Archive for the ‘Didactic’ Category

They bow and touch
lips to stone.
Salty soup leaking steam
like smoke from an altar
in the gold star driven nights
over the glowing flames
of an old Russian Monastery.
Backs bent from endless work
like plants toward life
giving light.

A cold wind
blows to prepare the soup
for the tongue. Rippled
monks bend in unison
under the breath of God.
Their lips are silent –
always in silence
because you cannot talk
with your lips against
the stone.
They give their voices to God.

During the day they prepare
the bread they eat at night.
A waterfall of falling grains
ground and broken for a reason.
Men in brown turning the wheel
while singing praise.
Drown the bread in cooling
soup and pop those rain soaked
clouds into mouths worn
from a day of singing and smiling.
They give their voices to God.

Days of singing and working
are useless at the altar
when they bend to meet the ground.
Silence is the only proper
response to awe.
Silence is the only thing
you can do
with lips pressed
against all of God’s creation.
They give their voices to God.

Press her against you,
so she can bend too.
There is a world that kisses
you back my monks.
He created her from the same
ground grains as you.
She bends in the breeze.
She blows on her soup
and on your ear.
She sings, and prays
all day long until night falls
so she can press her lips
against a stone
in silence.
It is not good,
it is not good,
for man to be alone.

So give to her,
give her your voice
and she’ll give it back.
From this dialogue of creation,
the harmony of silence,
comes true wisdom –
the only thing He wants for us,
the rest is violence.

Our voices come from God.

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That is why books have covers
like old projectors on walls
with translucent sheets to hold
the shadows captive.
Like modern smoke detectors
to alert the students
with its siren call to meet
in ordered lines
of evacuation.

A mouth like a gavel
to call to order,
to end a trial,
to put a nail in place,
to smash a scarab,
or to rest on the Bible.
Do you tell a judge not to judge?
A carpenter not to build?
A teacher not to teach?

When I was young,
before your time,
as ancient as Egypt,
I would lie
about what I saw,
or touched,
or did,
and felt a terrible disarray –
a fun disarray.
Yet, contrary to my pounding heart,
that ever present justifier,
my parents would say
“You must do your part in this world,
you must work before you play.”

In the end, I have learned it to be true,
and love them for trying to tell me,
but more important still,
like breathing my child,
is what the journey has taught me to do.
My dear innocent,
my white winged angel,
my baptized babe,
you must do unto others,
no matter what they say,
as you would have them
do unto you.

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The tongue is a pillar of salt
it turned back against command
to see its kin burn.
Before it died it saw the sky kiln
churn and devour.
Before it died it heard the screams
and smelled the sulfur
of a dying race.

It didn’t say anything though.
How could it, when all of a sudden
it knew why it shouldn’t turn back.
It felt the bloodline pass
in the fire of justice
and new that it should’ve been there
with its neighbors, with its friends.

Love is a strange thing like that.
It moves through history-
like history – making endless connections.
The heart beats, the blood flows,
the tongue speaks because it loves.
Yet here at the edge of a turning world
our tongues turn back
and they are salt.

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Shattered porcelain
like unburied artifacts
look like clouds on a hardwood sky.
She broke it, she is broken.
Standing by the dishwasher
her fingers between teeth
to prevent tears.

The curls of her black hair
bounce in the rhythm of her tapping foot.
A treatise could be written about her stance,
a theory constructed out of her clothes,
she feels the tension she has on her self.
Somewhere beneath strained breathing
she is porcelain ready to break.

The setting sun behind her
represents change, renewal, and hope.
Flooding through the kitchen window
it casts her into a shadow on the floor.
It isn’t until I draw close that I feel her heat,
see the blood on her olive skin,
until I discover the cause.

My fingers on her chin give a new trajectory –
her eyes no longer on the floor.
She laughs while waving a dish towel in surrender.
That little porcelain plate was more than it appeared to me.
It was children yet unborn, it was bills yet unpaid,
it was first love, it was heart break,
it was the collected poems of our life together,
it was life unburied.

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Stockholm Syndrom

Inspiration is back
to steal and reveal
I hope my hands don’t fail my eyes
or the heart they inform
because the brain they conceal
Doesn’t trust our conclusions.
It can’t know what they know.

First Impressions are back.
familiar things are new
as if more real than real
words made material
A girl’s hair, the wind, a moving car,
A symbol, a sign, a detour
they’re being metaphorical.

