Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sonnet #205

The family viewed from afar is uncertain
it reminds me of the train cars
Looking through the glass at other cars
How the jostling makes nauseas reactions
For the motion sick, how the two cars
Bounce around independent of each other
On the same tracks, and we gaze over
At the other car and it feels wrong from afar
It is hard to say if they are jumping tracks
If they are falling into each other while stumbling
Or tripping from the push upon their backs
We are not supposed to judge while witnessing
We are not supposed to judge. We don't lack
For confusions, enough, to find any failing
We like, any reason, we don't cross the crack.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sonnet #204

There is no stillness in the boats at rest
In dock, they rock to tides and winds
And out upon the water, moving, best
get the sea legs on, for standing still in
this swift boat means working harder
than if you sailed before the storm, look back
And pull the ropes and hold fast, sailor,
The man that stands in the center track
And touches nothing, helps no one, holds fast
How the hard sweat comes to him, how the slope
of waves knock hard until he falls -- he never lasts
So busy, sailor, on the deck, pick a rope
And get to knotting, find the wind, assert the will
Easier to guide the ship than to pretend it's still

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sonnet #203

I've earned this face. At first, born with it, but
I'm older now and worn it in good.
Every bag, every bone, all I shouldn't have and should
Is written in splotches, graying growths, wheel ruts
I've earned the callouses and the scars
When my body rests below the knife, the story
will be told in my healed wounds, of victory
Every ache in my joints, every late night star
I've counted at my labors, to the squint lines
Or the laughter of the crows, or the dog bites
And decaying leaves of winter's white shine
upon my chest, let it come, I will not fight
against the tides, I embrace the simple story:
I've endured all of this. I will endure more.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

what I'm working on when I'm not around

Every night begins with a story. This is how it ought to be in every house in all the world. The moon is not allowed to rise unless a story is told, to call the darkness and the dreams from behind the wind and clouds. This ought to be true all over the city in the valley, and true high up on the peaks of the mountains above the city, and in the ships of the air that anchored over the city like fat clouds, casting shadows on the rooftops. It was true on a mountaintop overlooking a canyon with an old, wide river, where an airship mountain ferrymaster named Rudolf Anaya lived with his pregnant wife, Drew Anaya, and eldest daughter, Joy Anaya. By day, he lashed the airships to a cable and ran the engine that pulled them past the worst of the winds rising up off the canyons, where airships untethered would be cast wildly about, perhaps landing in the sea, perhaps crashing on a mountain. In this mountain pass, the airships hauled up from the city below loaded with the famous moving dolls and clocks that were made in the factories of the peninsula. They returned to the city with supplies from over the mountains, from the north countries and the eastern kingdoms, food and drink and fine furniture and anything else that could be imagined from far away places. Rudolf came home slow, exhausted, but happy. He wore thick workmen’s clothes, and they were spattered in oil and coal dust, and he had to wash his hands three times before he could touch his fork. The family waited for him. After supper, it was time for young Joy to go to bed. That meant, of course, that it was time for a story.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sonnet #202

The seed never knows how deep the soil
Whether in a pot, or a rocky hill or a swamp
Whether crowded out, or drowned or stomped
Bloom where you land, they say, as if toil
to bloom means nothing, as if the work
The very hard work, of getting roots down
Of spreading leaves enough and floral crown
Is always possible, as if failure is a shirk

Put your boots on and go for a walk
Everywhere you step, you kill the young
These seeds are not to be blamed, don't talk
to me of personal responsibility with your tongue
And stride like giants in horseshoes crushing stalks
Tell those seeds the truth: We eat them young.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sonnet #201

Know our false gods by false sacrifices made
Where we hold our guns against statistical safety
And drive long distances against future dead
And sacrifice money to dress new, live greatly
And sacrifice children on the alter of place
Where some get good, clean cities to thrive
And others are told to keep a submissive face
They'll need to work hard with a smile to survive
Where butterflies die because they're inconvenient
Where trees are chopped down for delicate grasses
And neither deaths mattered, all some achievement

Of white or brown balls, men walking, throwing passes
To sacrifice coral, to sacrifice glaciers, to sacrifice
And for what? We will all die, still, in a devouring life.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sonnet #200

Bring out all the bones of princes, presidents,
and celebrities, and put them in glass boxes
Along the Washington Mall, where the residents
Can throw a quarter into a variety of jukeboxes
And dance among the ruins of who we were
Sing until the sun, the moon, until the blood
runs down the ears and quarters run dry
Remember this was once a kingdom before the flood
The waters will rise, the bones will sigh
And all the street sleepers wash to sea
Some will swim and some will sink
Where their last organized gasp of beauty
leaves so few encasements to cross the drink

