Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Reaching


I reach for you, tantalizing against the summer moon,
You sit there, warm against my embrace, feeling the pull of the ecstatic draw,
The pure and servile notions of a lover’s desire.

I reach for you, desperately seeking the feel,
The sensation of a touch, moment.
A moment.

When I find you I am full, the singular fullness of a lover,
The singular fullness of a need, fulfilled.
I feel you moving beneath my skin.

I reach for you, knowing as you draw to me,
Knowing as you need me back,
Your skin is against me, filling my soul….

I reach for you….

Stones, Common in Kind


I sat and tried to fathom you,
I sat and spoke my mind.
I spoke of petty things to you,
I spoke of things unkind.

You talked of conversations
Of the words of days gone by.
I told some secrets of my own,
I spoke of passing by.

Hours passed and there we were,
Spinning the words of soul.
Spinning and telling things inferred,
Things, some new, some old.

We walked down roads long left untrod,
Places we had been.
Lived memories we thought were gone,
Lost and found again.

I found a tinge of pain I keep buried deep inside,
Followed feelings home again
Remembered friends of mine.

I spoke of the regrets I had,
You spoke of those you bear.
I asked just how we all could tell
Just where to go from here.

I do not think we ever found
The answers that we need.
Perhaps these conversations are simply manna
On which the soul does feed.

The sands flew through the hourglass,
The failing light long gone.
The time was forced to end,
With words still left undone.

Fleeting taillights shining
 as you drove away.
Bittersweet,  but glad you had been
part of this long day.

And as I slowly sauntered back
to a cold and lonely place.
I wondered if you looked back now
And you too felt the same


I sat and tried to fathom you,
You sat and spoke your mind.
It seems the stones that make us two
Are stones common in kind.

The Mysterious Serendipity of an Evening


Looking up I saw you.  Your face looking down, slightest parted lips.
I remember the smile when you saw me look up.
The soft, delicate feel of your breasts as you hugged me, surprised as I was.
A tiny bit of me drowned in the warmth of you, the scent of you, the desire of you…even then.

I watched you talking, there in the midst of the bustling nothing.
I watched the movement of your lips, the twinkle in your eye. 
I saw you glance to the table,
When you thought you may have said a bit too much.

With each minute I saw you more.  When we were propositioned to join,
They saw me seeing you, they retreated.
Others spoke to me of seeing us there but being unwilling to break the spell,
Though they knew not why or what sort it was.

We sat at the table in the corner later, I brought you a drink.
We ate, we spoke, the images of it flow through me.
And when you showed me “Angry Birds”, I leaned in and took in the closeness,
As I had not indulged before.

In truth, had my inhibitions and fears been less, I would have wrapped my arms around you,
Given in to my desire to feel the beating of your heart against my own. 
I did not though.
Contented with being close enough that the heat of your body reflected on my own,
I pretended to care about the game on your phone, only to be next to you a little more.

I could not speak to you of my thoughts, my feelings. 
I invited you to come and sit a while.
And, when you said yes, and though I knew it was childish and silly,
I struggled to contain my arousal at the thought of spending the evening next to you, whatever the guise.

I watched with careful abandon as your headlights followed me.
I could not bear to lose you, though I hardly knew the way…
Arriving there, I found pleasure in entering the fine hall
With you walking beside me, walking with me.

Long hours we sat, exchanging things,
Embracing things, desiring things.
You fidgeted and tugged at your hem.
I regularly withdrew behind my hands,
Both concerned we would expose too much, too far, too long.

It was a joy to walk beside you as you left me. 
That moment, that stroll, knowing it would be the last for long days.
I felt the softness of you as you leaned into me
And I knew the night was done.


Missing You


And what is this darkness?
What is thy claim?
Where is the hold you ought to have?
Nay, thy claim, the notion that you are pain,
That you are hideous and awful,
These boasts are but folly.
You are comfort.
Into darkness one might slip,
Never seeing, void of feeling,
Never aware, never seething,
Just drifting to places from which one cannot see
Darkness what a comfort you could be. 
What a balm.
But no. 
There is no comfort. 
No blessed pitch’ed black.
Only the gleam of light that cannot be reached.
Only the fingertips stretching out, shaking with rage and need and angst,
Only the voiceless cry of desire, of willing wings to sprout and to fly to the light of her!
Only the shaking of the foundations of the mind as the whirling imagination tells tales that cannot be, that will not be, that rip the soul.
Oh! For the blessed womb of night!
Oh for the encapsulation of senseless void.
Darkness. Ha!
Darkness is respite from this untouchable light…

Odin to Fjorgyn


I cannot separate the deepest thoughts I have of you
From the lonely crags and steeples I am walking through.
In numbing flashes of your eyes, it reaches far beyond the new
And finds a place, it rests where I cannot get to.

With gentle smile you lift me far above the dismal clouds of grey
And when you close your eyes it also ends my day.
And when I see that faint inflection longing for some heady change
It eats upon me and it wears my heart away.

Would that I could only lift my arms and turn the weary world away from you.
Then reach them slowly, gently, softly to embrace, encapsulate and cover you.
I would build a hedge around you raise a palace made of sky and water blue.
I would compel the world to bow and lay its treasures down right there in front of you.

I am low, am mortal man and in my hands the earth is cold
I will not offer things; I will not be so bold.
I will cast my lidded glance across the barren wasteland old
Find the place where love and hate are bought and sold.

If I happen to; strange, stumble upon something oh so dear
If fate allows me, if I overcome my fear.
If memory of Angel’s eyes sustains me well away from here
And if a man can find sustenance in a tear…

I will lift my arms and with a glance of love and malice turn their eyes from you.
Praying fear and recognition will not make you fly when I’m revealed to you.
And if the demons that now pace your steps approach, they’ll be unable to come through.
And all the earth will know that all I ever wanted was to lie down next to you.

Beech and Oak


So spoke the big Red Oak unto the lovely young Beech tree,
You’re full of trepidation dear, or so it seems to me.
Afraid the mighty wind might make you suddenly fall down,
And you will find yourself a’ lying broken on the ground.
Bear yourself up proudly now, you’ve quite forgot about,
The roots that dig in deeply, they really are quite stout.
The wind may blow against you, may bend you to and fro,
You’ll find your branches tangling up quite well with these, my own!
But take good heart and listen, you are grounded in the soil,
And built the roots that keep you there through many years of toil.
The time may come when we are blown and carried on away,
But rest assured,
For Beech and Oak,
That day is not today.

non reconcilie

Oh those eyes are haunting me.
Sinking deep into the lonely, secret places in my soul.
Where I’m afraid to go.

The gentle curvature around the
Softened silhouette of things that I can never know,
Dark dreams around you flow.

Another life I live and take
You by the hand and melting inward I am lost in you,
I’ve no will to choose.

Trapped in the catastrophic entropy of things and thoughts
That want to live but never do.
A ghost that’s slipping through.

Unchecked but yet restrained so close that breath is felt,
Warm whispers of what may well be.
Never dare to see.

Tantalizing moment, glancing touch, the warmth
That subtle hint of ecstasy.
An inadvertent tease.

Though I build the walls around me,
Insulate myself from heat that radiates from you.
I sequester all my thoughts, barricading
In my heart you permeate, you fuse.
And your eyes become a permanently glowing fixture
Etched upon my waking mind.
In this deeply hidden corridor I sit
And all my thoughts are bent on you tonight.

Buan


Sitting here and contemplating with an apathetic mind
Reveling in sweet reflection of another place and time
There is little light to see by and the corridor is dark
And the drops of recollection leave a tantalizing mark

Buried as it is inside me, in a box lined with allure
Ask me now to find it and I cannot be too sure
If the contents that I placed will be the one that I there find
But that’s ok the things within the box are yours and yet all mine

Speaking of them as I do I feel them drawing closer now
The images, the moments, close my eyes into this cloud
And I can see dim light reflecting from the moisture on your lips
Etched into my mind the patterns you made with your fingertips.

And though you thought I was not looking, I watched as you walked away
And though you thought I did not listen, I know every word you say
And though you thought I would go missing I am here at end of day
And I’ll be waiting here to warm the lover’s bed in which we lay.

forbidden attraction


Still, even now, I can taste the sweet addiction of your words,
Simple, conversational words destined to become engraved,
Deep in ambiguity upon my soul, I can’t remember each but each has taken hold.

