innocent stars

my feet so firmly on the ground
how might I ever comprehend eternity
when all the sky ever does is climb
higher and higher away from me,
the clearest and cruelest act
of abandonment I have known

thus am I left longing to be more
than this tiny most timid man
of no means whatsoever, whinging
worldly curses at innocent stars
while sallying forth to do battle
with my own baleful ignorance

no matter how zealously I strive
to climb from star to star above
I am left with the utmost certainty
that my soul remains much closer
to a clod of worm defecated dirt
than to the nearest speck of stardust

Congregation

patterned prayers titter over waves
of solemn parishioners rueful reciting
echoes of eager unearned blessings

voiceless vague I bend bow kneel
knowing nothing of your stern truths
needing more than harsh your verses

stones alone coldly welcome my steps
over tearful trodden paths of marble
enshrouded seamless by morbid time

glance askance as disturbed you prefer
at solitary wanderers smelling of lilac
but boldly bedecked I taunt your malice

take from me naught but what I will,
demand of me nothing you would not
willingly of yourself to paupers proffer

cease your pointless eviscerating prattle
cradling more of deliberate arrogance
than humility in your sickly embrace

how dare you honest hearts condemn
while confessing lies to salve your souls
wrapped in pretentious self-adoration

there is more truth in sorrowed silence
greater precision in the wail of a child
than in all the boastful prayers you utter

one man’s folly

night and day and once more please
as time undaunted and immeasurable
being the most equitable of streams
flows on with unrivalled indifference
over paling pebbles and tumbling sand
and me, though incredulous I may be
ever daring tyrant time to finally cease
or to pause at the very least and honor
my whims as the water lushly laughs
at the absurdly colored wonder of it all:
this man’s arrogantly self-imposed folly

Salt Lake City 12 Jan 2013

stones

One sunny day I knelt along the shore, entranced by the colors glistening beneath the waves. A man was there, his thinning grizzled hair clinging moistly to his scalp. He sat among the stones, a smoldering cigarette dangling from his cracked lips. As I watched, he reached beneath the water, pulled out a single slick stone striped white and black and dripping still as he turned and stood it gently in the sand. Then he retrieved another—this one mottled magenta and cream—and balanced it atop the first. A third stone he stood on the second, his fingers slowly settling it in place, deftly shifting it slightly here, slightly there until the other stones ceased wobbling, content at last with the weight of this one standing over them.

And as the old man gradually pulled his hand away, I realized that I had become frozen there, the waves lapping at my feet, my eyes glued to that minute rocky monument. And to the shriveled hands that had erected it. Staring quite enviously until a particularly strong wave nearly toppled me into the sand. Breathing again, I settled down as I had seen him do. And like him, I chose my stones with care, contemplating their tones and textures, their sizes and shapes, before applying them to the sand. My monument grew, and unhappy with its minute size, I altered its structure. I set two pillars beside one another and a lintel over them, and on that lofty foundation, I stood two more pillars and yet another lintel. And when it was done, I smiled. And awaited my deserved praise.

The next day I returned to that beach. Wandered to that exact spot. And found my stones scattered by the waves. Disgruntled I knelt in the sand, felt the tiny edges of tiny pebbles cutting into my knees. A cold wave reached me, smelling of brine. When it receded, I picked up one of my stones—my favorite one—and cast it into the waves. Grunting as I stood, I glanced over and was amazed to see the old man’s tiny edifice still standing. Three stones, each a different combination of colors that I would never have found suitable. Three distinct sizes and shapes, with corners and curves I would have thought vulgar. Yet they withstood the waves and the winds and the crumbling sands. Together they were perfect.

I was old by then. Not as old as he, but old enough to recognize the hands of a craftsman, the shoulders of a builder, the eyes of an artist. And I know what I had seen him do. While I tried to deny it for sometime, eventually I became resigned to the truth. So I stopped. I ceased erecting those ridiculous monuments to my own arrogance. And envy. But I do still return to that shore. Eager now to do so. To catch a glimpse of his latest musings. Of three unremarkable stones, disparate pieces made whole by his gentle touch.

No good reason for this, perhaps. I just wanted you to know why. Why it had to be like this. Why this had to end.

Salt Lake City 12 Dec 2012

man

this is who i am

man

with all that i have accomplished:

the workers i have exploited
the dreams i have destroyed
the forests i have burned
the cities i have bombed
the animals i have tortured
the people i have terrorized
the delusions i have inspired
the drugs i have sold
the limbs i have severed
the flesh i have flayed
the families i have crushed
the children i have raped

this is who i am

man

worship me

Salt Lake City 14 Nov 2012