When the Lights Go Out



When the lights go out, 
will it be like all those nights 
I spent in the dark wondering? 
Only not wondering anymore?
When all is revealed, 
will it not have been worth 
my asking over all these years? 
Though I finally guessed the answer.

When the time comes, will you 
mourn the days, the hours, the minutes
we could have, probably should have?
Don’t answer that until then.
When I’m not there to reply, 
will you ask yourself why you couldn't answer 
the question never asked?
Probably as afraid of it as I was.

And when the words finally stop,
will anyone but you notice the echo 
in the empty spaces between the lines?
It was the wonder, the revelation,
the answer, the syllables surpassing 
all others when the sun shone upon us,
the candle would dim and flicker between us… 

       and the lights finally went out for good 
                                    before we were ready.

Your Dark Angel



So many times I’ve wished I could 
just swoop in to lift some of the load 
from your shoulders, helping you rise 
from your knees and see some 
of your prayers have been answered. 
But that’s silly. I can’t hear 
your prayers, though I can feel 
the weight of darkness upon you. 
And God knows I’m no heavenly angel, 
my robes muddy and threadbare, 
my wings not much more than whatever 
I can fold from the paper upon which 
I write these letters to you.
But maybe I can scoop up some 
of your darkness and leave behind 
a kind of light with which you can see 
more than just your shadow out there 
in front of your knees. See those 
softly shaded wings at your shoulders? 
That’s me, your Dark Angel.

Dreaming In Black and White

I did half my work
in a lightless room
where touch reigned
as the primary sense
and smell was a miasma mix
between a morgue and
a cruet of oil and vinegar.
And I reveled in it.

But to get there I stored lives
in a one-eyed jewel box
full of light and imagination,
accompanied by the song
of its mechanical acolyte
mirror kuh-lacking
and the squinting blink
of its shutter shih-flicking.

And in that captured moment,
my view of life disappeared,
blinded with hope and
exposed to everyone but me.
Later in that room of black,
when I revealed my vision
to myself, I never felt
so illuminated.

I remember those days
more often since time’s
blindfolded and muffled me.
Their visions and echoes
glow radiant, as does
this dream portrait of you
I’ve kept in vivid
Black and White.

Gone Under

I never counted how many of these
I’ve made, let alone how many for you.
Perhaps I have some hidden disease,
the kind, you know, other obsessives do.
That’s my sole connection to any mystery.
Otherwise, I’m as transparent as glass.
Always a student of even our history,
a subject we both know I’d never pass.

Today I pondered writing you a tale,
the kind I used to when I could write.
But now my spirit’s spent and I always fail,
ergo, I gave up writing it without a fight.
The cruel world, all my inspiration it’s stolen
and I’ve no strength left to get it back.
I don’t write to you anymore ‘cause my ego’s swollen,
it’s more because ego’s something I now lack.

I’d give up my fingers if I still could
craft a story that’d make you go, “Ohhhh.”
I remember when you thought I was almost good,
and moved you to cry, you told me. So…
here’s this poem. Perhaps it’ll wring out one tear,
and not because, once again, I’ve made you sad.
My power to move you is all but gone, I fear,
drowned as I cried over my losses in a world gone mad.

Always Facing Whatever Way The Winds Blow

As the North wind bullies
the trees out of its way,
I watch the baby leaves
get shuffled like poker decks
within the branches.
I know that feeling, the one
where my thoughts scatter
and bounce within my mind,
buffeted this way and that
by winds some call emotions.
But guilt, doubt, anger, fear
aren’t ascribed to any direction.
They follow variable courses,
blowing hot or cold, sometimes
stinging my eyes to tears,
other times tortured, tornadic,
leaving behind thoughts as twisted
as the bedclothes I crawled from
this morning, like emerging
from a dreamy storm cellar
to watch the North wind show
how it should be done.
That’s when I hear myself whisper
to those flattened flapping feelings,
“Hold my beer.”

An “unsettled” poem. Oh, do I know unsettled!

Sonnet of an Erstwhile Book Reader

The book lies there, face-down on the nightstand,
taunting me in all its silent repose.
I’m sure I could reach it with my right hand,
but for such reading I’ve lately been indisposed.

The title and author have escaped me,
which shows how long it’s been since I read it.
A dust blanket o’er it’s back is draped, see,
and to disturb its rest… Oh, I dread it.

Perhaps, once again, I’ll give it a try —
for a writer, books are grist for the mill.
But what if some dust gets into my eye?
The chances of reading then would be nil.

I’ll leave it right there for another night
and for now graze on pixels by iPad light.

