Monday, April 30, 2012

The Grass in all its Glory


These days are rife with clearing sales; those rows of trash upon the lawn
and signs requesting quarters for a box of mismatched parts
the streets, alive with traffic, toting people to their weekday chores
to masters touting grindstone wheels for every willing nose

These nights are filled with heavy sighs, and memories of youth now gone
of wasted opportunities, and scores of broken hearts
the streets, subdued, bereft of music save the twilight underscores
and asymmetric keyboard clacks that turn the wind to prose

Within the trash of humankind a rummage might find Avalon;
a magic tome or marker that portends an altered start
A book perhaps, a tattered image bearing one to distant shores
a twist upon the life that is, toward that one might suppose

And still each parcel of this ilk demands the price of brain or brawn
a penny for one’s thoughts requires a penny must depart
so oft we labor, tooth and nail, amidst the vapid teeming bores
who dream of pretty pennies ‘till their beings decompose

Yet here while sorting silver clouds from sad conclusions long foregone
I fear atop my pennies wise lay horses, ‘fore their carts
my joy is not commodity, no cash commands where spirit soars
my eyes once opened will absorb the depth of one red rose

If I can but remember this, and hex commercial carrion
my smile might spread more broadly twixt the goddess and her arts
If then to trash my lock box and step through those facing hundred doors
I might again find rapture in those things a poet knows

So help me now, you wunderkind, to see what’s hidden by the dawn
the world that blazes far beyond these market cheats and charts
take hold my hand and lead us to our soft and vibrant inner cores
that we may know true meaning in the grass, and how it grows

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Slave to the Hours


Let’s call it Shirley, since it really doesn’t have a Christian name that I know of. It’d be called a slave in it’s own time, but most would have been hard pressed to say just why it carried that brand. Not many people have interest in how things work, only in the fact that they do, and even then only if the item affects them directly.

Shirley had purpose originally, she hung in a very special place, well above the drinking fountain between the lavatory doors on the third floor of Bancroft Middle School. Simplistic yet beautiful, her hand carved wooden box, glass door and Roman face mimicked exactly the grand timekeeper which clacked the day away within the school office on the ground floor. Yet unknown to any but the most curious, she had no life of her own; she was completely dependant on another for anything beyond her cosmetic appearance.

There was only one reasonable way to synchronize every clock in a given building to the second, so that it would be 3:04 at the drinking fountain near Mrs. Billerud’s classroom at the exact moment it was 3:04 in the boiler room where the custodian, Mr. Stevens was taking his first nap of the day. There was a single, master clock, just across from the school principle’s door so that each hour crabby old Cromwell S. Graves, Ruler of all he surveyed, could stomp into view and stare at the thin metal hands until they were frightened enough to move into the next hour and ring the infernal bell that signaled one step closer to freedom.

From that one clock came a cable, it’s one end attached to a gear buried within the guts of the great machine, a gear that turned one click with every swing of the Master’s pendulum. The cable snaked it’s way through walls and over trophy cases, behind lockers and under stairways until it came upon the first slave in the chain; a clock with only rudimentary guts, a clock that provided service only by emulating it’s host. And from there, another cable, another snaking, and yet another slave waiting to be led; until every clock in the entire school was tied to one umbilical, the momma clock feeding each one with exactly what they needed to seem independent, useful, important unto themselves.

The third floor lavatory clock was the last in the chain. There was only one cable hole drilled into its side and so it took it’s power from the outside, but never gave of itself.

When I found Shirley lying on her side in a neighbor’s basement she seemed ready to be remade into kindling. She looked empty and worn, no longer attractive even on the outside, as age and the indifference of her handlers had stripped her of any glow she might have had as guardian of the western stairwell and third level bodily function center. Her coat was scratched where it wasn’t rubbed off entirely, her glass door was hanging on by one hinge; her face was cracked, it’s paper thin surface curling in the dryness of northern winters until only six of her dozen numbers were visible. Her hands were pocked with rust and both pointed downward, as if drawing one’s attention to the fact that there was nothing in the cubby below, no pendulum, only air, and stale air at that.

