The Vitreous Surface of Grief: And, a Death on Halloween


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“Will I always feel this way?
So empty, so estranged?”
From the song “Empty” by Ray Lamontagne

Shadows spill in green tendrils across oiled waters. I probe the murky, moschate depths with a long, soggy stick. My hands are black and muddied. Reeds whistle beside me. A seagull mews somewhere far away. Minims of sweat glisten and drop from the end of my nose. I can taste the paracme, the tongue-slitting, nascent edge of the end.

A frog burbles to the vitreous surface. Two aurific eyes shimmer at me, bright as egg-yokes. With a gulp, they vanish. I can smell slime. My fingers balter through the mud. I am waiting. I am always waiting.

The sun spits in my eye and I turn away, longing for the tenebrous clouds of the foggy North to sidle down and cast me in a casket of embalming gloom.

I am addicted to desolation. I ache for darkness, cold and decay.

And then a cool wind finally came. Its chilled fingers ruffled my hair and it made the back gate moan plangorously against its flaking hinges. I reveled, I pranced, I forgot my little pain.

A mouse came in the night. He settled himself in a soft, grey ball beside my feet, nose nuzzling the coarse, back-door rug. I watched him take slow, solemn breaths, his sable eyes squinting, mordant. He died in the wash of a final sunrise that milked across a violescent sky, on the dawn of Halloween. Creatures come to me to die, sometimes.

The ants are burrowing into his raisin eyes, now. In a week or three, his tiny white mouse skull will be decoration on my desk.

There is always a glimmer through grief.

“Walk on down the hill
Through the grass grown tall and brown
And still it’s hard somehow to let go of my pain
On past the busted back
Of that old and rusted Cadillac
That sinks into this field collecting rain”
– From the song “Empty” by Ray Lamontagne

Craggy Fool


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A hairnet of pink lightning
Flames across glum skies
Shadows saunter, charcoaling
The Sea’s velvet skin

October wind coos
Across ruffled iron peaks
The Brine percolates
Each heaving sigh beckoning

Where the Seashells Go Galloping
Violently out of place
Craggy Fool remains
Askew at the tide-line
Like a lazy sketch

Sea Wheeze
His bulged back still aches
From last night’s dune-pillowed sleep
Nascent rain oozing
Down the minefield of his face

Tender Little Sea-Monster
A lifetime of anomie
Stings in his shoulders
His nails chew through leather palms
His eyes cloud with Storm

He envies the clams
Where dungeons feel like Home
And little mole crabs
Soothed by every ruthless blow

Hairy Waves and Feathered Thoughts
Silent moments
Rarely come
Through the ocean thrum

From cinder plumes
Scavengers plunge
Ranting, brash and loud

Where the Ocean Embalms
Tearing out his thoughts, like guts
Twirling filipendulous

Spotted Only with a Magnifying Glass


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onlyseenwithamagnifyingglass She is spotted only
with a magnifying glass,
an animalcule
with limescaled wings
And a dusky face.

Clinging to
a breathing blade
of dancing
she sees
the fractals flash
in a fury of green-
the mosaics of her
shieling sea.

The dawn scatters
in a migraine of hues,
the aurific daal’mist
sibilant around this
unseen and muted thing.

Waiting to be flicked
by a snapping finger
of prairie wind,
she watches the world,
as listless as a carcass,
through a cage
of tangled light
and vying stems.

Every Crushing Step


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flowerb-0559A humble path,
furry with
emerald moss
and splashed
in blue shadow.

A shiny-backed beetle
suns himself
on a cold
molar-sized stone,
then shuffles off
into a copper sea
of leaves.

flowerc-0317So many
roving feet
traverse here.

A horse gallops by
bold and solid
his chestnut sides
He is followed
by the stab
of deer hooves
swift in flight.

leavesb-0243Now comes
my own restive shoe
and pebble-filled
to bumble through.

Yet there you grow
tiny purple bloom
as if every crushing step
will always miss you.flowerc-1104

Another Twilight Hanging


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AHangingAtTwilightI saw a coyote last night. There was a tattered hole in his left ear. I almost missed him, perched there on the porous sidewalk, his lemon eyes glazed in the orange glow of the streetlight, his tumbleweed tail thumping soundlessly.

I shuffled on, my shins swishing like plastic bags.

I noticed a glint of black blood on the pavement. Just a drop or two.

ThisGardenofAleThey shoveled up the rest of my remains, yesterday morning. I listened to profanities slung by the strident tongues of the Grey Men. They chipped at the concrete. I listened to their shovels scrape and scratch.

“Smells like hell but at least I’m not coughin’ up flies,” one said to the other, his shovel dripping.

