Excerpt for The Skinny One by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


The Skinny One

A Collection of Poems

Copyright 2017 Charles Rocha

Published by Charles Rocha at Smashwords

Cover Image: Edvard Munch – Woman’s Head Against the Shore, 1899

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Contents

Preface

Dixie

Index Finger Painted Red

Melissa

For Edna Purviance

For Edna Purviance (Variant 1)

For Edna Purviance (Variant 2)

A Winter Change in April

Winter in April

Post-Cinderella Regret

The Tale of Brave Strumpus

Los Angeles

Sixteen

Swan Lake

No Way Out

Courage

The Conjuration

Small Gifts

Acorns

Perversity in Samsara

Tattoo

Tranquilo

Corrections

Muse

Diary

Samsara

Winter Days

The State of Computing in 1995

The Affair

You Talk Too Much

Dried Apricots

Making Love

Making Love (Variant)

Thank You

Media

Wristwatch

Static: F-Troop on an LSD Vacation

Naked Before the Mirror

The Challenge

I Was Weary

Time Has Eased My Troubled Mind

Annotated Bibliography

About the Author

Other Books by this Author

Preface

Dear Reader,

You have in your possession a skinny volume of poems written by someone who does not consider himself a poet. This uneven collection was written over a course of twenty years and constitutes the whole of my poetic output during that time. I do not consider these poems my best work and today publish them only for the sake of posterity. Just the same, I would still be pleased if you enjoy them.


Charles Rocha, 2017

Dixie

By boot, hoof, wagon wheel, and sail,

young men with guns went south when ink had failed.

They’d left their mother’s arms or wives at home

to hide behind a barricade of stone.

A bugle cries; a corporal gives the word

as men charge into fields and rifle shot,

they fall like petals in a garden plot.


Thunderous roar, balls from cannons fly

through soldiers’ cries.

Between the muddy ditch and caisson ruts

a soldier clutches his bleeding guts.

The shifting lines on battlefields are drawn

by tactical maneuver:

the stench of sweat and terror,

the screams of boys beneath the surgeons’ saw.


The bells peel harshly in a Richmond square.

When the Union army gathers there

her shamed-yet-proud, defeated people,

lower Dixie from the steeple.

Atlanta’s flames light up the countryside,

the falcons fleeing from their nests.


Starvation buries some who have survived.

Yet war-worn Sherman and his company,

befitting agents of adversity,

darken the sky with swaths of cotton soot

above the hungry calm

while caissons roll along

on grain fields mashed to mud by Union boots,

and whole Southern regiments

are regiments of coffins

lying side by side.

Index Finger Painted Red

Today

I learned what happened yesterday

One day too late.

After your slim index finger, nail

Painted red,

Brought to my lips

Failed to hush my sharp tongue.

Motioned for me to come

When I could not.

Then traced the map of our love

Across the lines on your face

To your home in Samsara

Where it pointed

To a blue steel solution

Inside a glass case.

Tapped on your chin as you thought,

Then guided the pen that

Signed the check

That gave you possession of your mortality.

Your index finger, nail painted red

Rapped nervously on the table

After it dialed my number—

“Come see what you’ve done,” you said.

Gently, it dabbed your eye

After it wrote your epitaph in lipstick

On the bathroom mirror.

Steadied

The blue steel at your temple,

And squeezed the trigger

Your slim index finger—

Painted red.

Melissa

The white farmhouse sits alone on the spacious prairie.

Melissa rocks herself on the porch swing watching the shadow

of a freight train creeping across the horizon, back-lit by the sun,

while her blueberry muffins bake in the kitchen.

Their warm scent fills the air with sweetness.

Those empty boots by the porch swing are worn by a spirit.


Unknowing women in town gossip that Melissa’s lost her spirit

as the bereaved often do. “She’s by herself on the prairie,”

they say. “A girl with her kind of sweetness

shouldn’t live all alone.” But one shadow

sits with Melissa on the porch and another’s in the kitchen,

watching the muffins rise while the sun


washes out the shade on the porch. The setting sun

elongates the shadows of grave markers owned by spirits:

two wooden crosses planted just outside the kitchen

window beneath a huge oak. Six feet in the hard prairie

soil lie Melissa’s husband and his lover, lingering shadows

of adultery that soured the inherent sweetness


that once resided in Melissa. The loss of her sweetness

had changed her nature as a feverish midday sun

withers a parched field of barley. She was hiding in the shadow

of the pantry with a shotgun while her husband, drunk with spirits,

made his lover's body quiver like wheat in the sigh of a prairie

breeze as she lay upon the large oak table in the kitchen.


Melissa slipped from the pantry as the kitchen

table creaked and shuddered from their misplaced sweetness.

Then, as the wind whipped across the prairie,

rippling the wheat beneath the noonday sun,

she fired both barrels at the lovers, banishing their spirits

from flesh to a netherworld of earthly shadow.


Now Melissa takes company in two shadows.

One helps in the fields, and the other helps in the kitchen.

And only she can see these captive spirits

who sing to each other at night with preternatural sweetness

of unearthly flowers blossoming beneath an invisible sun.

Such is Melissa’s delusion in her house on the open prairie.


The sweetness of the muffins dissipates in the prairie

winds. Two shadowy crosses lengthen in the setting sun.

A spirit wearing a pair of boots follows Melissa into the kitchen.

For Edna Purviance

Your flickering silver era,

estranged, forgotten

as those flowers

I drove past this morning.


Since the lilt in your voice

was never recorded

all that remains

is your nitrate image,

your name eternally resting

in the index of some book,

a footnote to Charlie

in the nascent days of film

for souls like me

to ponder like the youthful sweetness on your lips.


Warm sunlight on your shoulders

on forgotten afternoons

your image

today a silver flower

in a Technicolor garden.

For Edna Purviance (Variant 1)

Your flickering silver era,

estranged, forgotten

as those flowers

I drove past this morning.


Since the lilt in your voice

was never recorded

all that remains

is your nitrate image,

your name eternally resting

in the index of some book,

a footnote to Charlie

in the nascent days of film

so souls like me

can ponder the youthful

sweetness on your lips.


