Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Voice

The voice came when nature quails,
when fall's decay-laced knellings blow,
the seething welkin overhead,
the churning sea below.

I stood upon a moss-strewn bridge.
It whispered as through barren bough,
tempting me, Ulysses staring
down a tide-worn prow.

The words that faint susurrus slurred
were teeth transfixing lonesome woe,
the seething welkin overhead,
the churning sea below.

God saw fit to fill his pillared courts
with those you're missing now.
The fall that fed them to the depths
Heaven did allow.

The son and daughter pale as sidhe,
the wife those gnashing currents stow,
with seething welkin overhead,
in the churning sea below…

Down, down sunk my watery gaze,
while whispers spun around my brow
the who and why of my despair,
that all-consuming how.

As pillaged as these leafless bones,
what more remains for me to know
but seething welkin overhead
and churning sea below?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Monuments

When all the world seems to gleam
with Satan’s anthropophagous teeth,
help me to remember why
my spirit cleaves to you.

Are you not the muzzle muting
Daniel’s leonine doom?
Are you not the presence
in those unconsuming flames?

That brazen crucifixion
ridding issue of their sin,
expelling fork-tongued devilry
from any upturned gaze,

you are the lintel’s crimson brush strokes
dripping preternatural protection,
while all of Egypt gasps and grasps
at suddenly slumping firstborns.

The pestilence walking in darkness may slaver
and pant to plant me in its gastric grave,
but you are the one who called me
from darkness; I have been and forever will be saved.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rednaxela's First Official Book Review Contest of Super Megalithic Littastic Verbosity!


Contest time! I've got a book out, it's time to drum up some clamor, and I feel like giving away some stuff in the process. Cheap manipulation? Nah! With this prize package, I think we all know who the real beneficiary will be here. It's you, *insert name of future winner*!

So here's the deal:

Starting today, and going through to midnight of October 7th, I am running a contest, very likely the world's first Book Review Contest (not actually likely at all. It’s not like I’m original or anything. Just a poet… using words other people have already used… geez).

How to enter: My book, Ars Golgothica, is available from three online retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's). Pick one, linked below, and write a review of the book on that merchant's Ars Golgothica page. There is no word minimum or special qualifier. Any kind of review will earn you an entry. Multiple entries are indeed possible for those who choose to post multiple reviews on multiple merchants’ Ars Golgothica pages. 1 review (regardless of site) = 1 entry (up to 3 entries per person for three websites). (And yes, you can copy paste… it doesn’t have to be three distinct reviews.)

At the end of the contest, 10/07 at 12:00am, I will take every name that has posted a review (and again, multiple names for multiple entries), and one random winner will be selected from a beanie full of paper strips. That’s right! A beanie! (Oh, you don’t care about that… but you do care about prizes! Tell them what they’ll win, Alex!)

What you’ll win: 1 copy of my book, Ars Golgothica, signed (as if this wasn’t an obvious prize already); Your choice of any 3 poems from the book recorded in audio format for your listening pleasure; a $20 gift card to Powell’s (because I’m all about supporting local books and hey! Powell’s has everything.); and (yes, and!) a bear hug from me, the world’s undisputed champion of bear-hugging – we’re talking off-the-ground, legs dangling bear-hug. You know you want that even more than the gift card.

So, that’s the gist! Who wants in on this contest? Show me in your reviews!

Oh, and one last thing. This is not about sycophantic ego-pleasing. You can be honest in your reviews. That’s what makes them valuable. Like John Mayer said, “say what you mean to say.”

I look forward to giving away some stuff! Enter…. NOW!

Pages:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering...



…the willow says, in lamenting tendrils:
            I’ve not forgotten Eden.
            Sculpted onyx soil
            coasting flowing crystal.
            My nectariferous kindred,
            boundless and un-graven pillars.
            Now, a cancer chews my flesh.
            Its worms burrow through my torso.
            By Adam’s disastrous appetite
            the soil tastes only of poison.
            But I have not forgotten Eden.
            Where You were wont to
            walk in my shade.
            When will You, O Architect,
            walk in my solace again?

…the ocean says, through salified crests:
            As wave and vapor I have slaked the thirst
of this, Your wonder.
As sunken mass
and high-borne shroud.
What, though, of my thirst?
I am that which You set to wend when all
Earth’s verdure was new,
placid glassy
veins embanked with
Eden’s emerald loaming,
but now? To be free of these seismic tantrums
that scatter my bulk over
shattering casts.
To know no more the
itch of hooks ripping through my innards.
Most of all, I miss the stillness
of Your hovering
presence,
a precedent set
for the weaker sway
of that pitched, pearlescent moon.
She, for all her tidal dint,
has never moved me
like You.

…the land says, with magmic bile:
            How many spasms
can You stand
to rack
Your handiwork, Creator?
How long
will
You watch the bones of Paradise
grind
bedeviled?
When You shaped my chthonian framework,
I suffered no such throes;
humic ataraxy, Eden singing
ingrained ecstasy
atop my spheres, content
to rest in still docility.
No cataclysms made castanets
of my cracking,
                          blood-slicked
            continents
underneath the feet of Eve
tending me in Eden,
and still, the whorls of Your touch…
mountains exhaling wistfulness.
Though
millennia gnash my
                        epileptic
                                    clay,
            I dream in lightless fathoms
            of Eden and the day
You’ll reclaim
creation
from chimbling sin…
            a work began atop my skull
            with Him.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Problem with Honoring Aurora's Victims by Not Seeing "The Dark Knight Rises"


By now news of the two-day-old Aurora massacre is hard to miss.

The incident, for the sake of the unaware, consisted of one man (who I won’t even dignify by naming here) crashing a Century 16 theater midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and proceeding to gun down the film’s theretofore-eager attendants. The shooting has been called senseless, unfair, and cruel. All are true. Referring to a group of people who were gathered solely by their esteem for imagination and film-embodied hope, no words truly capture the terror or indignation of such a violating act.

The world was prompt in its response to the murders, though, with millions flooding the internet with every conceivable thought and memorial proposition. Many on Facebook expressed their sorrow and outrage. Many others’ Facebook pages donned varying Bat-ribbon avatars and images in moral support for the lost and left in Colorado. In the multitude of prayers and thoughtful concern, the outpoured beneficence is reassuring.

