These poems are from my book “Where It Goes.” You can purchase a signed copy of the book directly from me by going to my Contact page .
§ A DREAM OF THUNDER
Something rumbles, maybe thunder, maybe the
voice of Poseidon
maybe I dreamed this
Maybe my dreams have escaped and are free to
find me wherever I am
I think dreams can do that
At night, my eyes are like clenched teeth,
trying to keep the dreams away because they’re
dreadful and strange. Later, when the smallest
thorn of light pokes through the dark outside
I sleep at ease
not dreaming not feeling or knowing
anything In the background just above the
mountain, a raggedy marching band turns then
returns like a dream of thunder or of rain
§ WHERE IT GOES
Where does it go, all that living?
It was real when you lived it.
Then, it felt like parakeet pecks on your lips.
Then, tiny spots you could see when you
wiped your mouth on a white napkin.
The specks were proof of life.
The feathers in the cage were proof of nothing.
You ask everyone, where did it go?
They like to think you’re drunk again
so they can smile at the horror of your question.
It’s horrible to be human, huh, kiddo?
Horrible to know what you’ve done wrong
and to know that you can’t fix it.
Mad dogs don’t know these things, humans do.
Where does it go, all that living?
You close your eyes for a nap, open them,
and your passion has wilted like a
Tragic. Oh tragic. So, what now?
Your rhythms are poverty-stricken—
last grains of rice on a paper plate.
You’ve got death in your sneakers
and your ears ring with the sounds
of no one saying anything anymore.
That’s just the way it is.
The best you’re going to do
after dark tonight is decide
whether or not to feel,
whether or not to bleed.
§ THOSE WHO PRAY
Morning’s air is fat-free milk. This is the reason
we pray for full daylight (those who pray). Dawn comes,
we float on our backs, blink to focus. Outside, the
storm drains are waiting for debris from last night’s dreams.
We give our work freely. Of course we do. Our
employers listen for the sound of tiles from our
workspaces—Mahjong which entertains the blank walls
and nothing else. We search our pockets for something
that means something and find only coffee change and
a sodden prayer. When Prospero’s bell rings, we walk
out and guess at why the afternoon is so old,
gray instead of gold. It shuffles along, won’t let
us make out who comes there wading through the gray.
Sadness billows, sways in the twilight breeze like a
full skirt. Time to go home. Home is where the heart is.
What can that mean when home is where we debut the
saddest bits of ourselves? Dinner, then some TV.
After television, there is meditation.
After contemplation, there is television.
Outside, the souls of the big machines wind down.
We listen, unsnap the rivets of our madness,
put on night clothes and wait for morning, for the air
of morning fat-free milk the reason we pray for
the unfettered fingers of daylight (those who pray).
§ THE INSURGENCY TREE
I believe in revolutions,
all of them, any of them.
I am marked by my gender,
my age, my body type.
I’d be crazy not to want a revolution;
I’m a poet.
I have climbed this tree
and stretched myself out
to the very edge of the
most fragile branch.
I’ll stay here
until a revolution brings me down.
I live under a deluge of bubble gum comics
that won’t let me forget,
that stops my memory cold.
I believe in revolutions;
the ones that begin and end in a single day,
the ones that turn women into warriors
and beauty queens into barber poles.
I believe in the revolutions that end wars
and start the snakes of reality moving.
I believe in the revolutions started at bars
with the first drink order
and the drink order before the last.
Behind the windows of the houses
on my street, the gray revolutionaries
meet and discuss their betrayals
and their love stories.
They make their marks with
inked thumbs and forefingers.
They stare as I stroll by.
They know I‘m waiting for
the Grand Marshall of all revolutions—
the one we bought tickets for
on our birth days, the one that
collects those tickets, then hands
us a list of our cruelties:
the winners now,
the winners before,
the winners ever after.
§ PUTTING IN WORK
We’re living in the belly of the beast
Watching while it takes its feast…
And dancing with Armageddon.
by Brendan MCCloud
America, you’ve turned into the Emperor of Naught;
you’re a gang member now;
you’re the gang member’s switchblade,
the switchblade’s bloody edge.
You are the gang member’s flash car
bling-blinged and bonnarooed beyond recognition.
America, your eyes are as dark as the belly of a Black Widow Spider.
You are no longer the nicest guy in town.
You’ve embedded diamonds in your teeth and
glued razor blades to the toes of your Forzieris
America, you’ve slicked your hair back
and painted your fingernails ebony.
Your turbulent seas no longer float saints.
Your deserts are alive with creeping devils.
America, you’ve got “goodbye” hanging out of your back pocket
and your people’s throats are too strep-ridden to call you out.
There won’t be any candles in the bedroom tonight, America;
wanting, taking is what you do best now: more, harder, better.
Wanting is what you do best. Your deceptions
rise and fall—dunes at the side of a beach highway.
The world has heard your rumbling. It is feeding time
in the lion house of the government.
Citizens throw raw meat into your cages. They remove
the blood of dissidents and children from your marble floors.
America, you’ve given your people an erector-set
country to live in, all skeletons and metal braces.
Your gift to your people is terror. Their bodies rage
and the music inside their heads frightens them.
Your people crave petitions, prayers, want someone punished
or honored, or rewarded or assassinated—almost anyone will do.
America, what our ancestors gave you was more naked
than the feet of a stone goddess. It began and ended with hope
and the inexhaustible processions of broken, wild things fallen onto
your roads from countless nests in countless trees across the planet.
This poem may be ended, America. I may grit my teeth
and squeeze tight my eyes. I may block my ears
and pretend to hear nothing. But know this, my country:
there is always a space in the air where destruction has been
and it is a law of physics that no space remains empty
for very long. On your knees, America! Quickly. Quickly.
§ “REST ON THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT”
a painting by Luc Olivier Merson, 1879
When the dream began it was vague,
the colors ran together like
cheap dye and some winged someone spoke,
hissed at him: “You should run. Take your
darling elf, hide him in a sack,
get the hell out of Dodge before
it’s too late.” He asked, Is this a
joke? Another trick from God who
thinks Virgin births are fine as long
as he isn’t down here dealing
with their consequences, their shame?
The voice was unrelenting.
“You’d better go and go quickly.
Your enemies know where you are
and they’re on the way.” Sad, faith-bound,
he got up, roused them all from the
warm place they’d found and, grumbling, fled.
It was dry bread and mother’s milk
for a million miles. It was wind
and anger and bitter complaint,
a child’s wails, a mule and a moon.
When the voices stopped him, he was
no happier. “Here,” they told him,
“here will be fine.” But it’s ugly
he said and fell, again, to sleep.
“Yes, ugly,” said the spirit voice.
“Sleep in it and get used to it.
You own the joke. The punch line’s yours.”
In silence as large as never,
Egypt’s totem, sandblasted, dry,
waited in the dark, for the sun
child—only him—and no one else.