Warm sunlight on your shoulders

on forgotten afternoons

your image

today a silver flower

in a Technicolor garden.

For Edna Purviance (Variant 2)

Flowers were blooming

in the small forest

I pass through every morning,

as though you never existed.

Another generation passes

leaving your silver frames

captive to their era,

estranged and forgotten,

fading from living memory.


Since the lilt of your voice

was never recorded

all that remains

is your nitrate image.

Your name eternally rests

in the index of books,

a footnote to Charlie

in the nascent days of film

while curious souls like me

ponder the youthful

sweetness of your lips.


Warm sunlight on your shoulders

on forgotten afternoons,

your image rediscovered,

a silver flower

in a Technicolor garden.

A Winter Change in April

A window sits across from me,

Where once I saw a scene unfold

Of wintertime that came too soon

Of blossoms smothered by the cold.


A strange wind blew across the sand,

The hungry gray consumed the blue

And shadowed her expanse of land,

The land that was her garden, too.


Some snowflakes flitted earthward there,

They clung to where they’d fallen down,

Bequeathed them pansy halos fair,

And daisies luminescent crowns.


But snow came down without a break,

And gave the pond an icy shell.

It claimed the trees around the lake,

Obscured the garden path as well.


Now all her crimson cyclamens

Are cloaked in white so none can show.

And now instead of catching sun,

Her tulip cups are cups of snow.


For lack of warmth the snow remains,

The window frame, beyond belies

A scene that’s viewed inside the pane:

The frigid land behind her eyes.

*****

It will be an early winter outside the window. The brightly colored flowers that cover the ground will die beneath a blanket of snow. First, dark, gray clouds sweep across the blue sky. They appear to swallow the blue. Next, the wind kicks up. It howls mournfully across the land. It howls across the place were lies a secret garden that is accessed by a small narrow footpath. Soon, snowflakes begin to fall, lightly at first. They cling to the flowers. They give the pansies a translucent coating. They rest delicately on the daisies. They “crown” the carnations. Yet the snow continues to fall. The temperature drops. Now the birds stop singing. Those that can’t fly away begin to die. More snow falls. The small pond freezes over. The trees fill with snow so much that their branches sag from the weight. The snow also hides the path to the secret garden; there is no longer any way to get there. Soon, the snow buries all the flowers (cyclamens, mums, carnations, and pansies); their bright hues are smothered by deathly white. The craven pansies wither quickly. The tulips that once held the sunlight now hold snow. Instead of nests in the trees, long icicles hang from the tree branches. This winter will never thaw because it is brought about by innocence that was lost too soon. It is a winter that signifies lost potential, a life that will never reach fruition. This is like a girl I used to know. I saw the story of an early winter in her eyes.

Winter in April

(after criticism from people who didn’t like the poem)

A strange wind blew across the sand,

And hungry gray consumed the blue

It shadowed her expanse of land,

The land that was her garden, too.


But snow came down without a break,

It gave the pond an icy shell.

It claimed the trees around the lake,

Obscured the garden path as well.


Now all her crimson cyclamens

Are cloaked in white so none can show.

And now instead of catching sun,

Her tulip cups are cups of snow.

Post-Cinderella Regret

After the feast that lasted seven nights,

Attended by a troop of vassal knights,

Fair Cinderella slipped into her gown,

And marched in pride upon red carpet down

Where at the altar smiled her princely prize

Gazed down at her with love inside his eyes.

Contented state, the best that fate allows

Blessed them that day, the day they took their vows.

Away they sailed on blissful honeymoon

And steamy nights within their bridal room.

Reposing in these thoughts of Cinderella

Drusella softly wept to Anastasia,

And while the latter grasped a bird to pluck it,

And former dipped the mop into a bucket,

"Do you suppose, dear Stasia, that we treated

Our Cinderella wrong when us she needed

To find her rightful place within us three

A worthy niche within our family?

That prince we danced with surely liked us too,

But I suspect that something else he knew:

That Cinderella was most soundly good,

And you and I weren't quite the way we should.

Do you suppose that more had come to pass

More than a fairy slipper made of glass?

And could it be that maybe all along

Cinder was right while all we’d done was wrong?"

Thin Anastasia gave a wistful stare.

"Ah yes," she said, "I saw a conflict there,

Indeed, we often we made poor Cinder cry

And did not share with her our pumpkin pie.

Instead, we cast her to the cellar lice

To mend our clothes and catch the dirty mice.

From what I see, the fault is sadly clear,

Agree, I do, that we've done wrong, my dear.

If only we'd been sweet to our stepsister

We would not be the ones who badly miss her.

We could be resting in her palace rooms

Instead of plucking birds and pushing brooms."

Those words inflamed rotund Drusella's ire,

She broke her mop and tossed it to the fire.

"I know the reason why were in this mess:

Our cruel mother gave undue duress

To Cinderella in a false pretense.

She knew that Cinder was the fairest one.

That's why we went and asked her not to come

To the ball to meet the handsome man.

Imagine how we hurt her, if you can.

Our mother fostered misplaced jealousy.

A ruse suggesting needless trickery.

For had we thought, we may have shared the bliss,

A lovely sister does not make us less.

Our mother used us as a pair of tools—

A pair of daggers brandished by a fool."

The Tale of Brave Strumpus

(a distant descendent of Brave Ulysses)

Some glory in the highest house of Thrace,

Decides which wind the weathered sails must face,

May send their ships across the slattern sea.

And call them back again, holds full of tea.

Fair Strumpus leads, wood bow beneath his foot,

While smokestack belches darkly clouds o’ soot,

With brandished saber, keenness for the cut,

Gold armor covers full his dandy butt,

Brave Strumpus stands there 'til the journey ends,

And stands there still for journeys back again.

His valiant crew, they swore and cursed, I know,

Their haughty captain never slept below,

Remained he fixed on bow in hero’s pose,

Through gale or shine no break for bland repose.

Now far beneath in caves of emerald green,

In coral throne bedecked with jewels obscene,

Poseidon gazed upon this mortal’s pride,

Perplexed, he was, his ancient mind aside.

