A lifer’s Bewilderment
What is this sickness we all suffer from?
What makes us hate the migrant,
scorn the uneducated,
ostracize the awkward,
shame the homosexual – while we
flirt with our notions, or fantasies
of lesbians in our porn,
and react with disgust
at the real ones we meet?
What allows us to cast aside our principles
of the grand necessity of human relationships
and say solemnly “We all have to do our
(Which is to say, “Mind your own
business, don’t get too close
to anyone, don’t trust anyone
with much about yourself;
you can only rely on yourself.”)
What causes us not to not only stop seeing
the good around us, but to stop
looking for it?
Why do we ceasee to communicate with
each other, yet expect others to intuit
what we want done?
Why do we judge other by their actions,
and ourselves through our intentions?
Do we forget that others have
intentions too, and we don’t
know them –
or do we simply not care
unless we’re being judged?
(I’ve received enough judgement
to last three lifetimes.)
Why do we insist again and again that the
wicked be punished, yet quit any job
where our boss only reprimands us –
only to acknowledge to our friends
that we learned nothing good from
the experience except how to hate
judgmental authority figures?
We exalt revenge in our films and in our
hearts, yet cannot withstand the
devastation when it comes upon us.
We hate easily, love frivolously,
believe our own opinions and those
things which repeat them.
We disregard the truth while laying claim
to the science of it.
We know things could be better, we know
things are broken – yet when we must
look within and become aware of and
deal with our faults and distorted lenses
we’re readily indifferent.
How reluctantly we give of ourselves
or our passing things,
as though she who dies
with the most toys wins.
(What is this void we can’t fill?
It is a symptom of our disease.)
I do enough, you say. I’m a good person,
Yet you and I suffer from the
What Does Forever Mean
What does forever mean to you?
Is it time without end? Can any physical
thing last forever? Can it be love, or is it
death? If something cannot be forever,
can it be forever gone?
Is heaven forever? How do you encompass
that in your mind? Life without end, no more
dying, no more crying. Experience without end.
Will we lose our sanity in the eternity of hell,
or will we always be at that state of breaking
where the mind is sitll very much aware?
Can we imagine forever any better than what
another 30 years of life would hold for us?
Or does forever only belong to God?
The thunder sounded like three separate blasts, but it was four. The whole animal shook, her made flew freely into my 9 year-old face as I tightly held onto it. No saddle. We were free.
This magnificent animal, a perfectly designed synergy of raw muscle and elastic sinew and tendons, ran faster than most winds. I was in an open-top car traveling over 30 miles per hour. Each time she touched down she made thunder, the ground shook, her body absorbed the blows that I could feel through her back. She breathed hard. Yet, to her, this was heaven.
Horses feel euphoric running because they’re built to feel this way as their oxygen levels drop. We feel pain. And so she felt high, with HER BOY on her back.
And we loved each other. She cannot come to me but, God willing, I will go to her.
Zafira “Two-Gun” Halil
The ball was ritzy, expensive, and decadent. People felt important here; they socialized and put on their best masks (the kind you can’t see). Everything was about appearances.
The volleyball-player-tall young woman from the Middle-East, raise in the free world, willed herself to not fidget with her snug, cerulean satin dress. Her long, jet black hair fell like rain about her; Sophia had curled the edges a bit, and Dr. Lillian had loaned the matching silver earrings and broad, classical, spiderweb necklace with azure stones.
Zafira, usually proud of her magically animated cybernetic arms, had covered them in translucent sleeves Traverser had sewn into the (originally) sleeveless dress. That was the concession: they matched the color of the dress, and they were semitransparent. Zafira had wanted to cover her upper body with a high neck, long slender gloves trailing over her elbows, and long sleeves, but the girls won out.
Her back was bare and she felt everyone must be looking at her metal shoulder blades, or where skin met mithral allow, or perhaps her breast in front (she could see between them – Eyes up! she reminded herself). She realized her hands crossed, gripping her arms, so she dropped them. She shifted her weight.
The usual heft of her enchanted six-shooters wasn’t snugly hugging her hips. There was no leather strap at each holster’s nose holding them flush against her thighs. There was no room for a holdout pistol in this dress. No cowboy hat, snug jeans, or tough, feel-good boots. And all of the women around her looked small, no, short. Most of the men were a few inches shorter than her. She felt like a gawky, unsightly giant trying to look like a normal woman.
Dahlia Iris Aster, vampire
The slender widow stood on the steps of the grand staircase. The power was out in the whole manor (for how long?). Candles lit the extravagent chandelier, shafts of light shone through high windowlets, and dust particles created a slight haze.
