POETRY


THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY

There are those who say life is little but an illusion,

A matrix of the mind,

A trick up the tuxedoed sleeve,

A dramatization of our own, or someone else’s, impressionistic imagination.

There are those who say life is little but an illusion,

That reality is a realm existing somewhere beyond it,

If, indeed, reality is real, or is a realm.

There are those who say life is little but an illusion,

But if we slice our finger, do we not drip blood?

If we are slapped, do we not howl in pain?

If our lover leaves us, do we not panic with despair?

And when we realize the end of days, do we not die?

There are those who say life is little but an illusion,

But if this is illusion,

I do not wish to know what lies beyond it.

DEAD OF NIGHT

I wake up in the dead of night.

I’m of that certain age where this is common circumstance.

Nothing to summon the doctor for.

The stars stare through my window as if daring me,

Challenging me to do something, anything.

Perhaps they are simply laughing at me.

Who knows?

But the dead of night is not for doing something, anything.

The dead of night is only there to be tolerated.

It’s a fierce and unforgiving blankness,

Something I must abide, endure…stomach until the morning arrives.

It is a standoff until I stumble back to sleep again

Or until the sun forces its way into the sky

And tells the dead of night to wait,

Wait until its time comes again.

—-

A BLIND MAN BOARDED THE BUS

 

A blind man boarded the bus

Pulling a wheelchair weighted down with all his worldly possessions.

He sat and began to pass out pamphlets

And spoke of God and Christ and heaven and hell.

He should be a prophet,

For this is whom God anoints to spread His word,

A poor, homeless blind man with all he owns in a wheelchair.

If I were younger, I might have thought him so,

An Amos or Samuel or John the Baptist,

Fasting in the wilderness,

Or feasting on locusts and wild honey.

But I am older now and have less days to live than I have lived.

And I am cranky and irritable and easily annoyed.

So to me that is all he was,

A blind man on a bus with all he has he carries with him,

Speaking of God and Christ and heaven and hell.

 

THE TREES ARE IN FULL LEAF AGAIN

 

The trees are in full leaf again,

The breeze is warm and kind.

But I am still in winter,

For my soul is not inclined

To trust my eyes, my nose, my tongue, my ears,

My fingers or my mind

That anything has really changed

And coldness left behind.

For blizzards, snow and ice storms

Can never be forgot,

But freeze the marrow and the blood

Until your insides rot.

While sun and heat and newborn seed

And all that spring has wrought,

They will not stay in memory

And quickly die in thought.

 

LONELINESS IS…

Loneliness is a refuge, protection from a raging storm.

A cave that keeps out crueler elements

And lets you play as you please.

It is perfect freedom,

Answerable to none.

A chance to create with no interference, no restrictions.

To change the static world.

To evolve the ancient universe.

To leave a mark nothing can erase.

Loneliness is a pastel coverlet,

Smooth and soothing.

A lavender blanket that calms and warms you,

And cools the heated head.

It is a mantle that sweetly swallows you,

And then, without warning,

Wraps itself around you,

Robbing you of breath,

Filled with panic and dread,

Until, with a great pull and tear,

You rend it from your brow

And you can intake air again.

Loneliness is the monster in a black and white horror film,

A creature never seen,

That creeps and crawls in shadows and flickering light,

And growls and snarls in the dark

Until it leaps out and tears its victim apart,

Then mews and purrs

While devouring the barely beating heart.

And when its meal is ended,

When it is finished and full,

It softly pads away

To patiently await its next prey.

Loneliness is…

 

The Shadow Came to Visit Me Again Today

The shadow came to visit me again today.

I heard the key turn loudly in the lock and I knew.

I knew who it was right away.

Because who else would come and visit me

In the middle of the morning,

And who else wouldn’t call ahead,

And who else has the key.

He wheezed up the stairs somewhat slothfully

And stood in the doorway and stayed,

Trying to catch his breath.

