Genghis Khan At The Typewriter

Genghis Khan sits down at the typewriter, a portable Underwood.

His tortured soul desperately tries to conjure up a Mongolian metaphor for love.

It is a task of barbaric proportions.

Mongol is, as yet, an unwritten language birthed from bone and mayhem.

The sounds are raw and feral.

No font can cage their nature.

But the Great Khan, Universal Ruler, senses a sonnet steeped in The Steppes coursing somewhere under his leather-laced armor.

Certain tribal concubines have indicated this to be his heart.

They have placed their tiny bird-like hands over his iron chest and summoned forth strange visions.

A heart!

As if the Great Khan, master of Central Asia, scourge of China, has need for a heart.

Empires are carved out of destruction, death.

A heart!

A heart would be a liability, a stigma of weakness.

And yet?

Genghis feels an unknown creature course through his veins and stop to drink at the place where the concubines held their tender young palms.

His coarsened skin tremors at the memory.

And so, Genghis Khan, Emperor of Oceans, sits at the typewriter, a portable Underwood, hands bloodied with conquest, body still suited for war.

He sheaths his emotions in strands of silk and sends them forth like arrows of unspoken words in search of prey.

These weapons are of a language that cannot break, complicated, strong.

And once embedded in the heart, the tender teasing of the twisted silk opens words into poetry and the wound seems insignificant.

Copyright 2013

(For Bryan, who loves history, even when it’s invented)

THE WHITE HOUSE

There is a white two-story on Albany in Schenectady,

A white bungalow on 131st in Chicago,

And a white double flat on Hampstead in Cleveland.

All of these houses give shelter to  America.

 

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

I am the house where the Statue of Liberty comes to play poker.

“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”

I am the house where the Liberty Bell gets its crack.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I am the house that declares independence.

“In God we trust.”

I am the house where God can take off his shoes.

“Oh say!  Does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”

I am the house where the flag stays a triangle forever.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up.”

I am the house where Dr. King no longer has to dream..

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

I am the house where this choice is unnecessary.

“Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

I am the house full of answers.

 

I am the house of broken promises,

the house that is vacant,

the house that wonders

why homeless people

and peopleless homes

can’t find a life together.

 

Copyright 2016

(Written for the “Breathing Lights” project)

Gordian Knot

As a member of Poets And Writers Against Trump, I offer this piece as my contribution:

Who is this man who drapes himself in rhetoric,
Self-anoints his name in stars,
Binds the nation with a Gordian knot?

How did he get here, to this place on the Hillj?
A parachute sickened with money let loose from media drones?

And where are the saviors,
The promised ones with lips wet with mercy?

The honeyed words of the wild-haired prophet
Were choked to distant whisper,
Promised salvation lost on swirling desert winds.

False knights astride Hadrian’s tanks
Entered secret procession with heretic priests leading thin burros.

They tore at the wounds, with fingers of hypocrites,
All while tightening the noose,
Pretending it jewelry.

Remember who you are, oh Nation of Lincoln –
Children of the soil,
Descendants of slaves,
Offspring of immigrants.

It is your collective breath, exhaling righteous indignation,
That manifests truth.
Your collective numbers that rip masks off of charlatans.

Tell me you recall the Gordian knot.

Show me your resolve,
Tempered like steel,
That can slice through the ligatures and return
We The People.

#poetsandwritersstandagainsttrump

#westandagainsthispresident

Moon Maker

She hunches over the table,

Squinting under the glow of twelve lunar lights,

Twelve holy moons

That anticipate creation.

Scraps of life litter the linoleum,

Disconnected images

Pilfered from the deep pockets of God.

All adapted,

All altered,

Her hands dowsing for answers

To quench a deep thirst.

Tails sliced off comets,

Their fire no a color,

Beads sewn on scales

Of century-old koi,

Snippets of conversation,

Laced inside smoke,

Bits of asparagus

Woven into spirals.

Everything that exists,

All that does not,

Lie strewn at her feet

Awaiting this moment.

She reaches for a moon,

Number Four among Twelve,

Smaller than the others,

Its sheen less intense.

But it is the chosen one

She will name the Turtle Moon.