I’ve but to close my eyes and there you are,
The easy conversation and proximity.  Deeply moving me.
Though I dare not say a word for fear of all the places my heart may run headlong to.

Though I walked away so gingerly I sensed, I knew each step, each footfall , every single breath from you.
Tearing at the fiber of the towers, battlements that cannot run from you.
At times I curse the notions that take hold for they are far from where they ought to be.
Though the bitter taste of fighting against torrents of a thing I cannot here set free.

verse to a distant love


Strange the days that pass like rain that flow through time so swift.
The moments seem to reach for days but weeks I give like gifts.
At times I find a panic stricken silence fill my mind,
As images of faces far away I reach to find.
Then in a sweet relief to my own soul, they reappear,
And small and simple comfort found, though you are still not here.
The myriad of ends this book could read I push away.
It serves no end to ponder things my feeble hands can’t change.
Forced I am to pray and leave to fickle fate’s cruel hands,
My life’s own book I offer, long to bend the bitter ends.
And if the love I feel may strength to fly ‘ore earth possess.
It will bring you safe to me to know my love’s sweetest caress.

the bear


Nestled in, safe and warm against the chill air
And sitting as one is wont to sit, in a deep and friendly chair
Sat the bear, thinking, but not deep in it.
Belly filled to that pleasant place where things do not feel out of sorts.
He is not pondering a meal, just reveling in the aftertaste, savory, wanting no more.
And the Bear thinks.  Thinks of his day, of his time,
Thinks of what tomorrow may pile upon his mind,
Thinks of the tedious chore of making up the rhymes
That all flow down together and paint the canvas, life.
 And the bear thinks of her and his contented smile widens perceptively,
He leans back and lets his breath pass his teeth expectantly,
Picturing times and moments, some past, some he hopes to be,
And chuckles and speaks aloud, though no one is listening.


Nestled in, safe and warm against the chill air
And sitting as one is wont to sit, in a deep and friendly chair
Sat the bear, thinking. … but not deep in it.

The Wind


And the wind, buffeting wind,
The wind that tears and grinds upon the wild places
The wind that smirks at the oak and the beech and the hickory
The wind that laughs in its freedom and strength and they feel
As it pulls at their roots and their branches and their green leaves.

Crashing around the victims are heard.  Dark and storm conceal them but
The violence of their destruction rings out,
Blocking off the mind, filling the vision,
Making the crashing and the destruction seem the only view left.

...but though there is some crashing, though it feels forlorn and dark and horrid,
The Elm and the Sweet Gum and the Oak take feeble heart
They hold their breath against the smirking wind and they know that
Though it tears and rends and holds its sway,
Though it pulls and its torrents shake them, buffet them…
They need but bend and hold their roots to the deep soil
The morning will come and the wind, with naught to hold it here, will blow away
And the Oak and the Beech and the Elm will sigh and it will be
A memory in the sunshine and dewy morning

The Pallbearer's Lament

I will carry you
As you can no longer do.
Though we did not walk this road together much,
I will bear you now.  To the steep precipice of the unknown
Where we gaze into the distance, We call out to the void but never,
Not once do we hear a response.
But I will carry you.
I will bear more than just you.
I will bear the knowledge that I could not carry you before.
The memories that calculate tactics for things we cannot touch,
Sitting as they are
 Behind the impenetrable wall of yesterday.
I will bear the hopes, the possibilities, the tears, the anguish.
I will bear the unspoken words, the un-phoned calls, the missed chances
To intervene.  I will bear the guilty tears of those who saw and did not act,
The indifference of those who acted and did not see… or care.
I will bear the memories you could not forget.
The desires you could not satisfy.
I will bear the you that sat within the walls of your mind and cried out, but could not give it voice.
I will carry the grim wrath of providence.
I will carry the indifference of the grave.
I will carry the spark that will try, feebly as it might, to make this burden not in vain.
Perhaps on some distant day we will see it,
Some purpose.
Some reason for the pain, the regret.
But for today, it is only pain. 
But I will carry you.
I will carry you
As you can no longer do.
Though we did not walk this road together much,
I will bear you now.  To the steep precipice of the unknown
Where we gaze into the distance, We call out to the void but never,
Not once do we hear a response.
I will carry you.

Moonlight on Pavement


Light against the blue the orb sat, oblivious to my steps.
Distant. Far from my feet it gazed, the counsel of time it kept.
I am not oblivious though; I am not alone.
With me stands the ages, the heavy things of molten stone.
In the distance expanse of time my essence was made.
In the core of violence and heat was born my clade.
This deep and soulful need, this ache
For things far beyond what gods have made,
For words only the heavens say
If in the vastness of deep and dark I find myself, I am content that it be my faith.

the flower


In the subtle undercurrents in the blood of my own soul
In the petty contradictions and the heat.
In the black morass of darkness, black as pitch and dark as coal,
Sits a tiny flower mellow, soft and sweet.
I do not admit its presence, speak to none of its allure
Do not advertise the bluest eyes that shine.
In the secret room left hidden, isolated and reserved
Emanates sensation of a different kind.

Gently stroking the perception of my feeble, mortal eyes,
Deeply pregnant with a passion out of reach.
Causing me to live a life fraught with the constant compromise,
You are right here yet I can’t pull you to me.
Content I must remain to have an angel floating somewhere
Just outside the grasp of these poor stain’ed hands,
From the shadow I will see you, burned upon my waking eyes and
Through the pain and anger I will understand.

The Grump


With temperance and lacking satisfaction the old laggard sat.
Eyes dully glowing, his countenance was an inversion
Removing light, undoing kind words, curmudgeonly and mean.
His stump was a podium to the world, preaching
Preaching, preaching his gospel of benign malcontent.
He was the mud in the clearest pool, the dark cloud chasing the silver linings
Intent on vanquishing them far away, his mood needing no company of their sort.
And when the pretty girls swished gaily by, he sneered at their rosy cheeks
And when the children frolicked at his feet
Playing with their paper boats in the puddles of the street
He shooed them away with a shout and a wave of his stick.
And when the old, mangy dog with no home lumbered by and growled,
He patted his head and said “Now here’s a chap.”

fool's gold


I looked at clouds and sandy ways where all around I heard,
The footfalls of ten thousand men, their little spoken words.
Hesitant I ventured in the place where they all said,
That dreams and all my fantasies would spring out from my head.

They showed me one bright bow of light where if I’d only climb,
The fruits of working over top would show before my eyes.
Join up now, they said to me, there in that mighty place,
And all the things you look upon will your own table grace.

They gave me strict instruction of just how and where to climb,
They told me to ignore my sense, it’ll all come out just fine.
So I forsook my twisted ways, my paths no feet had known,
And lit out across that light to find a pot that’s full of gold.

Now years and troubles weigh upon, as here I finally sit,
And in the brittle, failing light I’m unimpressed with it.
I have the gold, the journey’s done, I can’t go back again,
I cannot shake suspicion all this gold is made of tin.

longing to be the lover


As you see the cool reflection of my deep and hungry eyes
Upon the subtle, glinting sheen in this dark place.

Hidden deep within my being, deep beneath where my soul lies
If you look I will not speak of but a trace.

A fence of steel between us, holds my hands back from the urge
To reach and touch the curvature, the angel’s face.

I try my best to just suppress, to hold it somehow here at bay
But the thought of you still haunts all of my days.

wondering wanderings


Aimlessly wondering
Through the world I play living in
A stranger in my own skin
Unsure if I’m here or back again

Projecting some confidence
Holding a good defense
Afraid of the consequence
But plunging in none the less

And walking among the trees
The colors, the changing leaves
The people I seldom see
Whose eyes follow after me

The dust that now dulls my boots
The luster I had to lose
The path that I had to choose
The flotsam that’s hanging loose

So I sit here quietly
Silence so thick that I can’t see
Close my eyes to the evening breeze
And turn, try to find it, me

But I am off walking now
In places far from this town
Down highways and under clouds
Where something I seek is found

So here in the silence I
Will wait as the world goes by
I’ll take it, or maybe try
To lift, hold my head up high

And maintain a steady gaze
Through distance and deeper haze
To some far and distant place
Were the rest of me finds solace

And I know I’ll find it there
Or it will find its way here
And silence won’t be a thing to bear
But will be like sustenance, breathing air.

Ode to Johnny Walker

I seem to see past someone, in a darkened cabaret,
Misty smoke surrounds her, keeps getting in my way.
I slide to the bartender, say pour a glass for me,
I'm pretty sure I came with her, but she ain't come with me.

