My heart, back then,
Now there is nothing to break
but my back,
and I will not give them that.
You expect this shit from me,
the quiet resignation, the aimless supplication.
What was once alphabet soup
is now just soup.
This, my predawn saunter,
a wander between the shapes of the room,
drawn circles and squares of clumsy geography:
the rough red chimney bricks, the melted candle bits.
What was true will probably stay true.
All those strangers
caught between plexiglass picture frames
It is the tedium of long memories;
the space between then and now
must mean something
to someone by now.
Forty years on,
she follows the path of his ghost,
a slender and thorned road
that leads to a ruined ecstasy.
Above the carpeted dirt,
she remembers the boy’s twitching mouth,
so unaccustomed to casual pleasure,
and the slow burn of tobacco between them.
The last of the afternoon light
dripped between the hemlocks
and fell upon bare shoulders.
And she, alone, still wonders
if he ever smelled the gunpowder.
A perpetual yesterday dressed in ash;
grief, do not whisper but lay hard upon my breast,
and ache, yes, as I reach for my faith.
Death’s sore words are set upon the tongue, but keep her, Lord,
for mercy, yes, and love.
In honor of my mother, who unexpectedly passed April 14/18. And I, in another country, mourn her.
The o’seer of pain dresses in white, his fingers adorned with thorn’d rings, a garland of roses loose around his throat, and he teases a kiss of mercy. Well acquainted, he and I, with his mark purposed to tissue and bone. Look upon him close and his robe is stained, his stance unshamed, his hands filthy from his forge.
Torrent of blood charges the veins
loudly hungry meekly sated
Pulsing wet cheeks, a deliberate choir
of noise from dry-throated angels
Sculpt the air with restless fingers
praise and damn with swollen motions
Flat boxes of fiveses and sixeses
minuteses of sleep
wrapped with gray burlap readies to tear
bound by loopy stringses
We stare at the lines, divided,
you and I stark and misguided,
worn dull by day’s exhausted breath
we move on by hope of certain rest;
by day and by step, with faith our bequest
and by trust, and what it will cost us.
This might as well be Mars, scarred and unrepentant, too distant to glow in heaven.
Our monuments to youth built with hurried hands, then toppled, then covered with sand.
Do you recall the worth of compassion, of rejoicing in our slaked passion?
No more, we say, no more.
And so we study upon the sky with our vainglorious trickster eyes,
our wisdom in cushioned layers, hurling shrill and jagged prayers,
standing alone, bare and barren,
with pleasures unfulfilled, and more monuments to build.
Our November flesh bows
to the wind, we are reflected in a darker light.
Soft resilience of bone and temperament, the
ice bears down and the blankets pile high and you
reach for me for warmth and I will give you
what is left.
The bridge of each moment, still. Glass fragments of breath, of dance, of rest. The silence of fingertips and brief kisses, the warmth of mercy, a peaceable light. The moment, now, and the next begins.