Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Waiting for the Ghost

Drawing by Shelton Walsmith

It was on the circus train
Rolling across Kansas
I saw the clowns dancing
With old women in the aisles
And I said, I keep forgetting
And you said, it doesn't matter
I watched the rolling fields go by,
As I was waiting for the ghost
Who had lost himself inside me.

Friday, October 14, 2016

We crossed over to Juarez

we crossed over to Juarez
at Paseo del Norte
Jones moving slow
in a heavy rain
that tasted like sweat

side streets
were already flooding
sewage water
smell of shit and gasoline
Federales sitting motionless
on two tanks
oblivious to the rain
not even turning
to watch Jones and I
pass by

prostitutes huddled
under awnings
and in doorways
the stench
unwashed sex
semen and bad pussy perfume
hovered around them
like a foul clouds
they look me
up and down
then see Jones
and leave us be

we walk towards
the cathedral
closed and dark

Death Waits

Shining Death's claws
with our suffering
not so much suffering
more of a transfixed trembling
as we shiver in Death's embrace

You see
he was walking along
this evening path
sky darkening
his thoughts surrendering
under the weight of an unnameable despair

And there
at the moment he thought 
he'd prefer not to go on
But then
he thinks
I'll go on
Then, no
I can't go on
I guess
I'll just go on

And asking himself, 
how do YOU really feel about it all?

as if he were a stranger on a train
suddenly in the crosshairs 
of an idiot's attention
this idiot not sitting across from him
in the compartment
but uncomfortably sitting
inside of him

I don't have any opinion
about how I FEEL
one way or the other
he replies
I simply endure
Do my time
Keep my head down

He goes on
It's like I was born chained to a dead tree
in the middle of a Waste Land
Over the years
the Birds of Appetite
have gathered in bare branches above
rustle of black wing
I have endured under
the patient gaze of their hunger
always feeling just barely alive
longing for the world
beyond the limits of my chain
But I'm resigned 
resigned without resentment
to continue to endure
knowing one thing
to look just enough alive 
to keep the Birds at bay
occasionally twitch the exhausted hand
now and then open the tired eye
keep the black wings from whispering

After having heard this monologue
The Idiot asks:

Why don't you ask Death in?
Stand upon the threshold
where pain turns to stone
and kindly offer entrance?

As he think about this
it is as if a coat slides off a hanger
skin slips from bones
And Death is there before him

A statue sculpted from Nothingness
Brutal as a mountain 
slamming suddenly down
upon the world

His terminal fear gives Death 
claws that pierce his flesh 
crucifying him upon his bones

And so here I am now
he thinks
with this Idiot Inner Self 
who somehow convinced me to 
Ask Death in
And here Death is
And while I'm not dead
I certainly wish I could just go back 
back to the good times
when it was just me 
the tree and the chain
branches full of birds 
waiting to devour me

But Death waits
and waits and waits
he amuses himself
on the cross of his bones
it's like one of those moments
in a conversation at dinner
when someone
is talking 
and then
at the critical moment of 
what you can never forget...
they take a bite of food
watching while you hang
on the hook
waiting for them to finish 
that damned sentence
Death waits like this
infecting every present moment 

And the Idiot continues his questions:

Aren't you sick of this sack of skin?
Of having to zip up the weary body over the skeleton every morning?
Of slipping the same old face over your skull?
Of going through the day exposing your broken teeth
in the tortured rictus of a smile?
Of just going through the same tired routine
Saying the same tired phrases, jokes, prayers,
And thinking the same tired thoughts

This Idiot Inner Self
cross examines like a
Grand Inquisitor:

Is it true or is it not true
that you want to step out of your skin
that you long to be a skeleton 
in a Bone filled World
your skull singing with the wind
white bones clacking cracking
burning with the blue light of the stars
dancing in the Burning Ring of Time
hourglass drum flame river flowing
following the trail of enormous bones
that mark the Path of the Fugitive Gods

Marking the Way Out of this World?

And for the first time
since he has been thinking
these same tired thoughts
he looks into the eyes of his Inquisitor

Of course,
he knows I know he knows
he has been my accomplice all along
and like a guilty thing

