Ophthalmoi

An oak looms in the garden,

My effigy of pain,

I’ve not climbed since May’s rain,

When soaked hands slipped,           bones broke, skin ripped,

And I ran inside, alone.

Friends on the oak’s limbs beckon,

Enticing me outside.

In my kitchen, I’ll hide.

Wood can’t harass    me through paned glass,

Crouched, back to the door, alone.

If I could see the arm that reached to stand me up again

To climb the oak, to rest upon not ground, not under limbs;

If I could see the tree anew,

Not sharp as black but multihued,

With eyes not mine to recognize

Insects and birds, the clouds and sky.

The oak waits in the garden.

I climb its trunk again.

Scent of rain, shouting wind—

Rustling leaves          can’t hinder me

From escaping my prison.

How I Would Paint Success

Blackbeard in an Armani

His cross-bone skibbies ride over a sharkskin belt

A white-and-red mint hides his Gehenna breath

Clean-shaven scars swath his cheeks and chin

And his sword arm waves against the sky

That I would row! row! row!

Scurvy Dog in a suit

 

And

 

A ribeye of wagyu

Over applewood embers

On the grill of Hephaestus, himself

But under the char

Maggots burrow

And gnaw its rot

And smear their feces

Along its marbled halls

Yum

Poop-steak

Frackalurch

Gallumpher peaves upon his perch

He breathes harumphs with eyes alight

With haunches coiled to frackalurch

In holes of rabbits white

.

And once unleashed he prangs a-fro

Upon scents of his tarrid prey

Who’s fickened to its hides below

From my Gallumpher’s bray

.

A first door, third door, fifth door, tenth

His bearage folls on flanks of wrath

Into the welks, the Labyrinth

To flesh its bony path

.

Trophizing with his cartographs

He whimsies me under the world

Thence through the Fae with ember laughs

Ho! Nightwing! Be defurled!

A Name And Only A Name

My name—

Do you spy green sprigs on a hill,

Hiding an underworld beneath?

A barrow of whispers?

Lines of letters, milling

On nametags, on poems, on pedigrees,

Like diplomat zombies?

Then I, the wildfire’s pinpoint spark,

I dim, and I drift among the leaves

As ash in an evening breeze.

A Beornic hermit, I subsist,

Pinewoods-bound, naked

But for fur, growls, claws, fangs, the stink of bear and blood.

“Beloved Father and Husband”;

Entombed in pine, under granite and grass, I break down—

Fabric tongue unraveling,

Losing all but my name.

Judging from my classmates’ reactions, I have over-subtle-ized this and obfuscated my meaning. I didn’t intend that at all. I changed the title to contextualize it a bit better, but you’ll have to let me know if it works. I might just need to add a bunch more stanzas to flesh things out.

Fettered Fett

Boba Fett

was chompchompchomped

he thundered

over ship and sky

by jetpack

he caught Chewy and Han and Lando and Luke and Leia

in chains and cables and carbonite

in silence

still

untethered by gadgets

kerfuffled by

a giant groundbound mouth

how does it taste

you thousand year old belch

you gastric juice of

sarlacc’s

sand-trap

gut

you unflappable merc you

//

Fett ends up escaping the sarlacc in the wider Star Wars lore. I intended this poem to be read from an Episode V-VI perspective.

Traps

A rubber-clad fisherman stared into the ridges of a corrugated sea. A filament line speared the water below. He glanced into the sky, squinting against rain droplets, the wrinkles at the edge of his eyes groping toward his gramophone ears like fingers. The clouds had darkened to charcoal. Pulling his raincoat tight, he picked up a Styrofoam cup half filled with cocoa-colored soil. He stood, gathered his line, and turned from the ocean. Drizzle wet his cheeks, and he pulled his coat tighter. A few gulls accompanied him, cawing like lunatics and interrupting the waves’ rhythmic weep. One of them lit at his heels but soon rejoined the rabble, having found nothing but footprinted gull droppings. The man’s eyes passed over splinters and paint peels, and the plunk of his footfalls echoed as he stepped, stepped, stepped the forty feet from the edge of the dock to the threshold of his front door. He leaned his bamboo rod against the hovel, set his cup on the planks below, and disrobed, hooking his coat next to the door under a bit of roof. When he entered the one-room home, his daughter sprang with a shout from the three-chaired kitchen table, tackling his waist with a hug. The musk of wild mushroom soup followed her. The man’s wife, her back turned as she tended to their wood-burning stove, quicked a peripheral glance at his empty hands. He sat at the table, near the stove’s warmth, where he found a crust of this morning’s toast, leathery from the humidity, and chewed on it. His gaze ambled to the peg legs of another chair, where he noticed a jiggling black dot. A spider was thatching a tear in its invisible net. Behind it, a June bug hung, like a Summer Flounder, waiting to be filleted. After mending its net, the spider shouldered its meal and stole away, under the seat and out of sight. It returned unburdened and crept to a corner of the web, where it stilled, waiting.

