Behind Green Eyes: A Child of the Ozarks


Ozark Girl

Photo Credit: Jeff Jones, Photographer
(image of his daughter, Valerie)

Skin softly bleached like the Southern twilight
freckle-kissed face ‘neath the Ozark ‘s skylight
fire-red locks and curls tossed by stormy winds
Pa’s softly-pressed dimple upon her boyish chin

     Green eyes revealing her faded innocence
     a determined gaze, a child’s jaded reverence
     for a young life lived beneath the savage blows
     of poverty’s yoke, though no one knows
     for this girl who bravely looks right through you
     wears a forthright courage, honest and true

She rides a bitter storm that’s never-ending
twelve tender years in fields deep-bending
with calloused hands plucking earth’s creations
like her kinfolk have done for generations

     Laughing like a banshee, she dances in the rain
     holding back her tears as she swallows her pain
     A motherless child born to a colorless world 
     still she sings of a future, of hope yet unfurled
     she sings of the woods, and the trails, and the streams
     of infinite hope and impossible dreams

She could never be pressed to surrender this hour
‘neath the soft Ozark moonbeams that fill her with power
to endure what she must, though she’s only a child
under dark gathering clouds she stands there beguiled
filled with wonder and light behind a soft-freckled face
she presents to the world the persona of grace

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.

 

Crucified Beneath Her Touch


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In my darkest hour, rolled up into a drunken ball upon the divan
reading Plath and Poe, fantasizing about the sweet silence of death;
writing angry verse raging against all things holy and full of light;
then, and only then, was I full of purpose and certainty.

Mindlessly pouring ice-less cups of bourbon to free my tongue,
exorcising my demons on the back of torn bank statements;
scratching out never-to-be-read poems pulled from the bottom of empty bottles.

My loving Kate stood sentinel outside the mahogany door, matronly and superior,
occasionally sneaking in a bowl of tepid broth, or a grilled cheese sandwich;
she both loathed me beyond all measure and attended to my waking needs
with a love that pierced my frozen heart and stung me to the bitter core.

Awash in the dappled grey light of morning, reeking of whiskey and fear
I stood shakily, tucking away all evidence of my madness in the roll-topped desk..
Beneath a shower of scalding water, I made attempts to wash away the night’s sins.
Stuffing my walking corpse into a crisp linen shirt, draped with a burgundy tie,
I stepped into a fresh-pressed suit (dear, Kate!) and stumbled downstairs.

With the coldness of a ghost, I kissed her lonely dry lips goodbye.

Each day, I would drive into the city, interviewing for jobs I would never accept.
Stopping by Tommy’s Irish Pub for a shot of Johnny and a 2 p.m. round of lies -
later napping on a faded green park bench outside the old courthouse.

Dinner laid out would rest un-touched as I passed straight through toward oblivion.
Kate would be at her spinning class, pedaling broken dreams through salted-tears.
Rummaging her dresser, lightly tracing my fingers over her satin underthings,
remembering when, then forgetting why.

I shed the suit and all pretense, pulled on a pair of faded jeans…and wept.

For Better or Worse


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For better or for worse, I am a dark writer.

 It isn’t something I wanted to be as I grew up…it is more something that had to be done to give my inner grief a voice so that the pain and suffering did not consume me. The events of my life have consumed me like maggots feasting on the carcass of a dead child. Have you ever wondered why the best of Irish writers are so dark and depressing? It is because they were consumed and compelled by lives lived in abject poverty, disease and general disrepair and despair. Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Frank McCourt, …all suffered from severe moral disintegration, from morbid ideations brought about by the unrelenting ugliness that this so called “good life” thrust upon them.  

 The French poéts maudits;  François Villon, Baudelaire and Rimbaud?  These were simple men forced to live  their lives outside or against society, awash in the abuse of drugs and alcohol, insanity, crime, and violence. They all died pitiful, painful deaths. Or how about the Americans?  Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Bukowski…each caught up in what life does best…grinding their souls to dust in the absence of any lasting hope until the merciful fist of death grabbed each by the ankle and pulled them under.

