“Panic Attack”

The sudden shrinking of space.
Sweating palms are a failing grip.
The heart punches an unrelenting wall.
Dying as you live.
Oxygen is the supreme truth.
The spirit speaks in a cascade of despair “It’s over.”
Bright scenes mock and bright voices screech.
Death beckons an early visit.
I suffer.

Yet even birds fly in an enclosed space.
If you love anything, you sweat.
The heart only speeds towards a place to rest.
Real living is stronger than a deathly fleeting.
Why do you breathe anyway?
Faith is a stubborn child “No, I won’t!”
The brightness within has yet to diminish.
Death has enough company.
I prevail.

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“My Last Poem”

I

The rain falls softly and quickly

like happy moments soon to be forgotten.

Devin Stevens, a losing writer,

walks inside a tall, white-washed building,

the door slamming behind him.

A note of inescapable finality.

He enters an office with imposing walls,

a businessman sitting behind a desk

with a golden name tag: “Life.”

Good Evening, Mr. Stevens. How are you?’

The tone is more fake than saving face.

I’m okay,’ says Devin wearily.

His face matches his black coat; droopy and dark.

I see you are scheduling a surgery with us,’

says the clownish face.

Yes,’ says Devin. ‘I think the time has come.

Time for the books to close.

Time for the fingers to freeze,

for the stories to be silenced,

for the lines to end at a blank meaningless white.

Time for my dreams to slowly die in tears.’

Exhausted, he closes his eyes in silence.

You know, Devin,’ says the powdered angel,

I think you’re being very wise here.

Some people your age keep writing and reading

and dreaming and challenging and living.

Real dangerous if you ask me.

And so unrealistic. You know?’

The poet nods his head, staring at the golden tag.

I wrote a poem about the situation.

I’ve already memorized it.

I read it everyday.’

Really? And what does it say?’

II

As the rainbow dips through pure clouds

so does my spine twist in weary flesh.

As the immovable mountains meditate on the dark horizon

so does my mind from the edges of poverty.

As the ocean’s waves, once calm, begin to rise

so do my emotions; stunted and triggered nerves.

As the fires burn the trees clean of green life

so does my bitterness the hope of tomorrow.

As ice and snow descend and clothe the ground in white

so are my dreams imprinted on aging tombstones.

As the wind blows through the windmill and to the open sky

so does my precious time leave my grasp, never to be used.

As the storms spin in the round atmosphere

so do I walk in circles inside this prison.

III

The poet is now silent, eyes vacant in despair.

In false sympathy, the man says

There’s no doubt that you’re sick.

Your writing isn’t getting you anywhere.

I’m so glad you came!

We’ll fix you up good as new!

All you do is sign these papers.’

Devin looks at the document, one clause large, another small.

The pen ready as a quill from the Angel of Death.

Yes. The time has come.

I need to accept reality.

It was good while it lasted.

Maybe this is all the best for me.

Perhaps God has different, better plans for me.

And besides,

there is still my family, the job, the car,

all the other things I need.

And God most of all.

From this day forward…..’

He is silent for a moment.

Then signs for the surgery.

The businessman smiles like a sneaky demon.

Surgery won’t take long at all.

We’ll see you next week!

Soon, the need for words will never bother,

hinder, deceive, depress your mind again!’

They shake hands and the poet leaves.

IV

Five surgeons stand above him while he sleeps.

That common gas fills his mind with calm,

that addictive smog for every victim from his ruler.

The scalpel gleams ready and the gloves snap on.

The businessman is the main surgeon.

For the dealer is also the king in this cruel paradise.

Alright ladies and gentlemen. Let’s start.’

They softly slice the forehead open.

As the blood runs and froths red,

they hear voices, whispers which to them sound terrible;

confessions of love,

tributes to his dear family,

liberal views of God and His plans,

satires towards stupidity and carelessness,

praises for the stars and for the world.

A rush of sounds and words and phrases.

The noise writes shivers down their arms.

Steady! Steady! Nice and easy!’

The brain lies open to them,

a helpless victim for the blade of time.

They prick and cut and pull and push and move,

their sinful hands wet with innocence.

Their eyes greedily search for those places

feared by every safe space and placid heart.

The surgeon chuckles and clucks.

There we go….yes….yes….yes….’ he hisses.

In that murderous silence

they sow the skin back together,

clean up the evidence,

wash their hands like a guilty killer,

congratulate each other for their success.

The businessman laughs:

In a few hours, he’ll see the world brand new!”

They let the dead poet sleep in ignorant peace.

V

He awakes, the lights full in his eyes.

Like a newborn welcomed to the system.

He hears someone approach his side.

He looks around and sees the childish dealer.

Hey buddy! How are you feeling?”

Like I returned from a black hole.”

Interesting. Well, everything seemed to go good during the surgery.

I’m gonna ask you a few questions, is that okay?”

Yessir. Fire away.”

Okay. My first question is this:

What do you think of language?”

Devin lies on his back and thinks.

Language….is the sound of our heart through our mouth,

The soul’s means of song and dance.

