Til Death Do We Part…Or Until Today


September 25, 2004 - Our Wedding in Mendocino

September 25, 2004 – Our Wedding in Mendocino

Well, we didn’t quit make it to death.

It certainly feels like death.  Same darkness. Same eternal silence. Same gathering of mourners offering condolences on our loss. Same tears both from self-pity and genuine sorrow. The only thing missing is a stirring eulogy, although I imagine that’s what I am writing now.

The photos above mark the happiest day of my life.  These words spilled out now before you mark the saddest.

I remember our wedding day as though it happened this afternoon. We were married at the Heritage House on the cliffs of Mendocino overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The day started out foggy and overcast, cold and wet.  Kerri and I were certain it was going to be that way all day and made our mental adjustments to allow for a less than perfect wedding day, but fifteen minutes before the ceremony began, by the  time everyone had gathered and the music filled the afternoon air, the sun burst through a bank of clouds and the fog burned off, leaving a rainbow arching against the horizon.  A flock of pelicans flew over the dais where I stood anxiously awaiting my beautiful bride.

My best man whispered, “pelicans are a symbol of eternal love.”  I smiled.

Well, here I stand, 9 years later, and the fog has rolled back in.  The sun is nowhere to be found, and I am almost certain those pelicans are dead by now, as is my marriage.

I don’t ever want to go through such joy, followed by such loss, again. I don’t keep these pictures as a way to torture and punish myself for all the beauty and wonder that is leaving my life.  I keep them as a reminder that at least once in this wretched journey called life, I knew unfathomable  love and joy.  When people see this broken shell of a man in future days, they will be hard pressed to believe that once I knew happiness and beauty in my life. These photos are all I will have to prove that we once existed.

I have had my fill and am quite content to end my days in the certain knowledge that I was once loved by the best.  She can have the house, the dog, the friends…. I have have custody of the memories…and that will have to suffice.

Now where is death, and why has it not done its part?

I am waiting.

The Absence of You


crucified beneath her touch

I want you every second,
every minute, every hour of the day

I am flooded by an agony…
a physical longing for you…
brought to my knees by a craving
for your nearness and your touch.

Through tear-clenched eyelids,
I try hard to imagine your lips on mine.
If I could only hear your laughter,
the sound of your voice once more!

Nothing and no one, anywhere or anytime
could kill the love I have and hold  for you.
I have surrendered my individuality,
the very essence of my being to you.

I have surrendered to you my body
time after time to treat as you pleased,
to tear in pieces if such had been your will.

My spirit never seems as joyful
as when I remember the kisses you gave me.
All the hoardings of my imagination
I have laid bare to you…
There isn’t a recess of my soul
into which you haven’t penetrated.

I have clung to you and caressed you and slept with you
and I would like to tell the whole world I exist for you.

What strength have I that I may bear it,
that I may endure the absence of you?
Is my strength the strength of stones
that can wait for your return?

You are my mistress and I am your lover.
Kingdoms and empires and governments have tottered
succumbed before now to that mighty combination:

“I love you” –
the most powerful of sentiment
and words ever uttered in this world.

 

The World Remembers Delaney Ann Brown


 DELANEY “LANEY” ANN BROWN

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We have all been following the courageous battle of Laney and her family this past month, and are deeply saddened to learn that this precious young child was called home to heaven this Christmas Day, 2013.

“December 25, 2013– on this chilled and grief-filled date, the gates of Heaven were flung wide open
as God embraced Delaney Ann Brown and welcomed her home again.”

The sun arose this winter day -
Across the world the children played.
Homes echoing with carefree glee,
As Christmas day was meant to be.
Each parent dreams of such a vision -
‘Til life injects its cruel revision.

Yet, like a child’s lost innocence,
Cherished and held in reverence -
In just one moment swept away
No sympathy for child’s play.
Into her life a darkness came;
Into our own, an infinite pain.

Our hearts now filled with an empty space -
of sweet Laney and her joy-filled face!
Malevolence came and stole her future,
A wound too big for mending sutures.
We heard the sounds of angels cry –
The day we watched this child die.

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We swallow hard; prayed harder still -
Our heartbeats faltered against our will.
The deafening blast of pure insanity
We’ve lost the best of our humanity!
A nation mourns with silent tongues
The senseless death of she so young.