I told him, “I’m very busy. I have a lot to do.

I don’t have time for you now,”

And I turned my back on him,

Turned my back and

Faked perusing the work fanned out before me.

But he just continued gazing at me,

With a dramatic pause,

With dark and piercing eyes,

With the patience of a stalking puma,

Then plodded his way into the kitchen and fixed himself a cup of tea.

I wasn’t surprised.

He always does.

It’s the same thing every single time.

And I heard every simple solitary detail,

The banging of the kettle,

The running of the water,

The lighting of the stove,

The taking down of the cup and saucer,

The whistling until the boiling pot answered back,

And, finally, the flowing of the searing clear liquid into the cup.

He’s anything but subtle.

He then came back and I said,

And this time I was much louder and much, much firmer,

I swear, much more so,

“I told you, I don’t have the time. You have to leave. You can’t remain.”

After a trice of thought he went to the front window and sat down in a chair

And blew and sipped his tea,

And looked out as life passed by below,

And…went back to whistling.

But not just any tunes, but tinny ones.

He whistled, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,

And Tea for Two,

Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goodbye and Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

I turned back to my desk and busied myself,

And just as I almost didn’t hear him anymore, it happened.

As it always happens.

The shadow began to grow.

It leaked out and flowed along the carpet

And then slowly climbed wistfully up the wallpaper,

Past pied paintings of fading flowers.

It found the ceiling and then crossed into my room.

I tried to ignore it, I did, I really did,

But the shadow continued increasing in size,

Growing and growling,

Darker and deeper,

Distracting, like a spoiled, spiteful child who wants attention.

Almost like oil it unfolded and grew in sound,

Until finally I had enough and screamed,

“I don’t want you here. I told you, you have to leave.

Get out, get out now.”

The shadow peered at me a moment, or a minute,

Or a quarter of an hour,

I’m not sure which,

Then finished his cup of tea and calmly stood up.

“All right,” he said. “I’ll leave.

But only as long as you understand,

I’m departing not because you desire me to,

But because I choose to.”

With that he tromped his way into the kitchen for

The washing of the cup and saucer,

And the drying of the dishes,

And the storing of it all back into the cabinets.

He then casually strolled to the doorway,

Looking nonchalantly around and rubbing a rough finger along a dusty shelf,

Tsk, tsking all the way.

He stopped before he left and looked at me.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“No, no tomorrow.  Don’t come back.”

But all he said was, “Tomorrow” and “ta-ta” and “toodle loo”

And he made his way back down the steps.

I yelled out, “And leave the key.”

But too late, I always wait too late.

I heard the locking of the door,

And the whistling of his waltzing down the walk,

And the creaking and clanging of the gate behind him.

I rushed to the window and peaked carefully out behind the curtain,

Trying to be discreet.

I didn’t want to, but I always did.

I peaked and there he was, waiting for me to look.

He winked and turned and walked away.

I stayed at the window a while, then,

Once I could see and hear him no more,

I found my way back to my desk,

Sighed,

Then sighed again,

Then sighed once more,

And finally went back to finishing my work.

Flowers Floating in Flames of Space

Flowers floating in flames of space,

Filling the firmament,

Origamied by God

To unfold in a chaos of colors,

Blossoming bold and bursting into bulging life.

Under clear blue skies and bracing breezes

And a stillness of waiting for life to begin.

Seemingly forever.

Seemingly for eternity.

Seemingly to never die.

Pungent perfumes of odors

Wafting through the waves of heat

And simmering sounds

Of chirping cicadas and buzzing bees.

Of children screaming and laughing and playing

During endless days of make believe,

With nights that never seem to come.

Seemingly forever.

Seemingly for eternity.

Seemingly never to die.

Opulent orchards of lush fruit plucked from towering trees

Or fallen, gaily rolling down slight hills into valleys.

Acres and acres of sunset colored leaves

Dwindling lazily to the verdant ground.

