The Path

I never really saw freedom, and at mention of a search,
those holding calendars and candles say that chance has
passed, the journey has a new trail, well marked, well
beaten, where only an occasional stumble may arise
from divots left by those who’ve tread it before, it
stretches on until either the calendar ends, or the candle
goes out. At least, the chanting voice rumbles, unseen,
all the curves are protected, with lights marking the turns,
all laid out at even intervals for everyone. Walk leisurely,
but briskly, please, we’ve got other lining up behind you.
Thanks for your understanding. As the feedback shakes
birds from branches so many miles away. So I took to
enjoying what I could of these surrounding, when finally
the moment seemed to arrive, under the translucent
dryness of the conveniently installed canopy, when I’d
look around, seeing the majesty of the real possibility
of the trail, some crowd comes blasting through, all
together, thought not noticing anything more than
the pictures of clothing, automobiles, naked bodies,
drooling over just how far down they have to go
before these mythical treasures will be presented to them,
as they pass through, leaving me there alone again,
ready to jump the rail, in absolute hope something, anything,
was still outside the confides of the line. There, crouched
tiger like on the divide, an even younger crowd could
be heard rounding that neon labeled bend, and that’s it,
off into the great unknown. So dark as the open signs and
street lights go fading off in the horizonless distance.

The strip fading completely as I take a breath, in the wholly
cool, black, nothingness, slowly adjusting to this vision,
anything could come from. Only everything ever has. A
chance to meet this enchanted being, I’d sought for so long.
Noticing, almost instantly, faces emerging with unknown
light, beckoning, enticing me with their interest in the hunt,
the things they could teach, to find this holiest of recluses.
We searched together, all of us there in the malleable landscape,
building tools along the way, believing ourselves always
one step closer to that so long anticipated encounter. Yet,
forgotten behind, that piercing glare began to flicker, tirelessly
for one horrific moment, the pulsing flashes, the drawing
dashes flooded into my reluctantly opening eyes, focusing
on the crowd around focused on me, grabbing harshly, lifting
me from my slouch on the solid structure that lifted the path.
All blank eyes, never giving any real focus, with mouths
rattling off names and numbers from the signs I saw, being
hoisted back up onto the swarming, reeking trail. I tried to
decline, in the intolerable drone of brands, scores, gossip,
hobbling as best I could against the flowing mass, broken,
it proved too dense, turning, I was handed a calendar and candle,
and lost my voice in the din.



I had been a clerk at the cheapest hotel in the city, and used to the ignorance of clientele. Something didn’t work, they’re first reaction, always, was to call us. Not that we had any more knowledge of the intricacies of how appliances and electrical sockets worked, but it was our responsibility to remedy such situations. So as the disgruntled hoard moved down the stairways, I and my coworker did our best to excuse the situation in the suddenly frigid darkness.

The two of us, in the moments after the power was lost, were less than surprised to find the flashlights left in easy reach behind the desk were no good, yet as the crowd grew, and moved out the doors of the sake of space, the realization of the situation settled in. It wasn’t the streetlights being out, or the dark windows around, or even the downtown towers, prominent at any hour, not being lit, everyone there, one by one, pulled out their cellular phones, to inquire or report, and each was as dark as the city. Strange, I realized, the phone behind the desk had been silent the whole time.

The annoyed cacophony fell to a concerned anomaly as the unrecognizable silence moved in. Everyone frozen, listening to the first time, absolutely nothing but the wind. The moment stretched until, once more, the stairwell door was cracked open by a frenzied young man, shouting, halfway out, “Someone’s stuck in the elevator, freaking out!” Ten or twelve people followed up after him, my coworker included, with the keys needed in such a situation. I moved to assist but was stopped by Mr. Stallworth, a kind, older gentleman who’d been staying there a while, his wife dying slowly in one of the hospitals up the hill.

“I need to know if Betsy’s all right,” he said in a tone I’d never heard from him. I agreed to drive him up, publicly reassured the crowd, and we climbed into the hotel’s van. I can remember how grateful, how truly honest his thank you’s were over the ratchet of inserting the key, and the dread we shared as that was the only noise made. I turned it again. Nothing. Not a click. Not a wheeze.

I got out, ignoring Mr. Stallworth’s mechanical advice, and weaved my way through those milling around the parking lot out to the intersection. There were cars moving on the downward grade of the boulevard, yet the fearful faces of those unfortunate drivers showed they were not, in fact, driving. My own panic panged red in the hardly grey darkness of the moonless, overcast night. Some of those around me seemed to have noticed as well, in their shocked, barely audible expressions. I turned, shouted to the majority, nothing useful, sounds, trying to draw attention to the dire needs of those careening without control, only drawing attention to myself.