The doctors did their very best -
Nurses offered up their loving breast
To shield from cancer’s savage blow -
To buy this young one time to grow.
But she slipped away, lest we forget…
Upon her memory, no sun will set.

Sweet Laney lost and taken away
Beneath the sun of Christmas day.
We are lost within an anguished grief,
As even celestial angels weep.

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Impeccant cherub laid to rest;
God took from us our very best.
The loss we feel is real and deep,
The pain forever ours to keep.
No answers to the question, “Why?”
Our babies were not meant to die.

So, brush away our tortured tears;
this truth is too demanding,
and whisper in our silent ears
some prayer of understanding.
Laney’s star now shines above,
Eternal bright and beaming love.

Opposite Sides of the Same Pain


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A Sunni mother silently watches:
overhead, a gathering of scavenging ravens
paints the dusky sky above
the broken bodies of her three children.
Bewilderment mixed with horror and beauty,
accented by the pebbles beneath her feet,
polished smooth by a flood of tears.
An acrid wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
confetti raining on freshly scorched earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the loss of its precious fruit.

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In that very moment, across the sea,
a Haitian waif reflects:
A flock of seagulls angrily position
above the ghetto garbage heap
next to a crumbling shanty
where her newborn triplets scream with hunger.
Bewilderment mixed
with horror and beauty,
the waste beneath her feet glistens
with the flood of her tears.
The stench of rotting wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
flies rising up from quaked earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the bounty of its damnable fruit.

 

Ocean Walk


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Silver threads woven through midnight skies -
Shooting stars as the white crane flies!
Cool autumn winds and the moon’s reflection;
Shallow tide pools inviting full inspection.

The ocean roars and rolls cascading,
White foam shorelines, slowly fading.
Footprints, mine, wet and dissolving -
Deep in thought, me, a life evolving.

Have I lived the life I was meant to live?
Did I take what was offered, did I offer to give?
Have I fought for the causes that helped to free men,
Or did I justify excuses time and again?

Did I love to my fullest, did I offer my heart?
Did I honor my word, or just play the part?
Have I sacrificed joy for immediate thrills?
Was I too vain, or humble, did I help to cure ills?

Did I live a life worthy, will others be proud,
Will I be buried alone or there with the crowd?
All these and more are the questions I pose.
These really aren’t mysteries for me to suppose!

The Sun now is rising, with fingers of light -
The end of reflection, the end of the night.
I turn with my back to the blue ocean swell;
I’ve too few answers, and that’s just as well.

Life is for living, and there is no exception -
We aren’t meant to dwell in such introspection!
The truth is unfolding, and this much is true;
I’ve plenty days left, and too much to do.

Mandela’s Legacy to Us All


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Sacrifice. Discipline. Forgiveness

Whatever the indignities
and misfortunes life throws at you;
No matter the depth or the breadth
of your personal pain and suffering,
these three virtues will anoint
and lift your very soul.

You have within you an enormous capacity
to endure, to turn the other cheek,
to rise above the relentless,
crushing tides of injustice and hatred.

Sacrifice. Discipline. Forgiveness.

When you are tempted to surrender;
to see yourself as a hapless victim
crushed beneath the yoke of life’s
inexorable thumb upon the scales of fairness,
in that moment, you will remember
that somewhere, someone
is bleeding more profusely,
hungering more painfully,
dying more senselessly.

Sacrifice. Discipline. Forgiveness.

Our capacity to ignore
our own anguish
and to ease the suffering of others
confirms our angelic humanity,
and releases us from
the bondage of helplessness.

Sacrifice. Discipline. Forgiveness.

We Write What We Know


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I had lived one life with my face turned from the sun,
breathing icy winds and my father’s sin.
He is gone now but his fingerprints
remain a stain upon my broken bones.
My sister traded his midnight hugs for an opium exit;
her ashes instead of his lashes.

I took my refuge in dark shadows and withered.

I told…once.
Was rewarded with a year sabbatical in a red brick asylum,
bought and paid for with my mother’s silence.
She collected her ransom daily/offered up her womb’s fruit
to feed him like grapes to Caesar’s gaping maw.
She furnished her home with lost innocence
and found comfort in our cries.

She is buried now and I am robbed of my mourning.

Unearth me when tomorrow comes.
Set my broken feet upon polished stones;
let ascending steps carry me home.
My screams no longer echo from the mountaintops

My dreams no longer tether my pain.
I am not healed, but I feel, and my words
anoint my open wounds.