Gusts of winds that are bright and prickly sweet.

And chilly days gradually growing shorter and slimmer.

Seemingly forever.

Seemingly for eternity.

Seemingly to never die.

Chills of cold that roses the cheeks

And invigorates the limbs.

That clears the sky to a revelation

Of a heaven of stars and boundless horizons.

Warm fires toasting toes and fingers,

And tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wassails of warm brandy with

Long, lingering nights of holidays and cheer.

Seemingly forever.

Seemingly for eternity.

Seemingly to never die.

THE GREATEST WRITER WHO EVER LIVED DIED IN CHILDBIRTH

 

One murky, foggy morning my friend turned to me and said:

The greatest writer who ever lived died in childbirth.

The greatest dancer lost their leg in a car accident.

The greatest painter was born without the ability to see.

The greatest saint killed themselves when they could no longer go on living.

The greatest scientist received a head injury at twelve years old and suffered a lobotomy.

The greatest philosopher died from cancer before they were twenty-one.

It was a wintry day, a day that coats could not deny, where the despair in the air cracked like ice.

He always spoke like this on days like this.

It seemed to bring out the best in him, the weariness of harsh weather.

We were walking because it was winter and there was snow and the paths were sharp and brittle

And that is what we did when it was winter and there was snow and the paths were sharp and brittle.

It’s what we did because…

Well, because it’s what we did.

And when we finished walking, we walked some more

Until we saw a coffee shop that seemed to breath hot air from its doorway.

We took our steaming drinks and sat a table lit by the growing light outside.

We sat and stared through the sterile windowpanes, gazing at the now clear and clean crystalized vista of whiteness, and he said:

That’s the way of the world, the way of the galaxy, the universe, the stars, the solar system, the atoms, the molecules.

We either accept it or scream and cry and rend our cloaks and leap from the nearest cliff.

I thought a momentary moment about his declarations,

Then took a large sip from my double grande latte with half skim milk and extra foam and sighed contentedly at the calming heat.

With that, he sipped from his cup of hot chocolate with five small marshmallows and extra whipped cream and did the same.

THE ONLY TRUTH IN LIFE IS LINES

The only truth in life is lines.

Lines to pay for groceries.

Lines to get on a bus.

Lines to buy a ticket for a movie.

Lines to listen to a customer service representative.

Lines to order a double latte, almond milk, half decaf, triple foam.

Lines to pick it up.

Little lines, long lines.

Lines of lethargy and lines of enthusiasm.

Lines of dullness, lines of ecstasy.

Lines of impatience and lines of Zen.

Lifelines and deadlines.

Lines of poetry.

When we are born,

We enter a line leading to an amusement park ride that we dread to board.

A line we can’t leave or allow someone to save our spot for us.

Though we can let people cut in.

And we even pay for the privilege.

All we can do is stop and look around a moment.

Hear the brash beauty of a carousel pipe organ.

See a child’s happy, frightened smile on a merry-go-round.

Smell the rich pungence of boiling hot dogs.

Touch the tender rough cloth of a clown’s costume.

Taste the brittle sweetness of kettle corn.

All recorded in pictures you have to purchase in order to remember that moment in time.

But we cannot pause too long.

If we do, then the person lined up behind us will poke us in the back

And point ahead,

Telling us we can move up and fill in a gap.

And so we do.

6:30 IN THE MORNING

It’s 6:30 in the morning

And my body informs me that it is bored of lying in bed.

It tells me, yells at me to get off the pot and piss.

But my mind has no motive to move at 6:30 in the morning.

It has no future to forecast.

For it, the day will be the same as yesterday and yesterday the same as the day before that.

And tomorrow will be yesterday before it is today.

Even when the days are dissimilar, they are alike.

And at the dusk of them, I always find my body back where it began.

So why bother getting up and making the bed.

It will be unmade soon enough.

The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak

At 6:30 in the morning.

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