Protest # 1,003,989 (Decal Burninator)

Spiritus sanctus
licked me,
holy phantom-fire fingertap
ice hot, not
ethereal but
sidereal, solid, starlong,

the burning one
burning through my skin’s mind,
curling it lathe-like and lithe,
flesh folding up like
paper blackened, flame-eaten,

all your animals blazing through me,
fiery doves
and serpents and

roaring gouts of flame,
bellow and shriek of praise,
butt and clack of rams ramming
inside my ribcage,
a red-dyed ache of ages,

it’s your world-dissolving chuckle,
your flesh-shucking footstep!
horns of light gore every pore,
stabbing from your flashing hand—

that I might learn, poor student,
that I might love, poor suitor,
that truth may track me down a little,
trap me, truss me up, skin me alive
and hold my bloody meat in searing

compassion, reclothe
me in death-redemptive hides,
hide me inside his side so capacious,
eat me alive with love
hallowed and rapacious.



Through Ferguson’s Eyes (1st attempt)

Those with guns

get sons.

Those without

go without.


Beautiful brown hands

are raised,

shots are fired,

hot life runs out,

is not gathered again.


Does the blood run

right to his home,

avoiding the carpet,

to tell his mother he’s dead,

like in the Colombian tale?


It seems to have sent a trickle

to every house

in the neighborhood

(‘these are the people

in your neighborhood’).


Every single citizen

bears a single drop

to the scene of the


shaking with fear and horror.


They pool the drops together

into a great red weeping

question mark

that smears into a raging

unreadable scream.


This is the way the world bends


to birth another enmity –

and fire must follow

as surely as tears.


Sooner or later,

weeping and gnashing,

rioting and looting,

rubber bullets and

tear gas reactions too.


Shadowy masked figures

loom out of smoke, heavily armed

and blue-lit like bad retro sci-fi,

a corny dystopia

not funny now at all.


Those with guns

get sons.

Those without

go without.


White skin is beautiful too,

but it’s harder to see

right now – it just looks


absent of color.


Good cops exist,

and peaceful protesters,

but naked animosity

runs deep in all of us

and very near the surface.


No one really knows

what’s going on,

but we blog and tweet

and like and share

to show we (appear to) care.


We don’t know

what we care about

or care about

what we know –

it’s just a show.


But we do feel,

and in our better moments

we try to follow wherever it leads,

to whatever little truth

it bleeds.


Those with guns

get sons.

Those without

go without.


Or so it seems

when we’re living

hellish dreams,

where power never left

its hallowed whitewashed halls.


New Monster City Coming Down (prototype)

What of Love as tall as skyscrapers,
flashing a maw of jagged hills crashing together,
the titanic Teeth of Mercy gnashing the heights
of glass and steel and electricity?

What of Love’s impenetrable scales,
unscalable hide, from which protrude the spikey
spines like spans of border walls, the megalithic
tail felling all in its wrecking-ball path?

What of the breath of Love’s fiery life
blasting out in melting heat
reducing the cityscape to smoke
and flame and twisted glowing ruins?

What of the vast curving Claws of Grace
that rake lines like streets across
our massive battlements and hurl tiny
little ant-people to their ant-deaths below,
each plummeting figure marked by Love’s
gargantuan eyes weeping gargantuan tears,
each bug-person more precious than many birds,
each one resurrected to gigantic life?

What of a New Monster City coming down
out of heaven onto the jacked-up and
junked rubble of the old, new priceless
gem-glass gleaming and new bodies beaming
in place of old, hard crystal skeletons inside
unbreakable translucent skin, unbreakable
except by mutual agreement for beautiful happy
bloodletting: glory-flesh bleeding molten golden
blood, memorial days where we all go Giganto
and smash all the crystal towers again in joyous
recapitulation just to watch them rise again
rewoven by the copious fine-steel silk shooting
from the mouth of gigantic monstrous Love forever?


(‘Spilling Candy’ by Bill Rogers, aka Giveawayboy)

Your compassion is a whale

See me
down on the sea bed.
Do you?

I’m in the green shadows,
not shallows,
deep down.
See me?

I know you do.
I feel you here.

Your compassion is a whale,
vast terror
and comfort
gliding above me.

Your kindness
is the armoured lobster,
creeping clawed
lording it over
this peasant at present,
who came all unprepared
for sleep
on this ocean bed.

The shifting shoals of biomass
form a banner of love
over me,
dapple-shot shadowshine
cascading across a dead man
in his own eyes,
but you see
the sea
than me
and laugh ‘quick!’
where I cry ‘corpse!’


(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)

Your Love is Like a Horn

Your love is like a horn
Curving, curling to a point, arced,
Pure white sun-yellowed, majestic,
Strong for goring scorners of our love,
Impaling their unbelief on sharp grace.

Hard and solid and enduring,
A horn of love that outlasts the hills,
Overshadows mountains, bridges oceans,
Calls all, in gigantic throating and threshing,
To yield their ears up to be pierced

To hear.



(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)


Asking… (half-cocked)

Why?  Why do we want justice, vengeance, love, redemption, healing?  Why do we dream of finally backing the whole gang of rapists and murderers into a dead end alley and beating the life out of them one by one?  Why do we dream of all the unholy horror unwound, undone, re-doomed, put to rights?  Why do we dream of Love as a Prize Fighter dealing out the blows of justice on pure evil’s arrogant head until the brute can’t get up any more, ever again?

