The New New Colossus

Much like the thankless giant of Manhattan lore,
With lumbering walls from sea to sea;
Here at our cul-de-sac, picket fence shall house
A fear-filled man in lawn chair, whose mouth
Is the pursed anus of the suburbs, and his name
Father of Whites. From beef-fed fingers
He points world-wide, you’re fired; his hateful eyes decry
The dusty river that headless bodies mark.
“Keep your grubby hands off harried stash,” cries he
With urban drawl. “Give me your cash, your praise,
Your huddled millions yearning to stoke my ego,
The interest accrued in teeming accounts off shore.
Send these. The homeless, hungry, hopeful hordes?
I’ll kick them out, bolt closed the door!”

In response to The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

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Love

Love is a gnashing of teeth,
A wreath hanging on an oaken door,
More: fingers’ twitches, impulses
Taut like cello chords.

Love is self-harm,
Cutting open your wrists,
Spilling out, hoping that another
Will stuff you back in.

Love is a sad song sung
From your Adam’s apple,
Pulsing puzzling melodies
‘Til your life is well wrung.

Love is beset with regret,
Dopish hope of futures past,
Belief that relief is forthcoming.
But none is.

Love is mourning in the morning,
Waking with flitting lashes,
Gashes of tears streaking
Streams over gaunt cheekbones.

Love is loss:
A moss carpeting what was lush
Now mildewed and smoldering:
Nature reclaiming its due.

Love is what imbeciles do
When imaginations mask
Their tribulations
With tragically brief elation.

Love is bleeding calluses
Bursting over frayed guitar strings,
Moist foreheads and furrowed brows,
Plucking in the face of pain.

Love is the darkest of night,
It is the real fright you feel
When the rich black masks
You from yourself.

Love is manic, a panic
Known only to fools
Collecting pools of weeping water;
It is a neglectful father.

Love is jealous.
Love is petty.
It is overzealous ownership
Of another.

Love is a word:
You continue gleaning
Its meaning until you perish.
It is just a word.

Love is a cage

Love is a cage

markings

our ancestor, the ancient man
with a deep tan, creeping on fours,
beset with at best a few years
on the Earth’s crust
thought only of what he must,
thrashing against the grip
of beasts and other men –
it made sense, then.

the markings on his arms,
maps of the harms
that had come to him
inflicted in the dim
light of dusk:
the scratching fingers of branches,
sharp teeth in foaming mouths
pierced his calloused skin.

he was at times felled,
yelled and writhed as his bones
crunched with a sickening sound
against rocky unforgiving ground,
his body turning violent autumn hues
of violets, reds, and blues,
a moazaic of prozaic bruises:
unspoken lifelines.

but he took them in stride,
and wore them with pride,
others dared not deride
him for his life’s pictogram;
the gashes across his sternum
a stern warning that he would
not be felled by the mere scrapes
with which he was draped.

this man echoes in us all:
his falls, his foes, the throes
of his pains lain somehow
end to end in amino acids
and evinced in our desire
to adorn our own skin in hued
tribute to his rudely
shortened life.

numb

The air is too dense.
I’m not tense, per se,
But let’s say that my limbs
Are sticking to this too-dense air;
Where I was once lithe and spry,
Now my eyelids droop
And my arms hang
In hunger’s perpetual pangs.

No – it’s not my appetite.
I eat. I walk. I sing sometimes.
It’s not the outside that binds
My insides.
It’s me: I just don’t care;
I don’t care at all.
The underwhelming weight
Of the gray sky does grate.

I wish I believed in God;
I wish I made a habit
Of being a rabid dogmastist.
I wish my fears were made clear:
My idle thoughts supplanted
With idols.
I wish I had a Christ to distract
From this abstract malaise.

Instead my jittery eyes
Flitter and flutter
And I mutter hollow
Borrowed words into
Reverberating tunnels.
Fissure’s appear in my skull,
Dull from the negative pressure
Settling on the nape of my neck.

Pain would be better.
Unfettered, pure, searing pain.
A letter opener, red with rust,
Thrust deep into a throbbing vein.
Would be better.
I could lie slain, robbed of breath,
Gasping, gagging, dying, but at least
Flagging a feast of feeling.

I’m cowering from the flowering
Crimson inside this overpowering
Need to feed on my own mortality.
I don’t want to die:
To be a statistical fatality
Sadisitically printed
In a nameless, fameless,
Obituary.