“I ain’t seen a single maggot,” the other agreed, and nodded, digging back into the heap.

There was a groan and a metallic suction and crunch accompanied by the blinking back-up beeps of the garbage truck.

I felt a seizure welling up.

Bramble-3767A mockingbird attempted to conquer the din. Ten years swam by. Hoarse and vanquished, I watched him fly against the watery-brown sky and vanish.

I once held a baby bird, a couple summers ago. The tiny creature, lighter than a fistful of sunflower seeds, quivered violently with life and burned my hand. I dropped it. Just before the cat pounced, I plucked it up again and set it in the sink.

Its eyes, like two drops of midnight, leered up at me, its pale neck of string nearly snapping- and with a peculiar rictus grin splitting its face apart, it commenced its screams for sustenance.

No harm done.

ShunnedbyScavengersSome scraps from my corpse never quite made it into the truck. Some pieces were never going to budge.

A slurry of vultures descended for inspection. They poked and rasped and then looked at each other in disgust.

I watched them shrug and mount the bilge-water sky in a flurry of razor-black wings. Even the scavengers reject my remains.

WhereTheCoyotesSleepThe sun is pooling on the horizon now, in the garden of ales. Bottles glitter, poking up from the mud like stakes. Another wistful twilight hanging, the air sharp with the scent of broken twigs.  The faceless doll in the background keeps spinning, dangling from the thumb of a branch.

The moon sweeps over. Distant lights yawn. The clouds are shorn by a gust of oven wind.  I see the coyote again, stretching in the middle of the road, his ear whistling. I whisper a muffled apology to him- though, I know not why.

He gives me a lopsided look, his lemon-ball eyes in slits. A carnivorous smile swims across his inky lips.

EveningShornApartA hiss of headlights reflects on a fleck of bone. I become encompassed in a warm deluge. I stare up from the bottom and allow myself to drown.

The ripples above never seem to end.

Fade to Grain…


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Rain-9284Olitory rain; a rain-forest in the kitchen, again. Time for a change. Time for an adventure. Time to let the ceiling-cascade water the counter-top-basil-and-sage.

Time to escape.

RainReflection-9160“Time runs along a linear plain, they say. Nothing remains the same. Thus, we can never turn back, again.”

Pompous, highfalutin windbag…

Another dull interplay as Traffic Light refuses to change.

“You see, this is known as the arrow of time, which describes the asymmetrical nature of Time, and…”

Please…Eat your…


Bunched traffic left in a puddle, behind.

What am I doing? What have I been doing all these years?

Unraveling like an old sweater.

Rain-9318All my life, pushing quaint little notes under the slouching fence.  But I see no familiar, vibrant-faced recipient peeping back at me through the shadowy gap in the moldered boards. I only see darkness.

She must have grown up and moved away.

Rain-9346How pretty mold can be, as it glitters in the rain.

Rain-9389She used to snack on fistfuls of buttercups in the field and make her eyes turn white.  She liked to snarl like a mountain bear and play basketball on roller-blades.  And how she loved wild toads.

RainC-9494I have found it- another abandoned place to jauk about, dispensing disheveled, nullibiquitous thoughts out into the ether.

Rain-9475Let the leak in the dysphoric sky wash me like a houseplant.  How lovely to watch each drop scatter the dust.

Rain-9545That liminal phase- I wander through a succession of tropical depressions, a soggy bindle sagging over my shoulder.

Rain-9522A golden-eyed hobo toad searching for a secluded little hovel- preferably filled with mud and rain and, preferably, beneath a mossy stone.

Rain-9574A snort of lightning- a sniffle in the clouds- a sneeze of wind.

Rain-9420When is that point at which the pain of change is less than that of remaining the same?

Rain-9441“You’re beautiful,” she said, “and as gentle as a gale.”

The other day, I noticed that I was missing another tooth.

Rain-9450I keep digging under that same old soggy fence, searching for her bones…

I scuffle away, lutose and mildly bemused.  The usual state.

Rain-9265Time to face the traffic.  Time to shuffle on back, back to the swampy garden on the counter-top.  Back to unraveling into a stringy bundle on the floor.

Back to Entropy.

Fade to grain.

Sometimes, Silence is Reckless…


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(Some experimental refractions.  Thank you for drizzling by.)

MentalErosionThe clattering waves. The intractable sky. Mute again, with gloomy grey eyes. A bit of bone cuts into my thumb. A touch of wind whispers through decaying feathers. I do not remember the last thing I felt before the embalming.

AbandoningSometimes, Silence is reckless.

PurgatoryMy mind is fossilized. As lively as the oldest stone. I lean back on the retracting cushion of Entropy, and gaze blankly toward the heavens. How dazzling is this thatch of scattering sparrows; how enchanting their dance of dewdrop shadows.