 You may think I’m just cynical and indulgent…but I tell you, for every ray of sunshine you can conjure, I can show you ten bolts of lightning that rip and destroy.  I am glad others have happiness….but I myself was pushed through this veil of insidious despair without my consent, and I’ve learned to navigate life in the absence of hope.  And yes, I find some comfort there.  It’s what I know.

 People are always saying, “try and look on the bright side,” and to them I say, “ Look around you, for fuck’s sake!”  There is an ocean of pain, agony, and suffering washing over the majority of the earth’s population…and you think platitudes  and sweet rejoinders make a difference when the crows peck the eyes from a dead child who has starved in the Sudan? Or when 20 beautiful innocent children in Sandy Hook have their precious lives snuffed out, or when entire populations are being systematically wiped off the face of the earth for political expediency?  Get real.  Take off your rose-colored specs and take a deep look around you!  Evil flourishes upon a people’s unwillingness to see.  They are blinded by their blazing sunshine and forced optimism.

 Yes, we live in the same world, but I see the shadows where you see the light. I don’t write this kind of crap because I have something to say…I write it because something which must be said has me to write it. My apologies for the rant…but I get so ill in my gut when people say, “there, there…the world is a beautiful place. Just try harder to be happy.”

 The world is obscene and delusional. And it hurts.

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 Seasons of Life


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In the youngest years, there is fear and pain.

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In the middle years, there is ecstasy, laughter,
hope, promise. happiness, delight, pleasure, bliss,
confidence, optimism, courage, faith, joy, desire,
hopefulness, buoyancy, brightness, anticipation,
choice, sex, cheerfulness, and contentment.

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In the older years, there is fear and pain.

Poets and Prostitutes


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He was a lover of street prostitutes;
not the sable-wrapped uptown girls
bathed in Chanel No.5 and punishing Daddy
by selling their tight-toned wares retail,
but rather those wholesale working-class girls
perfumed by the sweat of their labors;
standing beneath broken streetlights at 2 a.m.,
in cheap, colorful makeup and Wal-Mart lingerie,
with asses bubbling back and semi-flaccid breasts;
those colorful painted whores of the night.

In his youth, he had been scorched by the beautiful
and he would never again have the fevered yearning
of lying with flesh more pliant and comely.

Street-walkers fed his pathos and filled his inner void.
They would let him kiss them on the mouth,
and wouldn’t complain when he couldn’t get hard
because of too much beer and whiskey.

They’d always wait patiently, filing their nails,
chewing open-mouthed wads of gum -
but most of all, they would never, ever
fill the silence with meaning-less chatter.

If he couldn’t function, they didn’t condemn him,
but would play with themselves upon request
so at least the failing of the hour felt sexy.

Most of all, they didn’t lie!

They wouldn’t tell him what a great lover he was
or offer up false platitudes on his endowment;
They used their real names and would share their coke
for an extra twenty-five, and he would pour them full shots.

Sometimes, he would write beautiful sonnets for them
and they would genuinely be moved to tears.

If the sex was lousy, they took it in stride and didn’t bitch.
They didn’t conspicuously spit into folded Kleenex
or stuff their mouths with wads of spearmint gum
after he had come, just to lose the taste of him.
Rather, they swallowed because they, too, didn’t care
if they got one more filthy, fucking disease.

They were like him; defeated and empty,
just grateful not to be judged and discarded
like yesterday’s rotten fruit.

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

 

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

A Midnight Violation


I preface this poem with an apology should it provoke any memories in my dear readers of similar abuse. It is never my intention to cause pain.  On the contrary, I offer my love and compassion, and yes, my hope for healing by bringing into the light secrets that grow and fester in the dark. I dedicate this to my younger sisters, who I love and cherish dearly, for the countless midnights stolen from their innocence. And to all victims of this senseless abuse. There is love and hope beyond the pain ~ Dennis

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Bathed in an ethereal light
this child has no skin in the game
yet her trust holds demands
she cannot bear.

The creak of her bedroom door
snatches the sleep from her eyes
and in the darkness, horror descends;
her pillow, once soft and warm,
betrays her and once under, now over,
muffles her surprise.

Beneath his weight, she dissipates -
her cries muffled in the night.
Her fright smothers – she gasps for air
and he’s still there, grinding her
fragile hips into dust.

