ShroudShe weaves a dress upon the loom,her neighbors knowing it's a shroud,window dressing for a tomb -she weaves a dress upon the loom.Forbidden fruit has scarred the womb,a stranger's face amidst the crowd,she weaves a dress upon the loom -her neighbors knowing it's a shroud.
Mad ManI think I lost usin a glass of scotch -softly drowning,going down likeevery mad manI ever envied.Why did I believeyour lips tastedso good,sweet and heathenlike the heatherI laid you inthat last nightI came home?I had a thingfor damaged women,and you could drinkyour mother's last wordsin everythingwe wasted.
LandscapesLovers are like landscapes -fields of wheat,a crowning glorycascading down a bare backas if to beckon me closerto touch;rolling sandlike tapered limbsthat bend gentlyand hug the dark wetunderneath;the hushed breathof jungle -a canopy ripeand bursting overhead;and the beautiful surroundof rugged peaksthrusting through the soil,knowing which directionto move in.
No KerouacYou're no Kerouacshe said -no open road of verse,your life's work paintedin a gaudy yellow line,slapping the asphaltlike a greedy river.You don't own a Nikonor black loafers,or hop a boxcarto sleep under starsso eloquentthey make God himselfinhale too much clean.You have no coollurking in the corners,giving skin and inkto strange women;no green rush of neonor cheap whiskeypissing in the wind,crawling hometo rape the sunrise.You just have a mouthangels could fall into,your tongue and lipsa lean and tangled beast,words breaking upin a torrentlike a cacophonyof electric blue...
DisenchantmentI said your eyeswere ripe for stealing,but my fingerprints lied.They left a strange future behind us -dissonant,a discourse that bruisedlike braillebetween my gums.Don't sleep so loudly.you whisperedwith sightless hands.The boy next doorcan hear youbehind these bars,and disenchantmenthas left its ghostinside our pockets.
A Mother's LetterDear Son,I'm afraid it's just as badas was reported -that your Uncle Sven has been deportedfor unspeakable crimeswith the neighbor's cat.Also, you should know thatyour fiance was found undressedwith your sister's boyfriend, Fred -no one but the family knows.I hope this letter finds you well.Oh, I forgot to tell youthat your father has to sellhis gun collectionto make bailfor Uncle Tim,whose chasing tailwill be the death of him.And your sister, Alice,has grown so thin.We think it's all that herointhey laced the Girl Scout cookies with(it's just an urban myththat they're a leftist group).Your Auntie Kate has found a hobby -collecting body parts in jars(we hope they are not ours -your brother has been missingsince last Wednesday.)They had to have your cousin, Gwendolyn, committed.She'd been appearing so dimwittedlately at her joband there was that messy little incidentinvolving her and the company president(something about a prostitution ring in Mexico).
Sometimes The Clothes Do Not Make The ManI am not the manleft hanging in the closet -the patterned plaidof slip knotmother sent for Christmasor the herringbonecaul of woolthat shrouds my skin from winter.I am not the grey flanneled stridethat steals the sidewalkfrom children jumping ropeor the cable stitched fishermanstalking the wharfand crumbling pierwhen dusk comes calling.I am but a bonescrapand a dream,a pluralof nerve and tendonthat keeps a distant profile,coaxes livingfrom these garmentsand owns the face of many.
BlinkBlinksaid the boy with the cameraand this momentwill never know our names.It will take your best parts -the smile you saved for Sundayswith your good dressand handkerchief,knees pressed tightagainst the resurrection,hoping mother never guessedwhat prayers were leftupon the altar;the kisses gathered for your lover -passion's flagrant promises,not the chaste monstersschool girls dream ofwhile sweaty palmspin wilting corsages to tulle.The surprisesdelivered to the front doorat Christmas and graduations,circuses disguised in boxesand envelopes stuffed like dates,all wrapped in heady silk;and the tearsyou thought everyone knew -steady friendssince gloves were small,secrets that swore to leaveat pillow fights and seancesbut never let you breathe.All capturedlike flash in an iris,glorious imprintsand the grain of paperyellowing gently in the atticlike your heart's montage.
