Category: poetry

quis ut deus / broken angels

you dare spend years tracking me silently, months wearing me down despite the distance of a state, of twenty years, dragging me down all these trips down memory’s crooked lane, ask me for my thoughts and memories, are stubborn and brutish when I don’t want to go back there, tripping through overgrown and rat-infested alleys of memory/malice and the walls crumbling as the vines break through to form some hybrid monstrous mass of growing stone, dank with kudzu and humus but silicate/basalt/obsidian at its cold leering heart/jaw (alive, its teeth set like an inverted crown around its maw, beats with a liquid pulse), where I, you, the dead rats lost their bones, act like you know a thing about about me that isn’t some figment/narrative you’ve pieced together/your own apocrypha because no, in fact, you never really knew a thing, and then show up at my door when I thought I’d finally scared you off, tried to scare you off, gave you the words you demanded knowing the asker always regrets the asking and drops it all (my broken rosaries) like I’ve scalded their eyes, hung the tender little neighborhood strays up by their hind legs, throats cut, to bleed dry, me, the village witch both sought and hated for the need that fuels the seeking, the apostate novenas, the watchful eyes of your bride, and you come anyway and do a few things really right, taking out the trash/diffident joking/your sudden resolve/your hand twisting in my hair/your blue eyes piercing me/your tongue sharp and soft and spiced with charred oak and Loretto, and a couple of things really wrong (you aren’t my guardian angel) but whatever, I know better and I know how this works, tears and cum on my kitchen floor, always my tears, bye, see you around, and then turn at the last moment, evoke a shard of memory, a splinter under your skin from long ago, offer it up as a mirror (it’s not my reflection that you see) and try to heal some imagined wound, some deficiency, you with your sharp, unasked-for gifts,  bitter as myrrh, lecture me, evoke some past regret or certainty that I would end up torn and shattered, tragos apopompaios, stretched to death upon those larger wheels of fate, lost to the abyss of my own madness, of our fathers’ raging failures, of the hands of a hundred men who thought to beat or fuck my life away, you turn in a moment to save me, twenty years too late, and you don’t know me at all.  I am not some holy virgin/abused child/pharmakos/lifted wholesale out of Nazareth by angels/set down in Italy or Kentucky or fucking I-65 to wear your star-studded and prickly crown/brilliant failure/gorgeous abomination/who stings whom first/whose palm curls until the nails pierce? and then to turn around and put this on me like a burning robe.  I will drip the scorn, it’s what I’m good at, serve it up for you to choke on when you taste my burning tears but will not hear my words.  I am a shell, you have no idea what’s inside, the weariness of my bones and weight of years, how tired I am of this being my problem, how sick I am of being a dirty little secret, I’m not yours anyway, you’re just one in a long line of supplicants, slouching towards Loretto, chasing the angels’ tracks across heaven, up the curve of your arm where once the needles hit, barely still there but thinking you’ll own what you find.  I cannot understand why I have to be the one at whose feet you lay these burdens, your decades of baggage, caskets of what-ifs, your heavy offerings, small packets of stale love, chasing what streaks across the sky in your periphery, tattered and stained angels with bruised mouths, surely not right but not purely illicit, your statutory abandonment (I was almost sixteen).  I can’t understand why this has become my setting, my shrine, I run but they always catch me and put me right back here, chained in by stained glass angels, if I really was just that awful and heartless and greedy for votive tears, tender gibbets, little bloodcurdled heartbeats, did I bleed them all dry and pin them in a shadow box, fluttering to death in the breeze? Is there some remnant, a dessicated souvenir, a vestigial membrane that I took from you, that you must haunt me until I give it back? those years and it’s only my due, coming through unconnected channels, but finding its way home across Nazareth on the backs of bloodied angels and you cannot be mine and I will not be yours.  For imaginary balm, is that what you’re here for? the oil of three marys, your hateful tenderness at my feet ’til I fall to my knees (maybe this will make you go away satisfied)  yet again in the role of comforter but at what cost to me, these alabaster jars of spikenard, precious tears, pearls without price, charred oak and feather, your bitter spend, my graying hair across your feet on my kitchen floor and always my tears, always mine, this endless price, a syrup for debauched cherubs making faces in the clouds.  I’m just an object, a character, a convenient fiction, a temporary release, a hot and bitter relapse.  What you’ve come for costs me (I am tired of paying).  Your whispers make it worse (not my guardian angel) your two hands on my face demanding my eyes make me despise your tenacity, longest litany of thought I’d lost you never want to lose you again (who never had whom) but you will leave with my blood on your lips and my balm on your wounds, the old puncture that turned you inside out for six months ’til they put you back together again, the cruel cicatrice from your broken shoulder, the pins in your feet and you mistake my rage for gratitude, think you’ve brought gifts but only a burden to hand off, one more prayer, one more plea, to be granted to you, to hide your tracks at my expense, to keep safe the relics of your suppressed cult, dipped in red wax to preserve them, gilded with lies to mask your sorry pilgrimage to the forbidden shrine of your holy whore.


