Big Iron on my Hip

"I've got knives in my eyes, I'm goin' home sick."

Above illustration by John Kenn. http://johnkenn.blogspot.com/


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Hubris

Xerxes, with braided leather,

did quirt the back of the sea itself,

his work wrenched clean from its seat.

And I, with fingers jagged,

grip slope and foreland alike,

hoping to work her unyielding skin.

What God

Careful Abraham blocks sunlight

at the door.

Heels first he steps;

he does not stir the wife and child.

Embracing, they heave,

all belonging to him and Him.

What God begged for the knife and stone?

Sleepy Isaac allows a sliver of sight.

Squinting into the dark he sees the figure,

hunched, hands outstretched,

fingers snatching moonlight.

They tighten about his tunic,

tear child from mother.

What God forgot how to form a name?

Lonely Sarah awakens, too late,

her bed long cold without the boy.

If a bird fell at the doorway,

it could be a mystery.

Out of the cold barrel of morning,

no news comes from the mountain.

What God speaks out of the sky,

indifferent as weather?

What God is so fixated

on his distorted creation?

I sleep with my knees to the wall,

afraid of seeing God at the door.

Anonymous asked: Really enjoy your writing and poetry. You have anything printed for purchase?

Wow thanks so much. I haven’t entered into the realm of selling anything just yet. I’m still trying to publish my first novel, which I completed sometime last year. Is there a poem in particular that stood out to you?

Anonymous asked: Did you make that attic picture on your homepage??

No I didn’t! It’s by artist John Kenn. Here’s a link to his website. I’ll be sure to put it in my info as well. http://johnkenn.blogspot.com/

Almost Spring Break

I’m tired. I woke up this morning feeling so damn tired. Guilty at all for no reason, because things are strange. I rose and slogged to work, still blinking out rheum, trying desperately to crack my neck. I think I want to be peaceful. I think I want to be kind. I want to know what it’s like to care for people; I want to take care of people. I’m protective, I think.

I had a dream that Jonas and I were in a wigwam. We were lying on bearskins, our eyes up, looking at the circular punctuation of night through the hole at the top of the tent. We talked about anger. Jonas was spitting into a harmonica occasionally, badly, and I was smoking. And our friend Leah was there, and she was drawing pigs, and so was Annika, who was picking the ends of her hair, her mouth assuming that ambiguous curve between smile and frown that she makes so often, elsewhere.

Then we all talked about how our fathers weren’t perfect, how our mothers made us sad, and how much better things looked behind us. I want my friends so badly again. I want to wake up beside the person I love, write a book, and play videogames. I want to be nameless, invisible, and free. I want to be an idea so I don’t always have to try and overcome each iteration of my self; I’d rather be wielded.

We’re all like clockwork that used to fit. I can’t turn time on my own. So I’m just counting now. Counting my footsteps, the pages I have to read, and the pages I have yet to write. Most of all, I’m counting down time in order to kill it, as though focus might yield the opposite. I’m counting down the time between now and when I get to see these people again.

I guess it’s all numbers. And I’m just rummaging in math, hoping I’ll learn how to make things fit.

First Love

I’ve seen your veins twist,

furcating up your neck,

and you, stricken,

stay locked up in eyes of gray.

I’ve made love to the devil caught in your throat.

I’ve listened to you chatter and gurgle

as your mind plunges into the great immense,

usually overwhelmed at all that wasn’t.

And there’s me,

holding a mirror to your naked body,

asking you to find what’s wrong.

You couldn’t.

But then again,

your hands wouldn’t be so soft

if they could aptly handle your self-esteem.

In Circles

Morning star came in at my lips

but fell down my throat,

changing its name

somewhere near my groin.

I’m clapping at my limbs

hoping for feeling,

chasing rope-dangled flesh

that only prolongs the folded night.

I think I’ll shoot my own leg,

and see if I bleed,

or if the Old Testament itself pours out.

That way,

gunshot, holy, and filthy,

I’ll know I’m a part of it all,

and not just some ugly pariah

with two left feet. 

Looking for the Devil

I met Ishmael with a bellows

to his flame.

His bindle slouched against a rock,

he looked up in the dark,

righted his squinting face,

and smiled.

