If these refugees
were made of oil
they’d have no trouble
coming to America.
If these least of thees
could soak the soil
and bubble up and over,
their brown lives would matter
if only they were crude
enough to be black
Y’all know the feeling of safety
is not safety at all?
“O beautiful, for pilgrim feet...
You keep your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free
away from me.
I’m terrified what dark-skinned brothers
might do with charity.
These purple midnight rhapsodies
above the whitebread plain
run counter to the melody
when I sing my patriot dreams.
Don’t crown my ’hood with brotherhood,
I’m not a racist, man,
but property values... and... you understand, right?”
So good night, sleep tight,
don’t let the brown men bite.
Raise a wall around us,
from sea to shining sea,
and place watchmen high with bullhorns
broadcasting terror in HD.
So alabaster saints banshee
for fear of being a minority.
Refuse the tired poor
and slam shut the golden door.
After all, the wretched refuse of teeming shore
seem more dangerous than before.
We’re so quick to forget
how we became a nation,
this new republic of melting pot donations.
We the people as an aspiration—
an Earthbound trial of every
tribe, tongue, and nation.
Pilgrim refugees and
plundered bodies from distant shores.
The muddled masses
clashes into clashes
still yearning to be free.
So you tell me:
how many generations does it take
to get so scared of everything?
Corner churches love missionary dating
election season snakeoil salesmen.
Communion drunk on promises they’ll never keep,
stumping on policies we’ll never reap.
Thumping Bibles no one’s reading
forgetting God owns time and seasons
setting and sunsetting kings
(even the ones you didn’t vote for).
Every king insider trading
on God’s favor and monarch-making.
He delegates his highness
to whomever he pleases.
Red state patriots waiting
for a White House savior-in-the-making,
imagining our own King David all along,
not Daniel singing captive songs in Babylon.
We’d 6x6 the coronation of a new King Solomon,
if it bought us 4 more years of comfort
and the promise of a seat at the table
made of kindling.
If you hold up Sheol’s shells
to your ears
you can hear an ocean of fears
and gnashed teeth
for want of a decent meal.
But still the gates of Hell
fail to prevail.
God rolls up his sleeves
While the workman’s bell
sounds death knells
like dinner bells
and we use Hell’s sigils for napkins,
our mouths a mess with feasting.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final rest ing place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
In the style of Austin Kleon’s Newspaper Blackout Poetry
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow— this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain— that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
She was “The One Who Got Away,”
but I just call her “The One”
she changed her last name on our wedding day.
We want wishful words to will worlds into being,
but for the time being
we’re not seeing change
so we wait for someone to change something or
give us some thing to change.
Most things need mending
so we tend to see the world in terms of rearranged.
I grew up watching my Father work with his hands.
He knew how to grow whole buildings from the ground
that built structurally sound foundations
for the way I see the world.
And all the ways I want to shape it.
When I was old enough to swing a hammer
he taught me how to drive
nails into boards
into walls that framed halls
that made houses
and I learned that worthwhile things
are often built by the hands of honorable men,
but I also learned that we built the world
we inhabited in.
Now I feel bad if I sleep past ten
knowing my old man’s already kicking my tail
before my feet touch the floor.
I don’t want to fail to build better more than average,
to sketch the kind of web we want to weave.
I want to see the ideas inside my head
leave my head, stretch their legs
and walk around.
Rub up against people in the morning commute.
Commune around water coolers,
joke with coworkers,
give bad ideas the boot
and be home by six to kiss the wife hello again.
I want to sweat work ethic like
my Father sweated work ethic
so every time I hug people
I get a little on people
and eventually it soaks through people
so we can live in these dreams by incarnate means,
and stop waiting for someone else to change the world.
I didn’t lose my virginity
I know exactly where I left it.
I retraced my steps
back to the last place I had the keys
that unlocked the doors
that unleashed the seas
arousing love before it so desired.
Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips.
Loose hips sink ships of young girls’ virginity.
And I can’t seem to put this fruit back on the tree.
Trespassing in another man’s garden.
