Genie, You’re Out! (Or Reflections on the Death of Robin Williams


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I am devastated about the loss of Robin Williams, as are the millions of his fans, and more so by the fact that he took his own life.  Despite all of his money and all of his available resources, depression reached its bony fingers into his life and dragged him to an untimely death (as it certainly has for millions of others!)  Drugs and alcohol are certainly a part of his story, but make no mistake…this is a story about the savage blow of depression.  The pills and booze were only a symptom of Robin William’s sad demise.  Depression was the death blow.

If you have never suffered from the savage effects of deep depression, you might find it hard to comprehend his decision to take his own life. Depressed people don’t kill themselves out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life isn’t worth living. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. Depression is an invisible agony that for many reaches a certain unendurable level where life and death are near equal terrors and death becomes a lesser terror than living.

For those who decide to take their life, they spend their final days and hours in much the same way a trapped person eventually chooses to jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames.  For the depressive suicidal, it’s not the desire of death, it’s the terror of living. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

In this same way, a person who doesn’t suffer the agony of depression will never be able to understand the torments and terrors suffered by those afflicted. Never. Just as depression is an invisible agony, so, too is the understanding of true depression invisible to those who do not suffer it.

We can, and should, have a conversation about depression, but unless you’ve ever stood on a ledge with flames coming closer and closer, you will never truly understand the agonizing decision to jump.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams..Genie, you’re out!

The Insidiousness of Life


Image

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.

Poets and Prostitutes


Image

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.

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

Image

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.

Last Call


Image

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

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

“Last call!” she hissed,

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

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

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

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

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


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

GRAVEYARD

Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

CORNER BAR

Image

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

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

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

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

Beneath These Stairs


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

photo by Alastair

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

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

Where I Live


Image

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.

A Midnight Violation


fear

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, and the
night’s breeze carries the cry of angels.

 

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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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Summer Moonshine (by Dennis McHale, 2017)


Moonshine

I remember this story my daddy told,
when he was a young man
– most of his life he was a lay minister
in the Baptist church down Brevard way;
but when he was a young man
he was fairly rough and restless
and made a good deal of whiskey
and during the depression he and a cousin
– there was no work,
it was really hard times in them mountains ,
so they would load up this model A Ford
with wood carvings they had whittled some,
(in the winter when they was no farmin’)
and moonshine whiskey and travel to Washington D.C.
and there were street vendors, ‘fore the capital building
and they would have a little place there on the street
where they would sell wood carvings,
but I guess where the real money came from,
enough money to pay for the gasoline,
was from them selling a little summer moonshine
to the politicians, I ‘spect, to wash the shame down.

The Insidiousness of Life


Sorrow

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

For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.

I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises
eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my 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.

One Foot in the Grave


one-foot-in-the-grave

pressed beneath the broken bones 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

Crucified Beneath Her Touch


nail

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

From the falling of the sun until the break of dawn,
pouring ice-less cups of bourbon to free my tongue,
burning with each gulp as I exorcised my demons
on the back of half-torn slips of
empty bank statements and creditor threat letters.

My loving Kate stood sentinel outside the door,
occasionally sneaking in a tepid bowl of broth
or a grilled cheese sandwich;
she both hated me beyond all measure
and attended to my waking needs with a love that
stung me to my bitter core.
She stayed because she could see in me
what I could not, as I lay crucified beneath
her touch. I stayed with her so that someone
would be around to answer the angry phone.

In the daylight, awash in the cool grey light of morning,
I tucked away in the roll-topped desk
all evidence of my madness.
Beneath a shower of scalding water,
I made vain attempts to wash away my sins
of the previous night.
I stuffed my walking corpse into
a starched white linen shirt,
draped with a burgundy tie,
and stepped into my fresh-pressed suit
(dear, Kate!) I kissed her dry lips goodbye.

Each day, I drive into the city,
interviewing for jobs I would never accept,
stopping by Tommy’s Irish Pub for a shot of Johnny,
and napping the afternoon away on a
faded green park bench outside the county courthouse.
At 5pm I headed home to flee the light once more.

Dinner would rest un-touched
as I passed straight through toward oblivion.
Kate would be at her spinning class
as I dropped the suit and all pretense,
pulled on a pair of faded jeans,
and slowly drifted into my melancholy.
Each day, I would rummage through her dresser,
lightly tracing my fingers over her satin underthings,
remembering when.
I’d pull another freshly bought
bottle of amber courage from the kitchen pantry
(dear, sweet Kate) and poured
myself another night.

Faulty Reasoning


inmate

I was wrong about obscurity then,
hoping for darkness and a quiet bed;
but then the iron door slammed shut
and the cacophony of inmates filled my brain.

