Wall Crawler (A poem in haiku)

Spilled milk on carpet
Kitten cradled crux of arm
Sleep comes swift for two
(In the bedroom)

Just like Spiderman
Brother creeps up hallway walls
Above shiny cracked tiles

Slide across in socks
Goggled eyes spy brother reach
Sweet cottage cheese sky
(In the room they sleep indifferently)

Only yesterday
Made brother’s head go knock knock
Hard into the floor

Flip switch at one end
Slide back and flip the other
Out with the nightlights
(So as not to disturb the sleepers)

Brother goes to sleep
In the fetus position
Licking up spoiled milk
(Meanwhile the sleepers continue to sleep)

Forgive them he says
In the language of dreamers
For they know not what

They’ll do in a few
The cracked tile will be replaced
Brother’s head healed

And no one left to climb walls like children.

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Excerpt from “The Crash of a Lash”

Near the entrance a young man stood – a very youthful looking fellow – and stared at Jules across the way. Probably at the ever-blooming red carnation and the curls draping her shoulders. He looked over at Sue too, for a split second, not enough time to see past her glasses. Sue’s lips were painted ruby red like the color of the carnation, with the kind of lipstick that stays on the lips for a whole day. She wore a pale yellow scarf around her neck, probably because of the cold weather, but also to cover what she called crow’s feet on her neck. But rather than commenting on any of this attire, the stranger at her side said, I like your glasses. Sue said nothing and wondered what it was about her glasses there was to like. They were like any other pair of glasses. Yes, the frames had a subtle purple tint, but this was nothing out of the ordinary. She removed them from her face and wiped the lenses with the napkin that had been wrapped around her glass. The young man from the entrance now stood behind, so close she could feel his cool breath on the back of her neck. If her ears were conch shells, this young man at an advantage could lean in, and when he did he would hear erotic phrases, musings of a theorist set to violin music, the echoes of a poet’s address.

Bag My Bones

She said – perversely – that she would not love me, not in this world nor the next. That she cannot accommodate loose teeth or a bum knee.

True – my teeth will fall and my good knee will soon give way like the other, but these and this won’t matter in the next world belonging to eternity.

I tell her – this world belongs to corruption and my ailing parts provide testimony. Death is part of the natural rhythm of things. If you take my hand now, we will enter incorruption together.

She is not convinced.

She has chosen that strong, hard body over there, for its pleasures. She will leave it before it shifts shape in the mirror. She will keep it until she gets her full.

I bag my bones and rattle them in her hearing. I paint a picture and then another. I save my everlasting picture for the blind. They are always hungry.

Father said, “You’re never freer than when you bask in the wide open, under the sun, amidst the trees.”
I’ve tried what you said Father, but the sun and trees have paid no mind. Not even when I shoved a shovel into the earth and stuffed it with lifeless things.
Not even when I lay on the grass under nothing but the sun for hours with disrespectful ease.
Nobody’s watching me.

The blinds behind my bed are broken – they open only partially.
Yet, I feel the warmth that comes from the sun. I have felt it sporadically
since – I remember – burning my cheeks and eyes through the first-grade window.
I sit in this bedroom as I have for dozens of seasons,
rise to the same clamor of dishes, answer to the same holler of my name through an open or closed hallway door.
Nobody’s watching me.

The doors, windows and floors filter the voices and faces
so that what I fear most – losing you – has always already been.
In the design.

Beckett and Woolf

They posed for the sake of the shoulder. They saw it odd to stare straight and smile, waiting for a flash like we do these days (we don’t mind the blind). He might have combed his hair with his fingers first (his wavy white and gray). She might have smoothed her skirt (even though it would never appear). One cannot think of her own death when posing (unless she’s prepared). He got it right after the second try. She the first (her parted lips start to say ‘I don’t have all day.’) I want to wear my hair like hers (it takes great care to wear one’s hair loosely so that it uncoils slowly through the day). I want to navigate the straits of his face into that wide foaming open. I want to see myself the way others would dream me and then look away.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (German Film)

I discovered the story of the White Rose Society through the German film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days that I watched on Netflix instant play last night. It was nominated for best foreign language film in 2006 and I can see why. Most of the film is made up of dialogue between Sophie, an anti-Nazi activist and a Gestapo policeman, based on transcripts and letters, etc. discovered in Germany not that long ago. I reflect on this film because I find myself fixated on the idea of the power of ideology (I am nearly done reading Zizek’s The Sublime Object of Ideology) and it never ceases to amaze me how much cruelty and the worst of human behavior stems from mere ideas. This young woman Sophie and her brother, along with several others activists were decapitated for writing and distributing leaflets condemning Nazi Nationalist Socialism and how it was dragging Germany into extreme bloodshed and shame. They were immediately executed after a sham of a trial called the “People’s Court” and I cringed at how the others who watched the trial said nothing, even though I’m certain many of them must have agreed with the White Rose Society’s message. I am impressed at how my attention was captured by almost entire dialogue – a form of ideology in itself. Would I have done what these very young people had done in the face of extreme punishment? At first, Sophie denied everything. But when the Gestapo produced undeniable evidence of her involvement, she went all the way with it, even after being offered a deal that could have saved her life. The most heart wrenching part for me was when her parents visited her in prison before her execution and they said their goodbyes, her father proud that she made the right (conscientious) choice. Was it? She and the other members of the society are now considered some of the greatest heroes of modern-day Germany, and their message has been spread and explored and honored internationally. I recommend watching this film and then researching the information it is based upon. It’s easy to divert our eyes in the face of something so beyond comprehension, but something happens when we force ourselves to do so. Let me know your reaction if you go ahead and explore this film and its story.

“Beauty Other Than” wins Midwest Literary Magazine’s Chapbook Contest 2011

My poetry collection, “Beauty Other Than” has won Midwest Literary Magazine’s Chapbook Contest 2011. It will be released and published later this year. Below is an excerpt poem from the section, “From the Neck Down”:

Meet

Two muzzles meet
at a distance
held back by leashes
wrapped around rough
cold hands

One bows
tail wagging
The other rises
ears erect

Eye to eye
sniffing and sensing
leashes now dangle

Tips of hats meet
through hesitant air

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