The HighwaymanThe highwayman with dread-dark eyes,his stolen coat a wanted prize,will covet treasure, great and small.His wicked heart shall claim it all.He'll roam the woods and hidden glen,the emerald loam, the fetid fen.He'll shun the hunter's warning call.His wicked heart shall claim it all.He'll take the daughters of the houseand steal the husband's loving spouseand leave the corpse beneath a pall.His wicked heart shall claim it all.
RetreatI have abandoned battle, savored peaceand lost my weapons deep in sacred ground.I have sought sweet mercy - God's own releaseand prayed for his swift justice to abound.I have walked past the soldiers in the streetand heard their cries run shameless without sound -the tired, shuffling resonance of feet.And in the morning's chilled and angry blast,I recognize the music of retreatas if I saw the ghosts that knew my pastgathering at the tables for a feast.Then God allow these thoughts to be my lastfor I have hopes my blessings will increaseand the dark symphony of war will cease.
WarningThat dark twinge of stormunbalancing my left eye -lover, take warning.I came through the back door,unhinged and savoringall your little pieces.You said you loved my twisted english,the way I broke words apart,just like daddy's enemies.So slide me under your doormat -I miss those dirty feetand the disconnectof your tongue.You know I love how youwaste my eveningsand bring me the dangerous bitsonly a lover could swallow.
BrotherMy reluctant brother -grey suited hairand that scarbeating on your liplike an unfortunate rhyme -long have I thought of you.Your pockets are shallow wastrelsand in the crisp foldsof your trousers,I find that timeis a leper -an ill-fated starthat pocks this dream witted nightand turns my tearsto sober music.For I have found your hopesa hollow thing -your promises a cold frostfor my supperand all your pretty wordsthe still birth of my misfortune.
StonesThese stones, once enchanted, now leave no traceof a distant magic in a foreign tongue -just dream-prints left to carve this place.A stranger breed has now begunand left its tracks amidst this space,the souls left blinking without a sun.History spared time's rude grace.We leave our prayers among the bones. Bittersweet and green, simple in its mien, it grows. Potent bloom and sheen, pressed on lips so clean, life slows. Poison felt so keen hangs her life between.Now let winter's spellseek out the newly hung moonand transform the sky.
IndulgenceDrink and dance and laugh and lie,Love, the reeling midnight through,For tomorrow we shall die!(But, alas, we never do.)Sage advice to heed in youth -Excess, a drug we justify.And indulgence is better than the truth -Drink and dance and laugh and lie.So choose your partners without care;Keep your scruples lean and few.Temptation wanders everywhere -Love the reeling midnight through.Drink and revel one last time;Seek out pleasure where it hides.Restraint's an over-rated crime -For tomorrow we shall die!And in the dawn of pain's regretWith heads aflame and clothes askew,We may promise to repent(But, alas, we never do!)
Late HarvestScattering chickens in the yardwith buckshot,Uncle Luke collects the eggsagain;and up in the silo,I smell smoke.The barn feels like familythis morning,gathering up the autumn leavesfor a party.I rake the hayfor what must bethe hundredth time,wondering why the fenceshave wandered acrossthe fieldwhere the childrenpluck apples and pumpkinsfor battles,and watch November grow largeon our horizon.
Where's My DiagnosisHow many timeshave I stepped to the edgeopting for that dreamer'sleap of faith?As if my landingwould somehow cure my woes,without leaving behindthe taste of gasoline.Forever searchinglike a fool in the darkseeking a dreamI have not dreamt;Searching for somethingthat may truly be nothing,trying to fill spacesbetween.Lost without destination;missing without pieces; I amaimlessly discontent.I wonder what you seewhen you look to methrough open windows,when all I see in the mirroris a mess.So where's my diagnosis?Surely they've created a disorder for this,something with a cureto set this heart free.That'll be forty-nine ninety-five, sir.Here's your medication;have yourselfa nice dream.
SoundSomething against the sky -a kestrel wingor kitedrifting godward -the circle of sounddents the morningand turns my earsinto giants,second guessing the weight ofairand how your breathmeasures the morning light.