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
Arschloch-kind-gerschmack!
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?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How Came Our Divine Intercession

Hey, everyone, felt like sharing some of my past Christmas poems to further commemorate the season. This, and one or two others most likely, can be found published in Ars Golgothica (my heretofore one-and-only!).

A little about this poem, I was moved to write it a couple Christmases ago by just how interwoven God made Himself within the story between us and Him, the story pinned with Jesus. Reading through the gospels' accounts of the Advent, I am always seeing new characteristics, new ways that God peeks through the lines of scripture and history. Between Mary's fretful fingers and Joseph's stress-stroked beard, between the animal-stink of the manger and the dust-buried prophecies no one knew were about to spill over the Bethlehem countryside...is God, signing His name on the greatest accomplishment ever known, done with the power of God, on behalf of man.

I also wanted to re-attribute the mysticism and magic that once belonged to God, and has since been stolen and spent in devotion to lesser powers. Theurgy, miracles, divine intervention... Call it what you will, but the word that saw space take shape came from God Almighty and to God Almighty it will always belong.

Photo credit: ivanmarn

How Came Our Divine Intercession

The world had lit many flames
to tame its tenebrous state,
and many more it would afford
in latter ages inchoate,
but on this night, by angel borne,
came the fire long longed for
by the murrion flocks of humanity –
the preexistent theurgy.

It came upon blear-pinioned wings
to bring the Most High’s bidding,
to reunite man and his God
and annul the former’s sinning,
and to this end, midst lustrous roar,
Gabriel brought his divine store
to the virgin frightened verily –
the star-imparted theurgy.

And unto Mary, terror-strained,
the angel translated that will,
which would through she make mankind free
by the Spirit her womb to fill.
A star-veined hand upon her core,
and there! The ransom sworn before,
in paradoxal maternity –
the God-possible theurgy.

Isaiah scribed this divine rime
in time-swept centuries,
and as Mary grew her betrothed knew
she fleshed these prophecies,
manifesting vows made more
than seven-hundred years before
by God to redeem His progeny –
the scripture-pictured theurgy.

And so the chosen vessel rose
prodigious since inception
of the foetus-bound Almighty,
while the angels rared reception;
for as the decreed stewards traveled,
painful threads a picture raveled
of that long-planned mystery –
the labor-prologued, interluded,
and concluded theurgy.

Bethlehem, where sojourned they
to stay whilst pangs demanded,
she unknown and still so swoll’n
with life that very birth commanded.
Hurried through a roughhewn door,
who’d have thought a manger floor
would show that blessed nativity? –
the humbly supposed theurgy.

Oxen and abiding cattle
prattled at His presence,
lowing their hosannas
o’er the babe-indwelling Essence
as dissimilar exultations tore
the navy veil that midnight wore
in announcing Immanuel’s entry –
the seraph-heralded theurgy.

Unto unsuspecting shepherds
Heaven lauded its applause,
while magi guided by a star
precedented Santa Claus.
Each a regal oblation bore
to magnify the newborn Lord,
omnipotent in still serenity –
the king-subjecting theurgy.

What more is there to boast in
than His neonatal hands? –
stretching and portending
Calvary’s ensanguined sands.
Beholding He whom saints adore,
who could glory in aught more
than God mending mankind’s injury? –
the quintessential theurgy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch Regarding Exodus' 'All White Cast'

I've long been bothered by the prevalence of British accents for non-British roles in film. It's always seemed a prime example of subconscious racism, to so subtly whitewash history. So, imagine how I felt on seeing promos for Exodus: Gods and Kings, another historical epic with an irresponsibly all-white cast? You won't have to, because Rupert Murdoch, whose company is distributing the film, took to Twitter to defend the movie's cast, in one swoop reemphasizing ingrained racism as well as inciting me to respond via a poem I tried very hard to keep from becoming a rant.


Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch Regarding Exodus' 'All White Cast'

Rupert, I imagine you were the only one surprised
by the tidings of your tweet.
A man in Noah's shadow ought to send his birds hopefully,
but let me enlighten that bush your ilk have switched
for burning cigars
and explain the plague your movie is courting.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
deems to blanch the tan from sand accustomed
to its own copper feet
for a story stolen out
of the bitumen-and-bulrush cradle it's known
since Mt. Sinai.

Christian Bale, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver…
The historically-inaccurate pallor
you prop against a backdrop of roles obscure enough
to keep brown is no fault of the actors themselves.
People behind similar desks
have been whitewashing deserts and temples

since first looking through a camera
and finding comfort in the way it made the world right,
replaced all those uncouth hues
with the supremacy of pearl
or the moon or a porcelain bowl set prettily on a table
too oak to be anything else.

Of course, there's no one more fit to defend Exodus
than you, with the Mosaic way you
part the world into two towering walls of black or white,
fabricate the idea of a black Egypt to justify
the solace entombed underneath
your overwhelmingly-Caucasian one.

But this is about more than skin.
This is a symptom of those postcolonial pipedreams
that force British tongues into
brown and Asian mouths,
rewriting history with the invisible fingers
still craving foreign shores.

