Lineage

Now realizing back in my earliest childhood days and teens

an inexorable coat of arms draped over my extended family

it being a unique container reeking of whiskey but filled by my kin

supplanting a ship in one of those impossible bottles

 

‘Irish milk’ it was jokingly yet ruefully called by the Eire choir

other members of my jumbled heritage not so quip literate

the males never in need of an occasion to disappear another sixer

the female DNA in my lineage being reluctant collaborators

 

This excess liquid cowardice brutally poisoned all in reach

awakening demons requiring just such nutrients for release

the imbibers briefly relieved of their day-to-day burdens

accepting tit-for-tat as a grotesquely even proposition

 

Still, mine was mostly a family of decent beating hearts

yet busted up and dwarfed lives so very raw and real

with dreams drawn but primarily self-quartered

and loves mutilated despite appearances peripherally intact

 

Our poverty of mind and wallet an incognito fait accompli

but it gathers no leavening to spit at oneself

true, nobody ever once asked as to our two cents

likely because we showed no means of affording it

 

Generations later, by tilting at the malignancies

and changes empowered by will and through foresight

we carry a lessened assortment of scarlet letters

with reddened scars now hidden under middle class costumes

The Silent Life

Not too long after squeezing out of the womb

encountering the first of many inferred admonitions

my proferred alms became assurances

“I’m just here to observe”

My blankness thus ingrained, designating me negligible and safe

 

Yes, I indivisible-ized myself

choosing residence in the shadows

abiding in my multiple sanctuaries

facilitating a minimalist social repertoire

in a life of frugal mercies

 

Banking facts, figures and ideas

my stockpile of interactive fuel

aided by ghostly guide dogs for the tentative and unsure

quiet reading, yes. silent viewing, okay. thinking (to myself), affirmative.

expressing feeling? danger !!! danger!!!

 

What about questions?

is the stone to be polished or rolled away?

as if I knew anything about either

fleshing these bones — a step too soon?

for to speak is to create a real me

Blinded By Perpetual Neediness

The genesis: — “Bush On The Couch” by Dr. Justin A. Frank

It’s your station in life commanding fear or respect

a quality forged by bridges built or wrecked

to aid the weak or succor the powerful

it’s a mantle earned by who you call and cull

 

Being so broken, drink or dominion offer no fix

the holes and flaws become your dominatrix

the higher you go harming on a grander scale

the naked light of failure a darker shade of pale

 

Scuttlin’ from reality, gripping your demon shield

blissful sadism and omnipotence to wickedly wield

tethered to a megalomania writ oh so divine

fostering a callousness of the impervious kind

 

Running and hiding when it was your turn

keeping the VC out of downtown Galveston

as commander, you tell who to kick ass

but in your time to serve, you took a pass

 

An entire life riddled and riven by grievous need

drunk or sober bathing in moral bankruptcy

the U.S. presidency so way out of your league

or a brush cowboy Al-Qaeda-failure-to-heed

 

3,000 people perished in infernos today

code red intel spikes spelling a fray

yet tragedy’s lesson ends with this call

you’ll just need to head out to the mall

 

Because it doesn’t matter what or how

winning the moment, your sacred cow

in your empty suit which you so belong

just bang a gong, getting your war on

 

Chaney and the rest spun you like a top

with a wink and a nod to a virtueless sop

them knowing just what to do and say

GeorgieT got asked to come out and play

 

Sending soldiers off to your madeup war

sexing up the terms, stacking the score

bodies come back, maimed or boxed

your crocodile tears smudging the cost

 

Jesus ain’t served by your lies and war

or trying incessantly to top Daddy’s score

never saying sorry ’cause nobody else mattered

the dead decomposing, their being splattered

 

Just go with the gut, light on the fact

to hell with looking forward and back

no need for analysis and surely no debate

that’s work and carries too heavy a freight

 

New Orleans drowns in water and wind

while who’s pickin’ a guitar, flashing a grin

What was predicted sadly came to pass

“Heckuva job Brownie” is what’s heard last

 

Tryin’ now to counterfeit what is history

judgment lapses for all to feel and see

truth as mangled as your brand of compassion

making selfless good something to ration

 

Dylan, yes, he was spot on back in 1965

telling us with a wink and his loquacious jive

it don’t take a weatherman to make the deduction

GWB, yes, he’s a weapon of mass destruction

 

(written in 2011)

A Lullaby For The Dark

Sour neighborhoods cluttered with soft hard kids

the gates of egress adorned with prickly spikes

no directional signage for life’s stations of the cross

very few chutes, mostly mirages of ladders, minus rungs

perchance to dream, sure, more likely just lay low

 

Slickly oiled up and anointed as tabula rasas

ensconced in the insidest of sick jokes

breathing in and out in a sundown world 24/7/365

the keys to any kingdom always beyond grasp

it’s a fabled concept spewed by word torturers

 

In even the most forlorn, yes, resides a dim glimmer of hope

can it ever intermittently eschew dormancy, or even artfully rule?

