My story began before I did

My story began before I did,
Written on leather and linen,
Papyrus and stone.

I was born in the taint of the oppressor
Stained white with a fabricated purity
Invented by men
Then forced into the mouth of God

My story was hammered into drying clay
Like pigeons’ feet
Dancing
Across the centuries.

My myths were chanted
Around snow-ringed fire pits
And quilled onto leaves of hemp.

I cannot deny what has been braided
Into the sinews of my skeleton.

My story began years before I did:

This skin I wear was stitched
From killers of witches
And slayers of Indians
And enslavers of Africans.

This sin was born of the false piety
Of misguided faith.

O, that I could peel this skin like a snake!
But the venom that poisons this blood
Is not drained so easily as that.

My story began years before I did
But it does not end until my final breath.

— ptkh 051517

Reflection

Today, I am a hero to a gull. And probably a sparrow.

Coming out of the Target on John R, I saw a gull attacking a heavily greased brown paper bag. He wasn’t getting very far, and was clearly frustrated.

As I walked over to look in the bag, the gull flew off to a safe distance, eyeing me warily. Was I going to steal his lunch? Was I going to make HIM lunch?

Instead, I made him lunch, but not the way he feared. It was a bag of sweet potato fries, so I dumped them on the ground and walked off.

He flew back and eagerly munched his lunch. I also saw a sparrow hopping around at a distance, presumably waiting for the gull to fly off.

Reflection

On one of my routes home, there’s a signpost to which has been affixed a stuffed animal and a plastic figurine of an angel with the head of a little black girl. It’s bleached now from the sun, and the stuffed animal has gotten raggedy from the weather, and the desolation of it gives me a momentary pause that my life could be worse, that somewhere someone lost a child to tragedy near that corner. Today, it was even more poignant because a block later I saw a homeless man asleep on the sidewalk, tucked into the shadow of a building. Meanwhile, several miles south on Woodward, the Qline opens up this weekend, not far from where Mike Ilitch failed to live long enough to see the opening of the joint Red Wings/Pistons sports arena in the increasingly regentrified Heart of Detroit. How many of those gentrifying hipsters drive past the homeless black men hiding in the shadows of buildings without even noticing their existence? Meanwhile, a sunbleached angel remains in testimony that the lives of the invisible and displaced matter, too.

And tomorrow, I’ll wake up white again.

Another page

i did not dream so deeply as i did that night,
when beneath the cloudless sky,
the moon perched within the chill of air,
an ocean dotted with infinities of stars

sleep came ragged, but
the dreams washed over me
and pulled me deep into their undercurrent

dreams of my childhood,
drenched in clarity,
picked like fresh berries from the mulberry bush:
purple, succulent, sweet

dreams of adulthood,
willow trees weighed heavy
with tears of fallen angels:
green, insolent, bitter

dreams of visions yet to come,
dark chasms of loneliness
embraced by fetid vines and belladonna

behind the mire,
the glimmer and glitter of nevermind
slithered from my fingers
to remind me
that tomorrow would be

another page

ptkh 040117

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

The Twitter Zone (filk)

(Somewhere in a golden hotel room,
Donald Trump’s starting to realize
The presidential race has turned its back on him.
It’s three a.m.)

It’s three a.m., and the press has gone
I’m sittin’ here Tweetin’, the rage still warm
Maybe Steve Bannon is tired of takin’ chances
Yeah there’s a vote to be lost, electors in my head
I’m worried of failure, all scandals ahead
I cannot let go, my whole stream spins into a frenzy

Help I’m steppin’ into the Tweeter Feed
The Net is a madhouse, feels like being freed
My filter’s removed under moon and star
What am I to post, now that I’ve gone too far?

Soon I will come to know,
When the voters hit the booth

I’m falling down with pollsters, final margin unknown
A double-digit gap means no return
I won’t win no election, Michael Pence, where are you?

Well, the jabs weigh heavy on my guilty mind
Just like that Miss Universe
And when the Electors come I know damn well I’ll be defeated

Help I’m steppin’ into the Tweeter Feed
The Net is a madhouse, feels like being freed
My filter’s removed under moon and star
What am I to post, now that I’ve gone too far?

Soon I will come to know,
When the voters hit the booth

Posted in: Fun |

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