“This man I see, mine eye he doth offend,

His pride I must assail to bitter end,

For if one treads across my bosom sea,

A humble tread is tribute full to me.”

So, mighty one, he raised his awful arms.

While first mate heart’ly rang the ship alarms,

From armpit hair rose white-capped tempest terror,

For pride, it was, their noble captain’s err’.

Brave Strumpus stood on bow the storm to scorn,

Resolved to ride it out until the morn,

While lesser sailors huddled low for fear

Of frothing, foamy wrath to come not near.

Three days and nights the canvas sails were lashed

Bright bolts of lightning thrown from Titans crashed.

No sign in sight to calm the sea of rough,

But soon the men below had had enough,

Amidst his shouts and cursing them as knaves,

They cast proud Strumpus to the angry waves.

Strong Strumpus swam while waves about him rolled,

But quickly sank weighed by his mail of gold.

Upon his dip, the seas quick smoothed to glass,

Rain-leaden gates opened for steeds to pass.

Harsh winds sighed gently to the trader’s breeze.

It calmed the men; it put their hearts at ease.

With tea for cargo minus taint of pride,

On gentle swells the vacant bow doth glide

O’er bones of men drowned by Pride’s fatal wish.

Humility brings home what pride feeds fish.

And of brave Strumpus, whom this tale began?

The haughty man was never seen again.

Los Angeles

The Angels have left long ago.


Brown air strangles the horizon

We breathe anyway.

It corrodes our lungs, erodes our spirits,

Sinking into our skin

Until it becomes a part of us.


Crawling across the city

In eggshells the colors of the rainbow.

It was once a novel idea

Efficiency meets diversity

And lives metered by traffic lights.


Something seamy resides here.

It does not wash away in the rain

It resonates in the radio waves

And wells up from the sewers

Viciously, it clings to our feet.


At night, dreary manila streetlights

complete with sirens in the restless air.


A creeping nightmare.

Pestilence of consumed soul and sand.

A smothering, cruel architecture of an

Endless vista of dark alleys and

Brightly-lit strip malls.


And this is the problem it poses:

Glitter and a heart of stucco.

Serpentine bands smeared white and red.

The show that never ends,

Writhing long after the curtain descends.

Sixteen

Ashley reflects while gazing through the glass

as winter melts within the heat of spring

unfolding in the pasture just outside

her window pane. The springtime rises like

the growing swell of her young breasts beneath

her paisley blouse. She knows the hazy days

are passing and the boys will soon climb down

their trees in search of something sweet and soft.

She sees her own reflection in the pane

superimposed upon the fertile field

that’s bordered by a freshly painted fence.

And sleeping on the white gazebo, curled

into a furry ball of calico,

a neighbor’s cat is giving brief respite

to birds and field mice in observance of

Persephone’s return to Earth. Within

that grove of peach trees by the creek,

our Ashley wonders if this year she’ll have

an opportunity to steal a kiss

or two beneath their fragrant canopy.

Caressed by gentle breeze amidst a field

of wildflowers, grim foreboding takes

a hold of Ash, for though the spring carries

new hope, it comes wrapped up in mystery:

a forest garden ripe with tainted fruit.

But she’s outgrown familiar rooms where she

had spent her childhood: her dolls return

her gaze with lifeless stares, and teddy bears

lie half-forgotten underneath her bed.

Though spring taunts Ashley with uncertainty,

she must embrace it as a flower blooms

by summer light, no more a child than

the young men who will buzz around her ears

in fervent search for hidden nectar.


Swan Lake

Seldom sighs the icy wind

The way it sighed that day,

A symphony for water sprites

As heard beneath the lake.


Such music pleased the somber sprites;

They swirled about in laughter

Fermented algae filled their cups—

A sparkling, sweet liqueur.


A broken heart stood on the shore

Her face awash in tears.

She dove into the frigid lake

To end her doleful years.


The boy who'd left her standing there

Alone for no good reason

Persisted in her gloomy mind

Despite the changing seasons.


The water sprites, amused by this,

In slight inebriation,

Decided to help out the girl

To cheer their celebration.


Cold water glistened on her skin

Reflected in the light,

Took on a slivered satin sheen—

A brilliant feathery white.


The face that scowled at the sun

Contracted to a beak.

Her slender neck extended as

Webs sprouted at her feet.


A sallow swan seen from the shore

Released a soulful cry.

Inhuman song of love gone wrong

And loneliness inside.



No Way Out

All of us are merely drops within

an ocean of experience. No one’s

an island in himself, just flowers cast

into a stormy sea of flesh and blood.

Ecclesiastes, written word of wise

King Solomon, tells us the awful truth:

“Better a man never be born than live

on earth to die in hell.” Most certainly,

if Solomon is right, then you and me

are caught in holy peril from the lake

of fire waiting for us at the halt

of throbbing in our mortal heart. A sin

committed long ago makes all of us

a pack of criminals, lost spirits trapped

in fatal struggle with our sacks of clay,

with intellects that cannot see outside

the form created by experience.

And if I fail to rightly understand

the sound made by a single clapping hand,

for all my selfless kindness and good deeds,

will I exist again, a butterfly

or grasshopper, within a verdant field,

imprisoned in a jar by some small boy

who rips off both my wings or legs when he

gets bored of me? Shall I exist again

to live a karmic lesson for a crime

that I cannot recall? A birth begins

a finite time to break the laws in books

one never knows. Though passive souls may weigh

like feathers—Allah smites this kind of soul.

First breaths of life are drawn in mother’s blood—

The anguished cry when slipping from the womb

is realization that the tragic state

called life has sunk its fangs into the soul.

Courage

Decisions that we hope make us complete.

Are choices that determine destiny

Achieving crucial goals

While nourishing our soul

And searching for epiphany.


Relentless waves wash sand against the shore;

The more one seeks the less one finds one more.

We need not turn our back;

The deck of cards is stacked—

The preacher’s daughter is a whore.


The shimmering prize bestowed by Midas touch

Are riches that cannot amount to much.

Yet dangling self-assurance

And careful self-indulgence

Blithely end in rotting flesh.


Forbearance in the threat of spirit vandals:

Initiate in saffron robe and sandals.