Maybe a hobby is what I need:
To feed and possess myself
With an obsession.
To lobby my brain,
To compel it to care
About obscure vinyl LP’s,
To be a collector, lest Death
Come and collect me.

Yes: that’s the ticket.
I’ll part the thickets,
And bound into the meadow
With the others.
I’ll ignore the dark stranger
In the foyer whose danger
Looms and races through the rooms
Of my house.

His bass booms and shakes me
But I’ll plug my ears,
Spout dumb, inane words, a white noise —
“Pirates, ninjas, highballs of gin”
— To drown the bass in its din.
I’ll call this poise.
I’ll straighten my back
And take up my life’s slack.

I wonder when I’ll crack.

beast

I am a beast with a million faces,
No race, laced with vicious temperament,
Tempered with iron and bone
Honed over millenia
To slash gashes in your thin skin
For your myriad of sins.

Chin up: I come for those who believe;
I’ll leave the unbelievers be.
But: once my feared fanged countenance,
Mangled fur and crimson gaze and all,
Becomes seared in your brain,
I will persist no matter how you resist.

My paws pad softly over you
Until it’s far too late:
Claws dug in, snug in that flap
Of skin on your elbow
You wish weren’t there.
But it is. And I am.

I am the ringing in your ears
While your tears stream,
Streak, seek salty cheeks,
Over your chin and into
Your gaping mouth,
Into your throat.

I am timeless; I have marred,
Left scarred, for centuries,
Neanderthal men, Roman centurions,
Dead-eyed poets, artists, scientists.
Even the Renaissance could not repress me,
My duress presses on all their chests.

I will take hold of the back of your eyeballs,
Tug at nerves and tendons and arteries,
Suck what luck you thought you had,
Take what bad you had,
Place it in your face
In my outstretched and callused palm.

You might think: this is imaginary.
Images of gore, the lore of scores
Of ancestors passing down their dear
Fears to a wide-eyed child.
You might puff out your chest
In pride, hide yourself from me.

No such luck: fuck your pride.
I ride in on a din of your sins
And pin on you your every transgression.
The progression: sandpaper stripping,
Ripping your raw skin, then flesh, then bone,
Revealing even minute indiscretions.

Go on: try to exorcise me.
Exercise: trot to stave your rot.
Shuffle in teams, to muffle my screams.
Lift tons of weight late into the night,
Push your fright down, down, deep down.
In the end I’ll rise to watch you drown.

break your back

Break your back.
Continue breaking it until
Your spine is a collection
Of shards of bones, tendons,
Tender discs flattened into coins.
Coins you’ll use one day
As legal tender
To get to Heaven.

Wage scores of wars on yourself,
Drown your thoughts in plots
Of doubt of worth.
Kneel and pray at the hearth
Of your own ashes.
Gather those ashes in a box,
Tie it with a satin sash,
Lash yourself with it.

Fall in love with your fallen life.
Let trains of veins carry
Your wary corpse
Over stumps of outstretched hands,
Vacant glands
Secrete no secrets,
Singing refrains of pain,
Sane though you are.

Carry the self-gift of your self-guilt,
Evidence the tribulation
Of your self-immolation,
On your broken back.
Let it weigh you down,
Watch yourself sag
Like an overfull sack
Of tarnished doorknobs.

So break your back.
Stack racks of oval stones
Until it buckles.
Chuckle a whole bunch
At the crunch you hear
As it bends and rends
You further lame,
Tame and inane.

You are worth exactly
As much as any soul: not much.
A troll rolling swiftly
Over a tiny patch of land.
Fact: you are less
Than one trillionth
Of one single
Collective human.

You are going to die

You are going to die.
This much not even the Pope can deny.
So why do we try to deny this truth,
Tree’s  fickle roots clinging to eroded soil
Though Death comes and lops you off at the trunk.
Leaves and beetles and birds and all
Come crashing down.

Do the others even care?
Do they witness your downfall
And congregate in hushed meadows?
Whisper “the grizzled logger won’t come
For us, solid and well-rooted, right fellows?”
Observation: he comes for us all.
We are going to die.

But you are going to die.
That’s the point. You are going to die.
So why scramble and struggle and horde
Plastic trinkets and metal widgets,
And fidget and grab at gold nothings,
And wear them on your exoskeleton.
To the grim reaper: it’s flimsy armor.

Does St. Peter at heaven’s gate
Exclaim: “oh my, how your 401k swells with riches!”
Explain: “how deep and wide the ditch in which you rest!”
Insane.
St. Peter, if he exists, insists the toys you’ve left
Your bereft children don’t. Fucking. Matter.
So dim your insufferable chatter. Just live. For now.

