II. Thorns

Garden of Dreams

Nothing is as it seems.
Sometimes there appears to be no gain
Here in the garden of dreams.
The fruits of my labor seem in vain.
The butterfly screams.
The maggot deems
My flesh the milk of demise.
I pass through the garden door,
In awful surprise.
But I am wiser than before.

Fast-Falling Night

When I was young, how young I was!
How bright was the sun when I would live forever!
How clear was my cause,
When nothing was my endeavor!

How long was the day!
How clear was my sight,
Until fast-falling night
Changed my perspective in every way.

Ode to Grieving Poetry

Praised be poetry inspired of seething grief,
Though wrought of unpolished words and rough lines.
No poem was composed of greater belief
In the power a poignant stanza defines!
Blessed be song born on uncertain quills,
Distress poured freely forth from anguished throats,
Whose lyrics the crudest comfort impart!
Sing on, verse whose theme a troubled soul stills –
Intoned in mourning’s delirious notes
That solace an aspiring poet’s heart!

Forgive Me, Teacher

Forgive me, teacher – your wayward student,
Belatedly returned to the straight track.
Would that your wisdom might judge prudent
Reassessment, now that I have come back.
Though woefully late to heed guidance spurned!
And all my textbooks long rendered to dust!
I was made to see as you once avowed.
I am sincere at last – my lessons learned!
This solemn praise of scholarship, I trust,
Should raise your sullen brow and make you proud.


Farmer, from dawn to dusk in faithful toil,
You endure without asking or knowing
The final price of servitude to soil –
Never reaping quite as much as sowing,
Trading seasons for an interest of years,
Your harvest in labor twice over paid.
Summer grows shorter, and winter colder.
Your eyes grow dim, but your debt never clears,
Till a most grim reaper, with honed blade,
Comes leaning on your languishing shoulder.


Weep, children, with a thousand tears!
With a voice of one, wail your plight!
Assert the weight of all your attrited years!
Plead in vain to the deaf and bottomless night!

Time, in its wanton apathy,
Envenoms with seconds and hours
All to the heartless hold of infinity.
Milk of youth in the space of a moment sours.

Time conquers with a sure onslaught –
The slaughter of a silent thief,
Reducing all consequence to utter naught,
Gradual so as to rob mourning of grief.

With pendulums that never cease,
With a broad, meticulous sweep,
Beats the cadence of the celestial timepiece,
Across the vast reaches of eternal deep.

Cross a sea of corrupted blood,
Rise the waves that never subside!
What day may escape the omnipotent flood?
What creature crawl from the inexorable tide?

I Wish to Think

I wonder what perverted mind
Designed the lion’s mane,
And made the shark and all its kind,
And gave the cobra bane.

What hand set the hare in its hole,
What cruel, sadistic sort,
That arranged for a timid soul
To be the hunter’s sport!

What fiend would wean a worm on silk!
What sick and twisted thought,
That puts the poison in the milk,
To make a calf’s flesh rot!

What monster formed the vicious test
That fashions trusting heads,
Then snatches fledglings from the nest,
And children from their beds.

I wish to think that some fair power
Will compensate for pain,
And see that each and every flower
Gets equal shares of rain.

I wish to think, before I part,
As my destruction nears,
There must have been some gentle heart
That gave these sad eyes tears.

Winds on the Acropolis

Winds on the acropolis, forth expelled
Across unforgiving waves, daily blow.
By an ancient unkept promise compelled,
Moan mournful words of many morns ago.

It is I, Theseus, no more to roam,
With redeeming account of my story,
Victorious, arrived from my fight!
Aegeus, your son is safely home,
Whose brow is crowned in glory,
Whose ships return with sails of white!

Ghost from a Wishing Well

He strikes at the stroke of midnight,
At the last peel of a distant bell,
When the dark owl sounds the witching hour,
And the laments of the bullfrogs swell.

He appears in a moonlit bower,
When the rings round the moon are bright,
Whispering a wish that he once made –
A wandering ghost from a wishing well.

He creeps slowly through the tall grass,
For a reason only he may tell,
Concealing his face beneath a shroud,
When whippoorwills from their mantles cry.

His shadow falls across the window,
A silhouette of the deepest shade,
When the cold wind murmurs through the trees
Of promises broken long ago.

He hides behind the lilac bush,
When clouds sweep low across the night sky,
Waiting for his penitence to pass,
Calling some mystical name out loud.