Why?  Why all these glimpses of judgment and retribution, righting of wrongs?  Why is there even a dream beyond those dreams where the unjust too are somehow forgiven, the real punishment for the unjustifiable crimes meted out to the last inch, yet forgiveness and reconciliation for all – all – all who will receive it?  Nobody meant to become that, the disgusting perpetrator of unspeakable evil. Nobody was meant to become that.  No baby was born for the express purpose of ending up a monster of inhuman cruelty.  No destiny decrees that.  That’s why we dream of the redemption even of monsters.

If you don’t ask these questions, you’re just not asking much of anything.  You’re no seeker.  You’re more dead than alive.

Laughing Dancer, Glinting Fish

Dedicated to Daniel Eberg “OJ” Petersen, 1941-2010


I kissed your skull, Dad, hard.
I could feel it there
Just beneath the skin that had
Stretched thin and tight on your head,
Your deathbed Death’s Head,
All that was left to be seen
Of all that you had been to us, to the world.

I kissed your skull-hugging skin
So hard. My lips thought, I think,
They could catch your spirit
One last time, on its way away,
And so they pressed your bony brow
In a sudden passion of son-love.

You’d been gurgle-gravel breathing for hours.
‘You sound like a coffeemaker percolating, Dad!’ I joked
And the room laughed, eased, uncles and aunts
And spouses and friends helping our vigil.

But when the last breath hitched,
Followed by no more, no more,
I just up and kissed your just dead skin,
Just after your last ever breath.

Just after my brother, who beat me to it,
Always quicker on the emotional draw.
He kissed your dead head and said ‘Love you, Dad!’
And ran out into the deep snow weeping.

And then I kissed you too, so hard and long
On the freshly dead skin, still warm,
Mumbled my love too and crept out
After my wailing brother to crumple my own
Face in my own fashion and cry more quietly
In a strange neighbourhood across the busy street,
Wading through the hard-packed impeding drifts.
(What a sight I must have been from inside
Their warm windows and corpse-free rooms!)

Our sister missed your last breath, Dad,
And I’ve always felt bad about that.
She got to the death scene just a little after last call,
A little late, smiled wryly, annoyed at your timing,
Cut a lock of your hair and cleaned up her brothers’ tears,
Saved her own for later, big strong sister.
(She talks to you still, she says, and I would never
Begrudge her that or gainsay the fact.)

Out in the hall our tall towering little brother
Wept and wept like the surprise kid-brother we
Remembered, except that his gangling length took
Now two of us to embrace it on those steps where he wept.
(He writes songs for you that punch us in the guts and sting
Hot tears into our eyes with all their naked love and longing.)

Me, I just read all your old books and pay
Belated attention to which words you underlined,
Wishing. Wishing I had learned
Of your privileging of the heart, this,
Your deep wisdom, while you were still living.

And that was maybe the most numinous,
Haunted, uncanny moment of my life so far.

When you slipped in an instant from view, you,
Leaving only a much-loved body,
It was like you slipped through our fingers,
Dodged us, you, all of a sudden swift
And oddly agile,
Eluding our grasping clutches
Like a devious laughing dancer,
No longer portly of deportment,
A lithe spirit faster than old flesh,
Glimpse of your coming glory
(If we’re to believe that old story.
If we can bare, that is, to sing along
To that old record of you belting out
Your glory-hallelujah song).

And we knew you were gone.
Gone, gone from that shoddy little room
In that shabby little south side apartment.
Nothing left but an empty body on a bed,
Empty because something had deserted it.

That’s when the unexpected hit me.
The sure and solid absence in that room
Was like a tingling touch from another world.
An iron door had slammed irrevocably shut.
We would not be hearing from you again, ever,
Not in any ways we currently know.
And yet that iron-clad closing opened
Something I hadn’t anticipated.

I have some hope and faith, sure.
I grabbed that baton from you, Dad,
For what it’s worth in my sweaty slippy grip,
But I’m still just a frantic bat flapping in the dark,
Chasing echoes with half-broken sonar
And I just did not expect a palpable tap from beyond
In the moment you left, when you were of a sudden gone.
I shuddered with the weirdness of it. Still do.

To watch someone go, really go, jolted me with
The way it made anything – anything – seem possible,
Made existence look more open and permeable and perforated
Than I ever would have dared to guess could be seen or felt.
But there it was – you, you, leapt right out of your own mouth,
Jumped like a glinting fish right up out of life itself,
And all unexpected I felt edens and angels and dark jerusalems
Leap up in that quicksilver disappearance, that iron-barred absence.

So strange.

So strange to find the trash-compactor walls of existence didn’t
Slide a few more feet closed upon my panic and horror –
No, the walls of life trembled and bowed outward a split-second
And I thought I heard, as it were, someone shouting in a tiny tinny
Muffled voice through thick concrete: ‘We’re trying to get you out!’

I hardly dare hope at such a voice, but I can’t deny I heard it.
Or thought I heard it, at least—when I least expected it.

I still remember that warm and cherished last hard kiss
On your tired old skull (not old enough to die – you should’ve
Been around a bit longer – but old enough to be old)
And the ferocious love I felt that seems not a whit diminished,
Like a dread eternal thing that no measly death of a loved one
Could ever alter or soften or erode by a jot or dot.

And I’m still baffled and awed that loss and permanence
Can rub titanic shoulders so chummily
While little mortals wonder and wail away down here between
Skulls and kisses and near misses of transcendence.

Why do these words for you ember up and keep returning?
I love you, Dad, and I still feel your glory burning.