Southern Homes and Living

Mariachi music periodically drowned cutting tile
water dripping off a saw blade. Men moving
red orange playdough with square shovels
praying for rain so they can stop.

Two million dollar houses disowned
builders scratching claws
kneading biscuits
in soggy tree choked countryside
northeast of Charlotte.

Charity house.
Southern Home Magazine.
Rotten egg smell by the front porch from walkway lights
real popular right now with real flame lapping sparkling glass.

Moving truck creeps into clogged cul-de-sac
everyone freezes
if you have a shovel
lean on it
stare
see if this newcomer
knows how to handle
all that truck.

The Key

Do you type your poems. Tapping like a red headed woodpecker up and down a dying dogwood. Big bold bluejay looking your way. Do you keep your cat indoors. Fat squirrels upside down on red oaks that smell rotten on the inside say you do. The field rats digging tunnels into the chicken coop do too. Do you use the backspace key the way you wish you could. Do you delete lines from your poems. Do you highlight some words and hold down Ctrl and B to embolden them. Do you cut and paste your memory the way you would a page? 

A lot of moss. A lot of mushrooms as soon as it turns warm. A lot of rebel-headed, nonconforming grass: a mosh-pit sort of lawn. Been having these insatiably royal dawns: a bright, military blue, a misty, someone paid dearly for this hue. It’s death stew. One day the main course will be you. So eat up. 

Bricks that didn’t make the cut line the sidewalk, terrace the beds, raise the gardens. Block rats from eating chicken dinner. Prop up pallets and weighed down tarps and sometimes just sat, piled, and waited, freed up and unfixed in a way house bricks will never be again. Susceptible. Changeable. Ever stalked by that flashing cursor, and living feral and terrified beneath the eternally unforgivable backspace key. Locked in placelessness. 

Amphibians croak up out of the mud. Crack the earth’s crust like the eggshells they all broke. Can’t rake the leaves for the salamanders curled up underneath. Do you type poems. Do you step lightly in nature, and stomp hard on city streets. Do you rake your yard like you’re supposed to. Save your mistakes. Keep a place to keep alive all the poems you wrote you hate.

What is memory, to you. Do you still pretend it’s up to you?

Between Seasons

Gentle wind rocks the front porch swing. Metal clinks.
Ghosts chained to the roof grow restless in powder-coated bonds.
Water in three forms squat between here and the moon.
Stars laugh at how close we are to too far away.

Sounds like summer. Not yet spring. Disappointed toads.
Crawled out of the muck too soon. Can relate.
Darker than a dry dark. A sopping wet and soggy dark.
Deeply stained. Saturated. Saturday. Night.

Strange Cats

Morning birds. Belting toads. Cats I’ve never laid eyes on before.
Coming out of the woodwork. Back barn repair and expansion
and tailend of firewood season starts every garden. In my head.
Out the window the other day saw a young chicken eating another one.
Hawk picked the bones clean clean down to her shoulders.
I buried the rest of her.
Fragrant mud.
Clean pajamas.

YCDB

I can imagine thunder.
Batting my eyes makes lightning.
Yawning earthquakes into existence.
Clearing clouds from my throat.

Raining germs. Puddled teeth.
I don’t read. The fossils that I found.
The washout from the ground.
Where it all got given away.

But I can imagine gravity.
I can still feel kisses on my scars.
Storming out. Desert Inn.
There it is. The wilderness.

Anything I have done.
You can do better.

BLTN

Every east coast lick lapped by thick silver mist.
Rain light as snow might be easier to manage if it had froze.
Whipped jets from eighteen wheels in tread-shredding hurry.
People who play games with their brake lights and cruise control
don’t believe in negative prayers offered around them about them.
No car quick enough can outrun karma. Slick black skeletal mountains

vomit white cascades of frozen-fallen ice. Rock shoulders
lean out over the shoulder and make us shudder passing beneath.
Stress shedding mutt curled up in the backseat. Patience testing
two year old strapped into a carseat just barely pretend-asleep.
A couple curves with fog so thick with steady drizzle we fly headlong
fast enough that any unexpected thing in our path would end us.

Even though it doesn’t, perhaps it also does. Lost.
But for a British voice telling us where to turn. Blind.
But for all our wide open unblinking eyes. Dead.
But for the dutiful heart and grocery bag lungs
that keep us this side of alive. I drive. They ride
and we get there, but not on time. We uncover

the mantra of our middle lives.
Better late than never.

That Punching Bag

Love is a dented orb.
Incontinent continents speak consonants
into a molten canon of iron core. Of course.
Trees in corps and rocky coarse
the skin off purply soft things.

Flowers grown in the soil of hell. On earth.
Do not bloom in heaven. So close the sun.
The son. That sum of all now ready to go.
That punching bag. That beaten heart.
That lost art.

Love. Is a muscle torn to shreds.
Love. Is the strength of torn up things.

Unmoved

What age. How much time.
Until the promise buried in the heart of the future is a frightening one.
Where in the past then did great change happen, when forward was no longer toward.
But a way.

What is time to the stuck. Broken. Fixed.
On a certain time like a frozen clock.

A speedometer that no longer works is still absolutely right most of the time.
Runny is the glue that binds us. How long is the dry time on an anxious father.
Try convincing him correctness is not necessarily progress.

Doesn’t matter.
To clocks with broken hands.
To odometers that no longer count.
To wet glue.

Presence is purpose unmoved by the promise of tomorrow.

Yes. Today.

I’ve chased down a thousand things I called time to get where I am right now.
The front room of my grandma’s house wearing a winter parka over my pajamas.
I’ve chased a little boy I call baby because I am afraid for what I love to grow beyond me.
I wake up at four in the morning with no alarm set like an old man, like a grandfather
feeling chill crept in from corners and up from the window sills because the fire is low.
Coals grown cold compared to what they were when I first laid down and closed my eyes
like a young man, tired, forget that, exhausted, like a young father, indebted to the castle
he funded by the credit of his youth.

In a few years knees won’t work and back will refuse.
There had better be a roof over gray hair and a stout hearth propping up bloodless heels.

I’ve chased a thousand things I called after by tomorrow and promise and please.
I used my ideals like a carrot on a string to avoid being caught up to by so many things:
today, acceptance, settling.

There is a woman across the hall doing her damnedest to put up with me.
Whatever I have ever picked up, I have also let down.
Apology has become like a second language to me.
I have learned the differences between sorrow and sorry
are more difficult than ow or why. One is seated, settled, done, erasing.
And the other is chasing, searching, anything to keep from facing.

Truth.

I have learned, the hard way, the least productive use of the word yes
is yesterday.