(For Lisa, Happy Birthday)

(Copyright 2016)

STANDING ON THE PORCH OF THE WORLD’S PERFECT POET

I ring the doorbell of the world’s perfect poet, her modest brick bungalow a mere four blocks away.

I wait, the pause startles me, and then, there it is.

Three celestial notes summoned from a flute hallowed out of an angel’s left wingbone.

Who else but the world’s perfect poet needs divine intervention on a cement city porch?

A faded voice, coated in nicotine and pickled in gin, rises out of the ether, the world’s perfect poet a mere three rooms away.

“I’m coming, God damn it.  Just keep your pants on.  I’m mired in syntax and have to clean up.”

It comes as no surprise, her tongue a machete, slicing off conversation into mere words.

So I wait, wasting my time, trying to decode the formula for prose, carved with a butter knife in the fiberglass front door.

Only the world’s perfect poet would be so reckless and bold.

Suddenly, the door yanks open.  She stands there before me, the world’s perfect poet an arm’s length away.

“Don’t bother with that equation.  You’ll never solve it.  The algorithm goes back all the way to the kitchen.  But you’ll never see it because you can’t enter.  Just who are you anyway and what do you want?”

The world’s suspicious poet closes the door within inches, using her math as a formidable blockade.

“Are you one of those Jehovahs, sent here to save me?”

I knew all along this was probably a mistake.

I shake my head no, not a Jehovah, my tongue a dead fish in a shallow pond of sin.

So I just stand there, face to face with the world’s perfect poet, my chance for enlightenment slipping slowly away.

She is grizzled and wiry, head like a basilica, with skinny white legs shaped from expired feta cheese.

Most distracting of all is the three p.m. bathrobe, duct-taped and stapled with scraps of lined paper, a sash of spent typewriter ribbon cinching her secrets.

There are words on the paper.

I am bold.  I peer closer and…

“Hey!”

meet the eyes of a hurricane, the force yet to come.

And then, unexpected, draped in complete “out of nowhere”, the world’s perfect poet gifts me advice.

“No word is wasted, not even the rotters.  Just toss them in the compost and let steep for a while.”

There was a slight pause, her eyes narrowed to slits, as she sized me p briefly, or at least so I thought.

“There’s paper and pencils, over there on the porch corner.  Go write something uncomfortable.  I’ve got better things to do.”

Miracles arrive on the stockinged feet of ghosts and depart just as quickly in galoshes filled with tears.

The world’s perfect poet slams shut her front door.

I sit for an hour, biting verbs off of sentences, pushing my pencil into words as they squirm.

In the end, there is nothing, only:

three pencils, broken,

six useless words written,

a wad of lined paper tossed at the front door.

I am a charlatan, a hypocrite, an abuser of language.

What was I thinking to come here at all?  To ring the bell of the world’s perfect poet, who seeps art through her skin, without even trying, creating tattoos of language before pencil meets paper.

I head down the steps, broken, dejected, my mission a failure, my passion is crushed.

The door eases open, I might be mistaken, the world’s perfect poet grabs up my six words.

I watch as she tapes that sad scrap of paper, smooths it along her uneven hem.

She doesn’t even see me, maybe doesn’t care to, the front door left open just enough for stray thought.

No Known Cure

I have been diagnosed with a heart condition:

valves weaker than cheap aquarium tubing,

rhythm patterns orchestrated by strung-out heroin drummers,

blood flow controlled by a pump mined from a landfill.

Back-alley doctors recommend a transplant while misguided friends play roulette for a donor.

Me?

I pull the sheets up over my head, content to be a case study in the journals of love.

Copyright 2015

 

 

 

 

Bungalove (Bargain Basement Haiku) Postcard Poetry 2015

She hammered a sign to the front of her heart:

“Private Property.

No Trespassing.

Violators Will Be Devastated.”

He was an outlaw, rules were no challenge.

When she wasn’t looking,

he vaulted the walls, headed straight for her heart.

Somehow she sensed this, added an even larger sign:

“Posting – Private Property.

No Hunting, Fishing, Trapping.

Violators Will Be Completely Ignored.”

But he was a rebel, chewed restrictions like bubble gum.

He stole the heart out from under her.

No warning.

No struggle.

And now there’s a welcome mat,

hanging basket of fuchsias,

in front of the door of her wide-open love.