The birds are chirping outside like springtime wake up calls. My wife and kids are sound asleep as I shave. I put on my Oklahoma Railroad uniform. The coffee is ready. I pour a cup and put two slices of bread in the toaster. The vaguest glimmer of light emerges as I close the door behind me and proceed to walk twelve blocks to the Carson Avenue stop, where I will board and take my place at the control panel of the 6 AM commuter train. Today will be like any other day. I will drive the train.
The birds are chirping outside like springtime wake up calls. My wife and kids are sound asleep as I shave. I put on my "uniform": black pants, shirt, shoes. I amuse myself from time to time with my ties, but nothing too outlandish. In my line of work, I don't need to be calling attention to myself. The coffee is ready. I pour a cup. I'll stop for breakfast later. No, rush. My job will be completed long before the breakfast specials are off the menu at the diner. I attach a silencer to my revolver, put it into the shoulder holster, grab my blind-man glasses, throw on my trench coat and take a walking cane out of the closet. Today will be like any other day. I will kill someone.
Emerging from the tunnel I drive onward. Glancing down, I notice the dawn light glimmering off the still dewy metal of the tracks. I love that sight. We all have our sense of beauty. That's mine. Like a smoking engine against a backdrop of virgin snow. I like the concept of warm and cold juxtaposed.
As we approach the station I see a huge crowd of commuters, bigger than usual. Some are reading newspapers, while others appear impatient as if I personally were punishing them for the drudgery of the nine-to-five lifestyle they so pined for when they went job-hunting after they graduated college. They begin moving chaotically as the train comes into view of the platform. All the sense of manners is temporarily suspended as men push into women and young women aggressively shove elderly businessmen. I see this every day, yet it always stuns me how little regard people have for their fellow man.
The conductor is about to announce the station when I receive a message from central command stating that I am to bypass the next station and operate on the express schedule. I accelerate as the horn blares out its announcement to the mob on the platform to step back, that this train will not stop. I hear the crowd shouting obscenities and see them slapping their thighs in anger with the morning papers.
Maneuvering down the steep staircase at the train station while swiping my cane to and fro, it occurs to me that mimicking a blind man is not one of the more enjoyable aspects of my job. I am always stunned that people bump and shove with no regard for a pregnant woman, a child, a disabled person as they scurry off to their mindless, nondescript jobs in some ominous corporation that has even less regard for them than they have for their fellow man. I try not to get too philosophical about this. That sort of thinking throws me off track, out of character so to speak because I am, no doubt about it, tempted to remove my piece and shoot blindly. It never surprises me to read about those guys that just go nuts and walk into some place killing a bunch of strangers. Why not? We're all strangers to each other, aliens on an unfeeling planet... I can't go there. I collect myself. See, if I took things personally I would definitely botch my assignments, ending my career, and most likely my own life in the process. No, better to be detached. I am thankful that I am not really blind.
The station is packed. Something must have happened. I've been at this station every day for the last two weeks and feel like I know everybody here, as much as I care to know anyone. Today, there are new faces, looking more harried than usual. I hear the train approaching, the rumbling on the tracks. I can picture the dawn light glimmering off the still dewy metal of the tracks. I love that sight. We all have our sense of beauty. That's mine. Like a smoking gun laying on a blanket of virgin snow. I like the concept of warm and cold juxtaposed.
At 7:45, my target will board that train, like he has done every day for the last two weeks. I know him better than he knows himself. It's interesting. As an objective observer, I know that he shoves blind men. I have no pity for him. For me, it's a job.
"Come on, move it."
"Hey, let's go. I'm going to be late."
"Don't they have special services for you people? What the hell is the government doing with my god damned tax money?"
"Can't you hear the train? Get with it, pal. Don't tell me you're deaf, too."
I'm really getting the business today. I'm trying, through this crowd and all the ruckus, to keep my eye on my target. It's hard to see with these damn dark glasses. But I like the additional anonymity of this crowd, the fact that something's different today makes it all the less unusual if there is an incident. And there will be an incident. The crowd pushing and shoving in the dim light reminds me of those horror movies I watched as kid, when swarms of crazed, starving rats would be loosed onto an unsuspecting citizenry. Shit! I've lost sight of my guy!
It's absolute pandemonium. You'd think the train schedule had never changed before. I have no pity for these people. They behave like beasts. For me, it's a job.
I hear the blaring of the train. It's not stopping. My mind races. Okay, that gives me time to find him again while we wait for the next train. I wish these idiots would stop pushing. You'd think the train schedule had never changed before.
Someone trips on my cane, catalyzing a domino effect as a whole segment of the crowd falls one into the other. I'm caught in a human undercurrent, being shoved to the outward limits. One great shove comes, unexpected.
(I've lost my balance! I'm off the platform!)
