The Willow Laughed – A Poem

Don’t account for that morning.

A south wind blew but brought no promise
of deliverance.

Summer had covered us in a lunatic charade of love.

A chill hovered over your bare skin, a pale protective aura.

There where the willow
laughed
I found God
to be powerless
except for in
those small meaningless moments of tender compassion.

You shifted your arm and leaned your shoulder into me.

In a blighted gown the sun crept over us.

I tasted the blood in your lips as the shadows fluttered
on the grass
and craved even more for that subtle parting.

But in our haste to preserve a timeless moment
unraveling before us
we gave allowances to each other
to console the turbulent imaginings
of youth’s naked want.

A Memorial in the Middle of the Park

Maddie sits with her grandparents in their parlor. They smile sweetly at her and she twists her red hair.

This room isn’t big enough for the three of us she thinks.

The bright afternoon is suffocating.

Is your mother doing well then Grandma Lan asks.

Yes well Maddie answers.

Good. Good. All so good.

Maddie wonders what is in the big wood chest under the window as she sips her ice tea. Granddad stares at her fingers as they twirl her hair.

Nervous about something he asks.

No.

Your chi is out of whack. You need to center yourself.

Yeah. Maybe.

Granddad has a long beard and smokes pot. She thinks he may be propositioning her some and stops twisting her hair.

What is in the chest Grandma Lan she asks.

Oh this and that. Mementos I have collected and saved over the years. There are some things that are for you after I pass away.

Maddie finds this disturbing but thanks her grandmother anyway.

I’ve got to go. For a walk she says as she stands and walks over to the door to put on the boots she just removed fifteen minutes ago. I need some fresh air and want to look around the neighborhood.

Would you like to help me prepare dinner when you come back Grandma Lan asks we are having BURR – REE – TOES.

Maddie takes note of a picture on the wall by the door of her father as a boy in a soccer uniform and leaves without answering. The air is hot and white. A moderately intoxicated man down the road wears sunglasses while driving his lawnmower.

The outside smells of corn and sulfur. Each house is distinct from the last that she passes, and all in various stages of care. She is stifled by all of the green that she sees.

There is a sense of familiarity that permeates the town. It feels to her as if she is living through a reoccurring dream. One that she always forgets the moment she wakes up.

Entering the commercial district Maddie dives into the entry way of a boarded up post office. She lights a cigarette. There are the voices of several teenagers nearby. Wanting to avoid them she decides to change the direction she was going to go when she leaves.

She ends up in a park located nearly in the center of town. At the bathrooms she buys a bottle of water from a vending machine.

There is a memorial in the middle of the park. A stone dome with ionic columns and a hole in its roof. Some people say the hole was caused by a meteor that crashed through the roof. Others speculate it was a piece of a doomed aircraft. The newspaper stated it was an unknown object that fell from the sky. Whatever it was it was removed long ago. The hole was left as a curiosity and town attraction though. Now none pay it any attention.

Maddie spots the teenagers that she heard back at the shutdown post office. She can tell them by the sound of their voices. There are three boys and two girls. They notice her and she knows it and straightens her skirt. She regrets her choice of shirts. A tight bright blue t-shirt.

Two weeks Maddie thinks two weeks and then…

And she doesn’t know. She does not know if it even matters.

You have another one of those Granddad asks appearing behind her. Not even aware she lit another cigarette Maddie offers him one by holding the box out. Thought you might want the company. Probably wrong though.

No. You’re not wrong.

Maddie lights his smoke and they are quiet for a while. The teenagers are at one of the park picnic tables. A boy jumps off of it. He splays his legs in a mock stage jump. He is wearing a green shirt with a Chinese Dragon which Maddie finds ridiculous.

It’s been a long time since you have been here. You were ten I think.

Eight.

Right. Is it a lot different Granddad looks into her eyes. She looks away. At her fingernails.

No. Not different at all.

Suppose not. Things don’t change here much.

Gazing back up to the hole she studies its jagged sharp edges. There is a reddish hue to them. It contrasts the pale white stone of the building.

Know what caused that Granddad asks.

A meteor.

No. The devil.

A devil fell from the sky she asks incredulous.

No. THE devil fell from the sky.

