Monthly Archives: December 2011

Moabites (2005)

A rag-world
A renting time of life
Commuting across Jordan
For microwaved communion
And pirated psalms
For medicated rest
And transience as sacrament
Round here we do all our traveling by night.

Something in us goes hungry,
In a stubble city of a reaping age
A spangled field of glimmering
Mysteries for the gleaning.
Gathered up and taken home
Precious remnants pored over
Little beautifuls, tiny warmths
Shards of gleam
And kindness enough
To make of it all a heart’s blanket
And a soul’s meal
Before we sleep at the feet of the redeemer.

The Sin-Eater (2004)

Pass it on, your burdened plate
Your yoke, your cross, whatever weight
over where I sit and wait
with leadened lids and veins like roots
I’ll take it if you let me
dislocate this python jaw and
swallow those barbed adjectives.

I’ll eat your insecurities
dry heave hope and reassurance
Smile away the gag reflex
and take my flight of stairs away
into the upper nights and
There let the splinters and shards
dissipate and circulate

from root to extremity
every vein, every ventricle.
I’ll sit in my shadowed corner
under the rippling drapes
and hope the measure of grace in me’s
enough to tip the scales
from poison back to peace

it ages me
a little bit
but if I can watch you be rid of it
you needn’t worry ’bout me.
or so goes the fantasy

I’m Sorry, Lo-Ruhamah (2004)

On the night of the forty-ninth infidelity
It went unnoticed
That the book of the law had gone unopened.
It spoke in the voice of a father
Stricken at his daughter’s leaving
For she was near, and perfect
and given to lie in a young man’s bed.

On the night of the forty-ninth infidelity
It went unnoticed
That the words of the wisest went unheard.
He spoke in the voice of a young man
With a lover newly promised.
He thought her near, and perfect
And so prepared a bed for her.

On the night of the forty-ninth infidelity
It went unnoticed
That the message of the prophets was “no, not yet.”
They spoke in the voice of husbands who,
Waiting in the years long since
She was near, or perfect,
Still every night prepare her bed.

On the night of the forty-ninth infidelity
It went unnoticed
That the poetry of the king was lamentation.
He spoke in the voice I speak in now,
At the time when kings go off to war,
Who’ve traded the perfect for the near
A stolen lamb for a marriage bed.

On the night of the forty-ninth infidelity
It went unnoticed
That the best man spoke his last.
He spoke in the voice of a fatherless son,
Calling out with unrequited voice.
“Your father’s gone” her answer comes
From my forsaken bed.

Finch 39 (2004)

Three worlds, concentric circles revolving
In three-part harmony. Each singing out
in its given voice, within and devout
the largest, night-voiced whispering
a wheel within a wheel
Each singing in its own voice:

The largest, night-voiced whispering
Enveloping with the soft dirges
Of bare branches sighing
The hushed incantations of old newspapers
Given flight,
lifted from the cold road a moment

the loudest, many-voiced babelsong
a city ever rolling
named Finch 39
wandering humanity, weary nomad race
given rest
from the cold road a moment

the nearest, two-tongued bi-kingdom
divided, a barbed wire equator splitting two poles
“a little world made cunningly”
headphone-framed like ice caps
never resting
‘till the cold road is rolled away like a scroll

and I try and try to choreograph
these dancing planets
into a work that will make you proud and let me sleep
but the mind, the bus, and the street
are each a cold road home.

Blitz Fantasies (2004)

Around the end of whatever wait
I’ve been yearning through,
The airplanes come.
I studied them as a child
Silhouettes and formations
So I’d know them when they came
Identified by class and nation.

Like migrating birds
Rank upon rank
Arranged with artistry
for terror and magnificence
No need for stealth or subtlety
In such an innocent sky.

I count the engines,
Name insignia
my library childhood,
its purpose found.
with a final sigh
the bomb bays open
and all is falling now

I flap my arms without realizing
Why this is inside me
Why I long for this
Why this dream has lived so long
In such a mortal cradle, and
Why deliverance is always winged
And camouflaged.

