Son Of Eve

A wrinkled forehead, my mind’s reward for having fallen captive of Marie,
Who wove her flaxen, twilit hair into twin braids she wore on her back.
A love whose wild-rose heart bloomed before my eyes:
From every man’s woman to one who placed one braid before her, ready to
become a mother.
She swaddled the maternal womb that lived in me,
Slumbering in her until born in the body of my daughter.

She’ll find shelter in my chest as I did in my mother’s braid-covered breasts,
Small to lay my head on when my eyes, plagued with torment,
Found a valley of the light of life, stream of compassion,
Until an ocean of love drained it dry.
Mom harped her mother’s silver-clouded strands to the tune of her humming,
Cutting them because trifling with long, ravened hair was a young woman’s lunacy.

My grandmother— a catholic nun turned baptist prophetess—
Smacked my mother’s left shoulder for clipping my infant toenails, as to not cause me
blindness,
Volunteered me to play baby Jesus in a Nativity scene, appalled that a baby girl
was cast to play Him,
And behind her daughter’s back and against her wishes,
Baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in the
bathroom sink;
Dousing my tender crown with a methodically-knobbed current of hot and cold,
Under a three-fingered wave of St. Andrew’s cross:
“May Christ’s words be on his mind, on his lips, and in his heart.”

A hand vined with veins growing from my right shoulder fed my child a bottle of unperishable, maternal
milk—
Seasoned with rosewater, mint, and honey—
And brushed her baby-hair with a comb whose teeth eroded chewing the sands of time.
The sea of hair parted into three, brunette tresses—
A trinity of love, hope and beauty—
That I braided together as the Euphrates the Pishon, Gihon, and Tigris, from Eve to
me;
A lone rosary— hexed as it was hallowed— that slithered on her back, between
her haloed shoulders.
Divine fruit of my body, earth brimming of green caterpillars transfiguring into
butterflies,
Sprouting seeds seeking the light of sun that, as my kisses, warms as it burns.

My lips at her feet, white clovers that I planted so that she would not strike her
foot against hard stone.
I dread the last breath she’ll breathe into her child-being and exhale into the
breadth of woman;
When she ceases to be mine and becomes her own.
Gone will be the days when I greedily took her kisses
As apples from a tree whose thick roots shattered its nursery pot.
Stowed away she was in the thoughts of my father’s mother and her mother’s father,
And those of my mother’s father and his father’s mother.
Every woman who called her womb a home— bearers of fruit and crosses—
The heavenly lineage that dawned and dusked
To clothe me with the redeeming benefit of their passion
Will live in her blood as she lives in mine.
Their death, a curse that kept them from those they loved,
A cup we both must drink and cannot pass—
Hers to life, mine to rest—
Taught me to have her in this dying heart, for as long as it beats.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Grey Hour

Art is not created by artists
To be stolen, programmed, and constrained
In a museum, categorized, filed away by surname and style.

It is a transient force that cannot be dissected by academics,
Sold in ticket-sized, 8-to-5 windows of freak-show carnival exhibits;
Its power segregated from its intent by lovers of art, haters of people.

It is not a leashed dog that shows well under temperature-controlled,
Hospital-white, mood-lit, cathedral-capped petri dishes of dead cultures—
Beauty according to the de facto victor.

Policed by factotum overdressed in over-sized, tacky business suits,
Shushing me for awing,
Censoring the audience’s captivation—

Cans of paint thinner in their desire to inhabit the work—
Shunned for touching, shown the door for being curious.
Don’t shoo me away for wanting to behold inspiration in its purest form:

Condemned to witness the miracle before my eyes as prayer read off print,
Without emotion or any sense of devotion.
A narrative in which I’m not the protagonist or antagonist, but misread as part of the
conflict;

Unused and unaffected— unnamed third-person, second-class citizen, Public Enemy
Number 1—
A nobody from whom to protect the virtue I came to see.
Are works not elevated to the status of art by those who ingest, digest, and egest them into
Transforming their unique existence, transcending it into realms

Of sacred, denuding experience, transfigured into a pliable extract of consciousness?
Art is a mirror that reflects the artist in its beholder’s sigh,
Beckoning you to cross the invisible threshold cast by his commended spirit,

A portal into eternity bound to your being.
Art is free, therefore
Free art.

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

The Leaf Blower

Gusts crept from under the peeling, lower edges of Earth’s wallpaper,
Crawling out as potpourri of debris,
Clawing sharp into the breeze clothing my naked, rubbed-open eyes.

The man blowing the leaves off the sidewalks and gutters into the street
Lifted the trunk of his rumbling creature, holding the stern of his hat, a bow of a smile,
Unwilling to contribute to my eye-watering misery.

As soon as I passed the eye of the mess, the beast trumpeted full force,
Louder than the wind, scaring the rats up the trees
Leaping off the roadside canopies into their garbage abode.