Obeying sacred whispers,

Attends his nightly vespers,

By flickering light of votive candles.


Mysterious and preternatural,

Celestial gold is muddled in the silt.

In planetary apsis

Humanity collapses—

Blind fools destroy what wise men built.


Black ring around the iris of your eye

May guide you as you mentally descry

An odd geography

Of soundless harmonies

Carried in the breeze tonight.


These lives are fitful sighs of Spirit breath;

Concentric smoke rings in a dance of death,

Posing in denial,

Only suffering while

Ephemeral life drains from our breast.


The honest path wends poorly on the left.

The other promises the very best.

What’s truly tangible

Or hypothetical.

Sometimes one has to guess:


Dark crossroads that determine destiny—

Fame, peace, wealth, love, obscurity.

Whether you choose the left,

Decide right is best,

Your road ends in eternity

The Conjuration

The autumn wind swirls around the ancient tower.

By the light of the full moon, the sorceress

casts spells in her chamber causing an imp

to appear inside her Thaumaturgic circle.

When the sorceress looks up from her spellbook

the imp laughs from the bottom of his demonic heart.


The sorceress is seeking a lover to fill her heart,

but the spirits that inhabit the mystic tower

say that no incantation from her spellbook

will bring un-fated love to the sorceress.

Undaunted, she waves her hand over the circle,

and reading from her book, she directs a spell at the imp


imprisoned there. In a blinding flash of light, the imp

is enveloped in an iridescent glow. The sorceress’s heart

races at the unexpected effect within the circle.

The light expands until it surrounds the tower.

Unable to regain control of her wild spell, the sorceress

cowers in the corner while clutching her spellbook


in trembling hands. Pages of the spellbook

whip back and forth and catch fire while the imp

shrieks at the strange spell that the sorceress

has placed upon him. The sorceress’s heart

leaps in her chest as lightning strikes the roof of the tower.

Then the spectral light quietly recedes back into the circle


and vanishes. In the smoky room, she gazes into the circle.

“What have I done?” she sighs, discarding her singed spellbook.

Rain now leaks through a hole in the roof of the tower,

but she doesn’t care about this when she sees the imp.

She puts her hand to her breast as her heart

skips a beat. To the delight of the sorceress,


the loathsome imp has been transformed into a sorceress’s

dream. Tears in her eyes, she steps inside the magic circle

to claim her prize: the salve to her lonely heart.

But an inkblot had produced an error in her spellbook

which caused her to swap forms with the loathsome imp.

The handsome young man descends the steps of the tower.


“My heart has betrayed me just as that spellbook,”

the sorceress weeps from her prison within the circle.

A dashing imp walks away from the tower.

Small Gifts

Your first love letters to me:

Have fallen apart from the sweat in my pocket.

The flowers you brought me:

Died when I over-watered them.

Those chocolate hearts you sent me for Valentine's:

I savored every one until I became sick.

That healthy bread you baked for me:

I devoured in one night and got sick on that, too.

The photos of us on our trip to Mt. Vernon:

I lost them at work after I showed them to my friends.

Your antique silver ring you told me I could wear:

Was scratched when I wore it while fixing your car.

The frosted wine glasses you bought us for romantic nights:

Were ruined when I tried to polish them.


Yet when I asked you if I should give you a gift

To express my love,

Your simple reply was,

“You already have.”

Acorns

It was the fall when I took shade beneath a tree,

A stout shady oak,

A survivor of transient, swirling winds,

Sprung from dust of English poets.


Phrases like gold

Acorns from that tree,

Seeds of wisdom

Fell around me, more than I could catch,

But one acorn was saved for me.


Years of sunlight,

And a rain of idle moments,

May turn this acorn into a tree.

But a tree not every acorn becomes:

Some squirrel could carry it away;

It may blanch in the sun and wind

Or simply wither from age.

I clutch it tightly, my pen against the page

While I force the moment to its crisis.


But no matter, Dr. Drake, my friend,

While I am safe, that beauty you love is safe

And will persist beyond the twilight of its era.

Pope—Blake—Keats—Wordsworth—Coleridge

Your poetic friends are not silent shades at all, for

In their deaths we’re living for two.



Perversity in Samsara

Composers

go deaf.

Dancers

lose a leg.

Gourmet cooks

get stomach cancer.

Painters

go blind.

Sculptors

lose a hand.

Athletes

are crippled.

Writers

have a stroke.

Singers

lose their voice.


Passion poisons

That which it nurtures, and

Private hells are created

by what is loved most, as


Pastor’s daughters

become whores.

Mother's favorite sons

die on the battlefield.

Policeman's sons

go to prison.

An only child

dies soonest.

Beloved spouses

cheat.

Best friends

betray.


Fancy

is destined to be taken away

As the most valuable gem

is stolen. For

Perversity

is the nature of the universe,

Severing that which bonds us

most tightly to the earthly state.

Tattoo

The old man lay in the hospital bed

The Great War and the

Navy and the

Coast of Greece during the

Summer of 1917 are

A long time ago

Leaving living memory soon

But for now the remembrance lingers there

Eyes closed,

He’s walking in the sun on a forgotten afternoon

Though narrow streets

Checking out the wares of the street vendors

The States are so far away.

And the tattoo of the eagle he got

While on a drunken leave

With long gone friends

Is still on his chest

A blue smear

Seventy-five years later. He is only

Vaguely aware that

His daughter watches him at the bedside

Middle aged clutching a rag or napkin.

She pours a glass of water

For herself from a blue plastic urn

and dabs her eyes and lips

“I’ve lived, too, Dad,” she says.

I’ve lived, too. You can’t do this to me.

Not like this.” She pulls her chair

Closer to the bed and places her elbows

On the mattress. “Do you hear me?”

Her voice echoes across the room where

I’m remembering twenty years later

While waiting for you to come or go

With sunlight shining through the window

The sun dipping below the horizon

Just as it always has.

Tranquilo

The fish was wonderful, Tranquilo,

now go home.

I don’t want your beads,

your seashells,

your polished rocks.

Your coral necklace scratches my neck,

your shawl itches my arms,

your wildflowers make me sneeze.

The sea glistens on the horizon,

a strange breeze caresses the waves,

the boats shall come again soon.