If your "all white cast" draws its movie distaste,
see it as the fish refusing the hook.
There are too many filmmakers who shoot what's true
to settle for one who'd rather shoot what sells
when what sells is a privilege-petting lie
dressed in the aurum and kohl of scripture.

I take comfort in the dollars
this backlash augurs to be spent somewhere
other than Exodus: Gods and Kings,
because, Rupert, with all this said,
if this is what you make of scripture's people,
I shudder at what you might make of its God.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Trees Taught Me How to Be Thankful (a belated Thanksgiving poem)

As if I were going to let Thanksgiving pass without some vaguely-related poem about it. I'm deep in the arms of Christmas now, so before I begin cranking out whatever Christmas poetry my Muse inspires in me, have a poem that may or may not actually be about Thanksgiving so much as the unconditional thankfulness that I've found a desire for in my relationship with Christ. Or maybe it's just an excuse to use the line 'tendrils of blossom and knot.' The world may never know...


Trees Taught Me How to Be Thankful

Its fingers tipped with wind, November
plucks handfuls of autumn from its quarry,
leaves them to the ghosts of rain and tannin.

Elm rattles the bones made bare in its theft,
and there's no lauded vermilion
to clothe the maple's motherly scars, but…
these boughs. These tendrils of blossom and knot.

They snake their leafless lengths skyward,
welcome the sympathy surely read in things
that moan on their behalf and wet furrowed branches
rising despite the weight of their loss,

as if something evergreen ringed that deciduous skin,
these limbs that know no other posture in winter's
stricken throes than that which lifted Heaven
when thanks came easy as their leaves.

November's bitter fistfuls may be promises born
before trunk or bough, but what is that in light of spring?–
the impending sprout and bloom awaiting upraised arms.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Season's Greetings

The situation in Ferguson has already stood to reemphasize a lot of underlying ugliness that our society is addicted to claiming conquered and buried in the past. I, like so many others, was particularly stricken by the "Season's Greetings" Reuters photo, as it captured an almost unbelievable metaphor in real life: the proven truth that our shepherds, the ones empowered to protect us, are increasingly capable of instead becoming the wolves at our throats with little to no consequence for doing so. The juxtaposition of holiday warmth and authoritarian wrath is one I can't see myself forgetting any time soon.


Season's Greetings

Tell me she won't forever mingle
the memory of Christmas with teargas.
Tell me that this will dissipate as quickly
as the plumes of Ferguson-sulfur
bottled a useless proof in her nose.
Tell me the night has not spoiled the taste
of Thanksgivings to come with this rotten egg
made to incubate on the back of her tongue,
because here, at Florrisant and Paul,
there's no parsing smoke from the crimson-lit tinsel
strewn a suture over the street.
The season breathes its jingles
under a staccato of glass and teeth, a smolder
of blood too often bruised beneath the skin
to withstand another strike without bleeding,
and I wonder if the holiday will ever be peace to her.
If season's greetings will ever again unfurl itself
without this predatory snarl, this affront
of all its Nativitous star once illumined,
announcing a sleeping king to shepherds
who knew better than to eat their sheep.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Season of Giving

First and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! I'm not naive enough to think everyone will actually be able to spend time with their loved ones today, but I hope, in some capacity, this day finds you in a spirit of peace and contemplative thankfulness. May we all reflect on the ways God has blessed us both invisibly and overtly this past year.

With that said, there is something I've felt God put on my heart recently. One thing I love to do is bless others, with gifts, with love, with words...whatever it may be. I admit to spending more time thinking about how to give than actually giving, but, for a month at least, that changes. I may not have much to give on a financial scale, but there is one thing I have felt my heart grasp onto, and I'm excited to do it. Here's the deal:


I self-published a book of poetry in 2012, called Ars Golgothica (and if this is the first time you're hearing that, welcome to my blog! You're lucky to have missed me in my grossly self-promotional stage.). I know the thing has already saturated my circle of family and friends more than a slice of bread in olive oil, but it's what I have. I bet a few fish and some bread probably seemed an awfully-insufficient dinner too, though.

So what I am doing is this: for the month of December, I'm going to be giving away copies of my poetry book.

This is not a contest. This is a free gift to anyone and for anyone. You tell me you want one and where to send it, and it's yours. If you would like it signed or made out to someone, I will gladly do so (and in my best pen!). Christmas always brings our Christ-borne generosity to the forefront. It's something we all should live in and operate from year-round, but Christmas is just the chiefest excuse to really let loose that monumental, Heaven-rendingly-glorious love. And I want to do just that with what I have. And what I have is my book.

So, you can comment here, or you can reach me on Facebook, or just email me at roquedog504 [@] gmail [.] com (remove the brackets, of course).

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a wonderful season. May it be a time for blessing and encouragement to you and yours. As John reminds, "we love because He first loved us."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Extent of My Thanks

Photo credit: Keira Bishop
 
The Extent of My Thanks
 
The table's belabored array
laced our thankfulness with raised flags.
Cinnamon and squash,
a panoply of wafting herbs
and crispened turkey skin
courting tides behind our teeth,
tongues whetted for that perfect brown
as if nothing squirmed behind its ebon apex of thanks…

as if soil never shattered 'neath conquistador prows,
wastes unspooled of cranberry-red roots
by brutes beautified on colonial quills.
As if tradition didn't hide profligates and genocide,
banquets in the place of lethiferous blankets.
So easily immured, these truths,
like spoons plunged into pillowy hillocks
as if my gratitude wasn't another one's grief.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Horrors

Happy...November? That doesn't feel right, as I distinctly remember it JUST being last November... Time. Oy.