God looks on, and in His fashion
does nothing to intervene;
a celestial voyeur.

Stuffed animals bolt to the floor
one after the other, and with them
descends lost innocence;
her face laced in spittle, and she’s so little.

He rolls over, spent and condemned
as blackness descends to fill her.
Nothing is as it seems, but not a dream.
Tears wash away the vision of
this violation.

He rises as she plummets;
this child painted with the smell of
cigarettes and cheap liquor.

Morning filters through frosted panes
but she finds no warmth in the rising sun.
They’ll be no accounting for this sin
and no childhood left within this shattered
shell of a child. A darkness, deeper than sleep,
envelopes her lost innocence, as the
morning’s breeze carries the cry of angels.

Fallen Angel


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He writes for a fallen angel
but the rhymes don’t appear,
not in words, but in stilted

verse, in outpourings of
watered down love. She spreads
her wings and hunts the night.

What the poet will not write is,
You hunger for your father’s love;
It never was, but may you find
through the spilling of my ink
Some noble affection upon
which to rest.

But I cannot touch your pain.

He drinks a toast
to the memory of her beauty.
No one wants her faded

charms this night. She stands
beneath a waning moon

with a single tear, a cigarette
from her too red un-kissed lips.
The cars no longer slow

down to guess her meaning.
She traces a vein
to where the needles brought

peace a million times.

I hear your poem, she whispers,
thank you
but I must be home to
where the razor whispers.

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

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.

Where I Live


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How temperamental is the man in me
who misses you but will not call this because
I find the thought of romance more alluring
than actually opening myself to you?
I drink to burn the voices in my belly
that mock my tenuous hold on sanity.
I buy my smokes one at a time because
I have no vision of or faith in tomorrow
and I make my living scratching the underbelly of
this wretched world;
This desolate city, crumbling beneath the
broken wings of blackbirds…it is my home.
It is where I live. My pen scrapes past
its veneer of civility and sheds light upon
the ugly, the lost, the torn asunder. My people.
I take my walks at night under many clouds
all dressed in muted black.
I am callous with the hipsters and the tweakers
camped by the muddy rivers, and the hookers
and the pimps and the holy man and the
goddamned garish fluidity of this headache world.
I live in a city of fifty thousand accumulated flesh tombs
or more pretending about the news and the weather
with their minds drifting always back to the same
goddamned thing. How pathetic to be so far away
in space but not in time?
How desperate is the faith convinced by two arguments;
Both to be and not to be?
When I stumble, I lean against the wall or the lamppost
reading a page of Plath or passage of Hemingway
and all I can think is how courageous their exits were.
I yearn for their knowledge of the final crossing.
I read words, not novels, because words
are better spit than woven.
I refuse my fate gazing at my expiration date
and pouring another drink, I turn off the radio and
sit silently in the dark chambers of my thoughts.
I remember you, but me? I do not.

Irises


Irises by Vincent van Gogh

Irises by Vincent van Gogh

I watch from my folding chair,
the low autumn sun measuring out
the remains of the day.
She, genuflecting in the garden,
places four purple seedlings
into the dark damp earth,
pushing each with a jab of her fingers
and a prayer to bloom their beginning –
(those same fingers that used to softly
trace the curvature of the small of my back
when we made love)
purple irises close to the ground
She says they are insanely beautiful
and I say, “Did you know van Gogh painted
Irises from an insane asylum in Saint-Remy,
locked in the grip of unimaginable pain and suffering?”
She looks at me…looks through me,
as a small tear appears in the corner of her eye.
She knows.
She knows her garden better than she knows me,
but she knows that once these flowers root,
I am leaving her.
Turning back above these flowers,
my sweet-faced wife tilts a rusted watering can,
wanting more leaves, more flowers,
more life!  as water pours from the spout.
Five tongue-shaped petals fall ever so slowly
onto the black earth before she bends
and picks up each severed petal
and puts them oh so carefully in her pocket.