Her lips are slightly parted, eyes follow swaying hips,
I hold myself from exploration with eager fingertips.
My drink is on the table, My soul is on the line,
I damn well know she'll bring me low but, man, I'm doing fine.

Sweet burning fire upon my lips, it travels down so smooth.
I feel invigorated but I still do not feel you.
The softest evanescence as electrified you move
Until the beat invades my feet, a subtle little groove.

The silky frigid heat of where I want so bad to be.
The curses and distain for who I am that rise in me,
The telling revelation of the life that has no key,
But the bottle has no bottom, though I’m falling I’m not free.

Wilderness


Quietly exhaling underneath the din of noise
Conversations happening but never dent the surly poise
Locked outside the glass from all the other girls and boys
In a symphony of silence unconcerned with mirth or joy

Listening to voices hidden, speaking on but with no words
As the bells toll from some tower on some long ago lost church
As the cataclysmic entropy bleeds out upon the urge
Dousing out the glowing embers, push them down where they won’t hurt.

And the crowd around me ripples with a deep uneasy sway
And they can’t decide to come close or move very far away
And my eyes are glowing with something that I cannot explain
And the ambiance can seldom break a smile upon my face

And my lack of orthodoxy pulls some in and others scorn
I project the strength of oak but I feel broken down and worn
And with a million paths from here, in a million ways I’m torn
Trying to choose a single kernel from the swaying stalks of corn.

I can feel the secrets that the world is loathe to give
Know many paths I’ve walked are paths that I will walk again
Knowing I will have companions as I walk this wilderness
And hope that on my journey I somehow will learn to live.

cost


What was secretly reflecting
In this mad and lonely rage
In this desperate condition
In this spattered, ink stained page
What was lurking in the shadows
Of the delicate remorse
In the stingy retribution
Of the silent shutting doors.
I have heard its giggling madness
I have felt it, warm, demure
Drawing in and sweet caressing
Acting like it has no lure
Wet and sumptuous the taste of
What it lays upon my tongue
Like raging choirs of angels
Like a million songs it sung.
It has led me to your bedside
It has pulled me to your arms
It has made me scream in anger
It has made me lay down, tharn
It has pulled me to the lowest
It has flew me oh so high.
It is only what I’ve given
It is only what I’ve tried
It is deeper than the look
Given by children when they pray
It is wider than the battle
that cannot escape the fray
It is keener than an eagle
Honing in upon its prey
It is dark, obtuse and shallow
Hiding out from light of day
It will bring me to my knees and
It will make me leap so high
It will cause my feeble voice to
roar, cause evil things to rise
It will take away my air yet
Draw out my last lonely breath
To step in front of you and
Shake my fist at looming death
And it will bring to me emotion
I knew not that I possessed
Ignite a fire that all the world
Cannot yet suppress
I am standing in the ashes
Of a life I thought I lost
On my arm a vision standing
For whom I pay, yet count no cost.


Thoughts after lovemaking


And the deep, green sea takes us
Drifting as a bit of flotsam, unconcerned with direction
Unperturbed by obligation or the sickly white hand of the clouds
Breathing the salt spray, closing the eyes against the wind

Minute senses. Calloused by the raging waters of time
Waters that plunge here, there, in, then out.
Sensations that cannot be captured by the photo lens
Notions bound by fate but not constricted by it.

These ethereal beings, nebulous bodies that hang in the corners
Of the thoughts of man, these nameless, faceless, voiceless.
They defy the natural laws and yet do not question them
These, the deep.  These the unknown unknowns.

And so we embrace them, and so we immerse.
We pull silently through the gray-scale day and entertain
We list in the sea of providence and pretend the sails pull us so.
Drifters.  Quietly watching the sky.  The horizon

Nicodemus


They told me he’d not make it.
Everybody said it.  “He’s gone already” they’d say.
“He’s as good as gone and ain’t coming back”
And I told me that too. I said that too.
He wasn’t dead though, not really.
He was still kicking a little, still glinting out of that eye.
Still sparking just a fuzz.
I killed him.  Killed him dead.  Killed. Him.  Dead.
I stomped him out, squished him down and mashed his guts
Till they spread like butter on hot cornbread.
Dead.  I killed him.
“Better off dead”, or so the folks said.
“Better off moved on down the road”
“Matter of fact, he was askin’ for it”
I agreed.  I said that too, but he wasn’t.  He was tired.
He was broke down.  He wouldn’t have made much of anything.
No question about it, he wasn’t bound to set the world on fire,
He was going to lay there and crawl.  Crawl around and end up a scratch
Away from where he started, and that wasn’t no place.
Better off dead…I killed him.
And as I was swingin’ the axe and pullin’ the trigger and stabbin’ the sticker
He looked at me and just hoped, when I was done, he’d fly.

You


There you are, just walking by.
An imperceptible glint of eye,
A hint of mystery, convenient, sly.
I smell your scent and I close my eyes.
I hear things round the edge of your voice,
Things take my senses, plays and toys.
The silhouette of your lips, the skin
That traces your eyes, my eyes return again,
To where your fingertips rest upon your leg.
I catch myself from words I haven’t said.
The body there from which my soul is fed,
Seeking places that have not yet met.
Seeking light after the sun has set,
After the world outside the door is shed.
After I taste the heady drink instead,
Of my lover's lips upon a lover's bed.


The Silent Poet's Lament


I have not tested this, the resting pose, the deep sublime
A penny here a button or a shoe, a faded rhyme
A faulty name that speaks of shame that sits inside a dime
Or watches and a hanging door that cannot tell the time.

The floaty, flitty, flabbergasted fluid filling here
Or piles and piles of smells and petty pleasures shedding tears
Extemporaneously changing rage inside a mirror
And all the things that bang upon my door that I’m afeard

So sitting on a stump and rump and calluses and pricks
The delicatest , slenderest of fibrous wicking wicks
The feet of little words go flitting there among the sticks
Escaping to some other page of ice cream cones and licks.

The Little Death


Sit down and set your lust at ease and tip a glass as full as these
And spill it down your bonny sleeves and bring ‘em all down to their knees
And take ‘em on and take ‘em home and call ‘em on the telephone
And blow ‘em little kisses on their lips like tossing dogs a bone
They cannot see you smiling there, the pretty bow up in your hair
The voice so dashing, debonair. Calling, calling don’t know where
The people stand with little care and cast bad lots on but a dare
Throw money on the slowest mare while you sit pretty in your chair

The ferry runs on but a dime, man better run there’s little time
The boatman wears a waistcoat fine, they’re standing in the ticket line
And speak the work you got inside, the one you take your care to hide
The wave that marks the crashing tide and poisons you like cyanide
And find the things you’ve thrown away and find the price you have to pay
To spend a single, bitter day and speak the word you’d never say
Distinctions of your bitter clade, the psycho-logic cannonade
The thoughts that tend to connotate the cannibal on which you ate.

So get on up and take me there, you’ll do my dear, you’ll do I swear
You’ll sew up my soul’s little tear, I’ll see you standing everywhere.
I’ve got a burden that I bear but I think you can help, my dear
I may seem odd but don’t be scared I’ll use my kiss and wipe your tear
And when I’m done you will not cry no more you’ll spread your wings and fly
You’ll purse your lips and kiss the sky you’ll let go of your compromise
You’ll look well past the callous lie that said you can’t be satisfied
You’ll look into my blue-green eyes and then the little death you’ll die.

extemporanium


The flapping of little feet is no great surprise to hear there.
One hears it often enough.
They squeal and speak and play and run
Throw their softball and miss their catches.
They do the things the heedlessness of youth permit them to.

But now and again the world is in the way.
The feet still run, the heedlessness and joy pervade,
But it takes a path it ought not.

Down the rows of cars it takes him.
Giggling, enjoying the feel of the summer grass between toes,
The freedom of running in the sunshine.
He runs there where those proud of their little players have parked their Chevys,
Their Volvos, their Fords along the edge of the road.

Down the row of cars it takes him until
In a moment of exuberance and lost in the joy of it,
He veers, running in ecstasy.

The harsh friction of complex rubberized compounds lock with the asphalt of the roadway
And scream agony against the forces that cannot be muted, cannot be stopped.
The sheer will of the laws of the cosmos will not allow the leering steel death to cease,
Though she weeps and cries as her foot forces the pedal.

