Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine (or, the Poem that Will Make Me Seem like a Cheapskate)

Valentine (or, the Poem that Will Make Me Seem like a Cheapskate)

Show me how to crown this thing between you and me,
how to reduce our years to so many half-chewed chocolates.
I'd treat you like a valentine, but there's something amiss
in the way the sobriquet fits you, loses
your ink-and-ivory contours in the folds of its oversized hoodie.
Does a day like this suit us? Or can it?
We, for whom seasons shed their names for the better dress
of Daykiln and Petrichor, the latter's damp thickets
weaving their aphrodisiacs between

What is card stock and lace beside the moonrise
my lycanthrope heart has always known you as?
There is a hymn in my chest wont of the love-songs of wolves,
a pining for whatever it is that lends emerald-petaled eyes their sway,
and I'm supposed to settle for confections?
A bouquet and a heart-shaped solace for words
either too elusive or too untrue, neither sitting in hand
the way thought of you does in this temple of breath and flesh,
a spear agonizing in its sweetness, jubilant in its ache,
a pulse more God and ghost than my own

beside which any store-bought sentiment seems a crown of crabgrass
wrapping roots through the silk at your shoulders.
How, then, to serve this love, this marriage of anguish and bliss
on the day when love must matter most?—
marched out like a year-round ball-and-chain
made a momentary chain chomp to keep up with everyone else.
How do I condense all of this into something that says I love you?
In a gift? In a gesture?
Or in a pair of unpinned lips?—
at last saying some words worth saying.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Howl (a Final Fantasy VII poem)

Been having a hard time finding time to write lately. Not for lack of desire, just as with everything, choosing to do one thing is choosing not to do a dozen other things. My dilemma.

But regardless, I finally sat down and devoted a couple days to nothing but poetry, and got this piece finished. Remember my SoSOPP from last Summer (the Summer of Sometimes-Otaku Persona Poetry)? It may have started early this year, because I've been getting a lot of ideas for poems based in fandoms and I'm excited to get them out.

For now though, enjoy this poem from the perspective of Final Fantasy VII's Red XIII (or Nanaki, as we learn his real name to be). There are a lot of back stories in FFVII, but for me, not many of them rival Red XIII's. It gets me in a deep and sensitive place every time.



To you who grew with a closed door for a father, or a mother
who seemed to keep the Midgar Zolom beneath her teeth,
yours is a thorn whose sting still steals the spirit from my paws
but, try not to empty your chests of them just yet.
The father-shaped hollow in my ribs saw me
scrabble my semicentennial youth across the walls of Cosmo Canyon,
equal parts pining and shame
winding lines into the rock of its perennial dusk to find
an escape from the shadow of the last of my kind.
My father
was little more to me than a moonlit spine disappearing into the dark.
I've learned how children are supposed to see their parents,
a flowerbed of expectant orphans
or the stars Marlene blinks away when her hero
takes her in the one good hand he has left. I understand that
the same way I understand the tendrils of energy
that tie my life to the world's. That is, in picture and word,
a moon known by name but too shrouded in cloud to howl to.
I knew fatherhood as the brush of a whiskered goodbye, the idea
that it's better to flee and be a ghost in the throats of your children
than risk the war of a life lived beside them –
the razor-edged headdress and claws hennaed a clumpy red
in keeping your people from whatever may come.
Fatherhood was an excuse to disappear until
I saw where he disappeared to, this wound
with a face just like mine, the moonlit spine that I remember perched
an arrow-pierced bastion at the back of Cosmo Canyon, no place to
pin my inventory of blame between dart and quill and petrified mane.
My father.
For fifty years I carried my heritage a crater under my lungs,
not knowing the heartache that draped his whiskers over mine
or the gloaming-hued stone that froze his bones in place,
knowing neither sacrifice or stone, or this,
his marbled eyes, the moons
this bay in the pit of my stomach had always been looking for,
and the twin trails of moss beneath them, glistening
as if freshly watered.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Underneath the Ferns

Underneath the Ferns

As those delivered to the soil in boxes,
the elk's breath left it an antlered slump underneath the ferns,
between the carpet and eaves of that temple where nature
has yet to grieve the god throbbing an omnicidal solace
for a time before teeth were whittled inward
and the dead turned its dirt.
In such a habit, earth exhales plumes of mandible and wing,
crowns the rack of its sundered quarry in clouds of a darker,
southernmost glory, the anarchic mantra that inspires nature
to glut and ruin and writhe
unaltered, reveling as much in this maggot-blanched vanity
as in the pomegranate that insinuated our shapes
back into the embrace of root and worm,
of decay and retrieval,
of oak and soil and mold, no less quarry
than the thing with antlers branching through the ferns.
Like rows of storm-gnawed limestone, the tines
denote whatever grotesque the seasons have secretly crafted
of something once so beautiful,
but more,
the gospel in ivy ascending their pallid homage,
tendrils studding this rot with the triumph
that turns death upon itself and pulls existence from its ashes.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