My crime was meant to buy me the freedom
from life’s incessant hammering; but I found
myself thrust into a discordant and never-ending
screech of men bemoaning their false innocence
and knives fashioned from melted toothbrushes
jabbing the life from unsuspecting fools.

I had hoped for the consistency of routine and
lights out early, but beneath the glaring ceiling
sconces that burned 24/7, each night slammed down
with new threats and opportunists to perish.

I longed for the numbness I had known in my
drink and drugs, but in here, they would only
give you antacids and an aspirin.

I had simply not thought this through.

Last Call


ghost

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

My burning sleep-clenched eyes
could not squeeze the scepter gone.
Her orbs, two onyx stones
set above translucent cheeks;
her mouth, a gaping maw
spewing ruby-red flames.

She floated on an icy breeze
scented with blood and bitters.

“Last call!” she hissed,

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

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

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

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

In the Dying Petals of the Poet’s Flower


poet sleeping

Past the tick-tick-tocking of the midnight hour,
Wrapped in sweat-stained cotton sheets,
Robbed of sleep and feeling sour
Like a muffled drum sounding nothing beats –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.

This syrup sleep removes the pain,
While dreams remain beyond my reach.
A whiskey slumber subdues the brain
While my toss-n-turn reveals a breach,
As time grinds on just the same.

I rise to write the poet’s dribble
And gorge upon liters of stale red wine.
Behold, my words, a bastard’s scribble!
Writ upon the passage of borrowed time.
Each tick, each tock, from my life is nibbled

I cannot rest while my muse is clanging
Inside my head a poor man’s verse,
Nor can I stop the incessant banging
As my thirst for libations meets an empty purse!
These words are ripe for a morning hanging.

Upon the tick-tick-tocking of the morning hour,
Sweet sleep descends upon my brow.
Within my bed I hide and cower;
An ink-less pen is a horseless plough –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.

12:08 A.M.


clock

12:08 A.M.

At least I think it was 12:08 A.M.
My eyes were wet and unfocused
as I hunched over the toilet,
regurgitating about $200 worth of
top-shelf vodka.

It might be 12:03 A.M.,
I just don’t know.
Everything is blurry and
the indiglo clock on the towel shelf
kept blinking faster than I could read.

I wiped my mouth on the right sleeve
of my cashmere sports jacket
and with my left hand,
flushed the john two or three times.

Again with the numbers!
It always comes down to the fucking numbers!

If the police ever question me about
where I was on the rainy night of  October 14, 2013
at either 12:03 A.M. or 12:08 A.M.,
I’m pretty sure, like the filthy tiles surrounding the toilet,
I had it covered.

Crucified Beneath Her Touch


Image

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

From the falling of the sun until the break of dawn,
pouring ice-less cups of bourbon to free my tongue,
burning with each gulp as I exorcised my demons
on the back of half-torn slips of
empty bank statements and creditor threat letters.

My loving Kate stood sentinel outside the door,
occasionally sneaking in a tepid bowl of broth
or a grilled cheese sandwich;
she both hated me beyond all measure
and attended to my waking needs with a love that
stung me to my bitter core.
She stayed because she could see in me
what I could not, as I lay crucified beneath
her touch. I stayed with her so that someone
would be around to answer the angry phone.

In the daylight, awash in the cool grey light of morning,
I tucked away in the roll-topped desk
all evidence of my madness.
Beneath a shower of scalding water,
I made vain attempts to wash away my sins
of the previous night.
I stuffed my walking corpse into
a starched white linen shirt,
draped with a burgundy tie,
and stepped into my fresh-pressed suit
(dear, Kate!) I kissed her dry lips goodbye.

Each day, I drive into the city,
interviewing for jobs I would never accept,
stopping by Tommy’s Irish Pub for a shot of Johnny,
and napping the afternoon away on a
faded green park bench outside the county courthouse.
At 5pm I headed home to flee the light once more.

Dinner would rest un-touched
as I passed straight through toward oblivion.
Kate would be at her spinning class
as I dropped the suit and all pretense,
pulled on a pair of faded jeans,
and slowly drifted into my melancholy.
Each day, I would rummage through her dresser,
lightly tracing my fingers over her satin underthings,
remembering when.

I’d pull another freshly  bought bottle
of amber courage from the kitchen pantry
(dear, sweet Kate) and poured
myself another night.

 

Beyond the Blackened Veil


Homeless Man

The long days,
the forgotten nights,
have left me scarred and depleted;
I’d consumed my fill
of sour cabbage and cheap whiskey
and slept on damp piles of rotting leaves,
wrapping myself in regret and self pity.

There were, of course, lucid moments;
when the wind would caress my cheek
softly, like the touch of an angel,
and in those moments,
I made vows not meant for keeping.

