remembering the language: an exercise in self-mutilation

for something in the
insincere october sunlight
but nothing comes
and i begin to feel
like pollock

walls and weights and
the blood of ghosts until
the only option is to drown

until the churches are
all on fire
and my children starving

[i]my children starving[/i]

i will teach them to
eat the flesh of god before
i let it come to that

poem which, when held at the proper angle…

[b]poem which, when held at the proper angle, becomes a portrait of michael gira[/b]

the sky suddenly deep with
the weight
of approaching autumn

the poems like small miracles
or minor saints

like ordinary men shot dead
on quiet streets
in front of their wives and children

and i want to tell you that
the violent acts of strangers don’t matter
but you turn away

i want you to believe
that love is some sort of salvation
but i can never say it with
a straight face

look at gandhi

look at lennon

think about what it means
when a newborn baby is found
in a knotted plastic bag on
a philadelphia sidewalk

think about the sun

pure white light traveling
through all of that empty space
just to show you how dark
your future will be

Pocket Change

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?”
T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland” — 1922

As locust of grief gathers its legs
for the pounce and traffic spins
in its clotted grave,
answer escapes by channel of fog.
I am seized by the question’s thrust–
turn toward ways you fanned a purse
and opened it on Christmas Eve.
A man with his face inking a sign
marked homelessness, dotting
your “I” with a tear of having more
than your heart required in wallet clutch,
pushed you to extend your gift.
You dropped $5 in his lap.
He smiled the way a cock must crow
waking up a sleeping farm.
Teeth became a rope of pearls,
real in their soft reward.

Passersby withdrew from slug trail poverty
and the wind raced its breath
toward frost and clung.
“Pocket change, that’s all we are
and all we have, trading pennies for a dime.”
The song of it all in photograph
rekindled decades hence in water bath
for wisdom’s tiny carrot curl.
“One clash with fate, that’s all it takes,”
you murmured quietly, as if your vocal chords
had violins in lumpy throat.
That single reach. Rendering a bible’s jacket
more than paper babble bound.
Undaunted by his drunkenness and sour cough,
a memory pushes through my hands.

*First Published in The Pedestal Magazine

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