Sleep, Lover Lies

You sleep with your mind awake.

I see you twitch and worry as I 

Lie inside your watching, along.


Your body tells your story, the 

One about anxious defenses, and

Hilly motoric reflex, fortress wall.


A rage induced, childhood fascists,

A jealous brother usurping control,

Lorded over a boyhood’s landscape.


And the son who became the man, 

Who took fury to the world, coated

Like enamel, wolfish covetousness.


Stuff it all, beers and candy, yearn

To a carefree kid, the promised life

Of firstborn fortune, fiefs forever.


Lost, love, in stifled cries un-yelled

Swallow in dragon-ful dreamscapes 

Yawn fire through loins and islands.


Bleed worlds inside a wall-safe, keep

Cupped palm close a vampire’d lust.

Despise the rest as marauding cheats.


Still I watch, tender-horrified aghast,

Thumb to forefinger circle poked hate

Necessity, wrench-tightens hope-bolt.


Awaken yet, chestnut eye transcribes

Silence to story and mawkish, stolen

Laments death, sleep and secrets bare.


Sleeping with the enemy, I gaze, boring 

Holes in the skull’s soft, vulnerable hind

Sight, believe too in my own enemy-love.


Lovers-valentine-lying: pixabay

Fear and Loathing: Ten for Today

September 11, 2016

“I’m sorry, so, so sorry!”

She apologized like this several times over the two-hour class that had begun at 7:20 a.m. that Tuesday in 2001. Her words flew automatically, frantically from her mouth—apologizing. But she might as well have wrung her hands or put her face in her hands, saying she didn’t understand—like the rest of us.

We were stunned. I made them write about it. Some could just lay their heads atop their papers on those small college desk/table units. I was teaching a comp class in the then Home Ec building on campus. It has since changed to Writer’s Row.

The kid from Texas was the first to read. I still imagine him with a cowboy hat on his head, but that could not be true, just too stereotypical. His writing was full of anger and blame. He didn’t say he hated Muslims, but he knew someone had to pay. Something had to be done about who got into the country and how. Fear.

Someone else read. And then she said it again. The young twenty-ish Syrian woman with the hijab, pretty face, stand-out from the first day of class a couple weeks before because of her dark coverings, often full body black and flowing.

She was in tears. She faced the class with pleading in her eyes, distorting her cringed face, tight and angled with panic. Pain. Fear. No, they won’t understand. Saudi Arabians the news plastered over the burning tower images.

Before I left for school that morning, so early that I sleep-walked into the spare room where from 5 to 8 my husband watched the market, I first saw but did not register. Seeing me enter his lair, he pointed to the burning towers on the t.v. and said, “Look at this.” I looked. I then turned to the shower while thinking that it was too early for disaster movies and wasn’t he supposed to be working, anyhow?

When I came back into the room, showered and dressed, he said, “No, look at this. The second tower just blew.” And I looked. My mouth fell open involuntarily though my brain barely comprehended. How could it have happened? Why? How? I had to go teach.

By the third time she said it, I spoke firmly but with a slight chuckle, “Unless you had something to do with it, you don’t have to apologize. Though I understand why you want to.” She quieted.

It wasn’t long afterward, maybe three days after the united great good will of the U.S. turned to the business of blame and retribution. The airstrikes were already in the making. And there at the college, a political science teacher was disciplined, maybe even resigned, after pointing in the direction of a Middle Eastern looking group of students in the 200-seat forum during his lecture about something other than the events of the previous days and boomed, “You, you did it.”

Burned by Tragedy’s Strike

Only trying to help, he reached—

with his arms, without his wits, without intention, pure reaction, 

like an impulse, he flew.

And then he landed, crashed.

He came to the rescue but then needed help, 

so much more than anyone could believe, could expect.

Just trying to lend a hand…stop the ball going over the edge, keep the game going, 

everything for the game, the kids, his granddaughter–playing.

Unthinkingly, he, trim-fit-tall and lean for his age, stepped a few, 

lunged, stretched, caught the ball out of bounds, out of the air, 

without hesitation, without strain or struggle, without looking, 

not knowing where he was, how close to the edge, the precipice.

And before the paramedics came, as the game continued, 

the girls playing with wonder, big worried question marks hanging above their heads, 

I slowly, tentatively, nervously peered over the side, 

caught a glimpse.

His crumpled body, or a part of it, I don’t know, 

being too afraid to see what was down below the field, 

down the embankment, he lay there.

And all I could do was shrink back, away, 

and rush to my daughter on the field at the end of the game, 

steer her away, not to go anywhere near there; don’t look.

But whatever I saw stays, 

like destiny or fate or a horror movie scene that really scares the shit out of you, 

so realistic, and yet

this was real, 

his dis-animated figure lying there in some ball or sprawl or head over heels, 

like a toppled monument in the grass, 

Sadam Hussein’s giant statue with the stoic expression on its face unchanging 

as the stone body keeps teetering by the shoving hundreds of hands, tipping, 

and then crashing again and again on replay in the news reels;

I cannot see, can’t summon it up as true, 

like a cartoon soccer grandpa looked frozen in mid-lunge, 

body angled shot from a cannon in goal keeper’s dive for the mid-air ball,

toward the pendulum arc his outstretched arms and the soccer ball configured

against the backdrop of space, sky, 

downward sloping grass and lower-down-the-slope trees,

and then as I saw him there motionless, suspended, 

he disappeared, 

popped into another universe.

A stranger’s shell broken below, 

still and ever so, 

no longer ambulatory, though alive but forever stilled–

his arms, legs, pelvis, neck, chest and heart, 

except for the abysmal ache of regret and enormous question mark:

how to live now, between oh so close to dying and not dead.

Too fucking unfortunately bad for him, the dumb mother fucker, 

his mind still moves–and remembers and remembers. 

Like mine–branded burnt.

And they–lawyers, relatives, investigators, insurance adjustors, soccer fans, and the projectionist

behind my eyeballs–will not let you die in me,

you, a mere artifact, statistic, flattened newspaper clipping, docket number, 

now a symbol, airy thin and translucent like a story never told, 

ancient as memory itself–a living tragedy, chaos confirmed .