The Insidiousness of Life


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The insidiousness of life is that it constantly presses upon you;
it is unrelenting in its demands that you nurture and refine it.
It evolves, with or without your consent, so there is no rest,
to simply put it on cruise control and enjoy the passing of time.
For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.

I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises
eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my meaning.
Where others are guided by the soft-bent wings of angels,
I am weighed down by the relentless nagging of demons;
wicked little imps who mock my waking hours and torment my sleep.

There is not a grave dug deep enough to bury my sorrows,
nor do I seek any forgiveness for my sorry state.
I will wash away the stench of my miserable existence
with endless cups of liquid absolution, and in my drunken state,
I will stumble through somehow.

Tomorrow’s sunrise may warmly embrace the multitudes;
each with their cheerful dispositions and infernal optimism.
I, on the other hand, will wither beneath the heat,
thirsting constantly for the darkness beneath a waning moon,
for it is in darkness that my soul finds its true voice.

Last Call


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Last night, as I lay muddled,
in my whiskey-soaked slumber,
A wraith-like mist appeared;
blue-black and musty scented
in tattered rags dipped in dust.

My burning sleep-clenched eyes
could not squeeze the scepter gone.
Her orbs, two onyx stones
set above translucent cheeks;
her mouth, a gaping maw
spewing ruby-red flames.
She floated on an icy breeze
scented with blood and bitters.

“Last call!” she hissed,

pouring me two bony fingers
of amber absolution,
judgment oozing from
her snake-coiled tongue.
I listened to the familiar tinkle
of liquefied reasoning cascading
across ice-cubed rebuttals.

Fear terrorized me,
stroking my belly with cold hands.
My gut curveting far and high
like smoke-flecked stallions
raking the coal black sky
with their steel-sparked shoes.

the earth reached up
with vise-gripped soiled fingers
grasping my naked ankles
and pulled down my saturated bones;
my drunken soul laid out and set
beneath lichen-laced granite.

Jagged stone-edged knives etched
my name and this,
the year of my drunken descent.

Self-Reflection


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I am the ripe green apple,
plucked from Eden’s garden
Contemptuously bitten,
no hope for God’s pardon.
I am Achilles heel
that hobbles my stride;
Odysseus’ curse,
my insufferable pride..
That lock of hair
claiming Sampson’s life,
And the brother of Able,
I’m Cain with a knife!
I am the snakes coiled
in Medusa’s dark mane -
Like a lance to the boil,
my mercy is strained.
I’m the brew in the cauldron
of deep-forested witches -
The ugliness that comes
from Frankenstein’s stitches.
I am alone and afraid,
but too stubborn to change;
Hopeless and lost
and most certain deranged!
I’m broken, defeated,
and reeking of sin,
The lowest of cowards,
the most evil of men.
A life, ever wasted
on cheap wine and women,
My descent into Death
is just now beginning.
This ghost will remain
as my specter of shame -
I’d rather be dead
than live more of the same ~

 

My Slow Descent


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Pressed beneath the broken rhythms of solitude
Stumbling drunk within intoxicated wavy parallels
Of self-derision and unbridled rage against lost time
A shattered vessel of my mother’s dreams
Absent when the arch of forgiveness bends mercifully
Over purpose-broken and diminished men
My unwinding days a gentle push toward the grave
With nothing left to secure my grasp
Pulled asunder by the wrath of fallen angels
When the shadows of my sins, like a burial shroud
Wraps me tightly, a corpse descending
Into the darkened void of eternal sleep.
This, then is my slow descent; tossed upon a funeral pyre
Engulfed within damnation’s perpetual flame
Condemned for lack of conviction as the cold winds
Of judgment kick up and scatter my weightless ashes

 

Sleep Eternal, My Love


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sleep eternal, my love
the flesh is over
wear as much earth as you wish now

let the flowers braid
themselves across your breast
let the bees bumble and
the morning birds babble
above your tired bones

let the setting sun
kiss your marbled stone
with summer’s lips

let the southern winds
embrace you
like a mother’s arms

let the heavenly poems begin
though the poets surely weep
for your earthly voice has ended

let the memories flow as freely
as the rivers in which we bathed
as innocent, carefree children

how can the earth be denied
the heavenly sustenance of you
which I have known all these years

who am I to deny God his angel
or the ocean her song
your whispers remain upon His lips
your sighs upon their waves

pray the passing seasons
don’t stack themselves
too high one upon the other
as you await my sure return

A Lingering Pain


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In another life, we would call this love.

