Sunday, December 23, 2007

the frozen chords

Abby plays her muted trumpet
to the soft piano patter.
Seth sits the baby blue grand
and James sits his armchair close.
Dad savors dark chocolate--
a by-product of caroling to
thankful neighbors.
Mom wishes he wouldn't.
She dreams of growing old.
Becky laughs with old friends
new with her mobile,
and old friends are the music
Seth is playing,
so chatter brings the warmth.
There is a book in Mary's hand,
or does she write to Joel?
She can not last each task alone
and loves them both in turn.
Now Abby plays the keys
and Seth, the strings with horsehair.
I listen to the rain outside,
but in my heart it's snowing.
Only the man packed firm of snowflakes
can match the warmth I feel.
He stands within the music
of the frozen chords--
the ones standing still in time.
Though time will move and pull and stretch
young faces 'till they're old,
stand bold
like frozen chords--stand cold
against time's bidding.
But older chords still young enough to play
are never cold,
nor ever without meaning.
The snowman is my frozen chord
of ageless warmth,
And as such warmth already,
never melts.
I am surrounded by the glow of
life in snowflakes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

twilight never night

This is the way to be.
With friends who are the friends
you know, now know again;
with motivation for your laughter--
not obligation;
with recollection of the past an aid--
not lifeline to your smiles;
the presence of your doing--
not wanting for past doing and past love.

Live in me now!
For the friend in me now!
But will you go away?
Not just as far as yesterday...?
Please live in me for longer past my leaving.
Then shall I want for little,
but the twilight never night.
So put in me the twilight
for when I fall from sight.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

why words? people like pictures better anyway

for instance: do I need to tell you this is Russia? or that it's beautiful?

when it rains, it pours

Don't ever tell someone you are doing great, that you are 'back on your feet,' that you are finally in forward motion again. If you do, it will rain. And when it rains, it pours. And no amount of tread or grip will keep you from losing your footing again. You are the lie you thought was truth.

But see the lie as such and you'll begin to dry the land again 'till tread and grip convince you of the truth--that you can stand again. But don't say it. Don't tell a soul. Somehow the rain knows and waits the challenge. The floods will come, disolve the sand you thought was stone, and bury you with waves. The sand takes years to turn to stone. That's why you're choking helplessly; that's why you're floating out to sea.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mother Russia

Would you not also want to return?
To where snow and ice and lonely soviet tracks
feel like glow?
Where something so dull and bleak, were it placed
anywhere else in the world,
sparkles and entrances and steals you
and becomes you!
Where something embedded with so much pain
calls to every thing you are
so that you can not let it go,
like an abused child who loves her father deeply--
more deeply and with more tears than you will ever know?
Who can evade the yearning
for a homeland you do not have,
but feel it deep within you all the same?
It is Russia I tell you!
It is the harshest land, the cruelest home,
but the one all lands call mother--
Mother Russia.
And who does not yearn for Mother?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

red ice

Don't tell me I'm great and that everything is ok.
You don't tell me that without your own agenda--
Patronizing me like you're creating me;
feeling the warmth for yourself after thinking you tucked it around me.
But I'm not warm by you
or anyone who thinks they own me through charity.
I'm the owner of fireless sticks
I'm lashing into rafts.
You too would look sour at the gentleman
who looks down upon my pile of sticks,
then smiling with pity discards his cigar
into the wood for igniting.
And thinking he's done his good turn,
turns away
with fake warmth in his heart.
He might as well have sprinkled salt in a fish bowl
for thinking the goldfish in search of the sea.
And what a grotesque thing
for the gentleman to turn away smug
with his virtue, with his selfish gratification at being selfless,
while the fish chokes in his last drink.
You burnt my sticks to ash,
But the blaze you saw in my eyes
was not warmth and blessings piled up in store for you.
It was coldness and ire--
red ice
for the gentlepeople who won't think like a fish,
who won't think like a man building rafts,
who won't think like the child in the ghetto,
who won't think like the man addicted,
who won't think like the prostitute in debt,
who won't think like the younger or the older or the other who is different,
who won't think like anyone else.
How lonely never to think when giving.
And can you really be giving when your ultimate goal
is to feel good from it?
Feeling good is a by-product
when the product is good.
But the raft is burnt and the fish is dead!
Will you turn to look?
Or do you fear what you might see?
or how it might make you feel?
But if you think too much you might be a hypocrite,
so don't think too much.
Your conscience can't get you if you keep it ignorant.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We are not Fools