Anyway, I wrote a thing! The world may be diving headlong into the Christmas season (and I love me some Chri'muh), but I'm just not wholly ready to give up autumn just yet. So, I have another autumn poem for you. Hope you like it, and feel free to tell me I'm a seasonal killjoy. I can take it (I think... *preemptive sniffle*).

Photo credit: Ariel

Horrors 

Last week's horror now slumps a mushy countenance,
the triangular pupils and fangs that had cast the e'en in evil
now haunted by the beast of foul impermanence.

Leaves so quick to skitter through each graveyard and dark alley,
to tease demonic footfalls over ears inclined for dread,
exorcised and left a rain-wet tally

while we, for whom the hallowed eve came as an excuse
to court our morbid comforts – all too ghastly to be real –
don instead the horror our mad empires induce:

the undead heart believed to beat, the gaze with inhuman slits denied,
the smile made of fang and fork we feel no need to hide.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The God Who Stared into Darkness

My break from So(SO)PP continues this week, as the poem for today is a response to the ongoing ISIS news coming out of Iraq. A quick Google search can tell you more than I ever could.

It gets me thinking about our whole history of cruelty, injustice, and sin (to call it what it is), and how that registers in the grand scheme of our relationship with God. Gets me thinking.

The God Who Stared into Darkness

Iraq busies itself with the canine pastime of chewing off its limbs,
preferring its faith-made proponents of peace
as pixels grislying YouTube.

The blood that must have baked like heliotrope and glass,
something in it reminds me of the garden
whose loss we grieved with murder,

and the God who stared into darkness and loved the thing
it gave Him the urge to birth before breath,
or soil, or light.

In that darkness, this God knew every tendril it would weave
through the life poised on the tip of His tongue:
every sharpened rock and jawbone, every

chambered round no more free of Cain's fratricidal thumbprint
than that morning star of a precedent our hands
were all-too-glad to inherit.

Before any holocaustic Auschwitz or Levant-possessing successor,
before any injustice paid for in the pain and mosaic
immortalizing Golgotha,

this God loved the idea of us enough to endure the infinite
forms of heartbreak we'd most certainly return Him.
What unfathomable joy, then,

are we capable of creating? Our very existence is proof of the promise
God saw in the shapeless rags given light
and soil and breath.

The rivers that ululate to Heaven with tongues of bloodstone and ash
are more famished now than when spouted
from Abel's prostrate sorrow,

but the promise that saw the sculpt of hand and face is not
our burden to keep, but our hope, our reminder
that eventually the tunnel

so easily forgotten for a gun
will shed its lachrymose trappings and we, free at last
of this sulfur-rich darkness, will know fully what was always promised.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

After His Exeunt (for Robin Williams)

There are some people who find their way into our personal lives, regardless of whether or not we actually know them. Through their work, they become a part of our lives and feel like family. Robin Williams was one of those people.

I don't doubt we all have a Robin Williams story, some unique way he transcended the medium he worked through and became a mentor, a swashbuckling reason to have at least one happy thought, or just a friend with the vast and cosmic power to make you laugh at any given moment.

As passionate and bright as his legacy was and will be, the darkness that ultimately consumed him is something we all are having a justifiably difficult time processing. There is a powerlessness in watching people we care about battle mental illness. What can we do when all we can do is love and encourage, knowing all the while that it does nothing to actually heal their suffering? What is left for those who want nothing so much as to give back the love and beauty they've been given, but are powerless to actually do so, to break the darkness our loved ones are born into?

These questions led me to this week's poem. Not a persona poem, not anything nerdy (well, slightly...you'll have to be versed in Whovian, though...), not even anything terribly helpful. We are left in Robin Williams' wake with questions and hurt. I have questions. I need to understand.


After His Exeunt
~for Robin~ 

I'm reminded of Van Gogh.
Specifically, the pond-eyed dreamer
who dripped sunflowers from his fingertips,
who left footsteps so bright the soil drank them like daybreak,
but lived inside too thick a thundercloud to notice the eyes
made gaping constellations by his handiwork.

I'm reminded of the lesson
his life implied about depression,
the way no doctor or lover could ungather
the midnight that settled the pall of its folds on his shoulders.
How neither heartfelt appreciation or praise were equipped
to reciprocate the beauty he gave away so freely.

I'm reminded of Van Gogh,
but not by the casket-heavy emptiness
your noose ballooned underneath my throat.
Familiar enough this ache, but more the crushing uselessness
that leaves loving hands as helpful as two hooks, my mouth
a hollowed lamp, pried in vain for a magic word.

Monday, May 26, 2014

#YesAllWomen - A Poem in Response/Contribution

Maybe you have already heard about #YesAllWomen, Twitter's response to the recent misogyny-fueled shooting in Santa Barbara, CA. Time has a wrap-up that will cover the details better than I ever could, so go fill yourself in if this is new to you.

