Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Mother -
your children were endangered
while you were playing house;
pretty bows and three-piece suits
couldn't shield their eyes;
the pain that came
in whispered lies
built their lives on fear;
some days you gifts were kind,
a distraction from the real,
but they knew what you were hiding
was truth more sure than words.

Mother -
have you heard your children's song?
Did you think they were misguided?
Their roots were twisted by your needs,
but pain has made them real;
their paths have parted,
they've sought their souls
in places lush and barren;
what cures they've found
grew untainted by veneers;
you'll find your world
of skirts and ties
far from where they dwell. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

blood makes a bitter cage

Winter's chill creeps in,
frosting your mask with diamonds -
I thought you were a hero,
sent to guard my soul.

The oaths we made
were iron in my eyes,
and I shed my blood
to make them true.
You waved goodbye
and in your hands
our oaths washed away -
running like a river
my heart could not dam.

In barren silence
I see my iron light -
Your oath is only the mist,
and blood makes a bitter cage.

Friday, November 30, 2012

40 Pieces: my life in abstracts

All poems and prose already published in this blog thus far are part of my artbook, "40 Pieces." For now, the book is only available through me. I'm making each physical book by hand.

[Poems in this blog that appear after this post, chronologically, will be in the next book.]


About 40 Pieces

Many of these were written in the midst of my deployment with the US Army. I was in Baghdad, Iraq, from August 2007 through August 2008. As the Army saw it, my job was to talk to our detainees, and to attempt to gain some useful information for the “war.” As I saw it, my job was to talk to our detainees, and attempt to figure out what the hell was going on. These 40 pieces are the ways I made sense of things for myself. Some were written in the aftermath, both the long descent to ‘rock bottom’ and the eventual rise to where I am now. For the clinicians in the world: consider this a window into Depression. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

driving home

the long highway stretches out before me
a lonely song from a make-shift radio, the only voice in my head
if I close my eyes, would it all just go away?
would there be time for fear or pain, if I didn't know what was coming?
the quiet solitude of oblivion
so welcoming 


Don't leave me alone with my thoughts.
They hurt me.

[I'll go wherever you will go.]
Just don't leave me alone.
The darkness creeps in,
     shadowing my edges as you pull away,
     overtaking me when you turn.
I'm not strong enough.

I know it's wrong.
I know my thoughts shouldn't hurt.
I fight them, always.
Sometimes I win. Sometimes I'm just so tired.

Sometimes the best feeling is blank.
Nothingness is better than being carved like
     Picasso's sculpture;
the blade of memories knows exactly where to slice,
     again and again.

I'm not lost.
I know what's happening here.
Some days I can corner it, cage it in a little box
      in the bottom of my mind.
Some days I'm too dizzy and
     I can't find the key.

I need a little help.
Just hold me up.
Don't leave me alone.

Memorial Day

- you lost it all
to save us from ourselves -

- an offering
taken from your flesh -

- your light went dark
but I remember you -

- you, the Fallen,
who gave it all
to save us from our fates.

to the Fallen


one heart

I am your Archer - 
I am your Bones -
I will guide you true,
I will steel you stance.

I am your arrow - 
I am your vision -
I will see your heart,
I will help you dance.

in the diary of bones

In the diary of bones
let the words fall where they may,
they linger for dissection,
caught there, where they can't decay.

By the Archer's point,
the timid words, examined,
are strung out and fire-cast,
iron from ashes and a gilded corpse.

some days

some days aren't so great
and are so bad

some days
i'm just pensive
taking in
taking everything in

some days
are sadder

some days i'm just an observer
the world goes by
to a faster tune

some days
my drum is slow

and it's not so bad
but not so great


My goddess is a seer,
one hand in life
     and one hand in death.
She knows my heart and holds me
one hand in life
     and one hand in death.

the walk

I'd show you the face
of a thousand years,
if you would hold my hand.

I'd show you the heart
of a broken life,
if you could see the child.

I'll teach you the ways
of a tangled soul,
if you will listen kindly.

My voice will stray
so stay right here,
and let your touch be guiding.

Our step so light
no footprints follow,
ahead is all we need.

not always

Unraveling the abyss -
that mad churn leeching behind me,
screeching bells in my ears -
your hand out, ahead;
I focus on you, clasp you -
Please don't let me go.

In your grip, cloaked,
I can look back, safe,
and see the horror you saw;

it was home
for so long.

But not always.

Not always.


your hands are wise
though your tongue is quick;

yet your voice soothes
while your touch arches
across visceral truth.


     in pain
     that comforts
     the tortured.
make it merciless.
make it hard.
sow me love
     the way I know
     the way that kills.

rain in Baghdad

Crowds gather
as drops fall
timid, through the net.

Last night, there was a storm -
twelve mintes
of vengeful winds and
     ghostly dust
whipping through the dark -

Crowds disperse
to cower
one by one,
hidden in their eyes.

They quiet now, waiting
in the daylight
as the drops fall


My god is a Hunter
wielding his bow of stars.
He follows me
reminding me
to keep my aim true -
as true as my words,
as strong as my arms,
as fulfilling as my heart.
My god is a Hunter
wielding his bow of stars.


