Tag Archives: death

The Rise and The Fall and The Loss

I feel the weight of the loss of my county’s history
And my soul sighs for what my child will never see

This isn’t a diatribe against the epic leaps of progress
This isn’t a diatribe against our country’s growing pains

This is a search for the less amazing things we grew up with
The things we never knew we’d one day miss only now we do
The things that are lost now – lost to time – lost to decay – lost to life

My country’s history is not always an inaccessible concept in a too heavy book
Sometimes my country is simple in its story – unfettered by class or by nationality
It can be a phone with a dial and a party line shared with the upstairs neighbors
Or a one-piece clothes pin that snaps when mother is hanging sheets out to dry
But makes a great milk-bottle game to play at your birthday party

My country’s history is a brilliant tapestry of rich colors and dazzling hues

Much of my country’s history is crumbling before my eyes and no one seems to care
These aren’t renewal projects that signal the advance of a civilization – these are different
These are decay and apathy and a shameful loss of vision and potential
These are anger and spite and the idle hands that are the devil’s pleasure

Mother doesn’t even hang the laundry out on the line anymore
Mother doesn’t even host birthday parties anymore
I’ve had enough birthdays – I have enough history

October 29, 2013

Her voice sounded like a pigeon playing an ancient cello on 63rd Street and May Avenue
At dusk on an autumn evening when hate was still an infant and innocence not yet a sin

She liked ballin’ the jack where she could stretch her loving arms straight out in space
But keep her knees pressed close together to preserve the last remnants of womanhood
And then you twist around and twist around with all of your might

She wrestled with mortality and lost more often than not – but she never backed down
She bargained with the saints and then she beat them with two queens and two jacks

Every book in her sacred room was open – she loved when the wind turned the pages
Every word was a nugget to be savored and treasured and shared with the hungry

She was truly known by few – but sincerely loved by all

The Seeker

For Nancy Lee

I don’t remember asking for the rain – but I am glad it decided to come this afternoon
The day after the Seeker went on her final journey of discovery was the best time for it
The Seeker has been so far away for so long – now she is farther away from my body
The Seeker has been so far away for so long – now she is closer to my soul than ever

Then the rain came and it washed away anything that may have blemished a memory
Universal voices sing The Seeker’s praises as she skips down the road of her own making
There is a quartet of voices – who have created other voices – who will be her legacy
This is more than The Seeker asked for but – somehow – less than she deserves

The Sun Struggles Up

The most natural feeling as the sun struggles up is my bones grinding against yours
You are jarring and crushing and breaking your promises to the ghost of my childhood
Still a whispered breath trapped within your vena cava keeps me cold and you alive

The ribcage forged of your love protects the soul of my past and memories of my father
Washing the bony joints of our crippled fingers the dirty water runs down the baby’s face
The weak understand this is a baptism of desperation and consolation but not redemption

The charred remains of a dream I couldn’t afford and you couldn’t live without haunt us
Our bones have been put up for the first thaw and there’s something burning on the stove
We argue His presence in the room but we don’t deny it as we watch the sun struggle up

September 1, 2013

The stars came out tonight for you – they came out for you but you were gone
So I was left with my old cat and some cold beer and a pen and paper

I lost my glasses between the words and the beer
And could only think about how sad that someone else saw your stars
They were delicate like you – and quiet – and sweet – like you

It was the rain that ended the night – that turned off the music
It was a brief rain – but with lasting effect both cooling and sad
The pink clouds in the grey sky betrayed us but only after love and music
The sky crashed down and washed away the heat rising from our fingers
The sky crashed down and washed away the love rising in my throat

I saw the stars tonight – I saw each one and counted them
I drank another beer – then another and counted every star I could see
I rubbed the old cat behind her ears the way she likes me to
Then I wrote this down and I will never share it with you – but I wrote it for me

That has to be good enough – it is good enough for me and the stars
It’s good enough for the old cat and for anyone else who saw your stars but not you

A Pile of Ashes

There’s nothing left now
But a pile of ashes
Where my heart used to be
A gray mountain of charred love
Not even smoldering anymore
Someone pissed on the flame
The flame that was my heart
And now there’s nothing left
The blood slowed – then stopped
It’s fatal movement through my veins
Dependent lividity is next
But I am helpless to do anything
I am helpless to move forward
And I clearly have no reason
To continue in this charade
That we call life – living
There is nothing – anymore
Nothing worth hanging on to
Just a pile of ashes
Where my heart used to be

The Elusive Winter Cardinal

Death comes filtering into the fully carpeted room
Like the black-toothed hunting partner trying to stay invisible
But letting its presence be known all the while
It sneaks peeks around upholstered chairs from under couches
The old ones always seem to find it around the holidays
They are not afraid of it
Though they’d rather it waited there
Pressed against the carpet until they are ready to go
Then they can reach down and take it by the ear
They can lift it up into their wrinkled arms
The young ones rarely see it until it is too late
It sneaks up while they are busy with something else
It sneaks up into their laps and forces them to notice
Even the ones who understand it – fear it
That is because they are young
Youth has a way of confusing itself with immortality
Much the same way as it confuses itself
With its own ego
Too young for death is a naive misconception
Because there is a bullet somewhere with your name on it
You will probably never see the black-toothed hunter
Until the bullet has laid you down
Until you, too, die held in death’s embrace
For now, my friends, death will remain like that
Elusive Winter Cardinal
Even when you think you have seen it
It will be gone before you can be made sure
Leaving the stark leafless branch laughing at you
Leaving you standing there scratching your head
Before you go on your way
Looking for life but thinking about death
Looking for something but thinking about that
Elusive Winter Cardinal