Land of the few, land of the proud, life of toil under a shroud
of misery and treachery, of mortal fear of bird and bee
a kick a punch the devil’s grin, a curse that lands upon the chin
a knee to the soul, a fist to the head, staying alive means loving the dead
the book the sword your name your fate, you love the lord you learn to hate
the men in town who shoot the birds, those quiet children killing words,
hiding in woods, dance and song, dark of night, memory long
deep and lonesome, breathe cool air, peal of laughter, do you dare
sing the praises of a boy, turn and spin now feel the joy
be a child, be a girl, be a woman as you twirl
feast of passion, feast of life, someday soon you will a wife
a mother and a sister be, more alive but hardly free.
Then a boot upon ground, a roar and scream, a coven found
a man a god a broken word, a spell that flies just like a bird
upon the back of darkened night, a wing that suffocates the light
that drags you back upon a pyre and kindles it with rabid fire
that summons demons, sin and vice, that smiles sharp and prays to Christ
that calls to lust and fear and faith, and never bows to its mistake
for Salem is a solemn town where girls tread lightly on the ground
where evil stalks the brazen heart and justice, sweet justice, is a manly art.
birds gossip in the early chatter of sunshine
the wind’s scowl is daunted by milk skies
the crooked dogwood still naked blushes
the carpet of pine needles holds the memory of frost
the empty flowerbed is a comma
the roof basks and the windows sigh
my skin breathes, so I am a frog, too
my soul on this fine day is gathering
my heart is a porch swing gently
Early this summer
I robbed a grave
dug into the earth
with eager hands
and pulled from
my childhood a
long lost friend
a boy to climb a
one sticky branch
at a time, hand
over hand, perch
to perch, our
breath light as
we closed in
on the sky,
to drop laughter
on the world
between our feet.
With each limb
more bounce more
sway and more
breeze to push
us off center,
until we swung
back safe. A passing
That we knew.
But we also knew,
always knew, we
by young skin
strong lungs and
a knowledge bred
into us by true
parents, that if
we slipped, we
would simply unfold
our wings, catch
the air and carve
the sky. Then we
would drift slowly
back to the ground
where our feet
would touch softly
and sink new roots.
I slam my hand in the trunk of
the car, swear under my breath
because the kids are swashbuckled
in and my wife is crowsnested in the
passenger seat. All of our booty,
stuffed parrots, pieces of eight,
extra eye patches, is strew at
our feet, the litter of our lives,
the jewels, the stuff of stories.
I back out of the driveway, aim
at the horizon and am distracted by
the ocean outside, the laughter behind,
my wife checking her phone.
But soon I am adrift with purpose, ferrying
us forward with a blessed hour and eleven
minutes to be alone.
Every inch of this sea is mine,
every ounce of brine, every whitecap.
The pain in my hand reminds
me of my children’s fingers,
how I bandage and kiss them.
My wife closes her eyes.
Our wake is now a playground for
dolphins. Our ship takes on passengers,
enemies are shoved down
the plank and forty minutes
have passed in a blink.
During this time one son has become
a sea monster. The other is plotting
a mutiny. But Melanie will take
the helm if I am taken prisoner.
She will finish the journey when
I go overboard.