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

Love in a Guayusa* Shop


(*)Guayusa an organic herb sustainably grown in the Amazon Rainforest by Ecuadorian families only available at GUNPOWDER (http://drinkgunpowder.com)

coffee

She’s not the kind of girl
men see across a smoky bar
and write songs about.
There is an uninviting sadness
in her dull blue eyes,
downward cast,
washing out the sparkle of
her tender youth.

Yet, we sit this soundless morning at
Gunpowder, the drone of Venice Beach
tourists muted by the intensity
of her faded beauty,
casting furtive glances above the
flipped lid of my computer –
sipping my guayusa latte,
drinking in the realness of her,
tasting the lukewarm resignation
that hangs upon her like a
torn burial shroud.

I am intoxicated by the way
she breathes slowly and with
lost purpose; how she twirls
a lock of her dishwater blond
hair with her forefinger,
the nail of which is bitten
to the quick.

Every few minutes she looks
off into the empty distance
a blank and distant stare –
perhaps daring to dream, broken,
of a life that might have been.

I know, in that way of knowing
the permeates you to the core,
that she has lived, and felt, and
loved, and lost, and somehow
found the strength within herself
to carry on.

I also know that I love her,
she who I do not know
and she who no longer loves
in return.

She’s not the kind of girl
men see across a smoky bar
and write songs about,
but she is the reason
poets anguish into the night
to capture the authenticity
of true love and broken dreams.

The Divine Tapestry of Life


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We are imperceptibly bound
by the common chords of our humanity;
colored threads weaving a rich tapestry
of shared experience.
Our similitude outshines our differences,
ineradicable and glistening;
certain and enduring
beneath a billowing canopy of endless possibility.

Not me, or you; not him or her, but all as one.

The fabric frays when we close our eyes
to the wonder and intensity of our diversity;
divisiveness and uncertainty pulls at the threads
which embroider the story of our divinity.

Our uniqueness as individuals only adds
to the richness of the fabric of humankind,
where rivers of color intertwine to form
delicate and stunning lines and patterns
– intricate and beautiful in their relations.

No stars hung in heaven shine more brightly,
shimmer more vibrantly,
or radiate more light
than when we embrace one another
as one and not the “other”.

Best In Morning


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I love you best in morning…

In that quiet hour
before the sun fully rises
and the shadows of the night
linger possessively;
as I lie motionless
beside you
watching
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
special time,
that magic time of morning
as I, too, caress you
with my eyes
and with my thoughts
that I love you
best

Cinco de Mayo by Lavelle M.


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Poet Lavelle Maddox
Inglewood, CA

As part of my commitment to bring new talent to my audience, it is with great pleasure that I feature an emerging poet, Lavelle M.  I recently heard Lavelle read the accompanying poem, “Cinco de Mayo” at an open podium, and while the piece entitled was somewhat dated, his mastery of research in composing this piece left a deep impression on me and I knew my fans would appreciate this new voice.  Lavelle writes in free verse here, bringing about a much needed historical correction to the myth of Mexican Independence Day.  For generations, this important feast day has been misrepresented and Lavelle gently lays down the bare bones of this date in history.

CINCO de MAYO

Cinco de Mayo means 5th of May
Not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day
But it’s a day we shall all remember
For the record, Mexican Independence is the 16th of September
This is a small dedication from me to you:

Cinco de Mayo started in 1862
During the Civil War, before Emancipation
The Mexican soldiers had a celebration;
Not for freedom, but for heritage and pride

By defeating the French on the far West Side
Blood was shed, lives were lost
By dead soldiers who paid the cost
Battle of Puebla is the name of the War
Too bad the French didn’t know what was in store

With war comes tragedy, death, and defeat
It’s when the strong survive and surpass the weak
For me, to be strong is something I seek.