Today it is just a lingering pain,
clenched fistfuls of it lashing forth upon the shore.
The oceans scream.

We want crisis, oh, how we hunger for it.

When we were young, we ate sorrow without sugar
before losing ourselves in the forest of shame.
Beyond our innocence, beneath our yearning yokes,
we lay together secretly in this seashore cavern;
frantic with love.

I was the lazy one, eating your peach without washing it;
writing a song for my supper
and with a bare mouth, kissing the very ankle
that kicks the life out of me today.
Our bodies rolled in and out like the tides
and in the forgotten distance, the thunder laughed
at our selfish lust.

Today, the beach below is sliced by dying rivers
brown-blue and reaching for the seawater;
One wet finger of water traces into the cavern
and licks our naked feet, causing me to
momentarily thrust too deep
while you, asleep, curse the very dream of me.

We met here once, as children full of hope,
our thirsts slaked in the moistness of the cave.
The ash-white hotness of passion powdering your fingertips
upon the small of my back, pulling me into your deeper meaning,
so hot then the sands turned to glass
crunching and shattering beneath our frantic embrace.

In that life, we called it love.

Today, the moon sucks the tides back to her
jealous bosom, leaving us naked and thrashing
like dying fish upon the shore.

Today, my love, is just a lingering pain.

I Bark, Therefore, I Am


Lord Byron enjoying his "after-vet" time alone.

Lord Byron enjoying his “after-vet” time alone.

I’m not going to yank your leash – it’s been a busy month. A few weeks ago, my humans took me into the scary place with the man in the white coat. You know the place. It’s where everyone gathers around me as I lay on a cold. steel table and they poke and prod. Seems I had something called cancer and my human’s seemed really, really worried and sad. It couldn’t be all that bad, I thought, as the treats seemed to triple recently… but before I could whimper, “let’s get out of this place”, they left me and went away.

Now, I know I’m a brave boy…at least that’s what they told me as they left. But I certainly didn’t feel brave as the man in the white coat took me into the back room and put me into a deep sleep.

I dreamt of all the eight, wonderful, play-packed years I had spent with my humans. I must have chased ten thousand bouncy things in the park, and they always bought me squeaky things to keep me occupied as they went to work each day. I dreamt of the day they rescued me. I had been kept in a breeders cage since birth, and when I was freed, I had seizures brought on by the new flood of attention and love. But as they said, I’m a brave boy, and I was so happy when they took me home to share their kennel with me. Over the next 8 years, I learned to play and cuddle and found my utmost joy in the little humans that would pet me, cooing, “Oooh..he’s so soft!”

I confess, nothing was as much fun as Christmas at my human’s owners house in Grass Valley when I get my new toys and treats! Didn’t much care for the firecracker day each July, but I found my comfort behind Mama’s legs. Oh, how I dreamed some big dog dreams.

When I woke up, the scary man in the white coat was smiling, and there were my humans!! They had come back (as they always do). My tail thumped as I could see how joyful and happy they were! “I got it all,” beamed the white coated man. “It’s was a low grade cancer and I’d be surprised if it comes back,” he said. I don’t know what all the fuss was about, but my humans were no longer sad, and that was all that mattered to me. I’ve got a lot of living, chasing, and loving to do still yet.

As I left the room, I looked back at the white-coated man and gave a little bark. He wasn’t so scary after all, and I felt I owed him a bark of thanks.

 

Lights


alone_in_the_dark
You have always stood
beneath a dazzling array of bright colors
Brilliant, and brave, and blinding
Your light provided bright reflections
and lit the stage upon which you danced
careless, joyful, and exuberant

It was a separate light that bathed me
not quite so radiant
and full of shadows
It has never illuminated my way
nor has it warmed me in its beam
It was what it seemed
an insignificant blue glow, dim and misleading

In your light, you were found
In mine, everything was lost

 

Unholy Vengeance


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Into the rain and clapping thunder
Sends God His vengeful deadly host
To see His children torn asunder
For Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Throughout the night, and sure the road
Iron hooves clip steady shoreward
And more the rattling of the swords
Their sharpened tips now pointing forward

In fearless form astride their steeds
into pitched battle thrown
Ride Death and Justice gallantly
Slicing meat from bone