I had grown accustomed to the homeless man sleeping-bagged on a bus stop bench.
His cracked soles— yellowed-charcoal flesh, flaking off white, reminiscent of Pollock’s Blue Poles—
Waved at me as they sought the warmth 7:30am had reneged from them.

The arrhythmic, two-legged, equestrian gait of bustling people multiplied,
Murmuring, under winded breath,
“Lazy son of a bitch” at his motionless body:
Cradled by the sun; slumbering not to cosset rest
But escape into a realm of dreams where he was king.

A slow reveal of his face from beneath found objects—
Camouflaged to blend into an urban landscape;
Deliverance from their flagellating stares—
Prompted a stern look that went unseen.

But on that windy morning, the bench on which he lay his body was empty clean,
As if no such person had ever called it a bed, a home.
I interrupted the current, looking at the pristine, thermoplastic mesh as jilted lover his withering bouquet:
A man who had as much in common with me as much as I thought I didn’t with he.

The hands that fanned the leaves,
Rattled the rats still on the wispy branches,
Swaying them with the carelessness of fingers flicking through wheat stems,
Washed themselves of anything humanity discarded.

All that remained of him were the brown-red stains of sweat, grime, shit and blood
On the ragged, grey hooded tracksuit strewn about,
Driven over, dragged and kicked out of the way from streets to sidewalks.

A shimmering substance daggered its jagged edges in my tear duct,
When I closed my eyes to shield them from the maelstrom,
One out of any gardener’s polite restraint,
I saw his eyes.
They were troubled green.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

The Figure That Is None

Words are meaningless
As colors on swatchbooks, dead
On a page, so distant from the world
Of the living, of breathing.

Suffocated taxidermy, a taxonomy of structures
Building infinite thoughts with
A finite palette of colors to portrait the entire universe:
Beautiful to admire, impossible to live in.

12-point font characters, in single-spaced stages, cages for captive
Beasts with no wits— surviving in a world of human
Eyes, who browse, search, and peck through seas of seeds that never fully sprout—
Discarded as soon as they’re rendered, moused over their putrid carcasses.

Never trust human speech when spoken,
Only when written, and its creator has become nothing but
Strings of sigils printed in lifeless-black:
Lines, dots, angles, curves, and crosses.

Learning to read to learn to ignore—
When the author is alive, he is a heretic, a liar,
When he’s dead, a prophet and martyr—
A perfect god making an imperfect world

Inhabited by vulgar people
Speaking bastardized languages
Far from the time when speech was like birdsong, grunts and clicks that said more than any
Unearthing from the bone-white pagination: his miscreations, his aberrations, his abortions.

Drink his tarry nectar with your eyes,
Allow it to cocoon in your mind,
Metamorphose in your mouth
And butterfly in your voice:

To speak as you write
And to write as you think;
To think as you act
And to act as you speak.

Words evolve, ink bleeds,
Hearts change, bones turn to dust.
When you take away the letters,
What is left of the word?

Photo by Brodie Vissers from Burst

Inquietação

Inquietação – The restlessness of young love.

Come to me and find rest;
Delight in a sky eclipsed by my smiling face.

Combing hair behind your ear,
I pluck a white flower and plant it in your hair.

You seek the reddest, most beautiful strawberry— as a hart a pool of water— to clothe its fuzzy
Nakedness with the motherese of your lips on the bed of your tongue.

They live in a secret island near my heart,
In a valley where all emotions gather after sorrow’s rain irrigates my landscapes;

Their delicate, seed-spangled flesh gleams a gloss not yet defiled by human gaze,
Embracing it with a guillotine of teeth.

At first, you nibble only the tip of the berry
Leaving me the round stump to enjoy.

The sweet-savory of your breath
Encrusts in the juices soaking my beard’s coffee coarse strands.

Each bite elicits a sensation hot enough to warm two bodies,
But once you taste the blood of my fruit, you bite hard and deep.

You gorge on the strawberries of my misfortune,
Poisoned not with death, but love.

Their perfume intoxicates the bees singing their buzzed motets to the gods
Those who sprout with the compost of parental neglect,

Their sweetness from the bitter memories of the “what would they say?” and the “what did they say?”
In an adult language that I learned to speak when my child eyes stopped being so,

After seeing God’s absence from my short life.
The fruit from my vines was as big as dreams dead,

Heavier than Persian pomegranates in late September.
The silk of your naughty fingers pull strawberries of all the colors living inside the red.

You pollinate my lips fresh with new wine, not yet fermented in your eyes,
The most delicious song your throat has sung echoes in my mouth.

I take the last strawberry and squeeze its muscled form on your nape,
Trickling thin on the petite of your back,

Down into a feline smile that grins its way into your buttocks;
Its battered body of tiny eyes watch mute as our bodies lay in the waste of its green crowns.

