Invitation

An empty bench
dappled light through
the barely spring struck birch
shading a disinterested come hither
a regardless vulnerability
Is this some kind of love?
Or my disappoinment showing again?

angels

I’ve never been to Berlin
but I understand they have angels
sitting atop Tiergarten
watching
waiting
probably
they are here as well
perhaps
one is sitting on the corner of that building
right where the red brick meets the white
watching
waiting
silent
desire under glass
and after all
what can angels do
beyond reminding me
by their powerless strength
of my terrible freedom

Essence

Once upon a time our once upon a times were recorded in cornerstones, foundations, Corinthian columns and colored shapes in glass and stone
And in those spires and tiled porticoes was expressed the story and extent of our reach from the mire of our own brutal natures toward the vaulted ceilings of heaven
Toils, temptations and triumphs writ in intricate relief, on faces unwavering and backs unbroken

Look around you
The stories have not changed
But the telling has exploded in a cascade of subtle variations

Sunlight through the waterfall
Droplets of light dancing with the endless voices of the colorless night

Have you listened to the stories, to the yearning beneath, to the questions
Are we still begging the gods’ favor?
The hands of the almighty have covered us in glory, yet do we shrink in shame? Cowering before the brilliance of our soul

Our fractured voices, blowing softly through the intricate spaces between memory and the moment,
are made to capture light, to extract form, to liberate color, to expose the essence, aching for unfettered daylight

Look around you
These visions belong to you
We do not see the shape of beauty from some isolated mountain
Inspiration is not the province of the hermit
however remote her cave,
we share the same milk, suckling at the breast of the communal muse
We are the artist, we are the work
We are the violence that birthed the first morning
We are the sleep beyond the end of night

the next shore

The river bends slowly
The river inhabits the night
with its quietest voice, speaking a lazy urgency
with its quietest companion, the night sky,
dark and heavy like disappointment
dry and flaked mud encrusting my hands
I listen, but hear no promises at the furtive shore,
I listen with my petrified limbs, but see
no palliative hut for shelter
no fruit tree to feed the pause
it is the stream that speaks
it is the lumbering flow that begs my surrender
do i wish for some death-like rest
do i hope for a flood to do my work for me
am i a slave to the force in my hands
am i a slave to the blood in my veins
am i wanderer or king
am i stranger or friend
I breath, and breath, and breath
I breath and fall, and am borne toward that next shore

vampires

sometimes I tire of being fair and caring
of seeing things from your point of view
of thinking broadly of cause and effect and the delicacy of the little girl in you
sometimes I tire of looking for my culpability
compassion does not always beget compassion
and perhaps, I have learned that vampires are real

you see compassion (i do not say feel) as a handle to hold:
my strong heart, which loves you and loves I and loves youandi
becomes your feasting table, became your feast
eat this, it is my flesh, drink this, it is my blood

I am no savior (much as I want to be), no messiah, barely have I the blood left to move myself
barely have i strength to let you alone
your tears, your accusations, your unending demand to feed, demanding more of me until i no longer know my hunger from your hunger, until there is only feeding and preparation to feed (and hope, never ending hope that at last, you will say “it is good”)

my strong heart is growing wiser, it will not run and hide forever (today, yes, and maybe tomorrow also)
and while it still bleeds for you, (because my heart is made to bleed and I will not change that),
you may no longer taste the iron and the wine, you may no longer satiate your hunger through my veins
But I shall still bleed, to feed my own need
Until I learn the taste of new drink

hope

before spring; before the green shoots of possibility;
before color and the fresh morning
there is a waking underneath
a stirring of elemental force, like the unheard rumblings at the volcano’s root
i feel it in my soles as i walk unshod, testing for solidity
i know it by the broken shards of my sacred pain

not knowing when life will return
nor how the liquid flows of earth and light and water will take shape in me, in the small universe i have touched;
i tremble, remembering failed promise and the twisted gifts
of cold springs past
remembering, over and over, my culpability
knowing that I am my only canvas
and the brush knows no other hand
i tremble, and reluctantly, bow to hope

The interrupted man

I have said I am broken
but what is it to be whole
what is the story of the uninterrupted man
does he love completely
live fearlessly
take hold of the world and change its shape
is an unbroken man the undeniable master of his own life
or the unconscious perpetrator of a thousand banal horrors
Is the whole man yet a boy, is the breaking itself the lost initiation rite
I have said I am broken
and do not know what a man should be
Should I have killed the beast within
or saddled it
Tell me please, because
my beast is a starved thing, huddling in dark corners, unable to lend its strength
If not whole, what then remains?
Innumerable parts dispersed across years and the crumbling self and the disintegrating present? the unstructured man?
I have said I am broken
and will have it no other way

Opening

In the morning of my evening
I found, like a lost treasure in a forgotten pocket,
myself opening
not as a stately door on well-oiled hinges
nor as a crooked gate, bent by years
what holds me closed is not latch or turf or rust
but the ghost of a burning coal
an ashen shape that falls away
at your whisper
I am torn open
(not as the temple curtain was ripped
when the lamb was slain)
torn like fabric too worn by living and loving
for the weave to hold

Untitled

there is nothing profound in chaos
and we are not strangers to the
destructive power of creation
no unusual magic is found
in the movement of our bodies
and you will not find the key to your future self
on this floor on which we stand
we dance to live
we dance because we have chosen
to continue
to suck the sap into ourselves
and produce another leaf
another branch
The bud of new fruit

we cannot discern all the illusions
and we cannot live in essential solitude
we dance to touch
to taste
small moments of that which
lay beneath illusion
which holds the chaos
which is our unending

pretty

i’ve never been pretty
that word, all the feelings
all the expansive and burdensome landscape
it plays across in the great mind we share
has never been applied to me
i learned to wield it though, the word, clumsily
as a compliment to little girls
“pretty shoes”, “pretty dress”, “such a pretty girl”
and pets
“pretty girl”
and later, as a stand in for lust
“pretty girl”
or a dismissal
“pretty girl”, “pretty woman”
or a joke
“i feel pretty, oh so pretty…”
and much later, as a many layered thing
“he’s very pretty”

now its a word of the past
an engine for the baggage train of patriarchy and oppression
and a reminder of my own culpability
a word I don’t use any more
a violent word like “cunt”, “whore”, “slut”
a word that dies on the back of my tongue

i watched my daughter, in her battle against prettiness
shave her head and insert gold teeth
she wanted to feel what i felt
the absense of the priviledge and weight
my little girl
who delighted in her princess dress and sparkly shoes
who danced and sang with abandon on the back lawn at twilight
declaring to no one, in a voice like a forest stream
“I am so pretty”