We are not fools--the ones who cry.
The fools are those not wondering why
or how or where the meaning's gone . . .
or when the devil silenced song
that played a life in gripping tones.
But life is memory still unknown
'till now, when watered cheeks are all
that's left reminding us of all
we had and all we were and all
the life we can recall
in yesterday.
Give me the fool who cries this way
And I'll show you the one who'll pay
the price for living happy then,
then stand to pay the price again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Here's a tip . . .

So I'm at ward choir practice right? Choir director lady pulls out the Christmas music and the first piece is "Lo How a Rose." Everyone starts to whisper to each other.

"Isn't this the Castleton's song?"
"Yeah, this is the one the Castletons sing when they carol at our house each Christmas."
"They come to my house every year."
"Whatever, they come to my house every year."
"They first came to our home in 1995--haven't missed a year since."
"That's nothing. They started in the 80's at our place and we always give them fudge."
"They hate your fudge."
"Whatever, they hate yours!"
"We don't give fudge. We read Luke 2 with them each time and have an impromptu testimony meeting."
"How could you hold a testimony meeting? You don't have a testimony!"
"Your dad works in a bar."
"Your mom works in a bar!"
"Lets see how loud you scream when I pull your hair."
"Stop touching me!"

The whole room soon fills with shrieks and punches and threats of poisoning each other's Christmas fudge. The choir director is new to the area and is bewildered by the scene. In desperation for what to do, she spies the Castletons grouped together smiling and cheering on the upheaval--the look on their faces showing they regard the whole affair as a complement. She yells for them to do something. They don't. So she jumps on the organ, makes sure every key is down and floors the pedal. Everyone stops and covers their ears. After laying off the organ, she stares horrifically at the choir to convey the question, "What on earth is going on!" Everyone looks at the Castletons in response. With broad smiles, slant postures and arms resting on each other's shoulders, they all turn to Joe . . . except for Joe. He's responsible to assess damages and deliver a verdict and he knows it. He takes the toothpick he's been chewing out of his mouth and examines it before responding. His week-old scruff, long curly hair slicked back into a would-be mullet, and large poke-a-dot tie, say most of it before he does. Without looking up he calmly says, "You're new right? Here's a tip," then slowly lifts his head to smile straight at the choir director, "Don't try to sing our song."

The ward choir will be singing "Rudolf" instead . . . with choreography. Call now to reserve your place on this year's Castleton Caroling List and receive two years for the price of one. Just say "Joe is funny" when you call, and we'll stay for fudge at your house this year! Restrictions apply: no nuts, raisins, or cranberries in the fudge. Your right to an encore is immediately forfeited upon the discovery of these dilutes.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Until Nothing Means

Until nothing means anything anymore.
Until I spill the liquid running the machine,
Until I scream.
I won't go for a while.
I used to run over things, through things.
Now I watch.
I'll scream.
None of this means anything anymore.
I want to mean something--
"Too many metaphors," he says.
"They get in the way."
So what if I don't want you understanding what I'm saying?
If you starve on gaps, go back to the boring stuff.
I didn't create all the mysteries.
Communication was born clothed.
It only lies to you if you want.
You can want it to be true if you choose.
And anyway, I don't care what you want to make it mean;
I mean something of my own,
And I'll change it how I want.
Burden to you.
I can't carve the toy soldier you imagine;
So take my words instead and carve what you will.
Words are like clay anyway.
You make them what you want,
But let me keep the original.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

by popular demand

eyelids droop
babies poop
make sure you eat
lots of soup

party hard
cake is lard
Abby says to
stomp the yard

Happy Birthday

Saturday, October 27, 2007


"Thank you all for coming to my birthday party."