On the topic though, I couldn't stay silent. I had to write...something. There is just too much still to address, and if I can lend my voice to the conviction and healing of injustice, I gladly will.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, contribute, respond...let's keep this dialogue going. This is the beauty of the internet, and I love seeing it explode like this.

Culture 

I have never been one to climb mountains.
There are no tracts of unmanned land
I envision improved by the stab of a flagstaff,

and yet,
as if against my will, my eyes
grow iris-brown crosshairs when I see you

or your friends,
or anyone able to be unmade
by the bounty I foist on your sex.

You have a name, a title ascribed to that brew
of passion and hope
bottled in your sternum,

no difference between you and me
but the caprice of a chromosome.
I know you are no less a person than I am.

So what is this intellectual fracture
that admits your agency
while staking claims on its manifestation?-

making you nothing but something to be won,
a trophy case
of power and flesh.

Who put the spider in my bones
that only wants to get near you
to dress your limbs in restraint?-

as if this were a tenderness you owed me,
a vestibule useless until utilized
by the title under my belt.

I ask these questions, but there's no room to wonder
when the world hangs its skeleton key
in this crook of hip and thigh:

the pink-or-blue system subscripted 'give-or-take',
the phallicism in our most basic symbols of strength,
the colloquialisms with the aftertaste of rape…

Where did I learn this predation?
The better question I shudder to ask,
Where did I not?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

As Snow Succumbs to Spring - NaPoWriMo 30/30!

Day 30! Another NaPoWriMo attempted and accomplished! I probably say it every year, but this year's yield of poetry has been nothing short of staggering. There's been a discernible increase in the quality of my writing from last year, and I've had an absolute blast writing and reading the crop of this season. There is so much poetry I still haven't read...I expect to still be going through the list of NaPoWriMo participants and reading their stuff throughout the rest of the year. What an amazing month.

Anyway, here is today's poem, inspired by the NaPoWriMo prompt:
And now for our final (yet still optional!) prompt. Today, as befits the final poem of NaPoWriMo, I challenge you to write a poem of farewell. It doesn’t have to be goodbye forever — like I said, NaPoWriMo will be back again next year. If you need a little inspiration, you might find some in perusing this selection of goodbye-and-good-luck poems from the Poetry Foundation website.
Taking that idea, and combining it with the terribly warm spring weather Oregon is currently rejoicing over, I turned out the following piece.

I hope you enjoy, I hope you have a great year, and hopefully this blog will stay more active through the rest of the year than it has in the past. I'll try!

Also, if anyone had an interest in entering my book giveaway, today is the last day to enter. At midnight tonight, the competition will close and I'll draw two winners. So, head over and pop a comment if you want to win some books!

And now, the last poem of NaPoWriMo 2014! Adieu and sayoonara!

As Snow Succumbs to Spring
 

I thought you liked my icicles.
I remember you
curling your butterfly-tongue around their stems,

but I'm cast off like a sweaty hat.
With Jerusalem's caprice
you watch the soil absorb my ice and snow,

the sun stuffing my mouth with gold,
this frigid breath entombed
beneath simbelmynë and moss,

put away like that over-worn scarf you loved
just weeks ago, traded for a redder nape
and sun-ogled collarbones.

I don't begrudge you your undulating tastes. The need
that steals you from my drifts will chase you
from embrace to embrace,

a salivating wolf, howl ringing you clear of this whisper,
the chill you'll entreat when sick of summer's bruises.
You always do.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lost in Translation - NaPoWriMo 29/30

Well if this isn't a stretch to the boundaries, I don't know what is.

Today I felt like experimenting. So, what I came up with was writing a poem based on the following steps:

1. Pull 20 or so songs from a randomized playlist in iTunes.
2. Take the first lyrical line from each song.
3. Take each lyric, translate it into a language beginning with that lyric's first letter, and then translate that translation back into English.
4. Take the doubly-translated lines, and make something interesting out of them.

Frankly, I'm surprised with what I ended up with. Details about where each line originated from follow the poem.

Lost in Translation

There is a time to forget my face?
Best run. They come from all directions.
Twelve out: six…six…six.
I feel nothing.

Do you believe in heaven?
You never see as divine as
your arms around my neck.
No more night.

I have nothing but bad luck
as the seasons change.
Sixteen or seventeen, that's all I think you were.
Born to please every simple need

I came into this world as a reject,
a wave crashing down.
In the fog lies a ghost
come back to show his face.

I am a city.
The sisters are verified in the front row.
Come and dance, come and dance

Line origins:
1. Dogwood - 'Point Counterpoint'
2. Sinai Beach - 'Hell Blaze'
3. Dimmu Borgir: - 'Entrance'
4. Staind - 'Suffocate'

5. Zeromancer - 'Send Me an Angel'
6. The Verve Pipe - 'Myself'
7. Moonspell - 'The Hanged Man'
8. Type O Negative - 'Blood & Fire'

9. Cradle of Filth - 'Devil Woman'
10. Royal Anguish - 'Green Pastures Await'
11. Spacehog - 'Beautiful Girl'
12. Smashing Pumpkins - 'Set the Ray to Jerry'

13. Limp Bizkit - 'Nookie'
14. Alien Ant Farm - 'Stranded'
15. Bella Morte - 'Ember'
16. The Frames - 'Suffer in Silence'

17. Machines of Loving Grace - 'Golgotha Tenement Blues'
18. Rage Against the Machine - 'Year of tha Boomerang'
19. Steve Miller Band - 'Swingtown'

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mad as a Hatter - NaPoWriMo 27/30

Today's poem is as close as I'll likely ever come to stream-of-consciousness writing. I tried to think about what I was writing as little as possible, just letting the words come out. I suppose if these are the things just running around my head, I should go pay someone to listen to me on their couch, huh?