But that thief is dead.
I buried him
under a sea of regret.
Then the blood of a Son.
Let it rain
from your lips like hurricanes.
“Talk is cheap
in the evening time
and talk proves cheap
in the morning light.”
And we drive
without another word for miles.
There is music on the mountaintop,
I can hear it distant,
meander down the trails,
echo the crags,
slaves to gravity,
in the valley of the shadow of death.
Death hates music
because music seeks bottom like water,
filling every crack.
Death too weak to hold anything living down.
I live in a house but
have a long distance relationship with home.
What little fight is left in me
is a flight risk from me.
I found a folded map, packed and molded back
in the floorboards,
a map written in dead languages
I couldn’t decode.
My compass points true north
but I can’t fly.
The sky is a mystery to me.
Bound to red dirt
You'd think we could fly since
we're mostly hollow inside
but our bones are still heavy,
filling levees to overflowing.
His eye is on the sparrow
but narrowly averting His gaze
I am homesick for someplace I have never been.
I have delegated the authority of my slavery
to myself. I am a harsh taskmaster. Withholding.
My memory banks are full of deposits bankrupting me.
I found my heart in a shelter downtown,
but couldn’t remember how it got there.
Too beat to beat much anymore.
Homesick for somewhere I have never been before.
In a roundabout way we are
all citizens of cities
all skyscrapers and no homes,
all skin and no bones.
Elliptical roads to roam
carsick from circling,
I just need some fresh air...
longing for lodging,
no rooms at no inns.
Elliptical roads to Rome—
“I am a citizen of...”
Wayward sons and daughters trying to find their way
to a corner of heaven.
Trying to find the way
to a city built seven by seven.
To a home with foundations of immovable stones
too precious and perfect and beautiful for poems.
To put to death all this death
I just need some fresh air...
To be given the gift of sitting.
To be welcomed at the table.
His Kingdom will come avalanching from all sides
while clouds roll back in landslides from every direction,
splitting heaven wide
like beginning of time
starting all over again.
It’s parting all over again,
only this time pushing clouds and stars aside
under hoofbeats from torn asunder skies
we’ve got box seats for
beholding prophecies unfolding
a horse and a rider
parting the heavens
hinged like an open door
pouring out justice and righteous war.
Eyes all embers, each a forest fire.
His crowns have crowns.
His glory compounds upon itself
resounding to everywhere.
Robed in blood-soaked clothes,
overpowering every living being.
Overthrowing every little king.
This is the beginning of the past things,
the matchlight of the last things.
His name is stitched outside His robe
and inked on His thigh in letters miles high.
This is an exodus from the sky.
A fury as inescapable as gravity.
No greater negative has been created than His belated fury
which was and is and is to come
in wrath and judge and jury
and ensuing Kingdom.
The sum of all things overflows your measuring cups
and you simply can’t sum up what you can’t contain.
If you campaigned ’round round tables at summits
and dangled over the edge of the unknown to
suspend the Laws of Physics and scientific cornerstones
from the peaks of all the wisdom we humans own
mathematicians still couldn’t calculate the distance
between our understanding of good and
the holiness of God.
Seeing the seeming unending unveiling of time
as one long tapestry with one strong thread,
stitched red, holding fast,
supremely stringing harmonies
pitched in perfect keys I’ve only dreamed.
Writing songs I’ve never read
because He sings songs that raise the dead.
And our praises spread for centuries in every direction
but only hint at the mystery.
Self-sufficient and self-sustaining,
transcending time, forever reigning
seated high above all things,
completed King, called Elohim.
Lacking no good thing.
I’m racking my brain for what’s created out of nothing,
but no thing exists without invention.
Nothing occurs without His intention.
He will not consent to be backed into a corner
(as if we could move the immovable Father.)
Never in short supply.
Our angles, boxes and boundaries do not apply,
and why should they?
The geometry of omniscience
puts the area of God’s presence
at 7x7 degrees of there.
And there. And there.
He is that He is everywhere.
