just back the eff off, st. nick

make a pile of
the wrapping paper
the faux snow
the illuminated reindeer
the green and red hershey’s kisses
the oversized candy canes
the inflatable snow globe with frosty and his wintry wenches
and send it all up
in a yuletide blaze.

in the ashes
plant
dessicated corn stalks
uncarved pumpkins
bulbous gourds
racist pilgrims and noble savages
turkeys unaware of their imminent demise
and let them all reclaim their fucking month.

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haiku

a pumpkin’s grin
sags with mold–
cold air stings cheeks.

prayer

in dim lights
with repeating chords softly reverberating
the pastor led a prayer
instructed us to breathe in, deeply,
you whispered into my ear
“think of a smile”
(an inside joke)
but i did
then smiled
only partly because of the joke
but mostly because
you had just whispered into my ear
while I was breathing in
during a prayer
with repeating chords reverberating softly
in lights, dimmed.

memoria tenere

there are at least 2,752
reasons to remember
never let our defenses down
to enlist to prevent to
cock the gun pull the trigger
let the end justify the means
wave flags from every window to
call for the heads of those who plotted
who plot who still thirst and hunger and strap
bombs to themselves in the name of some god
or another

but
there are at least 2,752
reasons to remember
that when the call devolves from
cry to battle cry death leads
to death
why can’t we remember it’s fiction that
defeated factions fall into submission and forget
their pain their hatred their revenge for the sake of safety?
why can’t we remember the man who’s lost his brother the mother
who’s lost her son the lover who’s lost love by bomb or bullet
breathes eats drinks
sleeps thinks speaks death?

so
let’s love without hatred
live without revenge
remember the lives of those we loved
without forgetting we just can’t go on
this way

in late summer

on an early morning walk
when headlights and sunlight are scare
i pass the dogwood on the next block
its branches sprawling at shoulder-height
still as night in supplication

i recall its spring blossom
the four milky petals pierced at each end
holding at their center
a cluster of marigold pistols begging to burst

but now: green leaves
wilt from heat and no rain
arcuate veins lead to branches
that lead to nodes that hold
knots of seeds seasonally shifting to red

i take a handful
pocket them like the thief that i am
and make plans to plant them in my house

image that
a tree in my house

it’s water

as the train approached our stop
we saw the edge of the storm
a wall of rain quickly advancing

when we stepped onto the platform
into the deluge the other passengers
laughed at our misfortune

we held our umbrellas like shields
they flailed and failed to protect us
the wind carried water in all directions

in seconds our shoes were sponges
wet clothes clung to wet skin
three blocks never seemed so far

but laughing beneath our umbrellas
loud enough so the other could hear
three blocks never seemed so near.

working memory

i try to recall the park that night
(beneath a sea of stars?):
how we walked around the pond (twice?)
our hands brushed (by accident?) as we
sat upon the cold (wooden?) bench,
how you looked wearing my (grey?) hat
with your (silver?) hoop earrings
as you slipped off your (shoes?)
and i tried not to shiver.

the details are foggy,
elusive approaching fictitious,
but what remains are two things: that
feeling that something
really fucking great
was about to happen
and the taste of the scent of the leaves.

reflections of a superhero

the bank teller from last month:
a gun pressed to his temple
eyes closed he trembled like a leaf
trying to put bills into a bag
i have a wife, three kids…please…
i approached noiselessly
said something witty, something dark
and before the crook could turn in surprise
i snapped his neck his body fell to the floor in a heap
thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou
said the teller.
the other day he quit his job
left his wife
left his kids
figuring life is short, said fuck this,
got into his car and drove across town
into the arms of another.

why do i fight for this world
when they do all they can to destroy it?

the old lady from last week:
her feeble cries for help
barely lifted from the flames
the smoke choked her ancient lungs
she felt the heat of Death’s breath
i crashed through the weakened roof
tossed flaming furniture from my path
found her in the corner
scooped her gently into my arms
leapt down six stories to safety
thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou
said the old lady.
an investigation later revealed
the source of the conflagration:
her meth lab.
and
in the other room:
the charred remains of
her four-month-old granddaughter.

why do i fight for this world
when they do all they can to destroy it?

the prime minister yesterday
impeccable his in his new suit
stood at the podium pontificating
oblivious to the sniper’s crosshairs.
he would later say when he heard the shot
his life flashed before his eyes
but I moved across the stage
swift as light
caught the bullet in my right hand
presented it to him as a souvenir
thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou
said the prime minister.
today he declared war
in retaliation for the attempt on his life
half a million soldiers prepare for battle
saying goodbye to childrenwiveshusbandsbrotherssistersmothersfathers
taking up their guns
promising to write
promising to make everyone proud.

why do i fight for this world
when i should destroy it?

A house with a tree

I want house with a tree out front
the kind of tree whose branches reach out, real low
declaring its domain
at least twenty feet each way
the kind of tree whose limbs are a nest
blocking out the sun
submersing us in shade
giving us space to be alone
the kind of tree with leaves the size of an open hand
that, in the fall, burn red on one side
yellow on the other
and in a sun-drenched October wind shimmer
like all of your favorite memories.