He said you look like Esau,

and we sat,

and God frowned,

and the stars shut their mouths,

and I slept,

steaming like an upheaval of Hell,

laughing at the noise of my heart.

The Preacher’s Boy

I

The preacher’s boy, in Sunday gingham, shoes untied, curbed untidy, sits on his heels with his palms each cupping half of his hind as a partition between shoe and body. He rocks on the gravel. Smoothed with brilliantine his hair still strays in fingerspread counts. Some commotion across the street. -I’m sure the Lord has plans as he has for all… a car and then a horn and stricken tumbleweeds shed thoughts of explosions; his fingers prickle like needlepoints. He removes and flexes them. Squinting, he looks up. The sun comes through trees wrong.

The little hollow of his chest dampens when she heels up, barefoot, her dress gathered in bunches in her balled fists. She in calico and already without the hair she issues a cough without a cover. Vivid outline of skull in the noontime fire. They stay and look at one another with God in the middle.

Wherefore these two met, none could say.

But the sun comes through trees wrong.

II

Like when it came in his shirt untucked one summer previous and he had only been nine then, the hair ahead penduling as she ran, him posterior, coughing on his runny nose and dawdling, a freshet of new memory ruining the stability of his chest. He went like all liquid, conforming to the container. -So let’s climb. And they did. Curses of bark in the summits of knees. Summer days and all swaying of their bodies when nocked in vees aboveground, touching the sky, trees are so what could be done.

-Have you napped in a tree?

-No. Scared I’ll slip.

He scarred his sleeve white with the runny nose.

-They cradle you.

-So what?

-Things that rock you to sleep wouldn’t drop you.

Straddlelegged they held adjacent grafts and joined fingers zipper-wise. He sweated.

III

     The width of hatbrims can determine morality. When the gaunt figure fell through into town, his shadow walking the man instead of the proper way, his hatbrim drove out knowledge from his face so no eyeful entry could be made as to the shape of his cheeks and the truth or color of his skin. From nomenclature only gods still knew, he hailed, 6000 years of harrying knucklework rendering his stride spiderlike. He passed beneath lights in the lapse of their illumination, whenever flickers confused the shape of things. He was not beholden to time as time is to man. His arrival would be when it would be without predication. His long limbs grazed hell as he sloped.

The bible’s pages blew by, leaves indifferently crinkling like some wizened fingerprints of corpses. Her father slept backturned to his wife in bed; dreamed his dreams of what might come after. But now his daughter in a wigwam coverlet supported by her head, read flashlit pulp. Not what comes after. What now could happen?

     And so the hatbrim’s shadow fell at a door and dragooned that house into folded dark, where eyes madly trace their white spheres.

IV

     Of memories few without her. Her blouse was just draped depthlessly on her shoulders whenever she leaned. Of white and white and white. Shoulders can sigh. So could he. He neared and committed his chin to her collarbone, struck a nerve like a black key and they stomached paroxysms of laughter through cupped palmfuls guiding the noise back to their insides. They bloated as children do when restraining impulse, the first lesson to learn from those already grown. And the adults prayed in the next room. And it sounded funny.

     The fat moon yawned and seemed to try the sash. Stew bubbled and fumed throughout, catching his brain, sense data of the way her bones smelled, like broth and carrots. She made him hungry. Other children in the room sneezed and fingered new cuts on their foreheads.

     Bible studies always ended in languages of new kinds formed by lips testing glottal syllables and wetting the clefts of chins. Hands sewn to shoulders. They stitched together a circular aura of false hope, dubious intentions in their pleas, swaying like they meant to, inducing an effect. And the children, the children are burying themselves closer to Creation than any soft fist could demand. So forth step heels of shit and blood in a sashaying ignorance toward things that do not matter, no never have. Such a demarcation between old and new disregards preservation. Disruptions in the nature of boy and girl.

     He closed his eyes on her sweater. She was healthy, then.

     So all went the accusatory sense of religion and the backs of innocence were broken, so believers all remain hunched like philistines blindly sparking stones, hoping for the invention of fire.

     The preacher’s boy had a god of hair and skin and dimples. Sometimes she grimaced when he meant her to laugh and sometimes he hated her. But it made her holy. The preacher’s boy never knew another Father.