Upon each hamlet, rape and pillage
Man offered up for Heaven’s plunder
While screams ascend from every village
And babies slain in wide eyed wonder

No mercy shown unto this throng
Nor gracious sympathy bestowed
While Justice seeks to right a wrong
Death collects what God is owed

Before their blades a thousand fall
Ten thousand more now pave the street
Into the sea are driven all
This sacrilege is now complete

And as the surf coughs up her dead
Death and Justice sheath their blades
The golden sands now blood-soaked red
Belie this savage Godly raid

Revenge exacts its costly measure
Exhausted homeward ride the two
They fight not for acclaim or treasure
But to enforce what’s “right” and “true”

The Speed of Life


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I’ve threaded the needle once or twice
And paid the price for my sacrifice
But now old age has tempered me
I’m not the man I used to be

When I was younger, or so it seemed
I still had strength and hopeful dreams
With youthful promise I fought for love
Reached for the heaven and stars above

Countless days lost in desire
Lived to set the world on fire
But now my time has much diminished
Where once I started, now I’m finished

Youthful dreams now mock my nights
I awaken drenched in winter lights
My life now unfolds in finite measure
Robbed of all the things I treasure

The circle of life has run its course
And to this point I reinforce
Don’t let waste each given day
For all too soon we fade away

 

Wrath of the Phoenix


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Laugh at my misfortune, rejoice in my defeat:
Plunder that which I hold dear, for I am incomplete!

My foolishness brings you delight, my tears a source of glee;
Be careful though, for you don’t know, what price your victory.
The constellations whirl and spin, my time, now lost, will come again!
And who among you then will stand, when I regain the upper hand?

You say I’ve lost my vision; I’m blind to better days?
Perhaps, somehow, but even now, I’m breaking through this haze.
Be merciful, restrain your dance, my day will come again…
Watch yourself, you’ve had your chance; my star once more ascends!
And in its glowing light, my foe, my victory unfolds;
I’ll rise again, even though; my story now is left untold.

Laugh at my misfortune, rejoice in my defeat
Plunder that which I hold dear, for I am incomplete!

Your arrogance will catch you up and lay you at my altar;
Implore me now, in that somehow, I overlook this falter!
Be gone you fools, don’t stoke my fires
With your evil deeds, your foolish desires -
A brand new day has just now broken; I fear the worst, it’s true
With urgent speed, you should recede, I’m coming now for you!

Snoqualmie Falls


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Photograph by Paul Dorpat

The ground beneath my feet rumbles.
Softly at first, and then with each step
increasing in its timbre.

The air is damp and mossy with a gray light
filtering through the canopy of spruce and pine.
Wet thunder rises; my ears are muted
by the intensity of a river plummeting
over slick rock lips;
a roiling, massive death spiral.

Half the volume swan dives elegantly
hundreds of feet into a pounding foaming white pool,
while my pounding heart matches the outpouring,
beat for beat.
The other hangs mistily in the frigid air,
gently nourishing the brown-green algae with its spit.

I cannot help but marvel at the sheer anger of it all,
wondering how many open-mouthed bass
thrust forth into open space, gargoyle-eyed as
the river disappears beneath them,
recognize this as the end of their swim?

Death, anger, power…and yet
so serenely beautiful

Rage on, Snoqualmie,
before the winter’s freeze deprives you
of your liquid dance!

 

Rebirth


article-1333637974356-127b4be5000005dc-55544_568x477
Stars descend on blackened veils
Guiding my steps to the ocean’s swell
Waves swallowed whole by gold sands porous
A symphony’s repeating chorus
As the moon reflects its softened light
The summer winds caress the night
My thoughts turn toward the heavenly spiral
Of shooting stars and earth’s denial

My eyes ascend to northern lights
While thoughts unformed take sudden flight
Carry me toward a heavenly vision
As my soul begins a new revision
Eyes once blind now clearly see
This single moment is lifting me
Beyond a life of imperfection
And giving me a new direction

The Trinity and Me


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First they took my father,
then consumed my mother -
Without the slightest hesitance
They came and took another

My sister left in tender years
They left me naught but pouring tears
We’re promised today and not the other
So they came again and claimed my brother

I prayed they’d come for me one day
But here I stand with feet of clay
And this belies my ardent fear
They’ll not return for many years
Leaving me with nothing more
Than dreams of how it was before

How cruel and painful can they get
My day will come, but not just yet
And so I stand here all alone
With a wounded heart and an empty home

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
They’ve chained me to their whipping post
The Trinity it’s plain to see
Is all for One and none for me

The Insidiousness of Life


Corner BAr 3

The insidiousness of life is that it constantly presses upon you;
it is unrelenting in its demands that you nurture and refine it.
It evolves, with or without your consent, so there is no rest,
no time to simply put it on cruise control enjoy the passing of time.

