Page Charlemagne

You need look no further for: Thinspun | TiVo for two | Ho | Farewell to Gog | I hate her | Storm passage | Shadow lamp | Lightshow | Two fathers | Fifth season | Outside in | Pause | Sins of omission | Look both ways | Recess | Getting in | Whip wind | Green, I say | Skinny dipping | Too healthy |Why I hate nice little Irish pubs | Exchange of hunger | Walls of light | Bad trade | Unreliable narrator | Wear white | Limping | Tight corner | Dancing away


it feels like a cylinder
(it being I)
with the child scooped out
and replaced by a light-
bulb, the three-way kind
but force fed into
a standard one-way
reverse threaded socket
that's hanging instead
upside down from a thread
pulled up, ever up,
by centripetal force
so it's swinging (I'm swinging)
we're swinging, I guess,
which accounts for the mess
I've made of the blessing
it's my turn to say
how thankful we are
for the food and the day
but I've left out the parts
about giblets and lungs
(was it eyeballs and hearts?)
they're all scooped out, too,
and ground up
ever up
so it's sausage, ok,
for supper, in omelets,
breakfast food? fine
when we dine
upside down
on a thread
with our feet when we eat
hanging over our heads
and I'm just
shaken up,
hollowed out
like a ball
coated with images, sounds and an
army of small, tinny samples of musical themes,
business cards, coffee stains,
mens' magazines

I'd like to stop turning
I'd like to be filled

there's a child
I remember
who was solid

I remember the wind on a cold, autumn day
I remember the moon on sea gone blue-grey
I remember the way that we kissed on the stairs
I remember the taste of sweat in your hair
I remember the simple rhymes read from a book
I remember the choice to dive
into something different
for a broken thing to fix
or ringing bells to summon drinks
from serving girls in tight, short skirts

I remember wanting it to hurt

what is "hollow?"
but memory of inside
now turned inside-out to see
where heart, lungs, eyes
now flung, spun, dashed
sent spinning outward, onward,
far far far beyond
beyond our sight and sound
perhaps to crash
perhaps to sputter silently
and melt into the dusty ground

what was in is out
what was here is gone
what was heart is lost
what was one
is spun

TiVo for two

Let's get together tonight to watch TV.
You in the study above the garage,
me in my rumpus-room, basement retreat.
I assume you'll watch nature shows, something
with fish.
I'll watch a "Star Trek: TNG" repeat,
for an hour or so. Then, giggling, we'll switch.
Passing, briefly, for popcorn and pink lemonade
in the midnight-black kitchen. Then, making our trade,
I'll see you recorded "That 70's Show."
How utterly odd. How strangely unlike
you. I sit through it all. Complete, utter tripe
and climb down to bed where you wait
barely hiding (not hiding at all, stage
hiding, at best) a massive, broad grin.
"What? What?" I'm not pissed. Well a little. In
jest, just as you are sure loving what you
wait to tell.

"Did you like your shows?" You ask, coy-as-hell.
"I liked my show," I reply. "How'd you stand
that crap you recorded? At least I taped something
we'd both like and..."

You burst out laughing. "I didn't watch it. I taped it
for you and watched ice-skating."


This calls for revenge.
She forgets I have nearly perfect recall
for bad TV dialogue, gags, jokes and all
the stuff I just sat through.

I straddle her hips. Her eyes open wide and she trys to resist.
Nothing doing. I've got her by 92 pounds.

"OK. It starts of with these four guys sitting around,
smoking dope in their basement..." She panics and writhes,
but there is no escape, and for longer than I
spent in front of that tube watching second-hand crud,
she hears it third-hand.

Now, that... That is love.


What's on your Christmas list this year?
A mirror? Or a rake, my dear?
What do you want to get from me,
wrapped in gold foil beneath the tree?

A pint of blood? A pound of brain?
An atomizer stoked with pain?
All my best dreams bound and pinned
like butterflies on plates of tin?

Santa's bag may not quite hold
the pulsing, wriggling things you've told
him you would like to see him pry
out of my jaws, clenched tight. Do try

to be specific. I can't part
with more than one stiff, ruined heart.
Nor night terrors, once they've gone
and fled my marrow, fled the bone

of their dark birth.
I just hope you
don't want to

Farewell to Gog

Sad and pasty ancient god.
Left behind on altar rock
to swear on himself and swear
to gods left less behind,

"I am not done!
The blood is sweet!
The dogma fun!
Give me a coin.
A chunk of...



