The Reality of The Garden

It could most properly be called a Cathedral. Not one of those decaying medieval edifices whose stout doors defiantly face the rising sun, daring medicants and fallen angels alike to do their worst. No, this place contained several citadels of holiness within an imposing curtain wall. Labrynthine pathways crouched between stone work huddled together from all pervading sin. The occasional rocky countenance of a gargoyle leered down covetously at passing souls, forever calculating. It was a proper place of foreboding.

Somewhere within, he fled.

He ran down a corridor, open to a courtyard on one side, it’s ceiling covered in unhealthy crimson splotches. Past narrow pillars he could see rose bushes in tightly ordered rows, their blooms burst open like over-ripe fruit and wilting in the chill twilight. Amid the distance of storm-tousled skies he perceived spires, like spears, stabbing heavenward; slicing. Piercing out from the wound to the well. Laughter echoed around him like the swirling shadows cast by candle light.

His pursuer was close now.

The bag thrown over his shoulder was heavy. It had grown heavier as he’d run because of the need to accumulate the things in it. There had been no choice, it was about survival. Every fleet step of foot denied him some small portion of courage he would require to make his stand. Every length of ground gained was ground that would be lost later. Not slowly either, but all at once and suddenly. Fatigue fell over him like a shroud, blinding his mind long enough to trip him. Scraped knees and hands did not concern him.

The he realized he was cornered.

The hall had terminated into depressed gazeebo. A shortened pew gasped shortened out from each of its five sides. Some obscure idol rose from the center to gaze outward at the garden. He stumbled down to the far railing, kneeling on the bench there. Beyond the marching bushes the blank face of brickwork creeped out unabated in all directions. Not a single egress presented itself. Flash of lightening and again the laughter. Infinitesimally closer.

He turned back toward the statue. It’s face hung above him like the waning moon. Sculpted eyes gouged the space below it disdainfully. The nose bent over a mouth which had been shorn away. The debris of the defacement lay littered around the base. He was out of time.

The tendrils of It’s presence unfurled around the open space. He watched it approach with a sense of claustrophobia. Slender as a stiletto and sheathed in midnight robes, It’s sallow skin seemed to ripple with each fluid footstep. Lengthy strides precise and deliberate. Straight hair, the colorlessness of newly formed specters,   descended below skeletal shoulders. Emerging from cavernous sleeves, spidery fingers crawled from hands webbed with scars. A blade striking from the darkness. This seemingly fragile vessel had traveled from the belly of some long forgotten age. The malignancy of It had claws grasping from eons past.

Sweat tore from him in torrents. The storm of mortal understanding-a flash which polished his mind with abrasive sands until it shone like a star. with a light that would not be seen until long after it’s source’s demise. The realization that the only redemption is found in the pulse of struggle is no simple acceptance. You must simply accept it.

But acceptance does not necessitate surrender.

He raised his fists, his only defense, but there came a billowing of black robes like the bellowing of brass bells-the silence.

Flash of lightening , another unhealthy crimson stain, and again the laughter.

 

 

 

About ” The Reality of the Garden”

This started as part of a very strange dream I had during a period when I was reading a lot of H. P. Lovecraft. Go figure. Anyway, I wrote it with the intention of telling a story about a man running from a personification of death/time within the confined of a labyrinth which I thought of as a symbol for our societal structure. The garden  of life is always just a step away , but man never thinks to take it because he sees no way to escape that way. Man continues to flee within the structure because he thinks the structure was constructed to offer a way out, never realizing the structure circumscribes his existence.

I wanted to tell a story about humans obsessive beauracracy-building siphoning the joy from life, creating the rat race against time where only emptiness and fear are found surrounded by the structures man has constructed in an attempt to create meaning. That’s why the Church like setting and allusions to the religious belief.

Unfortunately, this has never become the story I wanted to tell. It really hasn’t even become a story. There are some great lines in it though, so it hasn’t been a waste. I’m sure I’ll continue to play with this periodically and maybe someday it will become something.

I’m sharing it because I’ve been drowning in a vicious sort of writer’s block, but I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about time so I’m hoping someone’s comments might stimulate some momentum.

 

 

 

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Votive

Low-lying stone

under bended weeds

Hinderant

Not hiding, but unseen

Worn down by wind

Silently unyielding

Belligerent monument

Altar to

Broken lawnmower blades

And winces at stubbed toes;

Sacrifices to lesser Gods

Who take what they can get

 

 

About ” Votive”

“votive came out of me musing about early hominids’ religious practices and what became of their religious artifacts, if any existed. I imagined that after so much time it was possible altars or other artifacts would be unrecognizable as anything out the ordinary. I also imagined ancient hominid gods forgotten in their unremarkable stones, living off of accidents like gremlins.

American Gods is one of my favorite novels, so with the television treatment of it now airing I thought this would be a good time to post this.

 

 

 

 

Reluctantly

I admit it

Reluctantly, but still,

This desire to Surrender

If I know how,

Tired of this burden

Sometimes life

Ticked down to nothing,

How many hours now

Have been dragged along

In solitude?

Pushed past razor’s

Edge against wrist

Of surrender-

If I knew how.

Those moments always settled

By fist-imprinted rock bottoms

Of foes’ sharp tongues

Thrust through ” I told you”s

I cannot give them

Even that

So small a victory,

Though I should surrender

If I knew how.

 

I survive by defiance

And a fear they’re right,

Because I am a monster

with visage and past

Violent as any horror

Movie Villain-

I know this.

But I still can’t

Seem to figure

What the fuck

Is so wrong

with being me

That it makes everyone leave

Then I remember

Reluctantly, but still,

I’d leave me too

If I knew how.

