Too pure to look our way…

They are too pure to look our way
with merriment and joy to carry on
lost in the map it’s we who stray
groping about, close but withdrawn.

Stories retold before we dream
fodder for frights casting dark shadows
from resting to upright we scream
waking the dead from our gallows.

The light hides only the brighter
from the confused state of darker days
few dare to become the writer
for this theodic dirge of praise.

Last and least ghosts hiding in sight
refusing to play as they taunt and tease
haunting the child they incite
ugly shivers which oddly please.

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Priestless…

collarIn a fit of frenzy

(is there any other kind?)

I gave thanks without pausing

without ceremony, without stopping

to smell roses, coffee or spring perfume,

because unlike the behaviorally manipulative

life is my sacrament and no priest slows me down.

So faith doesn’t…

Somewhere along the long winding trail
I found that I was lost
not hopelessly, but mindfully frail,
buffeted, torn and tossed.

Unmarked the way and blindingly plain
Astray in all respects;
paralyzed by fear to here remain
’til defiantly began to suspect.

Narrow strewn with many of the few
certainly dead while awake
hymnic poison dispensed in the pew
wills are unmended to break.

Unquestioning and mindless tenant
served these travelers ill;
indefectible is the pennant
guiding the creed’s drill.

Literacy never prevented adultery
nor memorization sin
commandments recited with brevity
only drills for soldiers win.

Call and clamor for rapture’s dawn
spared from this ill world,
once loved, now damned anon
to hell now gladly hurled.

There once was room, just a moment
a chance enough to believe
but love was made into atonement
illusions made to deceive.

You’ve crucified the one who dared
a will to will undone
emptied, humiliated and snared
but you’ve only just begun.

Killing off faith and those who with
ecclesial task uptake
coercing either/or into their myth
for their livelihood’s sake.

However there are few, a remnant true
unyielding yet soundless
sitting solitarily in said same pew
unwearyingly in convalesce.

When surprise is life…

When news came to me

I was as ready as I could be

because I was completely

unprepared (and that was

for the best) because if I

knew what would happen

to you I would have said

something contrived, trying

to sound profound, poetic

even; but as it is I kissed

you goodbye, told you we’d

talk later and that was the

best of partings – with

affection (even if routine)

and hope of another word.

Without distraction…

Galena Street in old Aurora

houses the remnants of hope

once called tomorrow, Al Capone

built around the corner, the old

fire department kept well, the

rest now shuttered behind

For Lease or Sale – abandoned

masonry shells discolored by

time, flourishing pawn shops

exhibiting the valuables of

families swapped for pennies,

for food, for liquor, because

hope lost its value altogether;

and a corner taqueria named

after a John – the only clean

windows on the block, showing

sticky booths of primary colors,

plastic baskets of chips left

unattended on dirty tables,

and salt shakers with discolored

rice absorbing the moisture,

and a dad seated but gesturing

wildly while talking on his phone,

ignoring his round faced little

girl looking up at him from

across the table, wide-eyed,

without distraction.

I don’t know how to cry…

IMG_6114I was just a boy, eleven,

and in so many ways I lost

my innocence that day;

rising after eleven

on my summer vacation

to a house filled

with crying friends

and family hiding their

tears from the boy in

his terrycloth bathrobe;

greeted by my Mom

as all eyes were on us,

on stage, every chin tucked

against chest, every arm

folded, all quiet until

interrupted by the gasp

of a sob; two chairs were

where they never were so

all could see her say that

Daddy was gone, and

I cried because I thought

she was going to say it

was Nana, but it wasn’t

and I didn’t even cry

about the right thing

at first; there were no

more words that I recall

or want to, just dry toast

and weak tea as my first

meal of the rest of my life

without him and I hate

that menu still; it was so

long ago and just like it

happened today because

it did and I’ve never tried to

do anything but remember

this anniversary but

I still don’t know how

to cry about it; I don’t.

 

William Blyer Callahan (d. June 28, 1971)

This was a mother…

You always rested your

head, chin in your bent

hand, elbow on the arm

of your kitchen chair and

dozed off with a Dixie cup

that once held four ice

cubes and just enough

Pepsi to cover your ice

Sitting on the table in

front of you, the morning’s

Tribune opened on the

table; across the room the

television was on, WGN

probably, if there was a

Cubs’ game from the west

coast, and the light above

you was dimmed after

another day of work to

keep your five on your own,

and if anyone of us stirred

in the room you would

startle and immediately

say our name as if you

always knew who it was.

Is there a human race…

Hands on a globeIt’s been a long, long time

since I’ve heard the expression,

‘the human race’ like I once did from

my father who invoked the phrase

in the ‘60’s vernacular of our one,

global world, nations united and east

and west divided so clearly

all was known, though all wasn’t safe.

 

In his own way I was chided to

behave civilly and not gad about as an

unevolved mouth-breathing Neanderthal

with the future of said human race

depending on my sitting erect, listening

politely in a play at détente, opening doors

for all types of women, regardless, and

not wasting food because children

are starving elsewhere.

 

And there was, apparently, a membership card

to this human race that I was continually in

danger of forfeiting through my mostly slovenly,

sometimes disrespectful, manners which

fell to my father to supervise

as his role in bettering said human race

inasmuch as he was able

and to the extent to which I was pliable.

Just waiting for it to mean something…

Here I am, lined-up just as I should

waiting for him and her, or them

to do what needs to be done

for me to be me and theirs for a day

swaddled then straining then

 

imprisoned and fighting the inevitable

weary and readied to return

to complete the fullness missing me

as if everything depended on

getting myself back to where

everything means what it really

means and not just another

chair mocking chairness

 

but for now I’m reading

Curious George to another soul

ending another day, bathed

and warm and damp and

quieting on my borrowed lap

and it would be nice if

all this fullness-filling cared

about this too.

I prefer forgiveness…

If only, if, “If I knew then

what I know now” I know I’m not

smart (or good) enough to do

anything differently; I know that I

don’t know how to know

differently, I know that even

with 20/20, clear as day,

sharply focused and contrasted

lines diagraming right and wrong,

touch and don’t touch, walk

and don’t walk, buy and sell,

I would still act stupidly

and need forgiveness,

because it’s only later and

not at the time that I know

what I should have known,

and I’m fine with that because

I’m enjoying forgiveness.