It took a while to bring her back to life, I am only a lover of clocks, not a master craftsman. It’s that fact that has served to keep Shirley exactly as she was, her mission dependant on others. See, I tried to put guts into the old girl, to make her a “real” clock.

I cleaned and worked her wood, polished her glass, glued her face back together as best I could. But her hands were a mess and not being a metalworker there was little I could do but replace them. So I bought the works and mounted the mess of brass clock organs and twirlygigs, glued in a little battery pocket and for a few days Shirley was alive as she’d never been before, a “real” clock, in charge of her own destiny.

But she didn’t seem to like being the decision maker, after a couple of days the pendulum mysteriously stopped and Shirley just sat there, content to be pretty and dysfunctional. I couldn’t argue really, I didn’t like the pendulum from the moment I put it in. I had the right idea, my heart was in the right place, but it just wasn’t her and I should have known to leave well enough alone.

She now hangs in my hallway, somewhat opposite my bedroom door where I can each morning stare at her until she bends to my will and tells me whatever time I want it to be. She not only has no clue what time it actually is as there are no other working clocks within her line of sight, but she wouldn’t care if there were. She’s not a timepiece, but only a conduit, she only ‘does her duty’ when forced by others and she’s tired of that game. I know her; she’d rather just “be”, and that’s fine by me.

Like many of the ghosts of my past she serves no real purpose to me. Clocks are for clocking after all, if she can’t clock what kinda clock is she? That’s exactly why she hangs in my hall, why I bothered with her at all, why I took the time to write about her here. She is so much more than her veneer. If all I desired was the time then I’m sure with a little more glue and baling wire expanded, I could make her give it to me. But what she reminds me is just as precious.

Every time I see her I hear voices, footsteps, bells ringing and students scurrying down hallways. My father might be in that crowd, shuffling from one room to the next, glancing at the girls he thought were pretty, or smart, or easy if that was his thing. I hear the crackle of the school announcement system, the words “now children” …some days I hear the announcement of events, Pearl Harbor, VE day, or the Kennedy assassination.

I can see kids squirting water at each other from the drinking fountain well under the watchful eye of Shirley, the last slave clock in the chain. I see what she witnessed, the years of faces and conversations, the storms that rumbled just outside the mammoth ten pane windows that towered over the nearby stairway, and the streams of sunlight that journeyed down the third floor hallway like automated laser beams or the stretching fingers of the North American sun god.

She hasn’t much inside that still works, it’s hardly practical to have her around, she’s not even all that much to look at truth be told. But some connections are simply spiritual, and you either allow them to exist on the wings of your faith, or you don’t. I choose to believe. Shirley will always have a place in my house. Right up there with my practical clocks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Choice of Fate


Why is it to the best of us one’s happiness is just a choice
while we, the rest, anoint its residence within the lost and found
Where lies that beast inside us who robs sheer simplicity of voice
and fosters our malformed avowal that mortal coil means tightly bound
If I were of the former would my days be rife with make believe? 
Or could I learn to leap that rift between the can and never shall;
to see all suff’ring fine and fair, to freely laugh, to lightly grieve,
to find the silver in each cloud and turn each harm to high morale?
I postulate genetics are the root of my specific ills;
the many loins before me passed a sadness in each birth.
And were it not for conscious thought, sustained by vessels stuffed with pills
the choice of happiness would die, replaced by crude debates on worth.