He gives the gate a gentle push,
Canting the words of some ancient spell.
But there is no magic to appease
A wayward ghost from a wishing well.


Behind a cloud-veil hidden,
The stars turned their gaze away
From scenes in heaven forbidden –
A parable of dismay.

Woe was she!
And for what yearning?
Such that she could not see
Beyond the fire of her soul burning.

Stately proceeded the lady of night,
Shadow-shrouded her dark face,
Raven-haired, and robed in white,
Stirred from her restless resting place.

Wandering, squandering an infinity,
Upon the swards of yester thought,
In search of tranquility
That death alone could not wrought.

Among the cool stones,
Wailing of doom,
Liberated of flesh and bones,
Stepped she from tomb to tomb,

Her misery sung, for a hundred years,
Of fortune missed and love lost,
Unassuaged by time or tears,
Turned straightway to silver frost.

For the cup of death
Quenched not her thirst
For another drink of breath
As fresh as was her first.

Raised she the goblet of fate
To blood-ruby lips pursed in prayer,
But did not partake of the sacramental bait
Laid to venom her soul to eternity’s lair.

Cheered the noblest ghosts,
Made numb by endless procrastination,
And raised the wine of empty toasts
To her refused consecration.

And sounded the mocking howl
Of wind upon the fog-scented air.
And scorned the night owl
From his secret chair,

Until the face of dawn
With widening eyes
Of denial looked on
In feigned surprise,

While an usher of mist
Bore her from the ceaseless fray,
From the guest list
Of another day.

Thus, to her sepulcher she retired,
To abide another morrow,
Where she dreamed, and conspired,
And silently sipped the spirit of sorrow.

On the Eyes of Those Who Reminisce

They glide like specters along the wayside,
Shadowy visions of a life gone by;
Scenes of happiness that appear then hide –
A sore heart more a portion to deny.
There! They are there! Does your mind see them not?
– Those days far away removed from worry,
When joy was all and sorrow had no say –
Remembrances in fevered wishes wrought.
If you would seize them you must hurry!
Savor the significance while you may!

Now they are gone, like phantoms of tired mead,
Long faded as gray into the fog night,
Passing on with inestimable speed,
Out across the limit of mortal sight,
As lamplight that flickers on fair faces
Only to be trimmed until the flame seems
Never to have burned but in rhymes amiss.
Fled are the ghosts of those haunted places,
Though the silhouettes are sufficient for dreams
Left on the eyes of those who reminisce.

Snapdragons Blooming in the Bower

My head clouds as though draped in shrouds of fate;
Shadows wrought by sudden remembered scenes
That fill full my heart as with some leaden weight.
In my eye I find no viable means
Of extricating joy from this dark hour.
When the dream is done, the price must be paid!
Unseemly that I should glean rue this day
From snapdragons blooming in the bower!
But sunshine gives way to deepening shade –
This moment and I shall soon fade, as they.


There is a shadow in the glass,
A spirit in the candle light.
There is a ghoul’s sneer in the night,
A specter on the window sash.
We are not alone in this room!
In the jack-o’-lantern’s dim glow
Burns a hint of impending doom.
Does he know something we don’t know?

All Hallows’ Eve

‘Tis from the hollow, mists arise
To drift beneath the autumn skies,
To usher in a dark surprise
The night of righteousness’ demise.

Upon the rising moon they spread,
Like shrouds upon the waking dead,
The trappings of a silver bed,
From which all evil things are bred.

When wind blows through the barren trees,
There spreading as some foul disease,
There piping fearful melodies
Of never-ending tragedies,

When mischief-laden fingers snatch
The pumpkins frosted in the patch,
And in them fires of brimstone light,
And make the souls of darkness bright,

When ghouls awaken in their graves,
When vampires burst forth from their staves,
When fleshless bones arise to war,
And venture from perdition’s store,

When banshees howl out from the mire,
When werewolves sing their wicked choir,
When ghostly rites all souls inspire,
And magic sets the moon on fire,

When wake the monsters yet untold,
When zombies march the open road,
When demons lurk beyond the gate,
And darkness holds a dreadful fate,

Then know the night of doom is here,
The dawn of everlasting fear,
The opening of an evil door
All Hallows’ Eve has come once more.

“All Hallows’ Eve!” The beasties cry.
On Hallows’ Eve, the witches fly.
On Hallows’ Eve, hell’s creatures spy.
On Hallows’ Eve, all good things die.

