Purging the Soul

Ever up from the forest time wailing,

The she wolf lost further back in his head.

The guardian hides still beyond seeing

With pools to wash in when his sins are paid.

He clings and slides and steps while he grovels.

But prayers from below still lighten his breast.

Standing even in his latex envies,

Luis had eased the painting in his chest.

He brought it forward and up, heaving with

The strengthening of the wind on his back.

Hands and feet sticky with the wet clay earth,

He rests from his climb, sliding slowly back.

Panting with effort and knowing his worth.

He rests from his climb, sliding slowly back.

Hurston’s Novel People

Henson and the girl. She was a young child,

The little sop. She was there for the blues

Part. And he knew the common terms. Him with

Blues language, mules and men and passion in

The name of English. She knew the language,

The elements of self-threatening blues.

He, the atrium soaring with stout trees.

He knew the big blues structure. She knew things.

The most about the new boyfriend sweet tea:

How he knew to pour on the sugar and

Let it steep in the window fluorescing

In the sun’s beams. They worked in the brown glow

Projected through the tea driving out the

Grinding blues rhythms and its soulful sounds.

That Old Southern Need

Sat outside under the tin porch roof, back

Up against the door of the raised shed, her

 

Rump on the two cinder blocks that had been

Placed there years ago in temporary

 

Measure until the steps were built. With one

Half full and two unopened hard packs of

 

Cigarettes in her coat pocket, huddled

With her phone in front of her face reading

 

Fantasy books syphoned from her mother’s

Digital account. The shed blocks her view

 

From cars passing on the old country road

And the neighbors who watch through their bedroom

 

Windows or front porches in the scant few

Houses separated by pine scrub and

 

A good country distance. Nestled neatly

Between the lawn equipment, a pile

 

Of scrap lumber, two table saws, and her

Pile of old cigarette boxes and ash

 

That swirls in the breeze leaving spiraled piles,

The neighbors wouldn’t see her if they cared.

 

And they do care—with that old southern need.

The kindness that hides a deeper meanness

 

Evident in the way your name whispers

Between the trees, swirled and settled, spiraled

 

In piles like the ash from trash wood and brush

They are constantly pruning from their yards.

The Jellyroll and Sugar of Death

Doomed as we are to walk through the thin light

Of shrinking lost souls peopled in the black

Cloak of mourning with their eyes the glossy

Gleam of morning pastries. With tears like the

Sticky sweet frosting on the sides of a

Hot dipped Krispy Kreme. And pain like the smell

Of freshly fried dough. Their cake knows how the

Blue eyes take their exploration of death.

The wafting smell of fried dough is language

In the depth of pain. Only delicate,

Delight of guttural sounds can escape

Between the happy bouts of bites and buns.

Bring the pastries, the tea, or the coffee:

Everything human in the jellyroll and sugar of death.

The Mirror

The girl. I knew her a little. She was

There for a while. She had a young child

With autism, a boyfriend (not his dad).

She was there. She was gone. She had been sick

And dropped out of school. But I had known her

Enough, or she had known me. She had read

My writing in class. She could recognize

My characters when they moved one story to another,

When my stories were bad and no one cared.

I never had heard what happened to her.

I never cared. If she had finished school.

Or if she had nothing to show but bills.

I may never think of her (or her me)

Except for a moment in the mirror.

The Modern Epic

Virgil pumps the bellows. With tiny rings

Of smoking death escaping the mouth of

Hell through the pillars of lost hope. The pit

Darkens to a glowing black heart. Our

Bodies corrupted with scale. Removed. Scraped.

Beaten. Shoved back into the furnace. Souls

Bare again to the flame. To be shaped. To

Be burned. To be beaten into rings and

Quenched in the still falling rain. To be worn

On the fingers of Sitwell and Osborn

Alike. Each ring a blast of flame black as

Coke and clinker. Coal and ash. A postwar

Deconstruction. The world, blank and godless.

The Antichrist suffering from old age.

Fifty Years of Heavy Metal

Did you find your solace in Black Sabbath

Even when Ozzy Osbourne was shriveled

And bowed by the passage of time? When his

Countercultural influence had been

Killed by the unending multitudes of

Corporate cash grabs? Did you realize too late

That the world is blank and Godless, and the

Antichrist hangs himself in effigy

Stuttering incoherent and staggered strings

Of expletive laden bleeps as he is

Doomed to repeat himself in the bowels

Of reality TV rerun hell

Can you still bang your head knowing that the

Music of death is now called classic rock?

December Poem 2: The Flattened Shadows

Life on a black Monday extended as

To kill all the light in the house. Shaking

Out the man’s hands and god’s to hold loose their

Gaze, I find myself balanced on this blind

Woman’s grip of existence. The black and

White echoes of where things might be. Confound

These frozen nights frosted with angry dogs

Barking at the flattened shadow of things

Hidden only in the deep dark rising

Fast from the drunken steam of your own breath.

December Poem 1: Who Cares for a White Christmas?

With each drop of snow, the bough would straighten

A little closer to its former height

In short increments like the stiff back of

An old peddler who had just let down his

 

Pack. And the sun reflected like shaved glass

Off the boughs heavy with snow that broke loose

In the field of white to unwrap more green

And to fall in clumps like comets followed

 

By a tail of drifting powder. The green

Struggling to hold to life in the frozen

Desert of white. Life more beautiful and

Mysterious, the evergreens had a

 

Natural giftwrap decorated to

Rival the pale imitation held so

Proudly decapitated in my home

Rooted in piles of consumer goods.

November Poem 12: Marina (Part 9)

That night, I didn’t drink. As bad as I

Wanted to. As bad as my life seemed at

The time. I just looked at the paint on the

Wall. And there next to the raised bead where the

Shipwright had welded together the two

Sheets of steel was a raised lump in the paint.

Pressing my finger against the lump, it

Deformed with a slight crunch. It was my fault.

I had been neglecting her ignoring

The rust near the waterline. The blotches

Dripping down like fat tears of blood. In the

Morning, I would address the problems with

A needle gun and a few coats of paint.

With love and hard work she would forgive me.

 

Marina (Part 8)

Marina (Part 7)

Marina (Part 6)

Marina (Part 5)

Marina (Part 4)

Marina (Part 3)

Marina (Part 2)

Marina (Part 1)

How I Write: a Walk Through