Night

She.
She has no face and no name.
She says nothing.
When she greets us she brings quiet.
When she is here, we are calm.
With her, we heal our pain.
With her, we heal one another.
They use her to hide.
They use her to stoke fear.
We use her to plan.
We use her to fight.
We use her to listen to one another, to touch one another, to know one another.
She is our guide.
They are afraid of her.
They cower beneath her twilight.
They shield themselves from her depth.
They falsify the sun and moon and boast of their great and powerful light.
Their light flashes and blinds, fractures and burns, makes the false appear true.
Her darkness comforts us.
We embrace her.
Above us, above all, she obscures us.
As we hush her rituals go on slowly: the sound of the airplanes, the smoke of the pipe, the blinking of the fireflies, the stardust of the Milky Way, the steady solitude.
It is the hour of slumber, and she is awake.
She unites all creatures under her protective spell.
She offers us comfort;
She offers us shelter.
They offer us nothing.
An olive branch.
An empty promise.
A pretty corner in the history museums
In a space dark enough to match her color but never her power.
We say no, thank you;
We will return to the shadows on our terms.
We are home.
When she leaves she takes our refuge with her.
Light knocks at early morning’s door,
But we no longer hide under cover —
We know she will return for us.
And when she does she opens her arms wide
To embrace us once more
And inspire our uprising.
She carries with her the winds of change,
Thunder and lightning, united fronts under her watch.
She is our strength, our shield,
Our sanctuary.
We were born of the night.
We live in the night.
We will die in her.

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What’s He Doing In There?

An homage to Tom Waits

What’s he doing in there?
What the hell is he doing in there?
There’s a sign on the gate saying “go away”
But the lights blaze at all hours of the day

He’s up to something, we know
On a hill up that long driveway
And he always keeps the gate shut
To keep in that one mangy mutt

They say he’s a widower and fought in the war
And he wears the same clothes, always grey
When he waters the flowers on his walkway —
At least, he used to before

He only goes out now to check the post —
The only time we catch a glimpse, almost
We can’t see inside; we’re too far away
What’s he doing in there?

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The Villa

Someone was always ringing the doorbell these days. Usually on Tuesdays Carl could barely go fifteen minutes without the resonant tones of the bell going off, and he would hasten to the door to let another guest in. Mondays were often busy, too. And sometimes the place could get crowded on Friday and Saturday nights, especially in the springtime, when the weather improved and the leaves started budding vibrant green again.

Carl had known by now to have pastries prepared all day for the influx of visitors he expected on any given day. They were always hungry and usually took a cookie or two with a guilty look on their faces, muttering that someone else would probably need the cookies more than they would. But Carl always shrugged and told them it was fine. They nibbled at their snacks nervously, eyeing the other guests with suspicion and shame.

On this particular Tuesday Carl was especially tired. There was a strange lull in visitors that afternoon, and more than an hour passed without the doorbell ringing once. Carl lounged on the couch in the living room, the front door of the villa 15 feet diagonal from where he sat now. In the break in guests arriving, Carl made the mistake of blinking his eyes for longer than three seconds, and before he knew it he awoke again to the suddenly harsh tones of the doorbell. He swung his feet to the floor with a thump and stood with a creak. The doorbell rang again, twice in a row; Carl sensed the urgency of the tones beyond the door.

“Just a minute!” Carl shouted hoarsely, then cleared his throat. “Hold on! Don’t leave!” With soft stockinged feet he paced quickly to the entryway and swung the door open, fearing that his visitor was too anxious and had already left. When his eyes focused Carl looked straight into the eyes of a sweaty middle-aged man with a worn hat ring around his forehead; the hat itself he wrung nervously through his fingers, bending the brim back and forth. His eyes changed to an expression of relief when he saw Carl open the door.

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You

Sometimes when I am blessed with fits of courage
I wonder what would happen if I surprised you one day
And I brought you a sheet of paper and gave it to you
You’d probably be surprised and say what’s this
And I’d reply I wrote this about you I want you to have it

You’d probably look at my quizzically
You might read the first few lines or even the whole page
And I’d stand there awkwardly not knowing what to do
And avert my eyes from yours as they oscillated across the page
My heart might start racing and my skin would flush
As I immediately regretted showing you the product of your inspiration
Because I’d remember how strange it is to show appreciation for someone
Especially when it manifests itself in such a raw artistic form
As a poem which reveals colossal vulnerability
And breaks my towering walls down at least a little

And sometimes when I’ve built up an unexpected nerve
I think I should confess that other poem was also about you
And that other one that I wrote last year
And still another one I’ve been composing in my head
And this one too

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The Golden Years

“Truth”
Pours from the pen of one vain columnist
The words that you write
Cut like a knife
Everyone believes you
You think that they do

Youth
Seeps from the seams of your festering soul
Mostly just dripping
Influence slipping
Slipping
Slipping

And if only you knew
If only you had the wisdom
In the moment to ask
If only you had the shoes in which to dance
To take a chance to free yourself
Enough to hear the story
Of us millennials,
Generation idle
I-D-L-E
not I-D-O-L

Scorn
Resides in the core of your trivial mind
Consternating dudgeon
Caustic curmudgeon
Clinging to the past
With weak hope it will last
Mostly just drooling
Barely fooling
Yourself

