I swear to high heavens,
your morning kisses
are sweeter now
than they will ever be again.
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.
Deep in my soul—
that mandolin on the mountain
keeps singing me two truths
both plain and secret as
that shady grove
that you love me sweet and
I love you so.
Book of Judith
This is no book of happy endings. All
unresolved cliffhangers and bitter diatribes.
Jonathan Swift has nothing on me and as
one generation passes, one generation rises.
Always unsteady, they run headlong to death and
Here I stand, daughter of the king of the world,
speechless, head in my hands.
His head in my hands.
There are only so many mountain songs,
only so many honeyed words. We’ve used them up,
the air is stale with milk curdling humidity,
yellow-white algae down deep in our lungs
and we choke on every swallow.
The ocean recedes, the sun (the holy ghost)
conspires against us. I can only play
for so long and then
forgetting myself, stumble on a word or two and
incite a rage that burns us up like wildfire.
I can account for every hour
and in those hours
half the words,
no lyrics, rather
"my strongest trials"
"my latest sun"
the rest a hum
a tuning fork struck
against the iron arm
of a late night bus stop bench
the resonance of which
echoes through witching hours
and a long separation.
Reconciliation is the Last Thing on my Mind
When you cut me from your soul
did it hurt?
When you put that blade on the edge of my name,
and you sliced scarlet across the lips of every smile,
my freely given smiles,
did it sting?
When you scraped out those words,
those secret, wax-sealed words,
did you flinch?
When you tangled the breeze
in my honey-colored hair,
did it stick?
(lemon juice might do the trick)
And when you found that kiss,
that first sweet kiss,
did you dig deep?
Sea trench deep…
but enough, you think?
Oh wrap that gauze loosely, darling,
unless you want me to fester beneath.