Monday, September 5, 2011

Down the Road

Down the road is an old burnt-out house,
Its silo a flagpole to the sky amid plains of corn and soy,
Streaming forward, forward,
The house craning back.

Light filters through the beams and dust,
Onto time’s leftovers, a spoon of tarnished iron,
People practical,
Even in better years when the chimney spat black.

Timbers grayed, blackened roof collapsing in
Slow, torpid decay,
Asking favors from entropy,
Aching in the fibers of its wood,

Pleading in unison
Particles waltzing in a lazy fashion,
Their steps slow to conclude the dance with the end,
Forgotten, eventual nothingness.
But the roof lies submissive to the heavens,
And as the sky breaks, it’s the one two three, again.

Across the street—it’s paved now—

Is a New Construction house made of things better than wood,
Plastics and polyurethanes,
It has a grass yard, a swing set, a TV that echoes images though
The windowpanes across the flatland on clear nights.

A lazy stream of gray drifts from the chimney,
And the blades of grass hum when the wind blows,
As to whisper the secret to the myth of content, of
Neutral tones, yet the door is red.

A child’s laugh
Bicycle wheels spinning
Helmeted heads and a tan Forester SUV

And the grass and plastics and polyurethanes are chanting,
Oh they’re all chanting, chanting,

We are the new generation.
We are the new generation.
We are the new generation.

The chant echoes across the road and dissipates into
Fields surging with green and stalks taller than your father’s head,
Its remnants weave through corn and soy and soil, to find,

A black-toothed smile silhouetted against the sky
Consuming the harvests, fears, and sunrises,
Wind whistling across its timbers of its teeth,
Like the hiss of an old woman laughing

Further down the road is a graveyard. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"This Is Goodbye, Then?"

In the halfway house, I met you
My mind swallowing particular phrases,
Your beliefs weaving their way back into
Consciousness, mine at the fall.

Some people said we lost our way in
The conviction of chalk-bone eyes and with
Our Father, Son, and Holy Ghost hearts crossed,
Delighting in dirty water.

Yet something was right, I knew not what,
The night sprawled into day, and
Your eyes saw something dead in mine
Come back alive.

There was a way in which you said,
The things that jumbled across
My folding table of skin and bones and tricks,
Mouthing a smoke alarm of substance.

You know what I said—
When the fruit was fingered to its core?
I meant it then, when our thoughts collided,
As the passing of a jilted lover.

I mean it now.

Cross-eyed like the lone cat,
That came to call at your doorsteps,
The night that we both left,
Feeling yellow with nostalgia and fever.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

bodies in disguise

clinging to the stem of my neck and the
            tender, soft walls
                        of my mind, you’re a body in disguise,
                                    and I want to tear the…
                                                shadows to flesh, watch your clothes
                                                            fall to the floor
                                                                        are you now as I remember you were?
                                                            Still following,
                                                the same scent
                                    of your thoughts,
                        trailing around…
            like a leashed dog
biting the heels of its loyal master
                                                                                                for want of freedom. 

Disordered Well, At Best

The night’s
solemnity calls out in
feeble mews,
like the bare-wood
chapel pews,
softly moan.

I present myself
a gift to you,
do partake
in my body,
the song of a thrush,
calls out your name.

In suppressed sighs
I hold this night,
a child holding
sand in his fist
on a crowded beach,
drifting figures, moments.

His mother takes his
hand, unclenched,
the sand
falls away, and
in this night’s solemnity,
the present has no taste.

                        …the tight knob of your dresser is so tightly shut,
                           while mine is loose, it spins and wobbles,
                                      like drunken feet on steady ground,
                           open the drawer, your clothes, how neatly packed,
                           and mine? if they find their way back,
                                      are disordered well, at best…

The Devil's Doorway

In the devil’s doorway,
I stood awhile,
Contemplating faith.

He had great wings,
It made me smile,
To think of the angels.

I asked for soap,
Something to clean,
He had bleach.

I saw the devil’s teeth,
White as I burned,
Cleansed into nothing.

But fear not my end,
I watch over you,
A mirror reflection.

Go ahead, child,
Give the dead another glass eye.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"I Breathe Souls"

The sky breeds logic,
The earth passion,
The atmosphere our souls,
For you I would reverse the world round.

I weigh no more than my soul,
Like a dandelion laughing in the wind,
I seed myself in pavement, as the sky rends,
And watch logic grow in the ground.

I am no more than a tribal dance,
Like a wolf feeding on dirt and grass,
I hunger because my heart never rests,
Passion drifts, no longer earthly bound.

I breathe souls,
Inhale, exhale, lives in transit, they come and go,
The smoke of a thousand souls, all that I’ve known,
Dark lashes of the earth’s soil turn round, sift skywards,
The clouds darken and look like dirt.