However, there is one particular kind of response that I am encountering increasingly as news of the Aurora massacre rings in ever-new corners of the globe. A troubling amount of people are declaring their solidarity with the victims of the shooting by refusing to go and see The Dark Knight Rises, seeing this as the appropriate avenue to honor them.

There is a flaw in this logic that must be addressed before the premiere weekend is up. Hopefully this can turn a few gears in a better direction.

You see, what the many people choosing to honorably abstain from seeing The Dark Knight Rises seem to misunderstand are the intentions of Aurora’s victims. These were people who chose to come and celebrate the final Batman film in a very successful and impacting series. These were people who loved the series and movies enough to take part in that insomniac ritual of old. If this were just a run-of-the-mill midday screening of the film, then this argument wouldn’t apply, but it wasn’t just some screening; it was the midnight premiere. The noncommittal and skeptical are rarely among a film’s nocturnal congregation. This was a theater of fans and believers – believers in the Dark Knight Trilogy, in Christopher Nolan’s vision, and in the spirit of hope and perseverance undeniably present in the personage of Batman.

If they themselves believed in the film, chose to spend their money to support The Dark Knight Rises as early as possible, how then are we honoring them by abstaining from seeing it?

Let us not think for a moment that an errant gunman would impact any one of them in their view of the film. Do not misapply the outrage due him to the film itself. I don’t believe the victims did, do, or would have. He has done unutterable damage in this violence, beyond the obvious. By even one of the movie’s potential viewers reneging their support, the terrorist has accomplished what all terrorists strive to accomplish: controlling the free will of others, cowing them into forgoing what they otherwise would enjoy.

By pulling our support for The Dark Knight Rises, no matter how honorable our reasons, we are letting that one man’s misanthropy keep us from in fact doing the best thing we could to honor the victims of the Aurora massacre: supporting the movie in its opening weekend. Just like they did.

So, this weekend, if you haven't yet, I encourage you to rise. Rise against terrorism and hatred. Rise against fear and violence. Rise and make one thing absolutely certain:

No amount of darkness or injustice can kill our passion and hope.

We were dreamers before, and we will be dreamers again.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The House on Venus Street


Listen.
In your shadow-clasped niches
and the clamshells of your hovels –
gleaming teeth
jutting from the forest’s mossy gums –
listen.
Of all I hereafter posit,
this one thing I beg you to heed:
in all you do, for all your days,
avoid the house on Venus Street.

Even as I write
my nape recalls the frightful nightmare,
in statical hairs preparing for what shapes
the darkness swathes.
I'll spare you not the horror
that I found and left down there,
but tell you this
that frantic script might emphasize my plea:
in all you do, for all your days,
shun the house on Venus Street.

Doubtless you’ve caught the waftings
of seemingly seraphim-tossed incense.
Doubtless enchanting olfactory hooks
have guided gazes to that filigreed
vesica pisces,
dreaming to knock and enter there…
but beware!
From someone who woefully ventured
where moon and star avert their stare,
if not me, trust the terror trembling in my speech:
in all you do, for all your days,
fear the house on Venus Street.

Your eye will pine like Midas
for the gold of its dancing lamplight, throbbing
through scarlet curtains
to cast weeping willows in ruby.
The oval door will ope and croak
a presage in hinges whose sibilance
more befits the passage to the flame-licked city of Dis.
And then perfume and music,
luster and thralling, incessant laughter…
but I beg you,
never let your feet bring you to that door.
Never seek to satiate this newly kindled need,
but in all you do, for all your days,
spurn the house on Venus Street.

As I, so you
will think yourself some angel-girded John
for the circles of fawning, petalled flesh
assailing you with their beauty,
and truly, what beauty shall I henceforth glimpse
as that?
With Cleopatra’s aspect and Aphrodite’s sway?
But even the most well-graven tomb
still hides decaying teeth…
in all you do, for all your days,
scorn the house on Venus Street.

I know I’ve yet to specify a reason for this dread.
It isn’t in their frothily proffered nectar –
a flood to your ark.
Neither is it in the ambrosial display, straining
hoofed table legs with profligate weight.
But the eyes…
the predatory eyes in the blurring faces you’ll meet…
in all you do, for all your days,
skirt the house on Venus Street.

In your maelstrom of claret and rouge,
a palette of harlotry blurring,
maybe a part of your besot mind will parse
the discord of orgiastic throes. Maybe
you’ll hear or feel through the din
a rumble,
a deep thrumming…
God! Flee if you do!
Don’t go where those serpentine, swaying hips lead,
but in all you do, for all your days,
dread the house on Venus Street.

Don’t seek the seeming Heaven
in the embers of its stare.
Don’t walk the ensconced corridor…
a lone door in its throat.
Shambling misstep after misstep –
by all that is holy! The door at the end of the hall!
I heard it, a fire…the roar of its guttural appetite…
The candles, a pantheon of petrified tongues,
watching me…why weren’t they moving?
With my hand on the door
I felt it…
            I felt it…
                        I felt it…
                                    open out and away from me –
and dear God…
I saw it.

Even the ink I now plead with reeks of putrefaction
and sulfur.

By God and His remnant host,
I beg you!
Stay you from that perfumed mask,
flashing its hellish eyes
in the dark
of ill-named thickets.
Venus Street…the unholy precipice
hidden within its seductions…
carnal hoax in a charnel house…
Venus Street! The cruel joke!
The Morning Star winking in that hollow –
named not for the enamouring slant of its craft…
but for him!
The mountain sprouting from glowing fathoms,
ceaselessly glutting on the plucked and pallid grubs
of a world wandering back to his Edenic deceit…

In all that you do,
for all of your days,
never near the house on Venus Street.

“…for her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead,”
(Proverbs 2:18)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Some Updates on Ars Golgothica

So, Ars Golgothica has been out for a few weeks now. There's been a pretty pleasing response. I've seen a lot of copies flying out of my hands. It's awesome, to make a wordy story short.

I do have some news about this little poetry compendium, however. You can now find it, not only on Amazon, not only on Createspace, but at Powell's and Barnes & Noble too! This book is sweeping through, you guys.