I cycle like the moon,
sometimes needing to be seen
needing to be held,
sometimes needing to observe
hidden from view,
but always here
here for you.


Time is a disease:
Afflicting all the cosmos,

Picking at our minds,
Carving decades into skin
and Eons into stone.

As incurable as life,
it only pauses for the dead.




Hot night in Tucson,
People ooze through the dark,
Caught in the dream.


story of pearls

['It is what it is'
is all that I say;
the path I sought
has washed away.]

Pearls washed to dirt -
irritants stripped of beauty -
the allure exposed,
their raw rank core
as moonshine:
sweet on the tongue,
but heavy in the telling,


Their impressions left
spoke of narcissism;
their evidence told me
their confusion;
I knew their habits
without a word.


let me forget.

Syn: gypsy

There's a question of gypsies
     between you and me:
We spent a year pursuing
     the ever blowing breeze;
Your zephyrs still shift,
     but my compass fixed on you.
Still, the winds smell so sweet,
blood makes a bitter cage,
And I just want to


The music caught me
and spun me around;
Put me at ease
and brought the world to its knees.


Not at first sight -
     before that -

At the first roll of your Voice
     across the horizon of
           my awareness -

I shivered; I listened;

I heard the quieting
     of my own storms
        in your melody.

(late 2008)


Burning trash day, laundry day, cleaning day...
     and I wonder...

If I told you that I love you, would you understand it's in the cosmic sense? I love you like Jesus loves everybody. Why do people assume all love that isn't family, is romantic? There used to be different words for love; the greeks had so many - I wonder if they still do. We lost those words
and assumptions are evil.
Maybe if I wrote this in stanzas 
you would read it
as fast as I think it
this train of thought
desrves its own rail
this stream deserves
its own mountain
to fall to tumble
to roll
through my sight
across your tongue

But anyway,

I was wondering.

Why shouldn't we be more clear?

(early 2011)


Your voice rolls across me, (like - )
Comfort worn thickly;
You hold the rain and I
Trust the storm to come;

The searing lust flashes before me, (like - )
Blinding; Binding;
My service is Yours,
My search, extinguished.

once there was a girl...

Once I was an olive tree,
I lived in an olive grove,
and made olives for my Master,
until he wanted wine;

Once I was a vineyard,
making grapes to press,
fermenting Master's wine,
until he wanted milk;

Once I was a dairy cow,
milking for my Master,
until he wanted mead;

Once I was a bumblebee,
making honey for his mead,

But Master wasn't thirsty.
          and he made me



Like I want to start driving

     until I run out of gas
     or run into a wall.

With no thought in my head

     because thought require heart
     and hearts bleed freely
     when innocence is lost.


(late 2008/early 2009)


And now, in the aftermath...
wishing I could sleep

had a great night -
friends, food, family, friskiness -

...disappears into the night,
falls away as my tires roll into the dark,
putting miles between us,

miles between us...

pushing the emptiness forward,
drawing out that happiness

like a poison...

I need a smoke.

(Spring 2009)

three little words

three little words... Overwhelming, isn't it? Strange, I think, how three little words can uproot your entire world and strike you squarely in the gut. Sometimes I think empires are toppled on three little words. They are so simple, and so brutal in their lack of frills: "I love you," "I have AIDS," I am scared," "I hate you," and "you are worthless" are some of the most powerful statements in our lives. Their power lies in their simplicity, their complete lack of nuance or deceit. These are phrases that must be taken at face value when spoken with sincerity. What do you say to these? How can you rebuttal undisguised hate? How do you respond to AIDS? How do you build your worth without sounding foolishly defensive? You don't. You simply walk away, knowing that person will never care.

These words, so simple, so innocent alone, are shattering together. Even the apparently innocuous "I love you" has the ability to shake my very core as a thought, unverbalized, when it comes unbidden, interrupting thoughts of someone so far from my hand, and so close to my heart. Is it strange, that I find the power of these words so deceptively clear? Do I even make sense to anyone not privy to my inner thoughts?

(Sept 2007)


this feeling of unease haunts me -
like a child's toy abandoned in a craftsman's shop,
i do not belong here.

Restraints of station chafe me,
cause my heathen heart anxiety;
demons gather in the cobwebs of my recessed mind,
misuse makes hallucinations dance solid and sordid in my crazed vision,
and - paralyzed - i cannot see -

cannot decide -
cannot hope -
cannot create -
cannot be.

another day

the sun burns through my nights,
calls them home too quick;
I wake to the moon
and the rising stars -
another dark day
to work through.

melancholy thought

A melancholy thought, I know, but I cannot let it go...

How does a person recover from total loss? When a man realizes that everything he has fought for, everything he has sacrificed, and everything he has thought was right, is the very thing that has shamed and endangered him, his family, even his children - what else is there for him? I've seen too many grown men cry into sleeves of ill-fitted shirts, too many men choke on their children's names. Are they wishing for death in that moment? Will they ever rebuild their honor? Will they stop their children from making the same mistakes, in a world woven with violence? These are the things I wonder about, as another tear wells in the eye of another father, or brother, or son. How, I want to know, do they reclaim themselves from this horror they have become? Will they ever find redemption in their own eyes?