I know you’re here,
Where logic grows in the ground,
Where passion is no longer earthly bound,
Where your soul is sound, safe,
For when all is burnt,
The sky will clear.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"The Graveyard"

  I’m standing in the ruins of the Woodland Carbarn Fire of 1975.  35 years ago, 60 trolleys had been licked and consumed by hungry flames, and now I’m leaning against the side of a particularly destroyed trolley and listening to the metal creak like my grandmother’s metal knee did when she went up the stairs. The sides of the trolleys are coated with orange rust that seems to catch on fire at sunset.  I step inside one of the trolleys and sit in the decrepit driver’s seat. It feels good to me.

“All aboard,” I say to myself. “Pardon us, there’s going to be a delay, yes folks, a 30 minute delay, please stay in your seats, now.”

        Light flickers. I watch it glint off of broken bottle glass, shards of trash that once had a use, probably. Coca-Cola 1986. Someone could have recycled it, like in Vancouver, where the city pays the bums to collect trash off the streets. The bums get a little money for food or their drug of choice, and the city gets clean streets. In West Philly nothing’s clean. That’s why I come here, to this wasteland. To abandon the entrapments of artifice and see things as they are.

        My favorite thing about this old trolley depot is that nothing pretends to be what it’s not.  It’s a giant heap of trash, and nobody disputes that fact, unlike how some people advocate the worth of the suburbs, which essentially will become wastelands when U.S. stops having one of the world’s highest GDP’s and the bourgeoisie can’t commute to work anymore, because the car’s broke and gas don’t come cheap. But me, I’m a step ahead. I already know what’s coming and I don’t have a mind to stop it. I figure human civilization is like a Bell-Curve. You reach the apex, and then you descend. Exponentially.

I sit back in the driver’s seat and watch the last rays of the sun illuminate the dust particles in the air. I wonder if this place has ever been more beautiful than it is now.   There’s exactly 60 trolleys waiting for burial or cremation in this graveyard. Their headlights are like dead eyes, staring me with empty neediness.

Don’t you worry, I say to them silently. I’ll give you peace.

My phone vibrates against the metal seat.

“Hey Sam,” I say. “What’s up?”
“I got the can of gasoline.”
“Yeah. When you want it?”
“Never been a better time than now.”
“Oh yeah? Where you at?”
“The graveyard.”
“What the fuck? Someone die?”
“Yeah my mom. No Sam, I’m at the old trolley depot. Bring the stuff to me and I’ll give you extra.”
“I’m not your deliveryman, get that straight.”
“You won’t regret it.”
“I don’t regret anything.”
“Then stop talking and start driving.”
“Christ…all right. You owe me.”

I snap my phone closed. It’s 4:54 P.M.
The problem with numerology is that any number can seem special. It’s the numbers like 3, and 7, and 13 that communally freak people out. Makes me think we’re all connected by one human subconscious that’s protecting and hurting us all. We can’t get to truth because our mind can’t handle it so our subconscious acts like an all-knowing bubble to protect us from whatever’s out there, whatever it knows we can’t handle. But I know it’s there. Skeleton in the closet. And that’s why I’m here, tonight, that’s why he’s coming with the stuff.  Yeah, these trolley bones. They need to be laid to rest, just like my consciousness.           

I close my eyes and a flood of images washes over the inside of my eyelids. Sparks of imagination gone wild but beautiful in a strange, sick way. Talked to my friend about it one day and she said it was something called lucid dreaming, because I can manipulate the images into a storyline without fully controlling them. It happened to me in class one time. I was hung over and sick and we were talking about the gruesome Mt. St. Helen’s eruption of 1980, so I closed my eyes. Before I know it, my Catastrophic Geology prof was asking me if I wanted him to escort me down to Health Services. I laughed, because you know something must be wrong with you if your professor who’s morbidly obese and teaches students how the world is going to end offers to take you to Health Services. The world’s funny like that.

Sam’s 1987 Buick Regal pulls up into the trolley graveyard. It rattles and quakes like wheezing man, poor and old but still Regal. We weren’t born poor. Life just happened that way.

Sam walks towards me with that open gait he’s got. I watch his shadow transfer from side to side of the trolleys in the sunset. He was always better built than me; more robust, his jaw more defined. His body has an effortless content about it, but I’m lean, lean and hungry. I feel hunger in a way Sam will never understand.

“Man,” Sam says, “that’s the first time I seen you in a driver’s seat, eh?”
I climb out of the trolley and step onto the trash-strewn dirt of the graveyard.
“Aw shut it, that’s because I usually ride suicide-style.”
“Nice day,” he says. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.”
“Red sky in the morn, sailor be warned,” I say.
Sam opens the trunk.
“Just look at this,” he says. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
I walk over and look down into the trunk at a can of gas.
“Unbelievable the Regal didn’t blow on the way here,” he says. “Whole way here I was thinking of how I’d better drive careful just this once.”
“Pedestrians and good drivers everywhere offer you their thanks.”
Sam shifts his weight to his other foot.
“Yeah. You know you could go to jail for this, right?”
“I know.”
“So why are you doing this?”
“Do you analyze the song of a bird, Sam?”
“Exactly. You just appreciate the melody for its beauty.”
Sam looks away, squints into the light of the sun.
“You’re not making any sense,” he says.
“It’ll make sense…in time. You know, I read this article about the world’s oldest woman and she said the only things she regrets are the things she didn’t do.”
“Yeah, whatever. Just don’t put me down as your accomplice.”
“You’re in the clear. I got an alibi and everything for you. Just talk to Jessica.”
I pull my wallet out from my back pocket.
“How much you say it was?”
“Oh, around $15.”
I hand him a $20.
“The five’s for bringing it here. Thanks, by the way. I couldn’t have carried a huge can of gasoline on the train without getting a fine.”
“Right. You sure you want to do this?”