This, the God who holds the keys of Death and Hades
and jingles them in the face of defeated enemies.
Backs made strong from strutting
masquerade, future footstools.
And when we were undone by what we couldn’t undo,
home sick and in need of rescue,
He stooped down to make us new
sending The Son of God
to become The Son of Man
so that the sons of men
might be sons of God
through Him who sits at the right hand
And there. And there.
In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
So what’s the word, God?
I’m all ears, all eyes are on You.
I want wishful words to will worlds into being
but for the time being I’m not seeing You.
So say something or give me some thing to say.
You know They?
Well, They say 60–70% of conversations
...but I wonder if they need to;
It’s not like words are this non-hurdle that we don’t need
to talk through.
I need words to walk with You.
Words like “In The Beginning...”
when the genesis of things was they were never ending.
Now I’m pretending not to mind
not knowing the mind of God
knowing God minds this business of knowing me.
But God doesn’t mind His business
because His business is every thing.
So everything minds God in time
reminding me I want such better words,
but mine just run in place.
Maybe if I could just see God’s face
I could learn to read His lips
and turn a whole generation
on to a new kind of hermeneutics
where we interpret words from on high
by parsing phrasing from the sky...
But I don’t need new words, I need to go back to the beginning
when the word was
and the word was with and
this is true
then how am I going to talk to You?
I need a brand new alphabet.
A hand-hewn Alpha–Omega yet
my letters can’t see the beginning or the end.
Climbing ladders to the ceiling of the world
to watch comets bend around Your will
still doesn’t let me see the first or the last.
Maybe You could let me be
the first of Yours to cast each phrase
into the black in praise
because they can’t sum You up
and so I’ll simply give them up
if You’ll teach me how to talk to You.
I don’t know how to pray, do You?
I don’t know how to say, “I’m too weak to talk this true”
except to say I’m all out of empty words.
But in the end is the Word
and the Word is with God
and the Word is God.
So God wills the Word into the empty world
...and the when the Word comes back for me.
And when the Word comes after me,
God speaks back to me.
Too many goodbyes.
dozens of skylines.
Postcards in reverse.
I wave goodbye.
I forget the color of your eyes.
Along for the ride.
Why did you stay
among the campfires
to hear the whistling of the flock?
Did you search your heart?
Spend it by the sea?
Hide in the cove?
Or the heights of the field?
Kings came. Kings fought.
Carried away no plunder. Silverless.
From the heavens, all the stars
on courses, how they fought.
The water sweeps them away.
Days go by just like those
city lights that light those
highrise ghosts that dot the skies.
What will all your lovers say
now that you’re mine?
I’m killing time.
I took a knife and murdered it
in bite-sized pieces too small to see
once they’re gone.)
I’d read the eulogy but I admit
I didn’t know her all that well.
We were passing by in the night
like strangers waiting on delayed flights
browsing airport knickknacks and magazine racks.
While time flies by.
I show up early for departure but miss my flight.
I miss time.
I remember when we stayed up late
and she painted my feet with wheat paste and yeast
so every step I took left a trail of breadcrumbs
when I would rise and walk,
following that trail home to the sounds
of minute hands striking up
who play psalms in reverse,
counting down to the beginning.
When I wasn’t killing time
I was loving her.
And we had dreams.
We wanted to imagine ourselves as fearless warriors
but we turned out to be peerless worriers.
Reluctantly I put my money where my mouth is
and start talking green,
sprouting seeds. Tulip bulbs
light up my speech
teaching children to stop and
smell the flowers
because timely words are sunlight hours
bringing this garden back to life.
Words decorated with leaves, trees
bearing fruit in season—and out.
There are no seasons now, only daylight
We are horizoning
and I am restless but barely awake
wondering which drugs I should take to
fall asleep or fall awake
make me eat breakfast in bed
and I’ll consume the sun
so it burns me into something
like I’m living.
Rays of natural light my room and
suburban Texan streets
are rivers of unending tactile warmth
not burning bright
cinders spitting embers
into a 99° night
for the air to gorge itself and grow fat and heavy on
the spies of flames that cannot last.