Yet were I wrong, might I rejoice in choosing without deep regret?
Am I not more a man, in pain? or simply living in its debt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Princess and the Parker Brothers


I hated to lose her for a number of reasons. She'd been my best friend for six years, my single confidante', my eternal soul mate. She'd shared my tragedies, reveled in my successes and fed me chicken soup when I'd been sick. And while she'd not had a monopoly on sex, she did own Boardwalk and Park Place, in addition to all the good utilities. That was part of the problem I guess, she had all the high priced properties and I eventually ran out of cash while paying the fee at her hotels; so in despair, or boredom perhaps, she'd auctioned off a few of her Avenues to the highest bidder. Luckily, on my next turn I grabbed a get out of jail free card so I collected the tennis shoe, iron and Scotty dog and took off in my roadster, leaving her in charge of her community chest.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Wonder Full Day


I wonder if I'm anywhere near who I say I am. If you take that saying "people sometimes lie to themselves so often they start believing it's the truth", I wonder if I lied my whole persona into existence. I mean, I'm a pretty damn good liar when I want to be. I wonder if I really want to be all the time, and I just lied to myself about it, so it doesn't seem like I actually do lie all the time, even if I do. I wonder if I'm really a nice guy, but I'm so afraid of rejection that I've created this mean guy thing so I can the keep people away from me that wouldn't feel so afraid of breaking my heart they'd never dump me. I wonder if I'm a really mean guy who still gets lonely in spite of his meanness, so I created this nice guy thing to attract people who if they knew who I really was would dump me right away but who are missing enough of their own marbles they can't tell I'm fakin it.

I wonder if I'm really married to a woman named Linda. Or if I'm really married to a girl named Roughage, whose parents were hippies in the sixties and whose mom was on acid when she was delivered so the mom who thought she looked like roughage (like some kids do you must admit) decided to name her as she appeared; mostly because the name Moon Unit was already taken.

I wonder if I'm really a 12 year old kid, like the one I sometimes say I am, who came to Live Journal and then Facebook to find cool chicks, but knowing that no cool chick in her right mind would take me seriously I created this grumpy old man who rides motorcycles and writes rhymey poetry, as if anyone would believe that combination. If I am, I wonder why I didn't come up with a more attractive, less imperfect old grump... you know, like Richard Farnsworth or somethin.

I wonder if I'm not human at all... and I'm really a hippopotamus. I'm about the right size, and have a similar dental situation, and I can hold my breath underwater really good, or at least I could before demon nicotine got a hold of me. I wonder if I'm really a hippo, if I run around in the jungle chasing people with pith helmets, and putting out campfires. I wonder if one time I really kicked a lion's ass, and I felt so bad about it cuz everyone loves kitties and in stomping one I'd made myself an outcast and I felt so alone, that I made up this old crabby guy I could pretend to be, just so I didn't have to suffer the shame of being a rabid kitty killapotamas.

I guess I could live with being a hippo. At least then I'd have a song written in my name. You know, "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do..." Of course I'd feel kinda bad about only being wanted for one day a year, on Jesus' birthday of all times.

I wonder if Jesus feels the same way sometimes. Like, I wonder if he gets sad that a lot of people only want to be his pal two days a year and the rest of the time they couldn't even spell his name with a dictionary handy.

I wonder how many cards short my deck is, exactly. I wonder if they're face cards. Probably all the twos. I bet the jokers are still there though. I wonder if I were to try and reshuffle, more cards would fall out and slip under the couch where I'd never find them.

Hey. No worries. Just thinkin out loud.

I wonder when I think, if I'm always actually thinkin out loud, and not just with my mouth but with this huge radio tower attached and everyone across the world knows what I'm thinkin and that's why they all seem to be inspecting their shoe laces when I walk by them cuz they don't want to catch what I got...

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Curse of Carrionclaw


Darian knew they shouldn’t have come. The haunting of Moorley Manor was well documented, and even in daylight one risked a frightful death by treading its halls. And now hope seemed lost; two foul beasts chasing them, the nearby heavy wooden entry door closed and likely locked!

Sarah reached it first, twisted the handle to no avail, screamed and finally began to pound on the 12 panel oak obstruction. Then, a curious thing happened. The creatures stopped advancing and began to pirouette in place!

“Keep banging” Darian shouted as he grabbed a butler’s table, raised it over his head and smashed it to the floor.

