Those were the lost years
when my days were bathed in
the hazy, soft glow of fentanyl
and tomorrow never came.
Those were the stacked hours
of feeling nothing and floating lazily
down the opium river.
I neither belonged there, or here,
for more than one lucid moment
between applied patches –
on with the new,
(hungrily chewing the old!)
I was then a woken mummy,
wrapped in the tattered and dirty layers
of chemical indifference,
stepping haltingly from light into shadow.
In those years my world spun on a shaky spindle,
my North, my South, my East and West
tossed into a dark, bottomless hole.
Saturdays were spent in sweat stained sheets;
clothed in smoke and asphalt
as the withdrawals descended;
counting the seconds and praying
for Death to gather me into her dark bosom.
Every four weeks, the pharmacist
would call my name
and I would lather, rinse, and repeat
He writes for a fallen angel
but the rhymes don’t appear,
not in words, but in stilted
verse, in outpourings of
watered down love. She spreads
her wings and hunts the night.
What the poet will not write is,
You hunger for your father’s love;
It never was, but may you find
through the spilling of my ink
Some noble affection upon
which to rest. But I cannot touch
your pain. He drinks a toast
to the memory of her beauty.
No one wants her faded
charms this night. She stands
beneath a waning moon
with a single tear, a cigarette
from her too red un-kissed lips.
The cars no longer slow
down to guess her meaning.
She traces a vein
to where the needles brought
peace a million times.
I hear your poem, thank you
but I must be home to
where the razor whispers.
I always found the
taste of Heaven stale,
like coffee three days old.
I prefer to spend my nights
in graveyards with ghosts,
in the company of stone angels
and cemetery cats
whispering my secrets to the dead.
The setting sun casts
dying fingers of soft orange light
through rusting iron gates,
lobbing sharp, offensive shadows
across these cold granite faces.
Above, an unkindness of ravens
caw an unspeakable truth.
Of late, I have been known
to sing with them.
My darkness is a sanctuary,
my voice a broken prayer.
My hope deeply planted
in this field of shattered bones
awaiting a resurrection
that shall never come.
Here among the sleeping dead
I have lain down many times,
and in the stillness of the night
have heard my death composed.
It is the Season
"God talks in the trees."
-- Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas
It is the season of sleeping late
while dreaming of red-orange trees
shuddering in the evening breeze.
These are the short days, the breathless days,
when the thirst for warmth suborns desire
and Eros kisses summer love goodnight.
It is the season of crimson sunsets
pouring slowly, like thick molasses
over church steeples and frozen riverbeds.
When snow-pregnant clouds float lazily
across flower-less, frost kissed meadows
as lovers seek shelter beneath heavy quilts.
It is the season of naked trees,
with branches like fingers extending
toward the setting sun, tracing delicate arches
across the rose autumn sky.
Those days when the blackbird flies southward
into the night beneath crystal constellations.
It is the season of surrender -
when burdens, like yellowing leaves,
fall silently to the frozen earth
and tired bones warm themselves before tended fires.
It is the season of dying in the palm of God’s hand,
warned by the certain knowledge of spring’s resurrection.
It always felt familiar and safe;
not like home, but filled with that same tragic scent
of failure, futility, and confusion.
In this darkened chapel, night after night,
we feigned brotherhood, but watched our backs.
We found religion in tall tales
and twisted notes floating softly from the jukebox.
The enormity of the lies exchanged was staggering,
yet not once was truth demanded.
Here, we worshiped and blessed ourselves
at the mahogany and brass altar of amber absolution,
our sins washed in a flood of cheap whiskey and stale ....beer.
Our bottles filled the night with dead words and hungry ....ashtrays
and all these incessant “maybes”
while shameless calls for “another!” filled the tepid air.
We licked the back of our teeth
and bought rounds for the prostitute sitting there all alone,
hunched over to entice our drunken libidos.
We adored her, this faded Madonna,
with her chipped teeth and sagging breasts,
reeking of a stale alcohol and tragic perfume.
Where once there had been beauty and life
some bastard had beaten it out of her;
taking everything that made a woman good and reduced ....her to this.
Our prayers were answered
in the way this whore swallowed you whole
in the back room’s secret confessional
where you keep her words tightly knit
in the dark corners of your heart.
This was the flip-side of our saintly home-lives;
our souls consumed in the repetition of it all.
We whispered our hallelujahs as the clock struck two;
last call and a slow retreat into the shameless shadows
of wretched existence,
as God soundly closed the doors behind us.
The Winter Bites My Bones
The winter bites my bones -
standing all alone amongst the howling winds!
I count my sins and shiver, shiver, shiver …
icy cold reflections freeze me to the spot.
No longer will I find warmth in my denials,
Numb and quaking, I huddle amongst the fallen leaves
and like them, slowly decay and fade away.
The winter bites my bones -
chewing my frozen flesh with teeth of sharp icicles.
Darkness descends and I am numbingly consumed
though the frozen ground will not receive me.
Shallow breathes hang before me, vaporous and still,
muscles aching from too much holding on.
As the winter bites my bones!