We are not there.
We moved along
to places where the gods are
fluid, windy, wise.
Not bathetic. Never tired,
worn or too hung over to inspire
guilt, shame, war, love,

Gog was always out of breath.

Sitting on his mossy crack.
Too fleshy, farty. Too laid back.

Too like us.

So, Gog, goodbye.
We move on.
And old gods die.

I hate her

Who can blame?

Action isn’t taken from
a passive vacuum state
in plain, black space
an empty plate
naked, pained, shaved, cold, awake
and stained with nothing

left lying, moist and waiting
draped across blank canvas bed
like some voluptuous
head of state
finally deigning
to turn a touch
just enough
to make a choice
and point and whisper

“This. Him. Yes.”

Oh, no. Not me. Not me at all. Him.
The Hideous Other.
He In Whom She Delights.
He Whom She Has Chosen.
He Who Touches Her Most Hidden Parts.
He Who… you get the point.

That’s not it.
That’s not real.
That’s not how it goes at all.

It’s how I’d like to think of it
for then I’d get to heap the blame
like meatballs on a plate of shameful
noodles; wet and limp
with nothing on my conscience
but perhaps bad judgment.

I am not five. I can not blame
the toy that breaks. I can’t pretend
when she goes off to hide that it’s
all game. That I peeked between my
fingers and I know that she is gone
into a place I cannot follow to

be coy.
I am not a little boy.

The walls of plastic bricks come down
(my fault, my fault, I built them all)
the rubber ducks and sailboats drown
I see my trail of snacks and beer
and Xbox games and here and there
the snapshots of girls
who played other games.

And I am left with
meatballs, blame, a metaphor or two.

I hate her.

She has left me here
No longer me
the boy
broken from my playground
divorced from days of yellow crayons
and still not yet a man.

Storm passage

We used to count beats between
lightning and thunder.
"Five is a mile."
And we'd giggle and smile,
curl up tight as fists
beneath covers while rain like
God's own hissing breath
tore through the old
aluminum gutters.

Wonder. In a skin of oil
draped over a puddle, a veil of
rainbow-black ooze.

Wonder. In the smell of ozone
after clouds roll through
fast as grey horses.

Wonder. In the ponk-donk
of drops as they sputter
down from the roof
onto cans by the shed.
"A tin symphony."
That's what you said.

An October storm that blew through
in the span that it now takes
to have a "quick" meeting.
Or two.

My old friend, I ask you...
where is our wonder?

The fire is yellow, is orange is red.
The fire is hot, but the color is dead.
I turn 'round and 'round
and the circle is smaller,
the water is dry
the sounds from the sky

are just racket and boom.

No cannons. No trains cross
the roof of my room.

I count, "One.. two... three..."

There. It's less than a mile.

So what? Just a noise.
Keeps me up
for awhile.

Shadow lamp

The curve of your neck beckons,
shallow bowl of moon stone. Cool milk
spills, silk on silk below green eyes
dark dyed, hooded, never fully wide. Your sky
of fair wind hair spins night\'s
sigh around your curve of neck.
Just a touch to my side, a leaning touch
but I could never slide a hand
across our paper thin yet deep divide
to find the smile/wound that hides behind
your yellow, shining, night-sky honey,
golden maned disguise.

I turn my eyes. From you, from my desire,
and see the silhouette of
your neck on the wall. The fall
of shadow inked by yellow light behind,
lithe shape the same, slender goblet full of life.
I am trapped between my eye and mind,

and yet...

this gap I may yet bridge. I find
my arm behind, my hand casts shadows
on the wall’s blank page. Your back is turned,
the plain, dull plaster just a stage where now
I’m free to lift my hand, stretch, fingers plead
and, finally, end their silent
aching need.

The curve of your neck beckons,
it’s silhouette like some bright lamp
from ancient desert tales.
And finally I feel
the sweet, soft slippery
glide of fingers down inside

I (shadow) stroke the (shadow) curve
of (shadow) neck,
and the whisper of sweet, yellow breeze,
Three wishes.
Make them

Lamp light flickers,
your hooded eyes are almost closed.

I am a coward, fingers caught
in shadow. What to wish for?

I don’t know.