So dies the names of fires past.
This last supper fast approaching
a tragic end
a blinding rebirth.
graves are only doors to another room
and we’re all after a change of scenery.
I’ll let you in on a secret...
mountains step aside for you
you look like you know where you’re going.
Look at how they’re all un-growing
shrinking down, they're all plateauing
sinking low to easy going footing for us now.
I’d be in stitches if this wasn’t so serious.
If both of us weren’t bursting at the seams.
I’m glad your Grandmother taught you how to sew
so we can stitch ourselves back right
and good and whole.
New wine skins to hold new
But I need a gateway to start this journey.
One with seas on either side
giving new meaning to rising tide
infinitely up like shimmering skyscrapers
wetting the feet of seraphim.
Dry ground gives way to high ground.
I am restless but barely awake, ever awaiting
a blinding rebirth
and the sun.
You married your dreams in a shotgun wedding
consummated before its time;
the bride pregnant with possibilities that never came to be.
You wonder why she stays out all hours of the night
summoning her powers of flight
dodging midnight showers that might
dampen her wings,
but not her resolve.
You think she’s leaving you.
You're sweating through your clothes.
You went flashlight searching but lost her in the shallows.
You're only soaked to your ankles but you feel like you're drowning.
Your dreams are somewhere else giving birth,
the baby’s head is crowning
a new king
enthroned in red clay and tobacco leaves,
lemonade and hurricane breeze
smelling like honeysuckle and the first days of spring.
Smelling like rain.
A new kingdom and country for this reign to bring
peace to someone,
but that someone’s not you.
It’s not too late to woo that love who’s flown from you.
She hasn’t given up on you.
Dreams are eternal,
they are ancient,
scrawled on pyramid walls and monastery basements
untouched by greed and monetary debasement.
Permanent placement in you
to dare to dream to be
than everything that you have seen.
Give me a bull horn
and I’ll shout the truth
and gorge the matador.
That devil’s held the cape over our eyes for too long
so all we see is red.
We are shells of what once was could be.
Vicious cycles are pouring over me.
Lionized lies believed are roaring over me,
drowning out my speech
like sorcerers who know the universe was built with words
and if you control words
you can make the universe whatever you wish it to be.
So they cast spells to make us misbelieve.
But they're not fooling me.
I’ll just talk louder.
My voice hoarse,
galloping across the plains
Or just pick up the phone and whisper in my ear
a new language,
new letters for new sages,
new prophets for dark ages
and speak. Give voice to dreams in deep inside of you
until someone breaks the code
and we learn how to speak
anew again, and again, and again.
new letters for new sages,
playwrights furiously scribbling new plays for new stages.
Giving us the keys to unlock rib cages
and set hearts free
to be more.
I fear I’m too easily pleased with the way
that first fruit eased into my hand,
across my lips.
down my throat,
and consumed me.
We used to build cathedrals to reach God,
now we build buildings to be god;
but that’s not our throne to rule from,
this isn’t some fight He’s flown from.
...are we so quick to forget where we come from?
Fruit just out of reach tastes twice as sweet,
makes us elite, knowing good and evil.
how the one makes its home in me,
but it’s not the one I want to be.
Can we stop and rewind this eternity?
Put the fruit back on the empty tree?
Seedlings sprouting forests on
new fertile plains
where we can lullaby the
cradle of civilization back to sleep,
away from the noise and the city
and the lonely and the crowd
and the whatever built walls separating us.
It colors my present, prophesying
a kaleidoscope of futures
casting every color across the horizon
in broken hues;
taking cues from the sky, I stretch wide, shine bright,
and pour myself at the feet of God
in some new way that causes passersby to stop in their tracks,
mouths open in packs,
masses broken at last
because You walk through walls separating You and I.
And You talk after all,
despite how Your critics lie.
You seem so sturdy;
your frame, fit to bear children
and work my farmlands.
Girl, if I was a
lumberjack, that would make you
a lumberjack’s wife.
You, like a disease.
