blinking it back now,
I guess I’ll close my eyes
Let the waves
Tumble me over again.
Next time he (or he)
Tries to tell,
Put a finger on his lips,
And confess —
You don’t need to worry
That anyone will understand.
But maybe you need to worry
That no one will understand.

(Written after mulling over this post/prompt over at the dVerse Poets Pub.)


Wisdom (Tooth)

Thirty-nine lashes
Seems too many.
We must curate
Some kind of chalk or stone,
Nail or bone.
It leaves the taste of rust
In my mouth.
Chewing my words,
The more I talk,
The more I bleed.
Mounting pressure,
Crowds the chipped
And broken-ridged
Chuckle at an old cliché,
Barking mad
And biting
’Til the room begins to spin.

Surely thirty-nine is too late
To acquire this?
Stand it on its head.
Count back to one from four,
But there’s no quieting
The rattling of the bones –
No armor can prevent
This piercing of the flesh.

Aptly named –
You will learn patience,
But it is too late
To acquire this –
And how many chapters
Are to follow?

There –
It is long enough.
So set aside the gold.
Search for a sharpened spade
Strong enough
And long enough
To cut beneath the root
Before all this bad wisdom
Makes its way into the marrow.

Dark Moon

So sick of older and wiser,
Life loves these,
At least a little,
But in dreams
They taunt and tease.
So brew a good poison,
Then, sad, stubborn and fickle,
Drain the cup.

So sick of older and wiser,
Expected them to see,
But of course their beautiful words
Could never be earned,
At least by me.
If I didn’t know better,
I’d make a flesh offering,
Growing reckless
In the sultry blue-room night.

So sick of older and wiser,
Replaced the lover with the mother,
Selfless for selfish.
Filled the basket with —
One hundred purple grapes
And ripe black cherries,
Five and twenty blackbirds
On a wire,
Desiccated butterfly wings,
Old coyote teeth,
Sweet-cream milk
And a pillow for your head.

So sick of older and wiser,
Await the monthly meetings
With more meaning
Than you could know.
Contriving closer —
And damning every turning
Of the well-traveled road.

If I were no older,
Nor wiser,
I would stumble to the doorstep
In a moonshine midnight masquerade,
Make my confessions to the clock
And tell you all about
How you’ve knocked me back
On my heels.

So sick of older and wiser,
The reasons and the rathers,
We shatter lonely glasses
On the stones.
Then huddle under blankets
Deep and silent in the falling
And try again to sleep
Despite the taunting
And the teasing in the bones.


So begins the long decline —
Red oak crackles
Above and below.
Before long,
Everything will be bare and dry.
And, really,
Though I’m a good pretender,
There is no like-minded,
When every turn
Brings smiles or sighs —
It’s a lonesome reflection.

You are different.
When all are listening,
Words matter.
My words —
However carefully selected —
Do not.
The meaning only for me.

A lone egret,
Stark white and shining
In steely water,
Watches me ramble.
We wild things
Must keep each other company.
Soon I will be white as he —
In the relative counting of years —
But then he’ll be fishing other waters.
And the snow
Will camouflage
The harbinger —
My increasing count.

Here is a robin,
Blessing the sun from high above.
He would have me believe
I worry over nothing,
That — at the very least —
The winter birds will bear witness.
But all those blue-gray clouds
Hovering on the northern horizon
Reach bony fingers across the prairie grass.
Some days, it seems
I can call the gray outward.

All these knotted and twisted strands —
I still don’t know what to make of them.
But they are well defined
Against the watercolor clouds
That cut the sun —
Juxtaposing tangled soft
With the faceted brilliance
Of a gemstone autumn.
And here are the crows again —
Laughing and looping
In a corner of conifers.
The others come in pairs or more
To remind me
I am broken.

But this place sets the tools before me.
The wind arrives to hone their edges.
Blindly I reach
And the rustling weeds and wings
Guide my hands.
My daydreams cannot spare me –
This is necessary.
I choose.
And begin to scrape away
Years of layered paint.
Flakes fall and are carried away,
Like so many leaves –
Revealing the weather-bent
Architecture beneath.


Words don’t come easy.
Sometimes he plays me,
Weak-kneed and panting
In the midnight lights –
Steel string song,
Fingers on the neck,
The body.
But even though I remember
What she said about forgetting,
Sometimes the bitter
Spoils the sweet.
And I must find an elsewhere
To endure it.

So I hope you don’t mind, love,
This settling of the heart.
But the turning wheel
Has yet to bring me the courage
To set the thing aflame.
So let me relish delusions.
Here there is no danger of exposure.
Looking through glass
Into gray mirrors,
The unknown friend could never guess it.

And, half-numb with the selfsame,
He will never feel it.
So make it an invocation –
The blessed body temple
Charting the depths,
The fallow and the furrow,
Germinating holy thought-seeds
Joining the three –
We must find pleasure
Where we will.

Invocation for a Solitary Walk

What moment turned them to beasts?
She asked how I could take this turning,
With her feast before me —
And I told her about this corner
That can never be cleaned.
Let it go now,
She said.
There are missing pieces,
And anyway,
You have better ways
To spend your mind.
There is no healing —
Only the adoption
Of more effective armor.

Still, there are crickets
In the reeds
And a sibilant wind
Rushes through.
I try not to look,
But the old ghosts
Refuse to vacate these premises.
And so much aging and ending
Rewinds the clock,
Raises these questions again.

(Let it go, she said.
You will never solve this.)

The goldenrod now,
Once so punctuating,
Has gone fuzzy,
And I cannot bring it back
To clarity again.
But the robins have gathered
To replace what has fallen —
A rusty flash in the high limbs,
Now dispersing in purposed flight.

Still, the questions cry out,
And I want to know how
It can be
Such sweetness
And such torment.
I remind myself to sharpen
My stance,
Because even though
She knows how to hold me
And milks the honey
From my collection of stones,
She cannot prevent them
From entering here —
Those devouring fiends,
Demanding an offering to power.
I have opened that vein before,
More than once.
The come-and-go geese,
Crying out,
Singe the edges
Of all that scar tissue.

I buried my treasure deep
In the reeds.
Good black soil to cover it over.
And it has been decades of undoing
To open the lid
And see what waited within.
The extremes we reach —
In arming,
In guarding ourselves!
There is no safety in softness.

But here is the monarch
To remind me —
There is something about
These fearless young bucks
And butterflies —
How I built the dark walls
To invoke
the metamorphosis.
And I will not be prey

Embrace the discernment —
The slow fruition of power:
How to recognize
The seekers and tricksters
That arrive, hearts open,
To worship at this altar.
To soften,
And make mutual offerings in the dark.
Also, how to intimidate
The thieves
Who would not bend the knee.
And, how to drain the vein
Of the predators
Who would threaten
This blessed solitude.

Watchers in the Woods