Recovery

Every day a little less evil,
but it is not over,
there is still coughing, convulsing,
expelling the phlegm,
there is still fever, there are still
pains – mighty and meager –
water to drink and rest to be had,
and no time for it.
force rest where you may,
and every day
the jackhammers outside
will chip a bit of earth away,
to mend some hidden and harmful thing
oozing beneath the surface.

What Light?

Who mans the lighthouse, now,
who keeps ships from
dangerous shores –
Who mans the lighthouse, now,
ignorant negligents
or schemers, all?
What profits them –
the pockets of sailors washed ashore?
what plunder could be worthy
waterlogged by such seas?
Why let such wretched beasts
work the beacons,
who would kill so many
to gain so little,
to gain at all?

Home In The Past Tense

When did these walls
become more than plaster,
when did my breath
suffuse the moulding,
my skin scuff each idle tile –
Does a prison, eventually,
love its prisoned persons;
do their lives seep deep
into brick and bar iron?

These moments have bled from me,
streams, then rivers, oceans now –
One cannot hide so much time by
applying a coat of Renter’s Beige,
Institution Green, or Gentrified Gray –
Who will I be when this life is abandoned,
and will the wreck speak fondly of me?

We May Name Them

We may give them names
but they are still monsters –
whales, sharks, bears, crocodiles,
formless and glass-skinned behemoths
of the lower oceans; we will
find them and we will name them,
we will see this as our mastery of
nature, of monstrous and mangling
beasts, tamed and contained,
a name in the mouth of mankind.

We may give them names
but they still have tusks, fangs,
a man may feel nothing to hear the name
“tiger”
until it is shouted in fearful night
and he will feel his blood
thinning to slick an endless gully –
and he will not forget
the sight of a body,
much like his own,
rent, torn, chewed flesh dripping –
a name in the mouth of a monster.

Life Is Good

Life is good to liars,
or so they always tell me
very lucky are our liars
to live such blessed lives –
to have so much money,
and so many happy lovers,
to do the best drugs
(or none at all),
to have an easy time
making money
killin’ time
Life is so good to liars
it makes liars of us all.

homebody fate

she doth sew the cloth of heaven,
the robes of priests and kings,
of constables and tycoons –
she doth patch and mend
where knees wear through
and carefully, with needle and yarn
she reads the laundry list and says:
let them all be darned

Renter

When we die
what will we leave?
a broken lease,
some unread books and
singed, stained ones too –
no loved ones in the drawing-room,
the annex, the upstairs addition,
no public viewing in the old farmhouse,
deft hands ready to pluck a coffin
light as overripe wheat,
and carry it to rest.

when we die
they will pack our lives in boxes –
and send it all to the landfill.

The Epic Of Gilgamesh

It was not the first literature,
no more than the first human began life –
words have been with us always
sucking coolly at our throats,
from plaintive mewling in the caves and grasslands,
taking strength and shape – clicks, curls,
have they not fed on us?
are we not their domesticated apes?
What proof do we have, even now,
that oubliette, fiefdom, sassafras,
do not linger,
waiting to be spoken
and again sip a little life?

Sickness

What love within burns hotter than fever,
what passion could plump
the sinuses so –
what loyalty could force
a bedridden weekend –
what brotherhood beseeches
the nose to flow