Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrow Cemetery

Graves dug with a ditch witch
in hard desert dirt, concrete slabs
poured soon after burial to keep
the ground from sinking under
the drenching rains. Teddy bears
tied to stone crosses
lie soaked after the monsoons.
Heart-shaped rock sunk in the ground,
whitewashed, with a name brushed
in thin black streaks,
splashed with mud now. Unreadable.

Try as they can, the living
will not stay wind, rain, sun, and dust
from smoothing granite and
whittling weather-treated wooden
pylons to sticks.
The living visit all day
to clean the grave
of a friend, mate or child.
They gather withered and brittle flowers,
rake up blown-in trash and beer bottles
thrown from the highway, and burn
it at the back in rusted metal drums.

Sometimes they adopt a grave
and show the same tenderness.
Each grave like a lawn or yard
shrine, with grilled fencing,
tulip garden, bamboo grove,
or inlaid brick in the form of a cross
and a seat under elms
to pray, relax, or tell stories in.

I come to view their care. The
love for the dead even after 80 years.
I feel the break with life is not so great
then, and the memories
and invisible presence
fill me with awe
as I speak with my own past.

(c) 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Scene of the Crime

In yet another year when it's said the world
will end again, the sky's red before
the snow and ice come. It seeks me,
this world with its blood and cold.
On days when I don't know
the meaning of words, they
remind me in frozen rain
at my doorstep how
brittle and bare I am.

Mommy babble rouser,
tracer of shadows between dew
drop and bird on the wire,
self lost in fog because it mimes
the shape that you itself becomes;
you, self, the one with the belly button
that collects yesterday's sloughed skin
and fibers from the scene
of the sin that's existence,
mirror the self pining for its own loss.

Clothe ecstatic bones and unveil the nature
of desire. In the bed made and unmade 1000 times
1000 times, touch the tail of a comet riding stars.
There's no cure for chaos, just a chance to find a point.
The wild wind will stir the past alive today
and wake you, pulled apart and glued together,
praising life and its emptied sky.

How many wires and cords
must I uncross to make the universe right?
Tangled clot of verbs, nouns, and world,
dare to wear the mark of the slave,
bearing its shame, nothing thing, blown
scrap by winter wind on bright days
rousing sleep from your eyes.
So shall it be always here.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All right reserved.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Porcelain Dancer

The commuters don't believe
the porcelain face, coal
black hair and scarlet lips
demurely shrouded beneath
broad-brimmed hat are real.
Black hooped skirt down
to the ankles hides the heel
and boot on which she
pirouettes precisely in place.

Ivory white gloves with lace
splay and jerk mechanically
akimbo and limn that invisible
wall between her illusion
and crumbling reality.

Pure, unalterable dance in
the train terminal. She
steps from the wood platform,
and air fills our lungs
as the musical texture
fractures into life.

Feeling blood and bone
again takes a second
for gravity to take hold.
The tips are small,
a fact her face does not betray.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Argumentum ad populum

for Elmore Leonard and the Black Dahlia

A riddle sets atilt the door jamb
when ugly words issue from an angry bed;
severed trunk splayed wide to obscene eye
and surgeon's blade splicing the Gordian knot
gone haywire in a faceless heart:
secrets unseen and unspoken even in the head.

At heaven's gate the dead find answers, hear
the word said that ends the tormenting sentence
that plays on the lips but never turns sibilant.
To the dilemma shuddering between the no to life
and the yes to death, stiff cock and winking labia
promise salvation for the agendum of the race.

And the wound that scabs the everyday routine,
the transgression that no poet will love, no hymn
solemnize, renders its terror in silence, shamed
by mob and public bathos; azygos, alone without end.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Set Me Loose

broken eyed factories on north broad
provide the set of an empire's fall
as monkeys masked
with barbie doll heads
mime human fates at the end of chains

I saw the city again today,
a naked look of elegant despair,
Victorian home peering into lost streets.

on the skyline, the church of dead dreams
preached the song of mirrors.
Angels spawned lies to unearth
treasure that comes by revenge
and regain paradise.

city, you take verbs from me,
encase them in anger and bile
and hang their husks from the lamp posts.

Give me the juice to set me loose.
I want to feel
there's nothin' left
between me and death.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Accuser (after Botero)

-painting by Fernando Botero, from his series on Abu Ghraib

"But extend your hand and strike his bone and his flesh, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!” (Job 2:5 NET)

Let me bring you the news today,
after wandering this dirt ball for aeons.
Tie a man naked and expose him
to cold stones and iron routine,
dress him in women's clothes, piss
on his face and make him shit
in front of you. That'll turn anyone
against himself, his family, his God.

I have nothing more to accuse you
than this: you'll grieve alligator tears
for your neighbor, your parents,
your child. But when the boot grinds
your face and dogs gnaw your groin,
you all turn pussy and eat your own shit.

J'accuse le Dieu, l'homme, the hollow
clay shape that cracks into pieces,
into shards that I use to slice
life into bloody puzzles you won't
ever piece together. I win, I always do.
For in the fragile husk that's mortal,
my words will always turn you into
what you hate, to destroy or be destroyed.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Trial and Tribulation

In the human hive I live in, an old
woman circles an upstairs room,
round and round again for all to see,
though she cannot care. An open
window exhales the lonely male
banging on the door to be let in,
his girlfriend pleading to be left
in peace and alone to sleep.

Arriving home late from work,
the nurse with groceries in a bag
walks quickly past where I smoke,
eyes on the ground, unwilling to add
another illness to the heap
that might extinguish a hope
left untended by too little time
and too much pain.

A young woman stays in all day
and like a shut-in wears a ratty robe.
She has a camera and wi-fi
and she broadcasts eight hours a day,
tending to the flowers of predictable
desires that a credit card buys.

Few raise eyes to see the common ordeal.
Paper thin as the skin of an onion,
peel away the scab that protects the hour.
Hear thru the window a voice not meant
to be heard. Follow the leaky ceiling
to knock at an upstairs door that might
open to humdrum void or the mystery
you waited to solve for all eternity.

Say words that make sense of the day's remains,
but know that they tell as much about you
as they do about reality. Cash-driven or mad
with wild desire, the life you miss
in a few minutes can haunt or redeem you,
and you never know if it counts
or not, or even if counting matters,
but that just desire and choice make it so.

(c) Copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.