One to Grow On

I can’t drown out that rhythm of venom, that cadence of wrath,
and the accretion of thriving muck at the bottom hungers, always.

A long breath hisses inward between teeth clenched without volition:

All life is sacred, and none is more sacred than our own,
the audience must needs think of me as pure and merciful;
A simple, clear song.

Outside of an asteroid or pyroclasm,
nature will bury this field of joys

But know I’m filled with wonder,
when shove comes to push.

In eyes deep as the well of souls,
the beauty of it is, you can be whatever you want!

Let Me Build You a World

The beauty of it is, you can be whatever you want!
For a few hours, you can become a valiant knight
Named Sir Seymour Buttz.
For an evening, you can be a lisping, half-giant wizard.
For a little while, you can play a deadly sniper from a murdered world,
surrounded by a crew of complete screwballs.
For as long as we’re at that table,
You can daydream of magic and adventure and power.

And we’ll all daydream with you.

The glory of it is, I can steal from anywhere!
Anne Rice’s vampires can fight Le Guin’s Earthsea wizards,
The Greek Gods can be slain by Aztec invaders,
Medieval Vader can team up with ersatz Voldemort,
I can blend magic, and eras, and races, and big fucking ideas, into a heady melange.
And Tolkien’s influence? Well, that’s just inevitable.

And for a while, I can tell you those stories, and let you tell them back.
I can turn my imagination into a playground we share,
A stomping ground for your sparkling heroes, your shady mercs,
and, sure, your straight-up murderhobos.
I can guide you, and point you on the path to heroic adventure,
give you hateful adversaries, unforgettable vistas, lofty goals, and memorable battles.
Perhaps I can make you wail at the fall of beloved allies.
Or I can just turn you loose and let my world react to your character’s antics.

We can be each other’s audiences, and advisors, and escapes.
And together, we can make something.
Trust me; it’ll be really, really fun.

I’d Rather See You Cry

It’s so easy to hide it,
behind screens, or hands, or walls.
To tuck your pain away where it can’t
make things worse.  Or better.

I’ve heard voices break and connections go dead,
I’ve witnessed messages composed, deleted, and composed again,
Then still left unsent.
Or reduced to a single word.

I’ve had doors slammed and locked in my face,
backs turned to me, faces twisted away.
I’ve conversed through bathroom doors,
shields of hair and pulled up knees, comforters that failed to comfort.

I’ve watched faces seal the sorrow in,
seen it bitten it off with tightened lips,
beheld it smothered out by defenses I can’t image,
In eyes deep as the well of souls.

And I have hidden behind layers of my own.
Veils woven of dark humor, over walls built of analysis,
Around pain and fear and need I would burden no one else with.
Yet I expected trust.

Tears and trust are only easy for children.
For us they must be earned, and shared.
They cannot be taken, or stolen, or forced,
And they can be so easily lost.

I’d rather hold clenched hands and shaking shoulders,
hear sobbed imprecations and wailed confessions,
I’d rather let sorrow soak my shirt and pain pierce my heart.
I’d rather suffer together than hide separately, and suffer still.

Hogs? HOGS!

Nature didn’t make’em pretty,
with mottled fur and sneering snouts.
Nature didn’t give’em lovely noises,
all snarls, and squeals, and grunts.
But she knows her job and so,
She made them tough as nuts.

With beady eyes and floppy ears,
they lurk in sounders in the brush.
When hunger overtakes them,
They move on my chickens in a rush.
But this is our farm, and in Texas,
when shove comes to push.
So of course we have a shotgun,
with such insolence to crush.

My wife strode out with robe and gun,
Because she’s a better shot.
Leveled her barrel, pulled the trigger,
And down the biggest boar was brought.
It thrashed and stilled and out of it spilled
A heaping pile of hog-snot.

Now my youngest child pleads and grabs my hand
Daddy don’t let hogs get me, please.
No, baby, never fear hogs on mommy’s land.

Get Well Soon

No one sends you cards
wishing you a swift recovery.
No one praises you as a survivor,
as someone who “beat” it,
this demon you wrestle with every day.

Because no victory is decisive,
no all clear, no all better, no cure.
The enemy persists, insurgent,
invisible, intractable, inside you.

And I’m out here, watching you fight
this war I can be no part of,
carrying a burden I can’t shoulder.
Feeling you struggle against limits,
imposed by no one for no reason,
that you have to live with and within.

I won’t tell you to get better;
That prayer has been denied.
There are a thousand useless things
We’ve said, and done, and tried.
But know this much, my love:
I watch your fight with pride.

Every day is a chance to quit,
to lose, or fade.  To die.
Every time, you choose the other way,
Stare demons screaming in the eye.
I can’t know how much it costs you,
To give each day a valiant try.
But know I’m filled with wonder,
As you let your battle-banner fly.

Butterflies

A verdant meadow flush with bluebonnets
rushes by under their tiny feet.
The smaller one points and cries joyously,
and the elder squeals with delight,
and both run toward a fluttering gem.
A black and yellow glory
chased by two giggling pixies
in the warm Texas Spring.