My Turn From Heaven


God Hate
My ashes are to dust betrothed,
my bones ‘neath lily and the rose.
My soul, which hath no penitence,
shall ne’er see heaven’s countenance!
While God doth cry on bended knee,
“Who brought this vile wretch to Me?”
I have no prayer to speak for me,
nor do I seek His sympathy.
I’ve cast my lot upon this heap,
come now an everlasting sleep.
As angels flee on bended wing
my unwinding was a simple thing.

Light heart though first was given me
soon beat with endless misery.
Once hopeful dreamer fast awoken,
songs unsung and words unspoken.
Continually seeking His advisement,
receiving only harsh chastisement.
As a child I prayed for his bemusement,
though my suffering lent to His amusement -
He offered love, and then he took
my loved ones from his holy book.
He filled my life with misery
and hid Himself in the Trinity.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
lashed me to their whipping post,
And each with certain celestial glee
tore the very heart from me!
And so began my slow decline
that leaves me now in full recline;
I have no faith, nor do I now,
profess in this my final hour
To seek His love and lifting grace
in this my final resting place.
In timeless repose let me rest,
a thorn insert into my breast.
For pain is something dear to me,
His lust for blood unclear to me:
Why such angst and bitter spew?
You do not know the God I knew!

 

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A Godly Silence


silent-god

 

I speak to God in silent phrase
And offer up my heartfelt praise
Yet silence is His voice to me
He shows no earthly empathy

My prayers are but a silent wind
And I a storm that’s lost within
A body crushed beneath the weight
Of loss, regret, and certain fate

In slow descent, the spirit ebbs
Dead within this mortal dread
Yet silent still His saving grace
A void I feel within this place

No comfort shall I know this day
My God has simply slipped away
And in his place a dark despair
Hot ashes flowing everywhere

The pain increases even still
All that’s left is my free will
And so, I chose another path
Turning from His vengeful wrath

His Son was slowly crucified
So He might feel more sanctified
Though in the hour of my need
His sacrifice is lost on me.

 

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The Night She Called


alone-in-bed1

 

I was so drunk
the night she called
I thought the phone ringing
was a song in my brain -
I hummed along
and laughed that empty laugh
that is found at the bottom
of well drunk bottles.

Later, she came to the door
and knocked, knocked, knocked
while I stared
at the crack spreading
up the wall,
reminding me of her varicose veins.
I tapped my foot in time.

I will most certainly die
on this side of the door one night,
and all the ringing and knocking
won’t bring me back to life.

 

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Half-Measures


razor cuts

I watch in morbid fascination
the quickening pulse of the vein
on the soft underside of my forearm;
each throbbing beat a silent protest
for the living of life, the loss of love,
the failure of faith in the future.

Warm blood trickles
slowly down my naked wrist
and into my loosely cupped open palm;
rivulets of life’s sweet essence
spreading out like the night-seeking
roots of a moon-flower plant.

I am amused that the heart beats unaware
of its complicity in this life-ending act,
this betrayal of self-contempt
and abject surrender.
Blood meanders across the slightly raised
scars from last year’s failed attempt,
and in that moment, I finally realize
what my father meant about the
importance of half-measures,
of keeping commitments.

So, I cut a little deeper.

We Are the Reason


reason

There is a reason birds don’t fly here anymore.
The skies are filled with fear and lamenting,
and their wings are covered in blood and ash
– bones falling from the sky.

The deer no longer nurses her fawn
in the de-forested wood, and the fish flounder
and die in dry riverbeds
.
The gardens are choked with a villainous vine,
while the petals of every flower fall
one by one to the rotting ground.

The mountains no longer echo with the songs of valley life,
and the oceans lie still, lifeless beneath the moon.
The dimming stars no longer ignite the imagination,
and the sunrise is muted behind a veil of smog and filth.

There is a reason our lifeless children
have abandoned hope in their futures
and restricted their “friends” to Facebook.

There is a reason our churches stand empty,
except to mourn our dead and send them on their way.

There is a reason we scream instead of sing; why
we sleep alone and lock ourselves behind bolted
doors; why we embrace our guns instead of our neighbor.

Our cities crumble beneath the weight of hatred and
indifference, while greed feeds upon the impoverished.