RelapseThorny bliss is this mindlessness, oblique amongst the dried thistle and snapping bramble. I can vaguely hear it, somewhere wrapped in gauze; a little Life fizzing at the bottom of the quiet stream, beyond.

Like a mosquito, I insert a needle into it, now and then.

RecklessSilenceIt is easy to forget the threat of a wave’s smooth caress, that its languorous massage of oblivion is still a form of erosion.

Breathing2When I was a child, my favourite thing to draw was a noose.

TheMomentBeforetheFalterHe rang the other night. I could hear that his lips were cracked and bleeding. He wept and begged forgiveness, but I had never felt slighted to begin with. Yet, my response was blank-eyed silence. There was only the sound of the restive wind moaning through the eaves to answer for me.

PugnatiousSkiesHow stealthy a foe is this stifling captor; like a cashmere cloud, its downy coolness yawned over me. Its strangeness seemed safe, nestled inside its gossamer embrace, bound in a world without senses or thought. I am far too gone to feel alarm, now.

TheBreathofEntropySometimes, love is just impotent rage that is a little too tired to bear its bulbous face.

TenacityofGriefWhat an obdurate knot Shame so deftly creates, twisting away, as the years smoothly slip by, pressure mounting against my spine.

FlyingonaFeversBackRegaining a pulse requires resurfacing. To drag the bloated body from the turgid depths. To pry open its chalky eyes, exposing them to the bone light of the wild ocean sky, above. To kiss its mucid, slimy visage and blow through its cold stringy-white lips.

DejectionTo let the cherry rivulets of pus and water drain from the self-inflicted punctures.

HoldingOnI do not know if I will dry out, chafe these wrists, and feel again. I despise the sound of my own voice, the rattle and scrape of my defunct brain and the trepid rasp of my rusty breath.

LayDowntoCompostSometimes, though, Silence can be much deadlier than the noose.

“Every Sin is an Attempt to Fly…”


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Night-0387“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always gotten there first, and is waiting for it.”
– Yousuf Karsh

Night-0450“Night does not show things, it suggests them.”
– Brassaï

Night-0393“Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness.”
– Simone Weil

Night-0457“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?”
– Rene Descartes

Night-0480“Very hopeful faces always seem on the edge of despair.”
– Alasdair Gray, 1982 Janine

“To The Artist There is Never Anything Ugly…”


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SkinnedElbow-BW“If reality fails to fill us with wonder, it is because we have fallen into the habit of seeing it as ordinary.”
– Brassaï

AnOldStare-BW-1179“Even the most miserable life is better than a sheltered existence in an organized society where everything is calculated and perfected.”
– Federico Fellini

Drowning-BW-5628“To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.”
– Auguste Rodin

SilkenContemplation-BW-0674“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”
– Albert Einstein

How I Wish There Were No End to Rain


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Ocean-bw-8404-BIII loomed beneath a dark feathering of sea-oats, pointed tips glazed with recent rain. I listened to the subdued murmur of little waves. The fetid and russet beds of sea-wrack had been washed away, leaving the sand barren and strange. A forlorn gull loitered at the swash line, analyzing the crinkling water as it fizzed in and out.

Beach- bw-8456-BDistant lightning lazily branched from the moody-blue squall-lines and spidered across a sullen sea of herbal green. Coy ghost crabs emerged, removing dark masses of dripping sand from drowned burrows. They built little, lumpy mounds around the entrances to their small, black holes.

The storm was leaving me. How I longed for it to stay.

Beach- bw-8441-BI was tortured the other night, seized with the memory of my little Siamese cat squeezing her eyes tightly shut for the last time. How swiftly she was gone, her soft, cinnamon cheek resting upon a colorful, flowing blanket that masked the metal slab beneath. I had never seen an animal euthanized, before. I understood, logically, that it ended the physical misery of her little, bony body.

Yet, how troubled I am by that last image of peace…of life tenderly released.

Beach- bw-8742-BMy mum died of a similar ravenous kind of disease. I remember that final image. Her face waxen and unreal, her mouth a small, black hole. She did not tightly close her eyes. She was not escorted quietly, through a warm wash of sleep, into the darkness beyond. Yet, I was not so disturbed by her image in death. And how vividly there lacked any look of peace…

Beach- bw-8752-BI do not know what that reveals about me.

But I wish the storm would never leave. I want, forever, to hear its screams over this cold and fleeting sea of herbal green. How I wish there were no end to rain. Just as there seems to be no end to Grief.

Ocean-bw-8411-B“Darkness settles on the ground
Leaves the day stumbling blind,
Coming to a quiet close
And maybe just in time”
– From the song God Only Knows by Joe Henry