Monthly Archives: February 2019

Art Pop

An art pop singer plays on the radio as I drive in the early morning to work.

A soft drizzle falls down, making the world even darker and more obscure.

The art pop singer has wild bottle fed blonde hair, and dark made-up eyes.

She reminds me of a wild and brave girl I loved back in high school, lost now.


One of her softer songs, filled with romantic regret and loss, of being alone again.

I try not to think of regret or loss now, to worry the worn white bone of my mistakes.

Still, I remember that wild and brave girl, and I hope she’s still proud and free now.

John Steinbeck book in my backpack, I found it used, remember she so loved him.


The next song comes on, another young woman, bright and sweet and so aggressive.

Happy songs seem like assaults, exalt or else, don’t acknowledge any of the bad shit.

What did that wild and brave girl listen to back then? Punk? Noise? Sad bastard music?

I only want music that will shed tears with me, say yes, yes, it’s all gone black, bleeding.


A freight trains runs along the road, it’s wailing airhorn scaring away sleeping demons.

I let that happy song play, hope for something better in the next tune, resenting its joy.

I bought that John Steinbeck novel, and I hope all the best for her, after all this lost time.

I hold onto her, and the dreams I make myself miserable with, wishing I was still free.


But I know Sumner never thinks of me at all.

Joan and Rachel

Falling asleep on the couch, the space heater mocked up to look like a fireplace, all wrapped up in my favorite navy blue comforter, melancholy music on my earbuds.

I feel content, I feel warm. Foolishly, I feel safe. My little place to hide in a windowless basement, as if the eyes could not see in here, or find me now if they wanted me dead.

Melancholy music still soothes when I can get my mind quiet, my heart still and sighing. A world of sorrows is better than a world of fears, of waiting for men of God with guns.

Pride of place on the back wall is the portrait of Joan, who along with Rachel, led me to The Lord. I once truly believed in all the promises, that Christians were light and salt.

But on TV and on Social Media, I hear the calls for death and violence, the holy and haughty cries for blood. A fetus is precious, but not a Democrat, or a black, or a gay.

I don’t trust the people I’ve known my whole life. I don’t want to know their lives. I know they’ll turn on me when the call goes out. What is love when you’re their true enemy?

Joan and Rachel, selfless and kind and brave, humble and true, I still want to believe, still want to see you in those bright golden fields one day, but that hope, that belief, slips away.

Warm and hidden, with the softness of my favorite blanket, the sad songs make me feel a softness and a loss, that has nothing to do with the fear of God’s Children and their cruelty.

Warm and hidden, I fall asleep, the songs still playing, still calling me back to younger years of unrequited love and passionate romantic dreams, when sorrow was so sweet.


Give No Gifts

Her red winter jacket, and her red umbrella, stands out from the grey day and the white snow, as her black skirt, tights and boots fade into it all, a shadow.

Volunteer Walk, and the snow falls onto the river, and melts, and disappears, as the ground and the streets become white and still.

February promised nothing, but I follow behind her, the brightness in the grey, knowing to hold my tongue, and love from a distance. Give no poetry. Give no gifts.


She turns back to look for me, her soft and round face blushing and flushed against the snow and cold, her dark hair the night between face and red hood.

She sighs and smiles, her dark eyes amused and weary, and tired. I pick up my pace. She is the red giant the sun will become one day.

She turns back to face the front, as we come to the stairway to the pedestrian bridge, to head downtown for supper.


Red and white and black. The colors that burn and the colors that hide every intention. Over James White Parkway, the traffic slowing, I know I shouldn’t have come.

The sky is as white as the dried bones that were found in South Knoxville, not known their source yet, or if they’re human. White as the clouds of her breath.

The restaurant will be warm, stiflingly warm, and the snow on our coats will melt away. And I’ll make sure not to look her in the eye.



A Blessing

I look to the sky, to the stars fading and rolling back as the sun rises.

The moon going dim and past gray, until their will only be blue there.

The night ending, and for once, it’s a respite, a calmness on me, so still.


I look to the sky, feeling as if their are eyes, so many eyes, looking down.

The satellites and the drones and the aliens and God, if he even cares now.

The eyes that see an enemy or a subject, but not a human or a spirit or child.


I look to the sky, as black becomes red and then will pass right on to blue.

The sky still has a spell, like the tender feelings I have for my love, a blessing.

All those eyes cannot see the light of love, or spoil the special moment we kissed.

Gatlinburg By The Shore

I drive straight through until I get the sea, just stopping for gas and quick snacks.

Gatlinburg on the shore is what this town is, but I can see the endless waters here.

The threat of rain as I sit on the beach, the sky the color of an old, neglected tombstone.

The waters just as dark in color. But oceans separate the worlds, the planes of being.


I walk on the sand, heading away from gaudy, crass city. There are cigarette butts

and beer cans and plastic trash in the sand. Nothing sacred or beloved. No pride at all.

I walk on the sand, and maybe just in my imagination, I see a mermaid out in the water,

and I hear her tempting and mournful song, the only true psalm in praising loss.


I stand there, between kingdoms, wanting to leave this one forever, not knowing how.

