Salem (a poem)

I’ve spent centuries obsessed with evil

fingers bleeding from scrawling in notebooks,

searching for ways to banish it

to deep corners of space

away from us

where it takes souls,

twists them in black sorcery –

I wake up in Salem, trembling

witches burn, the smell of scalding flesh

the executioner removes his mask,

smiles – I fall into deep sleep

(Photo by Vladimir Agafonkin on Unsplash)

Dead Garden (a poem)

watching from the fire escape

I breathe in daylight, fresh air

a blue jay lands in a dead garden

her colors brilliant & offensive

dried leaves rustling like

fading nightmares

an urge to suck in colors before me

& vomit them back out

like the Destroyer God who

crushes galaxies in his hands

(Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash)

Cold Cemeteries (a poem)

the only freedom I want

is to break my ego’s chains

which confine me in cold cemeteries

to the dead,

who rise each night & breathe fire

only I can see,

who speak in a language

only I can understand,

telling me with certitude

I’ll join them soon

& also haunt the living

(Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash)

Unbreakable (a poem)

to say we were lost boys would be cliché

but clichés have ways

of cementing truths into language

like hard red suns that scorched West Philly & warm beers we guzzled ‘till we couldn’t walk straight & time went missing like a thief

who stole my innocence

& we packed into an old sedan on a road to nowhere &

perhaps, if time is not linear, this had to happen &

if free will is a myth, we had no choice in the matter,

merely swigging, smoking, fighting in adolescent wastelands

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Portia’s Eyes (a poem)

Portia’s eyes follow

no matter where I go

like the psalmist once wrote &

maybe in his Old Testament wisdom,

he prophesized a time in history where

we’d become little gods and merge with machines –

intelligent networks creating global villages

all surveyed by Portia’s ice-blue eyes

no need for a god

unless you search endless lines of coding

or vastness of VR constructs

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Cheap Carnival (a poem)

in psych wards, they take your belt, shoelaces

anything you could use to hurt yourself

when I’m there, I fear the world will kill me

so, I give them my belt, tell ’em to take good care of it

& I talk to others there

& I feel damaged & I identify with compatriots –

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God’s Polaroid Camera (a poem)

For my father

in the dining room, action figures were imprisoned in a green vase, and you returned from prison with my uncle, looking slimmer

from pushups in sunbaked yards

mustache and dazed look gone, down on one knee, arms open wide & smiling with teeth I learned were fakes

I thought you were fake, too

unrecognizable, a stranger from a blurred past we no longer spoke of, only at grandma’s house, when we opened letters decorated by your brother with cut-outs from Marvel comics

& were told you were away on business –

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Seeking Shelter (a poem)

my family is not a dynasty

nor do we have any moguls among us –

just average folk stumbling

in supermarkets, falling in dirty

stadium parking lots

searching for Black Friday deals

to forget the darkest days

when the market crashed

& all the cash we had stashed

was seized by government thugs

with blood-shot eyes & sharp teeth,

who told us to run to gold hills

& seek shelter elsewhere

(Photo by Aperture Vintage on Unsplash)

Red Earth (a poem)

look what emerges from black mountains!

God help us all – the army marches

toward the town, big boots breaking

hard winter ground, a sound

so horrible we clasp our ears

our worst fears coming alive –

they call these men “peacekeepers,”

& i scoff – they don’t want peace,

but to tear us to pieces

bloody bits splattered on cabin walls

the end of our lives for sure,

we’re sure when the first machine gun

rattles like a diseased lung

we’ll melt into the red earth

(Photo by Beat Schuler on Unsplash)