Rapture

Snow coats tongues and hands that scrape,
Footsteps over ice and earth.

Passing through the barren branches of home,
The logs we used to climb across.

Slick and slumbering, nursing bruises from tumbling over,
Struck by the finality of it all.

The end of days looks so much like every day before,
But with a purple elbow and toothy grin.

Father

Someone is reaching,
His arms spread wide,
To span an ocean,
And fill him inside.

He knows it’s gone,
Dried dirt and dust.
Family, home,
Memories to rust.

Penelope unloved,
Lost from his grasp.
For all his reach,
His hands unclasp.

Dawn marks death,
The years that fade,
A broken string,
With both ends frayed.

Wisconsin

Murky lake consumes
Red light flesh burns overhead
Pale white fingers drown

Midwest summer breeze
Across sandy shores it blows
Green spray, water eyes

Enlightened mirror
Reflected infinite sky
On rotting fish skin

Memento Mori

The train at night
Pulls at the thin fabric
Of velveteen oxygen.
A ghostly rush in the dark,
With throbbing wheels
And a terrible screech,

When childhood hangs heavy
From the branches of a tree,
That only ever grew one apple.
Until, stunted, it rotted from the limb,
Melding with the sandy soil
Of an ancient river bed,

The memorial of a Native tribe,
Haunted by their wrapper remains.
A hallowed ground of foam cups,
Excavated by small, eager hands,
Collecting spoons and stones.
Hoarding the sacred treasures
In ragged lunch boxes,

Pressed against pages of books,
Where the words were worn thin
By flower nectar and time,
That consumed what sanctity remained,
Of those few gentle years,
Between then and the day
They put him down
And never picked him up again.

Don’t

Don’t
Speak loud
Or let them see how the weight you carry
Is dragging you under
Bending to breaking
Chains around your ankles
And the sweat on your shoulders
Dripping into
The ocean of entrails you tore
From your own abdomen
When they hate
Your voice
Carries too much
Spreads too far
It carries your pride and pain and they fear your humanity
Alive still
When they held your head down
And beat your bones
And no one believed that such pretty faces
Could be so cruel
They were beautiful
But you are too
Bruises and scars mark your skin
But you rise and rise
A wounded sun over endless days
They could never understand the load you bore
Slip from the numb flesh they fit you in
Cut away the walls you built
Let the light in like when you were young
Feel every breath
The blood flow in your veins
The burn in your stomach
The ache in your brain
Don’t
Go back to that dark place
They locked you in
Ever again

Requiem for Reality

Elliptic words
Sinking in
Gravity burns
Cigarette skin

Magnolia Summers

The mockingbird in the red roses
Builds a nest above the flood
When summer flows in
With thunderstorms and pounding rain
Over the Potomac peninsula
Where the magnolia tree blossomed
And fell in white streams to the earth
That the brown toads slept beneath
Until mother ran the lawn mower over them
And brain and bone sprayed her boots
The scent of gasoline on dry grass
Permeated by the sweet spice of magnolia
Intoxicated legs and limbs under an endless sun
To run and dance through clouds of nibbling mosquitoes
Interpreting the ancient morse code of fireflies
Until the moon burst from behind the oak and pine trees
The ones that would fall in the summer storms
With monolithic thuds
Leaving children trembling in blankets on the floor

Light

Look up to my eyes.
The little boats that line the river
Cannot distract your gaze,
When my golden gravity evades you again.
“Fall, fall to me,” you cry,
But my laughter drowns out your plea.

The cold darkness washes over my skin.
In the water there is no heaven,
I can drown in the sky.
With your wrists over mine I am human.
When I fall in with you the world weighs on my back,
But I know that you have fallen too.

We can only swim under the stars for so long,
They call my name and I am lost from your arms.
“Tomorrow,” you call,
I can’t make any promises though.
My feet have left the ground already and my limbs are light again.
Tomorrow is a million miles away and I don’t know who I’ll be when I arrive.

Night after night we return to the water,
Watching as light and dark blur into unending horizons.
I fall a little farther with each pale sunset.
Knowing that I’ll lose my gravity when I come up from the water,
I hold myself under a little longer each time,
But my breath is thin and I gasp for air.

In the summer, the water drains from our sanctuary.
It burns away through the earth,
Demanding a sacrifice, it calls for flesh and blood.
You say you’ll save it all for me,
When you’re gone I’ll swim alone but at least I’ll have my gravity.

In the empty lakebed,
Skeleton rowboats line the edges
And you stand in the muddy dust.
“Goodbye,” you whisper and I return a silent smile.
Water tumbles up from the dark earth,
It washes across your ankles and slowly rises along the deserted banks.

You shiver as the cold water traces up your spine and climbs to your chin.
It fills your mouth, your nose, your lungs.
Your silver eyes are wide,
Fighting to trace the memory of my delicate flesh.

Look up to my eyes.
I am marble in the air,
Silent as stone.
The weight of your sacrifice overcomes me.
I fall for you.

The shell of your skin sinks beneath the waves.
Underwater,
My fingers tear through the murk
Searching for the solid sides of your body,
Dragging you back into the light of our soft soil.

When I cry for you,
They are my first tears.
My eyes are stained red and my skin is coated in salt and sand,
I lie beside you until tears fill my lungs as well as your own.

With my golden hair across your chest,
I hear the rhythms of your body begin to hum again.
Gentle heat flows from me to you and thaws your icy limbs.
Your lungs choke and sputter, sucking for more air than you can breathe.
I hold you,
Until your eyes open wide and your fingers bend toward mine.

Under the hazy glow of a million miles of starlight,
You smile,
“Fall, fall to me,”
But I already have.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

This poem is based on my favorite fairy tale, “The Light Princess” by George MacDonald.