The Devil You Know, Or The Devil You Don’t Know

Our blooming dead
scratch free from winter
ground, through a topsoil of candy wrappers
faded from the elements, soda cans,
rotting apples, leaves
like soggy cereal, and pebbles placed
just so – as if a convenience just for
cigaratte disposal.
Brittle, dirty nails brush aside
the flaky crust
of frost, countless years
of bickering spouses, sorrow
diluted with the tears of strangling grief,
and the struggle
to begin again
and again.

Our New Grief,
made fool by Prozac,
and Wellbutrin.

Our New Grief, wrapped
in the pink tissue paper
of Xanax.

Graciously, we’ve softened
the camera lens
on grief.

Death, you are nothing
if not fair.
Great Equalizer, you take them all.
Equal Opportunist, Politically
Correct, you collect
regardless of race, class,
gender, sexual orientation,
religion. You will not be bribed or bought,
refuse advances, blow jobs offered
in backs of cars, you cannot
sell your soul to the devil. You won’t
resign, call in well, take a holiday,
a sick day off. Who would you spend it with?
It’s a lonely time, your only friends,
the abandoned, starved, defeated,
resigned.

Our dead are in bloom, I’ve seen
them, squishing upward through summer
soil, keeping company with worms
and fruit flies. You can hear them
fucking, they are fertile, multiplying
voraciously, climbing up
on time, sister on brother, father
on mother, hip bone on jaw bone
on femur. We know the song
by heart. Born to die and they
love us so much, our pulses lulling, promising,
throbbing rhythmically. The living
are so sexy, familiar
current ceasing compression
relenting ricochet –
finally!
we throw off all that weight!
escaped
through some tiny godsend – a timely crack
in the coconut shell
of the human body.


I Can’t Not Watch

She could have been
me, plain, a white sheet
beating its wings against
the sun and breeze
hollowed egg shell smiling
fiercely at the day.
But then

love is content
in the calm of night,
the wispy quiet of stars and air
grown less swollen
by the absence the sun.
And to

watch him
across
the thickly varnished
table in the bar’s dim
light, the rain waiting
like a heater left on seventy
when someone forgot to close
the door. Here shadows dull
his kindness
and soften his face,
the patient persistance
stands behind
a cold feigned
or perhaps

not feigned.
I reel myself back, pin
my brain to my sleeve,
force my mind from
back bent
and weeping, or thighs
spread just so,
straining threads
of denim, hand
on gearshift,
cologne, expensive
shoes,expensive
jeans.
I take

action snapshots,
catalogue them
quickly into files, flip
the pages cartoonishly –
photograph.
face.
message.
reality.
humanity.
You can feel them.
They are

real. Love them
later, I
think. It is possible
through presence, a hand
as an afterthought,
stories before
you, those are memories, finger
creases, gapped, square,
or sharp
teeth. the rash
from peppered beard left
on a cheek, a two handed
animated
gesture, an opened
door, free-form worry,
encouragement,
reluctant
fumbled confessional
of compliment.
For you

I would shake her
hard, make sure
she knew.

You can

fall in love
if you can
keep yourself
here.
She can
love you for real
If she
can be present

and not
give in
to repulsion
when
the inevitable
repulsion
comes.


bad luck

when I walk down
the stairs
to the basement

– pitch
black panic –

and yours

are the hands
I fear
most.

I am
a test animal
in a wire cage
until my fingers
grasp the chain

and I pull –

– illuminating
a reminder
that you are far
away and no
matter how
much wrong
I do

I am safe
from your
disapproving gaze.


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I love you.


This is How We Choose to Spend Our Days

strolling city sidewalks, shoulders trailing
behind us, low and smooth as milk
down marble stairs. This day
the leaves in the trees are scratching
the flaking backs of each – responding
to prompts put forth in parched voice, given
over for intepretation by the breeze. This after
noon, the cars idle by – boy fingers curled
pink and white around the last
inch of open window, studious faces lick lips
in concentration

– a drip of sweat skimming her
sunburned nose like honey.


red wire thread

We are too fast
in this world
don’t you think ?
racing cars
under the canopies
of birch trees
tossing leaves carelessly

as guests
throwing rice
at a wedding.

I’ll wear a white cotton
dress and you wear
you hair the way
it’s gone grey
of late. I worried
today what we might become
if I never made
you real, if forever
we were always glancing
down at a screen,
glancing up at a screen and never
at each others faces –
never slipping frantic
fingers across faces into
mouths along the mountains
and molehills and geysers
of each other – but remained
me giving
me to everyone
near me
wishing when wishes
overcame that everyone
in this world
was you.

Daily
I choke
back the terror and anger
in this dry black
laughter. I wanted
to invite you to go walking
just now.
I’ll wear
these black converse and you
may wear exactly
what you’d wear
of course.
I wondered though what
you might wear though and whether
you would steer me
gently right
and left with your hand
on my neck, and if the skin
on your hands is like
paper
soaked in rain
and dried in the sun
on the rail of my deck.
The wood is soft.
I can dig my
nails in.

Describe yourself
in fifteen words
or less
forever.
What are your strengths and what
would you say

are your weaknesses
in this lifetime
and the last.
Did you let me die
before you?

Are you aware
that on several
and random days
I’m choking on these
bones and leaves
you’ve tossed
in your
emphatic thoughtfulness?
Can you hear me
screaming?
Come here.
Honey.
Come.
here.

please.


How Stupidly We Squander

The terror grows larger,
swallows hope
and stars,
as her eyes begin
to bulge, rounded fingers
clutch air unable
to sink claws
into the nothing
her son
has become.
This woman is chasing
self-loathing
with grief, mind
moving far too quickly
toward loss
and resignation.

Having happened
upon her small son,
her two year old,
on the third floor
when the elevator
doors opened
to his what me grin, I got
to be the hero.
I placed her
heart in her hands
still beating
and smelling faintly
of shitty diapers
and fishy
Desitin.

It took
all the will
I had not to sob
with relief
drawn by a wooden
bucket from some
deep well
I still
don’t understand.

For love, you
would pray to a god
in which
you don’t believe
to give you death,
disease, insanity.
For love, you
would travel
to hell for the whatever
wherever, why because,
because, shhh because
it’s okay.
For love,
You would write
their name
one hundred times
on your graphing
calculator.
For love, you
would watch
them leave
and abandon you
as their heart
stopped beating.