Because you’re going to die.
Try as you may, one day your neurons will stop
Firing along highways of memories of houses,
Byways of fear of mice infesting walls,
Toddlers dashing through halls,
Of waking up to a rooster’s calls.
You won’t be waking at all.

You’re going to die, so why fly
Along your brief existence with closed eyes,
Head down, powering through lunch meetings,
Parental beatings, assigned seating,
Cheating on SAT’s just to get by?
Speeding on a train, going slowly insane?
Got off that track.

You are going to die.
So smoke up, stroke up, and eat too many burritos.
Let your impulses crowd surf you
Over grubby grease-stained fingers,
Don’t linger, take nothing with you,
Lose your shoes on beer-washed floors,
Chat up mokawk’ed freaks. Be one yourself.

You already know it – don’t lie.
You’re going to fucking die.

get lost

You find life so dull, perplexing, unjust,
Tapping at keys for someone told you, “you must!”
Lift up your arms, observe streaks of rust,
You mustn’t stay still, this much you can trust.

So cast off your chains, and go for a stroll,
Forget your life’s station, discard your dull role,
Scour the earth’s soil, dig through like a mole,
Just take it right in, you’ll find there your soul.

If your feet carry you to a balmy dark wood,
Sit down on a stump, and ponder, and brood,
For there’s no one to tell you to do as you should,
The squirrel and its nuts know not greater good.

Go live on a street, and forswear your home,
Curl up in an alley and read a great tome,
For Leo Tolstoy cares not where you roam,
In cobble-stoned roads or some sacred dome.

You’ll surely go on, in dull heat or frost,
Whether bullied, insulted, directed, or bossed,
Forsake creature comforts, whatever the cost.
You don’t need that shit, for God’s sake, get lost!

the man

It’s not exactly that he had no face
But he lacked any hue or insistence of race,
With any distinction of God’s fickle grace,
Like a bland empty jar, a flowerless vase.

He had no tattoos, fancy clothing, or scars,
He drove a Ford Escort, or one of such cars,
He’d rarely be seen galavanting in bars,
But instead might be found gazing up at the stars.

He had smallish lips, his ears were just right,
His expression was one of mild shock, or fright,
He lacked any aura, and was rarely in sight,
But if asked, would respond “Oh, I’m alright.”

It was an ordeal to pick him from a crowd,
For he’d never be there, it was far too loud,
He dwelled by himself, ensconced in a shroud,
He was a gray man and of this he was proud.

He was neither a follower nor a leader,
Nor was he a deplored bottom-feeder,
But his life did not wane, subside or peter,
He found purpose in novels and was a great reader.

As for ladies, well that point is moot.
He had none, didn’t want none to boot.
To him, a girls curls were not all that cute,
They might as well’ve been a fistful of soot.

He lived like all do, slowly ambling along,
But unlike the rest, felt no need to belong,
Would rarely be found in humanity’s throng,
Or chant, fist raised in the air, humanity’s song.

here and meow

I’m hungry and thirsty, in need of a poop.
What’s that on the wall? A hairball? A fly?
My sand smells, it’s dirty, in need of a scoop.
Could I reach that there shelf if I gave it a try?

I’ve seen all these spaces, I’ve been here before.
I’m bored of this house, and its slick hardwood floor.
I yearn to stalk, wander like a gruff outdoor
Cat who hunts his own mice, spews them out by the door.

What’s that in the corner, with a fluttering wing?
It’s a moth! It’s a moth! I’ll pounce on that critter!
I’ll nab it and swat it and chew on that thing!
I got it! I got it! Though it tastes somewhat bitter.

What’s that on the floor? A long piece of floss!
I’ll fling it and chase it and toss it about!
I’ll show that damn string who here is the boss,
And chew it and swallow in case there was doubt.

Aha! A great sound! An intruder’s approaching!
But alas, the sound fades; this won’t be the day.
If ’twas a great feline who attemped encroaching,
I’d hiss and I’d spit, watch him slither away.

But hark! A sunbeam appears over yonder!
I shall lay belly-up, and bathe in its ray.
And later that napkin will I tear asunder,
A fair way as any of passing the day.

Oh where is my human? I need a good chuckle!
I’d walk on his chest and yowl in his ear
And rub my fierce canines against his bear knuckle.
Though I loathe my oaf captor, I wish he were here.