If you haven't picked up a copy for yourself yet, well...you know the saying. Nike's got the right idea.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shema (Listen)


The day the sun in setting
cast a t-shaped shadow on Jerusalem,
cascaded its magmatic gaze
over wood and iron
and blood,
it sowed gold into soiled seed
that eventually would concede me,
the tent-skin of my swathing
equal parts aurum and melanin,
a Dome of the Rock reflection
speckling Zion in my flesh.

Jerusalem, round like a crown
in the closing eyes of the Christ,
I am still finding your stations’ sand
in the atlases of my palms,
in the crescents of my fingertips.
When I wake, my tongue is already dancing
over the savor of your Shemas,
my hair electrically erect
like the tessellated minarets
whose summons humble me
regardless of creed.

My King loved you, Jerusalem.
He proved it with symbols He knew you’d recall,
Isaac’s brier crowning His brow
and Moses’ pole at His back.
I know He loved you,
but I wonder if
this love,
swelling like the incensed moth of my lungs,
is just a coincidence.
If the Christ had not been the
root of Jesse, but cast His sacramental claret
down the steps of Tenochtitlan instead,
would I still love you?

The psalmic pulse between the products of your plumb lines,
the clarion adhan to which your zenith dons its flame –
this is no vicarious adoration.
I have found your Wailing Wall
winding in the wormy burrows of my veins,
something more precious than blood resounding
under my skin.
My heart has been sandblasted and gilt
by your beauty, Jerusalem, your beauty,
merely revealed to me
by a cross like two arms showing me
how to embrace you.

The day your star dipped six of its tips
in Gaza’s flotilla-filled bleeding,
I shakingly held to your soil,
my hands for once unsure
within these HaShem-promised granules.
When you grew toothy boundaries
like the plates themselves danced under you,
I refreshed myself on the shadows spilled
from your mosque and cross-shaped decorum.
I knew, not far from where I stood,
that fingers and desperation were turning
anything graspable into armament,
two parties hoping to excise pieces like tumors
from this, your mosaic glory,
but this! Jerusalem!
If only they could see

the sun, a saffron corona at the back of
your Sepulcher, setting a t-imprinted gaze
on your blazing Temple Mount –
and this, the cool pool of shade
overlapping your sands in tranquility,

this mutual shadow, a testament
in gold and half-hour henna,
pleading peace, then lost
to the haze of gunpowder-nightfall.

Shema, Yisrael...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ars Golgothica Available for Purchase

I know the waiting felt like agony, right? Well, today's the day. You can now drop ten bucks and get yourself a copy of Ars Golgothica, the poetry book that made you realize you've never desired poetry so badly, dollars burning word-shaped holes in your denim.

You can buy it here, today, right now, for the low price of $10. At roughly 100 pages and roughly 60 poems, that's ten cents a page! And sixteen cents per poem! Ask yourself, can you afford to not buy this book?

*ahem* Sorry. I had a salesman in my throat. Getting serious, I may be a little biased, but I really couldn't be more proud of this book. It is a collection of some of my best poems, bound beautifully in a compact little work of art. I've overseen everything, every minute detail, to ensure that this book I'm getting out to all of you is the masterpiece I always envisioned it would be. I'm smitten with it, and I can only hope once you get your hands on it, you will be too.

And of course, what good is poetry that doesn't inspire similar poetic impulses in its reader? As I send this book out to the world, I hope as you read it, as you pour through its innards, that it moves you to create and paint your own inimitable portrait on the world...in whatever medium so moves you.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement. Ars Golgothica! Get it today!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Preview with 4 Days to Go

So, Ars Golgothica goes up for purchase on Amazon in 4 days, and I know you all are just chomping at the bit for this little bundle of poetry. So, to further stir up interest, or keep you on the hook, I've got a gift for you all.

I sincerely appreciate your support, encouragement and investment, and so I have an audio recording of one of the poems contained in Ars Golgothica to share with you. A bit of gift-wrapped spoken word is always a good thing, right? You can find this thank you present, a recording of "A Letter to the Dance Pole," here.

If you enjoy it, awesome. The book has plenty more to offer you; if that poem wasn't your cup o' tea, then worry not! The book is painted with a broad brush, I promise.

Monday, May 28, 2012

'Ars Golgothica: A Collection of Poems', Coming June 4

I know it's been quiet around here lately, but I promise you I've been toiling secretly behind the scenes. And here's the proof:


Yup. My first published collection of poetry, Ars Golgothica, is here and coming out June 4th.

I've been putting this together for several months, picking some of my best poetry for a book Christian at heart, but universal in body (and yes, that makes sense. I think.). It opens with the C.S. Lewis quote, "My eyes are not enough for me; I will see through those of others," and that is exactly what you can expect to get from the array of poems contained in Ars Golgothica.

If you've enjoyed any of what I've been turning out around here over the past couple NaPoWriMos, you'll want to get this book in hand. Quite a few of the poems I've shared here are included in Ars Golgothica, but at approximately 100 pages, there is plenty of fresh material to fill your literary bellies.

Leading up to the release, I'll be posting various promo videos and viral goodies, so don't go anywhere. Really. Just glue your face to the monitor now, 'cause you won't want to miss this stuff.

Oh, and for those who by now are ready to kick me for dropping a Latin/gibberish title like Ars Golgothica and not explaining it...tough typeface. No explanation for you.

But seriously, Ars Golgothica is a play on the poetic term ars poetica, which means 'art of poetry'. So, while referencing that poetic staple, Ars Golgothica means 'art of Golgotha and Gothicism'...a confluence of my two primary literary elements: Christianity and a dark romanticism.

Hopefully that served to whet your appetites and not send them fleeing for the hills.

So, Ars Golgothica...June 4th. Stick around.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Son (a mother's day poem)

My Son

Christ,
bread and wine
on an upright platter,
slaughter often left for eyes
of Levites and the Lord,
the sin-necessitated
Christ. To countless ere and after:
Christ,
but she knew Him as Jesus.
With eyes like Van Gogh’s paintbrush,
all of Golgotha grown blurry and wet
as she strained to see
her son, she knew Him as
Jesus.