Peace Through Art


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(Artwork by Mohammad Bin Lamin)

in quiet meditation,
let our consciousness guide us
upon the transcendental path
toward the glory of peace.

peace lies inside the throbbing heart of the earth,
inside the borders of nations, rich and poor;
inside its people, the living and the dead;

through our songs, our art, our poems,
our photographs, our dance, our creative imaginings
(men die miserably every day for the lack thereof)
our inspiration echoes the soul of heaven.

through art, we stimulate and illuminate our minds;
through our imaginations and our creations
we envision peace and increase
our courage, our hope, our enduring love –
which is the potential of every living soul.

without art, we are forever locked in the dialogue of illness
of suffering, of orphans crying, of death ,and of dying –
whether or not we are talking about it.
we remain caught in an entangled web of pain.

are we not yet tired
of having died in so many times in so many ways?
are we not tired of dying, dying again and again…?

Another Poem for Another School Rampage


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Out of respect for the newly dead
just for today, let our tongues be silent.
Speak not of gun control.
Let us, as a nation, grieve in silent outrage
for our dead, and for our surviving children
who shall forevermore carry memories
of fearful moments, in noiseless horror,
corner cuddled, hearts throbbing;
waiting for Death’s cold hand
to pierce their tender hearts.

Let us speak of senseless, repetitious horror
that might well have been averted
had we all been willing, even once
to dream beyond heroic violence
to the far more challenging, more
courageous, more inspiring vision
of heroic peace.

With compassion for the victims and their
grieving families, both slain and slayer.
Let us not speak of mental health
nor seek to soothe the conscience
of a country with simplistic categories –
good guys, bad guys, innocent and guilty.

But let us not lose to shades of gray
our mindfulness that ours is a culture closed
to those who most need help;
who least are able to afford much-
needed meds, who cry and stamp and tantrum!

Now is not the moment for convenient blame,
for those who we cast out and tell they can’t
be saved return, who in blazing rage
to inhabit the darkest shadows,
and all the rest the pious light.

Out of respect for tradition
let us not speak of change.
Out of respect for the dead
let us all still our tongues.
Out of respect for the past
let us never speak of the future.
Out of respect for the wealthy
let us not speak of the poor.
Out of respect for the poor
let us not speak of the economy.
Out of respect for the worker
let us not speak of unions.

Truth be told, I am out of respect.

La Música by Maria, New Poet and Blogger of “Behold The Infinite”


I am very pleased to introduce a new poet through my blog.  Maria, talented author of the rising blog, “Behold The Infinite” (http://beholdtheinfinite.wordpress.com/)  Maria has a unique voice that will captivate you.  In her own words, her work is a place for, “Poetry, journaling, fiction, carefully edited or wordvomited straight to the internet.”  Don’t miss it!

A sample from her WordPress blog, “Behold The Infinite

 

La Música

inspired by Pablo Neruda’s “La poesía
(English translation follows)

 

Allí estaba sentada, en una noche fría de otoño,
cuando vino la música
y me cautivó.
No sé por qué, ni cómo lo hizo,
no sé si fue por causa o destino,
pero vino de la oscuridad más negra,
vino sin forma,
sin intento,
y fuerte como una tormenta violenta.
Yo era controlada por el huracán,
no podría mover sin que sus dedos me tocaran.
La música me encontró,
me rodeó,
y me entró,
y mi alma cantaba con su ritmo.

Rodeada por la melodía
en la noche estrellada con notas de plata pura,
allí yo giraba,
una marioneta
débil y pequeña.
Y sentí su toque suave:
me acercó,
creciendo de la tierra,
subiendo a mis piernas,
abrazando mi cuerpo.
Mi boca abrió
y canté las primeras notas vacilantes
temblando con miedo
temblando con júbilo.
Como un pájaro liberado, mi voz voló por los cielos
y de repente comprendí el sentido de
oír
ver
tocar
vivir
amar.
Y me sentí la unidad de todas las cosas.
Grité, y el mundo me contestó.

Una parte minúscula,
una parte crítica,
una parte de lo infinito,
aquí estoy yo.
Con la música arriba, abajo, detrás y delante,
alimentada y sostenida por ella,
así vivo yo,
con una comprensión obtenida del poder misterioso
de la música de la noche.