Mrs. Aster’s black lipstick had no gloss. None of her famous pearls wrapped about her; she wore them in all of the photos I’d seen of her from the 20’s. She wore a black dress that hugged her youthful skin. Its top wrapped around her upper arms, revealing her clavicle, and making her unadorned neck seem long. Its hemline kissed her ankles; every inch of the dress was covered in a layer of mesmerizing lace.
Dahlia wore no shoes; the soles of her feet bore witness to the dusty floors. Her skins was pallid, like Lucky Clement’s (I saw the missing girl’s body in the morgue). Dahlia Iris’ long hair sucked in light like she might drink blood, and it reached the back of her calves.
Dahlia Iris Aster’s eyes studied me, and I couldn’t tell if they looked hungry or surprised. I had threatened to show up in person. The world wanted to know if the famed wife of an Aster, the vampiress, had murdered her “beloved” husband and gotten away with it some forty years ago. I wanted to know if she was unfairly judged, blacklisted, and shunned.
Suddenly she smiled, perfunctorily, like a dutiful hostess caught at an ill-opportune time, and she beckoned me with the gesture of a slender, bare arm. She flowed down the steps like a ballet daner upon a make-believe slide. I opened my mouth to speak as I closed the heavy door and in that instant she was upon me, abruptly pressing a bony finger against my lips, like we were cousins, and said only one word as the door closed behind me…
“Tea, ” she breathed and Dahlia glided towards the downstairs kitchen, as though she was back on stage. I felt obliged to stay and venture deeper into her dark, fabled manor.
-P. Emmet, Associated Press, June 9th 1988
We thought it was going to be a straight-forward job. Snatch the wife, compel the husband to give us the passkey. Purely professional corporate espionage with a strong hint of back off. But the parking lot had more surpises than just us that night.
A thick mist rolled in as if God had set down a block of dry ice. He stepped out of the midnight fog, dressed in the blue, white, and red uniform of an officer in the Revolutionary War, but there were important differences.
For one, he was here, now – he stepped out of the fog as thought it was the byproduct of some time-machine’s workings. For another, he wasn’t just armed with weapons from his time period – he had better guns than our depot.
Lastly, there was his head: he didn’t have one. There was a brown-skinned neck just above his collar. He was quite tall – over seven feet if he still had his head.
Then he held his semi-automatic shotgun aloft in a white gloved hand and somehow spoke in a deep, accented voice. It reverberated against the surrounds, into our very beings.
The mountain tops knew no life such as we see down below. Their only natives were tiny, tiny spiders that clung to that thin inch of warmth in the air where the sun beat upon the rocks; they lived on insects flung too high, and the fact that there was nothing to prey upon them in the deathly chill. Above that it was too cold, the air too thin for anything to thrive; anything but a solitary white dragon.
Down below some tundra clung to the sides of the mountains, and thirty kinds of snow gathered where it fell, always wanting to fall down. The passes were perilous and what could fly couldn’t fly high enough to reach Eidelweiss’ lair.
Mountain goats braved the shere, rocky edges, but she didn’t eat them. The lush vales below held all she wanted. Few trees and lots of grazing herds of all kinds.
Mountain men knew not to use the paths ’round those mountains. There lurked a dragon, from the cold, clear heights. Pale blue eyes piercing with the calculating gaze of a knowing dragon.
The Kingdom of Marcalene, The Goblin Queen
The autumn-laden trees sway in the cooling breeze, shedding auburn leaves amidst the stone cobbled streets. The streets are narrow: one donkey with cart could pass, if the goblins didn’t eat it. They twist and bend and don’t follow straight lines. The houses lean outward the more they rise upward. Some alleys have roofs with windows down-pointing; the better to pour out the chamber pots!
The flowers have poisonous prickly nettles and sweet tasting nectar. No fairy comes twice. Their wings fetch a pretty coin and into the bottle they go, with a cork and a straw (they have to breath, you know).
There’s a public fountain in the town circle. The center plinth has goblins chasing nymphs and knifing satyrs. Atop it all stands pretty Queen Marcalene, their (once) human queen.
She wed poor Kind Duran (sweet talking Duran) who died for his love, or some – thing. Who knows? But he’s good for a toast, poor Kind Duran (drink!).
The castle looms over Goblin Towne, sitting on a leaning cliff, the castle’s lower walls bulging out as if pregnant with live-bearing dragon whelps. Towers twist up into the air, and nothing looks like it should stand, yet it does.
Pretty Queen Marcalene, dark hiar, pale skin (tan with some sun), loves her boots and her clothes (costumes!) be they breeches or dresses, jewelry or dueling pistols. What she says goes and go tthey do, all of her goblinses.
