Clarity

Morning slips across my windowsill,
leaving me waking dreams, no longer
grand or magical, no more high adventures
or terrible dreams of greed and glory,
just the tedious reworkings of my all-too-real

life, now that I must admit I’ll never fly
or kiss a demon–the world is rock.
Far more fortunate than Columbus,
the crystal ball has found the edge
where the world curls under like a fist.

Shards scattered, its bright dust has blown.
Bored and desperate, I search under my bed
amid the magazines and dirty socks for any remnant.
Finding a sliver, I stare into its hollow facets,
and worry it between my fingers until blood

obscures its frightful clarity.

Taking Stock

Nothing of his own but a handful
of discolored beans his mother tossed out
onto a clump of furious dandelions.
Everything else he stole from the giant:

the goose he plucked from its nest,
folding its golden eggs into his flesh,
the greens from the garden, even the air, but
guilt didn’t stop him; it only made him stoop.

It was the harp that ruined him,
paint cracking, eyes full of dried glue.
He wanted to find himself in music, but
before he could get out of the clouds,

the harp sang out in its own piercing voice,
and the giant, awakening, devoured him.

Unamused

A dog under your table
you scratch and forget,
cross legs through angled shadows
pressing me back into the darkness.

Waiting for corner to fall,
I trace the wood grain,
smell the feast above me
and dream of broken wine.

I long for your lean fingers,
the wrinkles and whorls,
the grease under your red nails,
a bit of slippery fat dropped.

Kept by hunger, I search
the linoleum for patterns.

Losing My Way

One spring over barbed wire
I quit the straight and narrow
for open fields where wild
grasses brush the sunlight
clean of exhaust. I wander

into foothills tight with underbrush,
a snake desperate to shed its itch
against rough stone. I peel away
my white, unwritten shirt,
dropping my tie in red dust,
weaving deeper, deeper until

church bells are stifled and I can hear
again the rush of blood and leaves.
Crooked, my path twists through shade,

mud swallows my shoes, stepping free
the icy stream carries my footprints away.

Ruddy

My name, taut as an old skin, constricts my breath.
I’ll scratch it off, let it flake in the dust, so new
skin may grow, ruddy, fresh and raw.

My heart, hard as a scab, still aches,
but no longer bleeds; it shies from any touch.
I’ll cut it from my chest, let fresh blood flow.

My head, thick as a scar, picks at itself
until the tissue is dull and hard, too thick
to speak or laugh. Better to walk headless.

The Hollow Hand

This stab wound in my palm
is a tear in the movie screen.

Not too serious, just a rip,
hardly noticeable once you’ve grown
accustomed to those flickering white lips
curled back from the hole in the story,
whispering sweet nothings about how I am

the screen all life is played against.
Without me, there is no movie,
light spilling through space, meaningless
until it is blocked. No matter,
no images are lost except a slice.

The torrential action erodes
my attention, washing it away.
I’m only occasionally startled
by an extra mouth, drawing breath.
Of course it will close, I’ve seen it

happen: tissue knits itself together.
I’ll be whole again with barely a scar,
that obscene pink tongue tucked back
under skin where it belongs, silenced.