Imagination is back
like lemonade on a summer day
quenching but conditional
sweet before sour.
Its always eventually sour
like a last kiss
(that’s the one they never talk about).

Impersonations are back
trade one face for another
because nothing is really new.
Besides which it’s easy,
and unavoidable.
Was I supposed to believe
I’m the only one she talks to?

Temptation is back
to call me a king or prophet
to offer me alchemy for ink
gold for words
greatness for loneliness
exile to paradise.
The devil has inspiration too.

Inspiration is back
the called lover in chains
welcomes the captivity
for a change of pace
there is a tenderness in her embrace
despite its inescapability.
Love devouring. Love devoured.

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No footprints, no roads, and no straight lines.
A clear glass world – no windows no doors.
What metaphor could reach a goldfish
what story about travel could pull his soul.
Does he feel the devil in his watery world
as he plays their passions like a lute
or do they just swim in circles knowing
neither whim nor will?
Does tragedy reach a goldfish
does time stand still. Does he know
the plight of his people abroad?
Does he feel the confines of the bowl?

I watch and nod. Wondering
what makes a goldfish whole.
There is flight underwater
unimaginable, indefinable, caged flight
and in that fantastic, freeing movement
there is something small, a floor to put
your castle on, an entrance and an exit,
a golden scale bikini, a miscellaneous shimmer,
a God.

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The unfortunate truth for those who hide themselves behind ration relativism is that what they are really looking for is justification, for ethical orders, for a completely irrefutable fact amidst a sea of turmoil – they are looking for truth. Oh sure, like the sophist they can speak around this issue but they cannot hide forever. They use the metaphysical nature of words against it. They turn her and make her cut her own arm off. They say she is limited because she speaks above the reality of the senses and then timestamp her body with the word “philosophy”. The one-handed, ravaged, dirty language of man is no longer something within herself she is nothing higher than a whore being used by every self-defined genius who aims to be novel by undermining all previous assumptions. They push her around a circle of bloated, unshaven, brutal men each taking there turn at removing her garments; imagery, metaphor, meter, rhyme, symbolism, and finally the jewel of her navel: poetry. They condemn her by calling her a liar, and justifying every vicious act they perpetrate on her with envious and insidious logic. Her once mirror-like eyes are too dirty to reflect the ugly faces of the darkened madmen who now parade her naked body through the streets calling themselves by the names of forgotten deities.

A boy sees her from the windows of his family’s house. He blushes and weeps for shame. In the innocence of his childhood he still knows to avert his eyes. But does he know to fight back? He blindly screams out the window to the crowd but their chanting is too loud. They carry her past the boy who never sees her go and to the church where they force her to stare at her shadow.

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Belle Noir

Iris MacDuffin, a peacock butterfly,
with eyes like cigarette burns
which reflect her chiaroscuro –
the complimentary schism that
divides her, was so much
more than a white whale.
Though often her pale skin
made her a shadow’s double walker,
like some gothic non-being
or even worse a once-was.

Of all the places for her to come,
why she walked into mine I’ll never know.
She spoke only in sepia tones
about bland pre-Kodak recollections
tainted like artifacts too long buried,
which had no point, nor narrative,
just the bland presentation of facts.
Yet still, not without complications, an attraction,
a deliverance – something unusually mundane
yet shockingly poignant –
Like a pointed absurdity. Or a machine
with a woman’s soul inside it.

Those eyes – with the thin crisp
outline of color curling around
a massive dark planet – they darted without ceasing.
They were revisionist siphons – utterly blank
so that they could take things anew and recreate.
Her body was never too far behind her eyes
following around the room, dragging a finger
across the dust. She moved neither fast nor slow;
neither graceful nor clumsy; but oddly
like a film shot at 22fps.

Everything about her was unnatural,
an observation that made her laugh
since she had come to realize that man
could be nothing other than unnatural
unless he finally gave in to his bestial lychanthropy
howling at the moon like some lunatic Spartan.
It was this notion that made her so cold
for even love was just an unnatural passion
that came from outside us to sweep
us out of sepia toned history
and into the colors of the present.