Between the marks
of Pilate’s appeasement
and rainbow-varied welts,
there was little there
for Mary’s melting eyes to recognize, but…
there, just above feet
she still remembered as silk,
a scar across his ankle
more memory than sight, the cloth
she dabbed on that stinging boyishness
still dripping in
her hands.

His knees,
two buckled roses,
his abdomen and chest, a horror
the angel did not prepare her for
when dispensing El Shaddai’s blessing.
In that lurid shadow,
did her heart threaten to fail her?
Through agonizing hours
learning precisely why it was that
Pharaoh needed no further coercion
as he wept in Egypt’s darkness.
My son…

The first fingers
to ever curl around hers,
to bring her bouquets in fists
filthy with innocence,
two wings now splayed at obscene angles,
nails freeing fingers from tendons.
She forgot nothing
as she saw her son become
the Son of Man
with Calvary underfoot
and thorns on
his head.

His head, his face,
where had her son gone?
A mosaic of refigured features, but…
there, his unblinking sidelong gaze,
the eyes that pierced her heart
thirty-three years before.
Her lips still feeling the down
of his hair, his newborn crown
while he set her heart alight.
My son…

He hung
a slumped messiah,
Christ
to countless ere and after,
but Mary,
a pillar of lachrymose salt,
she knew Him as
Jesus.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kyrie, Eleison

Been reading through Job in the Bible lately, and just been astounded by how grim it is. Not my first time through, but its depressing tone and extremely "doom metal" ambience still left me reeling. I had to write something on that.

Kyrie, Eleison

Dawn saw the fleets of fleeing shadows
leave her this heap of flesh.
She quailed to claim it with daylight.
Even the sun shudders from its arc,
wishes to lid its molten eye
with drifting, laden blindfolds.

This canker dressed in ashes.
This blight of corroding tissue.
This living maggot banquet;
Job, losing himself by the mouthful,
more wont of necropolitan haunts
and the denizens they house.

An earthenware edge,
boasting the guillotine’s bark,
dribbling its skimmings of blood and skin
between fingers scabbed with resolve.
And into the sky this abscessed effigy
coughs such accosted plumes
as to darken its azure temperament,
verbalizing the vista-spied cries transcribed
in Dante’s scrawling.

The arrows of the Almighty
are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison,
                                             he howls into the wind,
                                    the blood of ten buried children
                               peeking through two grief-gnawn lips.
My life is a breath;
my eye will never again see good.
                                                       He wears the dust like carrion.
I loathe my life.
                                                       Dusk casts him in isolation.
Oh, that I might have my request—
                                                          Sand vies with hungry larvae
                                                          for position in his sores,
and that God would fulfill my hope—
                                                           crusting vermilion sap
                                              on a flesh-dredging shard,
that it would please God—
                                            inscribing his laments
                                            between the craquelure of old palms,
to crush me and cut me off!
                                             a gravitational woe
                                    pins him languid and prostrate,
                               a man-skin rug sundered
                           by a holy void that smote Christ on His cross,
I loathe my life…

and yet,
in the bowels of despair,
his eyes still tilt two sky-filled wells,
plumbing Heaven for the God
he loves, knows, and trusts.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Assumptions - 30/30!

Mission accomplished! With this, another NaPoWriMo comes to a close. I want to thank everyone who has been following me. Thank you for your time and encouragement, and to all the other writers who actually made it through to day 30, massive congratulations! (Not everyone made it here with us, so let's take a moment of silence for those we've lost along the way...)

The final poem of NaPoWriMo I've got for you all today was written at the prompting of NaPoWriMo.
And now, the final prompt. Artist and writer Joe Brainard is probably best remembered for his 1970 poem/memoir I Remember. The book consists of multiple statements beginning with the phrase “I remember,” including:
I remember my first erections. I thought I had some terrible disease or something.
I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.
I remember when my father would say “Keep your hands out from under the covers” as he said goodnight. But he said it in a nice way.
I remember when I thought that if you did anything bad, policemen would put you in jail.
Today’s prompt asks you to write a poem incorporating at least three “I remember” statements. This invocation of memory seems a fitting way to end our month together.
Good luck, and happy writing!
So, with that motivation, I've got a poem here to leave you all scratching your heads. I pose the question: what do we actually remember?

Assumptions

I remember sunlight’s liquescent ribbons
as a river trickled itself between the reeds
of my fingers. The water still dreaming
of bygone winter, spring calling it to wake.
Tadpoles flirting with the surface,
then shying away from skin and air.
Or did a photograph tell me that?

I remember fields turning a delicious green
before groping legs and waist with their
stalks. The wind, a seasonal calling card
of motors and freshly mown grass.
The burs proving my excursions
that I would pluck from denim and wool,
clinging like lovesick insects.
They always made me laugh.
Didn’t they? Or was that, too,
from a photograph?

The yield of summertime fishing trips,
all scale and wriggle and slime.
My hands, a bundle of wonder and pride;
my face, dimpling innocence,
while shockingly useless gills
pantomime distress to no avail.
That fish, a sun-gilt trophy,
can’t I still feel it slip through my fingers?
The flash of afternoon light as it drips
back into the lake. Is it memory,
or imagination? Of the nine thousand days
scrawled like cave-script throughout my skull –
the flick of a fish, the trickle of a stream –
what did I form from scrapbooked displays,
and what do I actually remember?

* * *

Have a great year, everyone! Don't stop writing! I want to keep reading great stuff. I'll keep posting what I turn out here, so stick around!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Funeral Songs for Helios - 29/30

Another beach poem. Surprised? Don't worry, it's a good one.

This one, inspired by how the sun, hidden behind clouds, still reflects cleanly on wet sand. An interesting image, the sun in sand. 

Funeral Songs for Helios 

Helios glows from the underworld
and Poseidon laments his nephew
with droves of tide-wove breath,
salty with the songs and psalms
sung on sunken seahorse tongues,
played between slick tentacles
forming underwater clefs.
Naiads with crustacean skin
dance trots and sideways sambas,
and nymphs crowned in anemones
whirl their puckering hair in turn
while unicornic beauties arc
their bulk throughout the sea,
all for the love of poor Helios,
his aureole glowing
in the thick and liquored sand.