(A man has slipped off the platform! I can't stop!)
I put my head down. The train hurtles on. I am crying. Today I killed someone.
AUTHOR'S NOTE:The idea for this story was suggested by Halina Sznabel.
Rivers of November ripple and divide.
Wandering barefoot, restless dreams devour arrogance.
Beams of truth cascade frosted channels.
Light exists in the road to recovery.
Jaded tides crash.
Sitting on cold steps season's cell falls into deathly hallows.
Dracula sips a black house nightmare.
When will insomnia sing its Swan Song?
A goblet's content is a sorcerer's business.
In stone ages an unfriendly glow is cast.
A hell bound heart weeps most vigorously
Twisting trails prolong time.
Still under tragedy's shade, healing hands fold.
Legends of devotion surpass righteous leaders
Truth turns into lies
Lies writhe into truths
Frequent fantasy will own a pack of lies.
In a still pool high above the hidden river
Live the only discernible creatures:
Fish no longer than the length of
These sturdy fish, lord protectors
Of this minute realm, swim about this
Clear pond unfazed by the morning
Sun's emerging rays or a few black-seeded clouds
Until an intrusive hiker disturbs
This normally placid water by lapping, dog-like,
The lukewarm liquid into his greedy mouth,
Stealing without regard from this tiny pond,
A selfish act that sends the fish darting
About as if in protest
Minutes later after this callous trekker is gone,
These resilient fish abandon their frenzy and return to
Normal, reclaiming their secluded desert domain.
For eons this species has resided in this modest
Enclave lined with mud and stone. Slicing rains
Accompanied by torrential thunder have drilled the
Canyon's bottom while lightning's wild electrical
Strikes have set afire the rim's abundant forest land.
And other creatures, desperate as the thirsty hiker,
Have invaded these fish's private refuge above the
Raging river that helped carve the orange volcanic
Canyon amidst this sea of rock and sand
Yet those fish have never asked for an apology,
Content to remain the royal masters of their
Humble serene world.
But sadly what we can learn from these
Intrepid survivors is neither understood nor wanted
By the Planet's populace spoon fed lies by glib
Profiteers made rich by the perpetuation of their
Exponential yearly damage.
Now when lumbering giants blindly take huge steps,
Tossing bloody limbs and broken branches high into
The sky, the earth cries out in pain--decimated beyond
Repair or replenishment--while the unfeeling giants,
Indifferent to their plundering, serve notice
They will soon devour the Globe's entire atmosphere as
The canyon becomes their personal foundry and our
Habitat broils, then burns, and those long-enduring
Little fish dehydrate and evaporate in a hapless,
Lucinda Quick shot her husband
In the head
Because he threw her dish of macaroni and cheese
At the kitchen wall
His mama's recipe
Burnt around the edges
A seven-year marriage turned to ashes
Nothing left so she lit a Camel
She lifted from a crumpled pack
Jammed into his shirt pocket--
Never mind the blood splattered on the package
Or the yellow noodles running down the wall
Just grab the keys left lying on the counter
Step over the body
Hop into the cab of his Chevy pick-up
And drive down the highway
While singing along with Vince and Tricia--
Don't bother about fake tears or plastic
Emotions she's supposed to feel but doesn't...
Tomorrow when she awakes in a
Town she's never been to
Memories of the night before
The cigarettes, beer, and shots of Tequila,
That other man—Bart, Larry, or Jake? —
Bad dreams like the annoying headache
She'll remember forever
Just as she can't forget
That unhappy childhood
Being scolded and browbeaten
By her long-dead mama and daddy
Who never understood
That hidden inside was a
Wild-eyed demon dancer
Raging to bust out into
The black of night
And run so far and fast she'd
Never come back
I told Mom about us today
I told her I had met a girl
I told her your name
I said "Mom, I love her"
Tears filled my eyes, I had wanted to tell Mom before
There just never seemed to be a right time
But on this Christmas day
In the snow and cold
I spoke of my love for you
I wanted so much to hug her
To hear her say how proud she was of her son
She never spoke a word
The silence tore through my soul
As I turned to leave I looked back
At her headstone, she has been gone 25 years
Mom I miss you
Mom I know you would love her
I reach to
See your thoughts
Hear your voice
Speak your mind.
Toying with me,
The thought of you
keeps me in line...
Only a lifetime away
From a stolen moment
Just passing the time
with others to
Fill THE VOID.
"You must become an ignorant man again
And see the sun again with an ignorant eye
And see it clearly in the idea of it."
"How clean the sun when seen in its idea."
