Pretend

Pretend a moment that you’re me
and write a poem I might see.
Pretend a moment that you’re me.

.

Pretend a moment that I’m you.
Pretend I read your poem through.
Pretend what happens when I do.
Are you pretending? Good. Me too.

Pretend the poem tells a tale
of wooden ships with painted sails.
Pretend the sky, the salty breeze,
the creak of decks, the swelling seas,
the cutlass singing past your ear!
Quick! Pretend us out of here!

.

Pretend the road. Pretend the trees,
the horse between your grasping knees,
the flashing river at your side—
Ride neck and neck with hounds from Hell!
Pretend, at least, we live to tell!

.

Pretend the West, the dust, the gold.
Pretend the sleeve. The ace it holds.
Pretend the six-guns drawn at noon!
Pretend we’re somewhere else! And soon!

.

Pretend the sky, the sunset sea.
Pretend the dunes, the grass, a tree.
Pretend you’re walking there with me.
Pretend the gulls that dot the swells.
Pretend the tales tomorrows tell.

.

Shall we pretend eternity?
Shall we pretend to dream?

Death Dilutes You

The final thought to form before goodbye
will not recall the lover’s kiss nor mark
the dappled shadowfall of bright September
days, nor acknowledge the soft metal taste
of blood beneath your tongue. Neither news feeds
nor slideshows, achievements, failures, money,
friends, nor anything you’ve had. The final thought
will be the didn’t do—not the success.
The unacknowledged plan. The incomplete.
A dream. An arm outstretched, an empty palm.
Goals left unattended for better days
that never came or came and went. The thought
will be the should have said, the should have done
while the lump that rises, that beats in your
throat, sinks to your heart and death dilutes you.

.

Song to Authority: noun (with capital A)

Authority: noun (with capital A)
An expert source of inexpert advice
Or information, with little to say
But popular amongst Authori-ties
Which is the noun plural form of small minds
With little to say and lots of them saying
FACTS (Hear those majuscules!) HARD TO UNWIND!
We find ourselves inclined to decline such waylaying
Of truth or of fact with opinions sans stature
(Somehow I have managed twelve beats to my measure)
Like Truth from The Mount of their own manufacture
They pander and ponce for their profit and pleasure.
Authority: noun (with capital A)
What can I say? It’s the Word of The Day!

.

Yesterday Today

When I see flowers I pass them by.
And lovers, I avert my eyes.
Laughter makes me turn and walk the other way.

.

When I hear music I’ve got no place to go.
No place to hide. No quiet place to lie.
When I hear music I just close my eyes and cry.

.

It might as well be yesterday—today is just the same.
Every morning lies and says I’ve come alive again,
That I’m not dying.

.

It might as well be yesterday,
Might just as well be yesterday—
Today.

.

P.S. I feel just fine now. I’ve found my way.

ICARUS, a one act play in verse

Players:
Chorus of 3 voices
Icarus

.

Act 1

.

Chorus
We/we/we, chorus of three.
& Icarus

.

Chorus–1st voice
Lived once a father and a son

.

Chorus–2nd voice
Daedalus, the carpenter

.

Chorus–3rd voice
Icarus, the son

.

Chorus–1st voice
Banished, both, for the sin of one, to an island on the sea.

.

Chorus–1st & 2nd voice
They walked the eastern cliffs. White seabirds wheeling over them.

.

Chorus–3rd voice
Thus Icarus dreamed.

.

Chorus–2nd voice
And so four wings were formed of wood and wax and feather.

Chorus–1st voice
Daedalus, the father, to Icarus, his son, said…

.

Chorus–3rd voice
“If you disobey me and fly too near the sun the wax will melt. The feathers will fall. The wings will fail. And you will tumble like Phaëthon into the sea and die.“

.

Chorus–All
O Icarus!

.

Chorus–All–silence

.

Chorus–3rd voice
Hear him!

Icarus
I

.

Chorus –All
Icarus!

.

Icarus
Demand! Deny my father’s lies,
Sin-borne, sung in fear, of men hidden under darkened skies–

.

