Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Song of the Gun

    A people dedicated to

    the song of the gun

    the stuttering percussion


    the siren's soprano aria


    into the low chorus of moans...

I love my gun

my gun shields me

from the wicked and the dark

my gun warms me

and I it

my pulse carried to its extremities,

breathing my breath.

I wake afraid in the night

clutching under my pillow

at the night stand

on the floor under my bed

until my fingers touch

the ice of my sleeping gun,

and I find peace.

How easy to still my wife's breathing

if she'd angered me

how easy to solve any dilemma

to cut through

like the man I am

my eye hard and cold

my heart pumping the secret blood.

    A people dedicated to

    the song of the gun

    a swelling bass,

    into crescendo

    the brass credenza,

    into a whimper...

My gun loves me

to handle it

to oil its crevasses

to adjust its mechanism delicately

to settle it in my hand,

filling the empty spaces

my warmth bleeding into its cold.

I wander the street at night

eyes left to right

over the shoulder

my heart small and afraid

until, by chance, my fingers touch

my gun,

my heart swells with courage.

My eyes watch those

who could be dead or dying

all in my power

I, the stronger, they the weaker

the individual and the faceless mob

the armed and the unarmed

my life with my gun.

    A people dedicated to

    the song of the gun

    the rise of the timpani

    the coming cry of the siren

    interwoven in the score

    meant to go unhitched

    to the muted whimpering chorus...

We lie like lovers,

my fingers gradually loosening

as if I'm going to sleep

with my love beside me

nestled in my palm

untouched and unmoved

by the violence all around us.

Oh my gun protects me

from the shadows and the shades

that lay across my soul

doubts that impede my motion

my fingers seek it

as my tongue tastes blood;

shield me from danger.

How easy to let go

to hate that once beloved

the betrayer

if I had the strength I would

hurl it away

the savage moment behind me

and only death ahead.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On His Deafness

I never knew my father when he could hear
he sat alone so often
silent in his silence
and that appeared as normal to me
but now I wonder
at his struggle
to live in the land of the whole
and I wonder
at the demons he fought.

He lived alone and unaided in the world of sound
his work his life, his companion
and with patience he listened
to every voice soft and loud
and spoke carefully, low and melodic,
in a well modulated, resonant voice
never slurring nor blending
nor blaring the words
in atonal unawareness.

As a child I begged him to read aloud
and the Kipling rolled off his tongue
I can still hear him now
the old salt reading Gunga Din and Mandalay
with feeling which transcended my understanding
but pierced my soul
I still have his old book of Kipling
water-stained, battered and brittle
from a hundred sea-bags.

Once he put his head into the space of my piano
listened and withdrew his head
and told me to put my head in there
and play a bit
a dissonant, echoing sound
a mix of unpleasant highs and rumbling lows
assaulted my ears
when I withdrew my head he told me
that’s what the world sounded like to him.

Now when demons beset me
I wonder at his strength
and sadly recognize
myself as one of those who weighed
heavily on his shoulders
knowing that I only took and did not give
that I left him alone and unsafe for all time
pretending he could never wear down
until I saw him dying.

He wrestled demons and put them down
until that old demon death appeared
his hand clasped mine in a rigid grip
but I again too late too little too weak
and with nothing to give
and he worn and wasted waited
until I had left to surrender
and when I returned all was gone
but for a silent husk.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Return of the Animal

When the animal in me re-awoke
I was both amazed and dismayed
and when I felt the familiar stirrings
I glanced about myself in shame
would those around me notice 
the lust and the naked arousal
those things that make an animal.

When the animal in me re-awoke
I was both animated and distrustful
and when hunger rose to my senses
I sought out about me ravenously
would those around me notice
the gluttony and the keening appetite
those things that make an animal.

When the animal in me re-awoke
I was both appalled and disappointed
and when possessions appeared
I grasped about myself in haste
would those around me notice
the greed and the greater needs
those things that make an animal.

When the animal in me re-awoke
I was both annoyed and dispirited
and when inertia claimed my soul
I brought about my civil decline
would those around me notice
the sloth and the life dissipated
those things that make an animal.

When the animal in me re-awoke
I was both angered and disturbed
and when I lashed out at random
I slunk about sly in tactful terror
would those around me notice
the wrath and the cunning cowardice
those things that make an animal.

