Archive for the ‘Urban Pastoral’ Category

There was always room to play.
I remember it distinctively,
it was mid May
and the rocks flew from under my sneakers.
Now the image of a jungle gym
always makes these boats
sunken from age buoyant again.
I pass it in the park every day
the kids look like prisoners
and stare with their backlit eyes
while I make my way.
I make my way
as if it has never been made
as if it is not mere habit.
No memory will arise,
no image connected, to
make me remember this way,
just the echoing jungle gym
and the prospects of next May.

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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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The light that reveals
is blinding.
The reflection in the glass
conceals a hive of
workers dreading every 9
and clinging to every 5.

The homeless man wears
shades because
he is either blind
or pretending, but
at this hour
when the sun crests
over the tallest talls
he is all the better.

The sad droning of an
idle car exhales exhaust.
It is late and tired.
Its bumper stickers
are outdated political
statements and smug
declaration more
befitting an ignorant
college student than
a suit and tie.

At night this is hidden
and the nocturnals
spread incandescent wings –
a more gentle light
that only reveals
a select area
and conceals the rest
by contrast.
I usually smoke
my cigarettes
with the boys outside
so the whaling saxophonist
is less tempting.

I look forward to rain soaked days
where blues are smeared
with pinks in the omnipresent
reflective puddles tucked neatly
beside the curb like a child
in bed. It is too dry and hot
in this light. My clothes
cling like a new skin on me.

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What does she think?
I can’t say,
the way she sinks into her seat
pulling at the edge
of an admiral’s pea coat.
The way she blows
pink sugar into a balloon
after days of chewing
it like hide.
It eclipses her face
and pushes against the popped
collar of her lost admiral’s
pea coat. Instinct tells me she’s
missing. Her face in black and white
making the sides of milk cartons
more interesting. Like a lighthouse
off shores too rocky to travel by foot.
She’s gone missing to her eyes
despite every reflecting edge
we’ve come to hide behind.
Her keen eyes can see through
the awkward young girl
in the dirty sides of a skyscraper.
The wind blowing her prismatic hair,
she brings painted finger tips
to organize every tiny sailor
running from the storm.
“Man your stations men!
the storm will swallow us
unless you keep your heads!”
The captain would bark as
he dipped into the boat’s cargo
of whiskey to calm his nerves.
He wipes his courage on the wet sleeves
of his pea coat.
Her yellow fingertip rubs the ingrained
anchors typical of her coastal style.
Turning to the lonely girl adrift in an oversized
Pea coat she salutes.
“Man your station.”

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16% Oxygen

She wears the scarf she made,
waits tapping her toes
in tune with music,
outside the bar she works at.
A city fire is the setting sun
feeding on cold night air.
Breathing is visible
in her chest
and exiting from her lips.

Fingertips twist a helix
into her hair
filaments of a light bulb
black as carbon.
The whites of her eyes
alternate quickly
blue, red, white
in rhythm to the arriving emergency

The soundtrack of the bar
is Paul Simon
a smile crosses her face,
ten minute breaks are
never so breath taking.
Snow banks store memories
of the winter.
Salt rimmed jeans of strangers
passing by remind her of head
on imported beers and wax collecting
around the edges of a candle.
They await her.
She exhales and enters before goose bumps
form on her skin.

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Ours are the only lights in downtown Worcester
Electricity is a fragile touch at 40 miles an hour.
These are the nights of youth for young inventors
With drinks and smiles, like us, and the three ladies at the bar.
Simplicity is the power to resist holding tongues,
to ignore ethical necessity, to allow change to rout
the phalanx of lightless office buildings. We’re the ones
made of stories, eyes of hallow grounds, we’re figuring out
distance means being flightless in our feelings and honesty
means being selective with our sounds

Our night was filled with worlds of swirling smoke,
poetry if not honesty, and memories that fade like city lights.
Ash falls on our outfits, burning from our cigars as we spoke
about health nuts who would never live thru these Worcester nights
with any sanity or soul. We talk about where we’d rather be;
Israel, Germany, Florence (with a lady sleeping next to me) –
But mostly we talk about going back in time and just doing this more often.
Outside, a different building, a different person, a different whole watches
through eyes without curtains too dark to see.They count off
ten orange cones marking a different route home. In their subconscious
they’ll recall 3 men exiting a bar who entered as boys at a birthday party.
Their shared victory would be timeless as they drove back in the dark.

