needs to stay behind
to dig the graves
to remember
we’d once lived
we’d once loved
aye, the way a woman
tosses her hair
to clear it from her eyes
and then stares
deep into soul of a world
if anyone might notice
I rememeber her
— the way she moves
like a shadow slipping though the brush
the night air cool upon her skin
her hips, tracing ellipses
her stride, a gypsy’s dance
her perfume, lingering, still
taking my breath
when doubt comes to live
to stay
within in a heart, darkened
growing larger
than hope’s wishfulness
it’s not just, it’s unfair
to whisper
more of our promises
but, I did
and I have
I fell in love
with the girl
who had sad eyes
those that stare deep
into the collective soul
of this world
tho, as it always ends
needs to stay behind
to dig the graves
to remember
we’d once lived
we’d once loved

Lynn Rose

a gray woman
named Lynn Rose
came to see me
tho she wasn’t there
to see me, specifically
we were in the same place
at the same time
as happens often for all of us
without a second thought given
souls– bumping against a glass sky
uncertain– of where they belong
but seeking the light
and she smiled
tho she doesn’t smile, most days
hard eyes, softened, a pale blue
like the mist of morning’s wishfulness
letting me nearly all the way– inside
where I lingered
for a few long moments
saying nothing
words are trifles
and most are lies
but I saw her there
in a sway-grass field
as a young girl
she was singing
a child’s song
the lyrics–
like the wind’s memories
oh, so lovely, and smiling
with soft eyes
of pale blue

hand of kindness

tell me again
what the hand of kindness
feels like
as it cradles a jaw
warm lavender curled ’round
the cool square of the bone

the way a love scatters
never gone, entirely
but not again found
where it’d once been
known– to be
leaving us behind, to wither
scenting the ether for its perfume

the secrets a man’s heart holds
whisper among themselves within the hollow
each new moment, the shadow
the remembrance
of another
since passed
aye, the gray-throat murmur of a love
and some days
I wonder if I’d still know you
so much time now passed
a few affairs, perhaps
tho still
does a soul ever forget?
does the shine of the eyes
dull ‘neath time’s flicker?

I’d loved you
tho it’d been
something more than love
and I sang along
with the dispossessed
the elegies, the vagabond’s songs
when our time fell away

if only
we’d loved each other
as children, still young of heart
before this world’d broken
its every promise
we might still–
have saved each other

tell me again
what the hand of kindness
feels like
as it cradles a jaw
warm lavender curled ’round
the cool square of the bone

a thing upon which to pray

as a daydreaming boy
trapped inside tall walls
of gray silence
a salt-hair afternoon
by the ocean’s dark breadth
as it was with my aunt
at the beach down the way–
from Coney Island’s spinning drift
tho I couldn’t believe that anyone
would want to go to a place like that
cigarette litter pushed, clawing
up through the sand’s tan crystals
like yellow-stained skeleton fingers
failed, one final time
at escaping
to freedom’s white-cloud billow
but everyone was there
everyone on earth, it seemed
even the dead
and those nearly so
or as it was
with my grandmother
who sang so prettily
like a young girl
when nearing the end
on the sandy island in the Caribbean
made of the blown dust
the crushed hearts, the ground stones
and the grayed bones
of my adulterous, and incestuous
a few of them, anyway
and even then
knowing a silence taller and wider than my own
lived within the sea’s rhythmic white-static hum
a thing older than even gods
and I remember wishing
that it’d climb the beach
the curls and swells, its wide tendrils
swallowing the dunes, and the palms
reaching, again, the hilltop churches
wishing it’d bring us– all
into its breathless keep
finally finding a thing, worthy
upon which to pray
a place where we might
just be, for some amount of time
tho, there’d be no time–
no white-butterfly moments
to expire
before we’d been ready
to watch them leave us
a place
inside the silence
where there are no rich
and no poor
and no colors
of any sort
and no lords
nor slaves
no love
and no
tho there may be
a few things left
a few reasons
to stay
for a bit more
to learn
the songs
of the elders

dark autumn

the bitter, and the burn–
curl upon the craggy maroon
of a fool’s tongue
Oblivion’s warm ambrosia
its molten-pewter waves
washing over, flooding the voids
washing over
and then down, down, down
finding every burgundy-robed shadow
seeking, and then drowning each–
all the darkened benevolences
that a soul’s jag-stone cavern
might offer shelter, now spurned
I’d think this notion–
I’d think this a thing– a place
beyond my understanding
tho this place–
echoes its songs of home
neither a salvation, nor a damnation
both– small notions– and each, a perjury
finding their veneration, their devotion
within perpetuity’s gossamer-whispers
purgatory, the only world true
and I’ve been here before, love
aye, born here once, many lives ago
and many loves since passed– my first
tho, I’ve never departed
I’ve been here before, love
and the sunken-eyed faces
the leering audits of the reticent
the fringe-winged children
of the dark autumn
each, a voiceless despair
each, a diminution
my own

gray puddles of rain

it’s in the eyes
in the eyes
they’ll come to my desk
at the place where I work
asking about this or that
some come in
just to pay a bill
just for one more place
to go
once each month
something to fill the days
we’ll make some small talk
about the weather
about their children
about their bills
sometimes about the government
but almost never about religion
and absolutely never
about love
and everything a poet
could ever wish to know
and most of that
which he’d wish never be
again reminded
resides in their eyes
wistful hope
and desperation
and loneliness
and the creeping epiphany
that we are all dying slowly
that we haven’t much time
and that– even so, we’ve often
more time than a soul can bear
but not enough courage
to leave this place
of our own accord
they tell me things
and when they are certain
that no one else can hear
sometimes, they even whisper
the truth
of their imperfection
and I tell them that I understand
tho some still walk with a strut
or with a twitching hip
that twirls a skirt’s woven folds
in circuitous seduction
most of them hobble in, limping
one leg dragging behind
even if unaware
and sometimes we talk
about the sunshine
with a silent moment’s pause–
before returning to the matter
of the business
at hand
tho, as children
we played
in the sunshine
and we splashed
stomping our boots
in gray puddles of rain
as children
we knew only one thing
for certain–
we knew that we’d never grow old

cross-eyed dogs and roses

all the houses looked like the next
the basic shape, a two story rectangle
and they were all connected
by narrow walls, of thin gypsum
the sounds and smells from one
bleeding into the next
and if you climbed up
with scraped-knuckle fingers
clenching the edges of window frames
pulling small bodies up the downspouts
and over the gutters
if you climbed up
onto the sticky-tar roof
you could run across all of the houses
tapping on the aluminum television antennas
as you go
making cross-eyed dogs bark
in the mottled yards below
and making men in yellowed undershirts
holler out of summer’s tilted-wood windows–
“get off my roof you little fucks!”
you could run across all of the houses
until you got to the end
with nowhere left to go
but down
and Helen lived toward the middle of the row
we always wondered how an old woman
could still have such red hair
and why she lived alone
and why her front door was so ornate
black, wrought iron, curling and twisting
in thickly woven patterns
ending in sharp-spear points
while everyone else’s front door
was plain, painted, white tin
and we wondered
why Helen had so many
in her yard
mostly pink
but some red
all, with thorns
we wondered
until we found something else
to wonder about
keeping the silence
of the damned