Lichenwear - 28/30


Saw a gnarly tree at the beach, covered in vines and roots, and thought to myself, well, there's a sight to capture in some writing. So, the poem. 

Lichenwear 

Nervous tendrils climbing,
veining this body of bark.
Circulatory decorum.
The soil wrestles immobily
for the worms it construes have left it,
forlorn, an empty nest before
this lichen-denizened totem.
Its belly and its bosom, though,
still writhe with undeparted kin.
Coprophagic entrails
digesting humic mouthfuls,
while the shore, a road of foot-shaped scars,
applauds the tree's attire
with salt and acrophobic clouds.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Zedd, Interrupted - 27/30

Today we were encouraged over at NaPoWriMo to cap the week off with a nursery rhyme, which got me thinking along lines of silly, short rhyming verse. I'm on my way out the door to the beach for the weekend, so I wanted to crank something out before I leave.

So, today's poem is short, funny, and probably completely nonsensical unless you're familiar with Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth book series. (Which, while I'm on the subject, is fantastic and should be read by everyone who likes emotionally authentic, well-written high fantasy.) Is that the mark of a bad poem? Inability to translate a scenario to one unfamiliar with it? Probably, but oh well. Hits and misses. 

Zedd, Interrupted

There’s nothing like the feel of stone
underneath your toes,
or the kiss of wind upon your skin
while spring its whisper blows.
The clouds above shift in language
I augur atop my wizard’s rock,
clouds like runes, scribbled sigils,
and lace upon a lady’s frock.
Speaking of frocks, who needs clothes?
Nudity’s the greater joy!
Here atop my rock I’m free and–
Oh! Richard, my boy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Aerugo and Rust - 26/30

T minus four days and counting. This has been a great month. Gone fast, but nice to have bulked up my portfolio with quite a few solid and submittable pieces.

Today, I used the challenge put forth over at NaPoWriMo.
Our prompt for today, however, is not likely to induce smiles. For today, I challenge you to write an elegy. Classically, an elegy is a poem written in response to someone’s death, a poem of mourning and remembrance. Your elegy can be about a specific person, a group of people, a pet, a plant, even an idea. Or, like Anne Sexton, you could try your hand at an anti-elegy.
I have had an idea kicking around in my head for a couple months now (a bizarro image/metaphor, really), and this prompt gave me the perfect excuse to explore it. 

Aerugo and Rust
an elegy for Peter Steele

A bloodhound staring down a hypodermic nose
will never forget the scent, will never lose track.
Its syringe-shaped proboscis, instilling the skin
with juices pooled at the bottom of black spoons,
is a Babylonian hook in the septum: this way to
captivity. This bloodhound is of all things patient.
Years will not dull the smell of blood and skin.
Once it is shown a protruding vein, it is only
a matter of when.

Whitney Houston proved this, but she was not
the first with a heart too full of this bloodhound’s
effluvia to run from the hunt any longer, to beat
in arhythmic defiance. I only wish you, Peter,
had resolved to lead your life like you did your
sludge-fuzzed musical outlet: with an unbowable
originality. Perhaps then you never would have
whet that hound’s appetite in inhaled tally marks,
consigning it your heart.

Peter, even though it eventually found you, seizing
its cardiac property with pulmonary-born fingers,
I wonder if you weren’t surprised, because much
of what I know as wisdom I did not receive from
a fool. No servant is greater than his master, so
if I realized this, the bloodhound’s bent, I wonder
didn’t you? As note by funerary note you crafted
your dirge-somber legacy, did you hear it coming?
Underneath your druidic Mass, there’s the slightest
but most dire howling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

With All Due Respect to Beyonce - 25/30

I woke up today writing this poem. Anyone else know that feeling? You wake up with a line in your head. It's great, right? Rarely happens to me, but when it does (and it's an actually worthwhile thought) it is a good sign.

So today's poem is a response to something I think I overheard on the news while I was somewhere between sleeping and waking up (that gray space some may call Snoregatory). It is called... 

With All Due Respect to Beyonce 

People Magazine,
I saw your misnomer plastered over
a TV screen like an atlas:
World's Most Beautiful Woman.

I don’t write, though, to interject between singer
and her celebrity,
but just to marvel at the minuscule scale
of the world you live in,

because this very day,
there are women who have never been photographed
wearing the dust of their
atomized children like foundation, refusing

to forget them despite how much it may hurt to remember.
There are women
who waive their right to healthcare the moment another
life returns their stare.

There are women
beneath canopies of thick, Edenic green
living with the shameless
beauty of antecedent Adam and Eve,

cocoa-rich skin smoother than the fabrications
touted out of Estee Lauder,
Shiseido and Clinique; skin that still recalls
God’s touch sculpting humanity.

People Magazine,
between stateside drywall and African tenements,
between Iraqi abodes and
apartments in Japan, housing businesswomen,

proud and unbowed, proving beauty like two fingers
pointing it out on a map made
of mirror - the world you claim is far too small,
a TV adrift and denying the ocean.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mordor (an Orc's Haiku) - 24/30

Only 6 days left. Wow, you want to make April fly by...participate in NaPoWriMo. Feels like I just started and now it's almost done. Craziness.

Today I don't have time to write and get all deep and beatnik on you, so I've got something funny and short for you.

You know how I took you to Middle Earth a week or so ago in "Our Only Wish"? Well, put on your cloak and grab some Lembas, because you're about to go back, to sit in on a very...unique...perspective.

Mordor (an Orc's Haiku)...an Orcku

Come ‘ere!
Lemme tell you
somefin’ ‘bout Mordor.

We’ll eat rats if
we ‘ave to, but your belly’s
lookin’ betta.

We don’t care ‘bout
your trinkets, but your corpse…
that’s a pretty.

We ‘ate everyfin’
‘bout everyone, and most
of all,

we ain’t
got time to count syllables,
you maggoty morgul rat!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Strobilus Parousia - 23/30

Today I've got a poem for you, prompt-free, that could be about a pine cone, but probably is about a whole lot more. Carrying on the Earth Day theme, apparently.