Without it, we’re left with lifeless numbers

and puny scratches on the wall.”

Hmmm….alright. No biggie…..Here’s the next one:

What is the greatest hobby on Earth?”

Devin closes his eyes.

The greatest hobby of all….is to read.”

The surgeon puts his hand slightly over his mouth,

puzzled at the odd response.

Okay….but why? Books aren’t that great, right?”

Oh yes sir….they are.

They warn, teach, comfort, inspire, warm you,

freeze you, lift you, empower you, entertain you.

They place pieces on the chessboard of war.

They resurrect the long dead past

And paint the possibilities of the future.

Vacations bound in pages.

Time encapsulated in chapters.

Spirits and minds made eternal in lines.

They are the fingerprints of humanity.

The record of living and suffering.

The legacy of the generous and wise.

The schemes of tyrants and evil men.

The bulwark of knowledge.

The supreme art of every age.

Literature…..Literature is life.”

The surgeon’s eyes widen in fear.

He shakes his head.

And what about poetry….what about poetry?”

He sounds frightened.

Devin hears the voices in his head.

His millions of muses.

Poetry is….poetry is…..

poetry is my food, drink, shelter, money.

My speech, my lung’s rhythm.

The bones under my muscles, the skin over my bones,

my stomach, my liver, my brain, my heart.

It moves through me, it stays in me.”

But here he stops.

But why? I was supposed to….to forget about poetry….”

The surgeon rushes out the door.

A moment later, he and the other doctors arrive.

Devin….we’re putting you back to sleep okay?

Just for a minute…..”

He turns to his fellow villains.

Something is wrong.”

VI

They reopen the forehead, confused.

They were sure, confident, winning.

But now? They are shaken to disbelief.

I don’t understand,” says the clown,

we did the procedure exactly as prescribed.

No mistakes, no unnecessary cuts. So how…..?

They pause and think, considering the brain before them.

We need to cut just a little more, I think.”

Before they proceed with new blades

they hear the voices issuing from the ears,

new and deafening,

cheers of soldierly victory,

roars of dragons and lions,

the smooth sound of open waters,

violins playing sorrowful nocturnes,

twinkling magic spells like falling diamonds,

and every fancy of fantasy,

full of life, full of inspiration.

The surgeon shakes in his shoes.

They must try harder this time.

They cut the cortex wider.

Still, the voices.

They pick and tug at the right side.

Still, the voices.

They push and prod the left side.

Still, the voices.

They soak corners in their poisons and potions.

Still, the voices.

What in the hell!” shouts the Surgeon, livid.

Why?! Why won’t they leave him?

Why won’t they quit speaking?

This surgery was foolproof!

Designed to make him normal, acceptable!”

His evil eyes glow in anger. Then, dim in defeat.

They sow back the forehead and give up.

I’m afraid….when I wake Devin up

I’ll tell him the truth. That….we’re stumped.

For now, at least.” His grins in determination

For now.”

When the poet wakes up again in recovery,

the businessman enters his room, hands folded behind the back,

a look of sadness on his face.

Good morning, Mr. Stevens. How are you?”

I’m….fine, I guess. But I still

think about poetry and books and real life.

Not a good sign is it?”

I’m afraid not. It seems the surgery failed.

You are still in love with words.

But don’t worry! We’ll find out what’s wrong!

We’re keeping you here till we find a cure!

Alright?”

Yessir! We won’t give up!”

But in his heart the poet is lost and confused.

Why…..why can’t they change him?

VII

They don’t intend to let me loose.

Those sly, powerful tricksters,

those death loving people.

They’ve only let me move like a rat in a cage.

Examining me, arguing with me.

I want to walk out in the fresh air,

to be more easily inspired and free.

But they want to kill me, the me I really am.

I know they’re not my true friends.

So I walk in circles around these walls.

They’re so white they seem as though

you could push your hand through them

with no effort, no pain.

Yet they are as deep as gravity,

as real as the white in the eyes.

This room where I can hardly move

is my home on Earth, my only resting place.

I wake when they want.

I bathe when they want.

I eat when they want.

I drink when they want.

I work when they want.

I sleep when they want.

But I never feel what they want,

I never believe what they want,

I never think what they want,

And I never love what they want.

They have me but they don’t have me.

I am still a writer.

They cannot change me

because I am unchangeable.

The essence, the spirit, the strength

is not within their power.

This wind still blows in this fleshly prison.

And it defies them and all their instruments!

There is a window in the room.

I look outside it and see Nature.

And then….I remember:

As the rainbow dives over fluffy clouds

so I dive in pages for a new journey.

As the mountains are relentlessly lashed with storms,

I still laugh at Fate’s pathetic cajoling.

As I move towards the shore of death in waves,

I roar in faith with an inspiring crash.

As the world’s fire spreads to consume me,

love keeps my heart guarded from ignorant rage.

As my words fall on the page like snow and rain,

they leave beauty for the private, happy spirit.

As the wind blows my needful hours over the horizon

I smile; those hours will one day be mine eternally.

As I travel around this small dungeon

I haven’t given up on my dreams slowly rising from tears.