Chorus–3rd voice
Fists clenched, and down

.

Icarus
Or die!

Chorus–2nd voice
Like flies, wings torn and every eye to heaven

.

Icarus
Die as Daedalus! Who, having slipped too near this rock to fall but down,
Praised the gods!

.

Chorus–1st voice, whispering
Care, Icarus!

.

Icarus
Hell–a lesser man, for having tasted heaven once, he turned,
Chose this Earth and green Aegean sod.

.

Chorus–one voice
Amend these lies!

Chorus–another voice
And end to night’s deep dark

Chorus–another voice
And oily skin!

Chorus–All–whispering
O Icarus!

.

Icarus
Command! Ascend!

Chorus–one dancing, arms high

.

Icarus
And dance as I
Above the gods and boundless starry winds.

.

Chorus–All dancing

.

Icarus–soaring

.

The End

.

Amend has an old meaning: to put right.

In a Wood by the River’s Edge

In a wood by the river’s edge,
flat and very full of trees,
with banners flying
and no misgivings,

.

brothers Thomas and John
and gallant Aesop,
at song, in praise—
“Good pillage!”

.

Their fleet— their raft,
a sail of a biscuit sack.
An afternoon, idle
near the water’s side.

.

Because all that way
is full of woods
and therefore very
fresh and cool.

.

Source text for all words used in creating this poem: Drake’s Raids on the Treasure Trains: Sir Francis Drake’s Raid on the Treasure Trains: Being the Memorable Relations of his Voyage to the West Indies in 1572. Edited by Janet & John Hampden 1953. Published by The Folio Society.

Death of a Patriot

All that rest are spaces (space)
space of drums
(“Come” they told him)

.

Nitre, cannon, horns, pipes
(echoed, calling)
vertebrae, rope-fray

.

Sinew (pink, foam-flecked)
flailing, fallen, gathered, apart
upon itself, weltered

.

Nitre or niter: saltpeter or potassium nitrate, a component of gunpowder.
Welter: lie soaked in blood.

Who do we actually think has laid down their lives for the freedoms of today? A wellspring of greater beings who have sacrificed everything for us in some past, performing a duty we attempt to honor for a moment, for a day or on a postage stamp? No no no. They are us, one life to the next as we live and die and live—live yet again. We might take a dimmer view of those running roughshod over our hard-won victories if we realized the personal price we’ve paid and how many times. This poem is a death remembered in parts—one day of many from that perspective. Remembered, because that awareness has gone on to live again. I remember past lives (and this is the death of one of them). I don’t much care whether this preamble seems strange or utterly fantastic. Make room. This is the Death of a Patriot.

Sometime Around Vespers

Sometime around vespers or matins, still dreaming or about to—
swimming spaceless beyond the stretch where vision is blindness
where photons tumble like Phaethon from his chariot afire

.

Where time beats that archetypal
echo of rhymed nothingness
pulsing through ALL verse

.

Unfulfilled
nothingness
unfulfillable

.

Except to those returning soul-side
grooving to the hush between the beats—
the authors of such co-labours as these

.

Vespers: evening prayers. Matins: morning prayers, morning birdsong. Phaëthon [fey-uh-thuhn, -thon] In Greek Mythology Phaëthon is the son of Helios, the sun deity. Phaëthon borrowed the chariot of the sun and drove it too close to the earth where Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt to save the world.

Members of the Jury—

It was a drive-by versing
A poem invasion
An act of irrepressible aesthetics
Unmitigated form and passion
Premeditated meter
Alliteration
Aggravated by both rhythm
And rhyme

.

It was a drive-by versing
A poem incursion
A wilding of fact and fantasy

.

By all accounts
A Declaration of Words

.

When my home town made it illegal for singers and performers to freely work the streets there was a protest rally. I read this poem from the courthouse steps with bullhorn in hand.

.