The fish was wonderful, Tranquilo,

now go home.

Corrections

Lying in a field never plowed, we scattered seed

Not knowing that the roiling waves whispering

Over the soft, nettled tops would carry us away,

Clutching each other through some endless whirlpool,

And swallowed by the burden of years.


She brings me the paper on sunny mornings,

Dry and drenched in gray and white

Perused over instant coffee, mixed with

Circular discussions of what’s good and what’s bad

About the home we built with wood-screws and bone.


So I conjured you from the corner phone,

Mystical starlight filled the evening and your eyes,

Amid the smoky piano and wineglass,

Your slender neck like the smooth vessel

Brought rose-tint intoxication to my lips.


My scarlet mingled with your moon lily-white,

We’ll scan the lines we hope to be famous for.

Our keen red pens shaping plum passions,

Paring oblique phrases, two into one,

While our eyes reveal the stories we yearn to become.

Muse

When eastward shadows fade, six hours past,

While others slumber soundly deeply dreaming,

Again she fills my well to downward cast

Her words to ink in deftly sensate meaning.

My ears are full with wax for words so soft,

My dullard’s brain presents a hazy lens,

For lustrous image held in mind aloft:

Uncertain hand controls the fountain pen.

Her lofty language bent toward vapid sense,

A shifted shape—a weighty verbal kite.

Perfection nascent trapped in verbiage dense,

It somehow sails aloft by morning’s light.

Though rays of dawn will chase her words away,

What’s penned at night’s revised throughout the day.



Diary

Long ray of black upon my bathroom floor,

I found it there while chasing dust I crept.

Fell from your head of treasured moments stored,

A single strand of timely records kept.

Unspoken diary of your lows and highs,

Two years your life, this part from there to here

Is daily scored with ordinary sighs,

And nightly dreams of hope and nightmare fear.

The whispered prayer before the class you taught,

Those secret things you did with no one there,

These thoughts you said and words you only thought,

All present in this fairy strand of hair.

Fell to the floor when love I wouldn’t bind,

Last record in your diary left behind.



Samsara

I wouldn't mind that the days are growing shorter

If our time had come

I wouldn’t mind the long lonesome road

If our roads had intersected

I wouldn't mind coming home after dark

If your love light warmed the home

I wouldn't mind

bad news in the paper

the garbage in the landfills

children starving in Africa

If we had each other

As when we shared

forgotten sunsets

fields of wildflowers

wide snowy fields

Before the velvety darkness

Yes, I do remember this

Before all of this

Samsara’s a better hell

When it is shared.

Winter Days

Winter days and Sunday afternoons

Those lonely hours I've spent in my rooms

Part of the time spent wondering what I'm doing wrong

The rest of the time I don't know what I'm doing at all.


Harmony and balance the nature of things

Alternate days, good things will bring

The rest of the time I'm damned

Squeezed in the vice called life.


Just below my passing of days

Feelings of despair and sinking malaise

The sun, it sinks low on the horizon

Shadows long, the darkness is rising.


The solution to this puzzle I've found

Brings my flight of bondage unbound

Eternal existence as time will bring

In silencing of thought, heart and being.

The State of Computing in 1995

In '87 I went back to school

I needed a word processor, and a few other tools.

I read the ads and found an XT

The best I could afford, it could work for me.

The nine-hundred dollars I scrimped and saved

For turbo, hard drive, and 640k.

With Microsoft Word and DOS 3.0

A printer, mouse, I was ready to go.


That faithful machine, as years flew by

It served me well, I couldn't deny.

The fateful day I wanted more,

I ventured into the software store.

My software so old, I was at a loss

Couldn't even find a book on my DOS.

That day soon came, I decided to go

To upgrade my DOS and to Word 6.0.


I was upset; it ran so slow;

The age of my computer had started to show.

Again to the ads, that's where I had seen

An AST Bravo 386-16.

Sounded good, I picked up the phone

UPS delivered it right to my home.

Content I was, Word ran just fine

My programs ran in quarter the time.


A few months passed and I soon saw,

My investment decision may have been flawed.

My hard drive filled up the more programs I ran,

My video card didn't have enough RAM.

My machine was too slow, I felt so bad,

Couldn't run games that all my friends had.

Read magazines, from what I could see,

486 was the best way to be.


Took out my Visa, what came over me?

That night I got a DX-33.

Hard drive by Conner, monitor by Sony

Local bus video seemed well worth the money.

Bought more RAM to increase the speed

Thought that was all I'd ever need.

Then over Christmas, I thought I was slick

With my Soundblaster Pro and CH Flightstick


For two-hundred more, I got my wish;

I plugged in my own DX2-66.

Even my girlfriend, she started to say,

"Those colors look great in SVGA".

With Myst, Arena, SimCity and Doom

Gosh, I spent so much time in my room.

With CD-ROM and sixteen of RAM

That 'puter was better than green eggs and ham.


To my dismay, only months had passed

Delight in my PC wasn't destined to last.

A flight sim I ran, I found it offensive

The box, it read: "Pentium Recommended".

The graphics were choppy, the sound kinda rough

DX2 was no longer enough.

Soon felt like I was losing a friend

The next game I bought it happened again.


So now it looks, I'm sorry to say

To go any further I'll need an upgrade.

It's been only months since that purchase I made

And the bill on my Visa has yet to be paid.

PCI is in, local-bus is not

So what will I do with those cards that I bought?

The mouse should still work, the modem may go in,

but I won't have a use for my 30-pin SIMMs.


Computer magazines, they all agree,

They tout the Pentium self-righteously:

"586 is the way to go"

"the ninety-meg variety if you want to know"

"new software's coming, your Windows will bog"

"so upgrade now, your 486 dog"

"the Pentium's better right down to its core"

"and it can be yours for only two-thousand more"

Now I'm a person of modest means

And these big investments make a bank account lean.

How can I trust to take their advice

When the machine I had bought now sells at half-price?


Now I look back on those simpler times

Before I had spent all those hard-earned dimes.

My first PC was still the same

Only my expectations of it had changed.

It got the work done, games sat on the shelf

The computer wasn't an end to itself.

