As if I created this
pyramid of obey and exist.
Between the breathturn stares
of others, also exiled, and those
who called me all but my name,
I nearly forgot that I could,
unlike Lot’s wife, glance back
for the answers—some threads
of truth where memory faltered.
In sooth, that snake was not a reptile.
The fruit of good and evil
was flower of wasps, not an apple.
I was less inbred rib, more accurately,
unbred. Love was often anguished and
paradise looked like anybody’s
overgrown garden. I didn’t
beg Adam’s pardon and never
asked why me, o Lord? No
proverbs would suffice when
genesis is what is and was what
was. I looked, instead, to the present
as the past cracked underfoot,
lowered into riverbeds. The waters
rose below and leagues above flaming
vines enveloped the stairs to heaven
glister by glister. Due east, fly ash
blanketed each morning glory
I named in light, pocked
the night phlox perfumed distant
moons ago. I vowed from the eye
of that reckoning, fates among
Eves would not be the same:
If one sister is silenced into salt
without body that remembers,
then I will batter my cymbals
bearing witness for us both
with what body still remains.
elegy for the moaner, 2016
After 22 years of gathering dust, it’s time
to remove the urn from the cabinet
& put him beneath proper ground.
There’s the small problem of not having
a pine box for the body made
smaller by not having his body at all.
Hell, I don’t have a choir to sing riffs
and not one pastor to eulogize.
I abandoned hat feathers and black
church theatrics to settle on myrhh
kindling and mindful mantras.
Although I concede: burials should be
an occasion of final rites, pomp
and happenstance, if you will,
with at least one moaner who may or may
not know the departed. And so
I gather alone
with a shovel in my backyard
and his needle in my forethought.
I offer what I have to give—these brick pavers,
his cheap urn, the memory of my sister’s
fist through our childhood home’s window
and the gentle way he sobered to wrap
her paw in an old shirt. The Barbie lunchbox
in which he, high, captured the rabid
bat that bit me while I slept.
Except it wasn’t a bat at all but a wren.
Imagine a grown man chasing a bird
just to say he finally caught the
elusive. Nevertheless, that bat spell took.
The bird flew. We fled. I lived.
We all lived for a while at least
until we didn’t. I am now miles
from where he spoke his last words:
Even God left. I’m only . . .
I get it. If the reaper RSVPs,
men wait at the forked road
with fresh baked chaff
grown over many summers—
bounty cut lovely, dross shot up.
Fool hands won’t realize Lucifer
manages the silo, his barters larcenous.
I once loathed the blind risks
that made men harvest pulse and
bet full stalk. Laid odds against gains
and harbored spite of ill gambles.
But loss humbles, hindsight mellows,
since my double down with rage
never once paid—
never one raised
my father from any grave.