Halfway (2004)

Halfway between the cancer
and the constellations
is the road to Golgotha;
and skull-ward I stumble
with only my will,
hitched to this skeleton
like a tired old pony
that has carried too many children.

but still it pulls me onward
towards the last known location
of the truth
until once again I stand
on a hill far away
and take it all out from it’s hiding place
all the insufficiency
all the insecurity
the cliched fear
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

It takes two hands to hold it
like the toads I caught
when I was young
but sadder
and deadly
this crumpled ball of trying
and unrequited effort.
I can’t carry it anymore
it’s all just gotten too big to fit in my arms
and it’s long since turned my lungs to lead

but you told me you wanted it anyway
and I trust you
your arms are full
and someone’s nailed them to a tree
so I take my little world
and put it in the wound in your side
my hands go in so guilty-deep
but when I draw them out,
they are empty
and clean

what alchemy is this?
what science, what magic
that could take so unforgettable an ugliness
and sunder it from me?
for it is gone,
gone beyond recovering
swallowed up in the power of your dying

and I am a child again
fresh from the bath on a Saturday night.

Basket Song (2005)

All myself is sown and spread
Across the neon year;
Integrity scattered far
And brokenness held near.

Hairline cracks and fractious thoughts;
Fissures begin to lace.
Splinters left in lover’s lips,
Bits lost in each embrace.

This is how I sow the fields,
That my first may be least;
Bits of soul and sprinkled blood:
A Carthaginian peace.

So peace I name it, and so
Are found by Advent bare.
Sunlit season’s harvest raped,
I call it only fair.

Out of seeds, but not of guilt;
Many birds left to feed.
If mercy’s good, blood’s better
To meet the furrow’s need.

Clench violently my eyes,
A blindness I name Faith;
If I hum the right songs hard
It’s near as good as Lethe.

In such vestments traveling,
My wake is unobserved.
The blasted fields’ bastard crop
Feeds just the carrion bird.

Each wan bud and twisted shoot
A blind attempt at grace;
Misled obedience or
Myopic, misplaced praise.

These broken hermeneutics,
As equal to the Gospel
As love, to masturbation.

By December bare am I,
And all my seeds are spent.
Furrowed concrete heeds it not,
Nor marks the way I went.

My progress has been charted
By emaciation;
Every mile a pound of flesh
And worship, flagellation.

Between the birds, the weeds and
Masochistic doctrine,
Naught remains but stony heart
And stumbling skeleton.

On cracking fibulas, so
Few steps in me remain.
Fossils left in salted fields,
The rattling refrain

Marks my last and desperate search.
One final hope exists:
To find an inn without a room
While yet my heart persists.

With minutes left till dying,
I reach the stable door.
It’s just as I remember;
My remnants hit the floor.

With a last and fading sigh
I turn my head and gaze
On my passing’s evidence,
The loss that marked my ways.

To my failing sight’s surprise
The furrowed field lies fallow.
No trailing wreckage of a man,
No wake unto my hallow.

Where the trail of pieces lay
A basket sits instead;
As I reach with bony hands
It’s understood I’m dead.

Under The Hebrew Sea (2006)

Under the Hebrew sea
Is not what was expected
The expectation was the fantasy
And all I wrote were dragons.
There is better than imagination here,
With Rahab put to rest.

With the last song ground down
All the world’s rooms are silent and bare
Empty before the coming,
But for the dust of sandals shook.
Under the Hebrew sea
I am not architect
There is a place prepared for me
Old stone and a light in the window.

I have stopped writing musicals of late
And am cutting loose my lover’s arms
My choreography
Always did leave something to be desired
And marionettes were never really her thing.
The dialogue was spare
And the last tarantella
Took a drowning to cease.
Under the Hebrew sea
He reads to us every night.

On a blank shore under a beating sky
I had spent my hope
Fighting with the wind for breath
But under the Hebrew sea
The deep works my lungs in its grip
The moon is faithful,
The circadian tide behind.
While on the forbidding face above the waves
The old man storms empty beaches
Fearing the sea,
To move inland
And stalk the hedgerows
He cannot comprehend amphibianism.

And the currents are a dance
And the pressure is a blanket
And the deep places are known
And the dark is a knowing thing
Brooding over the waters,
that I need brood no longer.