Strobilus Parousia

It falls
  a pregnant warhead,
    shingled in lobster skin
      and pollen.
        The ground,
          an embrace made of
            earth and mingling
              ants, craves its coming thud
                intensely, pines for this needle-
                  muffled concussion with hope.
                    And when it at last comes,
                      this pillowed collision,
                        the very soil claps
                          in joy, sending
                            plumes of mustard-
                              colored applause
                                to thank the
                                  deflorate heights.

*Strobilus: botanical name for a pine cone, essentially.
**Parousia: ancient Greek term meaning 'appearance' or 'presence'; used Biblically to refer to the second coming of Christ, the advent.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Bouquet - 22/30

I wrote today's poem before checking NaPoWriMo.net for the prompt, but when I did so I was surprised to see that this poem fits perfectly with the prompt. Probably because it's Earth Day, but still...funny coincidences.

Today's poem may be a first for me. I've written a lot of heartfelt poems, a lot of tragedies, but today's, for whatever reason, is the first to actually make me cry while writing it. I was not drawing upon any personal experiences for this one, so...you be the judge. This might just be a very authentically emotional piece, and if it hits you like it hit me, I think you'll enjoy it, and I hope it sticks with you.

And have a great Earth Day! Go enjoy the world! It's a beautiful one we've got here.

The Bouquet

She brought me a bouquet of stowaways.

It was not her intention, of course,
as she tweezed from the field’s choicest follicles.

The expectant smile dimpling her cheeks
as she snapped green stems hoisting heads

crowned with petals, plucked others
too tenacious to forsake their wormy roots.

Whatever caught her eye: yellow-maned
beauties quizzically considered weeds, flowers

red like mommy’s lipstick,
six months unused in a dresser drawer,

and a cluster of congregating fairies
she blew into the afternoon wind with a wish.

She brought her bounty to me in joy, a pride
sparkling in her eyes I knew she was used to

showing her mom, and even when the ants
claimed our vase-improved table as new territory,

I loved her for every pesky one of them.
Because we laughed together then,

and she had her mother's smile.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Silver Doe (to Lily with Love) - 21/30

Today I've got some Harry Potter poetry for you Hogwarts students out there. So, enjoy.

The Silver Doe (to Lily with Love)

Lily,

I have not removed
my eyes from the moon
since I saw how you vanished
into its glow,
how it absorbed
your evacuating ghost
like mist through the namelessly
broken window.
Know that though
you fell for another, I fell
for you long ago, and there’s no
length of years to make me forget
your countenance under the willow.

Lily,
you were to me
this moon, commanding tides
capillary-red.
I surged with even
your most prudent words,
waxed stagnant with summer
in your stead,
but never, even now
as light seems to flee me,
has this heart beat for aught
but you,
luminary, cherished,
casting your luster into
dementor-thick dark, my patronus.
Lily, I’ve loved you,
which time can’t annul,
death hasn’t hampered and
never will.

      Severus

Friday, April 20, 2012

M51 - 20/30

Well, 20 days in, and I can feel my muse dragging its feet. Maybe it's just a temporary chemical imbalance, but I'm finding it harder and harder to want to write these past couple days. Saaa, Je suis fatigué indeed.

But yes, here's today's poem, about a particularly intriguing celestial body. This is short, but I feel there may be something else I want to do with this. I think I will be revisiting this galaxy in a later piece. I like what came out of the letter-styled poem "A Letter to the Dance Pole", and I am feeling like the M51 galaxy might shine with the same treatment. So, you may see this return in a later piece. But for now, I give you the poem of the day. 

M51

When the cosmos unwound its innards
in haloes and glowing laurels,
a spear-thrust shower
surrounding my brow in its secrets,
I was not surprised to find
this familiar Golgothic silhouette
nestled like treasure in this nebula,
an X marking the spot,
a final star-circled signature
emphasizing all that history holds
in its crucifix-hinged pages.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When Asked 'What's It Like?' - 19/30

Nineteen days in. And I'm tired. Buuut... gotta saddle up and finish this marathon.

So, here's today's poem. You won't like it. Or maybe you will, but I won't expect you to. 

When Asked 'What's It Like?' 

This is how it happens.
The fixtures unfortunate enough
to dangle over dimpled drywall
will rattle with the concussive thumps
that, from the other room,
send golden-framed testaments
to selective memory
to shatter face-down on the floor.

It is as if you live under an overpass,
but you do not live under an overpass.
It is no regimented clickity-clack
of trains saying their greetings
that shifts the shelved portraits,
though you wish to God it was.
It is no earthquake, though
you duck and cover
like they taught you in school.
Your hands collar your nape,
your knees two spheres of arabesques
from the carpet’s curly imprint.
You can feel the rug on your cheeks,
a thousand soft hands
offering their absorptive comfort.
You can feel your heart,
a sparrow maddened by
the bars of your childish ribcage.
You can’t hear the shouting anymore.
Or the even worse implications

of its silence.

Not so much as your pulse,

your body’s most dire defense, lulling 

It’ll be okay.

Everything will be fine. 

And you sleep, its frequent comfort
reabsorbing you like tears.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ursa - 18/30

I've got a lullaby today, as per the prompt over at NaPoWriMo.net.
My busy week has translated itself into fairly sleepless nights, which inspired me to come up with today’s prompt — writing a lullaby! Soothing, short, repetitive and usually rhyming . . . lullabies exist in every culture. Perhaps you could write a special lullaby for poets? “Hush little poet, lay down your pen/Momma’s gonna buy you the complete Dickinson.” The rhyme’s a little slant, and the meter a bit wobbly, but it will do! Happy writing.
So, the poem today is simple, in tone, pace and imagery. Just try not to read it at work...might actually put you to sleep! 

Ursa

A star
of sung silk
breathes its gleam
of twinkling blue, as
this sleepy lullaby falls
head over heels for you,
its murmur heard within
the brook, its whispers
drifting through the
boughs, all to lay
you down and
softly watch
you as you
drowse.

Sleep
beneath its
watchful eye, and
waft upon a serenade
of summer afternoons
sinking into perfect evening
shade, while fireflies mime
the stars that slowly lull
you from afar, until the
moss beneath your
feet embraces you
in sweetest
sleep.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Letter to the Dance Pole - 17/30

17 days/poems in! I said it before, but this year is incredibly overshadowing last year's in sheer quality and quantity. Some mesmerizing stuff I'm reading (and hopefully writing too!).