Sin

I love thee not, Sweet Seraphim—
Thou, aloof, aloft—apart from sin.
Nor love thee, Sweet, as does Our Shepherd
Love His flock— His love unfettered.
Nay, truth, My Love— I, as a Beast,
Upon thy lips and thighs, would feast— 
Thy musk! O musth! This night! Thy beauty!
Forsaking Heaven— Carnal duty!
I will not leave thee, Seraphim, uncertain
Thou hadst abandoned Him.

.

Musth: pronounced “must”— the frenzied sexual state of certain male animals.

.

Caveat

A sonnet is a dandy thing all dressed
In pomp and form and run-on lines and things—
Enough to make the weary take up wings.
Though this is but my third, I must confess,
Lifetimes ago I wrote with zing and zest
And sonnets then were little songs to sing
To fluttering breasts and nightingales— or slings
Against misfortune, kings, and other pests.

.

No poet’s court has ever sat assize
Sans sonnets quick and cleverly contrived.   
Fair queen or country maid, though each its prize—
The sonnet’s virtue rests in parted thighs.
Finer roe has never graced a sturgeon
Nor caveat much mattered to a virgin.

.

Caveat is a warning or caution. Assize is a court or can be a judgement. Used here as “sat in judgement.” Sans is an English word stolen from the French about 700 years ago. Means “without.”

.

Razzmatazz

A poet’s breast within me beats
Beats heart and something I call soul that leaps
Charges, races, racing, finds its feet
Drags me, joyful, joy-filled, from my seat!

.

Elevating common prose
For pleasures sake, each poet knows,
Gains by use of tools as those
He would at length, I’m sure, disclose

.

If payment were perhaps an ear
Just for a moment lent to hear
Keenly offered verse— or beer,
Loved by poets too, I fear.

.

Most often those who are unwise
Negate the poet’s enterprise
Out of their need to criticize
(Perhaps within their misery lies)

.

Quite certain they must find a fault
Regardless of the somersaults
Some poets do to try and halt
Those, who in the name of help, assault.

.

Unless you’ve written words as these—
Verses made and meant to please
With just a little work to tease
Xenia* coaxed from a’s and z’s

.

Your day lacks all that razzmatazz—as
Zest for verse—and all that jazz.

.

*Xenia—gifts given to a guest or stranger. Xenia is the plural form of xenium. This poem is an Abecedarian. First letter of each line follows the alphabet. Fun to do.

Happy Birthday! A day in the life of a boy, a bird and a snail.

I was walking down the road
Just as happy as can be
And all the leaves upon the trees
Were waving back at me

.

I saw a curly snail
As he stretched to greet his day
Then headed down the road with me
Then stopped to stretch again

.

I saw a pretty sparrow
She was perched upon a wire
She sang a song—I sang along
We made a lovely choir

.

The snail conducted from a twig—
Just so, our song began
“Happy Birthday to You!”
Did you hear us as we sang?

We had a happy party
As we danced around—We three!
And we wished you Happy Birthday!
Just as HAPPY as can be!

.

Ain’t that cold

I been told a thousand times
that holster on my hip
ain’t the only way to make a stand

.

then they steal (name it healing)
strip the bullets from my mind
jack me up to kick and twist

.

electricate both lobes until
élan succumbs to gravity
stars flicker GOD points a finger

.

points THAT finger says christ
not you again if I had a star
for every time… Ain’t that cold

.

Homage to Ogden Nash

I love to eat with just a spoon: soups, puddings too, if there is room. I love to eat with forks and knives while dining in with friends and wives. I love to eat with little sticks, especially the tricky bits. But most of all with hands and fingers or any things where flavors lingers.

.

Published 2020, Spillwords Press.

.

Sacrificio

O sing unto the grape, her glory!
Impatient, she awaits undress—
Sun warmed, sun ripened, Rubenesque!
They who decry her worth, her alchemies,
flatworms shall feed upon them.

.

A hymn in praise of the grape and a curse upon oenophobes (haters of wine). Sacrificio is from “Sacrifice” and here refers to the first wines of the season which are reserved for Bacchus, the Greek god of wine.