That simple XT I sold to my friend...

Hey good buddy, could I buy it again?

The Affair

Morning. Office. Coffee. Perfume.

Skirt. Legs.

Lean. Stare.

Skirt. Legs.

Lunch? No.

Dinner? Maybe.

Paper. Ink. Stamp. Punch. Sign.

Afternoon. Hot.

Drink? Yes.

Go.

Drink. Relax.

Drink. Relaxed.

Drink. Tip.

Phone. Drive. Follow.

Neon. Key. Curtain. Door.

Sheets. Heat.

Skin. Muscle. Breath. Sweat.

Door. Man. Anger. Gun.

Scream. Cover. Gunshot. Brains.

Scream. Plead. Gunshot. Blood.

Car. Screech.

Bleed. Wait. Bleed.

Lights. Ambulance. CPR.

Late.

You Talk Too Much

She was mine and love ran true,

Whatever we did, we did us two.

There came a time she wanted to say

The things on her mind and how she’d spent her days.

She told me about the men she’d dated

The other guys she’d loved and hated.

Lying on the seat in her first love’s car

She didn’t stop him when he went too far.

I listened to her with quiet aplomb

I wondered why she was dropping this bomb.

In hearing of her past lovers and such,

I said to myself, "She talks too much."


She told me of all the money she’d spent,

On her past lovers and the places they went.

How soon they abused her, and treated her bad,

And all the difficult times she had had.

She found herself depressed and alone

For a while she spent some time in a home.

She prattled on about the drugs that she took.

And the several months she was on the hook.

I listened to her most patiently

As she went on most thoroughly,

I became angry as she served it up,

I wanted to tell her, "You talk too much."


On she went about her first marriage,

And of the guy who left her with baby in carriage.

He was an alcoholic, certifiably true,

And when he was drunk he would beat her blue.

He took all the money she'd saved in the bank

He ended his life in the county drunk tank.

After as bad as it had all been,

She swore she'd never fall for that again.

The next guy she met did much the same

Afterward, she felt herself the blame.

Without a job and nothing to eat,

The rent was late, one foot in the street.


When she was finished, she smiled disarmingly.

I thought, how could she do all this dumping on me?

Perhaps she was bragging, but all for what?

And so I told her, "You talk too much."

Then I went on to tell her one,

"I don't like to hear the things that you've done."

Why torment me with these events your life?

The things that caused pain, the moments of strife.

I care not of your ex-husbands batter

I am here now, and that's all that matters.

The mess in your past, the love you have missed,

Don't bother me again with any of this."


When I was done, her face wore a frown

Her throat issued a tiny sound

Then it dawned why she revealed to me

My understanding what was she was trying to plead.

She turned to me, looked into my eyes

Stared motionless for a moment, then drew a long sigh,

"I know you can't fix what's gone before,

But I want something better; I’d like something more.

I'm not uncovering what's hidden, you see,

I just want someone who'll listen to me.

I thought with you I could make a new start,

Now you're the one who's breaking my heart."


Then she added in a gentle voice,

"To listen to me is really your choice

And I should tell you, I know that I must,

I told you those things ‘cause it's you that I trust."

With those words, the guilt that I felt,

I'd criticized her; I wasn't much help.

She wanted my friendship, how much does that cost?

I wasn't as loving as I had thought.

True tolerance was the trait that I lacked,

Sincerely I wished I could take my words back.

I'd hurt my lover who had opened up,

I scolded myself, "You talk too much."

Dried Apricots

Those dried apricots

upon your tongue

so sweet.

the bag says

“Product of Turkey,”

This means

ripened on a branch

in the hot, Turkish sun

picked by the hand

of a small boy

carried in a wicker basket

on a mule drawn

wooden cart

sorted by an old woman

dropped onto a black rubber conveyor belt

then

diced pitted dried scooped

and sealed

into a clear cellophane bag

by a humming machine

then

stuffed in a crate

made of rough pine

from Italy

sealed with nails

strapped to a pallet

sitting on a dock

in the Mediterranean air

lifted by rusty cranes

into the belly

of a steel freighter

for a long journey

across a stormy sea

while

raised from the hold

to the strange dock

in the New World

driven by a Ford delivery wagon

packed into a brown

cardboard box.

loaded into a boxcar

whose wheels rumble

below the floor

on rails planted by sweat

across three time zones

then

carried by forklift

into a the trailer

of a diesel truck

rumbling down the highway

while

country music blares

in the front cab

resting at the truck stop

at midnight

then

delivered

to the little store

lifted

from the box

stuck

on the hook

by a sleepy girl

displayed

unwanted

until—

I bought them

just for you

for a dollar.

So sweet

upon your tongue

those dried apricots.

Making Love

Her skin was velvet smooth

When from the shower she came

She doesn't think she's perfect, but

He loves her just the same

He watches from the bedside

Untangling her hair

Mirror as her guide

She sees their reflection there.


She knows he likes to look at her

Pretends she doesn't see him

Then moves at once to where he sits

Soft hands upon his face

He peers into her summer eyes

Wordless thoughts exchanged

She kneels beside to kiss his neck

The mood in here has changed.


Relieve her of that purple gown

His gift to her last May

Embroidered gold above the pocket

And lining black and gray

Their first embrace is tentative,

She’s nuzzling his face.

A tightening starts in his groin

His pulse begins to race.


The instrument of half her words

Wet roughness on his lips

She explores the reaches there

Her essence on his palette

He lays her back onto the bed

Kisses her deeply, kisses her twice

Place a pillow 'neath her head

God, she smells so nice!


He finds his gaze upon her breasts

Delicate in shade and hue

His hands, they kneed and cup them so

Butter kiss and suckle them too.

He moves a little lower

So he may do it right

To find that secret place she keeps

And show his love tonight.


Her ivory thighs against his cheek

It swirls from bottom to top

Lingers on the place she likes

Not quite ready to stop

Flower pink and swollen hot

Delicate fingers take their time

Circular motion, inside and out

“I can’t believe she’s mine.”


And with a whisper she beckons him

To take her for a ride

And then she spreads her wings for him

That he may come inside

He trembles standing by the gate

Her thighs against his weight to bear

A gentle thrust and yielding push

Takes him to her softness there.


