Tag Archives: dark

Lost Highways and Exit Ramps

I hear Odin drives an old beat up Ford
Primer for paint and two coon hounds chasing smells
From one end of the truck bed to the other
Howling something fierce the whole way down the road
On that unknown highway, chasing dreams, booze and ass
Trucker’s cap tiled to one side, shaded eye
Long Beard
And Mother Mary stands with thumb 
outstretched looking for a ride
Joseph got old, and not with age, baby Jesus come and gone
The excitement a blasphemous memory
We all chase the faith just the same
Even if it ain’t faith we know it by
But some other name

I’ve been down some of those exit ramps, they always
Say, speed up near the bottom, on these darker roads
Construction zone signs are a given, only the danger
Is the drive
Been down them exit ramps on backroads 
In places I don’t know
Chasing the saga of some elder mythology
Some broke down, lint in the wallet, college student dream
Like Poets and bards of yesteryear

But by God, look at them stars, stretching out, teasing fingers
Like man and God, the constellations touch ever so lightly,
Separated by a billion million years
Made in their image, our atoms see their reflection
And in the black void of our being, big bang lets loose
Her sweet song of chaos coming down the turnpike
Promising a chapter two…or is it three?

Let’s hop in the old car, two door handles missing, one
Window doesn’t go down, and see what sights there are
Chasing campfire trails and the thick smoky promise
Old stories, time travel, adventure and a warrior’s game
I know your soul smiles, I see it through your flesh
You remember the old gods well and the rush
That was pagan magic and runes and circles and dances
Wilder days are imprinted on our being

I hear the whispering sound of your life living out
Loud poetry has called, but something more
You’ve awakened what amber promises and beer bottle hope
Was only the first baptism of, what those other things
Teased and promised,
Poetry has revealed.

The lost highways are haunted ways
Of hunger and never being satisfied
Of living best after you’ve died
Not to flesh or paper thin realities, but to concepts
Windows down on that older road, listen to the tree frogs
Hear the wind singing her song to the rhythm of pine trees?
Smell the pond thick with stagnant green algae
The creek is calling, her melody your melody, poetry
Alive. Glory to the gods, a being come alive
Haunted ways are calling
Who will you be?


Sewer Song

The sky falls down, broken

A thousand soft shards of hard rain

Heaven’s busted night light, carrying

The orange ember promise of a street lamp

Down to the curb, swirling

Catching the city filth and unwanted to manmade

Rivers—sewers, drains, channels—to creeks beyond

Sewer Songs busted up, bleeding out, from swampy lungs

A night time story no child wants to hear

Whispered on the crackling disagreements

Of a Cloudy night time sky in an urban holler—

Burrows in between the buildings

Can you see it? The angel wings in the rain drops?

A sad song carried on the rhythm of the unseen

Sewer song, beneath the concrete tomb

We encased the earth, her face swollen,

Mother Moon watching her sister, night time sky,

As she weeps and down comes the rain


The Hanging

The young man gazed into the eyes of the condemned man standing on the back of the wagon, hands tied behind his back, his sagging gut hanging over his black belt, his beard grandfatherly—black with splotches of white, and though not very long, it was thick and heavy. The young man looked earnestly into the condemned man’s eyes, wondering if he truly had it within himself to go through with what was about to take place before him.

Two other men climbed up on the wagon beside the condemned man, one was holding the long noose end of the rope that had already been secured to a high branch in the tree that might have been pretty in a different setting. The other man had some cloth he was wrapping around the prisoner’s neck—comforting the dying.

The young man thought for some long moments, what must it feel like to be there, in that other one’s position? Hands behind your back, the fast pace of your heart racing to its final great rhythms, it’s sad sad song a funeral march to the solution of the greatest mystery in humanity: what comes after? What strength did it take in a man to not buck, to not resist, to not break free and run as far and fast as one could when standing in such a position as the big man before him. How was it he didn’t look more frightened? Especially if he were guilty of even half of which the others had claimed.

The young man looked about the crowd he was standing in. He considered their faces, who they were when they weren’t executioners, and practitioners of death? He saw John Clemmens, the saddleback doctor that went around to at least three counties in rain, shine, or snow, and was happy to be paid in a hot meal. Standing not far from him was the motherly Sunday school teacher Marion Rutless, or Mrs. Rutless as so many in the community had known her—she had always been the surest figure of posterity, regality, and Christianity before. And yet here she was, in the death mob. Across the way, just opposite where the young man stood, were more faces, prominent figures, good men, good women, and even some children.

At their epicenter the death roll was drumming down. There was a hushed silence to the crowd, it was heavy, making its own darker atmosphere that contrasted the grey but happy day they stood in. Cold air cut through their mass, making more than a few hands grip shoulders, rub vigorously, or to just stand mule strong and shiver. It was really about to happen, the young man thought. They were really going to go through with it.

He watched, not helping himself, gazing deep into those brown eyes of the condemned wondering what secrets they held. Yet he was afraid to look for too long, what if the man’s essence, the man’s evil (if what they said were true), or some other piece or part of the man’s being stuck to the young man once the wagon was rolled away and he was left to kick? What if corruption of soul was a contagion worse than fevers, chills, or other such sicknesses?

“Our father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…” the condemned man began to pray.

“To hell with you! Should’a been praying long time ago!” one of the onlookers said. He shook his fist and spat brown tobacco on the ugly dirt at his worn out boots.

“…thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” the condemned man prayed.

Mrs. Rutless looked down, her head slowly, methodically, ticked like a shaky handed time piece. She was having some internal conflict for what everyone in the crowd knew was at their doorstep. Some leaned in, their eyes hungry for the lust of death and snuffing out of life, others leaned back, eyes wide, shock filled, unsure.

“Fess your sins before your community, and God a’mighty?” one of the men standing at the side of the condemned man’s sides asked.

“I do not fear death, I am too great for death, too great for all of you,” The prisoner said, his great belly shaking as he made his bold claims, and once his eyes quivered with nervous uncertainty. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

The two men at the prisoner’s side had hopped down off the wagon and went to the horse at its front.

“…I shall fear…”

One of the men slapped the horse hard and yelled, it took off with a damning speed. The wagon rolled out beneath the prisoner’s feet, throwing him off balance and leaving him with a great drop. For one long horrible drawn out moment he hung frozen in the air, an angel in heaven just prior to rebellion and being cast out. And then he plummeted in sickly sweet fluidity until the rope caught, gave a jerk and yanked him just slightly back up. There was a devilish snapping sound that went through the cold steadfast crowd.

The young man had never turned away. He felt sick with himself for being in the audience, for standing still watching, for saying nothing, doing nothing. Where once a man stood, now there was only the reminder of a life that had been, swinging from the tree like a twisted Christmas ornament in Hell. The prisoner was unnaturally still, no feet kicking, no hint of life, not even when the rope gave way and broke.

The crowd gasped and stepped back. The great man lay lifeless at the foot of the little hill beside the tree.

“Leave ‘em be,” said one of the men that had been on the wagon before. “If he still got life, let it leak out of him slow. Maybe there’ll be some justice in his suffering here before them Hell fires take his rotten soul.”

“Amen,” someone said in the crowd.

They stood together as one body, one group for long moments, simply watching. The air thick and heavy with what they had done. Death clung to each of them in a black tarry presence that was not physical and yet was completely undeniable. They stood together even as the day grew colder and a great snow started to fall.

Finally they broke, not all at once, but one at a time, and scattered back to the lives they had put on hold to see to the death of the one that had sinned against their community. Life would go on, or so the many in that crowd had thought.


In the Underworld, A Song

 

He was just a man

But was he?

Sitting there in the subway

His long golden hair

Danced in the artificial wind

Of the Cement Jungle’s underworld

Where on each side of our island of stone

Subway cars rolled by in violent force

Stealing people from one place

And inspiring them to another

Then the man presumably homeless

With clean features and normal look

Parted a smile that ripped my soul

And to this day I have never forgot

The crazy jags of those crooked teeth

And Cheshire cat eyes

Now looking on me

In me

And those long bony fingers of his

Strumming the guitar he once had on his back

As he took a seat in the dead center

Of this underworld where my friends and I waited

The rushing command of people everywhere

And yet it was only he and I

And the song he began to strum

What terror in such perfect ordinariness

Was it his condition, his smile, his unnatural eyes?

Or was it something more I sensed

Some hint of a past full of violence

His fingers danced upon the strings

And out came the song I remember never hearing his voice sing

“Hotel California”

His lips moved but the sounds of the city stole his words

And though I have forgotten much of that trip to New York

I have never forgotten the presumably homeless man

With golden hair and unsettling eyes

In the underworld of that city

And the song he chose to play

Begging for a buck

Begging for attention

And how he got one but not the other

He stays in my imagination still

Was he a man?

Or a monster in human flesh

I am grateful to have not found out


My Spirit’s Coldest Night

All my desire is put to the flame

My every want

Hope

Care

Thought

Dream

Tossed into an ugly fire

And when at night I should be asleep

I am instead

Sinking

Ever so silently

Into the midnight deep

Of all my woe

And ugliest blackest most cursed sorrow

She has taken from me

All that e’er I hoped

To be

And yet, in this still mad quiet

I have come to realize

That to burn one

Is to birth another

Desire for desire

To rise above these flames

To rise, e’er higher and higher

To reach that long awaited place

Among the gods

And challenge them

To their face

For all their black fate

And then to find peace

Not because of all my anger

But instead because to my woe I have become a stranger

Slipping away

Into something else, something far from my sights

But for the time being I am not there in that distant land

Of promise

Of potential

Instead I am only here

In the midst of my ugly soul’s burning plight

Here

In this, my spirit’s coldest night


Just a lil fragment from a work in progress

The old beat up car ran down the sun drenched double lane highway at nearly 80 mph. On one side of the lonesome and hellish hot road was a long line of prisoners chained to one another, pick axes in hand, chiseling away at a nowhere job given to them by the decree of one judge or another. Jake tried not to look at them, and it was getting easier to do so with each passing year that Old Duke Henderson had taken the reign of his big war horse he called, “Order in the midst of chaos.”
What Jake wouldn’t be able to ignore were the telephone poles coming up, once upon a time the only messages they carried were on their wires. Now, their messages were darker, bloodier, and carried in the bounded pierced and beaten bodies of whatever unlucky soul got more than a chain gang punishment. This was the way of the world, and the reason Jake who once preached tolerance and kindness to many, now packed a forty five and a never ending thirst for whiskey. 


Neither Heaven Nor Hell

Neither Heaven nor Hell

Could ever hope

To free me from

This ugly cell

Where now I dwell

In the dark quietude

Of all I once held

Neither Heaven nor Hell

Could ever hope

To punish or free

Neither prevail

Against this heart break

Nor assail upon my gentle mind

Weak and weary

The pain, the sorrow, the woe

My soul to grind

Neither Heaven nor Hell

Could ever tell

A sadder truth or beckoning song

Than this my aching tooth ache

Within my middle

Where once a heart

Did belong

Neither Heaven nor Hell


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