The Treasure

Golden leaves
That freckle tree branches
Have skipped and scattered
Autumn ground
Like stained glass fragments
Tracing truths.

Down vest
Over blue-flanneled chest,
Your dark soles
Crunch the sound
Of hard leaves into soft ground.

You watch the trees
Being dried and stripped;
The acorn under your foot
Scatters it’s brokenness:

A holy seed;
A secret promise.

The wind breathes yellow
Over your face,
Through branches bared:
“It is good.
It is broken with care.”

Murder on Your Tongue

Photo by Mateus Williams via 41.media.tublr.com

This is what I hear
When out of that heart
You speak:

Like grown men of an African bush tribe
Clip-slipping their feet in the hot dust
Around a broke-fire
White dark dirt shoves up
Out of the roots of the earth and
Races up on the heels of them and over the high-topped feather headdresses of grown men
And rising up and out the sound of an overwhelming shout of challenge and victory and defeat
As the sound rages out of their muscle-y burnt bodies and their heart beats
Step-step faster
Out—
Run
Out—
Shout
Out—
Live

And then you are
The one who ran ahead
To shove his spear first into the lions mouth
But got torn in half by its jaws.

This is what I hear
When out of that heart
You speak:

Death to mother
Your sister
Your brother
To your lover

Like every other somebody out there
Is a lion that needs to be taken
Down by a man
Like you.

Poem originally published in Promethia Literary Magazine, Spring 2013.

Stephen

Perfect skin, llama-like

neck and teeth and long face,

no chin, smiles like a dignitary,

he drinks for the laughs.

 

Africa got stuck

under his white nails

last summer, so

he wants to wake

every next morning

grasping black flesh

of perfect soil in

his hands and

feeling it pull back.

 

He reaches, arks his arms high;

The air stretches to accommodate.

Kenya cups her hands

to receive him,

poured out.

Thirst is at both ends.

Biking in Brussels

 

Wet rubber screeches;

these skinny bike wheels

grumble over gravel patches.

Brussels smells ethereal this

time of year. A beige-clad

Brit leads, speeds through fat

ruts. I follow his bowler hat,

marvel at the functionality of

his arthritic mechanisms,

knees and elbows pivot and

groove more quickly than my

own. Green drips over my

cheeks from the trees. Soft

rain, he calls it. Soft. The

softness of earth, of sky,

falling on me in summer.

A Farewell Party

Warm smiles ebb and flow with the

flickering candlelight against a wooden wall

backdrop, inside a splintered frame. They crowd

a long table in a dark room, each

face a twinkle in the other’s young glassy eyes,

a hodgepodge of black ties and fat sweats,

splashy sundresses and bro-tanks–

 

I stare in at them. I stand in the night,

enjoying the wood wall between us, the hands of

dust in the corners of the windowpane,

the sweet-breathed breeze that smells like fresh

snow mingled with violets, their smiles and

warm vocal-on-skin tones, my thin-soled

shoes on uneven stones and twigs and leaves

and how I can feel the face of the earth with

my feet and know where I am even when I stand

alone in the wooded darkness blind.

 

My heartstrings tremble for an unspeakable tune.

I walk away from the window and feel my way

through shadow-on-shadow for an acoustic

friend, wrap my hands around its neck

and ring it hard and slowly and off

beat and sing over it slightly out of tune but no

one’s counting except the deaf trees

clapping in the breeze, maybe God, and me.

Skin

I sew words into paper flesh; they are

my flakes of dead skin: gross, human,

unsightly, insignificant. Each letter is washed from

my cheeks, flows down the sink, unnoticed. Still,

I shed. I cannot help it. Every evening peels

a layer of semantics from me, built up

from the day’s ceding, sown, unknown

even to me. So I pick at it with my pen

to help pluck back the filmy plates of

meaning, that I might string them

together, line by line, straining under

the microscope to comprehend.

 

 

A Garden of the Gods

 Can I capture it and keep it?
I want to take it home.
MountCamelsThe lens shutters at the red rock towers
I tremble at the Camel’s Kiss
As their shadows cup the
Mountainside: a heart of light,
Love unending, eternal bliss.
I covet it.

Can I capture it and keep it?
I want not to forget
That rounded stone ramp curved
In supplication; fingered
Boulders clasping each other
In voiceless prayer swirling to
Heaven in the red dust:
Eternity flaking, crying
Out from the rocks, eternally.
So I don’t forget the earth groans too,
I take it.

Can I capture them and keep them?
I don’t want their joy to end.
These women wedge between the narrows
Of a rusty rock ledge.
Hands reach, clamp hardness, pull;Moutain
Heels push, knees propel,
Eyes pierce toward the blushing peaks,
Swelling with ivory hope.
I see it.

The heights are calling. This
Garden of the Gods
Is only stalling us. This too shall
Pass away.
But I will capture them and keep them:
Those curves of pleasure
Cupping their faces forever,
If only to recall the crisp ascent
From a shadowy cleft
Each woman took
To peaks of flaming glory.

 

Garden of the Gods, CO; Spring Break, March 2014

Photographs courtesy of V. Malone.

Hope Buried

White pulses against the wooden walls.
I stand at the window and knock.
The glass echoes cold.
I am the fish inside the aquarium.
The glass climbs two stories high, stretches the width of the room.
Cold white sits on me, on the carpet.
The room’s shadows are black fragments, scattering the light.
And the snow keeps falling, blanking out the Easter tones of almost-green.

It’s there, just underneath.
The fat white may try to smother it, but it’s still there.
Spring will still come.