We have deigned to wear the robes of God and we have
failed. We turn from one another in vile contempt for we
cannot bear the reflection of ourselves in their wounded
eyes.

We have consumed it all, and in the process, we
have consumed ourselves.

We are the reason.

 

The Green Viper


green-viper-snake

I walked into the dark forest,
my stomach gurgling fear.
Pushing it down into my gut
I entered a grove of mangoes
devoid of fruit and intensely tangled,
like the ribbons of my life.

I saw there a green tree snake
coiled upon a gnarled branch,
watching me as carefully as I did it,
a flickering tongue eerily matching
the flickering of my heart.

Startled then by a strange desire
to feel his venomous bite,
I stepped closer
and reached an unsteady hand
toward the inevitable.

The strike was sudden
and true to its mark,
though I saw it all in slow motion;
the beady black eyes locked as the head pulled back,
and with the mouth, full of cotton and death,
opened to two curved fangs.
The lightning extension of his slender body
racing toward the fattest curve of my extended arm.

Just before the bite,
I saw all the stale moments of my life
stretched before me;
the childhood full of loneliness and broken toys;
the awkward attempts to befriend others,
met with laughter and derision;
a teen locked within the pain and uncertainty
of forced loneliness;
the young man twisting in the wind,
fearful and drunk after lost hours
searching for love that would never be there.

It stung for a moment,
then slowly a fire spread upward
from my elbow to my shoulder.
The painful memories replaced by a certain knowledge
That peace would soon cocoon me
in the darkness that I yearned for.

I felt sleepy and content in knowing
that this green viper was the closest thing
I would ever know of true love.
He bit to release me.

I sat upon a mossy log,
my breathing, moments before racing,
now became labored and shallow.
The pain brought with it a strange sensation of giddiness,
and as I watched the darkness
creep up through my surrendered body,
I smiled one last time.

And just bef….jus…as…I…

Armageddon of Faith


Dark_Angel_by_LordHannu-72619-1

 

When the Angel of Death extends his wing
And Heavenly stars fall into their black holes;
And Angels no longer sing;
When Mountains to dust once more descend
And the Stain of Original Sin eviscerates the soul;
When breath of Man is sucked from his great chest
And His hopes and joys are laid to eternal rest.
Then shall our eyes, in one final moment, see
It’s all been a Celestial mockery! To wit:

Life has been damned from the beginning
And meaning is but a vaporous fog that leads nowhere.
Christ wasted upon Roman cross,
yet the wooden nails pierce us all;
we the lost and faceless children of Golgotha.
While God, the coward, dances to hopeless praise
And we, our feet planted in jagged stone,
Give way to bended knee and broken bone
At last falling upon bleeding palms! And mutter thus:

Oh God! Oh God! Why have you forsaken me?
When I have betrothed my life, my heart and soul to thee;
The free will that you’ve given me recoils beneath your vengeful rod.
Blighted love, as fire rages through Eden’s gates,
His Celestial image consumed in the belly of the snake;
We, the children of Adam, cursed and abandoned
Have stormed Heaven and cast God to earth
And locked Him in temples…worshiping His bones.
Will not the Saints in pious verse compose
His holy eulogy? Lay granite praise upon His
Grave, and silence these babbling Prophets!

The warm embrace of Hell awaits the faithful
And the wretched alike; Heaven is but a cloudy
Cauldron pouring souls into a molten sea;
Feathers floating down from the torn
Wings of the Heavenly Host.
Fate draws the darkened veil upon mankind
and the gates of paradise, with resounding contempt,
slam profoundly shut.

 

We Are Gods


gods-love

We are gods treading boldly
upon a blue-green marble
beneath a sprinkle of stars,
tossed upon a blue-black canvas.
We blow creation, like a kiss,
from open palms, fingers spread
like the wings of a butterfly;
dreamers who paint visions
upon the granite walls of time.
We whisper songs to angels
while dancing upon mountaintops.
We tread upon the oceans
in wooden shoes with billowing sails.
We laugh and cry with equal measure,
pouring our emotions into silver cups
bejeweled with love and compassion.
We embrace the hour of life we are given
but rejoice in the infinity that follows
and the lifting up of fallen loved ones.
We are gods who sing and speak
with honey on our tongues
the endless verse of truths
and seek a simple understanding
that guides our celestial journey.

