Hand Me Down

I gazed through the back window
In a car in Warsaw
Staring backwards
Past the houses
With jumbled yards, and
Those with squared lines and
Mowed precision
Past the jumbled years
And expectations
Drying up like fall leaves
I stared
Into the broken homes
And dark rooms, the violence
The battered hours
The flesh on flesh
Twisting, pounding,
Staining childhood with the
Bloated, purple corpses
Of hope, or trust, or
Any layer of security.

Still a child,
Still purpled and sullied,
I saw it move through
Generational brokenness-
An excruciating inheritance,
Those who came before
Cast echoes through
The ghosts that are to come,
And I prayed fervently:

Let it end with me.
Let me be the last one.

A Word By Any Other Name

The continent of literature
Is a brassy fashion show-
Five common ideas,
Models we all know,
Displayed and disguised
Tarted up to impress
To detract or distract from
Vulgarities expressed
Humanity enlightened
Donning emperor’s robes
Nude barbarism: crude and
Bloodthirsty xenophobes
Photographing gaunt
Yet familiar faces
Twisting the heel
Stomping graceless
Through the annals of hawkers:
Myopic mankind
Draping their finery over five
Emaciated spines

Identical turns lauded
As a new revolution
Five common ideas
Immune to evolution.

The Bell Tolls

I read Plath
And all the while
I was mad
As a March hare.

It’s the relative passage of time
That wrecks us,
Splitting the infinite paradigm
The smallest flecks of
Moment and inkling
Memory as masons, paving neural networks
Christened by the sprinkling
Of patriarchal guesswork
While a fresh pulse of ink flows,
The sands of time fall still
In the aura- outside demands grow-
Earth, round, spins at full tilt.
No sanctum as refuge-
No sanctuary to claim
In the pagan temples of refuse
Maiden debris of names
Cast-offs of Indifference
The altar of unsculpted desires
Running crimson with reverence
Withheld from the fire
And endless rounds of the savage
Beating of drums,
Stanzas repetitively ravaging
Linguistically numb
Quotidian queens in full regalia
Stooped under headdresses
Worn for the staggering saturnalia
Of autochthonous excesses-

And we gurgle, flail, and elsewise drowned,
In the words we repeat, but never write down.

In My Dreams

Last night, within the realm of dream,
Every knee must bow
But there was kindness abundant
For those in the position now

Yet there, on our knees,
Perpetually hobbling
Right and left
Incessantly squabbling

We argued whether
You began Your work in man
Because we bowed, or if
We bowed because You began

And all the fighting made me sad
I withdrew to higher ground
Where I saw You never began,
But always abounded

Changeless through all
Every moment sketched
By Your palm
And a calmness in all You etch.

Then I awoke in a body
Heavy under the effect of sin
Old and tired and broken
At the hands of men

I slipped again into dream
In a foreign land, under no conviction
A uniform led me alone to a cell
Though we both knew he had no jurisdiction

He asked me if I would wait inside-
I was too tired to speak my release
Tired of the fighting, of being alone,
Tired of yearning for peace

So I waited in a cell
I knew would never hold me
I searched my depths for any part
Of me that could still speak boldly

But as I sat, the ground began to teem
With mites, and lice, and parasites,
And every nasty, crawling thing
That lives upon the bite.

Still tired, but I knew it was imminent
That I would leave my little cell
I wouldn’t be allowed to wait there forever,
As all of time would tell

And I inhaled to tell,
And I awoke.

Is there a wound incurable?

How do I excavate this sorrow
Seeping through my soul
Like buried waste
Irradiating the soil
I feel it’s toll and poison
Washing through me
And I’ve tried my tools
Against the dirt
Cutting into the vast unknown
But I can’t unearth what’s hidden:
What I can’t see
Or comprehend-

Will there be time enough
For me to mend?
Is there any value
In fertilizing the fallow?

The Family Business

I’m not looking for an occasion
To abandon the steeple.
I never came in persuasion
To win friends or sway people.

I don’t care for renown,
A following to keep-
Wherever my ground
I want to feed Your sheep.

I’ve acquired no taste
For the kingdoms we build
Out of our own waste,
With hands unskilled

When You waste no splinter
Tending the clippings of our souls,
Our barren winters
Blossom into beauty untold;

I miss those who see as I see,
But whether foreign ambassador or humble witness:
I just want to be
About my father’s business.

Dear God,

In this moment I am
A foreign language unto myself
I’ve been trading for time
Against my spiritual health,
My deep convictions,
And emotional well-being
Now, in this state,
I can’t trust I am seeing
the forest for the trees.
Alone so long in this place
My heart, my speech, is losing
The seasoning of grace.

But if I can’t love them,
How can I love You?
I want to be done,
But I want to see it through
To the proper end-
Then withdraw to mend.