The Demon’s Face in the Window

I saw another one just yesterday.
Caught him staring in my window
before he could jump into my shadow
to pull me down to levels
even lower than I lie already.
They usually hide in darkness,
stealthy creatures that fill
your well of woes to overflowing
to drown your soul in their inky ichor.
Stealthy, they carry their own shadows,
that can hide comfortably within your own,
like a friend who’s faux, whose open arms
wave empty hands, yet somehow still
heap the ashes of spent heartache
in your eyes when they leave.
So you’re left blind, left groping
in the dark trying to find your way
to some bit of light in what’s become
this life overshadowed
by a cloud of spiritual death.
For a second, a stiff breeze,
like a prayer answered, blew away
the tormenting face in my window,
which really was only four leaves
situated just so. But in the reflection
left in the window, I saw the haggard face,
the downturned lips, the brows broken
over the knee of self-loathing and
the ash-filled eyes of the real demon
who’s ever plagued my life.

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The Daylilies on I-64

The car runs a straight line
from Rocky Mount to Raleigh,
or maybe the road runs beneath me.
The pines ahead are playing Chicken,
only to break left and right in a blurry zoom.
And when I exit onto the serpentine
county road, the scene changes
as if I’m breezing through a gallery
of rural landscapes, studies in contrast,
where here sits a McMansion
across from a trailer park.
A strip mall or Food Lion or gas station
breaks up the chain of tobacco field,
corn field, fallow field, pasture, tobacco field…
That’s when I wonder why am I here?
Not on this little trip to Angier,
but on this long journey from childhood
to some ultimate destination.
Perhaps the pines are actually curtains
opening on another moment of unknown to known,
the roadside gallery pages in my book of days.
I slow down for a stretch outside Asheboro
as the other cars rush by me.
I may have reached my destination,
the reason for this trip or wherever I go.
It’s for the daylilies, the bookmarks
that divide each furlong in orange and yellow.
They write each trip as the destination;
they festoon my destiny of wherever
as my somewhere.

Our Last Goodbye

The last time we said goodbye,
it felt like it could be forever.
The finality hit me as soon as
you disappeared from my view,
well after you left my line of sight.
And so what if it was our last goodbye?
What memories will we hold
when or if we are moved to think
of one another again?
Will you recall how I made you laugh?
Will I remember your smile?
Will you recall my arms around you
as you drift off to sleep?
Will I be able to feel your cheek
against my recollection’s scratchy face?
I can’t answer these questions.
My mind may not hold the blessed
sensations of you that enriched my life,
and yours will doubtless fade
the longer we’re apart.
But that’s life.
When death of the body finally comes,
death of who we were to each other
will have already dug its grave.

Could this time’s have been the final one?

To: My Editor … From: Me

It seems so silly, just
sitting here striving
to find the words to a story
whose ending we already know.
That’s me, always trying
to get the words right
before they’re written.
It’s a habit I picked up
since almost forever saying
the wrong words when
your spotlight’s on me.
Not that I’m not the loquacious
soul of glib insincerity.
I have the bent nose and
singed eyebrows to prove that.
But the truthfully sincere, I find,
deserve more time and care.
Since I’ve only ever given you
my life’s first drafts,
I’m your blue-penciled mess.
And I owed you better.

Ten minutes of free-writing, since my mind is mush here in this current emotional miasma. This poem may stink as much as my fetid depression, but you know how much I love talking to you when I can. And I can’t unless I try.

Picking Up Our Pieces

You and I can rise after
so great a fall we
leave bookmarks in the earth
for the next chapters
in our history of falls.
Or maybe our last.
But if you gather yourself,
like you’d gather the pieces
of a pitcher knocked off
the highboy, and you hope
you have enough glue –
hell, enough pieces –
you can reassemble a vessel
that’ll hold who you are
and some of what you used to be.
There’s no chance you’ll
look exactly the same,
all those cracks and gaps
left where the pieces
lost used to fit.
Might even sag a little.
But you’ll still be you,
with a chance, and a little help,
to get set back up there
to watch, wobble, gather dust,
leak, or even fall again,
because gravity and life
stand ready to drop us,
where we can just lie there
in pieces or collect ourselves
and rise again.

Picking up the pieces, with a little help.

When When Is Not a Question

When I thought I stood strong,
you showed how I was brittle.
When I tried to be softer,
you crushed me at my middle.
When I made the effort to listen,
you would not converse.
When I reached out my hand,
you covered your eyes, and what’s worse…
When I opened to you my heart,
you closed yours forever.
When I pondered a way,
you wandered away with, “No, never.”
When I express this, my pain,
you think only of yours.
When I tell you I’m dying,
you ruminate merely on the wars…
When I told you I loved you,
never knowing how much life would be lost,
When I threw those parts of me away,
never caring how much the cost.
When I, some lonely evening,
come visit in your half-sleep,
When I will read my bad poetry,
some might still make you weep.
When I, tonight, take to my bed,
never certain I’ll awaken,
When I try recalling your face,
as so much from my memory’s taken.
When I do this, the good times
with you are so hard to find, that’s
When I remember, I’ve always kept you
in my heart, if not in my mind.

No stories every day or so, I’m afraid. Just more bad poetry, a rhyming disguise for self-examination of heart and mind. I wish I could do better for myself, as well as you, but these times are a struggle that only I can work through. So prepare yourself for more bad verse, which for some time may not get better, only worse. (Oh, lord….!!!) But I’m digging out this debris to find my RESET button. It’s just takes more time than I hoped when you use a pencil for a shovel.

April, So Cruel

The rain’s laying
its restorative hands
upon the lands
surrounding my old house.
Our long winter has left
this pillow upon which sets
my only treasure a scratched
and motley patch
of tan, brown and olive.
April’s poetic showers
have only just arrived,
with May a week away.

Poor May, tasked with
completing the work
of two months in its 31 days,
scurrying along April’s
grass shoots, the crocuses
and daffodils, as well as
nursing its own tulips and lilacs.
April’s cold and snowy sloth
has shifted its cruelty
just as an October would
in blowing its leaves
into November’s yard.

This is probably a make-up poem for Day #22 of this month, sliding into the gap caused by my trip to North Carolina. It was supposed to be a “plant” poem, which i guess you could say it is tangentially, but it turned into a mild screed on how this winter has stretched its frozen fingers into a whole lot of the calendar’s Spring. But Nature can’t tell time and that calendar page beginning with A is just more junk for me to rake up this weekend…if it stops raining. Story/poem coming up in a bit for Day #27.