Remember that one time when Rachel asked me to emcee her wedding reception and I pretended it was my birthday and everyone laughed except for grandma who actually believed me and started thinking what she could give me for a birthday present and ended up slipping me a twenty in the food line with a wink that was supposed to say it all and I thought "it all" was a tip for doing such a snazzy job at the mic all night and then I found out by eavesdropping that she meant it as a birthday present and then I spent it on root beer right away so I wouldn't have it to give back to her once someone told her the truth but then Rachel got all ticked off at me and said I was like ruining her wedding and pretty much her whole life by being a jerk to grandma about the money and the one thing I couldn't live with was ruining Rachel's whole life so I offered grandma one of the root beers and she got mad and threw it in the trash but it missed the trash and broke on the floor next to the table holding the wedding cake and dad slipped on the root beer and knocked over the cake and then I thought for sure I had ruined Rachel's life except that everyone burst out laughing when they saw dad with cake all over his tux and in his hair like he had just aged thirty years and grandma put her arm around me and laughed and cried and laughed and cried until Rachel started laughing and crying too and started messing up all her make-up from crying and got mad again?

Yeah, that was a good time. And I don't even care that Rachel says that will be the last time she asks me to emcee her wedding reception.

Friday, October 26, 2007


If I felt for every man what I feel for you
If I wished for every man what I wish for you
If I loved every man with the love I have for you

What a grand thing I'd be!
What a Saint I'd surely be!
How alive my world would be!


"I'm funny. And great honks, people like me!" That is not what he said. At least, not out loud. But everyone needs a phrase to get their adrenaline pumping when they're about to draw all attention to themselves, so that is what he thought. Then he stepped up to bat. And by "to bat" I mean, "to do," a reckless thing. And "to do," with the exchange of a few letters, is "to boo," which is what the crowd did. And "to boo," when said instead of read, sounds like "taboo." And taboo is exactly what he committed when he stepped up to the plate and spit his beef jerky cud all over the umpire's cleats. Needless to say, he struck out. The ump called strike three on a ball way outside and as high as the bleachers. He had expected as much after misplacing his jerky on the ump's shoe, but he still felt a bit mistreated. And then, as if an instinctive reflex to his deflating mood, he suddenly thought, "I'm funny. And great honks, people like me!" His self-confidence restored, he marched back to the plate and spit the rest of his cud onto the umpire's cleats. The big man wasn't humored. Nor did his following actions demonstrate that he liked his assailant. The batter spent the remainder of the game in the locker room re-arranging the laces on his shoes. There comes a point in every one's mad rush at life, driven by pure adrenaline and reckless confidence, when the individual turns against his assumed friend--that "go get 'em tiger!" mentality--and the abuse begins. "I'm not funny. Stop saying I'm funny! You lied to me. People don't laugh with me, they laugh at me. Didn't you hear them! They think I'm an idiot; they don't like me! And who says 'great honks!' anyway. You're retarded!" The abuse would continue, except that the individual doesn't put the blame on himself--he puts it on whatever that thing is that keeps telling him he's funny. He blames something else for the way he feels and becomes certain that all he has to do is stand up and walk away from that nasty mean thing that keeps lying to him. The person is fully confident he can do just fine on his own now that he's severed ties with that . . . that thing. But the difference is only that he starts speaking to himself in first-person, instead of second. He really hasn't severed ties with anything. But on the illusion he has, he begins to rebuild the confidence he just took a sledge hammer to. "Tell me I'm funny and then watch me get laughed at! I'll show you funny! I'll show you what kind of a rock star I really am. And you won't get any credit this time, it's all me! Because gosh darn it, people like me!" Soon, though, he will forget to focus so exclusively on the thoughts firing around in his head and he'll slip back into second-person, especially just after doing something good. "See! You are funny! I told you you were funny. Did you see the way that guy laughed? Dang straight you're funny--don't you let anyone tell you again you aren't funny. And people like you!" But he'll do something inappropriate again. Just give him time. And when he does, it's back to the bench in the locker room to abuse the lying, deceitful, bag of mean tricks, evil, dumb, hate it . . . thing!! And then the mock trial, sentence, and severance party. Before you know it, he's back on his feet and recklessly experimenting with life again, driven by the same adrenaline he hates. But what happens when the man figures out what he's been doing his whole life? That he's been fooling himself in order to preserve himself? And what's the harm in a little hypocrisy now that he knows, if the result keeps him moving happily through life's ups and downs? I'll tell you the harm. He will one day hate hypocrisy, hate himself, and have no where to turn. Too tired of running away from himself he will take full responsibility, take all the abuse and stay seated on that locker room bench for a long while. He may sit there an eternity . . . or he may get up. But what gets him up this time? That is the question. Is it the first-person, the second, or the third? Or can he live without narrating his life at all? Who's the narrator anyway? And who said it was a mere "person?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I hate words.
They won't serve me.
They won't be wielded by my abrasive hand.
Like bad children they scatter when their
father calls them and rebel the worse at
attempts to tame them.
They mock me, serve not my meaning to others.
They know me and laugh that no one else can.
Disguised as portals to my soul they attract,
then turn to armored walls and attack
the guests I wanted.
Deceptive as sour milk in baby bottles.
You'll never know the poison until your child screams--
the one inside you wanting good milk.
And part of me dies to see it so.
I lash out at the words:

