Snoqualmie Falls


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Photograph by Paul Dorpat

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

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

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

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

Death, anger, power…and yet
so serenely beautiful

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

 

At Last…Goodbye!


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                                       Painting by Alan Hurley

Each word, a thousand times spoken
Each promise, another vow broken
like snowflakes melting as they hit the ground
your words fall coldly without a sound

Each kiss, from cold lips pressed
Each touch, just an icy caress
You hold me so tightly I can no longer breath
Your embrace insincere – I no longer believe

Each gesture, an empty illusion
Each thought, just a delusion
The love I once felt has turned to regret
And the best I can do is hope to forget

Each day, a waste of my giving
Each night, exhausted from living
With someone who hasn’t the vision to see me
I’ve opened my eyes, I just wish to be free

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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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.

Silent and Eternal


I still love you; still need you every day
just to breath, to rise and be alive.
But you must not expect me to
ramble on about the world outside
or the pain inside; I am not wired that
way.
Take comfort in my silence and my nearness to you,
it’s all I can do with what is left within.
You need validation, and I can give you that
I just can’t give you insight; I have none.
“It’s a man thing!” you cry, but I
am as far from that as you are from my words.
It’s a sad thing, and I would wish it not so,
but it’s the one thing I don’t possess.
If you must embrace more than my face
then, please, take the time to read what I
write. It will inform you, though probably not
warm you. For that, fall into my spent arms.
They will always be there for you.
“You don’t love me, you don’t love me,” daily
goes the triad. I comb your hair and caress
your skin near the fire, and for hours my eyes
lock upon yours. We simply spell differently,
see?
I will live my life upon one knee, if in doing so
you could understand. What I know about love
I’ve gathered from your touch, your voice, your
grace.
I can only give you everything. Please don’t ask
for more.

You Rescued Me


You took me in when I was broken; bound me up with soft words spoken
Healed my pain with a gentle touch; held me tight when it was too much
Dried my tears with your velvet hair; showed me just how much you cared
You offered hope when I had none; warmed me better than the sun
Sheltered me when I was alone; whispered words I’d never known
You took away the worst of me, filled my life with ecstasy
You gave to me the best of you; offered up a world restored and new
Gave to me so many chances; overlooked my circumstances
Lifted me beyond the stars; and now look where we are
I had built myself a one room home and dared to live there all alone
No windows out from which to see; a lonely, empty destiny
You tore it down and rescued me; unlocked my soul and set me free.

Cut Gently


Be gentle with your words
they cut like knives and twice as deep
if you’ve hatred to spew, just keep
searching for a way to express yourself
without completely diminishing
everyone else around you.
On more than one occasion
You’ve carved me up until I had
nothing left inside to support me;
Loving you isn’t hard, it’s the most
natural thing I do,
but listening to you sometimes
takes such masochistic effort.
That said, we all need to express
those emotions that bind us up;
in those moments, cut gently
and give me some time to heal.