Moon is not the opposite of sun.
Sometimes hot, sometimes hidden,
sometimes welcome.
Sometimes not.
Both cast shadows.
Both are round.
Circles chasing circles
in a foxtrot we ignore,
looking ever down.
So what if one shines out
while one reflects?
Yellow glow or silver sin...
Both have dangers,
both have slept in
clouds of cover,
hiding lines of light
under branches, leaves,
even roof-tops. City streets
spit-slick with rain and gasoline
will spoon with him
as readily as her.
Fickle asphalt.
And I, too, am torn,
between the light that gives
and light that steals.
Soft silver
glow so
Harsh yellow
eye, now, what
what at what and why
do you stare?

Leave me alone.
Moonlight on still, black water
is all that I can bear.

Two fathers

Which wonder where
would the whole hole
False Father tear?
Test wrested rote
rattling rant choked
raked and rather than
relieved --
instead, blast belief
trade timid
trick trust
flick back tender
leave paralyze pooling
loose limp useless
limbs rolling

Real Father rolls back
red veined gagging black
cool scene peace dream
light beyond
light between.
Layers of there revealed
in the real
steal clarity down
from above from
around. Truth sea
see vanity flee
from He
who saves me.

Fifth season

When did the slim, slightly tousled
slip of a girl
with grass in her hair and
wrinkled, linen slacks
slide, unnoticed, into some quiet pool
of stagnant water?
Her honey hair swirled clockwise
just a moment,
barely disturbed the grey scum
that coats the liquid skin,
and then
she was gone
as if she’d never strode beside me.

Summer lived in her tan face,
the bowls of her cheeks held sun like soup.
Her forehead a map of beaches, trails and parks.
Each step she took pushed back the globe
one step
the other way.
You could feel it
walking beside her.
Barefoot, sandals, boots or heels – no matter.
Slight of frame; petite, perhaps,
but mighty as Diana in her stride.

Winter lived in her laugh.
Grown men feared it.
The laugh and short, sharp glance that said,
“Oh. You. Never mind.”
The cutting laugh.
The lovely laugh.
Warming, you cold drink from it.
Suck cold sustenance and, maybe,
flavor something sweeter. Maybe.
Maybe later.

Spring lived in her breath.
Quiet words. Soft against my neck,
soft against my ear.
Hard against my heart and bedrock.
Whispers of new life. Whispers of
growing things
that seek warmth
and rain.
Her words brought wind
and warmth
and rain.

Fall lived in my eyes.
Every change a scarlet gem,
every touch a drop of harvest gold.
She could do no wrong.
From sunrise yellow hair
to blue noon eyes
to mischief heart of midnight black.
Nothing marred the sweet, cool day
of her, my autumn girl,
the world I love.

When, then, did she find time
to die?
Between the sun and wind there is no crack.
Between the ice and breath?
I cannot say.
I only know that she is gone.
And so, without her fair, firm stride,
the earth stands still.
Trapped without sun
without ice
without wind, warmth, wet

without gold.

Outside in

When summer cracked the creek bed, blurred the tar and swelled our sneakers
there was nothing left to do but wait for wind or rain or night.

Sometime roughly five years after VJ-Day our downtown
may have looked less like a skimpy slice of crap. But I was born
into an age of “For Lease” signs and boarded windows, dirt lots empty,
guarded only by the crows that waited, barking, for The Rapture.

One large warehouse, labeled, “VINNY’S” had been empty since “The Love Boat”
set a course for (crap) adventure. White, like cruise ships. White, like Dover.

One summer Gary had a crazy, fucked-up idea for a party.
Asked his dad if we could borrow his projector from the classroom
where his dad taught drivers’ ed and used it to show films of wreckage,
you know, accidents and crashes, drunk guys with their heads exploded.

Gary’s dad was cool, divorced, and so he said, “Why not? Have fun.”

My mom was school nurse, so the librarian let us borrow all these old films.
That first night we watched “Citizen Kane” on the wall of Vinny’s warehouse.
Next night “Days of Wine and Roses,” and a few friends joined in with us.
“Casablanca,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,”
“Wuthering Heights,” “Duck Soup,” and “Giant,” “City Lights” and “Sound of Music.”

August broke, the rain and wind came, but we still had “sit in movies.”
Two-hundred plus with tarps and slickers, hats, or simply soaking.

Summer finally ended. Gary’s dad called back the projector.
No more Bogart. No more Hepburn. No more cuddling on the tarmac.

