Soft Power

Standard

We have you right where we want you:

enveloped.

You will wake up

next morning,

kiss your spouse goodbye,

and go to work;

swearing our long arm

cannot reach you

and your perfect little life.

But there is no escape.

You will use our slang

to make plans with your friends.

You will watch our movies,

and laugh at all of our jokes.

You will do as we do,

and we will welcome you

with open arms,

as if you had a choice.

The outstretched hand

is much harder to dodge,

than the clenched fist,

because it’s intentions are

ambiguous.

This is not a hostile takeover,

we come in peace,

in the name of prosperity

with new wine in lightly used skins,

and the finest pyrite jewelry

money can buy.

Things are often true and false

at the same time,

tell me now,

would you dare call us your “foe?”

After all we’ve done for you?


Event Horizon

Standard

I feel it,

I feel it

as I play this game of chicken

inching up

to the point of no return.

I’m pulled closer and closer

yet the gravity of the situation

never quite dawns on me.

My vertebrae, adaptable and flexible

to a point,

find rest

tracing the shape of the pilot’s seat.

I’ve sat for too long,

and need to stretch my legs.

I’ve come all this way,

and, out of nowhere

I’ve crossed the threshold and

I’m in too deep.

Before anyone I’d ever heard of

was born,

a far-off star collapsed dead

and left a void of

crushing fury,

the wrath of a blind idiot God.

For the crime of intrusion

on His private domain,

I will be welcomed in

for eternity.

And I will be pulled even further

beyond my limits.

I’m just a wayward thread

yanked from its seam,

falling into

the great abyss

I feel it,

I feel it.

The Elephant’s Foot

Standard

The last vestige

of catastrophe

is the open wound

which refuses to heal.

Meltdown in slow motion,

it cannot be allowed

room to breathe.

Domes of rebar,

abandoned forest,

crumbling infrastructure,

and red tape

keeps only the corium

contained.

We all feel

the open secret lingering

in the air,

falling all around us

like snow.

The truth is so plainspoken,

so brash as it stares you in the face

yet no one can do a thing

but trudge on with their lives.

If you dig too deep

and get to the bottom,

you will only find

what you knew was true all along.

An immovable object,

giving off irresistible forces,

leaves its indelible marks

in silence.


Equilibrium

Standard

These two left feet of mine,

they get me places.

Neither in grace nor style,

but I end up wherever I must,

mostly on time.

I’m well-aware

of how I happen to be

positioned,

I feel each fluctuation.

With the gyroscopes in

my ears, I remain

level-headed

no matter how I crane

my neck.

Featherless biped,

I pole vault with each pace,

leap and bound;

not enough drag to stop me,

not enough lift to send me

soaring.

Maybe,

if I push a little harder,

I’ll get somewhere.


Hydra

Standard

Thick, tainted blood coursing

through black veins,

legs like two talon-tipped tree trunks

drag a confused creature

through the muck.

Breath of pure, unadulterated pestilence,

the smell alone keeps all

but the most intrepid

far away.

It picks the bones and chain mail

from seven sets of sated, grinning teeth.

There are many mouths to feed,

and all of them like to savor

each morsel.

A gnarled, writhing rat’s nest,

growing back stronger and fuller

in defiance of defeat.

An inexhaustible capacity

for contingency

plans.

Seven falls to six,

poison blood mist sprays

from mangled stump,

then two more heads

come roaring back —

a flesh-wound quickly repaired.

Much worse than a strong enemy,

is one that’s well-prepared.


Undo

Standard

Let’s get down to brass tacks,

I can’t go back,

I can never return

to what once was.

The things I said

in anger and in flippant jest,

hang over your head.

Those raw nerves,

flare up,

and you see red

when you see me,

and I don’t blame you.

A rung bell emanates;

the sound is as free

as the air that carries it,

I can’t beat back

the soundwaves.

What I wouldn’t give

to have superhuman foresight,

to have unflappable thoughtfulness.

To leave fear itself cowering,

to see anger and ignorance

flee from me,

never to rear their ugly heads.

But I must live

with what I’ve done

and what I didn’t do.

I wish I could

take one measly step back,

but I’m not strong enough.


People Watchers

Standard

No good deed goes unpaid,

so let me know when you’ve figured

out the going rate

for exposure.

We get that in spades

as the days go on,

and everyone talks, and talks.

“It’s none of my business,”

or so you say,

sitting on a bench

in a tumultuous place.

People going on and on

about their days, their weeks.

The meek will inherit the Earth,

but even they, sometimes,

are willing to bend the golden rule

for a laugh at other’s expense.

Moving along, moving along

we mustn’t dwell.

We’ve all got things to do today,

places to be,

stories to tell.


100 lb. of Ambergris

Standard

Keep your eyes affixed

to the horizon and the waves,

but don’t turn your nose up

too far to breathe deeply.

Good luck takes many forms,

some as appalling as they come.

But take it all in

with an open mind,

and you will be rewarded handsomely.

Look twice at things that seem fishy

and thrice at things that appear fruitful.

You may very well

bump into your wildest dreams —

make sure to grab on tight

and give it your all.

You may need a shower

afterward,

but you’d have some gall

if you expected otherwise.

Be concerned with what’s at hand,

and the world is a little brightened.

Opportunity doesn’t always present itself neatly.

The things most worth your while,

are often unplanned.


Along the Garden Path

Standard

We’re walking the old dirt road with wildflowers,

seeing the new sod from before over and over again.

That I can see the end and am lead astray frustrates us.

What we have established has collapsed still stands,

we were at least right about that.

From there we have to reevaluate what happened

I see the trail goes on from here it’s pretty short

but I’m curious as to how I got to where I am.

Every one who comes here loses,

dropping like a ton of fruit flies drunk with power.

The few raced past the exit turned back,

even they couldn’t believe their eyes.

When they saw it through,

everything matched up with what was not expected.


There are Bugs Everywhere

Standard

My skin crawls at the thought

that they abound.

In the rose bushes, and the treetops —

in your foundation, and coming in

through the windows and gaps.

All the stones unturned

are black boxes — safe harbors

for little eavesdroppers.

Every last one,

seeing us through

10,000 lenses each,

their feelers are out

and they’re passing it

all along.

They’re on the ceiling,

they’re under your car’s chassis,

you take them with you

sometimes on your person.

They’re tearing down your house,

and stealing your food,

and keeping tabs on you —

and there are too many

to squash, before they scatter

to hide in the cracks.

We’ve all gotten used to it.

They’re out of sight

for now,

is all I can say.