For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.
I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises

eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my flesh.
Where others are guided by the soft-bent wings of angels,
I am weighed down by the relentless nagging of demons;
wicked little imps who mock my waking hours and torment my sleep.

There is not a grave dug deep enough to bury my sorrows,
nor do I seek any forgiveness for my sorry state.
I will wash away the stench of my miserable existence
with endless cups of liquid absolution, and in my drunken state,

I will stumble through somehow.

Tomorrow’s sunrise may warmly embrace the multitudes;
each with their cheerful dispositions and infernal optimism.
I, on the other hand, will wither beneath the heat,
thirsting constantly for the darkness beneath a waning moon,
for it is in darkness that my soul finds its true voice.

The Winter Bites My Bones


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The winter bites my bones -
standing all alone amongst the howling winds!
I count my sins and shiver, shiver, shiver …
icy cold reflections freeze me to the spot.
No longer will I find warmth in my denials,
Numb and quaking, I huddle amongst the fallen leaves
and like them, slowly decay and fade away.
The winter bites my bones -
chewing my frozen flesh with teeth of sharp icicles.
Darkness descends and I am numbingly consumed
though the frozen ground will not receive me.
Shallow breathes hang before me, vaporous and still,
muscles aching from too much holding on.
As the winter bites my bones!

 

Cowardly Run


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 “Contemplation” by Unknown Artist

Footsteps echo across silent floors
Lightly I stumble against bolted doors
I can no longer see for the daylight blinds
Thoughts become jumbled; confused is the mind
Beneath my eyelids, a white pain sears
Unleashing regrets, a torrent of fears
So many years wasted and so few to live
I lie down exhausted, no strength to forgive
My bed sheets are covered in sweat and regret
My slumber eludes me, a payment for debts
I toss and I turn and shiver with cold
The reckoning comes for we who grow old
I wait for an ending, too slow to come
My life has been naught but a cowardly run
My reason is slipping; my hope is diminished
The sun is now setting, my long days are finished
Chandelier stars slowly appear
Darkness descends, as time disappears
Moment by moment, and breath by breath
Slowly appears the sweet face of Death

Last Call


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Last night, as I lay muddled,
in my whiskey-soaked slumber,
A wraith-like mist appeared;
blue-black and musty scented
in tattered rags dipped in dust.

My burning sleep-clenched eyes
could not squeeze the scepter gone.
Her orbs, two onyx stones
set above translucent cheeks;
her mouth, a gaping maw
spewing ruby-red flames.
She floated on an icy breeze
scented with blood and bitters.

“Last call!” she hissed,

pouring me two bony fingers
of amber absolution,
judgment oozing from
her snake-coiled tongue.
I listened to the familiar tinkle
of liquefied reasoning cascading
across ice-cubed rebuttals.

Fear terrorized me,
stroking my belly with cold hands.
My gut curveting far and high
like smoke-flecked stallions
raking the black sky
with their steel-sparked shoes.

the earth reached up
with vise-gripped soiled fingers
grasping my naked ankles
and pulled down my saturated bones;
my drunken soul laid out and set
beneath lichen-laced granite.

Jagged stone-edged knives
etched my name
and this, the year of my drunken descent.

Self Reflection


“Such worthlessness has been the only truth spoken in his ear.”

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I am the ripe green apple,
plucked from Eden’s garden
Contemptuously bitten,
no hope for God’s pardon.

I am Achilles heel
that hobbles my stride;
Odysseus’ curse,
my insufferable pride..

That lock of hair
claiming Sampson’s life,
And the brother of Able,
I’m Cain with a knife!

I am the snakes coiled
in Medusa’s dark mane -
Like a lance to the boil,
my mercy is strained.

I’m the brew in the cauldron
of deep-forested witches -
The ugliness that comes
from Frankenstein’s stitches
.
I am alone and afraid,
but too stubborn to change;
Hopeless and lost
and most certain deranged!

I’m broken, defeated,
and reeking of sin,
The lowest of cowards,
the most evil of men.

