Monday, September 26, 2016

Welcome to My Mind

Something’s not right,
yet there’s nothing
to point at.

It’s a cold jittery jangle
in my chest --
my limbs ticklish
and waiting to spring
into action.

My brain restlessly
turning over every stone
with no clue
what it is looking for,
but I know it’s feverishly working
because my head
is sweating.

Of all the things
that can go wrong
which will it be?
My wife?
My kids?
My job?
My car?

Popping and jumping,
my mind reconstructs
past events
looking for the telltale clue,
the smoking gun,
the fatal flaw.

What is coming
that will undo me?

I try to predict when
and where my good luck
will dry up and blow away
like daisies
in a sandstorm.

“Trust in God”
“If God is with me”
etc etc etc
holy holy, …

God is calm,
no reason not to be.

God likes seeing me off-balance
every now and again,
keeps me humble
keeps me compliant

and God’s probably right
to do so

because we both know me
and if I am not on my toes
I get lazy
and the pencil remains ignored.

So this anxiety
is the call
to creation
to inquiry
to reconnection.

This connection doesn’t kill
the shivering anxiety
but it comforts me
for a while

as I wait for
the other shoe to drop.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Plastic Heart

My heart no longer
is bloody or visceral.
I fear it has become
through sheer repetitious
colder immune and
surprisingly plastic.

A plastic heart
isn’t bad at all.

It can get thrown around
and it doesn’t break
years won’t fade
its beauty or texture,

It’s durable
and isn’t connected
to guilt or obligation.

It doesn’t get stuck
on one person or face
and is never
delusional enough to think
“is this the one?”

I can mold this heart
into anything
I want
and it remains
mint unbroken flexible.

Plastic was invented as
a triumph over nature.

Plastic is man’s legacy
and is the logical
consequence to the problem
of human existence and
all the pain that comes with it.

Plastic will keep me safe.
Plastic will keep me uninfected.

I used up
the original heart
I was given
so this heart is a good

The plastic heart
never breaks,
always fresh

disconnected from the
teardrop place,

I hope you never
need one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Driverless Car

Where a never ending spray
of bullets don’t kill,

a driverless car
sails perfectly
over a cliff,

and somewhere
a lone brown bear is howling
at the buttery, autumn moon.

The oceans inch
higher and higher up the shore
we keep buying
and buying
and buying
and buying.

Pills and tinctures
keep me mollified,
and I don’t care
who is trying to control
my life,
because I haven’t the energy
or inspiration
to own it myself.

So I keep relaunching
from the side of the road,
merging back in
with the rest of the traffic,
each car
and truck and cycle
racing to arrive someplace
that rarely lives up
to the expectation.

The dream is false
and it gnaws,
unsated by
more purchases
more looking
more meals
more orgasms
more thrills.

Nothing can free
the captive soul
that scans
tirelessly and futilely
for something
from the outside
that will fix
the inside.

If you can
find a crack
in the faƧade,
turn the searchlights

Follow the cries
of the baby in the dark
and comfort him.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Promise

There is someone inside
or a small part of
trying to break through

all the responsibilities
the selflessness
the duties
that have attempted
to smother him.

They don't know he's
in there,
and they probably don't care
but I do.

So I find the cracks
in the pavement
and I chip away at

making them bigger
making it easier for
whoever is in there
to spring forth.

Maybe it's a demon
from Hell.

Maybe it's a rose.

Maybe it's just dirt and bugs
but if I don't do this
I'll never know.

And the world may not
be the better for it,

but I wasn’t sent
to save the entire
human race,

but maybe
just this one lost soul.

hang tight
whoever you are,

I'm coming
for you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Calling Home

"First off, I know
I haven’t called in a while,
and no, I’m not asking
for money.

It’s just that
my heart finally got used
to your silence,
so I decided
I wasn’t very important
to you.

Please please please
hear all the things
I cannot say.

Sometimes I see
it’s you calling
and I let it ring.

We both know when this happens.

The few times I’ve called,
you see it’s me
and pick up on the first ring.

Sometimes you tell me
things I don’t want to hear,
and sometimes
you tell me things
nobody else will say

and sometimes you just
let me ramble and ramble and
you say you understand.

I’m sorry I only call sometimes
when I need money
or when my car is broken

but I just don’t want bore you with
all my insignificance.

Forgive me,
if it hurts when I don’t call,
but I just don’t know
where to get the strength.

Sometimes I just want to tell you
that I had a good day,
that I resisted getting drunk,

and some days
I’m just grateful
it wasn’t as bad
as it could have been

and some days
the skies are just
so damned blue and pretty
all I want to say is
“thank you”
to someone.

I used to think
you were codependent
and you needed me
to check in on you.

Now that I am
someone’s father,
I know
you just want to hear
from me,
you just want to know
if you can help.

So forgive me
if I’m rusty at this
as I get down
on my knees
and dial you up."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Angry Dandelion, Part 2 (January 2009)

When her biological father left
she dove head first
into depression.

The counselor provided by
my insurance said
"well, let's just handle
her problems as they come up"
not realizing there were
five screaming meltdowns
just on the car ride over.
(This therapist was in
over her head.)

Her next psychologist
affirmed that she had
depression and anxiety,
and she was referred to a
psychiatrist who
prescribed Prozac
which she took dutifully
for three years
along with cognitive therapy.

Her darkness grew
into every part of her world.

Then came the snipe hunt
of diagnoses:
oppositional defiance disorder
attention deficit hyperactive disorder
obsessive compulsive disorder
borderline personality disorder…
they had the best of intentions
but they were throwing darts.

The sadness hovered unabated.