Shadow Man

There is a shadow man beneath my bed
Waiting there until the night.
He fills my waking hours with dread –
Anticipation of his fright.

He’s waiting there to ambush me,
And show me a macabre sight.
But the wait to see what it will be
Is much more dreadful than his bite.

The One True Word

Song of the lich owl,
Serenading banshee’s howl,
Wind in the church gate yearning,
Corpse-candle brightly burning,
The late-night comet’s dearth,
hose silent mounds of earth,
The shadow man on the moon,
All speak the one true word.
Haven’t you already heard?
Listen carefully. You shall hear it soon.


Sing, unspeakable choirs of perdition.
Stay not thy pernicious hand.
Keep thy blood-corrupted threat.
Mow an awful harvest.
Lay low the heavens in contrition.
Make irrevocable reprimand.
Forge the foundations of eternal regret.
Kindle sulfurous hell.
The luminaries, of light divest.
Place the first last, and the last first.
In heinous execution,
Let thy prodigious ranks swell.
Loose thy relentless riders – thy henchmen.
Quench thy abominable thirst.
Strike, apocalyptic instant of obliteration!
I am beyond trepidation,


The sandman sows the seeds of sleep
Upon a fertile field of eyes,
Thus, piles up heaps of souls to reap.
It comes as no big surprise,

That the sandman’s final caper
Gathers up sleepy dust from bone,
Turns tender eyelids to paper,
And sleeping children to stone.

Funeral for a Crone

A crone fell in the snow,
And whether softened by the blow,
None shall ever know.
But the softhearted ones crooned low,
Lamenting notes of sorrow,
That she was gone, and they tomorrow.


Love is a disease,
A rat-trap cheese,
A moth’s desire
For candle fire.
Love is a drug,
Pheromone for a bug
A kiss and a hug
Like beer to a slug.
Love is a lie,
An attempt to deny
That chemicals control
An animal’s role.

Tread Softly My Heart

Tread softly my heart
The petal path I strew
Delicately at your feet!
Through blossoms I impart
My reverence of you!
With flowers I entreat!
Pray thee, do not cast
My tear-wet words aside
At your mercy I lie!
Without care I can’t last!
Without your gentle stride,
I would soon wither and die.

In the Jubilation of my Zenith

The ship sailed westward,
High and blown
On billowing clouds, across the day,
A fiery hull taking the azure ocean away,
Bringing in its wake a low light.
Creeping up from the east came a schooner,
Riding on lengthening shadows,
Rising upon a tide of dusk.
And from remote places,
The beacons of distant ships,
Scattered out across the endless seas, glistened.

And I, in the jubilation of my zenith,
Was but a drop of water,
But a grain of sand.

Here, Before the Cold Hearth, Weary

Here, before the cold hearth, weary,
I’ve nothing simple words might say
To meet the falling night’s inquiry
Of moonlight dimming in the bay.

Beyond the dripping window pane,
Ancient pipers are softly playing
Rhythmic notes above the rain,
To the gods of tempest praying,

For the souls of bygone yearning,
For the want of lasting memory,
For the loss of life love burning,
Singing of what used to be.

Once they piped a tune so merry,
Echoed upon mountain heights,
Called across the rolling prairie,
Played upon such wondrous sights.

Once they danced upon the morning,
Saw life wake so long ago,
Songs of temporal creatures scorning,
In the time-long score they blow.

Now the tune so melancholy
Carries out across the trees,
Blows the notes of mortal folly,
Moaning low the mournful breeze.

Bringing on the dark so dreary,
Shadows from the threshold creep.
Here, before the cold hearth, weary,
Slowly drifting off to sleep,

In my final thoughts of waking,
I hear an ageless symphony,
Instruments of heaven’s making,
Play a midnight song for me.

Before I Slip into that Faraway

Before I ease into that final sleep,
Ease away into the close of day,
Slip inexorably into the endless deep,
Before I slumber, I have something to say.
Can you tell me why I am here?
Can you tell me where to go?
Can you make it very clear?
Gods, I’d really like to know!
And so, in fervent fear, I pray.
I fall to lamenting fears.
I lay my soul on deaf ears,
Before I slip into that faraway.

Beneath your Eye of gold

Beneath your eye of gold,
The centuries unfold,
The seasons pass on by.

Beneath your eye of gold,
All reasoning grows old,
All praises to the sky.