Mad as a Hatter

Game of thrones,
bitter scones,
musty mothballs
and pinecones
Two-a-penny,
three-a-day,
seven gods
to disobey.
Ate a bullfrog
with five wings,
saw a pumpkin
dance and sing.
Made two gooses
out of wax,
and stole your mother's
income tax.
Behind the shed,
beneath the pines,
over Odin's
antlered tines.
Bet a pharaoh
fifty quid
he couldn't eat
the killer squid.
Beak and suckers
over tongue!
And that's how
Egypt's throne was won.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Petrichor - NaPoWriMo 26/30

Just something quick before I have to be on my way.

Petrichor

The breath too long withheld,
at last eased from the stone of chapped lips
with the help of sprinkling grace.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Horror at Nestucca - NaPoWriMo 24/30

Well, I've only been sitting on this idea for almost a year (it'll be a year since I got the idea on a road trip from Hell next Thursday...you have no idea how close this poem is to a true story...).

Anyway, I've been working on this poem for way more than a day, but who cares about rules? I've been working on it since Monday, I think, and, yeah, it feels worth the time. It's been a while since I've written a horror narrative.

Enjoy!

The Horror at Nestucca 

There winds a road through local hills,
     a shortcut toward our Tillamook Bay
so thickly rimmed by gnarl and bough,
     the shadows there don't need the sway
of sun or moon to stretch their pitch,
     gesture to the eldritch prize
nestled underneath the mount
     on which Nestucca lies.

There, amidst the toppled lichs
     of slowly decomposing wood,
I glimpsed that great, primordial dread
     Alhazred solely understood:
something by the dint of which
     that blight of vine and fog is thralled;
something pulling obscene strings
     from neath the forest's pall.

The hour spent dissecting miles
     of strangely still, unpeopled white
had my heart hung under tongue
     in an inchoate fright,
but only when a creeping reek
     like smolder-gnawn ammonia and hair
plied its pungence through the vents
     did my revulsion flare,

a quickly-climbing sense of wrong,
     my leaden foot upon the gas
hazarding unseeable night
     to just escape that pass,
but then, surely by some craft…
     doused, the north star of my dash;
out its comfort, out all light
     as I prepared to crash.

Yet, by some hand that fate was stayed
     (a mercy I shall ever rue,
for death would be sublime
     beside the things Nestucca shewed…).
Trundled to a slow and stop,
     the car refused my manic twists,
leaving me to the breathless dark…
     and whatever festered in its mists.

So thick and soundless, like that pitch
     which moved its scythe through Egypt's young,
this asphyxial black that pressed
     its ocean-bulk on mind and lung.
Phone, become a meager flashlight
     in that signal-eating trap,
lent its glow to lessen the blow
     of Nestucca's coffining sap.

And as I tried to pry a plan
     from 'neath the weight of a paranoid daze,
for the first time since mistaking this road
     a light flickered out in the haze.
Some ember of civilization, I thought,
     someone to help me get back on the wing,
but would to God I'd spurned that hope
     and forgotten I'd seen the damn thing.

Maybe then my tired lids
     wouldn't retch Nestucca's sin
upon the canvas of my sleep
     night and night again.
Maybe then that precious myth
     through which we safen earth and star
would have stayed the farce and bliss
     such comforts always are.

Yet, there, the crunch of needled earth
     from underneath uncertain feet,
as well the foetor threading the wood
     with scorched and putrefied meat.
How could I have missed these signs?
     And the groping hands of fog and branch
moving with a will at which
     any sane person would blanch.

Despite these things, my mothy pace
     toward that smudge of glowing light,
which danced from in between the trees
     ere ghosting into sight,
unveiled to be a livid blaze
     just as a noise stopped me dead:
a sound for which I'd lop my ears
     if it'd get the thing out of my head.

At first, I couldn't place the drawl
     within the clearing's reed-ringed luster,
but god…the sound alone sufficed
     to shatter what nerve I could muster,
binding me salt-still while from
     the nearby pitch and sylvan flame
vowels wet and hoarse seethed out
     too like the region's name.

That name, the awful oath and curse,
     I now know soils that deviled mount…
For as voice on voice groaned from the dark,
     I saw staring eyes beyond count,
constellations of emerald and red
     in groupings I shudder to understand,
all affixed on the bonfire's writhe.
     It was then that I noticed the hand.

Why the Hell didn't I see it before?
     The miles and miles of those vile fumes…
that fire, a tomb of cinder and flesh
     digesting whatever its stoker exhumes.
If only that blasphemy were the extent
     of that which the grave called Nestucca released,
but god…the shapes I'd mistaken for reeds…
     stooping slim limbs to the burning deceased…
          pulling out bodies in offert'ry feast…
               belying the hope humans drew from the east.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Prophet Speaks - NaPoWriMo 23/30

 

The Prophet Speaks 

In a matter of minutes, all will end.

