Each breath is harder than the last
Each day a little shorter
Every year the sun is dimmer
And the winter colder.
The moon is slower in the sky
And I am older.
Birds sing sweetly, but off key
The Christmas fire smells of ash.
Cupid brings some wilted roses,
Birthday wrappings fill the trash.
Children are more imps than angels.
The dog smells foul.
The cat sheds hair.
Candies hurt my teeth,
I no longer care.
All the ones I love are dying
And the rest are getting sick.
The young are noisy,
Wild and angry—
Heaven take me quick.
A hurricane, a great red eye like flame
Burning the radar, as if fed on oil
Laps towards us, churning, whirling and untamed,
And on the land I flee, antlike, recoil.
As if the very heartbeat of unclean desire
Once rooted on the ocean and not quelled
Must come, attracted by the dry land’s fire
To beach itself, by higher Gods propelled.
The very sea bites at its tail, in motion
Spinning adrift by currents drawn to land
Spitting out great clawing hands of ocean
And sucking up mouthfuls of ships and sand.
Against a force so powerful, so great,
What can we do but hold our breath and wait?
I think these come from 2004?
The Land Boat
My neighbor has a boat,
I think he has the dream of a boat.
he labors on a thing
that looks much like a boat.
for its part
tries hard to dream the dream.
I hear its motor
Cough and gag and choke
like an old smoker lighting up.
He washes it out
till oil runs down the street
like dark blood,
gleaming oil purple and green
the color of bubbles
dreams that burst.
Sonnet for my Mother’s Cancer
The hour between hoping and knowing
Is like a year spent on a stone floor kneeling.
Someone who has never met my mother is going
To come and tell me things without feeling
This sick twisting in the gut that makes tears
Well in the corners of my eyes. My Dad shakes
When he speaks, his voice trembling with fears
Of eternity and death, fifty years of loving takes
So much out of a man. My mother’s eyes are bright
Like two fixed stars, staring already into that dark place
Where nebulas are born, and no new light escapes.
She knows the answer, from some higher doctor’s chart.
This wait will seem too brief when next we part.
We are all mad here. How are things with you?
Our medication levels are too low…we feel just fine
Anger and ecstasy course through us, and as they do
We alternate between satanic and divine.
This morning I walked on water, but by noon
I was breathing fire, and caused a shrub to burn.
The dog is hiding from the, the living room
Looks like the robbers left only the urn
Containing the ashes of the one of us with sense.
We fight about the last muffin and which show
To watch on television and how to trim the trees,
Whether we took the right amount of pills, or no
And if we are allergic to penicillin, wasps or bees—
Little we say is worth writing down, except the check to pay
The bill for treatment. Tell me, darling God, how was your day?
The poetry sucked out, there is left
Coffee grounds of yesterday’s prose
Dark in the pot and murky
Tasting of ash and tears. No music.
The band has left, gone home to a
Hot dinner and a cold bottle, leaving only
Words that fall like
Breaking dishes on a tile floor.
Twice you have pledged to quit, and twice you lied
To believe you now is moral suicide.
You vowed to love me till the wide world’s end.
You lied. You have another pledged, yet once again
You swear to quit, like Ulysses homeward bound,
Storm tossed and vengeance crossed,
From witches island, from the wrath of Gods,
The best excuses in the world for being late
To raise your sons and daughters. I have woven
Every dream, unravelling by nights the web of lies
And every dawn, picked up the loom again
Rewove the fiction of belief.
I am no kind Penelope, but more like one
Who wove a poisoned cloak, a wedding gift,
And killed the children.
Do not mistake one woman for another.
We are not all from the same cloth.
If I should die
Before you then
I wonder, would you cry?
Bury the body that was me,
And simply pass me by?
If you should die
Before I leave,
I think that I shall try
Pretence at grief
And plant a large and leafy tree
Above the place you lie.
And I shall rest,
In that tree’s shade
Should I be blessed
With greater age.
And thank its generosity
For sheltering a nest.
That tree grown tall
As good trees do
Will remind all
As it feeds off you
That out of rottenness, in time
Nature makes all things sublime.
A Prayer at Midnight
Be Thou quiet and kind
May thy coming be
as thy going,
and may I never know
of not knowing an end
from a beginning.
A Mouse in the Night
Into the cooling sand
The eye of the hawk sees
even the shadow of a shadow,
so I go
quickly to do
what a mouse must do.
A seed, a husk, a drop of dew
These things I need
to quiver the chest
to whip the tail
to flicker the eye
that sparkles in
My children are squealing
I hear their small voices
Crying in hunger
Deep in my burrow.
They call me mother.
Hist! I must scamper
Do not detain me–
Mouse business presses
The hawk hovers
I hear the rush of feathers,
and a snake slithers
S-ing in the sand–
I must be quick.
I have been writing poetry all year, and posting new poetry as I write it on Scribophile. I have been ignoring the more than 1000 poems I have collected from high school and beyond. Since I have this site, I thought I’d put up a few of these poems every day for a while to let them escape the backs of envelopes, grocery receipts and other odd places where they have been living.
I’ll try to put dates on them, as best I can, to see if I have grown as a poet, or perhaps, regressed. These are from 2005.
The autumn lays down
golden and brown,
ripe as a pumpkin,
taut as a gourd,
sweet like red apples
whispering with wheat.
It ripples, furled with
that toss the seedheads on the ground
shaking a flock of starlings from the trees
scattering like clothing
a shower of reddened leaves.
I can remember
the way the desk felt
cool and hard,
the back unyielding.
The click of chalk, the ticking clock
the choking white haze
that surrounded the algebra teacher
like a Socratic ghost.
I remember the squeal
of new shoes on linoleum,
when the bell sounded
like the voice of God.
We flew then,
Driven to the open ground
Like rabbits before hounds–
We sought the woods,
The feel of earth beneath our feet.
paeans to the child’s God
Who lives and dwells outside
four school walls
expelling with our glee
the stifling breath
You can command a cat,
to influence him
with hue and cry..
But like most things
that delight and amuse
one commands him best
who lets him
With our first birth
we seize the earth.
Our breath invests
in ancient air.
Our infant chest
is soon divested
of the atoms from our kin,
Above the deathbed
his angels hang
on fluttering wings
around the trumpet vine
to drain the nectar called divine
returning to their Father
that too sweet syrup
called the soul.