(More than) A December Sojourn

Happy New Year! I hope, as always, that this is finding you well. I had a resoundingly uneventful New Year's Eve, but hopefully yours saw you wringing out 2014 with good friends and many a hopeful, love-filled embrace. Here's to 2015 (and yes, I'll be one of the innumerable people you know who will say it's weird to write 2015).

To start things out, I have a new poem. It may be January 1, but it's also the eighth day of Christmas in these parts, so I've still got a few more days of holiday left in me (although this may be my last Christmas poem for the season. I don't have any more plans, but who knows what the Muse has in mind?). So, I have some more Christmastime ruminations for you to chew on. I had a lot of fun writing it, thinking things out and just reveling in the beauty and hope the Advent brings to mind. If we love Christmas because of what it says about God and Jesus, it's a love and joy that we don't need to put away with the Christmas tree and lights (nor should we, actually). Hold that love and goodwill with you every day of the year. Eternity has been opened to you in the humility of the manger. That's a cause worth rejoicing over every second of your life.

Live 2015 with the joy you're entitled to.

Photo credit: Vladimir Fofanov

(More than) A December Sojourn

There is a reason we wrap our years around Bethlehem.
Like its blanket, these birth-readied folds of footstep and sigh
hold the makeshift cradle an organ beating
from the breast of December
for the things grown shingled and still in ours.
What day could find nothing of worth in those hills?
Where a song longer craved than sung
at last broke its annunciatory oil over our heads and we
lick it from our lips something Wonderful.

Breathe again the hosannas that spun Bethlehem's sky
into an impressionistic nocturne
of angel wing and awe, telling the news
of a God stooping to dance with His beloved eye to eye,
a love that emptied Heaven for the court of cattle and night,
preferring the lesserdom of flesh if it might refill His arms
with children a pantheon of heartbreak
had done nothing to dislodge from the throne between His lungs.

Glimpse again the trough, the bundle of body and cloth
never again so bread-and-wine until altar
calls to altar and another hillside puts the point in fists
here thought to reach so meaninglessly, a baby learning its limbs.
If Christmas sings joy from under the months, it's for this,
the likewise-swaddled jubilee
whose birth tore our darkness with the reflexive elation of angels
and constellations, of mothers and shepherds and kings, of chests
nestling too much sehnsucht for Eden
to not erupt at its gloried arrival, at His gloried arrival.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Singular Love of Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve! Taking a break from last-minute gift-wrapping/crafting, I want to share another unposted Christmas poem from my book.

It's easy to fall in love with the things Christmas comes dressed in. The joviality, the love, the eggnog (of course!). But let's not forget that the core, the news of a God stooping to dance with His beloved eye to eye, is what gives everything else its beauty. The lights, the gifts, the love - they are the wrapping paper made wonderful for the wonder of their gift.

Christmas is made glorious for His glory, beautiful for His beauty.

May this holiday be a blessing and cause for reflection and introspection. Most of all, may it be a time of reorientation around He who breathes jubilee into the mundane, without whom this holiday would never have been anything more than an obscure festival smelling of age-old ox blood and sage.

The Singular Love of Christmas

Wafts the crisp crystalled waltz of wondrous Christmas snow,
arraying scenes the things of dreams as it collects below.
Softly spill these silent seeds so sown from Heaven’s heights
whose harvest reaps more joy than even the season’s finest lights.
For with the advent of their ice there also arcs to mind
the time when angels left their clime to ‘prise all of mankind,
the time when God the grave allayed in giving up His seat –
choosing in its stead a meager bed twixt cloven hoof and wheat.
That wintry joy, like drifts deployed, can only come from there:
the fact that God afar stayed not, but came to know our share.
His majesty neath infancy, our frailty-furled messiah,
fulfilling every vow foretold through vision-blessed Isaiah.
Of the Christ the prophet penned the reason Christmas sings;
of the Lord he wrote and answered why the bright bell rings,
why all the mortal throng by instinct yearly ‘comes enthralled
and summons love nigh unseen since last the season called.
To this namesake scriptures point: Born…the Prince of Peace.
There shall be no end of His government nor of its increase.