When the animal in me re-awoke
I was both awed and disgusted
and when the credit went to others
I learned about how to dissimulate
would those around me notice
the envy and the hurtful spite
those things that make an animal.

When the animal in me re-awoke
I was both anointed and displayed
and when all knelt before me
I cast about my target and my place
would those around me notice
the pride and the swaggering smile
those things that make an animal.

When the animal in me re-awoke
I learned I was not an animal, after all.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Circle

When I tasted the forbidden fruit,
and found it clear and clean
and tasting of some unknown wine,
my head swam in the pleasure,
and the world swirled around me;
but when the circle was done
and the seed spat out,
to nurture in the fertile ground,
I hung limp and ashamed 
and bent to cover my nakedness.

When I tasted the forbidden fruit,
after asking myself why it was forbidden,
its fullness and ripeness filled me
as I drank in the pleasure,
while my heart pounded and throbbed unfamiliar;
but when the circle was gone
and the hot seed cooled and dried,
to sprout or rot in my soil,
I felt the pain of my pleasure
and crouched to hide my nakedness

When I tasted the forbidden fruit,
I understood why it was forbidden,
yet in the swirl all responsibility melted,
my duties of worship set aside,
and I loved the lesser god;
that circled around the greater,
and swallowed her whole in forgetfulness
but after I was drained,
and reason sought return,
I then noticed my nakedness.

When I tasted the forbidden fruit,
I knew that I was no longer a child,
that something in it changed me,
and innocence was no longer an excuse
because I saw the change and took it,
instead of running out of the circle;
and despite the pleasure and the pain,
despite the right and the wrong,
I knew all that had occurred
and yet sought to cover my nakedness.

When I tasted the forbidden fruit,
and I knew the greater god had seen,
I hid and I took her with me,
and when the greater god questioned
I placed the blame on her;
because in her was the circle,
and I could only orbit,
and hope our paths would cross,
and allow me to taste the fruit
and then rush to cover my nakedness.

When I tasted the forbidden fruit,
what I had known of good and evil
was only what I had been told,
and then what was once said evil
was shown not to be
until he circled me in guilt;
and I could understand the jealousy,
and understand the pointed finger,
but I could not understand my shame
as I noticed my nakedness.

When I tasted the forbidden fruit,
and grasped and grappled with the serpent,
and turned my words from black to white,
my thoughts convinced me of the evil,
and I sought to separate myself
from her, from the circle and its consequence;
in me the world began its decay,
from me all evil has sprung,
even so I pushed the sin away on her,
and stooped to cover my nakedness.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


a violent boy
with a red-headed Irish temper
went to war
his gun repressed his anger
his rifle defined him
the grenade, lobbed far,
took bits of his rage with it
and exploded like fear

each step a step to madness
each bout of madness
stripped another layer of veneer
he laughed at death
and cursed the dead
both friend and foe
wondering at their smallness,
their insignificance

how could a man
be held in such a sad husk
he gloried in invincibility
that others might fall, but not him
death was all around him
and he killed always from a distance
crouching behind the splinter shield
of the twin fifties

he thought he knew death’s face
name, rank and number
though he had never brushed its hand,
then he met his enemy
stumbling over something soft
hearing the muffled groan
his rifle locked and loaded,
he met his enemy’s eyes

of course he pulled the trigger
it was what he was trained to do
but a moment of eternity passed there
and he learned fear
his red-headed temper swaggered still
yet he was a hollow man
living among other hollow men
each unaware of the others

he lived with this another 35 years
until his hand gave in 
to the call of the gun
he had bought for no certain reason
to clear his mind
and bring the circle to completion
through the stench and the haze
to where he met his enemy once more

Friday, June 20, 2008


when i learned that my son was dead
something clenched deep inside
though my face made no change
except maybe a twitch under my left eye

i saw my wife collapse on the kitchen floor
all the bones of her body gone
but i could not move to help her
not until the twitch under my eye let me

in the days that followed my eye grew calm
and unreality moved about me
i swam inside it like the sea
neither warm nor cool nor shallow nor deep

my wife formed bones again strangely stiff
i could almost feel them pushing my hands away
a hard ghost stood between us now
his touch too much to bear

a closed coffin built by another’s hands
mocked the tools skills and material
i knew well what my son knew
the better craftsman than his father

when the builder builds he asks not why
his imagination too narrow to see
that the building will eventually fall
and another builder build again

the creator creates us finite and weak
our struggle so great we need no help
in discovering new ways to die
so rages my mind

my son one of many in the foreign place
one of many fallen into whose hands
of the many families who grieve
who can never unclench again

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I wait for my son to return to me
but he only grows
up, away, apart
leaving me distant and separate.

