Walk Away

The carpets are skin-thin,
threads lace the holes like stitches.
The sun recedes behind the wrong window,
and scars mar sinks in nicotined inches.

The rooms want to collapse
on the phantom inspirations of ladies
whose magnolia talc still hangs
in the brocade drapes and peeling silk.

I think about the coloreds here before us-
how one winter the foreman came,
whipped that buck Sampson until blood muddied clay
and how he was a tribal prince.

I can see this war, every war-
deconstruction and reconstruction blend
like the burning, the building of continents

and I watch people drift in boats, starve in holds,
continue from cells without bars, without keys-
their ashes silt rivers, their bones lay paths
for those who stumble after.

The earth tilts its head
and I am watching through the walls
as people roam the yard, on into the streets,
the cities, the world-

some are planting rows, blisters on their palms,
or stirring pots with peeled sticks or drinking
shine from brown jugs while they lean back to back
under elm, under oak, under pine-

I watch mothers who beat their children
and fathers who turn away; the brims of their hats
broken above their brows.

I hear lovers whispering and old men rocking
in cane-backed chairs that creak regret,
old women shelling peas, stripping corn,
pouring tomorrows into jars gone as cloudy as their eyes.

Young girls in pleated skirts cha cha to 45′s,
and a cowboy rolls his own by an embered circle.
Boys in sailor suits wave from distant bows
while others kiss strangers beneath confetti storms-
victories caught on paper, on film, in concrete and stone.

If I had me some sugar,
I could make us a fair cake,
says the woman in the empty kitchen.
The faded sheers stir as if by breath.

Beyond the rooms, through the walls
and frame and rotting insulation-
past the yard and streets and cities
and fields and valleys and seas

are days that come and go without delineation;
shifts of gray to black marked only
by the ones who walk away.



Enter the unhallowed age.
Life's hands mold humanity
but the strokes are no longer gentle-

Shoulder shruggers blind eye
viral advocates of like disguise,
a little dead in their concern.
Abhorrent creatures play
within skins of normalcy;
they share the secrets of madness.

Deus ex flying machinas
caught the corner of a collective eye,
ripped it down in flaps of disbelief.
Countless selves form single a sensation,
bat frantic wings against a broken globe.

Sacrifice shapes continuance.
Blood-stained breasts succor the unsurrendered.
Strength spills down spines bent, but unbowed-
They stand, and raise flags towards the storm.


Notes To Rachel

You gave me bunny slippers
for Easter, and a copy of Watership Down;
it earned you the benefit of a doubt.
I wonder how long before you are gone,
after you have vanished.

This morning the refrigerator
dumped cold on my bare feet;
I thought about the way
your back arched around my toes.

Estelle came today
with a shoebox of photographs
you had taken on our trip to Vermont;
you scribbled notes on the back
of every one.

When she was gone,
I read the words on each photo
over and over.

I walked to the mailbox
four times ahead of the mailman.
Mrs. Campos next door
thinks I’m going insane.
Maybe she’s right.

This afternoon
I sat and watched the wallpaper peel
from the corner where the glue
never took; after a while
it looked like a time-lapse film
of rotting fruit.
I decided to get the TV fixed.

Estelle came by again-
this time with a girl
who looked a lot like you used to,
before those I-want lines
furrowed your forehead.
You named them all after me.

Estelle left and she stayed;
we drank Dewar's with no ice
until you disappeared.
Afterwards, she slept naked
on the blue couch downstairs.

She was gone this morning,
left a note under your smiley magnet.
I didn’t read it.
It wasn’t from you.

I went to Delmar’s for breakfast,
but negatives of you live there,
the leatherette booths mocked me.
I slipped out before my order was up;
I can’t go back.

Going home,
I thought I saw your head
above a clutch of backpacks on sixth street;
but it turned out to be
just another blurred ghost.

Mrs. Campos watches me
walk up the drive;
I grin and wave like a lunatic-
as if I never saw the falling,
as if I don’t know it will be years
before I feel the crash.


The Bullshit Chronicles, Chapter 1

Still-black dawn cracks
over dove country-

staccato shots rip me from sleep
as they rip breath from flight;
rude alarms without faces.

Light brings the neighbors’ girl
to roost in a fall field-
arms full of the plastic lives
of several dolls with neoprene skin.

Her tinny voice trills across
my coffee, the forgotten words
of some long ago song-

“On the wings of a snow white dove-”

It shudders behind my eyes,
the goose-fleshed imprints linger all day.

End of day finds her
at the edge of my yard;
scuffed hands cupped around a dead bird.

She offers it like truth-
quick, free of fanfare.

“Bullshit,” she says, nodding her head
to some secret agreement.
“The wings are just grey, after all.”