scorched earth policy

Your love is a scorched earth policy.
Moved, you did, through my fields of hope, sowing salt into the ground I tilled all summer. On deep, moonless nights you slouched toward my hearth, to steal the smallest glint of flame from the blooming coals. With the fire I thought you’d kindled for warmth, you burned. You burned my crops, with our fire. Ash and cinder shivered in the air, like something magic. It came to rest, painlessly, on my face. You poured poison into my well; I knew you would. That water was deep and pure. And when locusts visited the grain house, I knew it was you who invited them.



Packing Up Blues

Pay all your bills, disable the router,
Shut down the software on your laptop computer,
Draw all the curtains and shut off the lights
And wait for the first of the silent nights.

Toss out the flow’rs; they were already dead,
Let the mole-snakes return to inhabit your shed.
Pack up your mother’s furniture, out of the sun,
Let the postbox be gorged with letters to no one.

This was my heart, my hell, my pain, my rest,
For too long, for far too long, my nest,
For years I tossed in my childhood sheets;
While dreams drifted slowly away, in silent fleets

Throw out the milk, set free the birds,
Give somebody else your windowsill herbs,
Dismantle your easel, pack up your sails,
Unsubscribe from ten years of promotional mail.

My flower stems are dying now; throw out every one,
Fold up the mountains and snuff out the sun,
Cash in the coupons and turn out the yard,
Recycle your childhood birthday cards.
Swallow your pills and hang up your clothes,
For nothing now resembles the life that you chose.


[Inspired by the form and meter of W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues]

what it means to bake a cake

It’s always selfish of me to bake a cake.
Because even if it’s someone else’s years
that will burn and dance on top
It is still my cake.

Every sigh of pleasure shall be directed to me.
Lips brush over three-pronged steel,
a finger drags through buttercream,
a knife plunges through velvet viscera
and a wedge is pulled, slowly, from the whole
and bits of crumb fall quietly
to the floor.
Every one of those crumbs is mine.





sentinel III

Lately I have noticed
how people place sentinels in front of their words.

Many do not move themselves
to regard your unpopular view,
but rather, fix their sights on words
Suddenly unguarded.

Loose threads hang off my own,
Offending threads on unfinished edges
that require urgent pruning before I may clear my name.

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

Strange, though,
That I should need to measure my words, daily, with the greatest precision,
Percolate them until no more coarseness exists,
Without further hint of ambiguity,
To keep alive some popular refrain.

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

Truth moves stagnantly,
amid a virulence of lies
It’s never as interesting, is it?

How is it,
that without these sentinels I keep,
my words might be commandeered
and bent to win a different game?

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

Evening and I’m home, alone, unheard, the sentries dismissed
I’m patrolling the words I shaped that day
Some made unrecognizable
superimposed onto pain.

(Why are things not more True?
Correct and True are not the same.)

See the sentinels guarding others’ words
See how you, too, might’ve made them
your own.