But passing Vinny’s warehouse, even now, long decades gone,
it’s white walls whisper not of dust, nor broken glass and crow shit,

but of music, life and magic
still sleeping in the asphalt.


Let's take a basket
down by the river,
down to the place where the willows bow low.
Push past their branches,
brush through their curtain,
out to the flat rock that juts out below.

Dragonfly dances,
butterfly rambles,
blackbird with redwings takes flight at your laugh.
One finger touching,
one finger tracing.
Sun warms the flat rock while daylight slips past.

Jam from the garden,
bread from the oven.
Pickles and grapes from the store on the way.
Bottles of water,
water slides by us.
Plenty enough to last through the day.

Lay back on the rock face,
warming and drowsy,
your hair on my shoulder, my cheek on your brow.
The sun halts its movement,
the river stops flowing.
You are my everywhere. Forever my now.

Sins of omission

Startled, Sue wakes from a blanketless sleep,
cold and alone on a mattress she financed.
She still has four minimum payments to meet
before it is hers and not owned by the bank.

What made her wake up? A noise in the kitchen?
No, nothing stirs there but a digital clock.
No lover, no kids. Not a bird or a kitten.
The apartment is quiet and still as a vault.

Sue reaches down to pull up the fat comforter,
up from the foot of the bed where it lies.
Then she realizes what troubled her slumber;
she knows what it was that caused her to rise.

It wasn't a car horn, a dog bark or footfall,
it wasn't an owl's strange cry or a train.
She hadn't, in fact, heard any sound at all.
Silence, in this case, had snatched her awake.

All night and every night, Sue keeps a fan on.
The white noise is comforting, helps her to sleep.
But now the fan's silent. Something has gone wrong.
The quiet's too quiet. The silence too deep.

Clutching her comforter, Sue cries and cries.
Hours until morning, until the sunrise.

Look both ways

fate is not a woman
fate is patient
fate is not a woman
fate is graceless
tumbling sudden logjam ripcord
vertical thunder
breathless acceptance

fate is a woman
fate is patient
fate is a woman
fate is graceful
gliding waiting spidersilk garrotte
horizontal whisper
torpid rejection

fate is is not
a woman
a woman


The sounds of the playground
are comfort in winter
no children, no laughter, no shouts
in the cold
just the iron ring cry
of a swing on a eye hook
the wind in the monkey bars
sleet on a slide

Grey snow all but vanishes
yellow paint hopscotch
and ice jams the joints
of the merry-go-round.

Nobody lingers here
just a few blackbirds
and me and it's noon
so my shadow is gone

All alone with the crows
and the sounds of the playground
so useless
so empty
so peaceful
so cold

Getting in

Part I: Around

If I have to be funny
at the front door
I will hear the screen door out back
Peering in the blue draped windows
only makes you
nervous, makes you
shut the blinds.
If I knock too hard
you run upstairs.
If I knock too soft
you pretend
you do not hear.
If I ring (ring, ring, ring)
the bell,
that is what you waited for
and you don't trust that

I will slip
a piece of parchment paper
in the brass slot
where mail used to drop
(rules change;
curbside box;
slot remains).

One word written.
One word only.
In watery sepia, loopy hand scrolled
Baroque stroke lines and curls.

One word.
One word only.

Part II: There

I'll wait across the street.
In the little public park.
Underneath the yellow willow
where the old men stop to rest.

I'll face the other way
so I won't see you approach.
I'll wait until it's dark,
your shadow won't give you away.

I'll wait until it's quiet.
I'll wait until you're calm.
The echoes from the sun have died,
and everything is still.

They all tried to get inside.
But I know why you are frightened.
I don't need to see your curtains
except from here, across the street.

I'll wait until the moon grows soft
with sleepiness and stories.
I'll wait until I feel your hand
in mine as you sit down.