Red Aster Manor, Home of Dahlia Iris Aster
Few walked the grounds of Red Aster Manor, though the namesake flowers grew wild at the edge. The fence looked like elongated sections of a portcullis: spear-like tips and only two perpendicular bars at the top & bottom, bolted in place to stone pillars. The filigreed wrought iron gate was less inviting.
The house was rouge colored stone with sharp angled rooftops, dozens of chimneys, and a circular driveway. The manor had hundreds of windows that envisaged the eyes of the four, six winged beasts of Revelation. She looked more European, that house, and her architect was. Vines clung to her, paint peeled off her, and the thorn berries grew wild wherever the salted gravel drive wasn’t. Grimey stained glass graced her.
She was still, night and day, that house. Sometimes a pale, gaunt ghost would step out after the sun set, or when clouds kept the brightest rays at bay. The Widow, the blood-sucking vampire. Keep your hands ’round your strapping, young lads. Stay out! Stay out.
And everyone did.
LIFE IS EASY…
What’s the easiest thing you’ve ever done?
It’s living and breathing, silly!
You eat, you sleep, you work, you play,
Living’s not hard at all.
You were an expert as a baby,
knew just how to get your way.
You cried, you poope, suckled, and slept.
Living’s so esy to do.
Sure, growing up wasn’t all fun.
There were cliques, false friends,
uncaring adults, and loads of mean kids,
(perhaps you were one).
But you still had living down.
Then you were a teenager,
And you thought life was hard.
There was sex, and drugs, that need to belong
while being true to yourself;
All the hurt you carried
seemed like a crushing weight.
The adults were indifferent,
worse, said it was all up to you to change.
How? Into what?
But you sure had breathing down.
Then you were an adult,
and you seemed destined for bad choices.
Kids? Check. G.E.D.? Nope.
You had all the “high-risk” checkboxes marked.
This was your life to live.
Then you became what they told you,
they said you would fail,
they said you were worthless,
“piece of shit,”
When that judge canonized their words,
said you were “irredeemable,”
When he did what only Jesus should do
and gave you Life.
Life is easy,
Or they wouldn’t just throw it away.
[This was originally presented as “For the Young Ones,” referring to citizens sentenced to life in their teens, at a poetry SLAM! event for inmates.]
THEIR HEART’S DESIRE
When God made the sea
He made her so vast
she covered the whole world.
He gave her boundaries
and told her where not to go,
so she relentlessly pounded the shores
or washed them smoothly
lulling them ’til her distemper
drove her to tempests.
She could not be anything
but what He created her to be:
His beautiful, bewitching, vexing,
enthralling, daunting, nourishing,
Then He made her heart’s desire
a mountain range
in Cretaceous Laramidia.
Oh! How she raged
and beat upon the shores
in her endless, tireless ways.
Yet the mountain range stood out of reach,
snaking over thousands of miles.
How she wanted him!
“You’ll destroy me, if you get to me,”
he told her.
“I will not!”
she said hotly.
“You can’t help it,”
“I want you, Great Mountains,
I want you peaks and your valleys in me,
your hot volcanic eruptions,
your numberous tremors,
your volatile earthquakes,
your stoic stillness,
your majestic beauty.
I want all of you,
and I wil cover you in my depths,
and hide you where only the life
closest to my heart there dwell.
I will consume you.”
“I think not, You’ll find another range,”
“We’ll see,” and she spoke deep words
to her Father — but only three:
“Make a way.”
And she waited
as twenty-hundred thousand years passed,
and he grew older
and thought she’d forgotten him.
Twenty times that passed,
and he was worn and not so grand.
She swallowed whole lands in disgust
at being made to watch him fade so.
Yet their bemused Father only gave
a slight grin.
Eroded to hills and canyons,
the Great Mountains finally tumbled
into the sea like leftover dross,
and she wept so she swelled.
Then God awoke the ring of fire
that made her lost love,
And He resurrected him,
his spent rocks and dirt boiled anew,
and he grew up inside her,
taller than any other mountain range
beyond her shores.
And the sea and the Great Mountains
wept so hard they never let go
of each other again.
For their ove was deeper
than the world of men
could ever fathom.
And it pleased their Father
to give this unyielding love to them,
As He plotted their place
on His New and Perfect Earth.
[Cretaceous and Laramidia can be googled. It should be noted that there is a mountain (I can’t google it) taller than Everest under the ocean waves. When the sea asked God to “Make a way,” she meant for their Father to make a way for them to be together against the impossible odds they found themselves, for neither her might nor his resolve nor the standards of the world allowed for them to be together.]