V

     Bones get kinked same as hoses but bones have bodies. She raised the livid alarm with sopped hair woven badly across the pillow. If superstition was a kind of stepping race, churchgoers won. But bad news of the devil’s kind never came at 3 am. It came at bright time and all was limned with gold just then like resurfacing smiles in war.

     See there now the father with his daughter horizontally suspended by his equal arms. Her shoulders ringing his sternum he ran heavily, never had light feet. As a last gesture of restraint he laid her carefully in the backseat of the car, her eyes aloft brainwise, palms curled.

     -Oh God.

     He connived at the wheel, plotted with white knuckles, tested the resolve of the steering. Gravel paths in small towns spare horses discomfort though pepper a car’s undercarriage. With that spasmodic soundtrack they sped, noises same as his brain. A father in exchange for his daughter’s life exercises no caution, the street people pointed and cursed. Traffic attempted to impede him but nothing could. He was late. Of course he was late. Numbers on a clock can’t matter with cancer. His yellowed shirt adhered to him in lieu of pleading, veins shaped him desperate atop the linoleum. Nurses rushed and relieved. In genuflection to whatever he lapsed and wept and bargained.

VI

     Trailing from her nose and wound down under the covers her tubes hid their ugliness as much as they could. In shut eyecover she retreated, minute breath of the sick from her open mouth faintly dimpling the gown on her chest. The preacher’s boy sat with his chin situated between his knees, them drawn tight, describing him cold. He hugged himself to himself, shuddered at a fluorescent flicker, posited a cough to one clutched fist.

The preacher and her father spoke just outside. Perhaps of God schematizing, renaming her father Abraham.

The preacher’s boy turned and unfolded himself and sat on the bed. The sun came through a winter-stricken tree and changed shapes on the bed’s dressing whenever wind so dictated. It was dented geometry and scattered black, furrows in the cloth overtaking light, notching it differently upon the return of the bowing tree. Sometimes it made the shape of a hat and its brim. 

Her shuteyes wondered at the brain. Fanned beneath her outstretched arms were her customary pulps. Detectives and cowboys and archeologists; mummies and demons and homunculi. So what could thirteen years of hopeful strength measure up to. The preacher’s boy thought of strength. The preacher’s boy thought of his knuckles, iron or glass.  

He went to the restroom and took off his shirt and flexed in the mirror, the skin lank and unfull and his ribs showy beneath his ringing chest. He prayed.

He prayed.

He prayed.

He prayed.

Upturned went his forehead to the wan light and he stared till his vision spotted and his eyes zagged and still there was nothing.

He takes and He takes and He takes.

The preacher’s boy, a paperthin frame, shoes untied, formed a hard expletive at the ceiling.

VII

-What if I die?

-You won’t.

-What if I do?

-Then you’ll be everywhere.

-What do you mean?

-You’ll be the wind.

-You think so?

-Yeah. I do.

-What’s the most you’ve ever lost?

-I can’t say. My teeth?

-I’m more than your teeth.

-I know.

VIII

I am nothing more than an oscillation.

Fingertips at the thigh,

conjecturing circumference.

I return and go,

like rainwater to rivers

to floods.

There is not a thought that can surround me.

Through cloth chance images are found

of my shape en route.

To where there is no explanation.

If you remember,

you’ll know me,

as a shiver in your clavicle,

as a bob in your throat,

as a wet sting in your eye.

It won’t hold me back.

I am become ubiquitous and shrill

like coiled bells.

IX

The preacher shook his boy by the shoulders. Sopping wet he sobbed and his eyes dissented the search of his father’s. Outside curtains of water fell from the eaves unbroken showing the landscape beyond warped like the view through some bad glass. In shaded relief her own father contemplated his templed fingers five-on-five, couched beyond with landshapes of refracted raindrops dousing his hot face. A sourceless sobbing, muffled through the floor.

The preacher’s boy focused on a rivulet of water defining his forearm. Through water yelling is dulled.

-What were you two doing so late?

Just the water, now to his wrist.

-Boy, you answer me. It’s late and your ruinin the carpet so I’d tell me what I was fixing on, if I were you.

-You ain’t me. I ain’t you. There’s something to praise God for.

-What’d you say to me?

The preacher’s boy thought he almost touched her blouse. It being held taut as she outgrew it he quivered in remembrance. His neck retained a palimpsest of her lips. Complications she could do without.