You putrid things!
I asked for good, for sweet, for life.
You gave them knives.
And left the dying cries
of children in my ears.
My wanted meaning disappears
Just like my unseen, unheard tears
at hidden words you changed to mean
your putrid things!

And in response, the words laugh loud
to keep the truth from listening crowds
who wait for words
to tell my heart.
As if the words
obey my art--
the art I am.

But I'm like you and hear them only.
The words I write will disobey me
once on the page--
Like children sent from God to earth
to show the world His love and worth,
not wars to wage . . .
But that is all they do from birth.

Yet, does the Father stop creating?
Cease His constant renovating
of our souls
When we evade the knowledge given
and shun the caring He has bidden
us the share?

But I'm no Father,
nor have I children
but bastard words I've found and driven
into lines.
Like mines ill-placed at times of war
my words deface what I'd adored
when writing.

Now nothing's more inviting
than to hate those words.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bueford Day

The twentieth day of the tenth month. Rare is the solemnity of an event observed with as much black clothing within the LDS culture. Funerals, where one would usually expect a sea of black to represent the congregation, are adorned with more light and color in this culture than in others. And why should it not? These people believe life isn't really over at death--that separation from loved ones is only temporary and ice-cream isn't as bad for you up there anyway, so the dead are probably having a much merrier time of it than we are. There is one catch to this idea of temporary parting: it only pertains to things with living souls--not vehicles you became emotionally attached to in mortality. The Castleton's big old Dodge Ram van isn't going to make it past the pearly gates . . . no matter how many times we unloaded all our emotional drama onto its steering wheel and dashboard. The gas guzzler just isn't going to have an immortal soul no matter how hard we cried and prayed for its survival during those last splutters and coughs of exhaust it exhaled in the desert. We won't see "the beast" again. And all the "fun times" we had almost falling to our deaths through the make-shift floor boards at sixty miles per hour are just going to have to remain memories with no opportunity to relive the moment. Even the fact that we gave Bueford a name won't carry him over to the next world. Bueford is dead, and will be even when we're dead. So, why all the black clothing? Because we became so darn attached to something without a soul that now we have to mourn its loss each year--the void never to be refilled. Of course, I filled it a long time ago with NASCAR, but Becky wouldn't join me because she likes having a good reason to wear all black once a year. None of us can ever resist doing everything Becky tells us to do when she asks with that quiver-lip thing and the waterworks. So, I still wear black once a year on October 20th and hang my head and look really depressed in photo shoots. Here's to old rusty metal and make-shift floor boards: We miss you Bueford.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the arrangement of metal, rubber and plastics

James' motorbike--when words don't work anymore, James' moterbike does. Thanks James.

