Not A Kiss

Emily Jane and me sharing a cigarette.

Not a kiss. Not a kiss. Not a kiss.

Emily Jane says the flaming, circling swords

keep her out of the one place that was warm.

I lay beside her on the bare mattress,

watch her play a fantasy video game.

The boy in the game wins a princess.

In her life she won wisdom, patience, agape.

It’s dark at four in the afternoon, storm outside.

The grey is soothing and comforting; we are safe.

She plays the game, and we share silence, perfection.

Lust and tenderness as I watch the lights on her face.

Afterwards, almost six, I make us cheese sandwiches.

We drink cold glasses of milk, as the sky rumbles in anger.

She’s going to do mission work in Kentucky tomorrow, early.

I’m going too. She’ll never be mine, but I want to be like her.

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Alice

Talking to Alice as she smokes outside the restaurant

where she works as a waitress, in a hokey red and pleated

uniform, some salt-of-the-earth and down home nonsense.

The smoke stinks, and I know it’ll stick to my clothes,

and I’ll smell it on the ride back home afterwards,

but it’s worth it, to be near here, to fell a closeness in winter.

Alice is like me, close to forty, not where we want to be,

so we tell off-color jokes and talk about how the war

ruined it all, and how children are the cruelest mistakes.

Her shift starts in a few minutes, and she’ll go in, and so will I,

and she’ll get to work, and I’ll eat the heavy, greasy food here,

just because I got to steal a few minutes with her.

With someone who knows it’s all going to burn.

Impatient For The Stars

Daisie sits on a swing in a small park

just off the two lane highway,

somewhere in Kansas.

We’re on vacation, finally, heading

to Northern California, to Mt Shasta,

and the ships in the air.

I sit on the swing beside her and we

pass a huge plastic cup of fast food iced tea

back and forth between us.

There’s a splinter in her heart tonight,

and I don’t know how to soothe her.

We’re chasing something beyond this world.

The park is as tired as a resigned sigh,

and the swings and jungle gyms and spring animals

have seen better days. Still children happily play here.

The sky is so huge it could swallow us, like God swallows

the universe in his eye, and we may stay until the stars come,

so we could look out on the night through God’s eye.

A long way to go to get where angels or demons or

otherworldly beings make sense of this restlessness

and unquiet, this desire to escape flesh and gravity.

Out of tea, she places the empty cup by her feet,

and we look up at the sky, impatient for the stars,

for the voice that quiets the terror and dislocation.

Fruit Of The Vine

Omaha may as well be on the dark side of the moon,

the far side of the galaxy.

Birthday outings shared, spring tender and bright,

I could believe I’d grow to touch the sun.

Riding on my beat-up Yamaha, you holding tight,

feeling your heart race against my back.

Up to Cades Cove that one Saturday.

I held your hand as you walked across the stones

of the little creek.

Sharing a little lunch you packed for us

of bologna and American cheese,

juice boxes, like we were kids again.

The fruit of the vine.

6 years. I got to have you in my life. 6 years.

Of excited chats and adventures and feeling

I finally belonged, was whole, and real.

If ever I truly loved a woman, it was you.

Fruit of the vine. Red wine and fancy dinner.

We drink together. You led me to The Lord.

And I’ll not drink this again until we drink it again

in our Father’s Kingdom.

It’s winter, and there’s slushy rain, bitter cold

and you’ll be gone from my life forever.

I drive on my Yamaha, back to Maryville,

feeling the ghost of your heart racing against my back.

Brighter Than The Moon

She is strong, porcelain fine,

holding up the sky above me.

Woman of perfect strength

she carries the primordial sea.,

I follow behind, but don’t take

her hand, to where she would lead.

I follow behind, but don’t hear

the harsh words of her disciplined creed.

She drove into the night, came back

as the star that is brighter than the moon.

I will lose her and myself forever,

if I don’t take her hand very soon.

The Thorns They Must Share

Out in the California desert, they hid.

The man. The woman. The lonely kid.

An old abandoned mansion. Old grace.

Came to rest, to escape, in this old place.

A nymph living in the dried up river bed.

In the kid’s ear at night, cold, sweet said

“The end comes a thief, comes unspoken.

The desert is just a sigh in a laugh broken.”

The man, the woman, not Adam, or Eve,

children of men, unquenchable fire believe,

trying to rebuild Eden in hard, cracked soil.

But this world of men, of hope, always spoil.

The owl, predator and abductor, in cold suns

calls down the mice for the devils it never outruns.

“We horde the seed and the blossom, second life.

We take your children and changelings fill your wife.”

The man, the woman, are not free in the dry plains.

There are not coming fires or angry, cleansing rains.

The saucers, the angels, demons and God we’re there.

The poison was in the hope, in the clean, harsh air.

The wolf, the child of Satan, scorns stray dog, bare teeth,

The stray runs into the night, the wolf’s domain, to grief.

“Hey young one.” The strays says. “God’s children burn now.

But there’s a pinprick of sweetness when you make the vow.”

The lonely kid looks to the city. Hides a magazine with a girl so pretty.