My last poem is my first poem

and my first poem is my last.

Its rebellious lines are never finished

“Phoenix Logic”

The flame which burns you

is the flame that warms you.

The dry winter,

chapping soft lips and rugged earth,

gives way to a wet spring

invigorating the nose and breezy air.

Brown bears shuffle

their cramped, clawed carpet feet from

the mouths of oppressively dark dens,

like bold children struggling

from their mothers’ painful cocoons.

The clock on the kitchen wall

ticked too fast during Christmas cheer,

ticked too slow during the blizzard fear,

but now,

the numbers comet from the glass prison

as my freed mind dreams of approaching summer stars.

The river runs smoothly like fresh blood,

pouring into empty tombs of basins.

Poverty digs holes into your hands and money.

Yet poor people know they’ll ascend.

Broken hearts rewind whole

when the eyes catch shattered faces.

Though my red eyes washed themselves in grief,

the restless sick now descend into sleepy healing.

So I think of things like these,

as I lie on my bed,

warring to breathe,

waiting for this endless shadow to finally come.

Yet how is it endless?

Did pain not give to pleasure?

Did laughter not trump weeping?

For every death there is another birth.

My flesh will become warming flame,

for it was fashioned by burning flame.

 

“The Light of Life”

A living leaf, a dead leaf.

One withered by disease,

one with a radiant beauty.

One with a pitiable gloom,

one blessed by the sunlight.

 

There was a wonderful moment once,

in this world of different leaves with different colors,

that I was enlightened by the son.

But now I begin to decay

by an unknown sickness,

one enveloping me to the inner demise.

 

Oh blessed sonlight!

Return to me! Please!

May I live in your glorious rays once more

and never be troubled by this death anymore.

“The Rainbow”

Everyday the weather is the same.

Calm light blue tranquility, a child’s blanket,

slowly invaded by ambiguous grenade smoke

which only grows over time, making me sick,

casting my hope in a grey and damp pallor.

 

The ashy fog barks. And barks. Rumbles softly. Rumbles loudly.

The sparks are like gunshots, the sky Satan’s smeared portrait.

My ears become an explosion. Light speeds over my eyes.

I run into the house like I run into my mind, whenever it storms.

 

The rain falls fast and wet as I sigh relief.

The thunder may rage, but the water doesn’t admit it homage.

Yet before I get used to the clear runny wall,

the sunlight swallows the stream and glows.

 

Back out on the gravel I look up:

a bridge of colors arcs from the smoke.

Though I only discern some of them,

I know life has many shades,

 

like the smooth yellow sands traversed by camel feet,

their riders laughing to an Arabic tune,

or the yellow warning sign over barbed wire

beyond where men enginner enigmatic evils,

 

like the rushing blue waves under an American surfer;

he smiles at the thriving lusty beach,

while in the northern, colder country

a lost hunter’s dead face waxes blue in the brush,

 

like the rolling green hills where little blondes

tumble and play with the fluffy dogs

and where, silent in the green grass,

snakes hiss, smelling where to strike the childrens’ feet,

 

or like pink ribbons symbolic of victory over death,

they march the streets cheering progress,

while in some abandoned apartment

pink eyes no longer shut themselves in ease.

 

So many colors, so many storms and bows.

Everyday the weather is the same.

Making me sick.

Yet I rejoice.

For though I know today that somewhere

red blood will be shed on the ground,

such ground was long ago purchased

with red blood eternally new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“An Epistle to Hopelessness”

“Dear” Hopelessness,

You often boast that you,
and you alone,
rule the Universe.

Stars die out in time,
Black holes swallow light,
Floating rocks crumble
in the endless night.

Hurricanes tear trees from the ground,
tornadoes sweep the homes
into a weeping whirlwind,
and earthquakes crack
sure foundations.

Politicians grin and lie,
fanatical men murder in love.
Sickness flies through the air
and lodges itself under a child’s hair.

But I would have you know,
short sighted one,
that your days are ticking away.
You have a challenger:

For the diamonds of destiny
are still breathed in majestic breaths.
Gravity doesn’t diminish what it gulps.
Even the things that are torn apart
reform for another round.

All of Nature’s rages
can only rage against
a rage of faith
led by each generation under
your failing eye.

Those campaigners on the cursed screen
are found out,
and Fanaticism is murdered in
sweet, understanding Love;
even the cancered child smiles.

So do not forget,
my ever present,
persistent,
yet helpless foe,
you will be struck down,
swiftly,
in woe.

Sincerely,
Hope

“What the Rain Teaches”

I walk in the scorched desert of my life:
A traveler,
A wanderer.

My eyes behold mirages of purest lies:
Beckoning,
Betraying.

My sore limbs cannot seem to move towards
The Promised Land,
The Debated Land.

My tongue weeps for water, and my skin, shelter.
Will I survive?
Will I survive?

Then the clouds roll in a foam of grey smoke,
Looming,
Towering,
over me.

The wind quickly picks up and caresses me
In whisperings,
murmurings,
of deliverance.

Aqua drops of mercy fall on this weary head
Saying:
“There is hope for the dead.”