The Machinations of Night

the pure silence blankets me,
a thick fur to keep me insulated,
to hold me in my thoughts;

somewhere in the silence,
i feel you far away -
dreaming in my solitude,
i need your solid touch;

what purpose fills this space?
what need does distance cure?
why, when beauty is before us,
do we keep her in the dark?

will my faith withstand the quiet? or
will be betrayed
by the sanctity of night?

blind souls

this is erosion,
- degradation of the mind -
insidious, rooting veins
corrupting emotions
and wearing away even the
most stoic temper.

Can there be a day of peace?
can there be a pause
in the fade?
Just once, can we step
instead of back?

this is cancerous;
this infiltration
of ignorance.

I've never seen so many blind souls.


Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

When did the world become obscure?
When did the people become human?
Isn't this the same world I saw through clear eyes?
Aren't these the heroes I thought would never fall?

Too much confusion, obligation, corruption -
Too much imbued obfuscation -
My world doesn't match the one I begged -
Family is a word without borders - nebulous.

I can't - I think - I won't - I hate -

But mostly,

I wait.

And I love you.

the three

A few moments each, each a trail of thought that led nowhere, but occupied my time while I waited to hand out appeasement - toys and hygiene products to women and children whose husbands, fathers, and sons are imprisoned, terrorists maybe:

III: Culture, Retrospect, Circumspect

That sheer of newness,
that grimy coat that blinds,
it covers all the horror
with papery faith in kin -

We were the same, once,
you and I,
til seasons drew away
and love lost all her battles,
and memory left her side.

II: Sounds

Crunching gravel -
river-washed rocks
poured, heaped into desert -
Riled, refuse to crush
or fill the sand,
Waving and slipping
under booted weight -

Defiant, to the end.

I: Silver

Silver threads and Silver laughs
and Silver is my day;
Silver moon a shining star -
Stardust caught in a cloud,
Someday soon the world will sigh,
and Cease her layered wanderings;
Someday when the when does come,
This woman's wondering will still - silent.

(Family Day, early 2008)

Luna, carry me home

And so she hides behind the Sea,
     leaving the night to be lit by the stars,
and leaving my thoughts to rest alone.
     Her light fades and spreads, across the clouded waters,

As city lights appear - unexpected - in the west;
There, her last golden moment ends, Her
     journey complete.
Her luminescence lingers - just a moment longer -
     til in a breath -

All is dark
but for the city lights
reflecting the stars.

(R&R, 2008)


Their faded beauties withering,
war-torn monuments crumbling in their hearts, and


and they don't know.

They don't know they could be home.
They could be loved.
They could be wanted.

If only they would choose.

If only they knew -
If only they loved -
If only they wanted -

As I want you
As I love you
As I know my home

Is here

Is where my heart and my loves


But - no - I'm faded, like moonlit beauty
     withering in the burning sunlight,

Crumbling in their memories...


like scattered souls
blinking in the night,
as frozen as deer
(in headlights).

Who can see
what we've become?
Who can say
what we've measured?
Can we know
the distance of our moral

Can the shaken stars
see our patterns,
see our horrors,
make animals of

When it all comes falling -
crumbling - slamming - down,
Who will watch us fall?
Will they see us sink
and make a wish?
Or will they see
(a waste)?


I touch your picture
     And fingers remember the rough stubble of your face.

I close my eyes
     And I breathe deeply, catching your scent on the breeze.

I lick my lips
     And taste you again, salty and sweet on my tongue.

I wander into thought
   And you are here with me, holding me tight against your chest.

And for a moment,

I am happy.


"To sleep, perchance to dream:
ay, there's the rub"

What shall I dream of today,
     as I snooze away the blazing sun?
Shall I dream of sweetthings and innocence,
     or martyrs and blood?

How long has it been, how many have died?
Death in all the wrong places,
    but who is the judge and where is the jury?
Out to lunch again, lost in a maze of consciousness
     - they'll not be returning.

My child, don't enter my dreams!
     Stay safe away, and safely loved.
My fears may kill you in the haunting;
     my love may draw you too close in the fire.
Your needs are mine, but I cannot see you here:
Today my dreams run red and metal -
Copper lingers in my memory's tongue.

the raven in Baghdad

I watched a raven today, while I was waiting at the bus stop after chow. He was circling above me, with dozens of others - a storytelling, I think it's called, as opposed to a flock. Their pattern was like an infinity symbol, only with three loops instead of two. I watched his grace for several minutes, while somebody talked to me about something. I'm not being vague on purpose. I really wasn't paying attention to whoever it was. The raven was much more interesting. His calm is what fascinated me, I think. He had no hurry, no impatience, no need, even, for patience, because time stood still for his flight. He had no stress, no concern. He had his Will, nothing else, but he did not lack. I closed my thoughts to all else, letting the sounds and sights surrounding me fade away. For a moment, I felt blessed emptiness.

The bus came, and we all shuffled on, to head back to work. We packed in like sardines, but my mind was alone in its thoughts, and I felt peace in the midst of this war.