Poetry

 

Raven’s Architecture

Nettles, sharp and laden with
water droplets.
Green lines, strokes in the air,
patterns of dark green on dark red-brown.
The murmur of a ship’s engine
and the distant cloud of mist on
a shore. The houses stacked
from sand to hilltop.
The sea in the air.
Squared, great beams of wood;
parallel struts; and the sudden horizon of a roof,
straighter than any lay of this land.
Towering vertical stretch of the totems,
far north, marking the sky with
upthrust lines.

— 5/17/13 , Seattle, WA

 

Same Bones

They were the same bones that he saw at 9 years,
when he found his cat lying in the basement, still,
not moving when he called her.
The skeleton in the corner, standing like a sentry, slightly
angled at him.
Distressed without knowing why, asking his parents why she didn’t
just wake up.
Their senseless replies couldn’t calm him.
Without moving, it told him. He knew
he was haunted.

They were the same bones that he saw at 16,
when spring was erupting out of his skin, into the air
around him, and his eyes contacted with someone
two desk aisles away.
She looked his way sometimes, but he couldn’t
bring himself to make the words, to ask her.
Weeks came and disappeared, and the air turned cooler,
and he thought about her,
and the daylight lingered less as autumn descended like
a blanket.
The dome of the skull was the same,
though amber-colored now, in a late afternoon sun.
The dim, orange light in the hollows of the sockets.
The way it stared at him without seeing,
as though emptiness could have expression.

They were the same bones, again, at 22,
when his parents divorced,
when he stood alone in the crowd of his friends,
when he layered his clothes like armor and
tried to drown the world in a headphone din.
When he toyed with the thought of a world without him,
and shared it with no one, except those bones,
still there, to one side of the room. Still
present. Still a soundless prod in his guts.

And they were the same, now at 26,
as he was pushed backwards onto an unmade bed,
his head swimming in the murk of three whiskies and
her hair falling down around his face as she
leaned in close
and her lips trailed clumsily down from his mouth,
across his chin, and
down his shoulder.
They’d talked all night and smiled
at each other, at first shyly,
then with boldness as he felt warm
and she did also. Warmth between these two
that led back to her apartment, trailing
behind them like a comet’s tail.
There, in the shadow, those still bones,
but now another,
in the desk lamp aura, a woman, smiling,
in another corner.
Soft fabrics for her dress, this other ghost, and she looked,
deep in her burning eyes, alive, and warm as well,
like them on the bed.
Close, the girl’s breath was slipping against his neck, and he knew
they were haunted, he and she, together.
They were followed by their bones, cold through the years,
hollow and comfortless,
but now could find one another’s touch,
kindling heat
to keep each other alive.

— 9/4/12

 

Sheltered

Sitting at the counter, fork scrapes
at the edge of the small plate.
Behind me, the glass door with the faded,
tattered remains
of a sticker just above the push bar.
And past that, the sun hums a bright glare at
hard, twisted bushes. Balls littering the stoic hills.
Here, the jukebox player is putting out
a scratchy crooner,
and some dredges of pie linger in front of me.
And I know that out there
is a dry blast like an oven door left open.
But the worst threat
the desert has
is that unending silence,
that even a wind like a crashing wave can’t dispel.
And the red dust on my shoes
like pulverized skeletons
carries an imprint of that vast ocean
of still.

— 4/23/11, Ojo Caliente, NM

 

Fathom

Green is the glass of the bottle,
the weak light through sea water,
and her eyes.

The windows, dense compressions of sand bled clear.
Not dense enough
to keep back the sea for long.
It leaks around the panes
and stains the walls green.
Sea weed clings where it dries
and she presses her palms against the glass
from out there in the deep.
White compression, the skin in contact;
her eyes gleam emerald,
watching within the halohair,
adrift in old currents.
She’s speaking, but I can’t hear the words.

Sharks sway as they pass,
disappearing into night.

— 2004

 

film loop >>> backroom screening, ghosts

Flickerblur
Faded amber photo-frames of scratched 8mm film
jumps in projector,
converted to radio waves
(frequencies too large to imagine),
and projected into space.

Space and sea; angel choirs and whalesong.
Screech of a world that burns its own bridges and eats its young alive.
The dense ball of breeding wyrms
in the Earth’s mantle think these
thought-pulses and swarm beneath the skin.
Parasites swelling through a syphilitic host.

— 1999

 

The Advent Sequence

I. The Ruin
Twilight falls on the fragments of a long-dead city.
A dying sun is filtered through broken columns
Over stone carvings, on that mist-wrapped plain.
In the silence, beneath the rubble,
Something lies, dreaming a void.

II. Trinity Nova
Dust cascades down from timber beams.
A lone elephantine scarecrow stands
Under an endless sky of storm clouds.
In the silence, before the dawn,
It throws a scream to the distant horizon.

III. Disturbance and Slumber
Rain falls in a haze of grey dawn,
Spattering on a cracked stone slab.
From the east sounds a thin, vaporized howl.
In the silence, the wake of the nova,
A vast, black thing stirs, shifts, then sleeps on.

— 1997

 

After the Siege

Now it’s midnight.
I can see the moon and the mist.
Pale light shining through the vapor
on the monoliths, cold grey.
And the battlefields around me —
empty, but for a litter of broken swords,
frozen tears,
and scorched banners.

They watch me from shadow-perches,
eyes yellow with life, black feathers ruffling.
Winged things, like ravens from the ether; bird-men.
Vultures that follow us, picking white the bones.

— 1996