A crunch, low and not at all what anyone expects
And the boy rolls through the air in slow motion.
Blink and he is finished, lying there in an off-center heap in the street
As the sirens in the distance herald.

The wind is from the north today. 
It rustles the leaves and gently tickles the sweat on the back of the neck.
The trees sway and a distant sound of a bat hits a ball with a metallic “TINK”.
And we all watch.

We, the uninvolved but drawn watch as the boy lies in the street.
The officer kneels over him, careful but not sure.
And we watch as the ambulance arrives and men and women run toward him.
We watch. 

And secretly….though we would not say it to those who stand by weeping,
We think of our own and are glad they are not the one….

The Blue-Green Madness


When you have reached the deepest depths
And felt blood on your fingertips
When you have looked to the abyss
And danced with devils just like this

When yearnings of a darker kind
Speak to the corners of your mind
When thoughts benign as cannon balls
Invade your heart’s most secret halls

When in a moment of regret
You shudder, wishing you had met
A presence hovering inside
That poisons you like cyanide

Cyanide but strangely sweet
A darkened angel, swift and fleet
That slips into your silent dreams
And stays when It’d be best to leave

And waits for you and calls your name
And senses when you feel the same
And reaches out, like breath of air
And touches, touches, everywhere.

And feels the beating of your heart
Does not withdraw, though you may start
Does not regret the water deep
The places lost, hidden beneath

Who hears the words you do not say
Who wanders far, when gone is day
Who does not fear the hounds that bay
Who comes to you at break of day

When you arrive at deepest sadness
Ride lighting until you have passed it
Oaths men take, then there they cast it
You look into the blue-green madness.

taste the crimson stain


Caustic phrases seething in a cauldron full of bile,
Sephia toned photographs affixed to blood red tile,
A raging beast constrained, pushing up against the stile,
Unfulfilling catastrophic well secured manila file.

Raindrops pulsing on the windows like a fluttering heart beat
Shadows dancing, sly and prancing, acting fancy in the street,
Sickly fuselage of craft whom you may well be loath to meet
Demons flitting, words not fitting, stepping, stepping swift and fleet

Will you be called in that number, will you be the chosen one?
Will you be the cloud that calls so loud, that blocks away the sun?
Shall we gather at the foot of this, your mountain hideaway?
Will you be the orb that burns the clouds and brings again the day?

There the people stand in petty rags and tinker with their toys,
Churning blackness rolls among them, inoculated to the noise.
There you walk and catch their eye, they look with bitter longing, sweet.
Make them seek you, meek beseech you, groping there at your dark feet.

Stepping past with cold abandon, striding heavy on their souls,
Eyes seek the one you look for, one the beacons have for-told
Looking on with heavy malice searching for the face so bold,
Of the lover promised to you when the earth was not yet old.

And in the deepest night you see him, striding heavy, eyes aglow,
Parallel the tracks that flank him, nonchalant, his footsteps slow.
Fate of steam and steel and coal with blinding heat and choking smoke
The Engineer smiles wide and leers and does no whistle blow.

In a set from hell’s theatre, scene is played in motion slow,
Mighty horsemen cloaked in steam do not for one man cease to roll,
And the lover that you sought has gone to places you can’t go,
Now the blackest pitch consumes the darkest corners of your soul

No word, no cry, no grief escapes the eyes there in the rain.
With deadly purpose, concentration, like music being played…
While the engineer who leers on sings a filthy, sick refrain
You dip a sultry finger in and taste the crimson stain.

Fingertip to lips you close your deep fathomless eyes,
And in the taste conceive the little piece of you that also dies.
And stepping in and finding steel rail crypt to call your home,
 Another leer from engineer and crimson of your own.

Shoes


In loving memory of my Grandmother, Norma Jean Pride, written upon her passing on Thanksgiving 2007

The years they swiftly pass us
And all the simple circumstances
Draw us slowly onto paths as yet unknown.

And though we try to stay together
Shifting winds and changing weather
Separate the paths where each of us must go.

Passing thorough the changing seasons
We look ‘round at falling leaves and
Stand amazed at all the time that’s come and gone.

Walking cautiously but heedless,
Seldom pondering the deeds of
Those we love who run a race that’s nearly done.

So we sit in sad reflection,
With the legacy you’ve left and
Look within for strength to take the torch in hand.

To be an oracle of wisdom,
A steady shoulder one may cry on.
One who knows the time to wink and when to stand.

So now with circle never broken,
With your final words now spoken
And the torch you carried passing onward still.

Although we don’t know how to do it
And bitter tears will fall into it,
We slip our feet into the shoes left now to fill.

inner dialog


Said tautological to mythological,
Waxing somewhat philosophical
“I cannot ride this mental bicycle
The wind has made me to an icicle. 
The meal is not at all palatable
Though my opinions are sometimes quite fallible
I have listened to your wordy sall-ables
That are far, far too etymological.
They crawl like something entomological
As if they are alive, something biological
Or alien, flying from cosmological
Can’t seem to die, quite indelible.”
Said Mythological in a manner quite affable,
“Your lack of faith, manners incredulable,
Are founded on purely neurological,
Though you believe them true, unflappable
I daresay you are pathological."

Ruminations of a Tired Cupid


And so the man, the voice, the entity sat,
Sipping a tumbler of brandy, turned inward,
Lost in thoughts his own, for lack of better conversation elsewhere. 

Around him the mild chaos of the lives of men tumbled and purred
And frittered about.  So pathetically endearing, the little people, who ask so much
Who offer so little.  Who place their constrictions upon themselves and then,
When circulation begins to slow, fret and wallow in their imaginary chains.

So mild, the little people.  Like carrots that are convinced they are really peppers.
They strut about, wearing their finery and being lousy in salsa, though they dare not tell it….
They speak to the man as if they know him, as if they have a box for him, as if he would fit.
But he does not fit. 
But passing, now and again, he sees it true.  There, crossing at the crosswalk. 
She is no young one, nor is he.  Together they walk. Knowing, familiar.  That is it.
Just there it is, that lovely thing just touched a stranger’s arm and he shook imperceptibly.
They will go back to their lives again but that was it as well.
And those two, they are gazing, hungry but not for the sandwiches of this cafĂ©. 
They came in together. They leave, hands clasped with purpose and faster than they came in,
They will burn themselves down and move on in weeks but it is real, just the same.

The man smiles into his glass and thinks.
Time does not constrain it.
Rules are sneered at by it.
It seeks the counsel of none.
When it is, it is right.
When it isn’t, sometimes it is still right.
It can be tempered strong as steel, fragile as a snowflake.
With a knowing glance at these, the little people, the man finishes his drink,
Gathers his bow, his arrows and off he flies, smiling all the while….

Reading Poetry to a Lover


Reclining into my chair I take in the room,
This room, not decadent, not a presumptuous room.
It is simple, comfortable, this room.
Lit dimly by the warm glow of lamps, of firelight. 
The couch is deep. Pillows cover it and embrace her.
Opening the yellow, crinkled pages I settle back, aware of her repose.
Aware of the casual way she lounges, gazing at me with lids low,
Gazing as I turn the page and speak.
This room, this quiet room resonates as I pull words from the page and release them,
My voice a vaguely annunciated rumble, the tiny sounds of my lips touching,
The pauses as I raise the glass and wet my throat. 
Immersed in the words, taken in by the shadowy nuance of verse
I travel here, there.  She travels as well.
In my periphery I see her as she watches me.
Her mouth open slightly, neck craning imperceptibly to capture the subtleties.
The flowing robe sits loose on her, a pleasant silhouette against the couch,
Breathing, at ease as I drift through the delicacies of syncopated speech,
Flowing along the meandering paths of a poem. 
Now and again I elevate my gaze to rest on her twinkling brown eyes, half closed but watching still,
Watching my lips as I speak, seeing the motions of my hands as I turn the pages,
Feeling the air as it pulses with the phonetic trappings.
My voice drops in uttering the final stanza. 
A comfortable and contented silence fills the room, this room.
It is not the silence of loss, nor the pain of ending. 
It is the silence of being complete.
I raise the glass, soothing the parched lips, throat.
She slides her head back onto the pillows, closes her eyes and releases a luxuriant sigh,
A sigh of ease. Contentment. 
Basking in the benign apathy of her countenance,
I raise the glass again, taste the easy bite
 and close my own eyes for a moment.