From St. Pierre aux Portes to Bayou Enfer

Credit: Dreamstime

“You’re sure you know the way? For thirty silver dollars I’d hate to get lost in this damned place,” Amos Adams said.

The old man had little more than grunted since they left St. Pierre aux Portes, bound for the other side of Bayou Enfer.

“Quiet, boy, or you’ll wake the dead, or worse, the living who might lie ahead,” finally came from the tobacco-stained hole in Bub Renard’s beard.

“Listen, Bub, which way out of this infernal wilderness? Seems we’re going in circles, with no rhyme or reason.”

“Rhymes? Sonny, ask me what I knows of the to’s and the fro’s, the gives and the takes, the misses and the makes, and I’ll say, ‘That’s a good question’,” Bub replied.

“Look, there’s a price on my head and I’d just as well put YOU under as listen to anymore of your nonsense. Just get me away from here, okay?”

Then came the howls.

“What was that?” Amos said, eyes wide.

“My children be callin’, with hunger they be bawlin’,” Bub said as the sound of little feet danced toward the man judged for respecting life not enough by the one didn’t respect Amos’ so much.

When they were done, Beelzebub Renard, the guide into but never from this dark place, told his children, “If they ever ask, in earnest or in passing, mine would never be the face they’d see the last thing. They never suspect my smile’s vestigial. And their sins? Hell, mine was the original.”

My 250-word bit of flash fiction (with a poet’s splash of rhyme) for Cara Michaels’ #ModayMenage challenge.

Why It’s Called the Evening

Sometimes I wonder why
I live so much life
when you are done
living yours each day.
As you lie in your bed,
resting and recovering
from the energy spent
being you or assuming
the role draped across
your waking shoulders,
I come to life,
in the near-sleep,
staring straight up
into the dark, where
my imagination shines.
While you sleep,
we are performing
feats unthinkable
in daytime, when
the light blinds
my mind’s eye.
It is my balancing time
between day’s dull reality
and night’s brilliant hope,
no matter how fanciful.
Maybe that’s why it’s called
the Evening.

Poem-a-Day for April 26th, an “evening” poem.

Astride the Penumbra

In a life spent standing
astride the penumbra,
the margin of light and shadow,
I’ve spent most of my days
braced against the winds
always blowing from the sunrise
toward the sunset.
While counterintuitive,
it’s been the darkness that’s
illuminated my way to tomorrows.
It is a wearying place,
cold and fraught with the hidden
and the injurious. And yet,
I’ve come to know it as I would
rising from bed and finding
my way around this room at 2:00 AM.
But someday, I hope to see you
again in bright light, standing there
with the sun at your back
and a smile on your face
reflecting the mirror of mine.
Maybe that’s why, each morning
before I stride to my post
on the melding-point penumbra and
glance at my well-worn path
melting into the darkness,
I still hopefully check which way
the winds might be blowing.

Day 20 of my poem-a-day quest. A “dark/darkness” poem. I guess they didn’t know darkness is my metier. Though it’s been more difficult to get to the writing with the Easter holiday and family visiting from out-of-state. Never said I was the perfect host, though. Just a dark one.

State of Disarray

I’m certain right now we all can’t agree
that things around here surely aren’t okay.
Online attacks, shootings, guys taking a knee,
we’re messed up in a state of disarray.

I’ve seen a lot in my decades of life,
stuff that made us crazy, yet always great.
Our history reveals days full of strife,
yet we’ve survived those times of raw hate.

But right now I’m scared of what might yet come
from the Us versus Then, Win or Die throng
that shouts down compromise like it’s dumb,
“If you aren’t leaning our way you’re dead wrong.”

Dead wrong or just dead by uncivil fray,
this new United States of Disarray.

Day 14 of my NaPoWriMo poem-a-day challenge. Supposed to be a “state” poem. Fuck that. Just know that I HATE politics, having worked closely outside and inside that disgusting sausage factory. So I always make it a point to not take sides. I’m just pointing out right from wrong. Right now, too many people are just behaviorally wrong. Let’s at least try, for our nation’s (and world’s) sake, to step back, take off our myriad hats, and work together to restore this to being a nation OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people…ALL of the people. I pray we can do that before I die and my granddaughters miss out on what I was lucky enough to share (at least I believe I shared to the best of my being) in my lifetime.

This stuff is killing me, keeping me awake at night and spinning my already hideous gyre of depression into a deep-dive death spiral. It’s crippling me. If some day soon, you notice I don’t visit you anymore (as I’ve seen myself approaching more and more lately) you’ll know all of this strife has become just too much for me and I can’t be me anymore. Today’s poem was not that me.