She laughs Why would the devil come here.

Who knows. Some believe he’s here still. Granddad puts out his cigarette on the trash can lid and smiles at her. Let’s go get some of Grandma’s burritos.

Maddie smiles back.

Back Roads of Eden – A Poem

This love
this
piercing sound
recollecting a filament

of that which
was left behind us. Enshrined
echoes gather fire
and their madness

shudder
before the storm. I coil
into the protection
my fallacies afford me. The back

roads of eden
where this love is peddled and pushed
corrode into an iridescent
blue.

It overwhelms our reason.

It is all and nothing.

The Solitude of Birdsong – A Poem

I left it by the eggs.
I can remember that.
But where the eggs are?
That I can’t remember.

An image I am trying to recreate
is masked by the rapids.
Water falling unreflective,
white.

I think back to yesterday when Alex stole that car.
When we stole that car.
She was just paid fifty dollars
for dressing up like Lady Liberty
to lure people into a store.
Standing outside for four hours
she held a sign with an arrow
to point them in the right direction.
But no one followed it.
No one went in the whole time
she was out there.

The man who owned the store
wasn’t happy.
“Worst fifty bucks I ever spent.”
But he paid her anyway.

And she was wanting to get into town
to spend it all away.
So that is why Alex found an easy target
(a car parked outside a movie theater)
and waived for me to hurry into
the passenger seat.
When we drove away she reached over
and popped open the glove box.
“Bad parents,” she said
pointing her thumb to the back
to an empty child’s car seat.
“Good parents always have snacks
for their kids,” she smiled.
For some reason this justified the crime
to me.
I felt reassured.

This world and everyone in it
can fuck off
bastards.
“That is what he wrote?” Alex asked me
later at night
when we were back at my house.
She looked up from the sink
with her short, dark hair
clinging to her face after she wet it down.
I was busy with the eggs and tortillas.
“He was a shit writer,” I said.
She pouted her lips and rubbed her head
with both hands.
She asked me a personal question
that I refused to answer.

At the border of Belmont County
(the eastern border)
my house is breaking apart.
It’s a short bike ride
or a nice walk
to the river where the falls are.
That is where the image was before
it went away.
Or disappeared.
Or maybe I just lost it.

It’s one of those things that I can’t
remember,
and can only now try to recreate.

Alex walks in front of me along the path.
She is wearing jeans and her arms are crossed
behind her back.
I have the wrong type of shoes on
so my feet hurt.

The rushing sound of the falls is interrupted
by the solitude of birdsong.

Tangerine Sin – A Poem

I begin. Blue
single translucent.
Marginal drifts coalesce. Over
time.

Speak. Don’t speak
our tangerine sin
obsession.

Church rots from the
inside. Leaves shadowing
failed stone on the hill. Overgrown.
Faceless.

Summer touches your
lips. Revealed
under lunar paper parasols.

Weighted nature. A pocketed
version
of the universe
we dropped
into the lilac. A name. Bruised.
Falls in upon itself.

Soft anger erupts. Swirling.
Vacant beyond your reach.

Our lives sheltered in
green. Aged. Bend
under the wind.

A Canticle of Low Origin – A Poem

A mystery.
Torn into opposing directions.

The feel of her smile.
The knife blade not quite
sharp enough.
Clippings which
provide a more detailed
account.

How stripped bare her humanity
spilled into rivulets
under the gathered clouds reflecting a red sun
purple.
Geese flew in the sky as
the forest darkened.

Reports say that spring is now in
season.
That love has been distilled.
There is so little for concern.

I mark how her elbow bends
in the last of autumn’s
fallen leaves
and hum a canticle of low origin.

Charlotte – A Poem

Charlotte believes a lovers’ quarrel
smells the same
as kerosene
poured over the mint in her mother’s garden.

She feels the end of a sonnet
is like the end of a life.

And yet although she recognizes something familiar
in the eyes
and in the manners
of every one she sees
she knows she passes
and will pass
unnoticed
through the world.

Monstrous praises she heard
slurring out of a half-open window
made her giggle
once
into her clenched fists.

Charlotte believes
and feels.
She recognizes and knows
praises
hears
giggles.

“It’s just that I don’t understand

her.”