Neuro-Fibro-Mitosis


Lurking in the shadows you can feel it waiting there
A clandestine sensation waiting for a chance to tear
A sinister and sickly voice that knows to smell your fear
A killer rush and phantom waiting till you’re not aware

And as the delicate waves muster it offers a warning song
The icy fingers trace the paths of flesh and nerve and bone
And though it has not stricken you anticipate the pain
And clench the fist and teeth know resistance is in vain.

Perhaps it would be better to tear off offending part
To rip from your body and let healing finally start
But impotent you sit and wait, knowing the time is near
And with the slightest fire the wave touches your primal fear.

A slow motion explosion, ripping, tearing of the bone
Red hot hydraulic cylinders expanding, up they grow
Convulsing pulses of sensations full of fire and heat
And boiling terror grips, body rigid head to feet.

In time the fog will lift and it will fade into the din
Of ten thousand synapsed messages that scream but cannot win

Oriri Ex Cinere


In the bitterest of time I am now standing here with you,
Looking over my own shoulder, never quite sure what to do
How inverted should I bend, should I grovel? Should I lose?
Is there something in your soul that may be prompting you to move?

That would beckon you to stand, that would drive you now to rise
That would push you somehow past your self-destructive compromise
That would plant within your heart the tiniest of little seeds
To make you see it is ok to reach out, filling your own needs.

I see you lay your own soul bare to come to someone else’s aid
But the ones who need you most are standing lonely in the rain
Praying prayers they don’t believe unto a god they know is fake,
Praying you will come to see the stupid chances that you take.

It’s like you cannot be convinced that you are one who really matters
You will let them take your life and tear it slowly into tatters
Never seeing those who navigate the dreams your falling shatters
And ignoring all the rocks on which you know they will be battered…

When I try to speak to you, you act like I’m the one to blame.
I rise in anger to defend you, I’m accosted by your rage.
 This contemptible paralysis that holds you like a cage
Looks to me to be the door for the escape it contemplates.

And yes, I know you have some demons that are eating at your mind.
And yes, I know the battles you have fought are bigger far than mine.
And yes, I’ve tried to sit back patiently, I’ve tried to give you time
But I swear to god you’re running and you’re ‘bout to cross a line
So how the fuck can I fill all the roles in which I have to delve,
And dig the ore to make the metal of the man I need to meld,
Build the life to rise above this little condescending hell.
I can’t fight for you if you won’t fucking fight now for yourself!


And I must ask myself how far it is I’m willing now to go
Shall I place my own in danger, shall I give away my soul?
To accommodate this sick, sadistic need you seem to hold
To deface your own existence, offer penance to the world?

It brings me boiling up in anger, being forced to such a place
My love for you is stunted, shadowed by the sick disgrace
Watching one I hold so dear willing to walk in such a place
Open eyed and ever heedless, give yourself to needless fate.

I want so bad to grab your shoulders, hurt you as I shake and yell
Looking at the things you take in, swallowing a dose of hell…
You will sit and meekly eat the shit they pile upon your plate
But when I say you deserve better it is my words you won’t take!

And I’m afraid a time will come when choices will not be your own
When I will have to turn my back on you and save my flesh and bone
When I will have to stand and say I will not offer up, condone
A willingness to sacrifice the very marrow of your bones.

And I fight against the time that darkened day may finally come
And I steel myself against the pain, I will my essence numb
I try to cultivate the hope I learned so long ago to shun
Rage grows swiftly now within me and I know I’ll be undone


And yes, I know you have some demons that are eating at your mind.
And yes, I know the battles you have fought are bigger far than mine.
And yes, I’ve tried to sit back patiently, I’ve tried to give you time
But I swear to god you’re running and you’re ‘bout to cross a line
So how the fuck can I fill all the roles in which I have to delve,
And dig the ore to make the metal of the man I need to meld,
Build the life to rise above this little condescending hell.
I can’t fight for you if you won’t fucking fight now for yourself!
For yourself….

Choices

What is it that effects us
That indelibly corrects us
That consumes us and directs us
From this place the yonder nexus.

Simplest and bland decision
Causing alchemy and fission
Generating fate, collision
Possibilities, a million.

For today we make small choices
Reach and pluck out random voices
Listening to all the noises
One now opens, one now closes.

One was left there in Nairobi
There was one who did not know me.
One who could not move so slowly
As the blood of creatures lowly.

Paths that veered to things I wonder,
One to podiums of thunder.
Things that ripped my soul asunder
Found the tree that I hid under.

I recall intimate laughter
The proximity that mattered
Questions that my mind did scatter
Feeble gestures meant to flatter.

There was one benign deception
My Chevrolet, her fair complexion
A little child that went unmentioned
I only smiled at all her tension.

Looking now through all those seasons
Altercations, all the reasons
I cannot fathom the deeds when
In these fields I planted seeds in,

So in these voiced and low inflections
Passing through life’s intersections
When I change the road’s direction
Is it a good or ill correction?

I don’t suppose I’ll know for sure
To fate I am forced to defer
That mistress so polite, demure
Calls to me with lush allure.

Of course I know I can’t complain
Though tempted I must quick refrain
And gather up my wits again
To stroll the road I’m strolling in.

For I have tasted of such sweetness
And the carnal things that greet us
I know things that kings and priests did
Dim lit lace meant just to tease us.

Though a myriad of pathways
My feet have not the pleasure to grace
I can spend most all of my days
Contemplate each lovely face.

For each one it was that made me
Though my will often forbade me
Letting their seduction take me
Till my good sense did forsake me.

This dirt is not over sacred
My own feet cannot but make it
It’s no great path but I’ll take it
And smile inside, deeply elated...

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Many Minded Man

I am the many minded man
I've many eyes and many hands
I've many feets on which to stands
I've countless ears and countless plans

I've notions, inclinations plenty
Both beginning and some ending
The contradictions oft uncanny
Call me Legion, I am many

The voices I won't claim to know
Though with me they do always go
Though push and pull and seeds they sow
And somehow all have me in tow

I've searched for I and cannot find
The corner where the I does hide
The name in which he does reside
And casts his eye from side to side
And rides upon the rumpled tide
That flies about the mountainside
That leads the mind then runs and hides
When ponder I to identify

So I infer there is no one
Is no father, is no son
There is no chaste anointed one
That binds and finds, unites this pun

I am the many minded man
I've many eyes and many hands
Cavorting in the boundless land
where, groundless, still they all do stand



Monday, October 21, 2019

the muse

subtle and demure she stands just over there
robed in both light and darkness.
her eyes a thousand penned letters
untold longing gazes, songs and prose fit to seduce.
delicate, yes.  a wren singing but quick to flush away.

she is quietly shamefaced in the clearest light.
in the midnight, oh, in the deep black of inky night she becomes afflatus.
through terror, through pain, through longing
she wordlessly draws the congealed emotion and emptiness and sound and bitter light
like a salve pulling putrid effluent from a boil
like exhalation submerged in chains she brushes her lips against mine
and multi syllabic detritus flows, clawing at the soul as it is rent forth.

and the pain of it sears the core with delicious agony
the draining of a wound to make room for more to flow
until it pours unbidden and snakes its cold, alert, searching trail to fingertips
to voice
to atmosphere.

she pulls away then, willing victim slumped, silently weeping,
empty.
she pulls to just out of sight and waits for the void to fill again.
I lay spent, trembling, empty of my soul.
racked with the pain of exposure and purge
and long for her to come to me again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Keeper

     The blaze of the setting sun lit the tips of the distant, snow capped mountains in brilliant bursts of red and orange.  Distance made the features hazy as stark shadows climbed steadily on the western faces of the hills.  Larger, more sheer stone shone out behind these, their grey and white contrast profiling the nearer, tree covered hills.  A hollow, tucked against the eastern face of a deep bowl in the sculptured landscape, twinkled as lights in the town won out against the increasing darkness.  The streets of the town were empty, save some few wandering souls here and there.  Onto the broken asphalt, its tattered condition testament to the mild impoverishment prevalent there, a warm red glow shown out from a single, open door.  Footsteps came and went, the clink of glassware rang quietly, and the conversations ebbed and flowed in the rhythmic way that conversations do.  The subtle flash of coins glinted as patrons traded for a sip.  The Keeper stood there silent but watching.  The trained eye caught the glint as coins landed before him, souls lining up like pilgrims desperate for the promised land.  He looked down at the coins that landed there.
 