Warmed Inside

Two statues, male and female, sat back to back on a dais, staring at the ground. Stone filled the figures’ ears, and grit their eyes. Baby birds chirped in nests on their shoulders. Children skipped around them, crouched upon them, imagined they were rock monsters. A girl with braids in her hair danced nearby, but they caught her attention, and she stilled. She moved closer, circling them, like Sherlock Holmes in a summer dress, peering into their eyes, tracing the rough curvature of their hands. She brushed away a bird’s nest from the male’s shoulders and with a spit-wet finger rubbed droppings from the other’s hair. Then she turned, hopped off the dais, and ran out of sight. After a few minutes, she returned  with a smile and an apple, a Gala, which she placed in the male statue’s palm. She kissed its cheek and stepped back, watching. Minutes passed, but the girl only blinked. But then the stony form stirred. Like waking up on Saturday morning, it blinked, blinked, blinked and bowed its gaze toward its open hand, then to the girl, who was still smiling. And after a few gravelly breaths, it brought the apple to its mouth and crunched a stony bite. And as the apple’s flesh moistened the dust on his lips and as its nectar warmed his insides, he cracked. Like earthquakes, his husk broke apart in shards, revealing human skin underneath. And looking around, the man saw a promenade, abuzz with persons. A grain-field cascaded in waves to his left, an apple-orchard filled the horizon on his right, and workers tended a vineyard before him. He inhaled, drawing in the scent of crushed grapes and manure. He tilted his ear to birds singing and children laughing. And closing his eyes, he felt a breeze, which blew dust and fragments from his shoulders. Opening them, he caught sight of the female form behind him, its eyes fixed on a rocky past. And with apple in hand, he turned to face it, his pink lips moving toward her stone cheek.

Petals of Cobalt

I only wanted a dream. Next to my bed, just below its edge and close enough to touch, rested a clear glass globe the size of my head, an aquarium of sorts. The globe encased a stamen-shaped apparatus, metallic and black, from which glowing, sky-blue tendrils writhed, probing the globe’s underside, cascading from bottom to top, like so many searching, electric fingers. If I, the curious observer, touched my own finger to the globe, the swimming tendrils would gather on the spot, forsaking their search and sharing their warmth with me, tingling. Holding an open palm to the top of the globe, I could coax those incandescent, living tentacles into a single, white bolt, bright and hot, connecting me like a conduit to the beastly flower inside. In the darkness, the sphere’s luminescence coated the ceiling and cast floating black ghosts along the walls, like dreaming dancers, spellbound by the alien flower’s soprano hum. And entranced, I too danced in dreams until morning.


I want to keep watching. “Illuma Storm.” What an awesome name. The shimmering posts of electric light hurry about their eight-inch atmosphere, oblivious. So I reach down, holding my hand to the glass ball’s cool, still surface until its aimless inhabitants gather, unified in mock worship underneath. If I move my hand to the top, the blue beams draw together into a single, white streak, like lightning, like a sharp crack in the darkness. They loosen and regain their color when I hold my hand on the side, growing translucent and fuzzy. And if I glide a finger across the glass surface, they draw toward it like dew beads on a crystal balloon. I extend my body from under my dinosaur-print covers, head first, and touch my tongue to the surface, feeling the beams’ electric tingle, but tasting dust and finger prints. Tired and cold from reaching, I retreat back to the warmth of my comforter. But shifting my pillow, I can lie on my side and still see it churning. It even paints my eyelids blue when I close them.

Three Forms, One Frame

This is a poem to Jon, my true friend,

To a vagrant like me, a road on which to end,

A beachfront retreat without fence or police.

Against my gusts and drops and shouting hail,

He stood, anchored, like a bastion, laughing—

Silent, shoulders bobbing, drool slathering his chin;

His stomach, eyes, face, and dignity all puckered.

And when my rains battered his laugh, he guffawed,

Until my winds died down and my own shoulders bobbed.

When, as it does, the tide pulled him to sea,

I wandered a year until home returned,

Not Jon but Jon infixed with an ‘h,’ with a different voice and face—

Perhaps different in form but with the same frame.

Wide windows replaced the self-portraits I hang

(I threw a few out because of mustaches he’d paint),

Adorning the air with pine forests, salt, and waves,

Until he left again, as before.

But a model had been made from his frame, which became

Mysti, my wife, my home until hospice,

Not the first Jon or the second John but the last.

Prior to this, I hadn’t attempted poetry in years. And unlike wine, my craft has not aged well. It’s more like this morning’s coffee. In an earlier draft, the succubuses (I have heard “subbubi” is outdated) Rhyme and Rhythm seduced me. But for lack of mastery, I sacrificed English to please them. Only after some pointed, but appropriate, criticism, did I realize my mistake. I have since removed those lines, which seems to have helped.