China-cup chats

I’d thought about this once,

maybe through lakeside footsteps in dreams.

Maybe when stride met stride with yours

and we studied the smile of blue hours.

We grew fat with the memory of tabletop

teas over doilies and the speech of saints.

Would it have meant as much

to begin each sentence with as little

common understanding as possible?

Or are we just better at

straining China-cup wishes

through soundbyte chat,

writ large on Tupperware souls?

Whenever we were brave to upset our apple carts

at street-parties, temple gates, church halls, downstairs rooms,

full of happy smoke and sure-talk,

we made for ourselves cider from apples –

handshakes from hellos, initiatives from invitations.

In the dimness of the post-potluck hallway

we had the best things to say.

Things left until after we’d crystallized our consciences,

codified our spaces, tallied our victories,

counted the offering;

edited our truths –

things best left in the hands of friends.

Those without agendas, solutions, or any big ideas –

 

only names. 

 

d.j.t. and the language of impudence

you carve away your slabs of inconvenience with silver spoon,

handed to you in confidence that you might

earn your own pottage.

through flared nostrils, you billow and bluster. 

a pall of disagreeable swagger

posing as fortitude – your aftershave.

 

middle-pack crow at best, your squawking tenor

makes ears bleed that otherwise wouldn’t bother.

but loudest means best when the bleating flock is

only a cover for the finish-line break away.

 

child-wound-daddy-talk, shoulder-chipped, posture-power

harumphing with front-seat view, proxy-driving

from the back-seat limo of puppet-kings,

where you learned your craft.

 

too big the metaphor

for too small a man

so big a tongue

for so small a deed

a borrowed empire built

         on a ground of smoke and lies and bones of the poor

it makes bad wine from old grapes your gardeners never drink

carve away the dross enough to secure your shiny tale

but never let them see the fear you hide through shinier grin.

 

mirrors, over-polished, well-lit, world-weary, familiar,

you cannot look away – an honest pairing, your truest friend –

they always stay quiet when you gloat;

at least they wouldn’t deny your rightful place

among the great, the dress-for-success, self-made (apparently)

emperors of steely resolve and art of the deal.

 

the golf course cathedrals where gods of industry

find reprieve from the weight of their own misdeeds.

the art of misdirection, sleight of hand, deftly removes

what others need, replacing anything too easily overlooked

while we look the other way.

 

stuffing faces in your pockets, names under your lapel,

souls with dirty fingernails and hungry bellies

whose sweat fattened your wine cellar

whose tears fattened your belly while you robbed theirs.

whose unsightly color and ungodly language

builds your fortune

justifies your hatred

explains your anger

baffles God.

 

scratch and sort, smile and sign away the lives

of the lesser than

those too insignificant to see, but dangerous enough  

to uncover your tiny horse-blinded life

dripping with Babylon pipe-dreams

Caesar’s gold pajamas –

Herod wiping out a generation for fear he’s not first –

the screams of mothers to drown his madness.

 

her glance was never a look in your direction

she had no choice given her job

she feared your hunger for pussy and the shamelessness

required to step lightly with a conscience that weighs nothing.

 

and for all that the world is still too small

the job’s in the bag

but the cat’s out of the bag

and your hand is overplayed

masks are wearing thin

time and truth tether themselves

drawing the rope across the chasm

between your rainbow of lust and a bog of emptiness

just in time to speak the one dark word

still hiding stubbornly in your closet –

 

insignificant.

Broken stalemate

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first be reconciled to your brother or sister…” – St. Matthew’s Gospel

* * * * *

There they sit, back to back

shoulders slumped in denial

of the frozen but not dead.

A light-year stalemate

mocks the freshness

of stolen stares

and words, a little too free.

Mouths, sealed from the inside

like jail-cell bars and chicken wire

remain closed to avoid

rusty words unfit

for newly rustling souls.

Sing the familiar songs

but not too loudly

lest the wind drown out

the blurry shape

of growing melodies.

Coax the buds of festive fare

bloated and waiting,

waiting to return

green for their grey.

Straw horses and gravel roads

offer their backs to lost

and awkward travel companions,

now, once again, stepping lightly

on sure stones.

Swapping lovers

Murky headwaters, streams too brave to sit still.

A fish moves heavily, drunk on taunts of demise.

Today, there is taste to the line-worm.

Lacerated horizon the quicker meal.

 

Blackout, shrugged-shoulder

dangers buried in clay pots; a potency

of Providence-offered sight in

a living room of thought. 

Patrolling unwelcome proximity between

competing aches of shame and loneliness.

Chance builds a bridge.

Love (is it?) fords a stream.

Choice, rushing, floats the river, watching.

 

Welcome mat at the door of happy reconnaissance(?)

No. Too frail,

unrecognizable against blood-iron door

loosed on hinges of an un-frantic passion –

(the only love worth loving).

Denouement of false desire wrapped tightly

in iron embrace; kiss of an angel king.

 

Then, when dust drinks rain, at least

it will know it can.

 

 

wordlessness

In rather obvious irony I repost a poem on struggling to write one – in honor of National Poetry Day (UK).

Rob's Lit-Bits

Sometimes he gets stuck in the dictionary so

long that his brain becomes alphabet soup.

He wears his skin tattooed with another’s thoughts.

And he waits.

No, he frets – and sour apprehensions

swim atop a slowly scumming pond

of wilted words, reeking of lost sleep.

And, if reflections in the coffee shop window

are meant to serve as metaphor,

they only spur on the edict

of secondary pictures mirrored from

another’s doubting face.

Come then, if you must,

shadows from a cold mist to

rattle and rustle the bones.

Come, take up residence beside

one with a plasticine pencil,

pliable to cautious hands –

worthless in sweaty palms,

squeezing desperately against

the inevitable.

In this reverie to a ghost –

vestibule in an empty house,

birthing only the vestige of coffee-stained

intentions, a writer paces –

penning wordlessness.

View original post

then becomes now

when the vein constricts just to hear

the blood

and your eyes see only in

the cave of night

when fixtures of time break from the rhythms of ground

only then

 

when the slow draft of deepest thirst is denied

and uneven steps abandon the road       

you clutch your own chest and your fingerprints

don’t recognize you

only then

 

when birds birthing songs are halted by wind

their silent haloes of pain embed in dark corners

and hope is cued but misses curtain call 

only then

 

when all this crescendoing chaos crows too loud

and reveals itself tripping over its own demise

then delight and devastation trade places

the Wind reminds the rain of its purpose

a Face turns toward you and

then

becomes

now

At the corner of validation and forgot

In commemoration of the last time Rae and I were at this delightful spot, a writers conference in Edmunds, Washington. This was the poem I spent all day writing on a park bench by the ocean.

Rob's Lit-Bits

vanity

At this drunken shoreline, patterns return, in

quilted quiet. I can revel again in spiced hours,

deaf to the biker-ghosts, bad-mouthing

this demure, paper posture.

Thoughts are a little rumpled, like the sea,

what with these ferocious memories; un-manacled,

like cottonwood dreams, blown out into the world.

This world I am watching.

* * * * *

She walks down the street, locking

every wandering glance; stolen stares from

other hungers. Sad limbs, built for laughing strolls,

carry instead their weight in

desperation, the roll call gestures of

fragmentary magnetism. To look down is to invalidate,

the one thing that renders such creatures immobilized.

She never looks straight on. Being seen but

unknown has honed a peripheral awareness

to a hawk-like precision. It’s the hollow

look of the lonely.

* * * * *

That’s a tiny dog for such an imposing guy.

It must have something to do with an ill-

fitting black…

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