I nod

And Life begins again
and Death waits
and waits and waits

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


Photo by Himbeerdoni

years back now
summer was a coming in
with all the
not stop you never now
and I'm now
the only one
left with any memory
any memory at all
the only one still now living
tied upon the cross
of this here skeleton
with the spider web threads
of a fate I have yet to figure
but it's me and me alone
is able to gather up
and collect again
the forgotten fragments
all the broken bones of memory
of what my young mind
once thought was a horror
and came to understand
now as I tremble
under the weight of all my years
was a merely a glimpse
into the truth of things
a moment when
I was able to read
the Living Word of God
there writ in blood and tears
upon the faces of all I loved
and all every and all ever
and all that I never
thought I'd live to witness
the terrible suffering
and sickness unto Death
Death in Life
and Life in Death
and I'll not stop never now
cursed as it is
to never forget
no matter how strong the wine
no matter how sweet the song
no matter how deep
that river runs
and keeps that Lake
alive full ready to spill over
and out of its wretched hole
and flood the world
with it's blood dimmed tide
drowning not only the beautiful
and not only the innocent
but also the passionately convicted
the irrevocably lost
the absolutely damned
then and only then
will I finally and gratefully
sink down also
and breath in forgetfulness
that black water of oblivion
and free my bones
from this tired tired flesh
and wait right there
until the end of all days
to meet that Awful and Terrible Maker
who's been dreaming
the dream of my life
who been dreaming
the nightmare
of the world
right here
right now
in Silence
as we sit here
surrounded by screams

so it was one night
years back now
it was me and Jones
and Mr. Eliot
who Jones called "Skinny"
floating there
in an old wooden boat
out late that night
on the Lake
setting a trot line
across the Mill Pond
from the post rose up from
the sunken old car
to just past the Founder's Graves
suspended under the vast East Texas sky
so deep and dense with star fires
and of it all reflected there
on the surface of the Lake
that we was all stilled
by the beauty and the wonder of it
and it was Mr. Eliot who spoke
those words that felt like
everything silent
in my heart being spoken
"Sweet Time run softly till I end my song"
he said to no one in particular
later on I knew I'd heard it wrong
and it wasn't even his words
but didn't matter then
and don't matter now
it was truth to me
and time cannot diminish that
and I truly believed
we were drifted there
two old men and a young boy
inside an old wooden boat
through that nebulous and galaxial wonder
of the Milky Way

Mr. Eliot had been baiting hooks
along the trot line
as Jones laid it gently
down into the water
and my job was
to reach into a tin bucket
and fetch out minnows
for Mr. Eliot to set on the hook
them minnows
were like little quicksilver flashes
and I could never catch 'em by trying
Jones showed me
how to hold my hand like a cave
and wait for one of them
to seek out sanctuary inside
he told me
the very instant
that little minnow settled down there
you just slowly slowly
close your hand around it
and hold it
like the little finger
of the sweetest person you know
so this I did
until I'd captured quicksilver
in my hand
but Mr. Eliot'd get mad at me
cause he had to wait
with a empty hook there hanging
fact was I was slow to learn
the mysteries of the minnow
and every now and then
as I was willing my hand
to be a sweet and safe place
in the water of that tin bucket
Jones'd have to say
"Skinny, let the boy be.
Neither them minnows nor us is in any hurry
to get a hook through they head."

And when all the world
sudden changed that night
it was when I was
holding a minnow
in my hand outstretched
toward Mr. Eliot
the trot line snapping tight
sudden shock singing
over the oarlock
and the hook
Mr. Eliot was holding
got set right through
the center of his hand
yanking him
nearly out of the boat
and Jones too
was nearly carried over
as the line whipped down
whistling now
the old boat rolling
us about to tumble
into deep water
and Mr. Eliot was
over and over
I was just frozen
thought thawing
in slow motion falling
until Jones cut the line
with his knife
and it snapped away
like a dog's bite
into the night
Jones asked me
"Boy you all right?"
and I nodded
and then he sees
the trouble Mr. Eliot was having
and get a pair of needle nose pliers
and says
"Here you go, Skinny
cut the head off a that hook
and slip it out you."
And Skinny did that
and said,
"What in the God's Green Hell was that?"
And Jones said,
"Damned if I know, but it's
something bigger than our boat,
I tell you that."
we all looked back there
towards the old car post
and the waters there
were troubled and churning
but then
as we watched and waited
for who knows what
they stilled over calm
and for long
returned to reflecting
the starry world above
like nothing ever happened
I don't think
I'd even so much
as taken a breath
"Hows your hand there, Skinny?" asked Jones
and Mr. Eliot said
"I expect I'll live
but Goddamn."
"How're you boy," asked Mr. Eliot.
I wasn't able then nor now
to say nothing to that
and just nodded at him
and looked back at Jones
I guess the look on my face
made both of them laugh there
a little uneasy
in my recollection now
but there was no laughter in my soul
not then and not now
something within me
had just given way
like a rotten floor
and I remembered then
a thing
that might've been like
and as it was
I opened my fist
to find only
the crushed remnants
of a minnow
turned to blood and guts
and I felt it then
but didn't know what it was
but nothing
not stop you never now
for all every and all ever
and all that I never
would ever be same
for me
in the aftermath
of that night