Beneath your eye of gold,
For summer days untold,
You’ve watched your children cry.

Beneath your eye of gold,
You let our hearts grow cold.
You’ve never told us why.

Tree of Life

With woe my heart is swollen,
From thy licentious truth.
My blind faith has been stolen.
A withered bud of youth!

Cultivation has induced
A cultivar so crude.
All my seeds of hope produced
A tree utterly lewd –

A vine hopelessly tangled,
That reason cannot wrest
From trust that it has mangled
This thorn thrust in my breast.


On the unsheathed falchion of divine leave
Death coils his merciless fingers of ice,
With a broad sweep of his falciform sleeve,
Reaps a swath of souls unto his device.

The virtuous, along with the tainted,
To utter oblivion are fated.
And naught but time and darkness is sainted,
When spirits to ashes are translated.


Goblin of festering womb,
Let it be thy tomb!
Loathsome conception,
Pathos’ vile inception,
Seed of fecund rue,
Beyond the corridor,
There is horror in store,
And nothing more for you.

The Feast

These grapes sore quench my thirst,
Burst blood-red within my breast.
Best kill the fatted lamb for another beast,
Least bring me fare that may satisfy.
Cry foul this invitation forced to honor,
Whore-son the butler, gruesome the cutlery,
Deviltry the host who will not show.
Go I then without a lasting trace?
Face me first, I pray thee, please.

Allah Smiles Tonight

Allah smiles tonight
With a jaundiced eye,
Too blind to consider the maxims,
Too stingy to bestow a flask of oil
To anoint the gaping wounds
His scimitar has slashed wide open.
Allah’s smile is barbed tonight,
Another wakeful night wresting
With his magnate bearing, his knavery,
Indulgent in the impunity of power,
Licking his lower lip in lustrous denial
His only innuendo, a reflection of his fiery soul.

Dictate of Oblivion

O dictate of oblivion, master of eternal never,
Almighty judge, omnipotent magnate,
Damn my wretched being to fate –
This existence expiring in a rush towards forever.
Blind are my eyes to all but your face.
I await your dreadful kiss,
Your utter embrace –
Precarious my soul, resigned to totter at the edge of the abyss!


Croon, croon the ancient tune,
The loon-note moan the ancients croon.
You view the song within the moon,
The melody, the meter, the rune.
Croon of lost bloom,
The soon-coming doom.
Slowly groan of flesh and bone.
Lowly go and croon alone.
Swoon long and low at nocturnal noon.

Eternal Romance

I am in love with death,
My only redeemer of breath,
My only true lover,
His vow like no other
Our betrothal from birth.
I shall take him to bed.
Forever shall we wed,
And elope from this earth.

Sad and Sleepy Twilight

Sad and sleepy twilight,
Lie your head upon the breast of night.
Weary time has come and gone.
Pillow your soul on tranquility.
Make your bed a starry flight.
Beneath a blanket of eternity,
Slumber until dawn.
Slumber until dawn.

Your Fire

Where did your fire go –
That last candescent glow
Of light, of life, of thought,
That once burned so hot?
That final spark of divinity
Lifting in a wisp to infinity!

Dry Leaf

Oh, dry leaf, insignificant and transient,
Formed so, and abandoned so,
That your passing should have a fixed course,
That your rustling might linger for a time more,
That remembrance of your passing might linger,
This is the core want of my substance.
This is the dire need of my soul, oh, dry leaf.


I drank a very bitter cup.
It tasted much like rue.
‘Twas folly sure to pick it up.
Have you been drinking, too?

Let me treat you to a higher state.
An elixir is what we need –
Laughter’s prime inebriate!
A panacea indeed!


Something’s out in the garbage bin,
Too loud for just the rain,
And not quite in rhythm for wind.
But it’s too hard to tell in this din,
With the moon gone and the stars turned in.
Almost impossible to catch a fiend!
By morning there will only be muddy paw prints
And fish fins left over from dinner,
Scattered around the bushes by a goblin.


Tearful hymns from midnight gate,
These fallen spirits expiate
Their nightly deeds with doleful cries,
And wear the wit of ancient guise,
And catch the moon on moon-disk eyes.
Who? Who?

Winter’s Hand

Winter, fiendish hand of destruction,
Slowly steals the green from every leaf –
Ruthlessly crushes life’s production
With the touch of a murderous thief.
Winter’s blow feints high then creeps low,
To spread a most malignant disease –
Dragon’s teeth sown in the guise of snow,
That raise skeletons where there were trees.