I don’t answer him. We both look away, into the horizon, where the sun is sinking into the piles of trash. Buildings resonate like major chords in the distance. I can almost hear center city humming, but here, it’s quiet except for the sound of our own breathing.

He kicks the 1986 Coca-Cola bottle towards the trolley I was sitting in.  I watch it roll towards the foot of the trolley and spin in place. Spinning, spinning, round and round, defying gravity all on its own…no, no, my eyes are just closed. I flick them back open.  Sam looks at me, and then gestures back to the Buick. He hands me the gas can.

“I gotta go man,” he says, “but whatever you’re doing…”
“Don’t worry about me,” I say. “Life’s too short. Say hi to Jessica for me.”
“Yeah. Sure I will.”
Sam turns the keys in the ignition and the Buick rattles back to life. The headlights glare on, illuminating the graveyard of trolleys in a flood of synthetic light. It seems almost sacrilegious to me compared to the natural dying rays of the sun. Sam’s car pulls away and convalesces back onto the paved road a half-mile away.
He’s safer out there, I think, with the rest of the people who believe in artificial life.

It’s getting dark, really dark, because out here in the graveyard the streetlamps broke years ago and nobody cared to repair them. I wrest the top of the gas bottle open.

When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, 57 people were killed and 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway were demolished. More importantly, miles and miles of woodland were destroyed. The whole ecosystem turned to ash. Nobody thought that the wildlife could recover from such a catastrophic event, or if it did, it would take a lifetime. But in only a few years, plants were growing back, animals frequented the area, and fish somehow returned to the lake nearby that had been nothing but an underwater wasteland. How did the fish get there? No one’s quite sure, but they’re there. Our human subconscious knows, it’s just too afraid to admit the truth to us.

I’ve trailed the entire trolley graveyard with highly flammable gas. The orange rust of the trolleys has a wet glimmer to it now, and the driver’s seat of the trolley I sat in is dripping with fluid.  The 1986 Coca-Cola bottle is filled with liquid once again. The ground feels sticky, ready. I take off my white tee, rip off a section and wrap it around the head of the Coca-Cola bottle.  I immerse the cloth in petrol and take a box of industrial-sized matches out of my pocket.

“To regeneration,” I say.

And then I throw the flaming Molotov cocktail as far as I can throw and watch the graveyard burn.

"Moral Posture"

Sit this way now, darling, don’t hold your head like that,
Feet straight, toes arched,
Muscles tensed in ways thought to be pleasurable.

Jigsaw spine ironed straight in childhood,
Now hold yourself,
Like a woman experiencing a fertile wave of vulnerability.

Smile lucid, bright,
Eyes flicker flutter and focus,
Shoulders down now, dear, don’t look so uptight.

Lips open, breathe quiet,
A glance of straight teeth,
Glimmering like temptation on a Sunday afternoon.

Lips stained, but not so dark-
Tramps don’t get what they want.

The curve of your cheek must be distinct, yet supple,
Tense your ear muscles when posing for a picture,
It’s more high-brow.

Shoulders back to reveal your delicate neck,
Flatter yourself,
By pleasing others.


I am trapped.
In a bowl.
That could hold a fish that will fight and eat another to its death,
Watery fleshy bits floating,
Sink tub ocean of the mind,
Orgasmic loathing, heave out another sigh, you landlubber,
Bubbles rising to the surface-belch!
Breathe now, hiccup and it’s done.
But I’ll never have gills,
Inadequate, I fear, for aquatic life,
Rising falling rising falling.
Yeah, that fish, I put mirrors in its bowl—
And so it swam in circles,
Eating itself,
Its own enemy, flesh and blood.

"Like a Shiver"

Like a shiver,
That runs through your body,
Rain drizzling electric through your veins!

Fog holds up traffic,
Red light pours through dimlit stairways,
Touch radiates like a thing alive, with its own malice,
Oh, I know it’s impossible, then
to help me, learn me, love me.

I am the multifarious nature of being!
I am the wind that cannot stay in one place too long,
I am the journey that led you here, where you will soon forget,
I am the moss that is tread underfoot.

Do I not summarize myself neatly?

I do not want to leave,
I want to hold him, here, warm, breathing,
Fires raging but I keep my mouth shut because the words will come out broken,
And my point lost, most likely.

He is looking at me,
Saying things to make me want to take off my clothes,
To help me rationalize the act and stop thinking,
But I can’t stop thinking, my mind’s churning, and my stomach hurts,
It hurts like a dead stone aching to break into beautiful, golden sand.

His touch recedes violently, and with only murmurs,
I sift away in the night.