On a night like tonight, Death looks like
a naked man holding one black tulip.
He offers it to me on one condition:
that I pose as a vase, a coffin,
a place where the sun can sleep on the water,
undisturbed by clouds. He feels
like the wings of a purple moth
wrapped around my body, submerging
me into night’s cocoon, where I wait
for a child to punch holes in the lid
and air to fill the jar. He sounds
like thunder slapping the sky,
like monks on their knees in the dead of winter
praying to a frozen god, or
the shrieking alarms on the cardiac screen,
the last numbers pushed on the heart’s jukebox.
He smells like oil on a city street
after a summer rain, technology’s clean
destructive scent drifting from every gland.
He tastes like a knife dipped in honey,
causing the lips to close very gently
on what can be swallowed but not given back.
Published in Mid-American Review
Negotiation if you will,
force if you won’t,
is how winter’s hand
glides in and out
with the soft, lovely gloves
of necessity and treason.
Felony or fashion?
Blossoms tell the bees,
it’s the brightness that loved you,
we never did. It’s the buzzing
you remember before the stinger stayed,
not the way you vanished in summer’s violation.
Published in Columbia Journal
Others were involved. It remains unclear how much they knew about their participation. Only a few stood out. Mainly the taller ego driven by beautiful inches above the waist and the ugly ones below. I remember playing charades. I remember passing out at the point the future thought it was me. Someone said he cared enough to ask me for my number. Someone said he kissed a tiger making love to a hunter’s gun after the trigger failed to do its one and only job. Unemployment was a consequence of no application besides the one for a bouncer on call in hell. There was turmoil on the tundra. Jungle fever was the only source of light we had for months. Amyl Nitrate took the place of father’s Old Spice skin. Others became less involved. Blood pressure soared on the dance room floor like climbers drunk on Everest. Snow became our weather choice for noses freezing in August. Columbian men wore suits of money bought with desperation. We were 20 going on 90 with no steering wheel or brakes, plastic men on birthday cakes protecting the sugar from burning. Cavity’s lingered in holes created by the tooth fairy’s promise of cash. Others were no longer involved. What the mouth surrendered, the mind accepted, silence ate the calendar whole like 31 days of cancer cells rolling the dice to win and lose and train the hand all over again to throw the world away.
Published in Anti-Heroin Chic
According To the Rule of Aphrodite
You, of all men,
should not think you know
how bold, erotic, vehement women
unravel the womb’s pink straw and
empty its basket of snakes.
When their radiant glance
on your jaundiced heart
finds you unworthy of light,
unworthy of serpents churning the blood
with what only beauty can change,
you, of all men, should know.
Look, Aphrodite, your blue-eyed boy
sees the world he was trying to save,
the one without you in it.
Look, Aphrodite, I tremble.
Published in Assaracus
His job, he said, was to follow me closely
the way a cat in the frozen field
stalks the shadow of shivering breaths
measuring hunger in victim time
as fear changes contentment’s eyes
from a hue of blue to unspeakable black
and claws strip tomorrow’s fur
off yesterday’s brittle bones.
From a nest woven tight as a drag queen’s wig
the sky was seduced by a feminine hymn,
a raptor’s alleluia. The holy wet his pants,
and still, I was followed closely.
In the stalker’s gospel of stumble and save
he watched me fall then raised me up
from the tip of the world as the runway roared
and angels applauded me bloody.
Published in Bluestem 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
Gone Blue, Gone Gray, Gone Away
At the heart of Appalachia, near the Ohio River,
in the back of my Father’s throat,
a combine strips the past from the present.
Inhaling “No,” exhaling “Yes,”
everything green and gold in between
becomes rows of what can’t be forgotten.
Never have I listened so closely
to the stethoscope swinging from my soul,
or been so devoted to one man’s words
beating like a snare drum in both our wrists
at the end of a battle,
gone blue, gone gray, gone away.
Made as I am of rough southern straw,
broken and bundled in muddy brown fields,
the near fatal choice of not being chosen,
is a memory none of us have. There were no crows
to scare with hands that did not hold my own.
There were no crows at all.
Published in Compose Literary Journal
Rolling DNA Dice At The Adoption Sock Hop
How I got here at all,
after no invitation and no directions,
after one long night of Can’t Stop the blood
as the DNA dice on the rearview mirror
of mamma’s Alabama 57’ Chevy,
danced to a violent pot hole beat
over 17 years of hot tar skin,
making her more black than
Methodist white, making me grayer
then a storm over Selma, the last
southern lightning this boy’s eyes would see.
How we got there at all, with me
in the center, her hungry little crow,
pecking the future off the faded yellow line
as the engine of creation met the craving
of collision with the world bearing down
on us both was a game we both
played and won, after the toss was over.
Published in William and Mary Review