“You!” Came reached through the crowd. It was a tall man, underdressed, agitated, and ignorant to the true peril of the moment, singling me out for my assumed authority. “You! I’m freezing my dick off and my key doesn’t work!” The power being out, I knew I couldn’t reprogram it. “Neither does mine.” A second voice shouted. My coworker emerged, winded, “None of the doors’ll open. Even with the red key.”

Behind me, a car finally came to a stop as it collided with a utility pole, without audible evidence of braking. The force angled it past the tension limit of the power lines, breaking them loose and falling to the pavement with no sparks, as shouting erupted from the other side of the seemingly lifeless houses.


Harsh Light

Eyes closed. In a room
with harsh light. Times like
this seem too fleeting anymore.

Always falling through. The same
old traps. You’re tired and
hungry and drunk and ashamed.

and the last bus home just passed.
Ain’t that the way it goes. So
what comes from this? does anyone

care to know? Or is it just the way,
the faceless walk miles. Back from work
to cope. They told you opportunity

comes, and you’ll have your chance
and if you try real hard, you’ll
be paid back. Pay no

mind no matter. No hope
This time. But no tide will
wash up. No knock

at the door. No change
in seasons around. Here
no more.


Muse Ack

What’s that sound in the back room? How can this
be happening anywhere in the world anymore? Does
that mean that hope is still alive? Does it mean that
we’ve still got a chance? The punks did shit, so they
got sad, but let’s look at our label less selves.

The simplicity
of doing what feels good. The magic of what makes
us happy. How could such an obvious idea feel so
beautifully new? Something so obvious, the absolute
fuel in the face of demise. The tiniest living lights

guiding us to the ultimate truth. Everyone. Every
where. Ever. That is so utterly the point. Peel back
the fabric to focus on the frame. The feeling that keeps
us whole throughout our god given days. The beauty
in skilled sound. The skill of beauty

that moves the world.
The world of beauty that emerges in the minute moves
skill implores. The life in poetry that so simply explores
the motion of fingers, voices, skins. The act of being
portrayed in the duel sounding song. Where has such truth been?

The motion of a soul, broad, bold, scolding the silence
that dwells within. As love, luck, loss, lust sit in waiting
of this direly tireless human condition. So lucky the few
to move that to the realm of effect. That is the essence of life,
living, god. In his own image. Because even he can’t rock

like this. The sound! Terrible longing of what you could be doing
right now! To be on the other end! Still, this is the best you’ve
felt in months. What a world it is we’ve found ourselves in.
Beauty living in sound, so let us always be crying tears of joy
or pain, as long as it’s entirely human.


To Save The Whole

I started cutting off my right arm
with a plastic knife last night.
The problem being, I’m not left handed.
The strokes were wild, uneven.
It took a long time just to hit bone.
When I did, the blade broke off,
and I had to start hacking at it
with the blunt handle. Now it seems
like this could take forever.


Ashtrayless In This Country's Smoking Section

And they didn’t have any ashtrays in the smoking section. Confused, I glanced back to the table behind me in a near terror. Nothing. How could this be, I thought. In what horrible state of affairs has this world dropped into? Ashtrayless in this free country’s smoking section?

I grabbed a waitress, probably too hard, by the arm. “Can I get an ashtray?”

She looked tired, or pissed. “Uh, I don’t see any,” she said.

“But you work here, you must know where you can find one.” I pleaded on the brink of tears.

“I’m sorry. This is my first day.” The look in her eyes reminded me that I still had her by the arm.

“Find someone else. Please.” I let go and she hurried around the divider.

Head in my hands staring straight down, I could hear the dripping from my face hitting the table. I didn’t even look up to the tapping on my shoulder.

“Excuse me, sir.” It wasn’t a deep voice, but it was a man’s. “I’m going to have to-“

“Oh thank God you’re here. Could you please find me an ashtray?” I said.

“You’ll have to leave now.”

“Look, Buster,” I said standing up, eyeing the fat man. “All I need is an ashtray.” I couldn’t help but lean into him.

“Tom!” He shouted. I backed him into a table.

Then I was moving backwards. All I could smell was grease. Tom’s hands were huge and commanding. I didn’t even get to see his face before I was on the concrete outside.

“You sons of bitches! How dare you deny my basic fucking right!” I said and lit a smoke.


Let Us Say...