Your kiss, the cure. Please don’t be
The curve of your spine,
like a well-read library
book that I check out.
If we were breakfast?
You—gravy. And me? Flakey
biscuits, sopping you.
Bend an ear to listen to the refrain.
The chemical chain reaction
blending sounds to fever pitch.
I don’t know about you,
but I get rich quick every time
I hear a slick tune.
Hysterical, lyrical, magical notes
spoon feed me swoon
weaving tension in the air
and I’m unaware of another drug.
That goes to my head so
I’m lovesick me.
For this rhythm to kiss my lips
hips shake in real time.
And I lose the ability to
keep my neck from robbing my body of my head
bobbing clean off into the atmosphere
where I hear heavenly sounds
that ruffle the feathers of angels
angling their ears down
to hear the song I’m so sold on.
Such sweet sounds of living,
giving riveted crowds the night
of their life.
The wife of a lover endlessly inspired by
of the wire connecting strings and keys
and you and me
and drums and chords and I’m struck dumb
by the melody of the metaphor.
Music moves me.
Each note singing down my throat
keeps me warm.
The swarm of fuzz buzzing
from the faces of 1,000 vintage amps
10,000 watts of electric ladyland lamps
light the way
for epic solos wailing their way into rock n' roll history.
Music is the mystery
of what a woman singing does to me.
Sister sun shining light like
wedding me to every word and phrase
and time she praises life
just by singing it.
With vocal chords lifelining me
I broadcast shadows on the sun
when I dream so bright.
Music is the fight of hammers on strings
bringing piano keys to back life.
Life pumping blood and oxygen and stereo speakers like music.
The crash of cymbals so sexy
the clash of everyone into everyone.
Bring that beat back with a
kick kick kick drum
sick fill from
tom tom tommy gun
and the best rimshot
the world has ever heard
and you’ll hear applause so loud it wakes up Adam and keeps time with his rib.
From heavy metal feedback
to smooth jazz weather channel muzak
it’s the sage advice of elder age
the roll of the dice of
pure punk rebellion.
From the womb to the tomb
you’ve memorized a soundtrack
to live your life crowned that
king or queen renowned back when
music was a backbeat strong like memory;
Telling tall tale set lists
of the sound of your very first kiss.
Late night revelations
with the best friends you never had.
A beat so bad
it changes the way you walk for a week.
Melody so contagious the rhythm of how you talk ages
to take the shape of the soundscape of multiple major scales.
Music never fails to
make me make faces
you know it must be good.
We wave lighters to pied pipers,
Turn that beat around
and you’ve got me locked in tight
with drums dripping groove so thick
my biological clock just might skip
and hour or
2/4, 3/4, encore.
I could live in the spaces between
music on stages.
Those pauses like pages from a novel unfolding
the bestseller killer ending where
quarter notes cut the beat in half
and get away with murder.
Not getting caught in that snare,
snare, hi-hat, kick my ass
tripping down the stairs of a
backwards beat to meet
all over again
and find myself back
on the one.
It’s black and white vs. real life
as they knife fight in-flight
from my heart to my head to my hand to my pen
where it feels so alive to write tension again.
Mapping out new vows,
thinning out the few crowds standing
between you and me.
I am clawing towards
my not-yet-daughter and what I will teach her,
my not-yet-son and which ones of my features
I will hand him the day he greets the world.
Old in how I see,
rooted deep like Joshua Trees
with outstretched arms and sword-shaped leaves,
Adam in the garden longing for Eve.
Adam in the evening (after)
longing for the garden,
working for Eve.
We were born in a time beyond time.
We were born in the mind of God, so
we were born in a time before time.
Previous to the dust of stars
we were made before Mars was a twinkle in God’s eye;
before million-mile rings went twirling by
only to be caught in the arms of Jupiter.
We will outlast those two
and the rest of the brothers nine
to watch the chest of the sun collapse upon itself
and take with it time
and day and night
and every measuring tool we used
What did we call it again?
Back when there was a word for the space
between one point and another?
Before we watched each solar system’s stars
fall in on one another?
