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JPB Mar 2013
She grabbed my hand and the moon rising behind her
as we turned our faces to the sky,
drawing the energy of the lit skyscrapers,
empty shells humming with fluorescence.

Come morning the sun rose red-hued
and creeping over the windowsill
illuminated slats across the room
as she lay asleep up down, her chest,
her lungs, her nose, up down,
softly. And I watched, and I thought,

and her eyes opened squinting at the sun.
We came to the park later hands held and
she said to me kiss me, saying kiss me,
kiss me, her voice bright and earnest from my shoulder.
I stop my feet and turn my head down and smile
JPB Aug 2011
You were there,
and I was there

And your smile
as you waved
(though you did
not know it).

why didn’t I—
The pale,
silver light
of the moon
reflected off
the gently
rippling water
as you seemed
to swim.
I just watched…

You gave me
pop-tarts first
a year ago,
fresh from
the toaster;
you always
gave me the
one with more

The wrinkles
of your smile
(and the spinach
between your teeth)
as we walked,
your hand in mine,
through the city
of lights,
where the doors
of perception
now lie
shut and dead.

You look—,
seem—, looked,
like nothing
before or since;
at the place
where speech fails.

What can I do?
I can—
I can still hold
your shirt.
It still smells
like you,
like your sweat,
like your perfume…

I felt empty,
deep inside,
at the funeral,
when everyone
was looking at
your coffin and
not at all at me.
Qué bonito es
un entierro.

You know—
I love—
(loved?) you
And yet—
I watched you—

When I try
to sleep
at night,
when I lay
my head down,
I see nothing.
I do not
of you.
I do not
of our first kiss.
I do not
of your death.
I do not
of your funeral.
I do not
JPB Mar 2011
Your mother sits hunched over the oak table,
hair tight up in a bun and
shawl wrapped over her shoulders and
wrinkles give a dignified, sure-looking appearance
to a face that shows steady, steady
weathering of any and everything life
could throw at her.  You place down
a mug, two mugs of something
and you seat yourself down across
from her, tidying your long skirt, and

you take a sip.  The steam rises
past your unlined face and disappears
in front of the thicker-at-the-bottom single-pane window
set between the wall-logs.
Outside is white:
white trees,
white ground,
white grill,
white porch.
She sighs and sips the mug,
a heavy, old-style clay mug that’s
been in the house for you don’t know how long.  She sighs and
looks out the window and
sighs again.  You frown a frown of concern,

lips turned down and eyes doe-like,
cocking your head and
reaching out your arm and
patting her on the shoulder, as she
slumps down farther, face almost
in the mug.  Steam would fog up her imaginary glasses.
The shawl droops forward
and a corner dips into the mug;
so you pinch it between
your thumb and index finger,
and you gently lift it out, dripping.  She sighs and
slowly takes a sip from the mug
again.  You stand and walk

out of the room, gone for a minute,
as your mother doesn’t move,
as your mother makes no move;
she sits and sighs and slumps and sips,
once or twice,
before you return,
tidying your long skirt and
sliding forward the chair and
moving your lips, mumbling something,
sympathies, something comforting,
as your mother stares blankly
at your ******* and makes no reply.
Your face makes that frown,
and you sip again and
get back up,

walk around the table,
the heavy oak table,
and take her by the shoulders,
gently, so gently, and lift,
gently, so gently.  She stands slowly,
shuffling away with you, out of the room,
leaving the still steaming empty
clay mugs on the table.

