These ebbs erode the shoreline,
Carrying the banks to build bars
For the oyster to ingest
Constructing pearl from the hard sands
I once stood upon.
Time erodes my story,
Washing away the grains
Of days and hours and potential roads
And the details are the same
But the game of charades lilts to a side
Our birth pitches us into projects
We cannot honestly complete
Like writing the ill-conceived
About the stranger.
All the roots I sank
And I’m still just a duffle bag
One goodbye away
From a homeless nomad
Too tired to roam
Watching the churning sea
For the bits of debris
That feel like home.
My whispers collect here.
Have I been in the cold
Wandering all these years?
Hope is the old man
Singing through his tears
To the child in my soul
I can’t, but I know
Caught between the crashing waves
My desires wash out to sea
Slipped between fingers that could not save
I drop to my knees in sand.
At least the child was brave;
What is left to make of me?
I can’t, but I believe
She writes, she dreams,
In dark carnival scenes
Mad-toothed barkers, twisted mirrors,
Remorseless, deathless terrors
In suspended animation-
I shared in her damnation:
It’s all true, in sideways shards
Where truth leaves truth marred
Where mothers’ lips fuel hearses;
Where mothers’ tongues drip curses
And hunger puts its fist in baby-bellies
And the cold pulls warriors to felled knees,
And bruises, like tribal tattoos, shine
Flaunting hell in knuckle-designs
Barkers estimating height, and weight,
And every flaw, sin, or mistake
Stench and stale smothering
Tender skin succumbed to stings
Of ruthless consumption and defacement:
Run-down rides in broken-down basements.
And she writes with teeth still piercing skin,
Like goodness died, and carnies win,
And I need You to be You again-
The unchangeable God: the same
Yesterday, today, and always.
Did he steal heaven too?
Hanging there, despised,
Hearing words his equal spewed,
His wounded gut felt the lies-
Fear God! Is it not clear
Who owes, and who gives?
Death is raging ever nearer;
Despair is wrenching as he lives
But he has seen a glimpse,
And hopes enough to beg-
His hobbled life limps
To the end of broken legs,
And he cries out, “Remember,”
In one desperate act of faith,
“Remember me!” as slumber
Slices through his days
And in the closed fist
And throes of agony,
Hanging by the wrist:
He met the Prince of Peace
How his heaviest, darkest hour
Must have also been his brightest.
In the suffering grip of evil powers,
He finds his weightless rest
The Light overcomes the darkness:
His worst hour becomes his best.
More than a year, it takes
on a single hand
to count these nights.
The foundations shake,
and I’ve abandoned trying to make it right;
I only try to outlast the hours.
I can, but he has deadfall traps
constructed in his soul.
The bait entices, he devours,
snapping jowls and swallowed scraps,
until the trigger takes its toll.
I forget the Viking even exists.
He’s a stranger here, hard to know,
subdued by character and discipline
but when he took my wrist
and didn’t let go,
I realized he was here again.
His Achilles isn’t in his heel,
you’ll find it in his blood-soaked genes:
An heirloom-trap passed on in grief.
Still angry, I asked him how he feels.
“Good,” he replied, like being mean
brought some long-anticipated relief.
I know his decisions are his alone,
and generally he loves me too well,
but these nights leave me unsettled and concerned-
Is resentment hiding, ingrown,
waiting for the chance to swell?
He wouldn’t be the first good man I’ve turned.
Does loving me require the odd glass?
A little something to feel right-
a drink, an escape, an evening of bitter regret?
It’ll be months before the next trespass.
Tomorrow we’ll forget tonight,
But I can’t forget it yet.
She sent me her soul,
Her song, and I sing it
In the dark I linger
Ancient sparks flowing
Lost years crooning
The vibrato rythyms we all
Tapped out on our prison walls
Our stretched voices in tune
Sing these lost years,
Like velvet green leaves
Ripped from spring trees
The storms appear,
And we dissipate, but
We do not disappear.
We suffer loss, yes, and torn limbs,
But we live again, and
Our song is here.
I’ve walked these streets
Since my bare childlike feet
Over glass and stone
So desperately alone
In my blood and my bones
Within throngs of hardened faces.
I still remember these spaces,
Hungry and graceless,
Exploring, hoping to discover-
To unearth, to expose, or uncover
Some version of safe, or love, or
Home- that secret fantasy repeating
In all the orphans’ tiny beating
Hearts- ever keeping
The fire kindled, the native
But long forgotten language
Like the memory of a pledge
Not yet redeemed,
But always blooming unseen
In the hidden depths of dreams,
And hopes fallen as wilted petals,
Blackened by the cold metals
Of bustling souls and pedestals
I looked up but once, I know,
There in the window, a glow
Of candles, and smoldering souls
Sharing some spark of smile,
Of tender warmth, and I, beguiled,
Lost the hard miles,
The frostbite, the feet that bled,
The serpentine paths that led
Through frigid humanity- instead
I fell in love with all I saw through the glass
A world unknown, unsurpassed,
Beyond my grasp,
But the only thing I’ve ever seen.