A time will come when again he will cling to me
I tell the lie to myself
knowing it never can be
because I have pushed him away.

Orbits weaken with the stress of time
cracks widen, the circle dissolves
spinning to unknown directions
to reform and repeat the cycle.

I dream of my son slain in the darkness
the youth and bravado
charging heedless, mindless
dying inglorious, stained and torn.

This unexpected fate turns up on me
although it wasn't supposed to be
not the chance
that takes him from me.

Time weakens the tissue that connects
the soul to the heart
and so, tangled and dangling the body,
the spirit flees.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


1. Burnt Flowers
2. Silver Sin
3. Earthbound
4. Cold Beauty
5. Borrowed Time
6. Letting Go
7. Tuesday's Song
8. Deadfall
9. When Winter Dawns

Sunday, June 8, 2008



over thirty years gone and I can still see his face
a face so accustomed I awake from dreams 
thinking him a friend
I know his face better than my own 
which I must see in a mirror to realize
but like a secret open only to me 
I see his surprise as our eyes lock
I see his flicker of life into death in a frozen moment
the surprise wiped slack 
the knowledge drained out
and a new understanding that life is death 
and it is bound to hold us

occasionally I wonder what would be 
if my face were living inside him
a ghost that arises at unpredictable times
a face both alien and kindred 
both known and unknown loved and unloved
wondering what it would be and who would be beside it
amazed at the ease of which life turns to death
and all dreams and what would be are erased
the touch of a cold hand in the night
the distance which was none too far ever closer


I await my daughter's return to me
but balance shifts and becomes imbalance
and all powers fail to return the balance
decay sets in
the spring of the clock loosens
and only entropy remains
what was once immutable and sacred
is changed and corrupted.

How much of the fault lies within
within the mother within the daughter within me
this cannot be contemplated
would I find fear in place of duty
and which duty is required
the protection the lesson the release
and in what part of me is the answer
the mind the soul the heart.

The first time my daughter drowned
I caught her easily
and whisked her away from the danger
the pounding heart belied the steady voice
and fear like bile rose in my throat
but after I'd swallowed even I could pretend
that nothing had occurred
and all was at peace again

The second time she drowned
was not so easy
I scrabbled hard across the rocks
cutting deep blood tingeing the water
but was it for her or for me
that I flung myself and with bloodslick hands
pulled her forth
wondering if I should let her free.

And then she drowned a third time
and I wasn't there
and the waters took her away
and when I saw her body
picture perfect yet left of life
my soul exploded like a hollow thing
a heart of ash crumpled in my chest
but I never knew for whom this occurred.

In the balance in dreams
I see my arrival before she is gone
watching unsure in motionless motion
I see her face descending
the hand the fingers flicker
and all time stops
drowning always drowning
with her fingers always out of reach.

When I Was an Animal

When I was an animal
I tasted the animal tastes
such as blood, feces and urine
and savored each in turn
my tongue delicate and wise
without disgust or revulsion.

When I was an animal
I smelled the animal scents
such as fear, anger and despair
and they prompted my responses
my nose leading my mind
without thought or reason.

When I was an animal
I saw the animal sights
such as teeth, claws and snouts
and was quick to react and attack
my eyes weak and dim
without color or discernment.

When I was an animal
I felt the animal feelings
such as hunger, pain and cold
and each lesson learned lessened
my sensitivity ground down
without empathy or love.

When I was an animal
I heard the animal sounds
such as groans, grunts and howls
and the cacophony outside
my ears heard as a symphony
without rhythm or time.

When I was an animal
I thought the animal thoughts
such as then, now and when
and they built a senseless fury
my mind tied to my senses
without past or future.

Now I am not an animal,
isn't that nice?

jeg. '06

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bismarck's Boots

I used to dream of greater things
but now I eating daisies,
by the roots,
and being trod upon
by Bush's boots
and he's rushing off
the center stage
before my vengeance
has time to bloom
a folded flag and a salute
tears that will never touch
and I'm left alone
with eternity to brood.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Lie

Told once,
and again
and I almost believe it myself.