Teeth of Winter

Icicles gnash along the eave,
Aligned like rows of icy fangs,
A point of bitter luck to grieve.
In a balance, cold and hot hangs.

Snowflakes, hardened by their chill lot,
Put their jagged teeth on display,
Their hearts frigid, their tempers hot,
Until sun warms their hate away.

Praying Mantis

She kneels before the judgment chair,
Arms folded in reverent prayer,
In the heart of her saintly lair.
A pilgrim passes by in quest,
Is fast transfigured in her nest,
As lay against her loving breast.


Roses have thorns
That poison the blood.
Roses deceive,
Bloom stained from the bud.
Do not believe
The promises spoken,
As vanity’s token
A tender touch scorns.


I witnessed you bathing in napalm rain,
Baptized into being,
Outgrowing immortality,
Sprouting serpent scales
Where there was skin as smooth
As innocence,
Shedding your egg tooth altogether.

Flower Wilted

I saw a flower wilted,
Her fairness browned away.
She had her nature quilted
In full obscene display.
No longer would the bees abide,
Her nectar to obey.
No longer could her petals hide
The meanness of her way.


A silver-white star Cried,
“How great we are,
Me, myself, and I,
Up here in the sky,
The quintessence of divinity,
Masters of infinity.
We are here to stay,
While all else melts away.”


Treacherous thy rule
Of feeding and deeding
Thy poisonous function,
Void of compunction!
Take breath from breath!
Make death from death!
Yet, in your creed,
Stand alone!
No toad king
Will ever sing
Praise of thy breed,
Or use thee for a throne.


Demon of stagnant water,
Pandora’s foulest daughter,
What twisted architect’s plot
Contrived thy devious lot?
From what rank cesspool of hell
Did such evil bud and swell?
What foul fiend’s forge formed thy sting
To bring pestilence on wing?
Mosquito, thy name is death,
The sole purpose of thy breath
To bleed and taint on thy stave
Souls to agony and grave.
When thy creator formed thee,
Did he mindfully agree
To free a scourge of thy kind,
Or act in a fevered mind?

Let Us Prey

This fine hour,
Let us devour.
Let us eat,
As we are eaten.
Let us beat,
As we are beaten.
Let us thank
The living food bank.
This wholly new day,
Let us prey.


A poisonous snake is gliding
Along a tortuous track.
A poisonous snake is hiding
And sliding behind your back.
Her tapered head is drawing slack.
Her gaze is glazed with guile.
She slithers with a knowing knack.
Beware her crafty smile.

The Shallow End of the Pool

Survival of the fittest
Is not a guarantee
That a species’ very best
Will climb the family tree.
The will to proliferate
Is the genetic rule
Of breeds degenerate,
In the shallow end of the pool.

In Oklahoma

They taught me how to kill in Oklahoma,
Made me blend in with the green and the polish,
And sound off, one, two, three, four,
Made me mean, a fighting machine,
With no regard as to why I must be inclined so,
To go low, and go high, and snatch, and mask,
Without missing a beat or smelling the gas,
Perform all tasks in a military manner,
Stand at attention, stand at ease, hurry and wait,
To the rear march, company halt, forward again.

They taught me how to kill in Oklahoma,
To string a lanyard so as not to blow off my hand,
The mathematical precision of tangents and trajectories,
How to place a projectile for optimum radius,
This is my rifle, this is my gun,
To sling and unsling fast as a blink,
Field strip any weapon with closed eyes,
To crawl low like a snake and strike swiftly,
To run through a mine field in my sleep,
To jump from a helicopter without breaking,
To take the blow with the shoulder,
To go for the throat with a standard choke hold,
To pierce the kidney so it bleeds sufficiently,
To catch a bullet without crying out,
To die without denying I did it like a pro.

They taught me how to kill in Oklahoma.
But all I wish to remember,
Was sitting on a howitzer one evening,
Watching the sky turn from peach to lavender.


I am an insubstantial bit
Of thought, a wish, a pondering,
A fleeting whit, a wistful wit,
In a welkin realm wandering.

I am the figment of a rhyme,
On a flight of fancy drifting,
A slight handful of sand sifting
Slowly through the fingers of time.

I am a whisper of rumor,
Litany uttered with a lisp.
I am a few drops of humor.
I am a frail and fleeting wisp.