Factorial

I
am yet over rocky cliffs,
briefly divining strengths —
reluctance devouring
temporal madness
amidst hours with the id:
I.

— ptkh 011217

The Rusted Locket

the smell of salt in the air
the creaking of the rope as it’s stretched taut
the burn of it cutting into the hands
the rocking of the ship
the sound of seagulls in the distance
the heat of the sun on the skin
the slapping of the water on the side
there in the distance…
is there something there?

Meanwhile, in the real world, he screams and covers his head as it all comes crashing down on him, like a barrage of hailstones, like a photograph found in the clutches of a dead man in a trench during World War I.

And then:

— ptkh 101516

Fuseli’s Favorite Fantasm

my friend is back
sitting on my shoulder
whispering in my ear
telling me how pointless it all is
how i’m talking to an empty room
singing with a vacant orchestra
shouting across the chasm
at nobody
 
when i turn to tell him
to shut his mouth
he disappears
and i am
at last
alone
 
ptkh 092716

claustrophobia

i am
overwhelmed

by the wall
by the river
by the stream of

gogogodododostopstopstopnownownow

until
i am left
breathless
suffocated
by another day

of
doing
nothing

— ptkh 06.11.16

Thirty-two years later

We are the sum of our pieces
Meshed together
Hammered into place
Until the overlapping bits are crushed
And the gaps are filled
With hubris and bile

We are lost in the labyrinth
Sitting alone
In the darkness
Three twists from the end
Four twists from the start
Incoherent, inchoate, inching
Nowhere

We are fingertips
Measuring alcohol
Like the quicksands of time
Measuring out the steady rhythm
Of our lifesong

And we would scream
But who would come?

— ptkh 051416

My Muse

I smothered my muse with a down-filled pillow
And left her corpse stretched out,
Naked and prostrate,
On the futon in the spare room.

I held her in my dreams for a fortnight,
Then discarded the memory,
Wretched and withered,
To the wraiths that live behind the house.

But her siren call kept singing to me,
Relighting the torch that lead me through the night,
Captive, confused, cornered,
Shedding blood between the tears.

And I recalled the day when first we met,
I touched her cheek, she spoke to me,
And said,
“It will never be what it was to you,
You will never see what you were to me.”

On the futon in the spare room,
Naked and prostrate,
I smothered my muse with a down-filled pillow
And left her corpse stretched out.

— ptkh 11.02.14

Your Song

I wrote your song last night
In words of sulfur and strychnine
Writ in blood on onion skin

I set it on fire
And watched the smoke curl
Up
Up
Up
And
Nevermore

Now I’m humming the melody
Softly to myself
Thinking only
Of you

— ptkh 10.21.14

Urban Boneyard

The city is filled with the carcasses of yesterday’s homes,
Once lovely bones picked clean by the copper vultures,
Empty frames where glass held back the wind and rain
In years now gone and done

This was a young couple’s dream for a future together
That was a family pausing on the ladder to take a breath
Over there was an elderly widower whiling away his final days
In lonely sunrises and sunsets

And in the front room which hosted two dozen Thanksgiving feasts
Of turkey, yams, beans, cranberries, potatoes mashed with garlic
Now stands an oak which tore its way through rotten floors
A stalwart survivor of dire winter snows…

Nature reclaims the corpses
Of the urban boneyard
And remembers nothing of the humans
That would have let it die

— ptkh 09.30.14

Sleepy snowdrift

Sleepy snowdrift
Slippery slope
Dangling disheartened
At the end of my rope

Cracking the whip
To drive the cart
And watch the brickwork
Fall apart

The age of reason
Trumpets change
But reasons age
And rearrange

Somnolent sleeting
Succulent slide
Dolorous darkened
Deliverance died

– ptkh 8/18/14

There are things

There are things I wish I could say
where you could hear them
but the smile I painted on
to the rhythm of
the metronome
cannot be so easily belied as that

Somewhere at night
my faith capsized,
rammed against a frozen memory
floating on the surface

And for a moment, I reached out and thought
I’d touched your skin
then

it was gone

ptkh 05.19.14