1999

Bullet Holes & War

an homage to Gertrude Stein

Here they lie, Daddy.
Here they lie.
They are here – still here.
They lie here, still, Daddy.
Under this dirt, they lie here,
Daddy – under this dirt and
this grass and dirt and grass.
They lie here still, Daddy –
under this dirt and grass.
They are still, Daddy,
sent under this dirt and grass –
by bullet holes and war.
The bullet holes killed them,
Daddy, and now
they lie here still, under
this dirt and grass.
The war and bullet holes
killed them, Daddy –
bullet holes in their heads –
and this is where they lie.
Yes, under this dirt and grass,
Daddy, this is where they lie.
Too many, Daddy, too many
to count. Too many died, Daddy.
Too many lie here – under
this dirt and grass –
too many lie here still.
The war and bullet holes
killed too many, Daddy, and
they lie here – under this dirt
and grass.
Forgive them, Daddy –
they didn’t know – they didn’t
mean to die. They didn’t want
to kill and didn’t mean to die.
Forgive them, Daddy.
The bullet holes and war killed
them – and here they lie, under
this dirt and grass.
Too many of them didn’t know –
didn’t mean to die.
Forgive them, Daddy,
forgive them.
Too many that lie here still
(yes, under this dirt and grass)
didn’t want to kill.
Here they lie, Daddy,
under this dirt and grass.
Forgive them for dying –
for killing – forgive them, Daddy.
Under this dirt and
under this grass, where they lie.
The war and bullet holes killed
them, Daddy, and here they lie.
Can you blame them?
Forgive them, Daddy, forgive.
Here they lie – they lie still –
under this dirt and grass.

7.22.1999

Pride

Three piece suits and speedos
and fruit on the heads of men dressed as women —
painted nails, painted faces, big hair, and evening gowns.
A rush at knowing it can’t be ours —
a freedom, unreachable.

Two men kiss and a heat runs though my veins —
through the veins of all who are new to this life,
who forgot that they are also gay.
There is little pride here —
only vulnerability, concealed fabulously
with glitter and feathered boas — fear.

Young boys gather here, hoping secretly to not be noticed —
to not be picked up by a man twice their age.
Secretly, they do not know why they are here —
why they even showed up.
They think of parents and sex and how terribly hot it is
for June. They can’t love — not themselves,
not each other. Pain.

Young women need to make a statement here —
in this crowd, but they can’t.
Nothing is different; nothing unique.
They are frustrated by the uniformity
and long for a spark of difference.

In the sun they all wither.

6.1999

Hop Off, Little Lapin
for Jennie Lloyd

hop hop  skip skip  hop hop  skip!
little flowered
bunny-eared...      sugarsugar
hi!

bounce bounce  jump jump jump!
cute-in-white
halo-clad...   curtsy for the audience.

clap clap  yell yell clap clap clap!
carbonated
caffeinated        coffeecoffee
more!

wave wave  bye bye bye!
don't forget me...
I won't forget you   jenniejennie

babe!

6.5.1999

eight

The peacocks called for help as they always did,
the red dust had dulled the color of their feathers.
I figured that was the reason they called for help.
We arrived at my uncle’s farm that morning – around ten.
The hotel breakfast – a pastry and juice – was enough.
I don’t remember everything – just that
I liked those birds – and somehow
always ended up at the creek – I had chased
one of the peacocks down there, through the long vacant
hog pen – our usual route.
It was a game – and the peacock played along.
Sometimes the chase was interrupted by
Uncle Earl’s large black turkey.
The turkey would warble and hiss.
I would try to scare the turkey away,
while my companion would wait
on a nearby chicken coupe or fence post.
The birds would never follow me down to the
hay barn – I went down there for that reason sometimes.
It was always quiet and still.
I’d always find myself, eventually, on the roof
of Earl’s house – my brothers would be lost
in their world of video games,
my mother might be chatting with her cousin
on the porch – catching up from last summer.
But I would be on the roof – looking out at the immensity –
from the hay barn (just barley visible) to the creek,
running the length of the farm.
I was almost scared of it, and sitting up on the roof,
I’d plan my next rendez-vous
with the peacocks.

6.5.1999

Preston’s Hold
for Johnny

The fear. Consuming fear and self-denial.
A dream of love – a school-boy fantasy –
crushed by the vise of injustice for self, by
society. I can’t give myself to you if you hide.

Can two people know each other in darkness?
Can a heart survive the cruel coldness
of lonliness? Kiss me (I know it won’t happen)
Dream of me – of us. Kill the fear of damnation.

It is over and you are gone. I always held on
too loosely, never tried hard enough. I needed
your hands, your touch, your morning voice –
soft and honest. I needed plans, and you…

Kiss me again, this time tenderly, and tell me
it is all okay – love me from wherever you are.
More importantly, be my friend – remind me
of who I wanted and who I wanted to be.

Need is dangerous – I still feel you.

6.5.1999

The Day the Sun Died

spark! flash!
DARKNESS -
the sun went out
(it's Friday afternoon)
coldness settling
bringing death, sleep
frozen.
Long live the King!
the sun is gone.
The Son is gone.

Darkness fading into light
cold to warm
warm from cold
death is a pause -
unmoved, still, restless, alive.

flash! spark!
fires from heaven
(days since death)
the sun has returned.
The Son has returned.
belief, sincerity -
death succeeded them.

heaven opens - sky doors
take Him back.
love is dead - it died with him.
departure brings peace, chaos,
hypocrisy.
Long live the King!
the sun has returned.
the Son is gone.
Light is darkness.
coldness is warmth.
spark! flash! gone.

1999

little SUPERHEROES

we considered our capes
and took them seriously.
my brother and i, we were
powerful and strong.
we defended the universe
(or our little piece of it)
from evil forces; frogs
and butterflies and
horned-toads.
we claimed a tall elm
for our hideout. the
arsenal placed there
at our feet was perfect
to fight evil forces.
occasionally we would
capture a horned-toad,
just as we were called in
for dinner. we’d let
the horned-toad go and
we would “fly” inside.
all in a days work for
SUPERHEROES.

1999

Wanderlust

Swish, swish
wind and cold — who was there?
Who is there?
I knew you lived there —
but I don’t think I know you…
She said you’d be here —
aren’t you early.
rush, rush
confusion, speed — hold on to me…
Don’t jump ship.
She’s lost, but had a great
life. 20 years and it’s
time to sink.
Get out before your happy and
stable.
Go to Virginia or California or Washington State.
Sitting in the middle of a
crowd — right in the mosh pit —
it’s like suicide… Great Plains
murdering innocent natives.
Take me with you — Let’s go to Canada or
Connecticut — I need a coastline.

4.6.1999

Toltec Princess

Through blue and green,
through yellow grass –
she picks up her body, still heavy
from the long winter.
She yawns, stretches, begins
to creep across her home –
across the earth.
Sleep fades – the beautiful
black goddess begins to move
more swiftly than before.
Her muscles shimmer with
sunlight, moist with sweat.
She reaches up and brushes
her hundred-year-old hair,
gray with age. It trails her –
the wind catching it off her scalp,
raising it to heaven.
This feat of racing – charging through
the wood – draws a crowd –
restless spectators through the forest.

And then the enchantress sings.
Her followers’ hearts stop a moment –
they came here to hear her song.
They came for the song and the
sweet black perfume, which
rains as dust on their bodies.
She knows these people – they were
here last year, and years before;
and she loves them.
She moves her children – body and spirit.
She is strong and swift.
She is sweet.
This is 497’s dance –
a melodical ceremonial dance –
mysterious and magical and
routine. Will you wait for her?
Will you listen?

1999