Act of Contrition

In the deep-rooted shadows upon which the forest stands, where nothing grows but moss and the debris of winter-felled branches, Scott Lang and his brother Tony heard the stuttering k-r-r-r-k like someone opening the door to a derelict shack.

But near all around them, there were no such homes except last spring’s birds’s nests and the torn-up insect domicile buried within a pine upon which a woodpecker hammered another k-r-r-r-k.

“This noise where there’s nothing around creeps me out, man,” Tony said.

“Some of us, little brother, find such ‘noise’ a blanket of comfort, the caress of natural music far from the crash and soul-crunching violence in city life, the promise of peace,” said Scott.

“Okay, I get it, but does it take sloshing all the way out here just to find your precious quiet? Besides, it’s so damn dark here, how the hell am I supposed to see anything well enough to shoot it?” Tony said, swinging his rifle in carefree arcs.

“Your life always comes down to noisy violence. It killed Mom. I don’t want to know who else. Can’t you just enjoy some serenity for once?”

“Yeah, but where’s the fun in that? Now where to something I can enjoy?”

“You’ll never get it, will… Wait, what was that?” Scott said.

“Where?” Tony said, swinging the muzzle of the 30.06 toward the shadows.

When the echo of the k-r-r-r-k made by four rapid shots from the .22 Scott pulled from his pocket faded, he sighed. After a few seconds, he heard the birds begin singing again. He could actually hear his heartbeat settle down as the wind strummed the tall pines like harp strings. And he was pretty sure there had been only two witnesses to what he’d done.

He made a silent Act of Contrition to one.

“Peace, Mom, just like I promised. At last, some peace,” he whispered to the other.

Table for One ~ A Rondeau

Table for one, that’s what I get
Since we no longer talk, and yet
I’m not alone like other men
Might be in bar, cafe or den,
Since here you see the place I’ve set.

That’s no surprise to you I’ll bet,
Knowing how I would sit and fret,
Even at this lonely, this Zen
Table for one.

Sure, there have been others I’ve met,
whom places in my life I let.
But only you are with me when
My obsession cries through this pen.
Two ink stains we’ll leave at this wet
Table for one.

Pyrrhus’s Desk

It looks, from this warrior’s level,
as if the battle finally has ended.
Upon this field, once-sustaining empty vessels,
as well as worn, broken and crumpled weapons
lie strewn from edge to edge,
foreground to horizon.
More still have fallen out of his sight.
Dreams, hopes, plans, idle inspiration,
they hover above the expanse
like a morbid miasma, like the fog of war,
like the spirits of the dead.
Over there he seee the pictures
of the warrior’s children, forever young,
He thinks, “This is what defeat looks like.”
And yet, as you can see, he’s won the battle.
This time.

The bottles can be returned,
the cups, pencils, paper replenished
and with them this warrior’s resolve.
Pyrrhus will live to fight another day.
He is Homer, he is Herodotus.
Or perhaps he is Caesar, writing
his own history of battles joined,
won, lost, best forgotten.
He knows the end could come tomorrow,
but that same tomorrow he’ll engage
the enemy once more, fighting
with himself on this 4′ x 2′ battlefield
for what makes him feel most alive
and keeps one day’s words forever young.

Leaving It All Behind

Within, the emptiness rules, cold and dark.
It’s been this way how long I just can’t say.
Probably long as I’ve not raised a spark,
in here to warm and light another day.

I’ve given up groping my way around,
gave up about almost all I once did
once upon a time, like new stories sound.
Now new stories have run away and hid.

You’d think I’d hear old echoes in this space
where once so many voices talked to me.
I can’t bear to listen, in any case,
lest your voice I hear and dreamed-up you see.

It’s new dreams I need, to fill up my mind,
not blank memories of this life left behind.

If Not for Yin …

I look up to see
the rain come down,
and look down to see
its drops splash toward sky.
I look through the light
to see the shadow,
and through the dark
for any light to catch my eye.

I must be warm in order to
best feel the cold
and feel relatively cooler
to sense the warm.
And so it goes,
living in a world
where we compare and contrast
to judge this life’s form.

There would be no bad
if not for good;
and no silence
without the sound.
Just like I’d not be here
except for you, and you’d
never grace this place if not
for the me to you I’m bound.

Just a little something I tossed at the page to kid myself I’m still writing.  
Nah, I think I’m just flipping verbal spaghetti at this virtual refrigerator door.

A Light, Nonetheless

Here’s the spark
no one’s looking for,
out there in the dark
of their days.
It comes from a heart
which never knew
much but apart
from wherever your head lays.

I’ve been dead so long
to all but a few,
but I don’t feel it so wrong
being buried in plain sight.
But you, this morning,
came to my empty mind,
and I took it as a warning
that maybe you needed my light.

Our distance is more than miles,
more than even time can measure.
I’d walk it all for one of your smiles
that breathe mere spark to flame.
I’m know I’m shouting into naught
this light for you dimmed long ago.
My spark-words you’ll give barely a thought,
but I fought for that thought just the same.

Sorry I’ve been gone so long. Distance, time, pain and darkness interred me. If any there in the void still might care to read, thank you for your kind indulgence and the privilege of your looking up to notice this light so dim. Dim, yes, but it’s a light, nonetheless.

Five Minutes to August

“Just the bare necessities
that’s all I need,” I used to think.
I could hear the wind blowing
and leaves rustling and imagine
the walnut trees bobbing and heaving
like some portly prizefighters
as invisible hands rained body shots
and tickles on their flabby greenery.
Now I see them move left and right,
back and forth and think about
raking all those leaves come October.

It’s only five minutes to August
and I’m concerning myself with
half past Autumn.
Unless you’re Emily Dickinson,
a poet should never use
a roof and four walls as sunblock.
Sure, windows make fine frames,
but horizons gird much bigger pictures.
And you know what? Everything
encompassed beneath
the dome of the sky can be found
in one raindrop.

Two bird-shaped pieces of night
just crossed the sunny length
of the shed roof. I’ve gotta
get out there. You might say
it’s a necessity.

I’ve been stuck, stuck, stuck for weeks. Maybe months. And today I just gave up, though not like I have been giving up. I grabbed the first book of fiction I could find in that bookcase to my right, turned to page 8, transcribed the eighth sentence, and then started writing from there. It ain’t perfect, but it was a subconscious lesson I needed. And I just realized something about this book. It’s “Kafka on the Shore,” by Haruki Murakami, the first book of fiction I bought myself a decade ago to restart my reading life. And that, my friends, is what’s so magical and spooky about this writing thing. Get out. Get out of your own way. Get it out of your system. Get something close to happy.