Archive for the ‘Free Verse’ Category

Someone had gotten there before me
and left their mark.
Her skin, owned not worn,
projects a burlesque outline
not unlike
the others,
Shelby like a hurricane
with an awkward sign
that said
“First of the night”
and to those who
would label
me as virtuous as
Armstrong or Polo
I can only say
that unexplored lands
have never been
so beneficial –
so human.
So intimate.
The barren topography
of a Winnipeg winter
replaced by the subtly
of sin
and the artificial openness
paid for by capitalism.
A man shouldn’t laugh
at this
person –
stripped as she was –
but one couldn’t
ignore the juxtaposition.
The interplay
of nineties music
and my hands being
overly forward.
She asked why I took my glasses
“To see you”
So it is. That the eyes see
but the body knows.

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A rose flattened into math
under the weight of a book on Ingres.
All the pretension of depth and curve
shown to be illusion
by a French master’s authentic love of deception.
Her petals, hips, and stem
all numbers determined by logic
no matter how wild, majestic, and unpredictable
their beauty.

Her history from seed, to plant, to flower,
to a cut beyond death and into a vase
can be viewed as destiny or chaos.
The words you water her with determine
how you will see her. Why this one, of the dozen
bundled at the foot of a coffin.
Babies breathing in soft white bubbles
singing, if not commanding you into the rocks.

The meaning of the world,
is the separation of wish and fact.
A flat rose. A dark smudge
on a yellow book. A mouthful of dirt.

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June 8th, 2018

We pulled our lawn chairs close together
onto the flexure of the world
and into the hanging light, that often falls
at the same time of day as the failing of our beer supply,
whispered our deepest concerns.
A lot of people die without knowing anything truly happy.
A lot of people die without knowing anything.
A lot of people die without.

A lot of people die.

Occum’s flattened earth is taut, and doesn’t give.
Where do rivers go if they don’t run in circles?
When they come to the edge of an unfolded map
do they fall into wine-dark space? Or rise above, finally relinquished
from the gravity of indecision. This space between
spaces is so thin, and haunting. Is it worse to be angry in a bad place,
or lonely in a beautiful place?

Larry Walters knows. Our last beer is for him.
Poured into the abyss, floating ever upward
above the mountains, passed the lanterns that
hang from an antique bronze cloche
and into heaven where he sits with St. Anthony
outside the pearly gates. They kill time. Talk about travel.
Food. Wine. Tattoos. But they don’t go in. They never go in.

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Some hear the pound, pound, pounding
of their heart confirming their life.
Such metaphors sting the rickety
piping of a noble 17th century colonial
trying to push against a nighttime
decline. The uneven hobble
of expanding warmth frightening children
in the cacophonous choir of inflexible
wood frame structure straining the wind.
Howl. Whistle. Crack. These words
have no place in our understanding of the heart.
Instead these blunt aggressions –
thump, beat, and pound. That is what meat does,
isn’t it? So name it this way. But when the twilight
of the age of meat dawns, don’t come to this haunted
colonial and cry tragedy against the gentle tyranny
of a ceaseless whirring fan. Against its coldness.
Against its calculations.

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In the study I am hypnotized by the corner
tucked neatly under pull and over push.
On the dock this is water and air – peaceful
until the Huronian dusk reveals an open wound.
As a child, this was the naughty place –
a place devoid of anything but endlessly collapsing space.
Perhaps a hangover from monastic training.
I chose to remove the world to survive while my
brother opted for revolt – and spankings.

I find myself, without choice, pressed
as close as ever, my nose touching its
cascading tumult. Oh, Wyandot. Oh, Iroquois.
Is that the unsalted breeze
still escaping your lungs? How did we get here?
Is this punishment? At once I understand my brother.
My crawling retreat will not escape a scolding hand.

The horizon waits. And laughs.

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I watched the tree
bend under the weight
of possibilities.
A bending deer head
reflecting as it breaks
the plane to refresh.
I see the hunter
hanging, spinning, sitting
in a knot around its neck.
Red like blood, like stop,
like face paint and strawberry jam
signalling a pass over.
He is He.
With a hand over his head
to shade the eyes
meant to eat and own
the meat of the world.
In a flash it is all past
all prologue
under the wandering wheels
of a rust colored estate car.

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In Pittsfield

The ride was slow
like brunch.
Supplementary to coffee,
a reason to still get up on weekends
if you don’t have a lawn
or a hobby.
Western Massachusetts
rolls beneath us like
the hunchback of the state
with clouds like heat
rising from the black.

You haven’t noticed
that you are back
where you were born
until we pass a familiar
grocer on the corner.
You tormented the neighbor
boys with toads.
How those summer days still
taste of lemonade
and earth,
and giving it your all.

A hand-print lingers
on the seat
once you have gone.
Clay once shaved in small
amounts from a vase of some kind
now deposited, if not lifted,
from the leather
like an anti-fossil.
I can’t bring myself to clean it.
I rub it like lipstick into
the seat.

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Growing up on a lake
it was easy for us to test
the buoyancy of every school
necessity from pencils
to protractors.
Between us we didn’t know
about origami or the pacific ocean’s
end, but we did know the news
could be folded when father had left for work.
The invading tides, relentless
as the end of summer, ate through
a picture of Reagan’s face.
A perfect circle showing teeth
drawn by some lifeless hand
dripping with ink.
The assortment of erasers
were too heavy to achieve grace.
We sent out little army men after them,
a search and rescue playing dramatically
against the setting sun like Ms. Saigon.
They too would be lost
to the relentless sea.
Changing to unmanned planes
we dive bombed the serene lake
with classifieds and obituaries.
Each plane making it mere feet
before a dramatic kamikaze
surrounded by imaginary pyrotechnics.

I read my news online now.
And live on a hill.

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I don’t know.
The water runs
over the humming heater
and something invisible
makes everything go
but what enemy of freedom
tucked under the hem of nature
makes this so?
I don’t know.

I travel in time
but not in space.
Like a stone.
A sinking stone
with water like hell
around me,
and a thinking stone
to make it all tragic.
Why must I feel this way,
and why burden you?
I don’t know.

I drink a coffee
with ghosts rising
to tickle my nose.
My baby child having escaped
his crib is silently stacking
Each a pixel of color,
a letter of meaning,
and the shape of foundations.
He laughs when the tower is no more.

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She ran.
Pathways weaving like a seamstress needle
below and above fabric.
Under the lights of the gently bending street lamps
vision became unbearable
just long enough to be plunged back into darkness.
Alone with her thoughts
and her headphones.

Music in these times
is useless.
It makes her long for
skipping records again.
Like the scratchy heart beat
in her chest.
The way the arm claws at
a dark worn groove
only to hop back again.

If he could see her now.
Keeping beat
with a loose necklace
bouncing against her chest.
How he would laugh
as she ran
nothing but a silhouette
pressed against
the river banks.
The moonlight
catching on its
cold ink surface.
He always laughed at tragedy
and when she would cry.

She ran
until she saw the bench.
Her old dirty friend.
Falling like a fig into his arms.
Not to cry, but to laugh
and to skip stones
against the worn black
grooves of the river.

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