red kettles, spare pennies,
silver bells quell out
the lies of
"land of plenty."
I swear to high heavens,
your morning kisses
are sweeter now
than they will ever be again.
There, on that stage—
the old theater fell into ruin
after the rock of ages rolled to a stop
but we’ll see what we can do with the place.
Hang a few curtains, paint a gaudy backdrop
that resembles India in a sweltering summer heat
or Vienna as the red leaves
begin to fall off the brown trees.
It’s no trouble at all.
Burdensome botherings are
the scratch, scratch, scratch
of pigeons in the rafters
bats in the belfry and
those black crows in the graveyard
clustered in their macabre gatherings
all oracles with one word
repetitious and harsh on their tongues
oh run, run, run, they say
heaven only knows what’s coming…
Give and Take
Plum pudding—a throwback reference
peach cobbler—to a Caucasian shoe maker
apple pie—insulted ‘Merica, the bold and the beautiful
orange marmalade—said who invited you to the party?
lemon meringue—stood on the high peaks of tradition
coconut rum—don’t mind if I do
an aged red wine—I’ll take some of you too.
Grief once, in a miner’s
hovel across a trestle table
apples bruised and bread moldy
where we discussed, in hushed
whispers—those shadows gathered
as we entangled our hands
and you feather-brushed my fingers.
Now storms have passed but
fate has torn us apart, apiece,
apparently strangers—you downtrodden &
me battered, both worse for the dangers
we’ve faced and fled far from,
the mending of ties now absurd and unwelcome.
Tread oh so softly
in this, my darling—
read the writing on the wall
mene, mene, tekel, upharsin
but that’s not what I meant
no, that’s not it at all.
Fathers and Daughters
My father, the prophet
of fire and brimstone
calls down doomsday upon our heads
with hands so tense and face so grim
and calls out men for latent sins
and women (scarlet) for sideways grins
ignoring the specks that obscure his own eyes
and plies anger from my lips and hardens my heart to stone
as the price of silence is too much to bear
(it isn’t fair) and the damage can’t be undone—
it’s an old story
and not a very good one.
Cape of No Hope Whatsoever
…she’s still too young.
Sea-salt on her tongue &
frost in her lungs—
this speck of rock
rocks with North Atlantic gales
a hurricane of spray and whirl
a priest, a thief, a red-headed girl.
Sure, Fridays can be nice.
Like a light, fluffy snow
that comes down as confectioner’s sugar
on a quiet, serene Christmas eve
and then turns into a three-month blizzard