Now there’s no more dividing rods,
everywhere is God,
everywhere is God,
and everything is now.
Now is all there is
in the mind of God because
now is eternity
and then is eternity. And
when is eternity?
Eternity is now.
We were not born to burn out bright.
We were reborn through the firstborn of the wedding night
of God and God and God.
Everywhere is God,
everywhere is God,
and every when is now.
“I think I finally understand women...”
I smiled and read the menu
even though I know exactly what I’ll order
because I am a creature born of habit and
men like me never change.
But men like him do change.
College kids whiteknuckling fraternity bids
into suits and ties
revolving their world around what they buy,
thinking they’ll be the one guy to paraphrase
the mystery of the billions of emotions
exploding feminine history.
So I let him talk,
and I smile and nod,
and he goes on and on
while I scribble haiku about
the mystery of you
on tiny paper napkins.
No one cares about words these days.
Words are out of work.
Out of luck.
Out on the streets begging for spare change
Or something to eat,
Panhandling in motel alleys,
Vigil-candling in protest rallies,
And generally marching in circles
To their own funeral beat.
But at least they're doing something while meaning sleeps.
Hushed and hibernating in boxes,
For 40 years in deserts concocted,
By oily gears turned
To them locked in
Like a remnant of dissonant dregs.
It begs the question,
"Do my words have legs?"
Can they up and saunter and sway
Or are they D.O.A.?
Their DNA just
Falling prey to another day
Where no one says what they mean
And no one means what they say
And nothing rings quite true like it used to it seems.
I want to speak, but I’m scared
That I don’t have anything to say.
I forget the exact latitude and longitude of where we lost them...
Where meanings were stolen from words
For the ransom of forgetting where they came from.
And then those words were placed in lines
To be assigned new meanings more in step with these plural times.
You see? That’s the problem with symbols...
We create them, and then we forget what they mean.
And so we leave ourselves to run this machine
And make meaning
In our own image
I want to speak, but I’m scared
That I don’t have anything to say.
I’ve got a chip on my shoulder but I pray
It’s just another chunk of my walls giving way,
Making way for words to say
Architecting interconnecting conversations between the two of us.
And maybe we can take these reins
And drive this atmosphere
To find the true north of language
We're dying to hear?
Articulating rhymes that tickle the ears
Of everyone who thought Truth meant well,
But just couldn’t hack it
In a sales career.
And if that’s you,
Then i'd check under your skin
Because words slip past your cortex
And your heart lets them in.
And while you're wrapping your arteries
Around every single line
They bypass your reason and climb up inside.
So it’s time to confess
That your last line of defense
Because words do not belong
To the ones who are speaking them;
Words were world’s foundations
Under streams that are seeping them.
And life and death rest
On the tongues of men
Who speak and change history
In this mystery we're walking in.
So talking men do not want
For words that are not their own;
They know words were the stitching with which they were sewn.
And my bones move so swift
To jump in this fray
That I’ll hone these two fists to fight
In subversive ways.
To write in half-cursive praise.
To pour out my heart
In stacks on stack on stacks of essays.
To wear ruts in my floor
Searching for that perfect phrase.
To see empires razed.
To see empires raised.
To write poems that play out like plays
Where the actors are hearts
And those hearts are ablaze.
Because the truth is...
The Truth is.
And I don’t want to speak
Because I invented the notion,
I want to speak because words put Eden in motion.
And it is written into the very depths
Of every part of me,
It was penned by the artist who was
The start of me.
And where He is, Truth is,
And where Truth is, Meaning is,
And where Meaning is,
Is where I want to be.
Writing the most beautiful poetry
Where when I want to speak
The words flow out so eloquently,
Where I open my lips
To have whole townships rebelling with me.
Because words were from the beginning
When God in thirds set this world spinning
And breathed out life to start everything living
And shouting and singing
And loving ad libbing.
I want to speak
So I can sneak inside your heart
To find every lie you believe and rip each one apart
Until we all see the line between
The light and the dark
And we finally have something to say.