     The dark stain of the bar top contrasted sharply with the coins, having filled itself to the grain with a million stories, a million touches. The oily remnants of innumerable fingertips and elbows shined from the muted colors of the wood, reflecting on the dark countenance of The Keeper.  His dirty, worn hat draped over his eyes, leaving only the slightest gleaming from under the rim as he gazed out on the patrons so intent on pulling in the fix they needed.  His eyes penetrated into the very soul and yet were never seen.  Face buried deep in the shadow of the wide brimmed Stetson, stained with the detritus of years beyond measure, he gazed out on the patrons, eyes greedy and offering their gold coins.  He both hated and loved them, craving their company yet filled with dark and bitter resentment as they spent their finite lives with him.  Once he pitied, now he seldom considered them.  He just stood, a vague outline shadowed by the bar-back resplendent with the glistening, glass bottles, full of the various medicines, poisons, that were requested by the many.  He traded coins for a libation, a meditation, a medicine.  Some were brown and dreary; some were gentle and full of umbrellas and light.... but all were of the same substance. 

     No one knew his origins.  He barely remembered those dark origins himself.  He was old.  Long he had wandered the shadowed byways of the world, seeking out what man would trade his gold, his wares, his soul for some bit of medicine.  Always a face in shadow, be it the old Stetson or a Druids hood or the shadowed corner of a Longhouse.  Facelessness was disconcerting to most, but if they stared too long, earnestly trying to discern the darkened visage, they would see their own murky reflection.  This was too frightening for all but the strongest and seldom did such a glance remain long.  Eyes never seeing in, he was only the eyes looking out.  Perceiving the things that separate bone from marrow.  For the moment he rested his subtle, penetrating gaze on her.  He felt a spark deep within as, for the first time in memory, he was intrigued. 

     She was beautiful.  Astonishingly so.  A beauty that would silence rooms in far more cosmopolitan places than this.  Here, she was like a white hot, glowing ember in a darkened room.  The men would stroll in, look down the row of mismatched stools, and find themselves gob smacked.  Her still, level gaze, the classical profile of her face and body.  He would see them, gazing in a smitten stupor along the lines of her jaw, down the flawless angle of her neck and across the beautiful and sensuous curve of her breasts, sweetly subtle beneath her arm, then continuing down the gentle curve of her hips.  She rendered them speechless, nursing their drink and entertaining fantasies of what they would do, all the while knowing that they would never know how to so much as speak to her.   Their incompetence was entertaining to the keeper.  He could not help but share the infatuation in a trifling way, but those hard, dark eyes could see what the debutantes could not. 

     The astonishing beauty (and it was), was empty.  She was a shell.  It melded into the surface far enough to make a solid impression, but it was like looking at a well-crafted doll.  She would look at you, listen to you, run her fingers over your body and bring you to a delicious, longing climax...but there was nothing beyond that.  One would reach for some crumb of substance and come up empty.  Words, even the most beautiful and profound, would sink into her consciousness and disappear into the dark veil, never to be seen nor eliciting response.

     It was not the emptiness of the feeble.  One could look into those eyes and see a sparkling intelligence, muted somewhat but not absent.  It deceived the viewer with its light.  Extended exposure to her countenance soon became disconcerting to the observant.  The eyes looked over a deep and fantastic chasm that contained nothing but a void.  Inquire further as to what wonders might lay below and the admirer would be exposed to a flash of irritation before the emptiness returned.  What horrifying tragedy had occurred to hollow out such a one, it was hard to say.   ...but the keeper suspected.  He had not always been the morose and distant figure he now struck.  Through many eons he had seen, he had known, and he had watched the depraved mechanization of the human soul that could take such delicious beauty and render it impotent, capable only of the most base and perfunctory interactions.  She stood a solemn, disconcerting monument to the ability of men to take things of beauty and render them horrific and grotesque.  Oh, at first glance one would not see it.  It may well take many days.  ...but it would arise.  A slight, sickly notion that there was no substance beneath the words, the openness.  It had the veneer of introspection, of observation.   ...but it was not.  It was a shell.  A mysterious window within which was an eternal void that one could pour blood sacrifice within for decades and yet never notice the void reducing.  For seven nights he had offered her the exchange, such as it was.  A golden coin for a draught of mild comfort.  She never asked for the hard stuff, likely afraid of what it might unearth.  He did not offer more than was asked for.  He struck the bargain.  It was a tradition millennia in the making, no sense in changing it now.

     No one knew where he came from, the keeper.  He stood silent, face eerily shrouded in darkness no matter the light, his stained cowboy hat and vest the only characteristic anyone seemed to be able to remember in the cold light of the morning.  He made the exchange.  A golden coin for the libation that reached in and soothed the soul of the recipient.  Oddly, the ones with the gentlest appetites were the deepest wells of anguish.  Red wine, an ale or two, these folks would sit alone and entertain demons of the sort that most any suburban housewife would scream in terror at the sight of.  The whiskey folks, he liked their lot.  He liked it in a pedestrian, childish way.  A coin of gold, a shot of some powerful juice, and they would become lovers, seldom fighters.  Most were looking for nothing more than the gentle smearing of the lines of bitter reality and the suffering inherent in the emergence of life.  They would laugh and stagger and fight and yell, ending the night slowly weaving to their beds, requesting nothing in exchange for their gold pieces than the temporary respite from the suffering of existence.  This was enough.

     It was those with the pretense of moderation that he would look deep into their eyes and see the caustic tears of horrifying agony only wounds deep and profound could create.   ...but there was a bit of the Keeper that loved that deep tragedy welling up in empty eye sockets.  He felt the deep anguish of too many years of the pain, the emptiness.  It was a counterfeit camaraderie of which he alone was aware.  It was why he liked the Empty Beauty.   

     He was temporarily distracted by the Disheveled One.  She was significantly more predictable, more consistent.  She offered a solid trail of gold passing over the subtle stains of the hardwood, but was much less interesting.  Now she required a filling of her cup.  He reached for the earthen jug she sipped the nectar of.  It was of the basest quality.  Simple mead and honey.  She asked only for something to numb the pains of existence, though her unsophisticated approach to the world numbed most of them anyway.  The simple mead was a placebo as much as an intoxicant.  The keeper drew the draft she requested with grace and longsuffering, and he smiled as he did.  None would see that smile, hidden under the impenetrable darkness of the wide brimmed hat, but they might feel it, an icy blast of frightening good humor, as they sat at the bar top. She was the lesson the mass of humanity would never see.  They spent long, agonizing days searching for the peace and contentment she could find in that simple draught...ironically never to find it for lack of looking. The tragic irony of it filled him with a morose, delightful, but unsatisfying mirth. 

     The Keeper jolted himself back from the revelry with mild, mirthful irritation.  These ordinary kinds of troubles were the sort he had seen for untold ages.  It was the deep and penetrating pain of the sort that twisted the soul and left one reeling with tragic horror that brought him interest.  The others were so.... ordinary.  With steady resolve he twisted his attention back to the Empty One, if only to see the futility of the attempts at interaction.

     The Stranger approached her.  His face was unfamiliar, but he had the simple grace of one who has seen little of import.  He had the physicality of someone who was no stranger to a hard day and carried himself with an easy confidence.  The limited conversations the Keeper had overheard from him were relatively consistent and lacking in any real profundity.  He was.... ordinary.  She was not, but the horrors living deep in her soul created a certain appreciation for the unsophisticated that her conscious mind never recognized.  He ambled over with his shallow eyes and she watched him approach.  For a moment the Keeper felt he was watching some predatory dance.  A vole approaching the den of a snake perhaps?  No.  It was not so subtle.  It was a mouse approaching a trap.  All the Stranger saw was the delicious morsel perched atop the trigger.  There would be no delicate interplay between agile prey and manipulating predator, just a simple triggering of the lever and his hope and vitality would be absorbed into those deep, seducing eyes and he would be gone.   The Stranger offered some perfunctory greeting.  The Keeper heard it but it was so unremarkable there was no retention.  He had heard it in a million variations before.  She spoke.

