Always

Five years
I gnashed my teeth,
Anger’s fist in my stomach,
The world, the future, my history
All rewritten in blood

Five years
I berated myself to obey.
Self-flagellations, recriminations,
Hard within a hard day,
Seeping the infection.

Five years
And I got sick
Death-rot in my gut
Burning sulfurous double-wicks
Trying to chastise myself to release.

One afternoon,
Memories sweet like sun tea
Cool on porch swings
Memories of your fidelity
When the worst is done

And You remain.

One afternoon,
Chubby baby legs in the sink
Repentance, dissolution
Washing her clean
Alongside my own soul

Tears flooding my rotted gut
Where reprimands could not reach,
The tender tide of love impossible
To dissuade or to impeach

Releases forgiveness, the caged dove, and
Restores the softness inside me.


Fiat

You spoke
And matter collided into being
In perfect order
Animals stretching forth to sing
Praises in a new tongue
To the Creator King

And I will be whatever You say I will be.

I sin
Striving hard between
My broken flesh,
Emotional deformities,
And spiritual stubbornness
But I have seen

The glimpse of Your beauty beyond comprehension.

You redeem
From the darkest sins
I stand only on Your work
And when I stumble again
I fall into You
Spare me from the recoil of men

And allow me to sing,
Whether in exuberance or agony,
To You, my eternal Savior King.


Pondering on Wandering

I never belonged to the barking hawkers.
They heralded my path to perdition.
Sufficient without their momentum-
Forgive me for seeking their permission

Even their affection.

What may be their mission,
Is an expression of my conformity
Overturning my design for
An infirmity of form

A painting over a painting.

I am not incorporated.
A single person from humble beginnings
Flailing in the freedom
Of expression, and service, trimming
The wicks of history

I am painted in
The broadest expression
Of human experience
And it is a transgression
To seek heightened, narrow pursuits

A tower, a city, a mantra.

I have walked the earth
In the barest of feet,
And in my poverty
I have dined with kings.

This is who I am
And it is dishonesty
To amble with troupes
When I am made to be me-

Small,
but distinct from the sea.


Dearest Tenderness,

Rain pelting my swollen face, but
I wandered barefoot into the storm
In searching rays the unbroken sun rises:
Your face shines; by grace I’m warmed
And the laments, the wails,
The twirling vapors of fate
A million broken stories
Step back in shadow to wait
The bridegroom draws close,
His musical entourage swells
My knees find the dirt
The black dog felled
Footsteps, and a harsh word
Would shatter what remains
These few, fragile shards
Wearing my name.

No voice has earned the right
Like Yours
Yet You share Your worth;
Your worth is sure.
And of all the swirling majesty
Calling electric praise
From grounded souls,
Endless shouts to the Ancient of Days
From finite vox
The clean from the unclean,
It is Your infinite tenderness
That reigns supreme

In the frangible, sensate-awareness
Of my mortal and immortal being.


The Ghosts of Lyells

We were already homeless
When I moved out
Slowly, toe by toe,
Piecemeal, until I was whole
On the outside
So as not to offend
And you called me a name,
Standing in the grass outside
Someone else’s home,
What was it?

I was blind, and did not see
I left behind a piece of me
In that spot.

You procured a house in Lyells
My brothers orbiting
Expecting I would return
To live, to rely, to wait
To be married off
According to custom,
And the world we’d been evicted from
Continued on
Behind the looking glass.

So many familiar things
Heaped in piles, bags, and shelves
I asked for tokens
Some photos, some mementos,
Some toes I’d left behind
Your pursed lips
Denied me:
I forgave you instantly.

Later, I returned
When my familiar things
Spoke foreign tongues
And every corner sang
In minor chords
All the edges wild,
Overgrown
Days in disuse, disowned,
You asked if it would be so bad

And part of me felt at home,
So I ran.

In my rented compartment
Years and miles away
A swift bird flitted by
Singing of your abandonment
None stood by your side
When the final moment came
And I drove all day to find you
Back down the endless drive
To Lyells

Empty rooms
The cavernous throat
Hollowed out and rotting
Like a dead beast in the forest
Food decayed on plates
The final moments
Wasting away naked
Exposed
Slips of paper pasted
On every surface

“”Remember.”

Who are we to forget?
The musty, fusty smell
Of rotted youth
Treasures dumped as trash
In the great heap
Of time and the shattered,
Irreplaceable toes
You were long gone,
But the walls whispered

“”Remember.”

I took no memento
From the macabre museum
Our mausoleum of bones
I stood while all the walls
Shrank around me
Counting eternity
In shallow breaths
I clutched my keys,
And backing out,
I left.

All the little pieces
Scattered along my way
I saved for some return trip
Braving some stronger day
An ace perpetually up a sleeve-
Until the songbird crowed again
I pilgrimaged down the endless drive

All gone.
Razed to flat earth
Every exhibit
Details of form, weight, and shade
Ash and dispersed
Into abstract ghosts
Wandering, screaming,
Haunting the eroding memories

All that may remain:
A wave of lost pieces
Phantom limbs

I’ve heard it said:
Live in a house
And it will not crumble.
Time may overturn its contents,
Coins rolling into every crevice, yet
Memory builds a timeless structure
Wherein no man may live,
Nor flee,
And every stage
From birth to death
Exists simultaneously.


Sunset So Soon

The summer blades
Carving monuments
In derby cars and soap bars
And skidding bicycle tires
Rolling with the ants
In itchy pollen sleeves,
Plump, fat leaves forming
Shade tenements
And eternity is summed up

In a single afternoon.


The Heir Apparent

Years ago, I spoke it clear
Our society by design:
My father took my mother’s name.
My father gave me mine

Until a brightly cheerful
Blooming summer day
I made him stand and watch
As I gave his name away.

There before all God and man
His name dissolved in rice
A smile, a hug, a warm farewell
Atop the sacrifice.

Nestled home, a new woman,
And never quite the same
I gave birth to a daughter
Who bears her father’s name.