Asylum

The clean white sands of distant beach

A coveted shoreline

bathed in optimism

The hope that anything could be better

Or the sterile blandness

that only institutional grade paint can capture

Antiseptic perfume masks

the urine soaked safety

of supervised narcotic therapy

Poisons more palatable to state sanction

No more white sands await

No stadium could contain your madness

Asylum like an ocean

and no water to drink

 

No sparrows

This pajama nation

fed on Slim Jims and fiction

Smart phones for weapons

they man digital foxholes

Style over substance

and strange advice

Phone calls with awkward silences

while instincts of institutional preservation

thunder mightily from the east

There is some subtle shading of difference

wide as the gulf

between realization and acceptance

Believing that no sparrow must fall

Treacle

You are not essential

Salute the heroes

It’s all for them

or it’s for the children

Targets unassailable by design

I am Eric Cartman, hear me roar

Respect my authority!

We’re all in this together

We’ll get through this

These trying

These difficult

These challenging

These unprecedented

Times

When this bottle is empty

suck your thumb

Go back to sleep

When you wake

they will change your diapers too

 

The un-season

In our angelhood

Spring emerged in light

from Winter’s sun waning

She came as a pale girl

dancing barefoot from the forest

into awakening meadows

A blank canvas blossoms in colors

Grows in light and life

then fades to a wraith in Summer’s cauldron

Now the axis has turned

the days grow longer

Still light and color elude us

She comes now as a grey matron

in her shawl hobbled and bent

Down to the river bank

where she will lay down to sleep

Calendar pages flutter in the wind

and time remains still

My friend Fritz, Opus 3

I have never been fearful of his visitations. At the start, and ever since, these come unbidden. I have yet to expend the effort to even ask why, to try to gain any understanding of the reason or reasons for his appearance. It is not that I am an incurious person, quite the contrary; rather it is that I possess the humility of knowing that there are those things which our friends the Scots tell us are “beyond our ken”. As the sun and moon shall traverse the heavens, as surely as seasons shall pass, this too is of their category.

These have occurred mostly at night, in those restless hours shared by madmen and vigil keepers, devout insomniacs and those of a lupine nature. It is perhaps coincidence only, for though I may at any given day inhabit any or all of these categories, I can not say with certainty that my friend Fritz belongs to any. I endure these visits without superstition, yet with each occurrence I am vaguely haunted by the echoes of a pale horse’s hooves, off away in the night. This brush of death, real or imagined, is more subtle in daylight hours.

On one of those first warm, pleasant days in the spring I had occasion to visit a remote and somber place. It is a place at once familiar to me in both it’s physicality and it’s history. A place inextricable from my history. I absorbed the mid afternoon sun in that quiet solace, the very stillness of the place in it’s constancy. Towering some forty-five feet above was a lone oak leaf, completely brown and desiccated, which had clung stubbornly all winter long until that day. I heard a faint snap as the stem fell away and the leaf remained gracefully suspended beneath an updraft. It hovered there in mid air, wagging side to side as if debating which way to fall before starting it’s slow spiral earthward. I watched spellbound as it circled downward, spinning gently until coming to rest upon the ground just more than an arm’s reach from my seat.

It is a splendid day, is it not Thomas?

It is indeed Fritz.

And yet you are troubled, nicht wahr?

Why else should you be here?

His silence here served as an affirmation. Thus I am to conclude that my demons plague me most at night. And that my worst plague me at all hours.

It has been forty years now, my friend. You should have let this go by now. It has consumed you.

His words were true. I could not deny it.

Forty years seems like a good marker, don’t you think? Just end it here, I was thinking.

What changed your mind?

Who said I changed my mind?

Because if you had not, my friend, I would not be here.

It is your purpose to stop me?

It is only my purpose to be here. Just as it is yours.

What did this mean? Before I could ask he was gone. I fear it may be some time before I see Fritz again.

Schiller Park, March ’82

SchillerPark

End of hibernation

Begin year three after

the long nights anguish

for a direction

March demands action

absent malice aforethought

With all else uncharted

only geography to explore

Somewhere better than this

Veil of cloud

and damp ever present

The Poet’s visage not like today

Grey statuary forgotten

Eyes blank, imitate the dead

No counsel or inspiration

Only realization

Despite all efforts

my feet not set in stone

Someone better than this

No monument can follow

where my steps lead away

Sentries in stone keep their place

Only watch as you leave

for somewhere better than this

In Hospital: in three acts

Hospital, knows no hospitality

home of sickness; home of healing

Sterile steel and glass

with death her dealing

Should have gone like my old hound

and run away to die

To pass in the night without a sound

just run away to die

Can be angry now

have earned the right

but to no purpose and pray

will not last the night

 

She waits, nervous by the bed

Don’t want to be here

almost rather be at work

No choices left in life

every act for someone else

No breath left for self validation

I still need you, she cries in her silent heart

to be your little girl again

in the soft light of warm spaces

on rainy November days

Safe from train whistle dragons

roaring in the night

Now could just have it over

to end the wait

 

Young man in a waiting room

Monotone and shades of beige

Present on the periphery

a stage prop for glossy brochures

Doesn’t understand the need

for this appearance

Will this be a day to remember

or a scene forever shunned from mind

All wait for death

He is waiting for departure

Waiting for this life to begin

Night falls darker

as two will leave this place today

but only one is parting

leaving two to stay