All Dark on the Highway

Headlights dead, fluids bleeding
a neon trail for the hounds.
Brakes, rusted beyond repair, are not an option,
so rocket beyond control.
Scrape past the slow, barely ahead, chase the
distant lights, the rarer vehicles,
born with functioning radios,
lucky enough to be maintained,
wishing you were born that way, wishing
you were lucky enough.

Be careful as you plummet,
for others are there, all dark
on the highway, all trying
to make up the missing mile, all hoping
to catch up, all willing
to pass by the wrecks.

1/5/19 – Death wears orange

In Wayne county, in the winter,
When the ice swam slick,
A hunter, aiming, from his blind
Wished the brush were a touch less thick,
As he smoothly sailed the cross-hair,
At an angle up the hill, catching on a woolly shoulder
Already dreaming of recounting,
“Bam. Got ’em right in the brisket-
Went down like a boulder,”
But-
The smoke poured out, and then the sound-
And when he searched ,
No blood was found.
So, shrugging, he reloaded,
and went back to his blind.

A mile and a half away,
past the Holmes county line,
a church-born woman in her buggy,
crawling across a gravel road,
wondering something, but never expecting
a tiny thumb of lead and chance,
meant for a prize buck,
to poke through the canvas top
and pluck her from her thoughts.

1/4/19 – eternal

Deep in a shallow cave
Clawed with paint,
and somewhere
In Paris as the bombs fall,
and somewhere
South and North of here,
and sometime
Before and After here,
in a co-dorm in a megatower,
Someone is sitting, will sit, has sit,
Is sat, before a carving bench, or alembic, or monitor,
Alone,
Thinking of someone else,
and wishing they weren’t.

Winter Break

He came home with the damp December dawn,
no snow on the ground. Mud caking his boots.
And when he got home, we all said our hellos,
threw our arms wide like nets, and then they both came to blows,
(most things change when dad hits low)
so we left and went out for tacos
fifteen minutes, fifteen miles, over in the next town.
On the road it always seems the sun won’t ever go down.
Just two brothers cruising in the cutting light of the winter
and I told him about the high school, and he told me about the new
and how even with how old he was, he didn’t know what to do,
I thought maybe when I was his age every choice would be as clear,
as sharply-focused as the chained-up dogs out in the open air,
and he smiled at me slowly, and he smiled a bit too long,
said, “Buddy, someday you’ll realize just how much you’re wrong.”
and we shared our bitter silence, and tried not to let out
all the words we’d swallowed down before, every whine and every shout.
When he dropped me off at home, he shook my hand and smiled,
Jumped right back in his car and went right back for the county line.

Changing Bulbs

A single bulb can light a life,
And two, perhaps, can light a room
and drive the darkness back,
or foster life in damp places,
behind the glass, bring the sun to
sunless spaces.

In the winter, when numbing cold
set his fingers stiff as fishsticks,
He grabbed the bulb and
squeezed, gripped the light and
felt the warmth humming in hands.

Hungry for more, eager to drive
away the winter, he gripped,
fiercely, desperately trying,
praying, feeling the tingling warmth
burn through the skin,
searing the flesh
until the glass cracks
into shards and cuts
scarlet blooms into tender fingertips.

What else to do but change the bulb?

1/1/19

You wore a dress that fit you like a stormcloud on a beach
thunderclaps and riptides always just within my reach
the air was cool and apple-sweet, the Perseids were humming,
we hadn’t shared a first kiss yet and couldn’t see it coming-
all the laughter – all the heartache – all the moments wearing thin,
the warmth we’d make each other feel, the hurts we hid within,
the freshly burning bruises we swore we’d never make,
and the nothing left within us,  the nothing left to take,
the world’s slow broadening when sliding to the crash,
how lovely does disaster look when smudged with fallen ash?
And how I’d just keep falling for it, each and every time, I guess
An actress never tells a lie when reading her next line.
But none of that had mattered when we sat and played our parts,
when the Perseids were scratching through the skies above the fields,
and I knew what it felt to feel, and now I know with all my heart,
every secrets sorrow in the seed that never yields

(observance) National Poetry Month Day 30

The maggots must remember
her smile for its warmth
or the unreal stillness of hands
accustomed to trembling;
perhaps they noticed
the tan pantsuit she wore to rest
(a choice only she
could have made), or the
fine coiffing of her hair,
somehow regal despite
the thinness of the strands;
or the parchment-white of her
eyelids, the lips flattened
to a serious line, the blush of
faint finality across her cheeks.
Surely,
the maggots must remember.

Killing Time (National Poetry Month Day 29)

Tear down the hour from the wall
drag It through the streets and cudgel
It unmercifully. Splay Its hands across
the cobbles and smash the minutes
from the fingers. Bind It to the post and
lash It ’til the seconds bleed and stain
the street like crimson pointillism.
Douse Its face in ruddy oil and
strike a spark to burn through
midnight. The dawn will witness
your ashen fingers. Do whatever horror must
be done, but strike this Hour
from my life.

old routines (National Poetry Month Day 28)

I woke up from a dream of you
To see you as you really seem
Two big eyes and little else-
Tolerance grown from routine
And now it’s over

Now my head is empty
And my heart is full
And in my hands squirms
A birth-slick
Hate for us.

There’s blood on my mouth
And foam in my brain
The words caught between my teeth
Spilling down the drain
And now it’s over.