Try attempting facing the mirror and diving through the distortion

seeking the sprouting, shunning the stunted and gnarled

while praying all searing pain and hurt could be exit wounds

Family, or Not

* Inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman”

We was raised on a family farm way out of town

croppin’ wasn’t easy but the lifeblood we found

two boys, me and Jed, our sister Rose died at eleven

buried past the barn when he was twelve and I ten

one day here, then gone, Mama said it was the fever

told me not to say a word and everyone believed her

 

Jed soon turned dark, just ugly treating others

we was the same but so unlike blood brothers

he earned a reputation, it spread and soiled me

kids would quietly edge away, watching fearfully

but Becky Cook took to likin’ me, be it luck or fate

with her I felt alive,  a liftin’ of the heaviest of weight

 

Chorus

Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between

 

My parents said don’t you dare bring her around

When I’d ask why, they’d say you just calm down

Jed told me to do it, with a look like he knew more

Then he’d smirk and continue on with his chores

one day Becky called wanting to see me by myself

Daddy and Mama in town, Jed to parts unknown

 

She showed up and I told her I liked her smile

I went to find my  favorite book, floatin’ all the while

when I returned, she was gone less a single shoe remaining

I called her name to no answer, silently spittin’ out a prayer

then I heard a scream outside and tore into the yard

Jed was draggin’ Becky away like a corpse to the boneyard

 

Chorus

Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between

 

Jed turned, let her go, then ran into the barn

Becky shaking, her dress dirty and blood adorned

Daddy’s truck appeared, he asked “why’s she here?”

“Jed hurt Becky” and Daddy’s eyes displayed fear

“He’s in with the livestock and I want at him”

Daddy had Mama take us inside, him pale and grim

 

A single shot rang out, Daddy took two hours to return

sayin’ “there’ll be no more problems, nothing of concern”

an hour later, he spoke again with “it’s time for the truth”

he said, “Emory, this is gonna taste like bitterroot

it was evil but family, what Jed did to our sweet Rose

but taking it outside us left me nothing but what I chose”

 

Chorus

Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between

 

 

50/50

Ecstasy is a child’s hunger ceasing

Agony is four more years

Ecstasy is elevating work from toil to joy

Agony is expending hate

Ecstasy is witnessing smiles and absorbing laughter

Agony is bitter silence

Ecstasy is serving delight to others

Agony is separateness

Ecstasy is being ensconced in a coven of angels

Agony is evaporating a thirst for justice

Ecstasy is the side excursions on the curlicue path towards fulfillment

Agony is the malice of mislove

Ecstasy is the messy splatter of creative expression

Agony is the stifling of the vocabulary that describes your world

Ecstasy is…

Agony is…

Compromise

Is compromise a major catastrophe?

a minor loss?

a dreaded draw?

a cloak of shame?

a bruised and tattered valentine?

shattering or soothing?

a clumsy tango?

evidence of better angels?

an orchestra with revolving conductors?

the art of finding ‘less’ attractive?

the launch of something greater than ourselves?

a calorie-less dessert?

a greater vision?

who’s keeping score?

all, some or none?

— inspired by a poetry writing class prompt about compromise

When Evil Happens

Evil is a course served hot, cold, room temperature and often throughout so-called civilization.

how are we to react to these sometimes indivisible, usually worse, wounds even if not necessarily bloodied ourselves?

beyond our memories fading and attempted mindful adjustments

 

Is overt callousness or a disengaged ‘meh’ acceptable, or only as an emotional shield for the tender who feel too much?

does indifference or maybe the kinder narrative, apathy, only induce or reinforce hardening?

Call it a life less felt?

 

Is deepening despair or reactionary fury one of the more amenable roads to be traveled?

these separated-at-birth twins living large in cadence with our lives since the Big Bang

as the collective community of beings fails yet again

with selflessness, caring, righteousness and revenge battling for desirability

Call it a life excessively felt?

 

Should practiced equanimity be our goal?

yet a call to action, not benign acceptance

understanding the static state plateau is unworthy of satisfaction and rest

Call it a life evenly felt?

 

Each path serves immediate primal needs.

Consider that we are all works: some in-progress, some in-regress, some immutable, most a melange of all three.