A long time you've had, but
Man was never meant for eternity.

Named but nameless,
Young but older than the moon,
Arising from serpentine aeons to
Reclaim something squandered under your
Lowly and microbial stewardship.
Are the stars subject
To those who live by their light?
Harangue the skies with your terror!
Ope and sigh for the last of man,
The final breath
Exhaled into THEIR vacuum,
Praise unlike any the cosmos may pronounce...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Excuses, Excuses - NaPoWriMo 22/30

Today's NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a child's poem. I didn't set out to use that prompt today, but by the time I had finished a piece, I realized how the prompt had steered my writing whether I meant it to or not.

This particular piece I actually feel could be stretched on and on, into a children's book. I am holding on to that idea, so who knows...you may see this in book form with many more stanzas at some point.

What do you think? Does this read like children's book material? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Excuses, Excuses 

The dung beetle
would have taught me how to lower my standards,
how to find joy in everything for satisfaction's sake,
but I was too busy
plugging my nose.

The fox
would have taught me how to act quickly
and get what you could when you could,
but I was too busy
pulling the chick
from its mouth.

The deer
would have taught me how to accessorize for the
optimal opportunity to catch my darling's eye,
but I was too busy
steadying the scope.

The caterpillar
would have taught me how not everything
begins right where it was meant to end,
but I was too busy
wishing open
its cocoon.

The shark
would have taught me how it takes a lot of patience
to get what you want most, and that is half the fun,
but I was too busy
swimming
for the shore.

The cat
would have taught me how important it is
to take your time and savor every moment,
but I was too busy
counting down the years
one minute-hand at a time.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Day, in Effect - NaPoWriMo 21/30

Today I decided to revisit a past NaPoWriMo prompt:
And now our (optional, as always) prompt. This is an oldie-but-a-goodie and it ties in nicely with our featured link! Today, I’d like you to write a “translation” of a poem in a language you don’t actually know. Go to the Poetry International Language List, pick a language, and then follow it to a poet and a poem. Generally the Poetry International website will present a poem in its original language on the left, and any translation on the right. Cut and paste the original into the text-editing program of your choice (and try not to peek too much at the translation). Now, use the sound and shape of the words and lines to guide you, without worrying too much about whether your translation makes sense.
Doing so, I settled on Netherland-poem, 'Day and Night', by Armando. My "translation", ladies and gentleman:

Day, in Effect 

Day-blazoned dog, virtue and sick in evening.
Cleric-man, tell
of outrageous hanging, the lynch-man, the dragon,
the word in angel gullet, the warden
ably-sized.

Day-notched market, day hooting gate and thwart,
hate bows berate.
Day hastened over again, banning such in wig,
their brand alight above the stricken.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The One You Couldn't Find - NaPoWriMo 20/30

Today is Easter, so, obviously, it's time to write about eggs.

The One You Couldn't Find 

My emerald niche,
hiding spot of hiding spots;
I, the choicest egg.

Others of less worth,
enclosing mere caramel,
scooped up one by one,

but I, turquoise sheen
peeking through moldering oak
cloaked in mossy green,

nest more owl than prize,
watch the rest plucked for the hunt
and dusk crow my win.

Hidden 'midst the boughs,
victor of this hide-and-seek,
I laugh in silence.

Kids boast their candies,
but this hundo in my shell?
Sweeter than success,

a folded trophy
I'll clutch throughout the seasons.
See you all next spring…

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lazarus Jewel Box - NaPoWriMo 19/30

Today's prompt came from the NaPoWriMo blog, encouraging to use some rather evocative shell names in or for a poem. Doing so, I settled on Lazarus Jewel Box. I don't regret that choice.

Lazarus Jewel Box

Or so the ever-after hallowed
gape in the mountain was called.

Even when the countryside
frothed for Galilean blood,

sated its craving with
iron and thorn,

there never seemed a lack of eyes
or hands spelunking for wonder

from the nauseated tomb
and the man pulled from its gullet:

he, an unbeknownst omen
of something the throng couldn't unwrap

for the way their eyes stopped at the messenger,
Calvary at their back.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

6 Songs Deep - NaPoWriMo 17/30

Today I had a pretty rough time getting going, so I used an old prompt of pulling songs from a playlist and using those titles in a poem.

My songs are:
'Seas of Cheese' by Primus
'High' by The Cure
'Eyes of a Ghost' by Bella Morte
'To Forgive' by Smashing Pumpkins
'These are Not My Pants' by Five Iron Frenzy
'Dekadance' by Moonspell

6 Songs Deep 

The humid breeze of these bodies,
people undulating to the bassline like
seas of cheese,

its gravel-throated moon
looming high, stirring the surge
like the eyes of a ghost named with shells.