     "I saw you come in.  It is so unlike me.  I felt.... drawn to you..."   She said the words with a gravity that was moving, even to the Keeper.  Not a glimmer of a smile, the dark eyes penetrating into the Stranger's own and hinting at some deep and universal connection imagined, then perceived, then realized.  Closing the words, she leaned almost imperceptibly forward, her lips ever so slightly apart, an artificial flush of rouge on her cheeks.  The hook was set.  The intimation of destiny, the quiet hint of some deep profundity and purpose in the meeting and his simple mind took the liberty of making all the connections needed.  The Stranger never noticed the sexual receptivity of his mind open, the veiled fantasies and noble illusions burst in a slow, oozing agony, but just below his perception.  He felt a primal desire to mount this magnificent specimen like a stallion offering his services, then silently boast that the universe willed her to be with him, though this pounding need was effectively cloaked in a white gown of virtue.

     Her stark, subconscious understanding, albeit via nuanced annunciations, of these intricate relationships blossomed forth as spurious, weak connections.  It made no difference though.  Like the plaster of Paris mountains and foam filler of a well painted movie set, they did not need to have solidity and longevity, only create an aesthetic.  Masticate the detritus of a sensuous word, an emotional reaction in a primate brain, and the social mechanisms evolved over the ages would kick in and fabricate the details of the low fidelity mockery.  All she needed was that he wanted it to be true.  Once that milestone was reached, the flimsy under-girding of it all would be promptly ignored. 

     The Keeper was pulled away suddenly.  Far to the end of the blood-stained bar sat a man as dark as he, but with a face.  Penetrating eyes looked out from a wrinkled visage, pruned with age.  His hat sat upon the bar before him and his gold was strange.  It had no stains.  It was as if the fires of the bowels of the earth had touched the Stone Man's fingers and the gold he touched was cauterized and did not exude the pain of the others.  It made the Keeper uncomfortable and irritated.  The Stone Man was full of quiet mirth.  Not the dark variety that The Keeper entertained, a mirth pure and light.  He saw the futility of the world, but did not mock it.  He danced within it.   To add to the chagrin of The Keeper, The Stone Man had ordered a different exchange for his clean, shiny gold each of the six days he had patronized this establishment!   Today he may pour a neat bourbon, he may order a wine, he may foam his mustache on a pilsner.  There was just no way of knowing.  These were an irritant, but it was the Stone Man's eyes that quite nearly sent the Keeper into a fomenting rage.  They were alive with the fascinating joy of beholding all the beautiful delicacies of the world happening around.  He beheld the pain, he comprehended the pain, he even empathized and offered solace on occasion, but he was untouched by it.  He calmly sat and watched, as if waiting with otherworldly patience for his time to come.

     The eyes positively sang with a tale of how engaging all the most mundane of connections could be...and yet, the Keeper could not see beneath them.  All the others that darkened the door of the place he would peer into the open and pallid ingress and delve into the quiet discomfort of the deepest caverns of their soul.  Not the Stone Man.  That soul was deeper and far wider than any he had ever felt, this he knew instinctually, but he was powerless to see it.  And the Stone Man KNEW it!  The Keeper would be desperately excavating and striving to burrow into the soil of the Stone Man's soul and become suddenly aware of his joyful gaze.  The Stone Man was aware of his intruding, yet was pleasantly amused as the Keeper wore his fingers down to nothing in the attempted excavation.  Their eyes would meet and an exchange would occur, delightfully entertained on the part of the Stone Man, but bitter on the part of the Keeper.  The Keeper satiated himself by saying it was an impasse, but he knew it was not.  It was a wave breaking upon the shore.  A thousand years of breaking and you only find more shore.

     The Stone Man watched with a glint of a smile as the Empty One engaged the Stranger.  He did not take it in with the dark anticipation of the Keeper.  He understood.  The Stranger would be pulled in, would likely find himself enmeshed in some incomprehensible quagmire for a time.  ...but it would resolve.  He had the easy buoyancy of a simple life and perception and could not long be pulled under the dark surface of that bog.  It was the bane of such connections.  Like trying to hold a balloon under your arm as you sink into the depths, the deeper you go the more difficult it becomes to hold on to it....The Stranger would soon, in his beautiful simplicity, become more than the Empty One could hold on to and he would rise to the surface in a flurry of mess, popping out onto the shore no wiser than before. No matter.  He was hardly a worthy target for her.  He may well be grabbed by another such as well, but the result would be much the same.  It is difficult to puncture the robust exoskeleton of the one who has embraced simplicity, whether by default or by choice.  Perhaps he is lucky.   Perhaps he is the personification of karma that the universe serves to those who would try to drown others in their black misery. 

     This strange mechanism by which the Stranger would inexplicably rise from the morass he would inevitably be pulled into was a mystery to the Keeper.  He only saw the dark, the stained, the putrid, long since forgetting the light, the airy pleasantries.  Like the proverb of old, light shined in darkness but darkness comprehended it not.  That one could remain untouched by the murky decay, despite being immersed in it, was profoundly inexplicable to the Keeper.

     Bursting in the door came the Caller.  Burst is perhaps a strong descriptor.  He rolled across the threshold in a lumbering, oddly choreographed stagger. His jaw was limp and etched in a permanent half grin, the results of staggering quantities of mirth stretched out from early in the morning.  His history was hardly sordid.  It became painted as such as he found increasing quantities of liquid joy.  The Keeper tolerated him, though he was an infernal distraction.  Well beyond the capacity to make a contribution to the black jocularity of the Keeper's observations, the Caller none the less thrust himself into the thick of the stage and created a banal, yet overwhelming, focal point in a field of characters that should have easily drowned him out.  At first, his narrative had the trappings of some great and somewhat epic tale, no less because he presented it as a narrative that smacked of some powerful intricacies.  Quickly though, one found that his tale was no different than most anyone else's, it was simply colored with the desire to draw in others in hopes of gold sliding to the Keeper and a glass newly filled.  He was harmless, but only the most patient of patrons could endure his lengthy conversations.  The Stone man alone endured the winding and meaningless conversation with no protest.  Ever the student of the human soul, he would find some nugget of wisdom, some tiny droplet of truth buried in the meandering utterances.  Sensing the alchemic mystery floating in hollow pheromones through the atmosphere, he did not endure him today.  There was no rebuff, simply inattention and the caller moved on to more receptive pastures. 

     The Stone Man was intent on the Empty One and her unwitting prey.  They saw her hand, quietly and with delicate purpose, touch The Stranger's arm.  It lingered a moment longer than needed and her dark lashes lowered slightly as she gazed into simple eyes and began to draw them in.  Most other men in the room watched with barely concealed desire as they subconsciously slipped their own skin beneath the fingers.  It was a fruitless effort on The Stranger, The Stone Man could clearly see.  Guile assumes guile.  Her methods, her nuanced, practiced tact, was designed around the shapes made when men attempt to be clever, attempt the mild deceit of seduction.  There was no wit in The Stranger's intentions, no subtle deception.  He was pure. Simplicity distilled with no pretense. The hooks would set, intended for the hollows where men place their lies, and would slide harmlessly off.  He looked at her, saw she was beautiful, wanted her.  No more.  It was brutal in its unpretentious intention. It fascinated The Stone Man and delighted him to see.  This Empty One, so astute at turning the common deceptions of men in on themselves, was utterly unable to penetrate, or even perceive, the Stranger's frank innocence.  He wished to take her and lie with her, yes, but he made no move to veil this desire.  It was pure.  Thus, it was incomprehensible to her.   The Stone Man smiled a wide and knowing smile behind his whiskey, the glass distorting the visage into a caricature, a cartoonish grinning figure.  With no effort at all, The Stranger had achieved what men spent years attempting to practice.  He was completely present, living wholly in the glow of his current feeling and situation.  He had no thought of yesterday, no concern for tomorrow.  There was only now. 

     What fascinated The Stone Man would ordinarily infuriating to the Empty One.  Profoundly skilled in the entrapment of the wary, she had no tools with which to address the heedless, the unattached.  The Stranger wanted her now, but tomorrow?  Who could say?  Not even he, though he never so much as considered the possibility or lack thereof.  It was not that she held him in specific regard, he was a tool to an end, nothing more.  All the same, she should be able to entice with veiled promises of some ill-defined future seduction.  Always it had succeeded.  Here it was like rain rolling off thatch.  There seemed an indication that a dampening had occurred, but the intended target stood dry all the same.  The Keeper, unaware himself how engulfed his attention had become, quietly sneered his own lack of comprehension.  Ever suppressing the need to react, she sat quietly and made no outward indication, but The Stone Man saw the flash in her eyes.  In grotesque contrast to the dark, quiet exterior, it was a white-hot blade of ice that sprang from that deep abyss, exposing itself for the briefest instant before a cloak of deepest darkness was thrown over it to conceal.  The Stone Man saw it.