Cold Collar

it takes more to freeze
than an icy blast seize
at your blood.
it takes a warm breeze
stripping naked with ease
heart's defense against "please
let me in."
it takes giving keys
to the one asking "please"
and false safety in birds and in bees,
so that when the maid leaves
you're exposed, and you freeze
from the lonely ice seize
at your blood.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This man says it

I was going to give everything.
No, I was going to give more than everything.
That was the secret.
And then, when I thought I'd given even more than was humanly possible,
I was going to reach back somewhere inside myself,
like the best race horses did,
and find whatever it is on the bottom line that makes a champion,
and was going to give it that.
And I'd win.

--Jesse Owens

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Forced to Live

When in the lover's pain,
There is nowhere to go
nowhere to be
nothing to say
nothing to free
your forlorn soul from suffering.

It's drifting in space with claustrophobia
or motion sickness from the earth's spin.
It's freezing at 100 degrees Fahrenheit
or burning at the other end.
It's death by wanting,
Yet forced to live each moment more.
No search can end the suffering
nor find the right in every sore.

If at least it were the noble thing,
If at least I sensed some glory;
If at least I were the martyr king
In some heroic story.
But it's none of these,
Not ev'n at least.
In simplest terms it's boring.
The plot is worth ignoring,
For sits the man restoring
Nothing by his sitting
And nothing by his spinning
of the harshest words--
the ones meant for his ridding
of the pain.
Not even rain
Can drown his sickness whole
And leave him sleep--that peaceful role
of happy men, of kings extolled.
The suffered sits--nothing consoled.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

. . . is not to care

To use the thing,
wring out the being
on pretense of your loving;
Then shun the shell,
the dried up well
when nothing's left for drinking;
And blame it first
for unquenched thirst
instead of blame your leaching;
Like eating seeds
for hating weeds
and time required for sowing;
Yet eating 'till
you're hungry still
and hate the plants not growing . . .

. . . is not to care.

. . . is not the rare
and cultivated loving
of real friendship.

For care's the seed
and love the reed
grown from the ground befriending;
And when reeds die
new seeds fall nigh
and prove care-full beginnings.

But you ate seeds,
your passion--reeds
of nothing worth devouring
now that famine's come.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

look-alike singles

So I'm thinking and thinking, staring at the carpet, when mutton chops over there calls out to me, "Hey Robin! Dude, I haven't seen you in a while. How's it been man?" My first impulse was to reply that I hadn't seen him in a while either, and that in fact, I'd never seen him so why was he calling me weird names that only made me think of comic books. But I didn't say it. Instead, though knowing there was no one to my left, right, or behind, I made obvious glances in all directions to give the man ample opportunity to figure out his mistake. It didn't work. "Robin, what's up man?" I looked him straight in the eyes this time and waited as long as I dared to give him one more chance without seeming rude. Unfortunately, he still felt at home with his long lost friend, Robin. Suddenly, I wanted to be funny to help out a bit. "Hey Batman, nice chops. Is that the new disguise?" I thought the words, but managed to conquer the impulse to say them. Funny was not going to be appropriate right now. "I'm afraid you have the wrong man, sir." Those words never developed sound either because I thought them in a British accent and everyone knows that an American trying to sound British always comes off sounding condescending, unless he has taken classes, and I had no classes in British diction, so I left off.

Thoughts and memories flash through the mind much quicker than it takes to write them down, so I still hadn't reached the rude point of my staring when I recalled a time several months ago when I caught a young man smiling to himself as he took a picture of me with his cell phone. Suddenly realizing I noticed, he explained I looked exactly like a friend of his and he just had to send my picture to his friend to show him. Now, a few months later, I have Batman staring me in the face for what seems like minutes, completely convinced I'm his sidekick. We finally reached breaking point and I gave in. "Sorry man, I'm not Robin." "You're not? You look just like him!" "Apparently," I replied. The man turned to the side to let me know he considered the conversation over, but remained gazing in disbelief at my profile. I pretended not to notice.