ETA: I’ve taken the poem down, as it’s forthcoming in the 2011 volume of the Oracle Fine Arts Review.

two kinds of grey

this isn’t last spring’s grey,
the kind of grey that made no sense,
(that seeped around the edges of even
the flowerbeds, in brilliant
sunshine and scarlet)
bubbled up from somewhere deep,
poison to the plant life
with every step I took

this is the kind of grey that is low-grade
not in so much contrast with the weather
and the local flora
but comes in
from outside

pushing my own lines of
the brain chemistry
the same not-color of everything
I stole

laying out someone else’s credit card
with a smooth snick
as soulless as my sex life
and with a lower interest rate

Murdering Birds

Dreams are
where once
I fought
to keep
you out.

I wake, aware
that you lie
next to me
and you aren’t
trying to hurt
me, to stifle

the very thing
that only just
begins to find
a way to
breathe air again.

Your hand presses on
my back, you whisper
“It’s me.  I’m here.”
What I hear is

the distant drop of
rain, running off the
roof, the sound of
my sobs choked back

and the unspoken truth
that when I say
I’m stronger than that
I’m really just lying.

When I sleep you can
hurt me.  Your eyes say
you won’t; your touch says
you wouldn’t dream of it.

With you I would like
to breathe freely, to feel
that there is nothing waiting
to sue for damages with
interest.  But I stay locked
up, tight as a tomb.

What I feel is
the touch of feathers
– darkling dream dying – dawning –
A raven lights, tastes,
then pecks my eyes –
a warm and grisly
last supper.  Night steals
the air, leaves scars
like stripes of talons
on my wordless hopes.

A way to
breathe air again
means I have
only to learn
that I won’t

be alone if
I cry just
a little bit.

And you  –
still there –
means you
haven’t quite,
yet, found
the means
to murder
those birds.

Eclipse and Dawn

Cut my finger on a shard of glass
last night
cleaning up the mess you made
punching out your window
the weekend of the Packers’ game

Stared at the blood welling up
around my cuticle —
a stabbed moon

Thought of your hands
on my throat
words falling from your mouth like
mad dominoes
in sanguine shades and
Absolut blue

Dropped the glass into the dirt
brushed my hands
and went upstairs to repair
my own damage.

In Vodka Veritas

You smell despair on me
hold my hair for me
as I rue last night’s Absolut
Bring me a rose
before I walk out the door
in a red satin dress
without you

I never asked for your devotion
Never scented myself with neediness for you
like an attar of roses
straight from Gehenna

Another night of those liquid blue eyes
burning into me
and I will be driven to a frothing madness
like a wild woman of the Bacchae
gnawing on a severed thumb

Humbert Rides Again

Three states in as many days
and I sit
two feet away
oppressed by the weight of
your thoughts towards me

I try to read your mind
and shudder at these:
slick gristle of old man hands
slap of bald pate
and stink of bourbon
too close to my face
for comfort

Squinting through smoke
in the lounge of a Holiday Inn
eyes bloodshot looking like
the olives in my martini
unblinking and pickled
in gin

By Saprtanburg I hated you
for loving me
Can’t forgive you for succumbing
to an invitation I never wrote
Hate you for your bended knee
and open heart

(Thinks he’s Humbert in some
depraved marijuana dream
eyes glistening from the sheen
of legs thirty years his junior
propped on the dashboard
in an Indian summer)


He thinks when the dead die, children go in/and lift the lids of the music boxes/in their rooms.  They discover how jewels are places lonelier than darkness…

~~ Beckian F. Goldberg


We were wrong, thinking blackness ~~
night brings
just an ambivalence of standard ~~
hues of greys.

Last night you walked out, sullen?
brooding over some instance or remark,
its significance exaggerated in your turning mind
as you martyred your heart to your brain.
I followed you quickly, calling you name
(I had to, there were pieces of us entangled
and growing, in my mind, in the dark room,
before you forced them apart
tearing thicknesses, like gristle, tangible)

You didn’t stop, or speak,
or even turn.  I followed you, cold, shoeless,
and not quite drunk, down the steps
and onto the sidewalk,
felt your leaving,
and knew the pointlessness of chasing you.

You, black in the light,
blended with the sky
until the greyness appeared, washed over us,
retreated ~~
hid your jeweled eyes in the night.