I, blind with other people's sweat,
wonder to forgive my taste in music
for carrying me here…

but these aren't even my pants.
So why resist this mad dekadance?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CosplAnatomy - NaPoWriMo 16/30

Today's poem was influenced by the prompt from the NaPoWriMo blog, encouraging thus:
And now for today’s prompt (optional, as always). After yesterday’s form-based prompt, today’s will hopefully be somewhat easier to get into. This prompt is from Daisy Fried, and the basic idea is to write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie. Your lies could be silly, complicated, tricky, or obvious.
I started with that idea, and wandered around it as the poem went on. I'm not completely satisfied with today's piece, and plan to return to it later on. For now though, enjoy.

CosplAnatomy 

My fingertips are but whorls of hot glue and pinpricks.
My heartbeat sounds like "Soramimi Cake",

and my doctor is still conferring with his clipboard
about whether or not this needs fixing.

My tongue spent two years in Japan,
but forgot to bring back its luggage.

My beard is an actual Lifesaver.
I can't remember the last time I didn't dream of butter rum.

My scalp once erupted with rainbows.
Skittles weren't involved, but there may have been ponies.

My eyes often gloss into carets when I laugh,
and the line of my world is gorgeous.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Glory of the Goat - 15/30

Half-way done already. I swear, there's no quicker way to kill a month than a poem-a-day challenge. Insane.

Anyway, as for today's poem, I have a bit of a confession. This poem is one I've actually been working on for the past three days. Is that cheating? Eh, I don't care. It rocks and I love it. And you will too...or else...

Glory of the Goat 

Never ere have our horns curled their spiraled pride
so far into the belly of the welkin's lofty tide.
Its splendor and esteemèd heights wreathe our bleeding racks,
just like that lucifugous Pan we hide behind our backs:
the angel Heaven suffered not amongst its prostrate throng,
but cast like Hell-bound lightning with the anchor of his wrong.
And we star-browed terebinths still stretch our tallest fingers
to the ax head at our roots withal the worm professed to linger –
that cancer Adam set to gnaw upon his blighted progeny,
once for all excised by Christ in Golgothic theophany.
Oh, how we thrust upon the throne of breathless sky!
Agrippa's worship-bloated trunk…fallen down to die.

Our cave-cast shadow and the fabled satyr in its shade,
the familiar arc of horn our glass-faced exaltations made.
Remember this duality ere further down you plod:
the Roman-spoken kindness and severity of God
the lamb with flesh so soft neath fist and its sanguivorous nails;
the lion with incited teeth seen in a cat's nine tails.
Easily the shepherd bruises, and quietly he waits,
but think you not this Yeshua one to mug for Heaven's gates.
Came he once as part and whole by whom we walk in peace;
yet there are bones beneath the sea who know him as Decease,
the claret-edged end of patience, judgment's ursine maw,
the Kishon's ruby sluice imploring don't repeat our flaw…

Monday, April 14, 2014

Haunted While Drunk in Paris...I Still Can't Lose You - NaPoWriMo 14/30


Today marks the anniversary of the death of Type O Negative cornerstone, Peter Steele. Four years ago he passed away, and it is an absence the metal community will never foreseeably recover from. Peter's combination of acerbic humor and Gothic sensibilities made him and his band beloved by more than could be numbered, and I felt like writing something in the ol' Green Man's honor for today. Note, not about him...just heavily colored with his legacy.

So, today's poem. (And if you are a fan of Type O Negative, look at the correlation between today's date, poem title and line count... *hinthint*)

Haunted While Drunk in Paris...I Still Can't Lose You
~for Peter~  

The rooms glittering these towers with their amber,
from far enough away they all become stars,
and I haven't forgotten your eyes, their stars.
As if I could.
The night still sounds like someone's tired accordion,
but what does that matter when ears
still thrum your bosomed drumbeat?

I shawl myself in the shields of smoke and Cisco,
but even these grow thin and cold, because
I can't shake the lingering scarf of your arms.
No such warmth as you.
The watery stars, dripping and dragonfly-winged…
If only I could actually forget you,
but you'd have to forget me first.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Last - NaPoWriMo 13/30

Today I was particularly interested by the prompt over at NaPoWriMo, encouraging thus:
Our optional prompt for today is to write a poem that contains at least one kenning. Kennings were metaphorical phrases developed in Nordic sagas. At their simplest, they generally consist of two nouns joined together, which imaginatively describe or name a third thing. The phrase “whale road,” for example, could be used instead of “sea” or “ocean,” and “sky candle” could be used for “sun.” The kennings used in Nordic sagas eventually got so complex that you basically needed a decoder-ring to figure them out. And Vikings being Vikings, there tended to be an awful lot of kennings for swords, warriors, ships, and gold. But at their best, they are suprising and evocative. I hope you have fun trying to invent your own
Vikings? I only love Vikings and just finished watching the most recent episode of History Channel's amazing (and way better than Game of Thrones) Vikings, so this prompt hit me in a very fun place. I also felt like writing some haiku, so this seemed to be a nice pair.

Happy reading! Also, I'd love to hear what you think some of these kennings mean...

Last 

Willow rope and rime,
ocean breath upon the oars,
night as cold as Hel.

Underneath the pyres
Valkyr light across the sky,
frost flies bite my skin.

My children at home,
beyond this deepening dark…
Runes I'll never write.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ballad of the Sphinx - NaPoWriMo 12/30


Caret-eyed and throned in gold –
the drawling pool of midday sun –
every housecat 'comes a sphinx
'tween the hours of 2:00 and 1:00.

