A Ghost Minority
Some people come to this B-movie town for how intense simplicity feels, for what it’s like to be extras in a world, drunk on beauty, and sad they can’t be more. Down on Front Street, restaurants and stores border the Penn Cove shore, where not long ago baby whales screamed as their mothers were dragged away onto boats to live behind glass until death. But they died then, unknown to the world, in front of a camera’s glass eye.
Oh, Coupeville, I’m only one percent of eighteen hundred minds, a ghost minority telling the world what the majority won’t. Like why Pratt’s feet in his grave point north, to throw off the angels on judgment day when they come for the Saints of Sunnyside. And why he built a cabin for his boy to live in, shielding his ears from the flesh he loved through twenty five feet of silence.
Other unmarked historical scars are not important now, not as important as the words in my mind diving at me from a raptor’s height, like Alastair Reid’s, “Islands seem to take revenge on those who regard them as personal Eden’s.” I do not staff the Welcome Center to a world made famous by mussels and clams, where anyone’s likely to open and close and find something missing inside, something smaller than a whale.
Published in WA 129 Poetry Anthology
Of course you didn’t know. How could you?
It’s not as if you were raised like the others,
grown from the ground of the ruptured and raptured,
the sweetly forgiven, abandoned to the truth
of never settling down with the unsettled self,
with words they denied and flesh they condemned
for not believing in what the hands once
used to call the soul, which turned out to be
a misunderstanding, you thought they said soil.
The gritty, gone, going away of everything
precious and good. A mudslide boy, of you
down the hill of all your hopes and dreams,
the daily unfolding of your disappearance,
a black and white print of your cheap silhouette,
that an angry god fondled with guilt, while choking
on mirrors he said was the light. How painful
the swallowing must have been, and still be so wrong
about being right, like all religions based on blood
and the million ways to spill it.
Of course you didn’t know.
How could you?
Published in Ithaca Lit
Confessions Of A Pentecostal Buddhist
Baptized in the church of Pygmy rattler fangs
hanging from my foot like prayer bells in Tibet,
the water, I submit, was cold and confidential,
a lesson from the gospel of drown me Lord quick.
Obedient and skilled at the gestures of deliverance,
those hands knew how to shake and bring down fire.
Clouds of smoke crossed my eyes
from yards ablaze in Selma, then floated
to St. Petersburg where ash found a home.
Daddy’s letters from Saigon proved a man still loved me.
I sucked the envelopes of air and kissed him
on the stamps. Momma’s little boy became
a man with freckles, a buzz-cut adolescent
with apocalyptic leanings. Thinking Arsenic
must be sugar’s evil twin, I tried to poison her
with Sweet and Low, but only made her kinder.
Thus began my interest in pink bags with powder,
a way to live with lightning without the coming storm.
Walking on the wild side to a land of naked strangers,
this novice of the night mistook daylight for the devil.
Many years would pass before the cushion and my mind
had covert conversations about the here and now.
I remember when they started, where I was,
and what we said. It’s why a candle burns
on the altar of my flesh, swaying back and forth
between the wounds and wonder.
Published in Permafrost Magazine
The Architect’s Son
Every boy is an architect’s son.
Every son’s neck is a skyscraper burning
a hole in the heaven of fathers. In time
the rain will come, but tears will only
extinguish the rage for maybe a day
that feels like a year, or until
the skin grows numb to the light
and darkness puts on a baseball glove
catching everything his mouth throws at you,
one hard word after another.
Leather is the love, you thought was a hand,
she said was a dragon’s tail.
No mother in her own right mind
would dare break the architect’s pencil.
Lead poisoning, God poisoning,
a rattlesnake’s song humming loud in my foot.
If only the grass would have told me,
that earth is a refuge for pain,
I could have used the venom in me,
instead of the ink in my pen.
Publshed in Assaracus Review
The breath counter is watching.
The pulse police hate overtime
but love a reason to strike or reload.
Angels have no use for cameras.
Disobedience means, you weren’t
a match with Jehovah’s DNA.
Thus, your memories made of his failures,
your beauty, her addiction to shame.
Long live hope’s 10 billion stones
scattered down the hill of your body.
Long live fear’s craving for light
in the dark of your voiceless name.
Be cared for, and your mind
disappears. Kindness is control
with a chocolate heart
made by a diabetic god.
Published in Sweet Tree Review