We are blood-soaked warriors
who have slain our brothers and sisters
in the name of false religions
for He that stays His healing hand
amidst our pain and suffering;
for He that weeps into the clouds
that rain upon our crimson sins
and washes clean our inequities.
We are gods who daily feast
upon the abundance of our fortune
while the world’s children
wither on the vine and fall like
rotting fruit upon the earth;
flowers that never fully blossomed.
We stop our diamond-pierced ears
to the screaming of poverty and injustice
and look directly into the sun
to blind ourselves to the horror
that stretches upon the horizon.
We are gods without wings
falling from grace and into
the waiting arms of Death.
We have wrapped ourselves in
the burial shroud of indifference.

The Skirt


red-skirt

 

You laid your plaited skirt

on the foot of my bed,

neatly folded as though

in doing so you could somehow

retain your virtue.

 

In the midst of our fleshy thrashings,

I kicked it to the floor, and you began

to cry, deep sobs that rattled

the mattress springs.

 

I moved, too reluctantly, to retrieve it

but you said, “Why bother? You’ve ruined it.

You’ve ruined me. You’ve ruined everything!”

 

Making love doesn’t always

mean making sense,

and so I threw my feet to the floor,

pulled on my jeans, and looked back,

although I would never be able to see.

 

“So that’s it?” you sobbed.

 

In affirmation, I buttoned my shirt

and turned toward the door,

and as an afterthought, picked up

your once plaited skirt, tossed it

carelessly over my shoulder,

 

and left.

 

Opposite Sides of the Same Pain


grief

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.

grief 2

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.

 

The Trinity and Me


tombstones

 

First They took my father,
and 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;
which of these I hate the most?
The Trinity it’s plain to see,
for it’s all for One and none for me.

 

I Live Here All Alone


alone

 

I will not die for lack of love,
though greater seems the fate,
Nor shall I pray for tenderness,
or seek my soul to mate.

No kiss for me do lips desire,
nor arms round me entwine;
A soft caress or heart possessed,
I am not so inclined.

This rhapsody that others seek
I will look for in tomorrow.
With so much pain, I’m now within
A great and binding sorrow.

The emptiness I live within
has always been my home -
So do not seek my company,
I live here all alone.

 

The Winter Bites My Bones


winter

 

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.
The frozen ground will not receive me
Shallow breathes hang before me, vaporized and still
Muscles aching from too much holding on

As the winter bites my bones.

 

The Case Against “Fluff” Pieces on WordPress


human_suffering_141-500x218 (1)

I might safely estimate that well over 80% of the material I have read on WordPress is what we writers might call “fluff” pieces. A “fluff piece” is a news story or pieces of writing which are essentially feel good op-eds.  The writing is meant to be cute, funny, or something like that. For example, if a writer does a story about kittens, it is a “fluff piece”.  Stories about kittens are essentially unimportant (oh, I can hear the hate mail churning!) The writer chose to write about kittens, not because it was important, but because it is cute and may help his/her viewer stats.

Fluff may take on numerous guises.  Aforementioned kittens?  Fluff.  Family travel logs?  Fluff.  Best make-up products on the market?  Fluff.  But to me,  the most offending piece of fluff on the WordPress market today are the countless stories that try desperately to convince the reader that the universe we live in; the planet we inhabit; the relationships we take shelter in – all of these somehow rotate within and upon some essentially pleasing spindle they call “goodness.”  Mostly, this goodness online is ego-defined as some omnipresent benefactor lovingly watching over us, raining upon our precious little heads measures of good fortune, benevolence, and unconditional love.  Yeah…fluff!

You have to travel far and wide into the ether of WordPress to hear an opposing viewpoint to this endless vomiting of “goodness.”  While the writer of such pieces may feel justified because he or she just can’t contain the fact that something made them happy, they have to purposefully put on blinders so as not to disturb their nirvana with snapshots of the truth.  The world is not essentially “good.”  Fluff is fleeting.