The snow-covered pyramid of lumber
and the stone-built heavy
chimney exhaling smoke bring back
the memories of winter—
reminder that yes, (yes,) it is winter, that
winter is here with the snow and
the cold and everything that that entails—
runny noses and cold nose-tips and shivering,
heavy parkas and furry hoods,
no birds and empty
tree-limbs.  The only heat
the heat of the fireplace,
roaring fire of formerly snow-covered logs from out back,
trekked in with heavy brown boots,
crunch crunch though the crisp
upper layer of snow, hot cider
or chocolate or tea or coffee
that (if it doesn’t burn your tongue)
warms you up inside out, warm fuzzy
feeling in the tummy, toes warmed
by thick wool socks.  Childhood
makes for a good winter,
sliding down hills on metal trash lids,
dodging trees before hitting the bottom and
plunging into a snowbank, laughing and
getting back up to go again.
But now your job is to shovel,
is not to have fun,
is to take care of business,
to shovel and to make food/drinks for others,
with the bleak grey sky overhead
through the empty birdless tree limbs.  And to ensure
that the house does not burn down
from the fireplace fire—
things have changed.

When the morning comes,
when day breaks, and you are still here,
you look up at the sky
and fall on your knees, thankful
to have passed through this night.

When the morning comes,
with its cold grey sky,
blanketing the stars of the night,
when the chill wind blows
and the sun gives no warmth.

When the morning comes,
and the demons of the night have gone
and have made their peace,
and have retreated once more,
when you are thankful to be alive.

When the morning comes,
when the world is again astir
and comes to consciousness
with faint stale smells of beer and cheap liquor,
as people rouse themselves
from alcoholic post-****** stupors.

When the morning comes,
and the day-animals are again awake
and the night-animals are again asleep,
break of day and the sound of the
south-vanished birds is not heard,
yet echoes remain in the ear.

When the morning comes,
and the coffee machines whir and click and drip drop,
when the steam rises
into the nostrils and the near-boiling
too hot black coffee down the throat,
when the eyes finally open.

When the morning comes,
when the car won’t start for the cold in the engine,
when the windshield is blind for the frost.

When the morning comes,
when all the sordid images
of the night before
appear in the face of the one beside.

When the morning comes,
and you pop your pills
just to make it through the day
and you pack your briefcase
and you walk
and it’s still cold,
when you exhale vapor.

When the morning comes,
when the alarm sounds,
when the snooze resets,
when the alarm sounds.

You stare into the woods,
perched on your chair on the porch
and I think that there is not much there,
that there are only the small animals
and the dead trees and the crickets
and I think, I think you’re wrong.

Keep your chin up
is the call,
but I don’t think I can—I don’t think you should.
I think it is bad,
I think sticking your neck out or up exposes it to harm;
sometimes it is better,
I think, to hunker down and acknowledge

that everything is wrong,
that everything is broken.  You, horse lover, [Horselover, Horse lover, horselover]
you must endure, you must be
the redwood in the gale,
the sandbag in the hurricane,
the rock in the stream,
the brick house in the wolf.

The jockey buries his head into the horse’s neck,
and you, horselover,
you must stare stoically;
you must not be moved.

That is what they tell us,
we who go through hell and back,
we who journey to rescue Eurydice and to bring her back.  But sometimes,
I think that it is silly,
that it is fruitless,
when what do we bring back but a shade, a spectre,

an abomination, a dæmon,
hideous monstrosity of a deformity of a memory,
eager to vanish in a pillar of salt.  It is said to you,
horselover, to never give up—
but if I never give up,
if I never stop,
then where does it end?
Something ends—there is a giving up,
if you do not exhaust your spirit,
this universe,

this world, will do so.  A thousand million galaxies collide,
a brilliant cosmic dancephony,
until they tire
and grow bored,
and in ten thousand million more years
they cease,
and they slow,

as they spread too far to interact,
friends hampered by the long distances,
lovers who no longer call daily,
who no longer think constantly of each other.
One day, in a hundred thousand million years,
it will be far too cold
to dance or to sing,
and that one day, I think that
you will give up,
that we will give up.