     This the Keeper saw as well.  He could only perceive the Stranger in the most rudimentary way, but that spire of intensive malice that sprang out for but an instant was like a beacon to him.  His dark countenance swung from all other attentions and rested in cold observation on the scene.  No longer concerned with The Stranger (what portion of him he could perceive), his focus honed in like a razor on The Empty One.  He liked her emptiness before, now he was compelled into her eyes.  The deep cloak tossed over the malice did not conceal from The Keeper.  He saw the furious intensity churning deep in that abyss where others only saw blackness.  He saw the sucking need, the singularity that could only consume but could never be satiated.  Reluctantly, he felt it whet his dark appetite.  The Stranger was irrelevant.  If he was not consumed, she would quickly move on to another.  His unseen grin washed out over the room and, for a moment, winning hands suddenly lost, dice refused to roll, and the Eight Ball veered into the nearest pocket.

     The Caller bellowed and pulled The Keeper from his intoxicating revelry.  Well into far too many comforts, The Caller was requesting more, but with questionable coherency.  The Keeper had no concern with the wellbeing of his patrons, but he had deep concern with the trade, with the coin.  The dark, glowering gaze fell upon The Caller.  He had the means, ultimately.  This The Keeper knew.  He must have the coherency to initiate the trade.  The rules had been established long before them all.  The Keeper could not compel the trade, could not reach for the coin.  It must be offered. As he began the irritating dance with the Caller, a puff of darkness blasted out and a man at the back briefly experienced heart palpitations and sunk to the floor.  The intoxicated man drew his purse and slowly began to scroll through the detritus therein, spilling the worthless papers and odd bits of life onto the weary bar top.  After an agonizing wait, he produced a single coin.  With a victorious leap, he slapped the gold onto the oaken surface and leered at The Keeper.  His gaze averted quickly as the darkness under the stained Stetson penetrated deep into the marrow of his soul, a sordid grin emanating forth, felt, not seen.  The Caller received his libation and, barely aware of its essence, slowly meandered away, his steps, a jagged outline on the hardwood floor, left a hazy path of indifferent fortune and soiled language.  The Keeper, whole but unsatisfied with the trade, turned his attention back to more intriguing things. 
 
     He looked around for The Stranger, conspicuous in his incoherence.  In his mind, he could see with grim amusement the contraption she used steadily failing as his simple but authentic ruse effortlessly tore free of all the fetters she tossed about.  Irritated, he looked around, failing to see the pair.  The white-hot fury burned and sparkled. 

     A tug at his sleeve and he turned to face the drab and ashen face of the disheveled one.   Another mead was required.  She held his sleeve with a desperation utterly unwarranted.  In her eyes was the calm abiding sought by all and unrecognized by her.  These were the negotiations most tiresome.  She had the gold.  He possessed the mead.  ...but she must haggle.  There was no cause for such a thing.  Far into the deepest caverns of his ancient mind he could feel the instinctual drive to avert his attentions, to focus the powerful and dark atrophy of his spirit upon another place.... but there is no disputing the trade, the gold.  A small and suppressed rage flared as he felt the opportunity to observe the purity of darkness slipping away, The Stranger already escaping the tangles.   The disheveled one haggled, she offered less than was the value that all knew to be the cost.  Negotiations erupted and he countered with the cost set by the ages.  Bitter protests greeted his offer and he watched the artificial tears as they streamed.  She countered some pitiful thing, then another.  Each time and with increasing irritation and an inexplicable dread he offered the price set forth.  The disheveled one burst into tears of nearly believable horror and produced the coin.  The exchange was hurried and improper, particularly for The Keeper.  He maintained his countenance always, yet felt the urgency of the emergent. 

     Turning, he sought The Stranger.  The absence was absent.  Nowhere in the dimmed room.  In his periphery he thought he saw him, door swinging closed behind, and a pang of anger smote him as he considered the falling he had not witnessed.  The Empty One had drawn him away and he had not seen the final conquest.  His unseen lip snarled back and he cursed. The Caller clutched his abdomen and fell.  The Keeper swore bitterly at having failed to witness the entertainment he so reveled in and the disheveled one felt a discomfort in her core, then continued to sip the mead. 

     The Keeper, heedless of the crowd, needless of their attentions, elbowed the bar-back and grumbled to himself.  He looked deep into the stained oaken firmament.  It swirled and gyrated and the tears and the blood and the bile and the pain opened to his sight and he reveled in each and every drop as he traveled through the ageless repository of suffering represented there.  For what seemed like days, but was moments only, he whirled through the kaleidoscope of them all, drawing them in and pulling what tepid darkness could be found.  It was little enough.  He drew back to the place he stood and raised his eyes. 

     A single coin lay upon the bar top, resplendent against the dark stained wood.  It was not gold, it was not silver.  Quite nearly transparent, it drew his eyes into its core and he felt his soul swirling and gyrating and pulsating with a strange vacancy, strange to one who was born of darkness.

     A slim finger lay upon the coin.  His eyes, veiled in darkness, followed it.  The nail was painted a deep crimson, flawless in its outline.  The slim, pale hand, blue veins pulsing with subtle but quickened beats was delicately draped with the uneven ends of a lace sleeve.  Past this he could see the slim waist, the heady invitation of inguinal line shadowed on the front of the dress.  Breath drew in and he was keenly aware of the delicious rise of her full breasts beneath the thin fabric.  Her neck was exposed and the skin was smooth and flawless.  His gaze followed the majestic lines, warm and inviting.  The line of her jaw drew him up over full and parted lips, cheeks slightly flushed and finally, with profound and weighty impact, came to rest upon the dark, haunting eyes.

     The Empty One stood there, inches from The Keeper, eyes locked on his.  He perceived her, the depths of her, the unfathomable nothingness, the singularity, and he felt the compelling pull.  To withdraw his gaze was not an option available to him.  He drew ever closer.  Their eyes were one.  Her face upon the veil that sat dark and impenetrable beneath the ancient Stetson. 

     He did not see, for his eyes were burning into hers, rather he felt that pale, lovely hand, begin to lift.  It parted the wind before it with a sordid malice, delicately penetrating the space between.  He felt the inexplicably gentle fingertips as they probed the veil of darkness, effortlessly entering the blackened morass.  His body was immobile, his desires hijacked, his emotions flat.  As if flowing through innumerable eons of pain and acutely observed discomfort, the pale, lovely hand delved through the veil.

     He felt her then.  A gentle sensation stroking against a cheek he had forgotten he had.  It touched tissue and marrow and essence long bereft of sensation.   ...and it was cold.  So cold.  He could feel it with razor sharp clarity.  The singularity.  It pulled at him.  The Keeper, one who had observed so much darkness, one made of darkness, was being drawn into the emptiness. The terrifying understanding settled into his consciousness.  Emptiness rings hollower than darkness.  He heard her soft, beautiful voice.

"I am drawn to you"

     For a brief, fleeting moment, he glimpsed the blood-stained bar top.  He willed himself to leave her cursed coin upon the stained tannins.  His hand, driven by an eternity of the exchange, acted of its own volition.  Horrified and unable to withdraw his gaze, incapable of extracting himself from the aching streak of ice touching his cheek, he felt, rather than saw her pick up the coin and place it into his outstretched hand.  The stab of pure, vacant agony engulfed his palm as the coin, cold beyond his imaginations could comprehend, dropped into his possession.  The boiling, festering terror crawled up his arm like ants consuming an abandoned morsel and left him gasping in ragged breaths.  He felt the damp clink of coin as it bore down to bone, to marrow.  The exchange was complete.    His vision drew down, starting from the peripheral. The singularity, with slow and deliberate decadence, drew him in.  He felt his very soul overwhelmed with the sharp intoxication of pain and he cried out in silent, petulant protest... and then he was gone.

     The Empty One sat at the bar, content but desirous, for appetite feeds appetite. 

     Slowly strolling over, a clean white apron around his waist and drying a tumbler with a towel just as white, The Stone Man stepped up, joyful mirth echoing across his countenance.  With eyes hard as earth and stone, yet not without pity, he placed a hand over her own, unmoved by the unquenchable hunger, unconcerned with the need.  His words carried the finality of the Gods.

"You have had enough"

     The Empty One smiled a radiant smile and rose, drifting into the cool dark of the evening.