As for today's poem, the prompt over at NaPoWriMo.net hit me in just the right way, at just the right time apparently, because I am very proud of how today's poem turned out. Mm. Let me say that again. I am very proud of today's poem.

The prompt was as follows:
Today’s prompt is an epistolary poem — a poem in the form of a letter. In particular, I challenge you to write a poem addressing an inanimate object — Dear Headache, Dear Goldfish Bowl, etc. But that’s not all. Try to include at least 4 of the below in your poem:
1) a song lyric
2) a historical fact
3) an oddball adjective-noun combination (like red grass or loud silence)
4) a fruit
5) the name of a street in your neighborhood
6) a measure of distance.
You can tick them off as you read through, but I'll tell you which ones I chose to include in the poem: 1, 2, 3, and 4. It's like a Highlights puzzle...see if you can find them all! 

A Letter to the Dance Pole 

Dear dance pole –

Records hold that Joan of Arc
dissolved in the arms of your ancestor,
a rigid, imperious backbone
bearing her shame
to a salivating mob.
Don’t ignore the resemblance.
You may have had six centuries
to change, but I can still smell
the wood in you, the smoke
in your mirror-colored ash
as girls blinking away
the same sadness rise to brace
against your vertebrae
for the flames you promised
would come, green
but no less carnivorous
for the jeers mistaken for adoration.

Dance pole,
they eye you a shiny apple,
but you’re hiding Grimhilde’s fingerprints
in this glitter and glistered acclaim,
these strobes that flicker
like familiar tongues and bid
each victim disrobe,
and these girls,
they call your poison empowerment,
but you know the truth.
Isn’t that right, dance pole?
You’ve got the heirs
of suffragists and feminists
propped up like beautified effigies,
their faces painted targets
for an ingrained and nostalgic hate
that ate Joan of Arc alive
and smoulders these girls
from the inside, while
someone in the distance pleads,
drowned out by hungry applause,
you don’t know what you’ve got
‘til it’s gone.*

Dance pole,
glory all you want atop
your stage of crippled victories.
Just know I’m coming with axe in hand,
but know,
it’s not for you.
Your complicit pillar
would be nothing were it not
for these seated witch-burners,
tongues lolling comically lupine
while your quarry whirls
and whirls, like desperate smoke signals
haloing Joan’s ruined heap.
I’m coming to rob you of your gawkers,
your glamour and your grief.
I’m coming to end your fame, dance pole.

Sincerely written,
Me

* Lyric taken from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi"

Monday, April 16, 2012

If My Obituary Read "Death by Hummingbird" - 16/30

Today's poem: true story, brah. 

If My Obituary Read "Death by Hummingbird" 

It flew from a fruitless thicket
with the speed to fell a Philistine,
a miniscule kamikaze clad in emerald,
ruby and nacre.

And something in the trees sung
like the song a swinging gate would
whistle into the night on hinges weary
and red with rust.

And all of spring seemed to preen
and flaunt peacocky verdure as I thought
these wilds delightful, and a bullet undetected
took flight to call my bluff.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

As David Watched Her Bathe - 15/30

Whoa! I've got 4 minutes to go! Cutting it close, huh? That's what I get for working on a day that I should be writing poetry!

As David Watched Her Bathe

She had a name like an augur-less omen,
her form more diamond than flesh
with the way the sun trailed its fingers
down the rivulets of her bathing.
Bathsheba,
a curse to the crowned voyeur
glimpsing her beauty through parted scarlet,
his heart
a sudden holocaust of need.
Need one message quickly appeased,
on Peregrine-swift wings retrieving
David’s foremost folly.

He had not wavered before embedding
his sling-shot pebble in Goliath’s brow.
He had not quavered when Saul hauled
armies cross-country with bloody cravings.
But this, this star-inscribed seraph
David could not tear from mind.
She, a high place he trembled to surmount.
The God for whom he warred
could do all things, sculpt the globe
and rend its very waters,
but,
provide for his enflamed heart
a salve more perfect than that
which he’d have with Bathsheba
(she already the bride of Uriah)?

The lie,
exhaled like incense, won his judgement.
And the husband,
dispatched like fodder, won his envy.
But the ripened fruit
of their noonday tryst, swelling
a gourd of Bathsheba that glistened
with afternoon diamonds,
this child won David’s consequence,
an involuntary christ
interred for his selfishness. His doubt,
a coat-hanger spear to the side
of something he never thought he’d have to
good-bye.

David would never recall the Exodus
after this without Pharaoh’s tenth coercion
stinging sympathy from his tear ducts.
He’d remember his own folly
and tell of its consequence repeatedly,
a scriptural reverence thanking
God on the tip of his tongue.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Green Man - 14/30

Today marks two years since one of my favorite musicians and artists, Peter Steele, died. He was at the helm of the band Type O Negative, and having grown up on their music, on his rich and sepulchral voice, I've always felt a very familial bond to them, and him especially. Our mutual birthday and personalities only strengthen that. He felt like a brother I'd never met.

So, I wanted to write something in his honor today. I've got a poem here, written without prompt, to further memorialize and remember one of the music underground's legends. The song this poem references is called, shockingly, "The Green Man", off the album October Rust.

Go give it a listen. In fact, grab your iPod, put their entire discography on it (after buying it of course!) and go to your nearest wooded area and just...absorb.

Here's to you, Peter.

The Green Man 
for Peter Steele (1962-2010)

You told me you were the green man,
emerald eyes rising out of
the subterranean dark with
its burden of buried whispers
on your lips, but,

how strongly this soil is holding you.
How ironic that the middle
of Spring’s elated romp
saw you, not rise, but descend
into newly verdant ground.

You told me you were the green man,
but did you do so with
your verdigrisy gaze affixed
on the finality of winter,
its chill accenting your baritone?

You greeted the seasons with an irony
like lichen so none could
see you for your masque.
Famous, never wanting to be.
April 14th, exeunt tragically.

