If these poems have offended, avert your eyes and all is mended.
We Can Know Bliss (Meditation on a Sichuan Mountain)
At the edge of a small village
hot sun stews dirt road. Hon-Hon-Hon!
A gaggle of grey geese greet me.
Bent women tend lush stalks of green,
each golden seed contains their heart.
I inhale deep fresh country air,
a lazy wind gusts sweet perfume from fragrant flowers.
The countryside life, simple joy and hard working folk.
Girls in white dresses and red boots skip
in puddles they laugh and blow bubbles.
Bright ribbons in their dark hair shimmer,
and my shoulders loosen and I smile.
They see me and freeze, their eyes hazel pools,
curious stranger, a foreigner,
inspires curiosity and they wear their books down
Tonight they’ll burn candles for far away places.
On a paved street in the village
black and grey shoes hang from a pole.
What children would leave them behind
in this ageless rustic hamlet?
One day outgrown, left to pass on,
their small comfort and protection.
Left behind for a reason, the truth becomes clear
we can always get what we want (when we want less).
When we can share rice with our family
we will never feel poor.
Nor can we pave the world in leather,
but we can cherish the shoes on our feet.
Red eyes weep openly, noses sniffle
for parents gone all year to work
still children feel a simple joy in the moment.
We can practice gratitude and know bliss.
The Story of Anger Bill
Anger’s only sixteen but likes to pass for twenty at the watering hole by the ranch where Trouble serves up ice-cold’s and watered-down’s on a hot summer night while he tempts Regret with his roguish charms. Anger is taller than his older brother Fear, but that’s mostly because Fear is slouched, bent to breaking, his blue-black bangs hiding his eyes while Anger sports impeccable posture and a short clean cut. Anger stands proud in a felted beaver topper and his best vest, quick to stand to any insult, with the machismo of a Venetian noble and feet like canoes. His tight, muscled body is forged in pain and quick as a whip and swims in tattoos of monsters of legend – he swears the ink lends an edge.
When Patience steps out from wiping tables to sneak a kiss with Kindness behind the old brown barn Anger cranks the ol’ thermostat and grins down the barrel of a gun when the first temper breaks. Anger is quick to the punch and always shoots first: be it lip, fist or clip. Anger always lets his sisters Patience and Remorse clean up after him.
Anger used to carry Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid with him but a stranger once made fun of him, said Ondaatje sounded Foreign and called Anger a book fag. Anger was so embarrassed he cut that stranger’s face up and now Anger listens to Stephen King audiobooks and he believes Donald Trump has a lot of good ideas and wishes he could vote already. Anger has already burnt down bridges that have lasted centuries with his trusty silver zippo. Anger won’t grow up, he’ll just got old, and he’ll destroy in a flash of rage the gardens Patience will make her life’s work.
A Supermarket in Nova Scotia
Umbrella spun backwards out of control exoskeleton strains awkward, yearning. A chalice, what will we fill it with?
we wear the bell down
the pouring rain rips through the darkness race around back to try that door
about ready to quit, back around to see
a school boy with an old soul in the doorway, his tag reads “Walt” and he eyes us intently. I smile and nod
I hear a voice from the side howling into the wind. Any way in would have been just fine.
We enter and I am bathed in fluorescent glow,
the alarm whines in frustration but we pay it no heed I have been pretending to work here for months,
I push a mop, deep under cover
while Allan and Walt stock produce
they don’t question me or why
my sushi tastes like rubber.
The pickled ginger is a sickly yellow.
How low some things can go.
And I skim the news
glance sardonically at the trashy mags capitalism is sleeping now,
but I still pocket the 11 cents,
one dime and one pretty penny
that I find under a cashier’s till.
I brush my lunch under the rug.
Capitalism is sleeping now and I am the law.
I look for inspiration, and the lobsters are busy. some prowl with apparent purpose,
stomping over their fellows
running amuck, in circles, in place
hands tied and stacked high
they do not seem to notice me
some are still, in contemplation or droned out stoned out bored, maybe mad
only one hangs from the walls, near the surface. separate from the rest
he is unable to go any farther
but unwilling to go back.
from “Lobster Revolution and the Rot of Pop Culture (self published)” also published in Fathom Magazine 2011
I meant to love you.
I never meant to lie.
I meant to make it up to you but somehow the day goes by
I don’t know why you broke all my fingers baby. It hurts me so much to play you this song.
I loved you in the evening,
loved you ’til dawn.
I never meant to do you wrong.
Some days I wake up
I can taste you baby.
Those days I crawl and I crawl and I crawl right back into bed. Sometimes when I wake up I can still feel you near me.
I can’t get you out of my head.
I don’t know why you broke all of my fingers baby.
It hurts too much to let you go.
I saw you and I knew right then you were gonna be mine, girl, and then I said I told you so.
At first I was as cool as a cucumber baby.
I didn’t know all those tricks that you do. Before long you had me twisted around your pretty little fingers.
You stole my heart right out of the blue.
I don’t know why you broke all my fingers baby. You told me that you’d do me no wrong.
But late at night I lie awake thinking of kisses that keep me from moving along…
I don’t know, I don’t know why…
lyrics from Xmas in July: Low Fi Disasters from Jorah Kai (self published)
We hide our dreams inside safe places.
We edit ourselves into corners
and then, with needle and thread
resurrect the pieces of our shattered brilliance.
I buried my ego in a pet cemetery.
My genius came back knocking, haunted, from the maddening horrors of the other side hungry for brains.
I’m chasing that one great line
and there’s definitely an accompanying line.
I’ve taken to publishing work inside dead animals I think it’s my failure to commit holding me back.
What dreams may rise from the toil of our never ending optimism? Can we bring it to a boil,
or shall we let it simmer down… into Kipple, in dust we trust.
From the depths of the glassy eyes,
I communicate a longing.
In the frozen roar of the open maw
there’s a tenderness that cries out for attention.
Last night before I fell asleep,
or maybe it was while I dreamt of sheep, I found the perfect line or two
and they made me think of you.