More than 5/8ths of the world’s population live in impoverished and violent conditions, whether that violence is nature driven or man-made.  To them, this vaporous concept of “life is good” is like a fleeting but violent wind that passes over them and cuts them sharply to the bone.  They are as aware of the “goodness” showered upon the fortunate few as we are willfully ignorant of their pain and suffering.

If you are fortunate enough to own a computer and have the luxury of spending your free time posting online, chances are these people live in the periphery of your vision.  You only glimpse them briefly on sensationalized news channels that can be quickly turned over to a “fluff” program like American Idol.  It just “feels better” not to notice.  Don’t lie…we have all been guilty of looking away to ease our conscience.

Yet there they are…the majority of the earth’s population starving, dying of treatable disease, buried to their necks in the fire-ant-ridden blazing sands of poverty and violence as the majority of us munch away on cheese-laden nachos while watching the Super Bowl.  It just feels better not to notice.  We need the “fluff” in our lives with which to stuff our ears and block out the infernal screams of our dying brothers and sisters.   By the way, if the term “brothers and sisters” offend, I’ve made my case.

You need proof?  Admit it.  Most of those who started reading this post have surfed to another WordPress freshly-pressed site about kittens, or dating advice, or how-to-be happy sites because, well…it simply “feels better.”  We need our goodness fix.  We need our fluff.  The only people who will read this through to the end are the artists and poets who understand that life is anything but benevolent and “good.”  They recognize, in their works, the crush of human apathy and indifference toward the brutal suffering of the “least” of our brethren.  They know because they don’t run from suffering…they run toward it.  Not to shun it, but to embrace it and evolve as human beings.

It appears the editorial staff of WordPress is complicit in the spewing of “fluff” when you consider that poets and artists are freshly-pressed much, much less than the feel-good article writers.  You won’t read this on WordPress because it feels “bad.” It probably isn’t a conscious decision on their part; it’s basic fluff survival 101: who wants to read depressing shit?  It just doesn’t sell!

The artists and poets of WordPress may be less visible, but they are there.  Shame on WordPress for making them enter in the dark and through the back door.  They struggle in vain to instruct a worldview that is ultimately a call to action.  They use their words to scatter the razor-toothed rats that gnaw on the emaciated bones of the poor, the hungry, the murdered masses. Poets and artists know there is goodness out there…they truly do. They see “goodness” descend upon the more fortunate, while the bulk of humanity suffers in despair and agonizing isolation.  They just refuse to wear the blinders.

For myself, I no longer really give a damn about this fleeting goodness. I’ve been shot, stabbed, robbed, and violated in a thousand ways that more than fill one lifetime of despair. And yes, in case you’ve ever read my writing, I have buried my grief and pain in ample cups of amber absolution and beneath the press of fentanyl patches.  I, too, am a coward. If there is goodness in my life, it is only there to mock the other 99.9% of my existence so far. I’m not happy, that is true. But I’d rather spend eternity locked in the pages of Baudelaire and Rimbaud than spend another minute reading about your “kittens.”

Perhaps that’s why most of my postings are poems.  Poetry allows a writer to scream invectives to an unjust, unhearing, apathetic God (who, in my opinion, is the ultimate piece of “fluff)  I’ve seen others (Sandy Hook, Aurora, Iraq, the Sudan comes to mind) who have seen their human potential snuffed out by either extreme violence, (human against human) or natural disaster (famine, floods, disease).  I’ve seen the children of Syria and Libya and Somalia, and, well…spin the globe and press your finger upon it.  It will almost certainly stop at one of these hellholes devoid of human compassion.  The majority of the world’s populations are simply ground to dust by the merciless millstone of life.

I am happy for those of you who believe the illusion that “evil” is the transitory state of humanity and that “good” is the true, permanent human blessing. WordPress appears to exist so that you can dine on a steady diet of “fluff.”  I just don’t see that wide-eyed gorging of “feel good” backed up by facts.  I’ll continue reading your fluff because people like me are more in need of a laugh than just about anybody. I just can’t join you at that particular ”hallelujah” table.  Enjoy the fruits of this “goodness”, but never forget that even more of your brethren have never known such feel-good promise in their lives…and “fluff” just won’t fill distended bellies or bind up the bleeding wounds.