You told me you were the green man,
and maybe now you are,
because I glimpse you more
and more in these ivy-adorned
forests, their deep, brooding emerald
whispering
I'm the green man.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Ghazal to Inadequate Plums - 13/30

Today I used the prompt posted over at NaPoWriMo.net, challenging me to write a ghazal.
And our prompt today is to write a ghazal. This is an old Persian form of poetry, and rather strange if you’re used to European meter-and-rhyme forms. A ghazal is made of couplets. Traditionally, the the two lines of the first couplet end with the same word or phrase, and then that same word/phrase is used to end the second line of each succeeding couplet. All of the lines are supposed to be of about the same length, although there is no formal meter or syllable count. If you want to get super traditional/technical, the last couplet is supposed to refer to the poet, either by name, or through some kind of allusion.

One of the strangest things about a ghazal is there’s no obligation for the various couplets to have much of anything to do with one another. You can almost think of each couplet as its own, self-contained poem. The unity of the poem as a whole doesn’t derive from narrative logic, so much as from the repeated refrain that ends each couplet.

For examples, see Agha Shahid Ali’s Even the Rain, Heather McHugh’s rather silly Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun, or Patricia Smith’s Hip-Hop Ghazal.
 I believe I wrote a ghazal last year, the poem entitled "To Know the Fullness of Pain", and that was by prompt as well I'm sure. This one, though, I feel may be somewhat more finely crafted.

A Ghazal to Inadequate Plums

Through years of pine and fresh paint, I still remember the plums.
I remember our adolescence dawning to the scent of fallen plums.

The sun, a ripened orange dripping sticky, saccharine sunlight
on your cheeks and my skinned knees between trees full of plums.

I can remember how pungently each summer day embraced us,
sending us back home in the gnat-enamouring eau de plums.

Your cheeks, were they freckled? Did your smile glint in the sun?
Did our games exude a beauty from you, rich like unplucked plums?

I search through memory, past rods in my knee, spring, winter and fall.
Why can't I recall your face like I can remember those fallen plums?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Indestructible Beard - 12/30

Today I used the amazing Nicole Homer's prompt from her blog Asterisk and Sidebar* (where she's hosting the one and only NiProWriMo (Nicole's Prompt Writing Month)). I've been hooked on her poetry for years, so it came as no surprise to me that she has a knack for inspiring and motivating others to write as well. She's been motivating me since I first heard her, so I'm glad to take up one of her prompts.

Her challenge:
Superheroes are amplifications. They are what we love most about ourselves and/or humanity multiplied by a thousand.

My brother said to me in the month before my kids were born, “Don’t be afraid to be a mom; you’re mostly a good person and being a parent just make you more of who you are.”

Today, choose some attribute of yours (physical, emotional, whatever).

Then, choose a normal scenario (ordering coffee, taking out the trash.)

Add these two elements together and amplify the situation.

You can’t order coffee because your fingernails are 2 feet long and so you can’t reach into your pocket to get the cash. This is clearly a metaphor for something. Your other job is to make sure your choices aren’t random.
With that idea thrown my way, it took me a few minutes of chin-stroking before I settled on an idea. A grand idea, if I don't say so myself.

I love beards. I love my beard, and I have had a beard, in some way, shape or form, since I could grow one. If my life were a TLC special, they'd say I was addicted to my beard (but I'm totally not, because that would be absurd and nine kinds of ridiculous). Not a day goes by that I don't encounter some kind of beard-hate, however. The world, our culture anyway, is terrified of the beard. We teach the boys to keep them shaved off and the girls to keep them at arm's length with a loathing wont of Frankenstein.

So, with that understanding, I see the beard as a metaphor...for other things that society quite possibly relishes looking down upon and would love to snuff out. Nerdy things. Geeky things. Things represented by things referenced in this very poem!

Basically, this is an anti-conformity poem. I don't know if I've ever truly written one, too simple and borderline angsty for my taste, but this is what came out, and hopefully the hyperbolic humor tempers the somewhat amateurish message.

The Indestructible Beard 

I, the indestructible beard!
The whiskers loth to e’er be sheared!
Bring your Norelco if you dare.
I’ll leave it choked on steel wool hair,
strands like Logan’s coated bones
or Shagrath behind microphones.
You cannot tame this metal, black
as Gotham once Bane broke the back
of a bat-winged, mask-clad vigilante.
You’ve got a Braun to up the ante?
Bring it! See how far you get
before motors smoke their groaned regret
and rue the day you purposed to
rough-hew me into another you.
I’ve got 3 meters of this weird,
this pride that you were taught to fear,
these whiskers, loth to e’er be sheared –
I, the indestructible beard!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Armadillidiidae - 11/30

Today, I couldn't really latch on to any prompts offered, so I just delved into a childhood memory instead.

Armadillidiidae

My hands were knuckle-deep in earth
when I learned what I learned
and would never forget. This,
my tenth summer, saw fingernails
adopt muddy crescents in search
of something to collect, something
to displace and place in a preferable space
made of dirt, twig and aquarium.
The air was rich, my nose
plucking lilac, niter, and pine sap
from evening breezes blown in from Paradise,
plucking scents as easily as my
soil-stained fingers found their spherical quarry.
Each time I’d move the right handful
they’d be waiting there,
like chalk across September slate,
rolled into yogic protection.
With a touch inexplicably delicate
I would airlift each between my fingers,
from soil to jar, from jar to tank,
their cannonballs landing gently
in my Neighborhood Pill Bug Refuge.

I would watch them with an entomologist’s eyes,
intrigued by how leaves and pebbles
participated in a pill bug’s ecosystem,
their gridelin-hued populace
putting that of the Ant Farm to shame.
All summer I observed, and unknowingly
learned, their introspective reflex,
the roll-when-threatened instinct
that would guide my eyes inward
when childhood would shatter
like plates against walls
one lengthy hallway down.

I couldn’t smell the rain coming.
It billowed on the horizon,
conquistadors on horseback,
but my ten years weren’t enough
to pinpoint its significance.
It was only later,
maybe even days later,
that I realized what forgetting costs,
my hands, like God’s, knuckle-deep
in mud and devastation,
a hundred tiny forms
floating like lost beachballs,
their eyes turned desperately inward
to find a means of survival.