—————————————-

There I was sitting, on a cold autumn night,
when the music came
and captured me.
I do not know why, nor how it was done,
I do not know if it was for a reason or simply fate
but it came from the blackest darkness
it came without form
without intention
and strong as a violent storm.

I was controlled by the hurricane,
I could not move without its fingers caressing me
The music found me,
surrounded me,
and entered me,
and my soul sang with its rhythm.

Surrounded by the melody
in the night starred with notes of pure silver
there I was spinning,
a puppet
weak and small.
And I felt its smooth touch:
it approached me,
growing from the earth,
creeping up my legs,
embracing my body.
My mouth opened
and I sang the first faltering notes
trembling with fear
trembling with joy
Like a freed bird, my voice flew through the sky
and suddenly I understood the meaning of
hearing
seeing
touching
living
loving.
And I felt the oneness of everything.
I shouted, and the world answered me.

A miniscule part,
A critical part,
A part of the infinite,
here I am.
With the music above, below, behind and in front
so do I live,
with an understanding obtained from the myserious power
of the music of the night.

 

 

My Book Now Available on Amazon.com: The Winter Bites My Bones: New and Collected Poems, 1980-2013


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On sale for a limited time….

The Winter Bites My Bones

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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

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Best In Morning


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I love you best in morning…
In that quiet hour
before the sun fully rises
and the shadows of the night
linger possessively;
as I lie motionless
beside you
watching
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
special time,
that magic time of morning
as I, too, caress you
with my eyes
and with my thoughts
that I love you
best

 

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.

The Lantern


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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,
Beyond 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

 

Merry Christmas to All of My Faithful Readers


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Two things upon this changing earth can neither change nor end; the splendor of these few holiday hours, the love of friend for friend. Merry Christmas to all of you.  You’ve enriched my life with your presence!  2014 – Bring it on!

 

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


 

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.

Surrender to a Better Cause


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What we have in common
stretches beyond our mortal shell;
If I have a kidney, it is yours
I have two – take one, and live.
If I die, my eyes are yours – see for me.
My heart is yours for the beating –
My lungs breathe for you; they no longer sustain me.
All that I am is yours.
Let me be folded into your chest.

Let my sacrifice be worthy of your hope.

Cathedral of Shame


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It was never my intent to return to this place
dark halls of betrayal, and lacking in grace
Lustful intentions, like geysers of steam
sex memories ‘neath mahogany beams

Yet I come on this day to recapture my soul
To quiet the screams now three decades old
Black flowing robes with collars of white
Incensed chambers to the left and the right

The bones of saints litter this brothel of sin
While confessions absolve the evils of men
The innocent novice here silently cries
Behind red velvet ropes of cardinal lies

Like lambs sacrificial to the altar are led
While the pure hearts of angels are quietly bled
I kneel before God, but my prayers silent fall
In the shadow of Christ in this candlelit hall

The peace that I seek here doesn’t exist
Where the holiest men refuse to resist
Hail Virgin Mary, full of sweet grace
Help me to rise and get out of this place

 

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.

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.

Do Not Be Afraid


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Do not be afraid
to lose yourself in me.
My hands are strong,
yet gentle
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.

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.

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.

Nature’s Aria



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“Singin’ In The Rain Forest” by Lady Di

Receive the sibilant symphony
of sunset’s twilight serenade –
A cacophony of chirping crickets,
and grass-green geckos cheeping
within frost-flecked ferns
and flower-flocked foliage.
The shrill shriek of the osprey
slices the silence of the summer sky
beneath the bass beat of barnyard owls
hoot-hooting hallowed hallelujahs
in consonance with coyotes chanting
their mournful moonlight wail.
Dissonant and chaotic,
harmonic and serene,
nature’s love songs echoing
across gurgling moss-banked streams
against granite-faced mountains
silhouetted sentinels standing
behind the moon-misted
shroud of the falling night

 

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.

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

 

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.

 

This Is How I Start My Days


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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.