A life, ever wasted
on cheap wine and women,
My descent into Death
is just now beginning.

This ghost will remain
as my specter of shame -
I’d rather be dead
than live more of the same ~

 

It Is The Season


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“God talks in the trees.”
– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

It is the season of sleeping late
while dreaming of red-orange trees
shuddering in the evening breeze.
These are the short days
when the thirst for warmth suborns desire
and Eros kisses summer love goodnight.

It is the season of crimson sunsets
pouring slowly, like thick molasses,
over church steeples and frozen riverbeds.
When snow-pregnant clouds float lazily
across flower-less meadows
and lovers seek shelter beneath heavy quilts.

It is the season of naked trees,
with branches like fingers extending
toward the setting sun, tracing delicate arches
across the rose autumn sky.
Those days when the blackbird flies southward
into the night beneath crystal constellations.

It is the season of surrender,
when burdens, like the yellowing leaves,
fall silently to the frozen earth
and tired bones warm themselves before tended fires.
It is the season of dying in the palm of God’s hand;
comforted in the knowledge of spring’s resurrection.

The Following Two Poems Just Published by Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal


I am extremely honored that two of my poems, “Graveyard” and “Corner Bar” have been published in the spring edition of “From the Well House” – Indiana University’s Literary and Arts Journal. Please visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fromthewellhouse  I am reposting the two poems here in honor of my “Followers” who push me to keep writing with their support and encouragement.  These two poems are for you! ~ Thank you….Dennis McHale

GRAVEYARD

Image

I always found the
taste of Heaven stale,
like coffee three days old.

I prefer to spend my nights
in graveyards with ghosts,
in the company of stone angels
and cemetery cats
whispering my secrets to the dead.

The setting sun casts
dying fingers of soft orange light
through rusting iron gates,
lobbing sharp, offensive shadows
across these cold granite faces.

Above, an unkindness of ravens
caw an unspeakable truth.
Of late, I have been known
to sing with them.

My darkness is a sanctuary,
my voice a broken prayer.
My hope deeply planted
in this field of shattered bones
awaiting a resurrection
that shall never come.

Here among the sleeping dead
I have lain down many times,
and in the stillness of the night
have heard my death composed.

CORNER BAR

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It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same tragic scent
of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.

Here, we worshiped and blessed ourselves
at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words and hungry ashtrays
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.

We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.

This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.

Beneath These Stairs


Imagehttp://alastairsphotofiction.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/photo-fiction-sunday-june-16th-2013/

photo by Alastair

These are the back alleys
where destitute meets despair
and this is my journey.
The stairs call me from the bowels
of my misfortunes, beckoning me
onward and up…I shall not go.
At the top of these stairs
humanity stirs, and I am long
since far removed…my face
cannot bear the light, my fate
lies in the shadows of this alley.

I fell from these stairs years ago,
awash in drink and drug…I found
my refuge in this shaded vale
beneath the mortal blow,
below the pain and affliction
stirring far above.
My world is diminished,
as am I,
though the day will come when
when my tired bones ascend,
when my body fades upon these
cold stone steps.
Then, and only then,
shall my soul ascend,
Then, and only then.
shall I find my peace.

Beneath a Dust of Snow


snow

The darkly puffed clouds, pregnant with snow,
hang dark and bitter and over mountaintops flow.
A cowardly moon casts a muted light, reflecting
scattered jewels across the veil of night;
Winter descends.
The rippling hills in the park in dusted white repeat;
streets grow eerily silent beneath unmoving feet . . .
The timeless face ticking on the old clock tower
shivers as the bell strikes its mournful hour.
The city sleeps unaware, or lost in the memory
of yesterday’s warmth and illumination.

He, from his frost-laced window panes
in silent rumination, stares out in pain
over the bitter whiteness of the slumbering town,
Seeing through swirls of white softly floating down
one candle burning in the window of a shuttered house
where this night the flame of love was cruelly doused
as she, in death’s harsh grip and coiled embrace
surrendered the light that transformed her face.
The frozen earth, itself reluctant to let her go
as he laid his love to rest beneath a dust of snow.

He desires like this to forget what will not pass,
Grey death, stale ugliness, and the sodden grass.
Deep in his heart old bells are beaten again,
Slurred bells of grief and twisted pain.
Dull echoes of hideous places where poisons grow,
he desires to drown in a cold white peace of snow.