Part III: Here

Tomorrow they'll see the
pester push
maybe not even wait.
But nobody's home.
Nobody's home.
Empty shell.
The princess prize taken.
Stolen by silence, by darkness, by ink.
Dust ruffles, wainscotting, sheers and an end table.
All useless. Waiting
for a mistress now
No clue, no evidence.
Where? Why abandoned?
Just one word
on parchment
one only,


Whip wind

Whip wind
blinds hands
numb punished
into pockets
pushes eyes
pricked, whittled
punished sideways
into sockets
slaps slacks
forth and back
harries hairs
on hocks and thighs
whip wind
teeth grind
lips grin
here am I
do your worst
up yours
I win
I die

Green, I say

(from a friend's dare/challenge to write a poem about M&Ms)

nothing so shallow,
nothing so thin
as candy crunch color micrometer skin

no peanut no licorice whipped red or black
no nothing with actual
taste to its tack
or rasp on its back
is shallow as candy crunch color skin that
spills rainbowy slippery
elbow deep seeds
all chocolate inside
but we pick out the greens

(you never did hear what the others are for?)

listen, then, child
aphrodisiac’s safe
compared to the rest of the prism of taste

yellows are seeds for soldiers of light
plant them near holly, they blossom at night
and scalp neighbors’ kids who have taunted or teased
the brown ones, when juggled, cause mad cow disease
these days Charon takes ferry payment in red
put two in your mouth (they won’t melt when you’re dead)
a trail of bright orange leads men to your wife
every blue one you eat takes two months off your life

the green makes you horny?
well, here, take a few

they don’t look quite right?


I’ve peeled them for you

Skinny dipping

Samantha wears a football jersey
faded by a hundred washings
robin's egg and powder blue
and nothing underneath it.

Her hair is late October night black,
long and straight and held by nothing
loose around her neck and shoulders,
curtaining her eyes.

Barefoot, she descends the staircase.
Barefoot, she escapes the kitchen.
Barefoot, she goes past the hot-tub
out into the yard.

The law demands an eight-foot fence!
And so an eight foot fence they built.
An in-ground pool can be a danger
to a random brat.

But for a priestess eight-foot fences
are a screen from profane eyes.
Mr. Hanzyk, Miss. McKenzie
wouldn't understand.

Robin's egg and powder blue
in a tumble on a bar stool.
Late October night black streaming
straight and wet behind.

Worship water without seeming.
Water is the first and farthest.
Water knows your heart and harvest,
depths and deepest down.

Wind, the Laugher, will not trouble
if you lie and feed him stories.
Fire, his brother, eats too quickly,
doesn't really care.

Elder Sister, Earth, the Altar,
far too stern to care for worship.
What has she to do with music,
dance or hands or tears?

Samantha swims in ancient patterns,
sewn into her womb and iris.
Drags her palms against the concrete,
spins and dives again.

Floating on her back she places
both her hands beneath her breasts and
waits to hear what she should do next.
Waits for revelation.

A helicopter with a searchlight
looking for a speeding Mustang
plays its beam across Samantha
wakes her from her spell.

Back in bed and shivering slightly
Samantha feels a trace of wonder.
Feels as if she's been invaded
by a liquid light.

She will sleep and wake tomorrow,
shuck her husband's football jersey,
step into a nice hot shower
and never be the same.

Too healthy

She stoops to pick up scraps of men.
Shrink-wrapped chunks of morning light
toying with her as she kneels and bends
to grab the skittery, spinning piece of guy
she’s spied. Sometimes they get wind-stuck,
face flat towards the sausage cart.
It takes a practiced eye, some time, a bit of luck
to build a real collection, to make art
from pieces others left behind.
Anyone can pay retail, shop full price.
She would rather be the girl to find
a portion that, at first glance, ain’t so nice.

Just my luck; all my parts are still intact.
Maybe if I break myself, then she’ll take me back.

Why I hate nice little Irish pubs

Part I: What I wanted to say

Light seems to love you.
Any light smooths your passage
yes -- even fluorescent --
the xerox room death-glare
is bent by the sweep
of your denim or sneakers
your Old Navy sweaters
into fluids less acid
more twilight than neon
I just want an hour
of time in your sun

Part II: What I said

What was I saying? That is I
[no, I’m not, no, it’s OK, that’s fine, no]
What? No, I… I thought you
[yes, please, two more, thanks]
Wait no I’ll, no
[no, that’s not mine, no, that’s OK]
Did you? You what? No, I’m not
[thanks, that’s fine, no, keep it]
I can’t... No, I didn’t… I thought you…
No, no. I just said, I… What
was I saying? That is I
[no, no problem, that better? you’re welcome]
You what?
No, no. I didn’t. I thought you.
[no, we’re fine, no, thank you]
No, not you, no.
What? What? What
was I

Exchange of hunger

My bathrobe wrapped wrinkled
rose terrycloth trailing
while paying for pizza
she shivers taps
dances while he
tries to see
more than
pale peeky feet
more than
flushed freckled thorax
long storm damaged hair
lips dark from the well
green eyes lit from mine

he exits with ache

and I dine

Walls of light

So high, you can’t go over it,
So low, you can’t get under it,
So wide, you can’t get around it,
Gotta go through that door.

from, “Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham,” traditional

Technology is often neutral;
a two edged sword, my lovely sons.
We’ve seen it more than once.
But not this time. Pay close attention.

