troubled dreams

Oh, slumberous god you
toss and turn and scream and
move your mouth in maddened mash
of holy limericks,
of profaned prayers.
Sleep has robbed your cares,
numbed your limbs,
and set your fingers splaying,
thrashing,
oh, slumberous god,
we do not know,
we do not guess,
if you will awake in a fury
as terrible as your rest

Made to be broken

everywhere, everyday,
the mills whirr and tiny hands
dab and daub with leadened paints,
cheapening touches
on cardboard – softwood – inexpert alloys
shaped by hunger and fear, not pride nor
craftsmanship.
I see regard for naught but haste;
not an admonition, that saying,
“haste makes waste”, no,
but a holy precept:
the ideal operation of all things –
cheap; replaceable;
numberless;
and in all things – fast.
and so the great minds are at work, toiling,
on medicines that do not cure and
homes that collapse before resale;
and so we strain towards Utopia,
a Utopia made to be broken.

mind like a clock

the change is so predictable,
the instability so routine –
pliant and impatient, jumping –
one task to another, half day,
then repeating, always struggling in
equal increments;
always circling back on
the same markings, always
desperately scratching the infinite onto a flat stone,
and failing.

Flesh Imitating Steel

Flesh has its rhythm
in constant self-repair;
the rest from labor enables greater labor,
and muscle builds stronger when strained, so
why must we pretend
to be as steel; unwavering, unfeeling,
ignoring the needs of flesh
(to eat,
to slumber –
to love)
in favor of steel-bound schedule,
approaching our ultimate tensile point,
waiting to twist, to groan and
shatter?
cast away the mimicry,
do not conform with an inhumane system –
resume the dance of exhaustion and repair,
do not live as steel.

Forgetting the Names of Flowers

Lilacs, lilies, roses, still –
marigolds and dandelions and
small seeds, small heads
rising from the fetal position;
pale limbs poking through, hands poised
to claw the surface;
what are these things,
what purpose did they have, what
mastery did we seek over them by
lash and flick of tongue,
what did we drive them towards
when we murmured their names,
their names, lost now in winter –
are they found in these sturdy limbs?
Are there names to view, names to eat?
syllables quivering in the wind, and
names that bring in butterflies?

dog days

some dogs remember they are wolves,
and nurse the tender bruise of this knowledge;
some dogs remember that men and gods
reached past their teeth and
took fear from their mouths,
lashed and kicked and fed them,
chained and muzzled them and
left them dead in hundreds.
some dogs believe in mere survival,
some dogs find solace in their daily meals,
their isolation,
even the hands holding angry tooth-brushes,
reaching into their docile mouths,
daring the old fear to show itself one last time.

Is this?

Is this another winter day in Cleveland,
gray slush on gray street and
gray skies above?
Is this another sunrise, rosy and watercolored,
beaming down across the gray lake?
Is this your face, your smile, your
eyes when mine are closed
(and mine closed, when yours aren’t)?
Is this another wintry, gray day,
or is this a day finally worth remembering?

field dress

some sounds stay with you,
like the first mention of love,
and unfortunately,
this is one of them –
this sonata of butchery,
the first cut from neck-to-tail,
the hiss of warm innards
round or long or lumpy
spilling onto the snow, steaming,
and the scrape of a buck-knife,
along the hollow of a carcass, the
scratch in the ribcage,
the pooling of blood
and evil odor
where a heart was racing and
a stomach was churning,
only moments ago.
some sounds stay with you,
like the first mention of love,
and some are left behind,
steaming,
staining the snow.

discarded homes

there are mice thumping in the walls and
raccoons digging up through the vinyl flooring,
spreading rancidity in halls where coffee-steam lingered;
the floors are weak and weary, wet
and wearing threadbare carpet
like mouldering, moth-battled flesh,
where once two lovers laid and laughed and
noses brushed together while their hands breezed
across familiar planes – here,
bedsprings spill from their padded host like
parasites in bloom, here
there was a home, once,
people lived here,
people loved here,
here,
is where all homes end up,
when the past is left to compost.