Saturday, August 18, 2018

BEAUTY CAN ONLY BE DEFINED BY THE UGLINESS THAT SURROUNDS IT



2004 maybe?  Essentially issue 10 of TIN LUSTRE MOBILE, which was always good fun.  





blue

here where
the streets all run
blue to the river

where the needle crawls
blind through
forgotten back yards
searching for the
one true vein

every one of these houses
is for sale
every one of these children
unwanted

and do you remember the year
of the burning girl?

it never ended
just spread from town to town
like beauty reversed

do you remember the
season of rust?

you do if
your sister lost her
unborn child
and maybe now you drink
too much

maybe you lock
the bedroom door and cry
while your own children
scratch to be let in

there is no future
so bleak it
can never come to be






indian summer

or october
which is the smell
of wet sunlight
on blacktop

which is the uneasy rush
of waiting to be
a father

of falling from an
impossible height over
some vague expanse
of wasteland

everything
suddenly beautiful
just when it no
longer matters






shaped by fire

she is less
than
what she was

she has been
shaped by
fire

has been
broken down
then put back
together and
no one is
holding
her

no one is
telling her
she's
beautiful

we are all
too busy
turning away






in the afternoon of bitter confessions

in the season of myths
i am empty

in the afternoon of
bitter confessions i remain
silent

these are the walls we
call home and
beyond them
the sky is white

the sun has lost something

is warm but only faintly
like an almost forgotten memory
and the trees all shimmer
beneath it

and the story is yours
and you tell it
softly

the suicide of a friend
or maybe the overdose

maybe the body found
shortly after midnight in any
pointless upstate town

the face black
the fingers rigid
around something

a steering wheel or a
bible or a pack of
cigarettes
and the air is sweet through
these open windows
and i am not
a compassionate man

am not the man you married

my eyes are pale green
my teeth white and even
my smile an angry thing

i could hold you
but don't

could tell you
a story of my own but
choose not to

i have become my
father's son






desperate poem from the season of rust

a small song sung softly
for this woman found
raped and strangled in her bed

an empty gesture
for the living
to comfort themselves with

take it with you
to the hill of fifteen crosses

take it to
the missing girl's door on
an overcast day in september
eight years after the fact

tell her parents that
you believe in redemption

tell them that the spirit holds
more weight than the bones

realize finally
how worthless your lies
really are






myself a bastard son

what i give you is the world
in terms of cancer

people devoured
and objects destroyed
and the simple truth that there
is no cure


that the children next door
stand on the side of the street and
dare each other to touch the
decomposing remains of
a small animal

and this is nothing new

it's where we've come
from the burning of witches and
the lynching of slaves

it's the idea that democracy
by itself
is enough to save us

and i believe in love
yes
but i believe in money too

i believe that beauty
can only be defined by the ugliness
that surrounds it

consider that every year of your life
has been defined to some extent
by war

by the deaths of both
loved ones and strangers

and in the kitchen
the faucet drips and
in the back yard
a cautious version of the sun
appears

the faint shadows of
buildings and of trees

the sound of an airplane

the sky
suddenly luminous with
possibility





letter to kurt cobain, seven years dead, on his 35th birthday

fuck this
idea of heroes


fuck this idea
of gods
of any kind

do you agree?

do you
believe?

i can't hear
you



the moment with clarity, but no definition

or else the boy
walks into his house
to find his brother murdered

his mother dead by
her own hand

blood everywhere
but nothing spelled out

nothing left whole or
recognizable

the future enormous





faith in nothing: a confession

or the smell of slowly
decaying houses
in these first warm days of fall

the unthinking weight i place
on april's heart

and what i can't
seem to shake are the
last meaningless words i spoke to
this man i know before he
went home and put the gun
in his mouth

do you understand that
i'm human?

it becomes harder to prove
with each passing year as the list
of people i would call friends
grows smaller and smaller

and did i have a childhood?

of course
but i can't seem to make
any connections between
the boy i was and the
man i've become

and i continue to
write these poems but what
any of them actually say
is an uncertain thing

what any of us choose
to do in the face of tragedy
seems irrelevant

i know i'm not the
only one to accept this
as truth





the age of pity, softly

this woman with a rope
around her throat
and her lover vanished

the shape of america pressing in
on this place i call home

and distance and speed
and the inevitability of addiction

a child found dead
in a cage

another found dead
in a closet

all of these bodies
covered with cigarette burns
and the constellations they form
when laid side by side

the man who insists that
nothing good can come from
obsessing over these atrocities
that define us

his belief in god
which saves no one

LIKE SOME PALE CHRIST LEFT HANGING IN THE RAIN



Nice to see paper holding its own as a medium for sharing ideas in the 21st century. 2 limited edition chapbooks this year, and this latest piece published in a print journal. Good times.