Hairshirt

 

 

I have this itch, a wanting,
from no place in my body.

I crave dark chocolate
and ruby wine.

I block myself in books
and vapid electronica,

rail against a careless affront,
whine over a tasteless morsel,

or bury the unrelenting rasp
in busyness, impressive deeds.

It’s waiting to be picked for the team
and being the last one left.

Nothing scratches it.
I can only stare it in the face.

The silent emptiness looks back at me,
whispers words I cannot hear.

I see myself a thousand piece puzzle
with one member missing.

Yet I am the lone tile
longing for the nine hundred ninety-nine.

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2016 – 2017

 

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Smoky Mountain Memories

In the early quiet a cloud passes through,
enwraps the ridge, and grays away all but the nearby forest.
The tree trunks blackened by dampness
bar the white boundary of my one-acre universe.

Planks of the porch sigh beneath my bare feet.
Cool dampness paints my cheek,
and my chest rises unbidden as my lungs
swell to drink in the fresh moist air.

A memory, a fragrance,
of biscuits baked with raw buttermilk
and salt pork sizzled on a wood fired stove
meanders through my mind.

The smells of ancient cabin stir wistful thoughts
of a life like a lollipop, both hard and sweet,
salted with sweat, scoured by tears;

-the breath of the cow,
-the squish of the milk in the bottom of the pail,
-the nicker of the horse,
-the rattle of corn in his feed trough,
-the aroma of the leather traces
-and clinking of plow chains,
-the breath of new turned earth,

each bathed by the stream’s gurgle and crush.

Only birdsong says the sun floats over the rim of the earth
as the silvering mist encloses everything
in a moment where the pain is almost forgotten
and simple sweetness lingers on memory’s tongue.

 

Winter Bared Trees

nude, winter bare trees,
bole darkened with damp,
sinuous limbs silvery in sunlight
arch, twist in the chill air
twig fingers ache to cradle doming blue.

 
structure disrobed for all eyes to devour,
some frowzy haired maidens, frizzled with tiny sprigs,
others with massive trunks unfurling, stately, sedate,
branches stretching, streaming into sky,
languorous naked ladies, bare breasted and serene.

 

winter, 2015

Food Fight

Your face is red as you scream,
“You are just sooo stupid!”
I push my fingers in my ears
and yell, “Arrogant Bloodsucker!”

 
The mamas on the porch nod and aver,
“I tol’ you, I tol’ you, none of ’em any good.”
The gardener squints through the salty sweat burning his eyes
and wonders if he can make it at home.

 
The street vendor thumbs his phone, texts,
“Hurry, there’s a crowd at 5th and Main.”
The reporter smirks, “Yes! This’ll get ratings,” and
calls for the van with the live broadcast crew.

 
If only
this were a middle school food fight,
and not
political America, 2016.

 

 

 

November 23, 2016

Maintenance Man

I saw him press a bar with six huge weights,
run eight sets of stairs, chin twenty times,
his body taut, glistening ebony.

Soon he sauntered out, head down,
dark eyes in white orbs obscured by
army drab slouch cap with side vents,

arms and legs flapping loose,
four single bananas
flopping in a gray maintenance uniform.

I wonder if the feet who tap his wet, clean floors
know the muscles pushing the mop and
emptying out their trash.

 
2014 -2015
rev 11/16

Grateful

I grieve your pain
when clouds are
grey boulders
that press you into the earth,

but in your ache
your words birth
a marrow deep
holy adoration

of him whose agony,
beauty, and joy
none fathom.

 

for Danny Miller on Wordfields
January, 2014

The Hand

Good mornin, Jimmy.
Come on in.
Have a seat.
“Naw, I’ll wait out here.”

Good mornin, Jimmy.
It’s chilly.
Come on in.
Have a cup of coffee.
“Well….”
The cane bottomed chair scrapes on the old pine floor.

Good mornin, Jimmy
Come on in.
Plates of biscuit, bacon, eggs, and grits
plunk down on the chipped white enamel table.
His spoon dings on the cup rim,
his knife and fork clinks and clatters on
jelly jars and faded china as
plans for the day compose the lyrics
to the song of the morning.

July 8, 2015

Tyrant Training 101

“Sweetheart, which do you want?”
mom bows towards the shopping cart,
waves boxes of Corn Flakes and Cherrios.

“Dis,” chubby fingers clutch at
Fruit Loops on the store shelf.

“But, Darling, these are better for you,”
she intones, wiggling the boxes.

“No!” spouts from the puffed lip,
pudgy palms shove the boxes.
“Fwoot Woops, Mommy!”

The Fwoot Woops drop into the basket,
spoils of war.

July, 2015