--from Wallace Stevens, Collected Poems and Prose
Let us speak of sun as idea,
Not as a creation of an imperfect mind,
Even less an old notion about gods,
Or newer definitions concerning helium and hydrogen and
Matters purely scientific
What is Sun but yellow, the essence of which
Van Gogh gathered as if the
Stars themselves were waiting to reach earth where
Only the artist was fully capable of grasping their
Significance, though the auditory distortions that
Tortured his ears prevented him from achieving the
Clear notion he desperately sought, his wretched state
Similar to all of mankind's dilemma Plato and Paul
Expressed in separate axioms 400 years apart
When first the Athenian philosopher and then the
Judean apostle theorized that
Man is a prisoner shackled by chains,
Trapped by human limitations, a clouded vision and
Imperfect understanding, along with a certain mortality
That brings every search, however zealous, to its
Tragic halt, rendering our words, despite their
Strength, powerless to tell us the real story or
Explain the penultimate notion of idea, or elucidate
The sun that continues to run, like the horse, past
The world as it indifferently glances inside a mind no
More capable of stopping its trajectory than were
Those mythic gods in whom we once placed so much trust
In Southwest caves the evidence still exists:
Charcoal stains, carbon's remnant gift,
Spread like a woven rug left behind
On sandstone ceilings,
The telltale pictographs etched on
Adjoining walls--the only proof save
A few occasional pot shards of the
Hisatsinom culture that vanished like
High desert smoke on starless nights
One thousand years ago
Underneath these orange chalk mesas
Lies the volcanic valley where dinosaurs
Tasted dust, behemoth failures whose tropical
Stalking ground baked, then froze, and sank
Beneath the sand sixty million years before
Southward a 1500 mile plain
Stretches into Mexico and the
Central American Mayan jungles where the ancient
Ancestors first found their necessary path north
Once here their gods, mystical masters of an unseen
Universe,emerged from under this sacred earth,
Able spirits plastered in mud, garbed in feathery
Reappear each year to perform their priestly magic by
Shepherding the replenishment of dry washes with
That continues forth and yields
The essential crops once more
Still another story, the unspoken one,
Exists of how invaders from a nearby
Northeast canyon culture came and slaughtered
These Cliffside innocents, obliterating their story,
The peaceful co-existence with a harsh,
Primeval land, causing those voiceless ancients to
Scatter across the uplands into hiding and forever
Into the naked void of prehistory,
Leaving only the strongest of survivors
To reemerge as a new, yet related culture
With the muted passage of silent eras
These marauders who invaded on those wild murky nights
Had kept awful visions remembered from their own
Ancient jungle pasts buried in their dark, grisly
Imaginations, and now Amidst this strange land heard
In frenzied trances loud, echoing voices that told
Them to sacrifice
Their new enemies to invisible gods,
Eat like crazy men the dead flesh cooked over open
Night fires--even drink the blood of their victims
While feasting on still alive hearts and
Livers come from the mutilated bodies of these
Peaceful people's dying children
Before their eyes opened to this despicable desecration
And they fled in shame, later vanishing themselves
In that ghastly secret canyon enclave
Lying in the dust at the heart of Hopiland between
A giant Juniper, green branches unfolded like a giant
Umbrella, and a withered pinion log, I watch the
Pink-clouded sunset break across the barren valley,
And feel I am the last person
Living on a surface so like the craters of the moon
The wind, god's breath snapping across the middle of
The devil's landscape, has run its course and soon
Night will turn the red desert into a black ocean bed
As the sun slips further through the horizon, water
Being poured from a gourd into a bowl, the night's
Peculiar whisperings increase in volume, and suddenly
I hear those bloody screams of suffering and death
From one millennium ago
Now my own blood grows warm, while my heart,
A helpless hammer, pounds; I attempt to rise,
But I have lain too long, grown stiff from the
Day's journey, an intruder here as well, although
Not a decimator like those primal deviant defilers
Coyotes, age-old witches hand-chosen warriors, howl as
Nighthawks sweep overhead
Below the beginnings of the suppliants' sabbath
Is the new reality,
The old a shaky, unreliable past companion which
I can hardly recall
Will I rise and return to the safety of the
Modern world's synthetic civilization left only a
Few hours and miles behind,
Or remain a prisoner trapped between the
Present and the past, doomed also to disappear
Without record, an anonymous collection of
Bleached bones swept away by time's careless memory,
My retribution for imagining those unspeakable
Occurrences best left hidden in a faceless,
A lasting punishment for wandering into
Hallowed country never meant for an
Uninitiated traveler to behold?