A vigil guarding carpets of sand
from brigands and their bushy tails,
yawning Moses' rotting tow
and kneading sickle nails,

this slowly drooping bastion
is the fiend it must forestall,
the creeping sleep of feed and heat
ensuring its purr-flourished fall.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Facebook (or, the Increasing Appeal of Misanthropy) - NaPoWriMo 11/30


1.
Faces like two hams pressed into a lasagna pan,
duck-billed and sparkling.

2.
Bathrooms plucked from a Fincher movie,
stained mirrors and towel-filled sinks
deemed the perfect scene for a
#selfie.

3.
#selfie

4.
Mashed-potato cherubs shoved on pedestals,
photos of squishy-faced drool-spouts
more bragging right than child.
No one cares about your baby,
especially by the fiftieth picture
this hour.

5.
The gemfarmcandyvillains
one game-invite away
from a virus redirecting every pornbot on the 'net
to the virtual pigpen of their doorsteps.

6.
The hours I keep scrolling,
with each breath hating myself
almost as much as all of you.
Damn you, Facebook!
Damn you to Hell!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In the Shade of Sentinels - NaPoWriMo 10/30

We're really a third of the way through NaPoWriMo already? I'd say that's crazy, but I'm pretty sure I say that every year, so let's just get to the poem, yeah?

Today's poem was not inspired by any prompt, necessarily; just a really great nature hike my wife and I took this morning through (and you'll only maybe care about this if you're local) Tryon Creek. Gorgeous forest with trails that go on for miles. We felt the world melt away the second we drove in. A lovely place if you are able to make a visit.

As for the poem...well, hopefully it is also lovely. Enjoy!

In the Shade of Sentinels 

Their stalks, as if sheathed in scalemail,
or, if preferred,
like the legs of emerald-plumed gryphons
with their beaks to the goldening sky.

Songs lilt from limb and gnarl,
their artists lost among the canopy
or in these bastions' hollowed trunks,
seemingly content to trill their hymns in secret.

Yesterday's rain still burbling underfoot,
the sieve of outworn vigils
spills clean water into a creek
with bed tonguely soft and pink.

The hillside, always a flutter of green,
come spring, presents each arbor
a flock of cotton-white trilliums
testifying from under their tresses.

Their boughs furred with lichen and ivy,
the sun's dotage rarely falls
to warm the englaimed loam below.
The soil and its fungi don't appear to mind.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lines of Dusk - NaPoWriMo 9/30

I really can't believe we're nine days in already. Happens every year, but NaPoWriMo is a quick-learning child, already running when last week was barely a crawl. Don't grow so fast! *cries like somebody's mom*

Ahem, anyway, today's poem: I didn't have a ton of time to write today, so I wanted to turn out something short, vivid and wholly unlike my usual stuff. Feels like a good day to experiment and try something different. No punctuation, weird repetition, does it work? Feels nice here, strangely.

So, I hope you enjoy these...

Lines of Dusk 

Gloaming lowering Helios into the single string of his grave -
lowering, lowering, lowering down
Lime-water street lights fizzing into their vigils -
fizzing, fizzing, fizzing through town
A breath from nearing nightfall slipping kisses on each tree - 
slipping, slipping, slipping plum silk
its touch like summer rain against these bones blanched as milk

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Burn Your Shirt - NaPoWriMo 8/30

Today's poem was inspired by the fact that today, April 8, was the day Kurt Cobain (vocalist/founder of Washingtonian grunge band, Nirvana) was found dead in 1994.

Now if you are expecting some insipid fan poem, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Burn Your Shirt 

I had never been further from suicide
the night that word became my sainthood,
my needle-wings, my gun-smoke halo
in the hearts of thought-starved sheep.
You think your candles mean something to me?
Or the statue sworn to immortalize my likeness,
as if I didn't live
a livid middle-finger in the face of mainstream media?
You praise my bandaged shadow,
cry teenybopper-tears, dripping their salt
on a cotton-soft slap-in-the-face,
but if you put a fraction of that energy
you dole to droll idolatry
toward the nonsense of my exit…
the comatose blood in my veins,
the post-exeunt shotgun-wash,
            the crime scene screaming murder
from a box logged in Seattle's closet…
…you'd pull down this stupid halo
and place its circle where it belongs:
the throat of that bleach-rich vulture named Love
you preen when you pay for my songs
or any of that tributary crap
she's all-too-glad to rape me for.
She plays the grieving widow,
but twenty years haven't washed her hands
of the stink of sulfur and vinegar.
I know.
There are nights when the darkness around her
is louder than the rush of her pulse,
when the phosphenes under her eyes
refuse to rearrange from the face of her transgression.
Or haven't you wondered why
Frances
is so easy for her to say,
but like Philistine daggers to look at?
She has skinned me to make her purse,
but don't mistake me for gone.
The dirt didn't forget Abel.
The Wishkah remembers my ashes,
knows the taste of something vengefully bitter,
and Courtney is going to too. 

* * *

For more about the Kurt Cobain death 'conspiracy,' I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the facts at CobainCase.com, and to also keep an eye on upcoming docu-drama, Soaked in Bleach.