Let’s say Christian religion is true, and let’s say the devil comes
to you to lure you away from the truisms of the faith, and let’s
say that I met the devil tonight and he tempted me with words,
as the devil would know, words being my true weakness. Say,
he knew a book of beat writers would sway me to follow him,
and let’s say that he got me to read out loud from that book,
that I know to be realistic, if not true, and he bought me a drink
and got me to read some more, and let’s say there was an old
man there by the name of JC, and let’s say he asked me about it,
and let’s say he connected with a very close brother of mine on
levels I don’t really understand, and they discussed a path I’ve
never believed. Let’s just say this happened on a day like today,
and that it seems JC had the beard and the gem stone (“Peace,
peace, peace,” was all I thought with it in my possession.) and
this was an actual battle for souls. Rhetoric losing to faith. The
point being, you don’t feel holy for living the right path. Righteousness
is an award, not a symptom. On a day like today, I pray that’s true.



"You're too true to be good
Let It be understood
I'll give you back to your wings"

Common Rider


On The Bar

In sitting down at the wooden dining room table,
with full intentions of open mindedness, the natural
motion of his head glanced over the island bar that
separated the kitchen, noticing, questionably, a pair
of small wooden shoes. At first thinking it a delay
in focus, from his seat, he voluntarily, once more,
looked over the scene, and he was mistaken, there
was not a pair of shoes, but one doll sized leather
boot. Curious to its origin, and the whereabouts
of its partner, the boot kept his attention for only
a moment as, suddenly, he noticed protruding from
it, in the usual fashion, was a stick that continued
upward and Y’d to branches that extended nearly
two feet. That was it. There it was. A branching,
booted stick standing between the bananas and the
cook books. These people are insane, he said out loud
to himself, and got to work.


The Ends

He could hardly stand it, the mathematics
that brought it all to bear, the meaningless
burning out of all the stars he could not
see in the unending din of what they called
the natural world. He did not have words

for it. An end was coming. Those around
him delighted in the superficiality they
inherited. The trees passed in longing,
molting in their yearly death, he knew
were transplanted. The falsity of reality.
The moments passing in eternity. Somehow.
must find purpose. But how? Even the great
minds creating worlds of truth are no

more human than the rest. Their universes no
less real, yet somehow, more so. Wildlife
wandering streets and parks, but even in
forests they were forced to preserved,
the waste products of the master species
litter the once majestic balance. What
could the future mean when the pinnacle
of planetary design did nothing

more than resent, ignore, and destroy everything
that allowed it to reach such unfathomable
heights? Chance so cruel to allow the paradox
of control. How then, could this continue?
He pondered there. How could such artificiality
continue to build upon itself in hopes of truer
existence? There seems no positive outcome,
except the distant hope of renewal after
the inevitable, and approaching, collapse.

The brashness of a generation to stare
in the face of everything learned, and believe
this time things will, in fact, end differently.
How dare they, he said to the evidence
surrounding him. How dare they believe in anything
they see.


Truth Of The Matter

“Where is this guy?” He said, huddled,
looking around at all angles. “He should
have been here fifteen minutes ago!”

In the dark corner of the ally, he waited,
feeling as though all the lights focused
on him, convincing himself they weren’t.

He moved from his spot to glance into
a window with a wall clock view. “Dammit!”
He shouted in a rough, hushed voice.

“This is bad.” Across town, he could hear
the squad cars pulling out of the garage,
flashes blaring sirens, heading his way.


Oh. Sorry.

Big toothy grins wrapped around questionably
loud laughter, three minutes till a, quote, accidental,
as filed by the police report, unquote, reaction,
deemed excessive in the unquestioned, unlistened
to, when mentioned, wealth of work lost, fuck it.

The rootin-tootin-hiccup-hawlerin of this establishment
drowning out all good intention in a shrieking hum,
increasingly dumb conversations drifting over the bass’s
bump. This place is bunk on the weekends, don’t come
seeking friends or meaningful dependents these days. Peace

says to be accepting, that happiness paves the path to
relaxation, somehow it all feels like a contradiction,
the morning after giving more hurt than joy, this night,
that’s missing. So many dapper young men, introducing
old friends sitting at the bar, no wait, that’s not him.

Stop. Begin again.

God Said

The child looked up from the book
to the sky and asked, "Why
poetry? Why bother with it?
After all that we have, what
can it give?" And God said...


Massive Evacuation

Testing. One, two, three.
Lift off.

The Arrival

The sheet metal sky looming
over the southeast end of the city,
dropping heavy dashed lines
through the still sunny afternoon.

Rays from the west, over
the apparently blessed downtown,
giving the autumn leaves reason
to be proud of themselves, after
the rain that moves on as gently
as it arrived.