First, we’ll see the full effect of lovely Asmodai
when flesh-on-flesh is slapped across their eyes.
Will they ever push the jinni back
once they’ve seen a thousand perfect racks,
the perfect ass, the perfect abs, thighs, hair?
Their beloveds never will compare.

Berith, my savage, vicious, bully-boy:
go out and make blood sport the sport of choice.
Murder not a crime to make the heart stop, throat
choke closed with panicked grief. No,
just another counter in a shitty, stupid game.
Until a hill of gore, bone, guts and brains seems tame.

Astaroth… wake up! You will have it easy. So what’s new?
But there are still some details left for you.
As always, they will see less in the shy
mirror on the wall than in their inner, stupid eye.
You have a cancer for that orb you never did before.
It will be your ever-faithful, crippling, clinging whore.

Sonnilon? You think you’re put upon? New knowledge where
once only enemies were seen? I guarantee their
fraternal bonds won’t last. Familiarity breeds… what?
You remember that. Put them all into a global melting pot
and they’ll refuse to mesh. A more than daily dose
of “brothers” and we’ll see how well they manage “close.”

Leviathan, you’ll be the spark. The one who lights the final fuse
to burn the world. Can any doubt that it is you I’ll use?
When all the children eating dust and drinking misery
can gather at the blinking window, crowd around and see
the shiny, shiny, happy, happy, fat and glorious winners.
A moment’s work for you to turn them into dinner.

This tool is ours. Nothing like the others.
The rest of you; pipe down. Go help your brothers.

Bad trade

Twice the power to wipe out stains.
Twice the might to unclog drains.
Dishwasher safe and free of lead.
Two comfort zones in every bed.

Buttery taste is baked right in.
Just four days to a whiter grin.
High definition, digital sound.
Just two grams of fat in every pound.

Banana kiwi lemon lime.
Digital perfect Swiss quartz time.
Free delivery when you use your charge
card. Supersize it. Make it large-


These are the songs that define our age.
For this we drove the fae off stage?

Unreliable narrator

I remember shadowed, torchlit waltzes
I never danced.

There are daisies. Clipped, pressed flat
in books I haven't read
on shelves I never bought
over beds untouched by my flanks
in rooms I haven't dusted
at the end of halls
whose walls my fingertips have never brushed
as I stood walking slowly
in the dark
eyes closed
listening for the breath
of sleeping guests.

I was not there.

Yet I remember the skin of plaster
that licked my fingertips.
The rough, lizard-belly stucco walls.
The bump-skitty-bump of my hand passing over
the light switch and thermostat.

So real. So very real.
All really
But never

Whole worlds whirl. Some drain
like rainwater
down the gutter.
Goodbye, cool world.

And if
whole worlds
ripe islands of white sand alive with emerald tribes;
webs of railway lines connecting diamond hotel empires;
tiny children in red uniforms, all with red umbrellas;
whales before the time of men, whales who speak in rhyme;
and worlds made whole
and wholy
mine and mind
oh what
do you suspect
I make
of you
when I
find you
have strayed
from script
have lost the sense
a bit off track
or more
than that
no longer play
the way
the sayer says
conforming not
not to my most

Wear white

Is it so hard for you
to wear white
once a year?

Once a year? For coffee? Is that so hard?

You are twelve and blonde.
Not yellow-sun-corn-blonde. Not Hollywood blonde.
Not pancake or butter blonde
or golden retriever or screaming neon Vegas blonde.
Just your blonde. Which my mother said was honey.

Your eyes are still the deep wood, fallen tree brown
of something permanent yet soft. The soil
at the base of the stone wall where we dug with our hands
and buried a cigar box time capsule.

You have the map. It is folded up inside your copy of
"Pilgrim's Progress."

You have the map.
You always had the map.

Your hair has not been blonde for twenty years.
Once when we met for yearly coffee
your eyes were blue
and I nearly [here we will spare the reader
the melodramatic spew, the pseudo-trauma that is,
frankly, pitiful and sad].

