Ghosts and Onionskins

How to be a Civilian

Wait like a chauffeur
Run like a fire
caught your childhood and chased you
to adult desires

Spend like the dying
Consume like a plague
Dance down the hallways and
murder the vague

Love like a car wreck
Drink like rug
Scrub like mad to remove
all the wine stains and blood

Read like a prisoner
Ask like a child
Pretend every day
that you’re other than wild

Words and hope and things you spit
down morning washroom drains
bleed softly like a sunburnt tire
and wander from our brains

whispered into shirt collars
hollered into flasks
pled to leather journals
belted out in porcelain baths

and everything important
that no eardrum might impair
floats fast upon the southern breeze-
is nothing but hot air

You called me t’ward the mount
a siren’s fingers ‘gainst the lyre
as the stars all towered dangerous:
shards of glass reflecting fire

Then we spoke of what you needed
till I guess I liked it too
as there was nothing so intoxicating
as lying next to you

The hope, the fear, the what comes next
but nothing rightly came
then lying there you spoke again
and swore I was to blame

For the dream against reality
the house against the cash
the lie against civility
the demand against the ask

But I thought you promised something
that sounded something close to me
instead of shame against the dollhouse
you could decorate as free

I would laugh and cry and dance and fuck
sing psalms unto desire
I would walk across that broken glass
to sleep beside the fire

I would hunger like a human
I’d bow to lust just like a beast
I would lie to you no longer
so we might suffer the least


This hand-me-down body
This watered down love
This tired appointment
This rhyming thereof

This wrote like a prayer
This read like a cry
This sits like confession
More honest than I

This for all the questions
This to stay my heart
This armours in words
What the mind tears apart

This is my present
This is my pain
This is my love, my love
This will remain

20 year-old
drag the blankets
from my bed
shotgun scotch
exploding through
my head

Memories and
will fight or fuck
or fail
to soft-smother
my uncovered
to drown, to swim
to sail

Goodnight the ghosts
who’ve come and gone
Goodnight my scotch-
bought might
Goodnight the carnage
badly drawn


As the ocean swallows bravery
and forgets each drowning name
you’re complacent to the slavery
and foreign to the blame
for the storm my ship’s enduring
like you’re larger than the sea
more stoic than the curing calm
content with owning me
And you let me sleep beside you but
blue ruin haunts my dreams
every deckhand has my hopeful eyes
each sailor sings my screams
And I think you think I think it’s love
-if of me at all you think-
or am I just another nameless
that you’re drowning in the drink?

I had just finished some reading and committed myself to writing a poem about drowning at sea, when lo and behold, that very moment some lovely soul reblogged this at the behest of my redundancy.

To the Wooden Bookcase

Every scrap of love I knew
died screaming in that fire
when the axeman tore our dog from smoke
for the gawkers to admire

and the paper sang like gospel choirs
on the eve of the return
for the readers sweetly smiling
reading ink that didn’t burn

and the phone calls of condolence
rang against me like the lash
Every scrap of love I knew
committed into ash

Tell me there is more to this
a more not so absurd
and promise me an afterlife
where a man might find his words



On these cobblestone streets
worn by feet gone to ghosts
we too are possessed
souls are pressed
ever close

By the thousandfold spires
piercing soft purple skies
we too have been stabbed
broken hearts
in disguise

Neath the elegant angles
oaken, sharp, and austere
we too will make grave
just because
we are here

Over perfect blue running
on an archway of stone
all of nature and man
every shade of

By the soft bedside light
on the night that we met
a girl and a city
an ice cold

Black smoke condensation
solid snow in my lungs
I think that was living
I think I
was young

I knew I was dying
from the blood in my breath
back home to my family
for death

These years later I’m living
and loving, and light
but cement are the streets now
and black
is the night

May body repair
and mind regret
May spirit endure
and confidence set

If song will allow
celebration and death
Let the candle deflame:
both a wish and a breath

I am a monster
but gentler than man
still guessing at when
the horror began

You are a Lily
destroying decay
but the monster and man
see flowers the same way