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The Sea Rose

On the surface appears the first ripple of sound.
Somewhere on stage a drumstick clatters to the floor
and echoes through the empty cavern in which
two thousand people sit on the edge of their seats,
knowing everything is about to change.
But this silence, the silence before the storm
is agonizing — two thousand breaths
are waiting to released with the first downbeat.
Below us the sea is swirling, the voices filling
the air around us as the lightning grows in the distance.
The storm  is awakening. First, the hushed murmur
of violin bow on guitar strings, and soft touches
of fingertips on instruments, with a low hum of a bass note
rumbling below all other sounds.
And then —

A cymbal crash and the music bursts
into a wave full of sound and fury, rushing
through the stadium in powerful bass gales
while the thunder from the drum kit fills the room.
The tempest increases as
we sit on the deck, in the nosebleed seats,
and watch as the storm brews below me
We seafarers are merely trying to survive
this musical maelstrom, in little row boats of expectation,
waiting anxiously for the first rush of water
into the hulls of our ships, but being unprepared
for when the sound-waves crash over the ship into our bodies,
instantly drowning any emotional stability we ever had.
Catharsis through cloudburst.

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Westerly Winds

In eastern Wyoming snakes a narrow creek along the vacant landscape, its muddy waters barely trickling from north to south parallel to Highway 18 as the area’s few travelers pay it any mind. In the middle of the creek, on a lonely island displayed modestly beneath the blinding sun, sways a single narrowleaf cottonwood tree in the unceasing gales, the only sign of life above the surface of the dull waters.

Old Woman Creek, they call it. Legend has it the locals named it after seeing the ghost of an Indian woman dancing in the moonlight along the banks. They say she still visits the creek during the full moon every month, and some seasoned elders, gray and haggard from the country sun, even say that the creek runs backward those nights.

I’ve never seen the creek reversed, but I’ve seen it dried up, and from the way the locals talk, that’s the old woman’s fault too. She’s haunting us, they say; don’t go anywhere near that river. They say she lives in that cottonwood tree now and she dances on those banks even still.

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A Perceptible Break

Gus Porter woke from slumber at precisely 5:45 a.m. as he did every morning and sat up in bed, stretching his shaking arms above his head as far as his arthritic elbows would allow, the flab of the skin on his biceps drooping back down into his pajama sleeves. The light was just peeking through the cracks in the Venetian blinds adorned to his frost-covered window, and he yawned to welcome the new day. He groaned with the aches and sleepiness of a man in his ninth decade, and when he swung his veiny legs off the side of the bed into his worn suede slippers and stood up, he walked straight out of the room without turning around to notice thad he had left his body lying prone and deathly still in the bed behind him.

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Intersection

A couple stands at the intersection holding hands loosely, their fingers intertwined but relaxed, indicative of the stage of their relationship when passion is not their priority but a physical connection is. The girl, who can’t be older than 17, wears a knee-length pleated floral skirt above laced-up leather boots under which her feet are surely sweating in the dry July heat; the boy, who looks even younger with his apparent inability to grow facial hair, holds her hand calmly while fidgeting in his shorts pocket with the other, twisting the cloth back and forth below his fingers. His shirt has a silhouette of mountains on the front of it and a Colorado flag as a backdrop, indicating his tourist status to this mountain town — likely a souvenir from the t-shirt shop down the street. The couple stands at the front of the line watching the cars pass back and forth in front of them, waiting only for the little white neon man on the light pole fifty feet away to tell them it’s safe to walk. She taps her toes twice and draws a circle with the toe of her boot on the unresistant sidewalk; he looks at her and lets go of her hand. They both stand with their hands on their hips waiting to cross.

A bicyclist swerves up next to them, jutting his wheel out into the intersection mere inches from traffic turning right on the adjacent street. He wears a helmet and sunglasses and doesn’t look either direction; he stares only straight ahead, waiting also for the traffic light to become red so he can cross safely. The couple gives him a side-eyed glance as he leans on one foot and one pedal entirely too close to them for comfort. Music blares from his headphones, the cord attached to which hangs dangerously close to his handlebars; first only a faint drumbeat can be heard through the headphones from a few inches’ distance, but when the song picks up it can clearly be identified as “Livin’ On a Prayer.” The girl hears the beat and begins unconsciously nodding her head to it; her boyfriend looks over at her and smiles; she smiles back sheepishly. The music seems to propel the bicyclist, and he inches forward slightly into the intersection but the white neon man doesn’t change for the biker’s will. A row of cars farther down the next block impedes everyone’s views from the oncoming traffic, and the biker is impatient for the light to change. He, too, must wait.

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Big news!

The Priest_coverHello, lovely readers! I have more news for those of you who visit this blog!

I’ve taken the next steps in my writing and publishing adventure:

1. First I’ve just published my novella, The Priest, on Amazon! This is the longest piece I’ve ever written, at 37,000 words, and it was a blast to write the whole way through. Please go check it out!

2. In the spirit of promoting my work, I’ve just made a Facebook page and a Goodreads author page for posting updates and excerpts from my work. I’m just getting the hang of both of these sites as promotional resources, but please check them out and stay tuned.

Thanks for your continued interest! I’ll still be posting poems and short stories here, but it’s been a whirlwind lately with all this other stuff I’ve been invested in. I promise I’ll be back here soon!

 

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