am I home?

broken bones so rootfully bore
down, sifting through coldest soil
seeking, longing for any sign of life

mother? are you here?

how long must a soul dangle
above this perilous precipice
before a hand reaches down

mother? am I home?

when the sky melted again
into azure grey I keening cried
not a why or a when or who, but

can i come home now?

shadows

There are shadows of my life
that haunt me still
regardless of the here and now.

You would know nothing of them,
nor would you wish to
as they have no meaning for you.

But to me they bear indelibly
and for all time
the marks of life and death.

I hide in their portentous darkness
from time to time,
but mostly I cringing fear them.

And yet as they expand within me
I embrace their coldness
even as I walk with the warming sun.

For now.

I have seen

I have seen

the deepest red in gently folding
petals of a humble rose
not the one beside it which was more
than arrogant and unworthy
but that one, the little one
the quiet one
and it touched my heart and
made me long for love

I have seen

the most verdant greens stretching regally
and true across all of Cumbria
encircling Derwentwater
where swans splash while ignoring
the many curious visitors
who have come to honor Wordsworth
and revel in romantic verse and
glory in ever trembling song

I have seen

the truest blues bedeck the skies
over the bewitching redwoods
ranging over California’s mountains
standing proudly above the Pacific coast
looking down over Santa Cruz
and those vibrant sands and eternal waves
that ebb and flow and never seem to find
a reason to cease

and I have seen

the grayest of grays on solemn days
and felt inspired to be nothing
to do nothing
feeling naught but the bitterness of age
while listening to the mournful sounds
of a heart that once believed
only now to shudder in lonesome fear
just waiting, still waiting

oh yes, I have seen

Sunset over Derwentwater, Keswick, Cumbria

When Aaron Died

“Why has nothing changed,”
she wondered when Aaron died.

And she cried,
and she cried,

as the very weight of her tears
impeded the vainglorious sun

and the moon being more of a heart
mourned oh so bitterly beside her

while the world was shrouded in darkness
more appalling than the blackest night,

affrighting my ancient clumsy soul
with the enduring moans of her sorrow.

I could hear the earth begin to crack
felt it shaking ungratefully again and again.

I could feel the air grow stale and cold
holding each breath with avarice

while steps slowed, and regret carved
angry furrows across my trembling skin.

And so we begin,
and so we begin.

I sat staring into the indifferent sky
begging time to permit a peaceful pause.

I do not know what comes next—
knowledge and experience fail me,

because however spins the world more
it is so painfully true to behold

that nothing could ever be the same again,
not since the day that Aaron died.

My wonderful wife Laya, with her brother Aaron, the way I remember him best–playful, gregarious, argumentative, inspiring and aggravating. And perhaps a little tipsy. Here’s to you, Aaron.

before the sirens fade

Before the sirens fade and the last drop dries,
the flies have commenced their gruesome task
insatiable zealots relishing their latest meal.
The cloud of confusion and righteous anger
hovering over the street slowly settles,
a bitter shroud clinging to bloody flesh.
Yellow tape snakes its way around the scene,
feeble yet efficient. No one ventures beyond.
No one would dare.
On the other side, people moan, demand, swear,
and eventually make their way home.
The next day or the next, the propaganda will be recycled,
as bodies are examined, identified, and laid to rest.
Sweepers will sanitize the path you tread,
and the traffic will return, passing unaware.
What would you expect? This is how you survive,
not so much clinging to life as pursuing it.
And my student asks me if I honestly think
he should buy the newest iPhone or Galaxy.
Let me think about it.

silently knowing

this field whithers
with bitter embers
scorched by an avid sun

bare drops descend
upon these drying lips
tipped with thirsty groans

colors quite languish
for anguished want
of your infrequent touch

too naively perhaps i
tenuous cling to your
barely spoken branches

brushing the scales
from my dusty eyes
breathing so slowly

there is even now
an unmistakable scent
in the heaving air

the harsh musky odor
of phallic dessication
and carrion wings

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point, Utah

confessions of nothingness

in truth was i
eviscerated long before
the priestly incision
that carved my flesh

industrious had i labored
at determined complicity
persistently pleading
for divine justice

my lips never failed
mechanically to mouth
mealy adorations
to ra, to maat, to isis herself

my steps never failed
to guide me armed with offerings
to the polished altar
of my mother’s mastaba

of my neighbors spoke i
never, not once i swear,
an unkind word, nor
denigrated i divinity

my voice dully ordained
have i never raised
in blatant anger nor
caused any man to weep

never did i turn away
from those in need
who knew me only as a man
upon whom they could depend

what remains now
of my desiccated body
rests forever entombed
that i may stand before you

o great god osiris
and confess that never
have i knowingly failed
in any of thy biddings

nonetheless

call forth the beast of hell
to devour my heart
as it sinks on thy scale
for this heaviest of sins—

that i, thy servant
have never known
what it means
to be truly alive

2013.05.28 D.C.Smithsonian 008

An ancient Egyptian mummy in the Smithsonian Museum

holding on

there is such decay
in this aging flesh
such pain clawing
through these limbs
gnawing at the fibers
of transient being

and yet we hold on
grasping at perpetuity
while gasping our last
precious promise
of certain intransigence
and desperate need

we seize at vitality
angrily breathing needles
piercing our veins
with chemical inducement
and medical murmurs
moistened with tears

with trembling limbs
we prostate ourselves
before imperceptible deities
touching coldest stones
with sweaty hands as
generations of ghosts

have done before

rising

in this too i confess
is a world familiar
in these branches
bare and desiccated

in this shriveled wood
as in the brittle hearts
of the living and the dying
is an honest expression

in the days to come
and the years gone by
reside the unquestionable
integrity of divinity

the spirit of the world
in infinite expansion
must also experience
the weight of contraction

with one mighty swing
of his enchanted club
the great dagda brought low
all of nine hail men

and with the handle
he returned them all
once more to life
for in the fall is there

a rising

???????????????????????????????Dead Horse Point, Utah