Surrender

July 6, 2016

The surface of the lake
Looked as placid as glass
As it reflected the late
July noon back at itself.
His parents had said that
They could swim there
As often as they liked,
But each time he waded
Out into the murky green
Waves, his heart told him no.

He recalled, later, how his
Biggest fear had always been
Feeling something alive
On the bottom of the lake,
Limp arms like tentacles
Grasping his legs, dragging
Him down into the darkness.
“Come on out, Timothy,”
His older brother called
From the anchored dock.
He did not want to seem
That he was afraid, so he
Held his breath and leapt.

Looking upwards, the many
Ripples on the surface above
Shimmered endlessly, making
A living sky of gold and green…
As they pulled his body out,
His eyes were still open in
Eternal wonder and awe.

Ninety seconds later,
He coughed up the water
From his desperate lungs.
He would live on. However,
That brief moment of pure
Tranquillity, looking up at
The rainbowed surface,
Would remain with him
To the end of his days.

MSBQ

Springtide Hymn

May 31, 2016

Few places are stranger
Than a graveyard in spring.
Both forces of nature are
At hand, marching onward,
Decay and growth entangled.

(Someone once told me
Cemeteries always have
The greenest grass, simply
From their unique fertilizer.)

True, it can be unsettling,
How beneath boughs of
Aspen and hemlock wreaths
Lie fallen soldiers and wives
Buried too young, taken by
Gods older than the soil itself.

Though death resides below,
Above ground, life blossoms.

MSBQ

Camille

February 12, 2016

It was not yet spring
When they found her,
The tree she chose
Still stood barren in
Winter’s last breath.

The coroner confirmed
She had done it herself,
Leapt from the branches
Some time Friday night.
Now, Monday morning,
The groundskeeper saw
Her shadow cast upon
The dew-sodden lawn.

She held no name, nor
Wallet or purse. Instead,
Her only clue lie on the
Scrap of paper within
Her tightly bound hand:
“Raisons d’être,” her
Reasons for living.  

The irony was not lost
On the students, though
When asked it seemed
That no one could
Remember her name.

MSBQ

Where There’s Smoke…

June 10, 2015

What we are told
About what happens
After our wicks are
Finally snuffed out is,
I sincerely believe,
All wrong, misguided.

It is a deeply flawed
Machine that chews up
Men’s lives in service of
Hollow ideals and pure,
Untainted fear.

What have we to fear?
The whips and barbs of
Eternal punishment seem
All too dull, the hellfire
Promised for (let’s be fair)
Almost every one of us
Turned out to be a pale
Flickering furnace, barely
Capable of heating the
Frigid faces inside.

The ugly truth of it all
Is that we control both:
We hold the targets,
And we hold the guns.
The worst imaginings of
Our final Revelations
(Such a fitting name!)
Are just that: imaginings.
The emptiness inside of
Our minds and hearts
Will, one day, consume
The rest of us as well.

MSBQ

Wake

February 25, 2014

Dark eyes flutter open,
Today was the day;
Black ties and dresses,
Don your somber faces
For now we mourn.
The man buttoned his
Suit jacket carefully,
A wake does not
Call for haste.
Now a slow drive to
The quieter side
Of town, crossing the
Bridge and paying
Respect to those
Who have floated on
Into the ether.

Familiar faces stand
Still, but vibrate
Quietly with tears.
The man gets up,
Wishing to speak his
Thanks and regret,
But none can hear
His whispering.

Alive in every sense
But the obvious.

MSBQ

Black Sheep

January 25, 2014

Distant streetlights bounced
To and fro as he jogged down
The puddle-ridden lane. The
Torrential rainfall had finally
Subsided, and now as he made
His way along the river-bank,
A thick mist lowered itself onto
The city skyline. Everything
Was damp, soaked to the bone.
He stopped, briefly, at the
Very edge of the bike path,
To catch his breath and gaze
Across the hazy river, moving
So slowly that it was almost
Imperceptible.

He remembered his father’s
Final words, as he stood there
Still unable to process them:
“Fortune favors the bold.”
As if there were some magic
Doorway that he had only to
Step through and his life
Would fall into place.

The nurses had said he went
In the night, peacefully.
How did they know he didn’t
Wake, and question himself?
How could they know?
Black sheep still give wool,
And his father would not
Accept Death’s shears
Without a good fight.
Now, as mist permeated
His loose layers of clothing
And saturated his soles,
He could almost hear his
Father’s stifled laughter:
“Go out there and live.”

MSBQ

Camphor & Maple

August 19, 2013

Immediately,
The smell of
Turpentine and
Humid, pallid air
Fills the space
Between us;
A stunning
Casket built of
Camphor and maple
Forces me to
Remember all
Of your faults.

Beneath the
Lacquer and polish
Of fine lumber
You laugh at me,
So quietly that
Only I can hear,
And refuse to
Speak to me
About luminous
Nature and the
End of all things.
Instead, you pry
Me open in an
Attempt to
Remain on this
Plane for just
A moment more.

MSBQ