Friday, December 21, 2012


The thieves of children are velvet tongue'd, bright
as tigers, sticky sweet. These doctors with
terrible wings, blacker than a crawlspace, their teeth
white as cherry flowers, lemon-drop sour
stones and string, pocket knives, candy and toys

They say, "come away past the hedge, streetlights are
dropping light", they smile with stained lips curling.
Their eyes are bone and marble white, cave blind.
Their hands softly furred, cracked nails dirt black rind
This one's throat is a well, a car's locked trunk.

They sing, all cancer and milk, copper, lead
and unctuous charm, gravestone teeth in neat rows.
There is no one death, but deaths and deaths and
myriad deaths so thick and numberless
they blot the moon with the shadow of birds.

Each day the doors of the houses open
Something hangs beneath the sidewalk, waiting
Something stands at the red light, in the wood
An armada of boats in black crepe wait.
Their impatient ferrymen play at dice

Let us make a bargain, old bony death.
You may rend me from my bones like paper
Let my cadaver come to its red end.
Pass over these bright and laughing ones that
crowd my house, the ones who do not know.

Written on the occasion of Terry Thompson's suicide, Zanesville OH

I am of this place,
and when I release my bestiary
it will be a king of rats that crawls from my gut,
a tangle of tales and black eyes
 a cloud of blowflies,
to sing in the eaves of my final room
a possum hissing wrath, a black bear

save this  sad, mute ape, who will shed my skin
at the last like a salvation army suit
and carry your name into the canopy of the trees

you grieved the nineteen tigers, the lion chasing horses
the wolf, the bear, the storm of animals
and how I love you for that
to love the sharp teeth let loose in the mown lawns
the hungry bear in the pantry
to hate the safety of bullets
the black stain of a beastless road
to love the wolf and hate the keeper's skin

Sunday, December 16, 2012


The night I set the chair on fire, they sent two fire trucks, and three cop cars. The cops came up as I was watching it burn, and they did not even try to take my beer from me, or the gas can, which was probably a good idea. The flame was a two-story high column of orange light and stinking black smoke from the burning foam rubber, and the greasy sixties floral skin of the thing was polyester, at least in part. The gasoline exploded when the flame hit it, and the boom had made my neighbors report an explosion, their weirdly sculpted bushes lit with sunset and hell -light. The chair had a name, was the throne of our underground court, beside the washing machine, the sump pump hole, the empty whiskey bottles, the Black Sabbath and Misfits records, the black indoor/outdoor carpet,the windows used as doors, covered in stolen flags, the chair of office soaked in bong water and gas station wine, in boilermakers and cheap gin. I had been hounded, as I was going away to school, off to seek my fortune in the wide wide world, to "get rid of that ugly piece of trash that you dragged into my house" before I let the door hit me on the ass, by my mother, through a thick slurred fog of sleeping pills. The beers were stolen from the vegetable crisper, old Milwaukee tall boys held by a plastic ring, and the gas was meant for a battered lawn mower that was seldom used.( In our last place, we had let the grass grow till it rippled like wheat,heavy with seeds and when the law came and informed us it would have to be cut, I cut it with a sickle and let it dry in the sun before I bagged it, and then cut it twice, That yard would have burned down the block, but this one was kept passable by contract with HUD.) The iron railings were kept painted, inside and out and the avocado-green stove and oven worked as per the fair housing act, but the fireplace was boarded over (,fire too dangerous in the hands of the poor) and we had no hatchet, so I determined it was to be a viking funeral for my youth, for my chair, and dragged it drunkenly up the stairs, while her stupor held, while my sisters slept, and in the middle of the walk, I placed it, soaked it down with five gallons of gas and led a thin thread of fuel, fuse style, up the walk and set it roaring up to the level of the second floor windows, and sang, until the sirens started.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hilt's Law

The bones cast in the field like seed corn,
grow nothing, grow briars in the boarded gas stations
brown stalks ready for the fire.
You do not hear our song,
earth thick in our throats, benzene and chromium
cadmium and arsenic
shuttered stores,the hosts of dead in cold-mill towns
the day that does not come though prayed for.

The trains of coal and corpses, the price of power
though wires are stretched like a mandolin on our bones
though the saints bob above us like car-lot balloons
You do not hear our singing.
In electric light the bubble gum machine is full of teeth
the babies' bottles with a slow sweet poison
the air is thick with cancer and the rain with
teeth,without flowers, without cease.

This dream of sleep, in hunter's orange
over oil-black in cups, in the hollows under eyes
the unborn sun in the darkest river, the hollow hills
the unsong of un-place, Bloody Harlan, Centralia
the blessed fly over in air conditioned comfort.

Let the bone-fire of your city burn 'till your shadow stains the bricks
Let the dark come spilling from the mine thick as mollasses
Let the end come if it is coming,
Let the rich hang from their ankles,
washtub full of black blood.
You do not hear.

Let the hills and stones fall on us and cover us
Let those curse us who curse the day, who are skillfull
the smelters of iron, and armaments, the hilltop removers.

Though we are dying, though we breath black dust
and blue powder, spit liquor and blood
the black drink, the earth's secret breath
though we are toothless, though we are blind
we hear this:

Steady trundle of the train under storm clouds
loaded down with malediction,
the radio tower's Babel-bleat to heaven
with the black stone, with the dead for burning
song of electric light, and sleeplessness.

Weariest river at the end of all things
We follow you into the earth.