Frigging contact lenses.

We held hands twice.
We never kissed.

I once watched you while you slept.
And later, much later, while indulging chemical vice
while at college, I relived that watchful moment.
But that time the half-hour stretched out to a hundred years.
I watched your hair go dark.
Honey, nutmeg, leather, tea.
It shortened, straightened, became proper.
You grew heavy. First with age and then with children.
Lines on your face. Lines on your hands.

Email is so much easier than phone calls.
I can bring myself to type the words,
"Wear white."
I could never bring myself to say.

I always get there early. You know that, right?
At least a half hour. The waiting gives me pain.
What will have changed? What new pages
will the hand of Brother Death have turned down now?
Will he have marked a chapter on your son? How
old is he? What marks in school? What kind of boy?
Or on your job? Your health? Your art? Your man?

You are twelve and honey blonde.
With dirt under your fingernails. White shorts.
White gym socks. White Keds. White t-shirt that says,
"I'm a Pepper."

The waiting gives me pain. I would show up
even earlier. If I were brave.


While I slept, buried deep,
a storm-shadow passed across my hand.

Careless, careless. Yes, I know,
But I had eaten late. Bored and restless,
watching TV shows rerun from boyhood.
Drinking tepid water from the sink.
And that, I think's, what did it. Made me
turn and fling my arm out wide
past the notch I'd made,
past the carving on the headboard,
marking, "This side: safe."

I built my house across the ley-lines.
Built the axis of the bedroom right along the path
of eidola. My architect was pissed, the contractors
just laughed. I paid too much. But reaped
and reap rewards of kelpie passage
through my fridge.
Banshees wrapped around my cable box provide
free HBO and Cinemax. Poltergeists drag dust
from underneath my wainscoting.

I leave unleavened bread for fey folk, beer for hobs.
They string my Christmas lights, and sometimes
brownies even wax my car.

I shouldn't sleep so close
to where the dark line lies.

I shouldn't push my luck.
I shouldn't test the impishness of pucks.

Not his fault; my own. The knife held in my hand.
The blood a pasty pool, a darker shadow than the one
I'd crossed, eyes closed, in some dreaming
desert land where all I knew was sawing at a violin.
Waking, blade embedded in my shin.

I don't think I'll die. I'll just call 911.
But how will I explain?
How can I convey?
"Doctor... nurse... the power that I need
to keep the dark at bay
to shine the mirror brigher than its source,
is darker than the storm.
And sleeps beside me
every night. And helped me
build my home."

But courting darkness
is not covered by my HMO.
Perhaps I'll think of something
by the time they come.
Perhaps the faerie know.

Tight corner

I confess, I love squares.
Chess white and chess black.
Checkers red and black. Scrabble
pink, yellow and blue.
Scrabble red. Stamps and
CDs and coasters and crackers.
Ceramic floor tile.
The pyramids' base.

Nothing grown, nothing born,
nothing woven of blood.
Nothing wet, nothing torn,
nothing cast up by waves.
Nothing soft, nothing rolled,
nothing complex, connected.

Four perfect lines.
Drawn from the mind,
collected on paper,
joined in the corners.
Mathematical fiction,
angled perfection.
A drop of pure reason
on emotional gauze.

Here I find comfort, here in geometry.
Our world of confusion transected by will.

What would you grow in a perfect square garden?
What would you plant in our four-by-four plot?
Flowers? Some veggies? A tiny spice haven?

The frame is the picture.
My square is the world.

Dancing away

Cheesy lights. Tacky band. The mirrored ball
flicks silver M&Ms of rented fiberoptic glee.
The not-quite-friends we don't-quite-know
are not-quite-drunk, but you and I, we
drink coffee. We may stumble and sway,
but are solely moved by memory and cha-cha-cha.

Watching you dance barefoot
on the parquet floor;
watching you dance laughing
to a Kenny Loggins cover;
watching you dance sexy
while you hold my eyes
and hands
and do not let me
touch you
there or there or there.

We are a vacuum, aether world
in a universe of humid smoke.

We are a tongue of ice
in a bowl of fleshy sugar.

We are ancient in our worship
in a chapel full of alter boys
(and girls) who mouth the words
but have not eaten
living, beating hearts.

White looks whiter in the night sky moon,
black blacker on the hot sand blood.

Barefoot, laughing, sexy
you dance away.

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