What is it with me and look-alikes? Is there really more of me out there somewhere? Different human bodies walking around, filling some agenda I don't know about, but ultimately connected to me through looks? What are my other lives like? Am I cool, clumsy, stupid, in a rock band, married? Well, at least I can be sure I'm not married. Marriage is completely about looks, and if one look-alike can't attract the opposite gender, the others certainly can't. But what if one of us does find a girl who wants this look? Is all lost for the rest of us? Are we all in a mad race to find her first? It would seem so, I thought to myself as I walked toward my car and in frustration rummaged my pockets for my keys. My thoughts had begun in light-hearted humor, but had suddenly become solemn. What ever would happen to me if I never found a girl who could love me beyond all the look-alike GQs out there, beyond all the Peter-priesthoods out there. What if no girl ever saw through all the crowing roosters and gorgeous peacock feathers of a billion look-alike suitors to where I was, to where I stood singled out as me and not as my feathers. And the girls who did see me were just the ones who took random stabs at the masses, just happening upon me like happening upon Robin. I couldn't be reconciled to that. And what if she did come and I was too stupid to see her--just her. What would I have to live for? What would make me smile? But then I did smile. For in the wake of no one, there is always some one--and no look-alikes. There is only one me. And I'm the luckiest person alive because I already have me forever. There can be no mistaking that, and no divorce either.

It rained all the way home. And I had me and I smiled.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Come sit on the swing of my childhood
And listen to the stories that made me

Thursday, September 27, 2007

the fish of '98

Sometimes you just have to say goodbye, no matter how much work you put into preserving the thing. Such was the case with the fish of '98. Nearly ten years ago on a day filled with appreciation for free fish, an assortment of salmon and trout lay strewn all about the lawn undergoing a rather unsightly gutting and chopping process. The end of the road for these gutless, headless fish was a plastic and paper wrap labeled "Salmon '98." I say "end of the road" to mean they never managed to aspire to a nobler presentation, like the one they might have enjoyed on the dinner table. The sparkle of fine china, the wine goblets, the adornment of parsley and basil and lemon-pepper, the honor of resting on silver platters--none of this was theirs. They did, however, make it to the compost pile ten years later when the deep freezer in the basement finally gave them up. Today, on a day filled with tears and remorse, the ten-year-old assortment of salmon and trout lay once more strewn all about the lawn, this time undergoing the rather laborious process of scraping and tearing the papery-plasticy-fishy wrap of '98. (The reason here for the term "papery-plasticy-fishy wrap" is necessary only because the chemical process which occurred to create the mesh of the once separate and individually named materials of paper, plastic, and fish, eludes me. The single material derived from the interwoven mesh of these three, I believe, has not been named. Or either it has, but from lack of foreseeable commercial value the patent lawyers were never summoned. Whatever the hindrance, I know of no better way of describing the substance than papery-plasticy-fishy stuff, for it was all one). The material was laboriously scraped from the frozen flesh and discarded to the waste bin. The fish of '98, which stunk even while still frozen, were bedded down in a three foot hole in the compost pile. Apparently fish are the only meat edible to compost piles. Two days later, the earth was hot above the buried flesh. Dad was excited, and well, he had to be. He needed to replace his disappointment at not being allowed to fry up some of the fish and test its salvageability. Mom, with financial motives to keep him alive longer, firmly dismissed his motion and he was forced to find fulfillment in the chemical experiment going on under ground between overly ripe fish flesh and dirt. Two days of fish-strewn-lawn in ten years and three days of night-watch duty to make sure dad wasn't still trying to salvage the fish, and we all slept content that the deed was done. The fish of '98 were dead.

Epilogue: One hour later. Mom filled the deep freeze with pork.

Monday, September 24, 2007

She Won't Come Easy (guitar lyrics for Rachel)

I know a little girl
She walks at night above the stars you see
She skips along until the song of 'good die young' makes others sleep
She sees so differently, life's melody is harmony for her

She--she won't come easy,
she'll make you wheezy if you try.
She--she hums along
with the love of life's song running pure in her veins
She--she knows no reins but the Carpenter's.