The sea is no shelter for fools
Not a stroke of a painter's brush,
Only in romantic tales a
Surreal span where pirates
Glide across green waters
Toward mysterious islands to
Stash treasures and
Dream the dreams of old men
Drunk with lies
This primordial domain,
More than sixty percent
The earth's surface, first belonged to
Poseidon, a dubious consolation since the sweetness of its
Its pleasures never could relinquish the bitterness
Of its brine:
Brother Zeus took the more coveted heavens while
Hades, the least lucky, was driven like Satan to
Angered by his hand, old before he was young,
The gruff sea god tortured millions while he sucked up
Others, eroded over time such rocks as the forbidding
Gibraltar, swallowed a sinking Atlantis, and chased
Odysseus for ten years across the Mediterranean and
The Aegean where he urged Circe and Calypso to
Ply their witches' trade,
Flash, like silver fishes, their naked bodies and hold
Odysseus in chains
While the nasty old man claimed all the
Other sad Mycenaean sailors except Athena's
Protected prodigy—the king of the ocean distraught
Because favored Troy wept the way he did, his son,
The blinded Cyclops, tricked, driven mad, unable to
Cipher the masterful mind of the
Weary Greek warrior who
Longed like a leper
To taste only the soothing soil
Of his lost homeland
Now I wander along a Carolina beach,
Against unwelcoming waves the way
I once did as a child over the more
Pliant lakes of Michigan
I have swum in Maine's icy
Atlantic, braved, naked, a cold, deep
Superior, and drank Mexico's aqua Caribbean and
Pacific, yet my brief ventures
Hardly match the meaner struggles
Those mythical Greeks suffered,
Their stories made real by the dim-eyed
Homer who smelled the salty air
From his island home
And sang songs about a passing world
Sensitive sages still summon when
Walking on lone beaches
After darkness has
Slipped past daylight's ending
Arnold from Dover and Smith at Sussex saw, too,
That same timeless body,
Signified through stark images the
Sea as suffering's oldest symbol,
Sophocles' cathartic correlative…
Still this pitiless cavern remains
Mankind's best hope, a feminine
Charmer of wild horses, the
Moon's mistress in love;
What these poets knew is anguished souls
Who cast on the tides their forlorn
Feelings find solace, either in the arms of
Another or through quiet desperation a
Concord, an acceptance that helps them
Toward their final moment
When water and land converge before
Vanishing from sight, mortal body in
Tow, amid the pitched sky,
Enfolded at last by
A breathless eternity
I did sit by my window to contemplate a desert,
it is the desert of my lost years, the infancy happiness
of my first candy. The toys are in formation like a
procession of lovely scenes from an old silent movie.
I did sit by my window to contemplate a desert,
I did smell the old flowers that we used to cultivate
before Spring and the roses and sunflowers that we grow
in our indoors yard. They are opening like morning prayer to
the ultimate sunrise or closing in silence at sundown.
I did sit by my window to contemplate a desert,
it is the desert of solitude that really scares me.
People said that "solitude" is a gift, they are wrong.
They do not know what I know, that when "solitude"
comes to stay close to you, it is your guess for centuries...
I did sit by my window to contemplate a desert,
I did not know that "solitude" sometimes teaches you,
- the importance of laugh, the need for love,
- the growing flowers and its allergies, and that
- nothing that we really appreciate comes free,
Myth and reality,
The language of dreams,
A vision of god
Wrapped in creation scenes.
Myth and reality,
A visceral truth,
A centrifugal spoof.
Scattered and atomized
For an integrating structure
Bestowing meaning and purpose.
Chasten and humble.
In the final analysis
i'm not one of those poets
one of those alpha-posing, super-imposing
inner-urban closing poets
who prattle to infinity
in unscripted and useless rhymes
clean air in no time
leaving none repast
i'm not one of those poets
one of those pitter-popping, heart-stopping
street corner mentor poets
who improvise sound
like kicking garbage cans
texting with both hands
leaving out vowels
i'm not one of those soap-box poets
one of those orator, prognosticator
digitally refined and retouched poets
who preach the strident life
and fear the ultimate end
leaving none behind
i may be the last of the nomad poets
quiet death for the Penan, up and beyond
one Joffa shake away~poet
who waits for the stones to sing
with a leaky log-cabin roof
i leak the truth
leaving spirit whole
I sat with a book upon the pier as an amber sun set into the ocean,
Gentle waves crashed below as their fine mist softened against my skin,
A flock of seagulls took flight in two v-patterns overhead,
And I watched for some distance as they flew towards two evening stars,
And as the vision transformed into two thin eyebrows above bright sparkling eyes,
I thought of you...
And contemplated all poetry in the universe.
There's a Darkness trapped inside my head
That somehow is always near
There's a Monster underneath my bed
Can't see but I can hear
There's a Memory that keeps haunting me
It will not disappear
There's a Panic cold just like the sea
Whenever he is near
There's a Pardon that they want to see
But I cannot be sincere
There's a Demon that is in my face
The same does not appear
There's a Hate in me I cannot place
No blame for my tear
There's an Angel looking in my eyes
She whispers in my ear
There's shelter when you free your cries
I'll help you with your fear