Friday, September 29, 2006

of faith and devotion

In the here, now, the silence of
this room, this street at two in the
morning, the need not for Jesus
but for something stronger,
something tangible.

Here in the
unrelenting heat of July.

Here, in this unforgiving new
century, with the delicate hands of
mothers cut off by other women's
sons, and in the name of freedom,
in the name of power, because a
pile of dead hands can never
really be an enemy.

A child with its tongue cut out
can never really beg for mercy.

And I believe in the future,
but only because the past is gone

I believe in the hammer, the
obvious border, the nail driven
through soft flesh, but I'm no
longer certain about right and

I have no use for politics, or for
the whores who would make me
swear allegiance to something
as irrelevant as a flag.

There will never be an end to the
line of smiling shitstained dogs
who want only to force you
to your knees.

Friday, September 22, 2006

ships, sleeping

you open the door and
find the hanging man

what you've been chosen for here
isn't clear but listen

he has a wife and he
has a child

a room full of
books without words

a cigarette grown cold in
an ashtray

and what happened is that he
woke up and
the house was on fire

the last great war
hadn't begun yet but the
streets were full of starving children

do you remember
the stench of corpses?

do you believe that
god and the devil are the same?

this is the question you
need to ask your lover when she
kneels before you

ignore her words when she answers
but watch her hands

listen to the passing traffic

and is this a room where
every mirror has been turned to
the wall?

it matters

your smile can only hold
so much broken glass

the clocks will only run backwards
until they reach zero

think about
all of the lies your father ever
told you

walk to the end of the hall
and open the door

the possibilities are never as
endless as you'd like to believe

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

sunflowers in autumn

An ambulance in the sunlight.

An arm, a leg, something missing
from the picture, but the
picture has no sound.

The dog has been shot twice,
but refuses to die. Cut its head off
and it grows back, and so
you drive.

End of the road to the edge of town
and then 3000 miles to where
the continent falls into the ocean.

I am looking for you here,
among the weeds and the discarded

I have questions,
have gifts,
have dreams that need interpreting.

I was told that this would
be my century.

I was led to believe that
what I had to say

Some of this must sound familiar.

Friday, September 15, 2006

in the room of mirrors

tired of yr sickness, yes,
and tired of my own,
and strange that i can place my
hand on yr sorrow and
turn it to rage

strange that i can close my eyes
and pretend you never

but not like christ
asking one of us to drive the
last nail home

Monday, September 11, 2006

Every step, towards or away

I have never killed the enemy,
have never stood close enough to
touch the face of God.

I was raised to understand that
the glass is half-empty.
Was taught by my father
how to pour more,

and on the morning of his cremation
I was hiding in another town, with
another man's wife, and I hold no
illusions about forgiveness.

I believe that our lies will get us
through these days as well as
anyone's truth.

I have yet to be proven wrong.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


the dead heat of july
and the weight of loss and the
way none of it can be separated

the way that what i write is never
the same as what i'm trying to say

do you see?

let's call the sky tarnished silver

let's have it press down against
the hills without compassion

and we'll say the girl was only
when she vanished more than
a decade ago

would you consider her
an adult now
or do you just assume she died
terrified and alone?

would you walk into her room
if you knew that nothing
had been touched since the
day she disappeared?


it's not your pain to give
but you can still receive it like
some inverted blessing

you can still bleed like
the rest of your life
depends on it

everyone does at some point

Monday, September 04, 2006

places where the bodies of murdered children have been found

places where the bodies of murdered children have been found: an incomplete guide to america


at the water's edge


in a shallow ditch
a desert highway


hung from a tree in the
hills of southern california


in a summer field in
rural pennsylvania


in a dumpster


two of them
in a clearing in the woods
of upstate new york and
both of them hacked
to pieces


two more beneath a
freshly poured concrete slab
in the back yard of a
man from just down the street


stuffed beneath
the kitchen sink while
the mother lies wrapped in
bloody sheets saying
it's not hers


laid out neatly on
their parents' bed


floating face-down in the tub


floating face-up in the tub


in a plastic bag


in the locked closet of
a burned house


in a suitcase




would you
waste your breath on
a word as
pointless as mercy?

Friday, September 01, 2006


or the first time i taste her
or the first time i
make her cry

the days in between
spent waiting

spent listening to the ghost
of black coyote

to the sound of rifle fire
ripping through small children
and newborn babies

the sound of america
taking shape bone by bone

medals pinned to the
bloodstained uniforms of
drunken soldiers

the book of days rewritten to
make the killers
seem like monsters

to make them
seem more like you