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Smoke, like that from a gun,
Ascends from her lip toward
A lazy whirring ceiling fan.
Her hemp colored dreadlocks run
Around giant headphones and forward
over naked breasts. In her hand
The cause: A bone. The scepter of the queen
(she is so because she shares something with beauty)
Like the contrast of her skin and the green
carpet. The gentle wind compliments her nudity.

Her Bishop enters through the fire escape
Having made his way to the seventh floor
A zip lock bag with word secured
He pauses to worship the landscape.
Her stone eyes lie behind resin colored shades
A pile of ash is pooled beneath her finger tips
As if the gravediggers had stayed
to dig their hole beside her hips.
The holy man tossed the bag on to the green
and waited for his silent queen to imbibe the good word.


Things were not simple in the kingdom
A battle of black and white replaced
By colors unimagined. A tear pools in her eye.
What unholy movement brought her to this place
A place for fools and pawns to die.
She felt their souls exiting them.
Another inhale, another word – no reply from the muses.

The Delphic signals curled as they rose
with feminine curves and tragic catharsis
that removed every desire save one alone –
the one the muses love the most
She sips from her scepter of bone
and still her hunger grows and grows
her whispers feeble, “send for my drone”.


She hasn’t come in so long
Locked in his castle, his prison, his cave
He waits. He waits for her to call.
His thoughts surrounding him,
He wrote them on the wall when she had gone.
Half open books littered his conclave
epics and tragedies, eulogies and hymns. 
All tragedies, all eulogies, all hymns.
to keep his mind, to keep his mind in check.

Madness was his only lover now, it was her that built the wall
built the wall around. He was useless when he wasn’t in use
and it sickened him. It bore a pit – a grave – into his stomach.
He would be unimportant – if she didn’t need him. Need him like air, or water.
Yet her need enslaved him. Cut him, shackled him, maddened him.
He longed for the smoky taste of her lips, and her soulful hexagon eyes.


It was then that he felt the Bishop’s hand on his shoulder.
Human contact removed him from his castle
If only to push him down its winding staircase.
His small one bedroom apartment smelt of tobacco
and accepted no light in. It throbbed like a womb
A living breathing cave. Yet its drab wallpaper gave no illusion that it was natural.

The blinding bright light of the queen’s empty room
struck the drone with such unbearable pain
that he was forced to kneel. The green floor was warm from the sun.
Her naked stomach would rise and fall with each breath.
Inhale words. Exhale thoughts. The ceiling fan silently spinning.
The drone blindly crawled the high terrain
toward his prize. A queen desperate for the winning.


She drags, she drags, she drags the bone.
He places his lips on hers. Communication
evolves from ashes and breath. Smoke leaks from a kiss
a kiss leaks from the mind. He tastes her philosophy,
and feels the raise and fall that creates it as her bare stomach
shifts between his legs. For a brief moment their is stasis,
a tranquility of sorts, but an uneasy tranquility.

The Bishop removes the drones shirt
allowing his green eyes to observe his scarred back.
Years of being locked within his mind left him pale as a ghost
the same color as the tendrils of smoke.
This meeting had become more intense and more violent than most
the queen had awoken in fury. Her fingernails leave a track
of open flesh on his sides. But the drone continued.
Music pounds through her headphones and into him.


Through closed eyes his fingers groped her coiled hair
eventually stumbling upon a chord, thin and black,
running back, back, back, into the other room. The music.
Sudden anger, jealousy, and weakness surged
as he pulled it from its jack.
Her eyes opened to reveal her hexagonal pupils
and with a single motion the madness, jealous of the new lover
took the chord and wrapped, wrapped, wrapped her neck.

The last smoke rose to be inhaled. All was silence
except the sound of the ceiling fan. Whirring.
Anger so quickly burned became remorse.
“Kill me. I have no more use.”
“Be still my child” The Bishop replied. Having seen the violence
he responded in kind. Taking the chord still around the queen
and tied it tight around his breathing’s source.


“Such is man – an oppressive mystery
with a hunger for flaws. Unworthy of both
love and hate. His achievements know no limits
or goals. Only accepting a chosen slavery,
and who would sooner kill than to envy or want.
Man, the vessel of potential, a natural tool
for both angel and demon.
Pray now for salvation and repent
for desire will strip these thoughts from your mind
until too late comes your piteous prayers.”

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