I'd give that little girl
full breath to say the things and walk the way you won't
You've never walked that way, your two feet--wheels on track that someone laid.
She sees so differently, life's railroad is the toll road others take

I asked this little girl
what love is like.
She said the moon is bright, not light;
the stars are real, beyond the steel
of starry eyes.
Love sees so differently, Love's truest form out runs the storm of hate--
that mood cheap lovers have once they create
cheap love.

Love's real beyond the daffodil,
beyond the words that poets steal
to write true love in lines.
their love never defines
more than the wedding chimes
can do when ringing in the sound of love,
the call of love;
no gall of love can they foretell,
no tears they see at wishing wells
years down the road
where love unloads
its coins to pay for passage
through the pain--
the pain that is the love of old,
back when the chimes swung ringing,
and all the friends stood singing
of a new love born.

But later torn
the lover wishes she had seen
past starry eyes, the mean-
ing shown on glassy mirrors:
reflection of the stars above--
the real ones, like real love
so far away
through light years pay
of cold and dark and empty
the years that etch their trace
since that first plunge
into the breathless silent night
until, thank God, we feel the light
of perfect love.
It isn't here, but up above.
But still starts here, that seeking of
real stars.

I know a little girl
who walks at night above the stars you see.
She--she won't come easy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ben, do you remember when I lost my favorite hat in Hawaii and started crying in the airport, and you felt so bad for me you bought me a hat in one of the unreasonably expensive airport stores?

Well I remember, and I think of it every time I hear Hawaiian music. You have always been my older brother, but at that moment you were truly my big brother. For that moment not a single particle of you was reserved for any other role.

You were all--big brother,
and that mine
And I remember.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


For the moment you were real.
But the moment was just that--
a moment.
Yet you are worth the past
And I remember.

letter to jared

Last Monday eve while watching a group of mature adult women abandon all reason, self-respect, and vitality, over the image of a burp cloth and "huggies" water sausage, I was prepared to assume my naive position--virgin and barren--as the one to which my ultimate sanity would be in debt. Your wife's baby shower served my intentions of matrimony as hypothermia serves to save a man attempting to sever his spinal chord. I slept well the nights that followed. Tonight, though, I will not sleep so soundly. An announcement I just read on a Washington DC singles listserv has brought again the beat-stick out of me and I currently attempt to disassociate my skull with the rest of me. Jared, I would wait the filling of 10 billion diapers in the terrible company of baby shower guests before I would have myself less than horrified by the manner of this man's speaking. The aging bachelor is sick, and guts himself with shallow and gay speech when he supposes otherwise. I pray I stand yet the middle ground, if still there be some between married and fool. You will kiss your wife, I'm sure, and bless the child she carries when you read what I'm about to show you.*

*Being myself unacquainted with the individual whose writing personality I slighted and having, therefore, no grounds on which to request his permission to reprint his material, I refrain here from reproducing the same, though I in no way withheld the same from Jared, he being one individual and responsible and you being many and irresponsible by nature of your number. It is enough to explain the individual's "manner of speaking" as expressing an over abundance of fluff, gaiety, exuberance, and disconnect with all sense of reality and authenticity. And all this was spent on the topic of Frisbee hour.

Captian of a Soul

I want to write, to bleed and know.
I want to have another go
at yesterday
when things less grey
distilled upon my mind
the kind
and clear,
the things ev'n-tide made disappear.
Give me the solid, the bright, the true,
Not misty wonderings of what to do.
The ship went down
I should have drowned,
It would have been the noble thing.
But I jumped ship
Only to rip
And tear my very being.

(To E.E. Commings: If any horcruxes were created as a result of this tearing, they were unintentional and therefore unknown to me.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bridges burnt

To hurt no more--
No of me, but of others.

A friendship had so healthy and tender
Leaves in us a will to remember.
But friends, instead we hurt will say:
I won't recall that bitter day
When love was pain
And I held shame
For ever going beyond the point
Where bridges burn and none anoint
The ashes to reverse, but time.

And time, the bridge, it does restore
For those once pained to cross back o'er
To happiness and joy and friends
Whose longed for friendship lends
A closeness worth remembering.