Her mood became darker,
more foul, violent
with flamethrower anger
and suicidal threats.

Her room became a cell
and she threw everything
she could
at the walls and doors
trying to escape.

Something hijacked her
and she cried long and hard
into the night, pleading
with me to make it all stop.

Her general practitioner
wanted to rule out
bipolar disorder
so she spent
the summer of 2008
enduring hours of
neuropsychological exams.

The verdict:
and frontal lobe syndrome.

Yet, on she rages
with a new psychiatrist
who disagrees with
neuropsych assessment
but still cannot offer
an alternate diagnosis.

The new doctor prescribes
new medicine
and tells her to try and
“get along with
the people you live with.”

I try to hide my disappointment
as I feel we’re all stuck in this:
me, her mother and
this sad, suffering Angry Dandelion.

her mood brightens when she
asks about
her upcoming birthday party.

She’ll be 12
next Friday.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Sacred and the Profane

Writing about
the grandeur, the mystery
the infinite grace of God,
I get few comments.

Writing about
my misadventures
of trying to quell
my miscreant penis,
these poems are very popular,

which goes to prove
the writer’s first rule:

write about

[Presented for D'verse Poets Quadrille ] 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dancing Close to the Cliff (Adultery Suite, Part One, 1998)

We were lost,
for passion,

and while we knew
this wasn’t it,
we danced
close to the
kept our heads cool
as our
lips and tongues
ignored everything

and I knew it
was wrong but
it was just
one more wrong thing
in this wrong life

and Teresa
would never find out

my accomplice
couldn’t go through
with the crime
and I didn’t have
to cross a line

at that time.

Still, I wonder
about that dark
sweet mystery
that might have
been ours

had she not been
a better person
than I.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Hope I Am Wrong (Adultery Suite, part three, 2001)

I imagine her house
dark and quiet,

lonely candles lit
in a sadly serene

This is how
I imagine it and she
is sleeping on the couch
with the doors and
windows sealed shut

(she could never sleep
when I was away).

The tv flickers
barely audible
her days quiet and alone
except for the friendly cats
she collects and
confides in

and I hope I am wrong
about all these things
because I didn’t mean
to take away her
her joy
but it became
a game of survival
and I lost

so I took myself
out of her house
and I pray
out of her memory.

But I know her
well enough to know
that her denial
is her armor,
so she’ll never admit
any loss
in my departure.

I don’t need
to be remembered

Please forget me
and fill your space
with light and
laughter again.

you deserved better.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Christian Voting Guide

when you vote,
remember that
Jesus wants you

to care for
the poor and the needy,
not just
the worthy poor and needy.

I have 20 different Bibles
and I cannot find
"The Lord helps those
who help themselves”
in any of these

Chemically dependent failures,
morally repugnant adulterers,
selfish and greedy idolaters:
don’t just belong to 2016,

they lived among our Christ.

He didn’t say clean up first
and then I’ll feed you.

He healed and fed them
and then said,

“Go and sin no more.”

My brothers and sisters
in Christ,

“where are your accusers?”

Try the mirror.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Say Goodbye

Rarely does life afford us
a discrete goodbye;

the pendulum of life
keeps swinging us back
to the sites
of our greatest failings.

We rarely
say goodbye
and mean it
we can’t control
who or what
will walk blithely into
the unmade beds
of our lives.

So when you ask me
to say goodbye to my sins,
my false idols,
and to the cursed miscreant
I wish to repudiate,
I fail.

These weaknesses,
these tattoos purchased
while intoxicated,
now brand me
and lay
dull and flat
inside this profaned skin

and they never
say goodbye

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

To Fit In

The challenge is always the same:

to fit in
without giving in.

My fight springs from something
primitive and undomesticated
that lives under all the schooling
good manners
practiced wordplay
and lucky breaks.

I feel fated to never
fit quite in,
and though it has blessed me
with insight and wisdom,
it is also my curse.

Though I would rather not fit in
and be admired for my principles,
it is often lonely
for the iconoclast who
stands and deconstructs the crowd
genuflecting at the latest empty idol

because sometimes all you want
is just to go home
and sit on your nice soft couch
And look at the lights on the Christmas tree

and sing along with carols
and know the rest of the
world is doing that too.

The perennial fight
grinds away this life

and some days
it is easier to
lay down the sword
and to try to fit into
the box
set aside for you.

Some days the box is a cell,
some days the box is a sanctuary.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Looking For Standard Time

Tonight is the night
we change the clock
back to Standard Time.

Everyone gains an extra hour of sleep
or work – if there on the night shift,

310 million Americans
each gains an hour—

310 million extra hours
is equal to over
12,900,000 days

which translates to
over 35,380 years

over 353 centuries,
35 millennia
will occur
all before sunrise,

all this from going back to
Standard Time

and it
isn’t enough.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Whatever This Is

Whatever this is,
it is
my own creation.

These words
spilling onto the page
like a sacred, hidden waterfall,

take me somewhere
even I have never dreamed,
reveal to me all that
I have hidden
under layers
of manners and mores.

Whatever this is,
it is my salvation
and my friend,

the other half
of the Siamese twins-
always there to
goad me,

to nudge the words

and if they don’t
strike that chord of guilt
deep and resonant
reminding me
that death --
the ticking time bomb
that most everyone refuses to see—
is taking its seconds
saying “why are you stopping
to do anything
but live

and capture it?”

The drum keeps pounding
the same tribal heartbeat
compels me:

dive deeper into
this blue mystery,
so deep that you
lose your breath,
push yourself farther,
forgive your trespassers
trust in the logic
of the unproven
undivided One

and document it

in whatever this is.