A ball will drop from on high, a cheering crowd
The parades among the dead, the dream shared loud

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sonnet #199

Consider the African sand of the Sahara
How it blows across the sea and spreads
Across the sands of Mexico, all the dead
Bones of Egyptian Slaves, the salt of their
Brow, trapped in sand, swirling up above
And over, the dust of lions and ancient trees
And how the desert spreads, even now, we see
The encroaching of death, the wasteland, love
Lost in dunes, desert sand storms; the locusts
Traveled over oceans, in their swarm,
To islands across the ocean, swarm
On water, drown and eat the drowning, trust
The destiny of movement, the flood of doom
And send these drops and drabs of death, and soon

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sonnet #198

Good be not kind, though some would think it so
Consider all the brides who lost their oil
They ran late to wake the merchant and blow
their lamps back to life, upon return to native soil
The door was shut -- the heavenly host proclaimed
I know you not, though hours back there was home
I know you not, you used to be a guest and remained
all day, you thought you belonged; No one
let you have a little oil - nor helped with your mess
These good, holy heavens, locked you out to atone
For such tiny sins -- a fizzled fist of fire, late, a dusty dress

Shed tears if you like, all lost relations feel like stones
Thumb home in the dark and forget those who convicted
at their miserly feast --
                                     Prefer, instead, the kindly wicked.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sonnet #197

The bad trees are cut down, thrown into fire,
For the fruit is no good. The fig tree that fails
is cursed by the lord, withers and dies. All liars,
All thieves, all men who profit from what ails
the world, will be cut down. God will cut you down,
who grows thorns and spits thorns and bitter,
bitter words, words that harm, hate sewn
with a taste; God will cut you down. Better
be making the good fruit. However, the worst medicine
tastes sweet, I think, while the bitter purge heals
We live in a kitchen of sugar and adrenaline
The fruits are too chemical, so wash all your peels.
And what is good is not always what is sweet
What is good will hurt, bleed out, cure surfeit. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sonnet #196

First the dust swarmed off the decaying grasslands
Where heat and drought and construction
and all the ruined places will function
like a dust storm; a blistering, swelling band
of hot, hot wind pouring up from the south
with clouds behind them, a sweeping summer
storm, first dust, then fat drops, the shimmer
of a rainbow somewhere, the sudden truth:
This should be a reprieve, but it will be worse
The sun is back in minutes, the water hurts
the breathing more, now, and where the burst
should have made us cleaner, the coarse
sand sticks damp the oil is lifted up to slick
But won't wash, like little hope, it makes us sick

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sonnet #195

They fall, those little whisps of grass,
As if the tiniest of deaths is less than whisper
There are no ghosts of grass, just fire
And when it is through, new grass, seed, grass
Lean out into the field where every sliver
Of green contains the lineage of eternity
The common sea of so much gras, it's easy
To forget that every individual is peacefully
Contemplating nights and days, and every
Blade, every insignificant little husk rises
Back, look back long enough they are us
Then lean forward at the grass to be a tree
There is a narrative and spirit in every grain
There is a birth, a death; joy, striving, pain

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sonnet #194

The mountain climbers know each other by the handshake
There's a weary eye, a roughness in the palm
The smell of heaven rests upon them like a psalm
hovering at the edge of hearing, there's no quake
about their steps, a lean and narrow trajectory.
They know each other in the street and cafe
They may not speak much to each other lately
But there isn't really anything to tell a story
There was a mountain, once, it was high and proud
The climbers mapped a route, gathered supply
They put one foot after another, until the clouds
Were underfoot, until the wind was a war cry
The echo of empty peaks reverberates below
Mountain climbers meet each other and they know

Tales from a Talking Board, in which I play a small part, coming in October from WordHorde

I've got a short story coming from an anthology edited by Ross Lockhart, TALES FROM A TALKING BOARD (WordHorde 2017)

Mine is a fictional twist on a true story, from back when I was marching drum and bugle corps. I was a contrabass bugle player for the Blue Knights out of Denver, CO, in 1997, 1998, and section leader in 1999.

I don't play anymore, these days, but once upon a time, I did. I never really wrote about it. It's definitely a niche interest.

Here's a link to the whole anthology, if you're interested: