A ghost will dance upon her grave,
beneath a twilight field of stars.
Her song is spent, melodious—
she does not grieve, nor so lament
of every lover never met,
nor spin an ode to motherhood,
nor rhyme a verse with like intent—
no living man could so recall
the cosmic beauty of it all:
each second stood on God’s green earth,
like bathing in a waterfall,
like falling from the highest birch
and growing wings to sail beyond
and eating fire from the sun!
A spirit sings of only this:
a life once led, of lungs once filled.
For embers fade, and empires fall
and God and man, and each and all
and everyone will end the same:

A ghost in twilight, singing songs,
pleading to begin again.

I.
I got an angel by her halo,
I’m gonna cash her in, now.
How dare you turn your back on me,
after all we’ve been through.

II.
Peel off the skin to get into
all the juiciest parts;
Call me crazy, but what you want
is to be tasted like fruit.

Well who’s gonna take you in, my dear?
You are a consolation.
You mean nothing at all, I fear,
but you can come home with me.

Trust me, I know a place to go,
and I got that stuff we both like;
I need you to promise me, right here, though
that you won’t ever leave me.

III.
Sunk in the mattress on the floor,
miles below the feeling.
Nothing matters anymore,
you are safe here with me.

Guess somebody called the goddamn cops,
they must have heard you screaming.
You left the baby on the rug,
and the thing stopped breathing.

Well what did you think was gonna happen?
How could you blame me for this?
I can’t take anymore crying,
and we have to go, pack your things.

IV.
Can barely walk in a straight line,
I’m driving eighty, mainlined.
You are a mewling, broken thing
breaking my concentration.

Barely crossed the county line
before your eyes rolled way back.
Guess you were hitting all this time;
you didn’t save me any.

V.
An angel’s only worth her weight in dust
but this one’s used it all up.
Should have left you when we met, now
I need a brand-new angel.

Why, and for what purpose, did you
cast the first stone? To
claim a new victim, to
tell us you killed him, to
gain all the glory?

God is a hurricane, he
is lightning and wrath, he
drowns all his babies, he
answers in “maybe’s,” he
always ignores me.

We’re fools in the garden, we’ve
sweet-talked the serpent, we’ve
chosen our poison, we
learned how to reason, we
defied the warning.

Who will remain when the world is
but ash, your
famous panache, or
this blistering rash, (which
tells its own story)?

Nothing is sacred, it
all goes away, like it
never existed, or
evaporated, like
the first dew of morning.

Last fed is the last out of bed.
Just a few words to live by.
I guess what I mean is
I meant what I said,
I never looked back as I tore out of town.

Back home, folks were slower than most,
lazy days, nowhere to go.
Not much disrupting,
‘cept occasional snow,
and me, I kept right in my lane.

Now those days are gone,
and for real,
I don’t miss it.
Never been stoned like I was that one Christmas;
now holidays hurt, but I won’t
cross those bridges.

Symbols in smoke are sketched in the sky,
I mistook them for clouds,
guess the shapes caught my eye.
My sister once scribbled a scene in her notebook,
looked just like Milwaukee, but felt just like home.

Everyone hurts,
we’re all just the same;
but I’ll make a name, when I dust off the dirt.
Can’t quit for trying, and won’t keep pretending.
All we can do is
keep on enduring.

I turn up my cheek at the first snow to fall,
I think: “about time,” as it’s March, after all
but settle, it does, in soft layers of white
while the business class points and says “see, we were right!”

“How could it snow if the earth has been warming?”
So intentionally blind to the obvious warnings:
the ocean is rising all by itself
brought up, inch by inch, by that melting ice shelf.

What do you think will happen to us?
The coast will grow legs to weather the tide?
You couldn’t buy that in a fat omnibus.
Millions of people have nowhere to hide.

“But it won’t affect me, my life will be fine.”
you say to yourself and to your bottom line.
But Irma and Harvey and I beg to differ,
remember it’s us that keeps making you richer.

“If I cannot live at the top of the world,
I’ll topple the temple, and all lives within it!
Oil is precious, it is thicker than blood,
I’ll die, if I must, in this swollen black flood!”

“But besides,” you will say, “what if you’re wrong?
Ten thousand years, and man has stood strong.
And as Locke would suggest, I’m entitled to this,
I’ll let our systems sort out the rest.”

But the storm, it looms large, it darkens the clouds;
Hail like a boulder comes thundering down.
Winds lash the levees, sea surging in waves,
like a baptismal cleansing of this human race.

Mothers with babies and families die—
a stoic god steadfast in spite of their praying—
you’ll have to forgive me, then, for saying
that no, the “free market” won’t settle the sky.

Sweet, my lover, lost in thought
Upon a covered mattress, prone
I bully him with wicked fingers
and seize upon the smile wrought.

Gentle kisses placed to brow,
He reminisces of a warmth
and glow we felt when first we met,
that somber, blue-gold, evening hour.

I know that look, I’ve seen it, too—
etched like marble in the mirror—
the fear that years can cause content,
for what’s at rest will never move.

Legions fought to keep us here,
we’re misremembering the war,
and all our dead or dying friends,
and how they marched along for years.

The fondest triumphs, we forgot,
Our gravest ghost of plague denied,
but though we hear our wedding bells,
The fighting never really stops.

He’s brought back to the room with me,
Just he and I, and we, alone
we search the room to find our truth,
instead we find our memory.

To hunt your prey
you give away
yourself to sink
beneath the current.
Powerless, you drift into
the swirling bay,
the dark lagoon.

Coffinfish and
ghost chimaera,
killers of the highest order.
And here you take your place among
those fiendish creatures in the dark.

You eclipse the sunken sun,
your light is hung
below the surface;
no heat escapes your fluid flame,
as little fishes freeze to death
underneath your drowned horizon.

You shadow spawn,
you naked eel,
Baphomet, and lowly demon;
a billion-year experiment
of random reproduction.

Everyone had told me this,
But I was headstrong Icarus.
We blessed the night,
the blood red moon,
the omen of our safe Beyond.
Cradled in the salted bay,
I thought it wise to slip the knot.
The rope wore thin—
and we had many, many men—
none could pull me in.

My lungs had bled and wept with sea,
the ocean turned a resting place.
And you were there,
a rictus scowl,
my life was fading by the hour,
and soon enough, I know you’ll strike,
so eager to devour.

You have no soul, but if you did,
I assume it’d take the form of pitch,
but lit by spark,
the flame would falter,
no candle’s placed upon your altar.

A paradox and certain jest,
you’re impossible, and can’t exist.
But if we meet, I’ll ask you this,
to solve the riddle of the sphinx:

How can you devour light,
and still be trapped in endless night?

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