My coat, now threadbare
and reeking of last night’s vomit and rain,
has been my home;
I dwell deep within its folds,
seeking some comfort there
and finding none, toss it to young mulatto boy,
who will be dead before winter finishes lashing
his heroin scabbed flesh.

But listen, my friend –
I have known joy and love,
and those in copious measure,
when I was young and foolish enough
to believe that even the wilted rose retained her charm.
I have lain with princesses and chambermaids
with equal passion,
the rusty moon of autumn casting
night shadows upon our secrets.
I once handed out ten dollar bills
because the roll in my pocket was so big
it chaffed my thigh.

Now, the cold jingling of pennies and a nickel
mark the cadence of my stumbling gait.

In my youth, and folly, I read Yeats and Eliot
and took solace in their pretty tomes;
they hung bejeweled words around my neck
and filled my boyish mind with infinite possibilities.
They lied, of course,
but still I welcomed the deceit
and even scribbled a few haughty poems myself
on love and other falsehoods.

Don’t misunderstand…
I do not rail against the imbalance of life.
Some ride the festooned dragon across velvet skies,
while others bathe in the shit and piss
of their miserable existence;
and certainly we will all go down – together –
beneath the broken sod.

Today,
I just look for a patch of yellow grass
upon which to lie down,
close my blood stained eyes,
to catch my final breath
and let this bitterness go.
I have no fight left for this life or any other.
I am weary and resolved that there are
new worlds and better poems
beyond the blackened veil.

Amber Waves of Pain


I made my bed on an ocean of glass shards
floating upon the undulating waves of incomprehension;
bourbon-soaked dreams sliced open and bleeding life’s meaning,
though it really depends on how hard you punch the veil of reflection.

I fell face first into a wall of glass.
Left with scars beneath my skin, jagged slices of nothingness
to rub my blood stained fingers over in that pain-filled comfort
where drunkenness sometimes seems like a good idea.

There always comes a point where I think I can stumble along,
the darkness isn’t so dark, the demons aren’t so scary, right?
It’s time to get off the merry-go-round
someone spliced to a rollercoaster,
only I forgot to notice ‘cause I was too busy going ‘round in circles.

It’s like breathing in asbestos that’s slicing through my lungs so hard
I can’t breathe, can’t think, and can’t be!
Pain has never felt as tangible as right now;
I’d do anything to make it stop,
anything to go back and find fermented heaven again.

But it keeps hitting like seven years bad luck
with perpetually bloody knuckles.
While I deliberately forget about the glass shards
imbedding themselves in and under my skin
until I’m at risk of bleeding to death, more glass than human.

My Winter Years


These are my winter years –
when regret and recrimination ravage the soul.
Half-remembered memories rattle like marbles
in my brainpan and conspire against my forward vision.
My voice is but an opium whisper, and offers no defense
in the foul darkness of my affliction.

The souls of my feet rest upon a cushion of prayers that
never took flight, for my appeals were falsely laid;
and in this moment, I am content to lie upon my prickly bed,
dankly scented with the sweat of whores and cheap whiskey.
I offer no apology, and upon God’s ear none would surely fall,
for upon my cross He has forsaken me to my earthly merriment.

The familiar smell of petrichor wafts through my open window,
and for a moment the abyss before me appears clean washed and inviting,
stretched beneath a crescent moon like the hangman’s noose.
My dreams are shards of colored glass laced with the blood of my inequities,
The cold hours of this night unwind slowly, but unwind they do
while my eyes yearn to see Death’s gnarled fingers
reach out for me in the gray fog of morning.

These are my winter years –
when the mirror of my existence reflects the harshest light
and my bones rattle in contempt.
Free will was never intended for men like me
whose eyes grow dim with temptation’s agony.
If He had plans for me, He kept them to Himself,
and so I have chartered my own course beneath starless skies.

The Night She Called



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.

A Midnight Violation


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.

For Nickie


I feared myself alone, quite doomed
For copious amounts I had consumed;
In quantities beyond all measure
Liquid gold and opium treasure.

Indeed, my final days were near,
Perhaps an hour or a year.
But little more I was quite certain;
Put down the lights and draw the curtain!

And as I stepped into the shadow
Having all but lost this battle,
There then appeared before my face –
Herself in pain, yet full of grace,

A certain woman, appearing bright,
And fully bathed in healing light!
For every time her smile shone
My own afflictions seeming gone.

My darkness lifted, as well my pain
Her laughter poured like summer rain!
She rolled on wheels and made such faces
Allowed me in her personal places.

And though her eyes held vivid sadness,
She filled me with unselfish gladness.
While I could only hope she knew
How much of me she had renewed.