Grabbing the table’s top, he ran for the door and turned the bolt. As Sarah threw wide the massive portal Darian snatched a walking stick from the entryway brelly stand and beat upon his three square meters of wood in a steady pattern.

“What’s happening” shouted Sarah in terror as she slipped outside and made her way down the short flight of concrete stairs to the circular drive and their 1962 Citroen sedan.

“We’re in luck” replied Darian; “we’re being hunted by Knockturnal creatures! So long as I keep knocking they have no choice but to spin. Now run!”

Glipglop growled under his breath and whined to his brother Carrionclaw as they both turned round and round, “damn this curse anyway! It’s bad enough we won’t eat tonight, but do we have to look so stupid while we’re starving?”  

Carrionclaw howled. “I swear I’m gonna kill that witch!”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Lady Forkinbaby


“I realize it’s your brother’s friend and I should be nice to her, but for God’s sake, it’s a black spray painted naked doll with a fork sticking out of its belly! I don’t really have to compliment it do I?”

Marie frowned, speaking a hundred pages of the ‘wife’s book of proper etiquette’ with a single, churlish twist of her upper lip. “Just do it” she added with a raised eyebrow.

I had few options. I could lie and destroy my self image, or I could be honest and suffer the wrath of the assembled freshmen artsy fartsies, most of which were now high on boilermakers made with ouzo. I decided to be clever and tried using an old school phrase for honesty, hoping to have it received in a new school way, for the win.

“Fine Shit” I said as I smiled and pointed at her ridiculous excuse of an artistic masterpiece. “Hey, thanks Dude” goth-girl said grinning as her head pounded from shoulder to shoulder in some sort of satanically induced rhythm.

“Yup, some great shit” I repeated, visualizing her next work being a black spray painted pile of horse manure topped by a cherry. I moved on. I had more shit to appreciate.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Strangers at Last


Thirty long years and a lifetime ago
I gave you my love for a time
its truth is my shackle, my reticent woe
that my heart could be held for that crime
I've been witness to horrors unspeakable here
and stretched to my limits collecting your tears
so please have a kindness, extinguish your glow
I've forgotten the man of my prime

Why can't you believe me, I'm begging my sweet
I am not who you think I was then
It's long since I've made a life prowling the street
and I'll not stride the boardwalk again
it crushes me you've been abused since we touched
but I can't cure your heartache, though wanting as much
long past I could carry the world at your feet
but alas, I'm no longer ten men

I offered my ear, you demanded my life
I've but one and it's given away
you missed the whole point, it is not of my wife
I refuse to come yonder to play
Yes our memory gives you a certain release
but my past is a universe, you, but one piece
and you've now turned your fantasy into the knife
that has bled us, the strangers we'll stay

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ancestor’s Blood


They carried water every day, most times a mile or more
in homes of sod and muddy berm they slept on straw topped floor
they'd harvest peat in summer, grains in Autumn, furs in spring
and they'd hope to rest the wicked through the hymns they'd loudly sing

Brushing teeth with naught but willow twigs and water from a pail
spinning wool to string, to yarn, to skein in case a coat should fail
reading books by wick and tallow light with concentrated haste
working sunrise from the darkness, not one hour to go to waste

Plowing clay with ox and mortarboard, then dropping seed by hand
milking goats and hunting rabbits, pulling boulders from the land
giving thanks to God for harsh, cold lives, and help to all in need
keeping hardship in perspective, knowing usefulness from greed

It's their blood that flows within me though they'd be hard pressed to say
They would think me somewhat laughable if they stopped by today
And I sometimes cringe that we've regressed to lives of anecdote
that we'd spend an hour in stasis if we lost the damn remote

I've this letter of contrition that I offer to those past
it's a mild but felt apology for laziness amassed
though I'm sure I disappoint you with my pudgy, spoiled ways
I've at least retold your stories, kept your honored torch ablaze.