I know that in days or weeks,
Nature will bury this field of joys
with a carpet of spikes and stings.
In weeks or months, the butterfly,
the insect they chase will die,
perhaps mating first, perhaps not.
In years, my children will grow,
and their smiles will sadden,
under weight of wisdom and years.

But this day, Texas is green and kind.
This hour, the butterfly swoops and bounces
like a fairy child at play.
This minute, my daughters know only laughter.
This moment, time loses.

Autumn

Leaves fall, as do Empires, in the fullness of time.

They say she wasn’t built in a day,
but Rome took generations to fall.

Will we?

In the fading dusk of democracy,
we are driven to panic by demagogues.
An empire, a lifestyle, built on finite resources,
policies built on deferral of consequence.
Fractured consensus, identities of animosity,
A groggy center holding, barely.

A revolution sounds dandy,
but a civil war is no place for innocent,
and if you think the other side will cede
without blood in the streets,
history has hard lessons for you.

Leaves fall, like lives spent in the service of empire or idealism.

But leaves grow back.

Luxuries our ancestors would have named magic,
envenoming landfills and clogging the oceans.
Desertification, rising floodwaters, resurgent diseases
spread on winds far warmer than nature provides
outside of an asteroid or pyroclasm.

We are an extinction level event
on par with the end of the Cretaceous.
We are witnessing the birth of a world
that cannot hope to sustain us.
A millennia-long harvest of dust
after a century of sewing the skies with poison.

Leaves fall, but it grows no cooler.

Axe Work

It has a rhythm.
Like a heartbeat.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.
A simple, clear song.
Muscle, tool, and wood.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.

It doesn’t just cut
It’s not a saw.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.
Wood is crushed
Pinned aside.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.
The gaps deepen
With each new strike.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.

The tree grows weak,
The arms grow sore,
The shadows stretch.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.
But each new stroke
Stays steady and strong
Will, tough as oak.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.
Twilight creeps in
Like moss, like age.
A tree trembles.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.

One more, last swing,
Felt soles to skull.
A fond farewell.
Pull, lift, swing, CRACK.

A Prayer to the Cosmic Hack

O Spinner of a Thousand Tales
(That recycle the same four plotlines)
O Maker of a Thousand Worlds
(Populated by the same 6 characters in different hats)

I plead to you, Creator of (clean, black-and-white) Conflicts,
that my narrative be flush with thine bounty.
Let my bitter rivals be placed upon buses,
let my villains be as obviously evil as they are one-note
and let them receive their grim and tidy comeuppance.
Though not by my hand;
the audience must needs think of me as pure and merciful.

I beg you, Sovereign of Stories,
(we’ve all heard a million times)
Let my challenges be overcome
by montage and instant mastery.
Let that to which I turn my hand
garner me praise and jealousy
of my peers and instructors both.

I supplicate myself before you, Manager of Meet-Cutes,
That all of my crushes shall,
in time, turn out to have loved me in secret.
That I might find truest love,
without more than a glance at growth or self-improvement.
That I might blunder into the life of someone special
Just when that special someone needs me most.

Of you, Architect of the Profound
(as long you don’t think about it too hard),
I request the most saccharine of happy endings:
Let my finances be ever sorted off-screen,
and my hair only ever fetchingly tousled.
May my recklessness be vindicated,
and my actions have only positive consequences.
Grant me a conventionally attractive one true pairing,
whose only flaw (by the closing credits) is clumsiness.
And if it be thine will, equally appealing children
who speak and reason like tiny adults.
Gift me, O Cosmic Hack, a place for my came-with-the-frame family.
A gleaming castle, a stately manor, or a shimmering starship.
Even a nice brownstone would suffice,
Your servant is not greedy.

With greatest humility
thy most devoted disciple.

Mary Sue

Chicken Philosophy

All life is sacred
Maybe some is more sacred than others.
The life of the deer is not sacred to the wolf.
Nor the corn, to the deer.

And nothing is sacred to a fucking chicken.

Slurp a worm from the earth,
Snatch a fly from the air,
Rip a seed from a pod,
Bite Charlotte from her web.

It’s all just “FOOD” to a hen.

Some chickens lay eggs, yes.
Others drive their beaks into them
to sup on the yellow goodness within.
Or whatever else they find.

All life is sacred, until you’re hungry enough.

Chickens are social animals.
And they welcome each other
by trying to break the necks of new hens.
If you’re too big to kill, you’re in.

All life is sacred, unless you’re too weak to keep it.

When a chicken dies, it stresses the flock.
But that doesn’t stop them from pecking.
The eyes and flesh of their fallen comrade
A snack for the survivors.
Even with a bounty of grains, they’ll sample the dead.

All life is sacred, but what’s left behind is just meat.

Roosters are cowards and rapists,
on top of being braggarts.
They’ll work their harems into featherless misery
Defending them only from rival roosters.
When predators near
proud cocks can be found
hiding under piles of their brides.

All life is sacred, and none is more sacred than our own.

Keeping too many roosters is a cruelty.
To hen and farmer and other roosters alike.
Nature makes far too many of them
For any farm or flock to keep.
Culling is a pretty word.
Exsanguination is lovely.
They both mean death.
Which means quiet, and peace, and health
That life would have denied.

Death, too, is sacred.