The wolf chases the stray around the sky, and us, whom angels pity.

The girl has long dark locks, soft eyes, and her body is pale and bare.

The angel sees the rocks soil where love blooms, what thorns it must share.

Once More See Mermaids

It’s the end of autumn, no more lurid colors
or golden sunlight, or mild afternoons.
Now it’s only the colorless and drab
wet days of an East Tennessee winter.
Her long, dark hair is tucked under the
hood of her navy blue sweatshirt.
Her head is nodding, like she’s listening
to music, maybe lost in a more tender world.
She’s wearing tight leggings, as grey as
this late afternoon, and I’m ashamed of
the thoughts I have looking at her, more
ashamed that I even feel love for her at all.
Lost in the rhythm, she looks out on the river,
that is fat and wide and slow with damnation,
but still beautiful, despite this ugly city
and these industrial remnants on the shore.
I love her, and I wish I could send it all away.
She never liked me, only polite because we were
co-workers, and because it would damage her
“Christian” image to be rude to someone.
I want to say goodbye before she leaves
for a post doc in Ontario, and she is gone
forever. I want to hear her voice, see her face,
let my heart choke it’s self in longing, one more time.
But I leave her to her reveries, to her music,
to her more tender world. 4 decades and I’m
finally learning to take a fucking hint and stay away
from people who really don’t like me.
It’s winter. It would be a fine time to walk
in the riverside park, and dream of whatever
worlds are childlike and mad, and have no truck
with sex or romance and it’s bastard desires.
To once more see the mermaids that were hunted to extinction.

Artifice Joy

This set, where the young lover lived,

a cozy apartment above Chinese take-out

and boutiques and a distant, false,

Greenwich Village street.

I sit here, on the bed, the set dresser’s

idea of what a young woman’s bric-a-brac

would be, as the century burns out, exhausted.

I smoke French cigarettes. I dream of her.

The young lover, the actress refined, sharp,

in fine clothes and soft, consuming white furs,

the warmth swallows you into sleep, dreams

of what you hide behind your bed.

The fur hat, Russian Grand Duchess of a

strongman’s age, 22 is made for serpent kisses,

and she is soft and timeless as alabaster statue

in ruins on the street in Alexandria.

I am not a Christian; I’d have to be human first,

and I put the sigil under the bed for when the

young lover and the handsome lead have their

love scene, to mainline the glamour, artifice joy.

I dream of her, make her face into an angel’s laughter,

or a distant, beatific restlessness as I sleep in this bed,

home being where The Devil is waiting for me, and I know,

if he offered the chance to be her, I’d take it. I’d take it.

Where does one get French cigarettes at 2 a.m., in London,

when the angel’s are all stuck hustling tricks by Picadilly Circus,

and I have to slice off the instrument of hate, to be whole,

to not spread tears. Her tears would heal me. Fucking shakes!

The Devil is waiting for me, and I know if her offered the

chance to be her, I’d take it. I’d take it.

In The Water of the Styx

Mississippi, dog days of summer,
the dogs of hell ever on our trail,
in a run down rural motel we hole up.
Bathing each other, me and her,
in the shower, in the cold waters of the Styx,
bubbling up in the well of this motel.
Clean, for the ceremony, the only ceremony,
I kiss her head as the waters flow over us.
Sins don’t wash away, but uncleanliness does.
I lay her on the bed, naked and vulnerable,
and I come to her, bashful and shivering,
our lips tremble, and they meet in a kiss.
Dogs of hell come close, all the death trip
of gold and power and sadism that clouds
even the holy men, the men that seek God.
They will take us, me and her, Rebel Angels,
wanting to break the game, end the cycle of death.
Our Savior was crucified for trying the same.
We make love, holding nothing back, nothing in.
Trying to break through corrupted flesh
and black hearts and the endless death dream.
Trying to find the stars, the supernova where
Our Lord forged us in eons past, to the moment
God spoke and all things, Good and Evil, came.
Flesh that forgets that it is real, forgets it’s feel,
only us in red giant forges and in the God whose
breath makes you weightless forever and all time.
Make new life in a bad dream that is meat space,
that is weight and gravity and want and pain.
That is all things that fall, fail and pass away.
Still shivering, even after heat of passion
and the forges and the swelter that choke us like tears
and make us unclean again in grit and dirt.
Maybe a child will come, another toss of the dice,
in the crapshoot that is existence and loss.
We kiss soft, and innocent. The Ceremony is done.
The dogs of hell are here.

Diane

French accent as thick and sweet as an eclaire.

Rag tag and bright are warm clothes you wear.

I see oceans and Rivera skies in your blue hair.

High fashion, cool, something French New Wave.

You and me, dining and dancing, no world to save.

I would be your man, and I would always be brave.

Sharing a cigarette under a black umbrella, content.

Walking hand in hand, not caring were the night went.

I dream these things, of love of you; Dreams don’t repent.

France Gall, chirpy and naïve, plays on my headphones.

In passing we are friends, and I put that flesh on bones.

Dreams are the river washing smooth discontented stones.