Before us stand the mockings of a god:
Sound shapes and divine invocations,
the sun itself a yellow yawn,
the chaff of a hidden harvest,
a field of golden connotation
denoting bread for the soul.
And grounded pigeons,
too fat to flee or fly
peck sweet sustenance
from saturated air,
wise enough to wonder.
Fools of fate,
fortunate friends of a god.
[First appeared in The Avalon Literary Review, Fall 2014]
My well runs deep and dry;
broken glass among the rocks,
the occasional coin, some sad soul’s wish
left in the company of cold, dry, stone.
I would if prompted recount a fiction
of strangers passing, full buckets, and refreshment;
of the joys of spring, a shaded canopy
and welcome offerings.
Redact the sunlit horror
of spitting children and the piss
of careless parents.
Their monstrous visage increased by time;
lifelessly growing, refusing to die
with fonder recollection; lost,
like meager moisture hoarded,
hidden, then dried.
The park that sold this house
is still there outside my window.
Our kids are grown,
but that patch of ground is never empty.
Each year supplies a new face or two
bold enough to approach our joke of a fence
and greet the great beasts that are their silent protectors,
the latest generation to walk the failing pickets and watch.
Niggles and nags make for hours unending,
years appear moments that stealthily flee,
squandering days unaware of the spending,
slow to discover that no time is free.
An aging sun sits atop a clear horizon,
birds bicker over bright things in the grass.
A coyote claims a slow deer
near the river
and snarling shares his prize
among the pack.
Rough commerce on the lake shore,
muskrat and coon.
The French want furs
and we can deliver,
let the Ho-Chunk and Shawnee be damned.
The lakefront glows, as does the river,
a new sun sits unnoticed in the east.
Ceres is a proud bitch,
blind to all encroachment.
Coyotes bide their time
among the weeds.
In the absence of God
we make do with lesser fictions:
The names we give
and the sounds of our voice.
A quiet place waits at the end of passion,
rumored by the blind,
the last reward for righteous action,
A slothful student
spent her studies
listening to birds.
The music stopped
once forced to learn
to name the notes she’d heard.
What is it that your books say of the winter?
Do the words speak of hunger and wolves,
the need for shelter and how to build it?
Can they strengthen your hands
and straighten your back?
With a match we could buy ourselves an hour.
Think on that before you turn another page.
The world, a cave,
a cacophony of echoes,
the work of voices and hands–
monsters and messiahs,
shadow puppets on a wall.
candles in mirrors–
a million choirs in separate circles
singing selfhood in a round.
To break the chain is to risk salvation.
The devil’s name is doubt.
Curse my ears should I hear from others,
damn my eyes should they stray from light.