Lay your head on me and rest;
My chest is empty, my throat full of heart;

It weeps with the wind bouncing off the trefoil leaves, concealing our faces from the sun,
Warming our satiated stomachs,

Groped by its jealousy that does not settle for just caressing your white breasts full of maternal milk:
Moaning for the children we will never have.

You want more, but I am barren.
You want other fruits, but I am strawberries.

Photo by Brody Vissers

Innocuous Noctuary

Arise early.
A body architectured for toil, engineered for pain,
Worked to death until it’s delivered back to the dirt
From which God’s breath had its humanity cast—

A rose plucked from soil: petaled with a soul,
Prickled with a mind that defies its Creator and creation;
Created last, but first in His image.

Truss the give of the bedsprings
With those tortured instruments of berth—
Striated, cracked mud— given to build a hearth out of the same
Earth you were made from.

Allow its bounce to buoy the dearth of strength in your empty limbs,
Your secret affair with sleep, unrequited and short-lived, was ended by
The elusive mistress that once gave you a whole night, now only a taste of her
warm embrace.

Eyelids hang over your grey eyes and fat over the vanishing svelte waist,
Coveted in times past by Lucifer— the apple of his eye, puppeting your
undeniable
Desire to spill your essence into a willing vessel; young Krishna seducing the
milkmaids—

Wanes on the spine constructed to walk in grace,
Deconstructed by drudging the weight of years;
The handsome chiseled off your face by the hands of the clock.

Beauty surrounded your Ionic frame, graced your cathedral cheek bones and
buttressed shoulders;
The solidity of your muscles gave the illusion that you were
concealing stones under your skin:

Cascades of cliffs and ridges, bluffs of tightly knit muscle and flesh
woven on ribs,
Cobbledstoning a fairway for wayfaring eyes as fingertips
Stroking the tuneful strings of a harp;

A melody belying the stout of your hips,
Their V-shaped canal sprouting of follicled verdure by the shore of your vigor—
Hackles crowning as laurels the sharp of its protruding beak and coddled wattles.

This morning, they’re sandy debris of dislodged rocks and displaced sediments
Eroding into a body you no longer recognize in the mirror—
A guest in a strange house, missing the thoughtless
Comfort and familiarity of a home gone forever—

Neither the wild carnations of the pillow,
Nor the cool breeze of wavy linen can shed the fatigue that burdens them:
Calcified as pebbles ripping through withering parchment, written off by
your blood-ink.

The river that flooded your body with immortality has dammed,
Damning everything that flows from you— canals of blue mapping out of your
Heart, branching outstretched beneath your caramel-bronzed skin—

Recalling infancy’s simplicity
When you took the Edenic curse as an old doggerel
Told by your mother to rock your restless body to sleep.

Bones that wouldn’t break regardless of endless
Falling, now quiver from the cold,
The fear that the next stumble will be your last.

A reminder that the tale of first man became your own,
That time’s running out, that there was never really enough of it.
The springs of the bed roar antiphonally to the screams of your joints
For a Spring that will only equinox in memory.

Photo by Scott Murdoch from Burst

Animal Mother

You love and give, and want it all,
Expecting nothing in return.
Your kind’s love is full of the angels’

As ours lacks of kindness.
Though you’re flawed in more ways than you’ll ever know, your place is at
The right hand of the Son of Man for suffering at the hands of sons of bitches.

You took on a name that wasn’t yours and made it mine to call you by,
Misunderstanding your nature, we created a language of blasphemy in your name
Treating you as if you too were human, but in every worst way.

Man’s greatest creation, at times, treated the basest beast of all:
Not eaten, but beaten; trifled, not treasured.
If your tail could tell a tale of its own, would our ears be keen to its entailing?

You are there and not there, around when I need you most—
More than you’ve needed me— slumbering sweet on my rug,
Next to my feet, and under my heart.

In the silence of your innocent stare you always know what to say,
Knowing me best by the tip of your fount nose than your densely foliaged irises.
You live your life, basking in its shortness, not caring

About its insignificance, but clinging to its fullness.
The pain you caused the mother who birthed you into this world
Impregnates deep within my heart as you exit its grey-clouded skies.

Your endless affection, learned by wild rote than by noble rite,
Extinguishable flame— one that burned bright during my mind’s
Darkest affliction, whose flecks of fur warmed places spurned by human concern—

The heat that snaps off the fire must, as your life-kindle,
Love its warm heart to ashes.
Embered memories, simmer still in kindred minds meant to hunt

Together, forever our flesh craved the empty heat of the moon
Branding silhouettes on the silent grass blades:
Cutting, unmoved by the breeze of our speed, steeling before their trampling,

Bent, broken, ripped from the root as the heart whose grip
Your weathered paws never trained me how
To release from its leash.

 

Image Credit

Dog Paws [Photograph]. Dan Gold. Accessed on 03/09/2018