Harmonious they float along

On a river built for two

Fireworks and butterflies

Crimson, gold and blue

Accelerate the rocking now

The moment touches him

This simple pleasure he partakes

With her so righteously.


Her raptured breathing halts at once

Her back, an arch, a sail in wind

Relaxes slowly in a gentle quiver

Moments later, she soars again.

My turn now, we push some more

Firmly toward her inmost gate

As we do she makes a sound

The deepest love they make.


At this time she turns away

And turns onto her side

To press her back to him

And now they float astride.

Slow at first, but faster still

Their energy unfurls

Electric pinwheels in his head

His energy flows into her.


Lethargy sweeps over him

As they collapse quite still

He tries to move but finds he can't

He hasn't got the will.

She turns again to look him

Gives a simple kiss

Gazing full of life and lust

Dripping wet with bliss.


He cuddles her within in his arm

Discards his manly pride

To hear the words she's wont to say

And hear what’s on their mind

She reaffirms her bond to him

The same, she asks he’ll keep

All to soon the words are few

She's drifted off to sleep.


The room is dark but there's a light

It shines down through the window

To bath them both in gentle night's

Warmest earthly glow.

He sees that fairie band she wears

Gold so precious, diamond bright

Knows just why she keeps it there

His dark world needs her light.


Before he sinks into his dreams

One thought, it floats above:

“I'm glad for this, our wondrous gift,

This way we make our love.”

Making Love (Variant)

Her skin was bare and velvet smooth

When from the shower she came.

She doesn’t think she’s perfect, but

He loves her just the same.

He watches from the bedside

Untangling her hair,

Using the mirror as her guide,

She sees his lusty stare.


She knows he likes to look at her,

Pretends she doesn't see,

Then moves at once to where he lies

Her hands caress his face.

He peers into her dark green eyes.

Wordless thoughts exchanged.

She kneels beside to kiss his neck.

The mood in here has changed.


Untie the drawstring of her gown,

His gift to her last May,

Embroidered name above the pocket,

And lining black and gray.

Their first embrace is tentative,

She’s nuzzling his face.

A tightening starts in his groin

His pulse begins to race.


The instrument that forms her words,

Kissing wet and long,

Explores his mouth and leaves for him

Her taste upon his tongue.

He rolls her back onto the bed,

Kissing deeply, kissing twice,

Places a pillow 'neath her head

God, she smells so nice!


He finds his gaze upon her breasts

So delicate in hue,

He kneads them in his hands and then he

And suckles on them too.

He moves a little lower now

So he may do this right:

Explore her secret places, and

Express his love tonight.


Her inner thighs against his cheeks

Starting at the top,

He lingers on the place she likes,

She tells him not to stop.

Her hands they clutch the bed sheets now

She’s writhing in her bliss,

He cups her breasts, a thought that comes,

He can’t believe she’s his.


She, with a whisper, beckons him

To take her for a ride.

And then she spreads her wings for him

That he may come inside.

She guides him to the outer gate

His weight she likes to bear,

She gives a push and he is thrust

Into her softness there.


Harmonious they float along

A river built for two,

It’s fireworks and butterflies

Crimson, gold, and blue.

Accelerate the rocking now,

It comes so easily

This simple pleasure he partakes

With his wife and he.


Her raptured breathing halts at once,

Her back, a sail in wind

Relaxes slowly in a quiver

Then she soars again.

Clutching her hips, he pushes up

Against her inner gate;

And as he does she starts to moan,

The deepest love they make.


Drenched in sweat, she slips away

And turns onto her side.

Presses her backside to him

And now they float astride.

Slowly first, but quickening

His energy unfurls,

Then passion flows down from his head

And up inside of her.


Lethargy sweeps over him,

They both collapse quite still.

He tries to move but finds he can't

He hasn't got the will.

She turns her head to look at him,

Gives a simple kiss.

Her gaze is full of life and love

And drips with honey bliss.


He cuddles her within his arms

Discards his manly pride

To hear the words she wants to say

And know what on her mind.

She reaffirms her bond to him

The same, she asks he’ll keep.

Finally, her words are few

She's drifted off to sleep.


The room is dark but there's a light;

It shines down through the window.

It bathes them both in gentle night's

Warmest earthly glow.

Shining simple band she wears

Gold and diamond bright

He’s thankful that he met her

‘Cause his dark world needs her light.


Before he sinks into his dreams

One thought, it floats above:

“I'm glad for this, our greatest gift—

This way we two make love.”

Thank You

Thank you, love for the Smile you give,

Your radiant gift from the soul where it lives

Conversing with you, it raises my spirit

And your voice gives me pleasure each time that I hear it.

So many chats, some serious, some not.

Often I ponder your wisdom I'd got.

But the emblem and seal of your own special style,

Is that wonderful act, the gift of your smile.


Thank you, love, for your Presence in our home.

Your personal touches and taste you have shown.

With refrigerator magnets and pink soaps by the sink,

Your skates in the closet for trips to the rink.

A bargain black toaster and food for the cat

For Baby and me, it's not better than that.

But really, Karen, what makes the house our home,

Is the love that flows between us when we sit there alone.


Thank you, love, for the Sweetness you share,

An example of this, Small Dimensions Daycare.

Cut-out caterpillars, and Father's Day ties,

Black and yellow bumble bees hanging from the sky,

Your creativity gives them something to do

With a small pair of scissors and Elmer's white glue.

When nap-time comes, you'll put them to rest.

No wonder the kids love Miss Karen the best!


Thank you, love, for the Kindness you make.

In everyday things, the world as it takes.

Your special effect on those around you,

Your family now comes to love and surround you.

Good things return to those that have served,

And ever more so to those that deserve.

The kindness you've done, the kindness you do,

Will come back now, I promise, 200 percent to you.


Thank you, love for your Kisses and things,

Your tender lips and the message they bring.

Our love, it began with a sensuous kiss,

That's when we discovered the pleasure in this.

'Lectricity between us, we feel it, us two.

The message is love, blessed and true.