And I, the cause of so much hurt;
The builder of bridges, which must be burnt
For closeness' sake,
I'm feeling raked
Over embers of pain I caused,
Over burning coals I lodged
In hearts
Of those I loved.
I would quit this post to which I'm tethered.
I would seek a friend remembered.

Oh, to hurt no more--

Cracked Wood

How could I steal the love from those hands?
So much love.
How could I leech their tenderness--
Extract the softness into my own
when I, though I tried,
could never return the same.
Her affection was new stain
on cracked wood.
My cracked heart
sucked her love dry
with nothing but random surface lines
to reflect the stain--
the lines of my skin
no longer cohesive enough
to bear resemblance
of a love touch.
I struggled to blend the lines,
frantic to reflect her love
in eyes of solid mirror.
But the lines stayed cracked and gaping
while stain flowed through like water.

She's someone's beloved daughter
And I, an unworthy lover,
Make way for someone other
than me.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Letter to Joel

Dear Joel,
You are the coolest Castleton by far and I am 2nd. Seth and Abigail tie for 3rd place. Everyone else ties for 4th and last place. I just thought I'd let you know how the standings sit with your departure. A little while ago, Ben campaigned to try and move ahead of Seth and Abby in the number three spot, but he didn't get enough votes due to unethical bantering in his campaign song. If you ask me, he was mostly riding on the good looks of his vice president, Emily, and charisma of his campaign manager, Denison, to pull him through. His lesson learned, he will campaign with a different approach next time. I'll keep you posted on any change in rankings while you're away, though you don't need to worry about losing your #1 spot for at least 2 years--full-time missionaries earn an average of 13 points per day compared to the 2 or 3 points a non-missionary usually maxes out on. Also, I'll follow the progress of your favorite WWF wrestlers and let you know if "The Undertaker" finally gets beat by "The Sheriff," as you predicted. Good luck learning Italian. I still think it's weird they're sending you to Japan speaking Italian.

p.s. Jared can wakeboard left handed.

Friday, August 31, 2007


If all were deaf but to speech
And blind but to features
If all lacked touch but the physical
And smelt nothing without air

If front teeth said it all
And hair color changed meaning
If fingernails told truth
And freckles proved poor markings

If wind turned you to sand
And water turned you earth
If fire turned you to ash
And coldness turned you ice

And you were yet inside all these . . .

I'd have you still
I'd have you still

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No Words


Captain of a Soul

The ship went down
I should have drowned
It would have been the noble thing,
But I jumped ship
Only to rip
And tear my very being

Ben, Before Breakfast

Ben wakes, checks his competition in the mirror, and sets out to beat it. The shower, hair gel, breakfast of champions, and hot iron for today's choice of business casual: light pink, heavy pressed--all unite to form Ben's five-star front. He finds the mirror again to prove himself. About this time, Ben's younger brother and only successful side-business (he pays rent) shuffles into the open bathroom door, blinks at Ben, and offers an approving nod to his own reflection in the mirror. Ben, presently flustered with his seeming inability to just once look better, faster than his reflection, turns to Joe and, after a quick glance at the tie-dye t-shirt he is sporting, says, "For example, I would never wear a shirt like that." This picks up, as if seamlessly, the conversation the two brothers began the first morning after Joe moved into the basement, and carried on in like manner every morning thereafter. Joe smiles, admiring Ben's contemptuous expression, and retorts, "And neither would your reflection, it appears, which explains why you're still standing there, unable to out-dress such fierce competition. Ben doesn't respond, but remains standing there, a look of almost fatherly pity for the rebellious son etched on his face. But Emily and the two toddlers have moved into position at the breakfast table and Ben leaves Joe to wink at his bearded complexion in the mirror.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Haven't you seen death?
or at least the shadows of it?
Haven't you felt famished?
or at least the hunger in it?
Haven't you been homeless?
or at least the vagabond of it?
Haven't you wondered
just for one moment
why it's so hard?
You relate in at least the smallest way to the extremes of art,
So why not dream?
Why insist the color bland or the topic dull
and call that reality?
and call that living?

There is color in the anguish of man.
Why bleed grey?
Blood is deeper Red than you've ever seen.