You sit at the oak table,
and you sigh as the horses break out,
out, out, gone.  And you will not chase them,
and I will not seek to bring them back
with lyre-playing.
The horses will run free and unbridled;
you, horse lover, to love something,
set it free, set them free, set the horses to roam across the grass-plains,
set your beautiful passions to free-romp.  I will miss them,
I will miss the horses, and
you will as much as I.  Their long manes
flowing in the breeze.  But you must let go,
but we must let go—
I think that we are in rats’ alley,
and I think that it is time.
JPB Mar 2011
You said that we would watch the fake snow fall,
Because we never see real snow, we said;
Instead we sat there empty in the mall.

There on the sofa, cozy, all in all,
Resting softly on my shoulder your head,
You said that we would watch the fake snow fall.

We slowly ate sandwiches, in our tall
Chairs; should have been thinking, What lies ahead?
Instead we sat there empty in the mall.

Sometimes, I sat and hoped for you to call,
Thinking about everything that you said;
You said that we would watch the fake snow fall.

The people walked on by.  I watched them all,
And I wanted us to leave, but instead,
Instead we sat there empty in the mall.

The end of winter neared, flowers bloomed red.
We kissed; you said, We’re through, and then you fled.
You said that we would watch the fake snow fall;
Instead we sat there empty in the mall.
JPB Mar 2011
Speeding home on a hot summer evening,
You can see the storms brewing
On the horizon, far off over the
Still farms.  What a waste of space.

The road is the barrel of a gun,
We the bullet, rushing through it,
To get to the light we see at the end,
So fast you can hardly tell the difference
Between the corn rows and the trees.

As the sun crawls down below the
SLOW DOWN.  We don’t.  Crumbling wooden
Buildings, peeling paint.  A few stragglers
Still working listlessly in this tiny town.

We whip into the driveway, you
Hop out before we can stop,
And you sprint off at a thunderclap.
JPB Feb 2011
The light from the TV flickers
against the wall.  I spin my chair
around to face the window,
the streets below barely wetted by a just-begun drizzle,
with the people hurrying back and forth,
disturbed by the new shower
like an anthill when poked with a stick.
Umbrellas have appeared
as if from nowhere—most black,
but some individuality can be seen
in the brilliant yellow few,
dashing from cab to bar
or club as the night begins.

Beyond all this, I say, the wish to be alone;
I watch them from above, peach in hand.

Lightning flashes white, as bright
as the pinkorange neon signs over dingy clubfronts, as bright
as the off-and-on blue lights from the squad cars
with wailing sirens, rolling up
next to angrily gesturing 20-somethings,
looking confused with the flashlight in their stupid eyes,
looking to get violent and into the car.

I sit here, safe above it all, away from jail,
from fights, from black eyes and ER visits.  I sit here
alone, watching the ants scurry on the ground
at one and two and three o’clock,
rushing to regrettable, forgettable one night stands.
JPB Nov 2010
The roaring log-fire in the corner of the
Wooden hall crackles and hisses
As the story-teller strums on
On the lyre, his honeyed mellow voice
The backdrop to strings plucked and
Flames crackled as he sings
His tune, the tale of an age long ago, of
Heroes and monsters and good and evil
And black and white and adventure
And great terrible underworlds
And the end-days, and he sings so sweetly
And it hardly seems terrifying,
The end of the world and the voyage down, down, down
To the underworld where our great
And noble hero saves his true love who has died
And walks freely out with her bound in his arms
And she loves him so
And they love each other so
And he walks with her for miles and miles far and wide
And they journey together,
The journey goes on and on
Until the end-days,
When the thunder roars and God speaks and rages
And the flames grow higher
And the volcanoes erupt
And spew molten lava
And the earth shakes
And the earth splits
And fissures form, the earth groans,
The end-times are upon us,
And we tremble in fear of the retribution of the Lord
And we repent
And we cry for  mercy,
The mercy of the Lord,
The end-times have come,
And we are scared,
And we will die, we know.
But the end-times seem not scary,
No, not with the honeyed, mellow voice
Of the sweetly singing story-teller
In the mead-hall with the great
Roaring crackling fire, bastion of
Warmth in the corner, an anchor to this world that is not ending.
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