Your kisses, they tell me I make you feel whole,

The feeling is mutual; you're part of my soul.


Thank you most, love, for just being You,

And all those silly little things that you do.

Adding your spices to the recipe of life,

A pinch of love and everything nice.

The odds were against us meeting that day,

But fate intervened and love had its way.

For all you that you are, with your heart that is true,

I feel so very lucky to share this time with you.

Media

Starless, starry night,

Steeped in pale blue light

Burns the ravenous blade

That drinks the imperfect

and tragic.

Held aloft by the voyeur,

behind the glass

above the page

within the fouled air.

We turn our roving blade to You and

bear

down

With the scrutiny of a million minds.

Wristwatch

Don’t want to die with my wristwatch on,

Dividing the hours that I make another man rich.

Want to die

On the warm sand

Blue umbrella sheltering from the sun

My lover’s hand in my left

Blue water tickling our feet

A book of poems beneath my right

Blue guitar tinting the gentle breeze

…in some tropical place.

Don’t want to die with my wristwatch on.

Static: F-Troop on an LSD Vacation

Static

F-Troop on a snowy screen.

They act silly

The static between them makes them act that way.

It falls around them

Blocks their meaning

Static

Naked Before the Mirror

Up from my side my long time lover

Stirred amidst her restless sleep

While I lay beneath the covers

Awake from slumber deep.


Before I closed my eyes again,

I heard an utterance spoken.

Whispered words spoken while

Her heart, it sounded broken.


Then I heard her whisper there,

Nude before the mirror,

Words she didn’t want to share,

She thought I did not hear her.


Reproachful words they crept into her head

The awful things I heard her mutter

Of heartfelt sorrow of the youth she’d shed

Said while I feigned my slumber.


She looked upon her matron hips and sighed

“Far away those girlish slips”

Result of youth gone by

Increased in girth and size.


She turned around to see her back

The place on which she’d sit.

Increased it began to fall

And spread itself in width.


Two round globes upon her chest

Gone their raised swell.

Sadly drooped toward earth they went

The globes she liked so well.


The raven head that she once sport

Had melded into gray

Fullness mane had thinned of sort,

Its ends began to fray.


And look upon the belly there

Crazes thin and blue

Two children in womb once to bear

Swollen loose and sagging too.


Then she saw the spots on her shoulders

Spots from the sun.

Most call them freckles

“These make me look older.”


The gaze of men upon her face

She gazes on the face of hers

The cracks around her eyes

And all the wrinkles there


She peered into the mind

Behind the eyes that rest

“I have no depth, no poem I can find,

No creativity to test.”


Recalled her mind the stares she got

Of gentlemen before her see

Now with all the changes wrought

“Why does any love me?”


Gentle arms around her waist

I felt her stiffen there

I pressed my face into her head

Inhaled the scent of hair.


“How can you love a girl like me,

A girl who’s past her prime?

All these faults you surely see,

How can I say you’re mine?”


I searched my soul for words to say,

Content I was, it’s true.

Would she go astray?

What is a man do?


Peach and cream that you so lack

Spot blemishes of the sun

Sprinkled cross your neck and back

I’ll kiss them every one.


Curvaceous, soft I found

I’ll say this if you please

Your bottom full and round

You know I like to squeeze.


“You know you’re not so deep,

Not shallow, but awfully clear

For this I’d trade the artistry

And be my muse, my dear.”


What does it matter if somebody loves you?

For beauty’s certainly not writ in letter

For all the faults you say you think are true,

For your faults I love you all the better.

The Challenge

While I’m snoozing, deeply dreaming

Blended in some subtle seeming

Anchored to a workers’ post

I hatch a new idea to roast


I set my fingers to the keys

The words they flow, but I’m not pleased

I thought I had something to say

But inspiration’s gone astray.


Sinking off a sundered coast

Achieving not, I say “almost”

Trite and hollow, meager meaning.

Yields the prose scarcely worth reading


Your voice I seek, I stand to lose

If I don’t find you soon, my muse.

I Was Weary

I was weary, consumed with gloom

Nowhere to go to find respite

To and fro I went, my spirit consumed

I had lost my will to fight

No excursions led to the summit.


Blurred upon a hilltop, icy rays of the moon

I gazed into a fire, a wan and sickly light

A howl in the distance, the knell of impending doom.

I ran from it, I did. I ran into the night.

To perfect the blue from my golden nib


Now maybe you can take comfort

After all these years, I’ve never left

I’m still there with you, after all

In those classrooms where you taught

On a long-ago Autumn afternoons.


Time Has Eased My Troubled Mind

Time has eased my troubled mind

Love I'd lost and love I couldn't find

I fled alone in fervent flight

To enter this eternal night.


An earthly bond has come undone

Restored the balance from where I’d sprung

Releases me from mortal pain

It soothes my soul and cools my brain.


Sweetest breath of stillness caught

The lasting peace this thing has brought

Desperate fear in slighted dreams

Dissolved within unearthly streams.


Emptiness as life it brings

My heart regrets a thousand things

Remain those days behind the door

That I might stay forevermore.

Annotated Bibliography

Nothing is composed in a vacuum. These are some works that have inspired me to write poems of my own. I highly recommend them for your own edification.


Gallagher, Tess. Under Stars. Minnesota: Greywolf, 1978.


This book is divided into two sections: "Ireland Poems" and "Start Again Somewhere." The poems of the first section are about Ireland, its people, and its customs. The second section deals primarily with troubled relationships. Most of the poems in this book are very personal. Also, there is a great deal of abstract language, particularly in the second section. My favorite poems in this book are "Women's Tug of War at Lough Arrow" (7) and "Counterfeit Kisses" (46).


Ginsberg, Allen. Howl and Other Poems. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1956


I read this book while I was in college. Although it was required reading for one class or another it, it stayed with me long after the course had ended. The more I learn about Allan Ginsberg personal life and the Beat Generation, the better I am able to unpack the poems. My favorite three poems in this volume are "Howl" (9), "Footnote to Howl" (27), and "Supermarket in California" (29). I would like to mention I like most of the other poems in this book as well. I can identify the destitution he experienced in his earlier years. There is enough here to keep me re-reading it for years.


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