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.
DELANEY “LANEY” ANN BROWN
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.
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.
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.
Do you see that lantern on the mantle?
Its light has shined on three generations of this family.
My grandfather learned to read under the tutelage of its glow.
He wrote love letters to my grandmother in verse reflecting
The warmth gathered from its flickering beam.
My mother found her way home through lost woods
To the waiting arms of my Dad,
And on the night I was conceived, it lent its sexuality.
Bright and slightly hesitant, still burn brightly
The night I was born, weaving moonbeams
Linking silver threads through the tapestry of our lives;
Illuminating my path through the years,
It has lit my tears and calmed my fears;
Beneath its flame we all found ways to heal
To bind up old wounds; to celebrate new beginnings,
While keeping vigil as loved ones passed away
One day I’ll pass it down to my children
Now crawling on the ground
And in its light they’ll learn to see within themselves,
I take it down and light it it’s blackened wick
Whenever I am consumed by darkness;
It watches over me and comforts me;
It reminds me that there are so many ways
To become illuminated
Well, it’s finally here. For those of you who have been following my work, my first book is now available on Amazon via this link: Thank you for your patronage and I look forward to writing for you for years to come. ~ Dennis
I can see your soul
in the dark pit of despair, my love…
you have a demon lurking.
Sweat drops in rivulets of panic
staining your face with guilty roadmaps;
crisscrossing your haughty cheeks.
I gave you my faith – you whispered a cursed prayer,
condemning me to the eternal flames
of your vile inequities.
How could I not see the beast
raging within your tender breasts;
the sharpened fangs masquerading as nipples
glistening in the dark?
Your undulating hips covered in thorns,
your lying lips sweetened with vinegar.
Your reddening eyes, beacons of hate.
Just what is you think I’ve found?
Something deep and dark and inviting
despite the screaming in my brain –
I have no voice but to consent, not thought but to obey.
Don’t torture yourself with hungered thoughts;
devour me as your wicked appetite compels.
but please, spit out my bones for Heaven’s sake.
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.
Do not be afraid
to lose yourself in me.
My hands are strong,
and, if need be,
I shall carry you
within the calm shadows
of my love.
Do not be afraid
to laugh with me;
the warmth of my love for you
I gather from the
rainbows of your smile.
Do not be afraid to cry with me
when life overwhelms you;
I will gather your tears
within the well of my understanding
and pour them carefully
upon the fires of your fear.
Do not be afraid
to live with me;
I will build for you a home
with floors of tender mercy,
Walls of compassion,
ceilings of hope,
and windows of promise.
Do not be afraid
to die with me;
I will lead you through
the dark forests of your doubt
until the bright meadows
of forever rise beneath our feet
and the cool waters of eternity
swallows our souls, together.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
I am the ripe green apple,
plucked from Eden’s garden
no hope for God’s pardon.
I am Achilles heel
that hobbles my stride;
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 ~
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
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
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
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.
This is how I start my days.
At four a.m., I awaken with a start. It isn’t that I wasn’t sleeping well, but this is my witching hour. I reach over and pull the covers up over my wife and take a moment to gaze in absolute awe at this beauty, this incredible effervescent woman sharing my bed.
I quietly swing my feet to the floor and sit for a moment. My muse is impatiently pulling me into awakening, but I do my best to resist. I want to sleep just a little bit more, but my eyes have already made out the flashing light on my hibernating computer and just like that, I want to be writing more than I want to be dreaming.
I gently close the bedroom door behind me and make my way into the kitchen. I put water in the kettle, light the stove, and grab my pack of cigarettes. I head out the door into the blackness of the night, sit upon the second stoop, and light up. The ritual never changes. And there, beneath the canopy of constellations, I look for my special star. I don’t know what it is called, and I don’t know why it is that star…but I need to start each day in silent commune before it. Once I find it, I stare at it for a few minutes, emptying my mind of creeping thoughts. I slowly close my eyes, inhale another drag, and listen.
Like little mice on padded feet, the words start scampering around my brain. The writing has begun.
I toss the cigarette into the night, watching a spiral of red sparks ascend, then descend, as if to punctuate the purpose of this ritual. From the kitchen, the kettle begins to sing, and I rush in before it hits full crescendo and awakens my wife. I pour the steaming water over a cone of coffee grounds and inhale the rising steam. In a seamless arch, I take my cup of coffee to the kitchen table, flip open the lid to my computer, and hit the resume button.
And then I write. And write and write and write. At this point, what I write is irrelevant. That I write is the point. The wee hours of the morning are not the time to self-critique or to spin a plot. It is the time for the bleeding of words.
This is how I start my days.
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
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”
With desire spent, we leave the night
Our bodies bathed in morning’s light
Our limbs entwined like climbing vines
Our kisses sweet like summer wine
Our spirits soar, our hearts set free
Beneath a verdant canopy
Of flowering trees and running streams
Of fragrant winds and lazy dreams
Such sorrow shall we one day know
When either you, or I, shall go
And leave the other to sorely miss
This warm embrace, this soulful kiss
As the sunrise drives away the night
and sunlight fades to starry light
So does this love, in ardent gladness,
Dispel the weight of parting’s sadness
But let us in this moment know
One final bout in passion’s throe
And leave the morrow to the night
This moment now is our delight
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
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!
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!
In my mind’s recess, a soft caress
of memories and days gone by
A kaleidoscope of love and hope
And answers to the “Why?”
I fall within and live again
Those magic days bygone
My thoughts set free in reverie
Warmed by a setting sun
Another time in perfect rhyme
Now formed in my revision
I’m lifted up as I fill my cup
With reflection and a vision
Within my dream, or so it seems
The best of times has past
Yet still somehow, I cherish “Now”
And tighter still my grasp
Outside my mind my thoughts unwind
And now today returned
Living in yesterday is still no way
To face the future’s turn
Einstein gave us relativity,
but failed to factor creativity!
His theorem’s certain, yet we are not
and mankind, therefore, slips the knot.
While science deigns to draw the curtain,
the power of love is all but certain.
Quantum physics, both here and there?
Mankind cannot be factored square!
String theory speaks to nature’s state,
while poets reveal our human grace.
Unification without the arts
is faulty from the very start!
There still remains the mystery
of how we simply came to be?
Big Bang theory explains the stars
but does not speak to why we are?
The paradigm begins to shift
When we factor in the artist’s gift…
Equations writ in bytes and bits
Cannot explain Beethoven’s fifth.
As so we argue with indignation
We only exist in our imagination!
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
In that quiet hour
before the sun fully rises
and the shadows of the night
as I lie motionless
the seductive blush
of a new dawn
filtering slowly through
the frosted windowpane,
caressing you in those last
moments of sleep
with warm fingers of light.
It is in that
that magic time of morning
as I, too, caress you
with my eyes
and with my thoughts
that I love you
in your grizzly glazed stupor,
your haze of self-absorption and carefree bon-vivant;
you cannot bear to acknowledge footman or maid,
their lives running parallel to yours,
their ruddy captured faces reflected
sullen in the polished silver trays;
each truffle they carry would deliver them
and those they love from a blighted existence
drenched in shame and servitude.
you, who will always be
oblivious in your ease and merriment,
of the pain and the hunger tumbling
from the rim of your cornucopia.