 

About “Reluctantly”

This is less a poem than it is a vomitus emoting on the page. “Reluctantly” is what results from most of sessions at the “desk” ( I actually write on my bunk, though I occasionally kick my feet up on the desk) when I’m writing to purge but can’t seem to capture my thoughts on the page. I figure this happens when I haven’t yet obsessed enough 🙂

Believe it or not, this is a revision of “Reluctantly”, I just can’t seem to get it right. I’m never really done working on a poem, so I’ll continue to play with this one even though I think it will never be anything more that practice.

Anyway, I decided to share “Reluctantly” because I feel this way a lot of the time and I guess I wonder if anyone else does too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn

Tonight while walking I saw

a daffodil sprung alone

along a spar of rotted wood

as though washed there

on tides of waving grass

Between chain-link fence

And the wall it faced

Away from me

Leaned into concrete and braced

Against it’s own shadow.

Rooted in dusk.

Yellow petals paled at edges

as if bled out around it

Onto pools of dark and floodlight

I wanted so badly

For either of us to reach

Back through the dappled gloom,

Bloomed despite our respective cages,

To grant the other a little color-

But then,

Why should a daffodil be different

Than anyone else?

.

About “Turn”

I pass a small rectangle of grass, enclosed by a chain-link fence, on my way to school.

It was a little after 7 pm, early April, and I noticed a lone daffodil growing in the middle of the grass. It caught my attention, not just because it had blossomed before even the dandelions, but because rather than leaning towards the east or some other area of sunlight it was turned toward the thirty foot concrete wall and growing within the shadow of a guard tower. I thought ” I understand” and I watched that daffodil every evening on my way to school as it’s petals began to fall off and it became almost indistinguishable from the weeds springing up around it. I guess I understand that too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About “Plain Jane”

I know this isn’t the greatest craft poem ever. It’s kind of a cutesy forgettable piece. The woman who originally inspired it is anything but forgettable. I had a rare chance to just hang out with someone whose company I enjoy and noticed she had dyed the ends of her hair blue in such a way that the color was only inside the spirals of her ponytail. I commented on how long it must have taken her to create such a cool effect and her reply was that she was such a plain Jane that she had to do something. I believe said something about her being better off that looking like central-casting’s wet dream for convict #2 in every prison movie ever made. (that is, me), but I was still thinking about her comment later that night. It really bothers me that she thinks of herself that way, she’s this totally amazing person, a beautiful person – “Plain” would never be in any description of her. So I wrote this for her.

Because it’s a personal message, I never planned to share this piece with anyone but her, however two women in the last four months have expressed similar sentiments to me with as little reason. It got me wondering why and while I don’t have a complete answer, I have come to the conclusion that feel good songs by pop stars who don’t know the women who feel this way probably have a minimal impact at best. I decided to share this piece because I don’t know ANY plain Jane’s. I’m not sure such a thing exists. If someone makes you feel like a plain Jane, it probably means they are too shallow and uninteresting a person to get to know who you are. If you feel like a plain Jane because of what society pumps, well, society is at fault for Jerry Springer, the Kardashians, and cops among it’s more egregious offences. Basically, fuck society.

I just wish this poem was better.

Plain Jane

What could be more common
Than that brown hair?Neither dark nor fair     All its gold    Sunk in light styles    Reflects the shine    Of subtleness, of care

What could be more common
Than eyes umber plain?
Such empty clay
No compassion
Nor empathy
They reach out     And give it all away
What could be more commonThan a face so bare?No Flash or flair     Host lips     Which when smiling     Make me forget     Anyone else is there

 

Quetzalcoatl

Incendiary horns

Lead soot-stained tail

Serpents body grips heart

of Jaguar

Combusts in steel-scaled coils

Relentless hunter

Stalks

Takes

Devours

Pilgrims lost as sacrifices

In ceaseless accelerated crawl

Sawed off cries less heard

Under low rumble

Of iron throated roars

Accumulated in bluffs and peaks

And ash-riddled skies

Splash crimson darkness

Against ascendant sun-

Reached steps

Rise north to more nowhere

Wishes betrayed

Like burned out stars

Finessed and left

In wake

Of the Beast.

 

 

About Quetzalcoatl

I began writing this piece after reading, The Beast, I  believe the author’s name is Oscar Martinez, an amazing book about the dangers central American’s face as they cross Mexico, by foot and train (the titular “Beast”) to reach the United States. This book was a revelation for me. I had no idea the danger, exploitation and desperation people face on the journey across Mexico. I knew there was no way for me to capture their experience, but I had to write something. I focused on the train as the embodiment of the Aztec Serpentine God, Quetzalcoatl. Admittedly, I know next to nothing about Aztec culture and I’m not in a position to do much research on the subject so what follows may be completely off base:

I am under the impression that the Aztecs were a powerful empire who often sacrificed conquered peoples to the Aztec Gods. The Aztecs, being in the area of central Mexico, felt like a reasonable stand in for the Mexican gangs, corrupt officials, and coyotes who prey on central American immigrants; however, I eventually decided not to focus on people at fault because there are just so many-and many of them no Mexican at all, but U.S. Citizens and Central Americans too. In short, there is an entire system of inter-related exploiters destroying entire generations, so I tried to represent that system in the symbol of the train as a blood-thirsty God. I utilized the “ess” sound throughout to get the reader to think of snakes, hissing etc.  I also liked the idea of using a lot of hyphenated words as a visual representation of connectedness-the connectedness of us all as humans and Americans and the way a train connects geographic locations with it’s speed and it’s tracks.

I could go on for a long time about this piece. I’ve put a lot of thought into it and it’s been through a half dozen revisions, but I’m still really unhappy with it. I thought I’d share it to see if anyone has any ideas or can correct any misinformed influences.

Thanks for stopping by!