Thus, the calm enrapture all the snow-wrapped hillsides spy.
Thus, the felt serenity lit evergreens descry.
Within the wintry, wind-whipped wisps of Christmas come again,
the Prince’s gift is hard to miss in every yuletide grin –
peace, the ceaseless increase of the coming Christ’s lone sway,
of which the world but glimpses now on every Christmas day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Krampus Carols!

Here's a Christmas present: I got it in my head to Krampus-ize some Christmas carols. If Krampus is an unfamiliar name to you, congratulations! You aren't a Christmas-hating heathen. Essentially, Krampus is the Christmas devil, who rides around with Santa stealing/eating/torturing naughty children (the mystery of why Krampus hasn't been Coca-Cola'd a la Santa Claus by now being beyond me. Sounds like a perfect fit for Comcast...).

I only made it through two carols before the project began to smell of redundancy (and burnt fur!), but that's two more Krampus carols than the world had before (which I'm hoping was a resounding 0, because I need my uniqueness fluffed every now and then).

What do you think? Is this the kind of thing you'd like to see more of? Or is one enough? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Maybe after two or three Christmases, I'll have enough carols accumulated to release a Krampus songbook, because wassailing without any horror carols is just disrespectful to all the ghosts and draugar in Yuletide's closet.

Anyway, Krampus Carols, everyone. If the desire to sing arises, I'll welcome your wassail with open arms. Scary Christmas/Merry Krampus!

Krampus the Goat-Man (formerly 'Frosty the Snowman')

Krampus the goat-man's an appalling, soot-black soul,
With a switch in hand and a lolling tongue
And a brier for a stole.
Krampus the goat-man hitched a ride on Santa's sleigh,
With a taste for those Kringle's list had chose
To be bagged and hauled away.
There must have been some skeletons
Behind your closet door.
For when we rose on Christmas day
There were hoof-prints on the floor.

O, Krampus the goat-man
Is a fright, as you now see,
And the children pray not to see the day
Krampus clops around their tree.
Cloppity clop clop
Cloppity clop clop
Don't watch Krampus go…
Cloppity clop clop
Cloppity clop clop
Peek and he will know.

Krampus the goat-man had so many kids to flay.
He had eaten five, leaving eight alive
With a dozen on the way.
So downs he the burlap once slung upon his back,
Grabbing feet and hair of the poorest pair, braying
He tore them down from foot to crown
With his birch riding-crop,
And he only rested long enough
His crimsoned fur to slop.

For Krampus the goat-man
Had to hurry to the sleigh,
But he winked an eye as the naughty'd cry,
Knowing they had Hell to pay.
Cloppity clop clop
Cloppity clop clop
Don't watch Krampus go…
Cloppity clop clop
Cloppity clop clop
Peek and he will know.

Up on the Housetop

Up on the housetop reindeer pause,
But this stop's not Santa's cause.
Down through the chimney his cloven poise,
All for the naughty ones he destroys.

No, no, no! I don't want to go! No, no, no! I don't want to go!
Up on the housetop: click, click, click –
The coming of Krampus' hooves and stick.

First comes the dumpling of little Nell.
Oh, dear Krampus, fry her well.
Lift her a lolly from 'neath her sheets
For stealing all of her brother's treats.

No, no, no! I don't want to go! No, no, no! Please don't make me go!
Up on the housetop: click, click, click –
The coming of Krampus' hooves and stick.

Next comes the softball bat of Will,
Swung with that narrow-eyed urge to kill
That bruised mom's arm, and toys with cats.
Krampus made sure that's the end of that.

No, no, no! I don't want to go! No, no, no! I don't want to go!
Up on the housetop: click, click, click –
The coming of Krampus' hooves and stick.

Monday, December 22, 2014

What Love Are We Born Craving

Only a couple more days until Christmas, and I still haven't fully scratched my Christmas writing itch yet, so here's to more work in the next couple of days, hopefully.

For now, here is a new poem that's kinda Christmas, kinda lots of other things too. Enjoy! And if I don't end up getting anything more written beyond this poem, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

Photo credit: Alice Wycklendt

What Love Are We Born Craving

What love are we born craving
knowing neither face or name?-
like a manger the babe whose birth
would bring its meager stable fame.

What love once walked beside us
and so highly prized the bond
that, when we fled, its gloried place
for us it did abscond?

What love unshawled all Heaven
just to hold our hand again?
What love clutched Mary's finger
from the throne room of a pen?

What love unspun its cherubs
over Bethlehem that night?
What love bade angels bathe those fields
in Paradise's light?

What love became the damned's embrace
of hand to transfixed hand?
What love had won this heart and mind
ere either'd understand?