I see, however real, a mermaid past the breaking waves, a dream of spirits and angels

that made all this world pure and treasured, before we made all of it all about ourselves.

Her song is mournful, a psalm to loss, and standing there, I wish for the will to go to her.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

The sun is coming up, and those ruined waters are deceptively pure.

On and on over the lake, to the city below the sea, hopeless, so unsure.

The sky is wide open, and the clouds are wine dark, and slouch away.

I listen to the news, another mass casualty shooting, what good to pray?


Emily sleeps beside me, finally quiet, and like all angels she is unquiet,

and fearful, and plagued with nightmares, because love will not deny it

when blood is spilled and innocence taken and it’s all just a fucking mess.

I am her priest, the one to wipe away her tears, to listen to her mourn, confess.


Just the highway raised over water, and that water off into every direction.

Emily insisted we drive all night to see St Joan in the French Quarter, a connection

to why I became a priest, and why she didn’t give up on this misbegotten race.

I dreamed before her, unadorned and broken, and that she tenderly touched my face.


The news is off to another grisly death, to the stock market, to the hottest winter in years

Christians can’t write psalms anymore, pushing down every doubt, choking off all tears.

Emily’s vibrant blue spiral bound notebook is filled with the drawn blood of aching faith.

To follow God is to be beaten down and tired, trying for a fix to get by, oh Holy Wraith.


Emily stirs as we leave the water separating heaven and hell, heaven and earth.

The statue is a totem, made holy in our hope, in the torn heart that awaits rebirth.

I squeeze her leg to reassure her, and I give her a smile, and she smiles back to me.

Priest and angel and all the sum of our weary hearts, bitter hopes, baptized in the sea.



Wearing out my welcome, again.

The night is cold and vast, like the

Sahara or the Antarctica, it is

impossible to fill.


Outside the bar, belly full,

heart empty, I try to think

of a place to run to, any escape,

anyone who would receive me.


I can’t stand the cold, the night,

my apartment, my exhausted heart.

It is February, and it is its own night,

and it is just as endless and unfillable.


Self-medicate with Sad Bastard music

on the way home, or with ghost stories

on an audiobook, marking time until

all is quiet, and I have to live with my ache.

Cinders At The Bright Gates

Chosen, St. Catherine, St. Michael had come to her,

led her to where the sword was behind the altar,

told her to make a banner of Jesus in Heaven,

and she went to war.


She sat on her steed, the tall and dark warhorse,

and looked out at the battle field. She’d carried the day.

She felt the light of the sun warming her skin

beneath her armor.


Frail from the war, the muddy camps, and little food.

Tired, but willing to go on, willing to drink from her bitter cup.

She grieved even for the enemies cut down, for the carrion crows.

For all this wicked world could be.


She turned her head, and looked to the sky.

The sun was bright and untroubled by it’s sight.

Was it not the eye of God, after all?

Did it not see all this blood and death?


A fire in the castle burned, and Joan was transfixed.

St. Catherine and St. Michael had told her what was to be.

She drank from her bitter cup, but the weight was the sky.

Fire would raise her ashes to heaven, cinders at the bright gates.

Teal and White

She wears a black hoodie, hood up, with layers and thermals underneath.

She has a St Joan coin in her pocket she fidgets with, devoid of any belief.

The wind is harsh, and stings her face. Strands of her dark hair dance about.

She is looking on a street of bars and restaurants, nothing to soothe her doubt.


Winter is neither friend or foe, just a fact, like the sun or the rain or coming death.

The hard, striped candy, teal and white in her mouth, puts a hint of mint on her breath.

She could kiss St, Michael, but he can’t keep her safe, or even offer warmth for a night.

He loved the hint of mint on her breath, when she was still worthy in his hallowed sight.


The crowds and the lights and the noise threaten to overwhelm, but she stays so calm.

There is no voice in prayers, only begging. No remorse from forgiveness, just acid balm.

In dreams she still craves cigarettes. Waking she settles for black coffee, unshed tears.

A flyer for college crusades crushed in her pocket, with St. Joan, a sigh no one hears.


She walks to the back of The Strip, up towards Hodges Library, to pass the night there.

Tuesday, open 24 hours. and all the words of the poet she loves are hers, like cold air.

Up the hill, too out of breath, not enough fire the burn the fury that made Hel strong.

That fury could at least make her feel brave, even if we all lose if we sing the die song.

Lines of Poetry


The day is over. She drinks a cold beer. Smokes a cigarette.

An old boyfriend’s dark, flannel shirt, plain jeans and boots.

The road she looks on goes nowhere. It goes to the lake. To home.


The insects give their grating, hissing howl as the sun fades.

Her hair she’s kept long, but it’s always up in a messy ponytail.

Her hair is dark. She sips her cold beer. The cigarette burns perfectly.


This little place is hers. Coyotes have been seen nearby. Motion lights.

There is no god to notice her contentment. Or her fear. Or muttered words.

Coyotes, ever close. And turtle doves nest in her pear tree. The road takes pets.


Last drop of beer. Cigarette burnt out. Time to type out her harsh words.

The lines of poetry, like the lines of barbed wire fences, stop her enemies.

The lines of poetry, the only prayers left, speak to those she does not know.