This is why she could not have been my holy grail,
for she never existed outside her own mind
in any real way. She was her own windmill
untouchable and surreal whose being was utterly imaginary.
Despite my desire to have her
she escaped through clenched fingertips.
The night she died, some years later,
I read the entirety of Hamlet aloud
alone in the study we had once gathered in,
as if she were there. Words, slander, more words.
He finally made sense. She finally made sense.
I, however, never changed. I still desired her
despite never being able to love her.

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“I do not forget the ill affects of such mistakes
I merely let my brain filter out Aztec pitfalls and much
of the year spent with malaria. You see a life is not spent in history
it forsakes plain facts in favor of context and narrative.
The mind makes pilfering into excavation using
the same justification as a priest at an alter;
a still beating heart aloft in his hand. Call it profane
if you must but do not assume you do not do the same
when you lie to your children. At least my adventures are heroic
and their name will spread as fast as its mystery –
that is to say, at least I tell the world my lies.”                               

“I disagree with your premise kind Explorer. Man has no uniform
to put on or take off. History is neither fact nor narrative
but pedigree and convenience. Lies are only vicious when there is a truth
no matter how you justify. It is a pity that your genius
was so exaggerated. You may know much of nature but nothing of man.
I attribute much of your errors on the misfortune you had
being entrenched in ancient texts devoid of recent advancements.”

“You say such words with some authority which strikes me odd.
Don’t we share things with those ancients –
enough that they may guide us?
We’re nothing but clay – free to take shape, no two the same
but still clay.
Dissimilarities can be found among all things
only by first assuming they are common in some way.
Take the pyramids for instance in both Egypt and South America…”

“Do not try to assert yourself as an expert on people because you have
examined the affect they’ve had. Have you explored the brain
have you number the electrons, followed the neurons, and surveyed
the remains of a man long dead. Have you divined how to detect
the quantity and quality of man? Then do not tell me how to weigh
genus, species, and family because they are nothing but convention –
words that would cease to exist if we did so also.”


“Well if you think such of words
then we cannot have this discussion. Toward what end
would we continue to pontificate if tomorrow
if we all died and took our words with us.
Such an absurd thoughts brings only sorrow
to anyone with children. What cause would bring
you to this hell? That you would sooner remove
the power of your tongue then admit
to something beyond you – whether the thread of history
the endless grace, timeless nature, or the promise of words?
Why do you even speak? Why offer such grief to those
of us who respect words enough to use them with responsibility
rather than selfish charity – giving away only that which
you wouldn’t keep in your own home.”

“It is my duty, as it is with all mankind,
to seek the true shape of things.
Then to emerge with it in hand to send to all too weak of mind
to discover the same.
Call it the burden to knock down the wall. Doing
so ensures that our progression from apes was not for nothing.
We have emerged to tare the heavens down and finally unveil
reality for what it is –
a sham the scale of which astounds me
even as I prepare for bed each night. For even in the midst
of my deepest mind the universe still tricks me into thinking
that something is out there.
That my bed is soft, that my wife is happy,
that my children enjoyed that bedtime story.
Such experience doesn’t belong to me no matter
how many times I recall them. 
Despite my longing for them to be true. 
Memories are just useful fictions to
allow for sleep at night.”                             

“Then why do my memories frighten you
and my refusal to forget them? Why do you
care if I fabricate some details for the sake
of a good story – if all are untrue?”                            

“Because I care for you, dear explorer.
We are all in this despair together
and what would we be if we didn’t lend
a hand to those less fortunate than us.
Besides I can’t have you spreading such lies
around impressionable children. Heaven forbid
my own children would fall for such a line. I would
further discuss this matter, but we’re out of time.
Perhaps we can continue this later over prime rib and some wine
I know this secluded place down by the docks
perfect for such discussions.
Perhaps I could catch you coming in from another adventure.
Until then, dear explorer, do not forget what I have told you today,
it might serve you well.” 


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The poet used to have to be sad
because tragedy was harder to write in those days
the days of dusty old history books.
Life, at that point, was just as hard but still whimsical
to look upon something with despair took talent
because even amidst sickness, death, and plague
there was an air of mysticism.
The poet always liked a challenge.
Hence my daughter asks:
“why are poets always sad?”
It is not for any reason other than ease today
In the gray wrinkled newspaper world.
It is foolish to write about happiness, of love, of hope
for we are the children of despair
and the poet is our mouth.
The poet abhores others, for he sees only half-people,
He writes only about himself, for himself.
But still I answer her:
“They must be seeing something you and I don’t”.

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