A clash of a door rattling within an old frame. Just the twist of retreating fabric and the trailing pasta of her shoelaces, untied, chaotic, she ran out into the rain with her forehead addressing the firmament. With the clothes so married in their wetness to her skin no bravery could be put forth as all outward attempts to make herself look strong was now depressed in the drowning of the rainfall. The preacher’s boy was the first to emerge into all that mess and took to her and she said she was scared but he didn’t let go and in the downfall their tears couldn’t be distinguished from the rain and the two fathers were just shadows against the light in the doorway, yeah always were.

X

     His knuckles resembled what they had before, with white peaks, again plotting at the wheel of his machine with the bible abandoned in the backseat. Her father sped, no noise excepting that rickety brainbeat of gravel in the undercarriage. His eyes expanded and his pupils dilated and his bones reduced, the man so small, shrinking, retreating, attempting the size of a fingersnap. Curves were driven into the receding path of the vehicle, tracing the movement of his cocked head, side-to-side, he leaned and gulped at the bottle, hot breath fuming.

     The navy yard loomed triangular ahead, headlights shaping tangrams in their approach of cube and barrel, furious shadows casted like imaginings of perdition. The gravel to asphalt, the dock, the click of boards, a whine of wet wood, and silence, him apologetic in the suspension of moment, time wearied and turned its head to miss the crash.

     -I’m sorry.

     The headlights failed slowly in the car’s descent, flickered, he sank into the water. The bible floated by his head, fanned like thought beside his saintly countenance.

     And one funeral augurs another.

XI

     March 3. The man with the hatbrim found the preacher’s boy in the winter shade with all trees so hung low. And he scolded the boy as his father once had and the boy cried with his face shaking and then the man was gone and the boy awoke and thought the man was God and quit the lobby down endless hallways of chromium expanded by light and he once nearly fell as he stepped on a shoelace and slid to a stop at her room, where the curtains raged cold in the wind of the open window, only impeded by the screen.

     One single breeze made toward the girl and played with the gown near her chest and for a second the boy thought that it was a heartbeat, rumoring a stubborn notion of life. But she was not breathing and the machines announced it and the nurse entered and held her little wrist and counted and when she knit her brows a cardinal hit the window.

     And the preacher’s wife found her boy slumped at the doorframe amid the commotion. She held him, he bit her forearm as he cried and said he was sorry. But the preacher never came. The preacher never heard the noise.

XII

     The preacher’s boy, in outsized clothing, shoes untied, curbed untidy, waits for none as the black cortege wraps itself through the furcating grave plots. He sits on his hands but cannot feel them and he watches silently as sunlight comes through the trees. 

A Guide for Living in Colorado

   Wake at dawn.

Doff a hat to the gospel

and kiss on the cheek

Noah’s nameless wife.

   Raise up.

Lace your boots

if they have laces,

make sure

there are no hollow spots

to harry the heel.

   Turn west.

See Pike’s Peak.

See the whole

of the Rocky Mountains,

the range looking like

the wrongful scapula

of a hundred hunched troglodytes.

   Go about the day.

Walk broad.

Expedite any work.

Do not rush.

Tap time to Marty Robbins

on the wheel

with your pointer finger.

   Ensure your tongue

does not cotton to weightless things.

Ensure you speak when you need to,

and not otherwise.

If it comes to blows,

have them,

and offer tobacco to the loser.

   Never touch a woman

in anger or haste.

Only widen your ears

and learn.

They are smarter than you.

And if your sister

should ever come among wolves,

hunt them.

   Cut conifers and lay amongst chokecherries.

Breathe often

the air so sharp it is metallic.

Always watch the sun ignite an aureole

over the holy monkheads of disappearing oak.

   Smell smoke on Sundays.

Live with leatherbound volumes

and test the feel of them often in your open palm.

Do the same with guns,

but treat them as you would Ishmael,

the wild man.

   Drink.

Eat.

But be an abstemious sort

that does not grin in vain.

   And wait for the campfires,

the way they speckle the land,

ringed with frontiersmen,

literal or evoked,

gesticulating alongside story,

of man and God,

skies versus horizons,

limitless glory

in the blackened nostrils

of a shotgun’s barrel.

   So goes the dialogue

between father and son.