It was a night colder than the last, in a series for which this was true.
Lighted telephone poles—tumbled masts, I—a vessel without crew.
The day had been auburn-bright with a slight chill, almost to a touch.
My bones were set at night and my head filled, altogether too much.

The crisp had seared my lips, those which trembled past
a coffee-smeared cigarette-butt, met with bustled-blast.
The fume rose—scattered and rigid—momentary and hastened—
humble dissipation—flume/road piloted eyes to ether wasteland.

The moon, as I saw it, was ale-bruised and stained,
like brittle pages of a yellowing book,
yet, still and ever, crystalline, pale-paned;
I gave to her my bellowingest look.

She, and only she, recognized this suffering; I’ve given it once before:
underneath the bleachers—deafened to a score.
I’ve seen her pock-marked cruelty and her milky embrace;
her calm ambulation (well-paced) and hurried sun-kissed chase.
I’ve long regarded her distant leer from beyond mighty trees’ horizon,
her supple outline, lamp unto my path, self-same for fauna’s indulgence.

Some would have you think there’s man on the moon,
but I know this to be untrue.
For I know well the moon is on a man:
inscribed hidden verses on glassy punch-drunk eyes.

Finally, I cast my cigarette on the lawn of the neighboring parish
with a dreadful feeling to face at night—as if just shook-awoke.
Rushed and scattered not out the door, but in,
as if all good rest were postponed in perpetuity.

And though the night sky was color’d black—a stewing abyss,
my eyes were vulgar and garish.
A dreadful feeling to face at night—my chest and stomach pulling tight—
bilked the full bounty of my cherish’d.

Rushed and scattered not out the bed, but in.
Where my dreams, no matter their course, punish and whip me for sin.
Where my dreams, no matter their form, remind me all of who I’ve been.
Where my dreams, no matter their run, tell me all my thoughts again.
Where my dreams, no matter their path, wear my frail face thin.
Where my dreams, no matter their track, gut me and tack me on a pin.
Where my dreams, no matter their line, linger long deep under my skin.

I cannot rest nor sleep nor slumber.
I cannot wake anew and fresh.
I cannot but rust, creep, and lumber
with ore weights affixed to my flesh.

I cannot slip myself (quixotic/insolent) to peace
and relinquish my helm and armor and shell,
to have my head crushed and choked, and heel pierced,
to nurture in silent ardor an oak to hew and fell.

Caution always. Is this my lesson?
What, from this, am I to take?
To embrace all curses as cabalistic blessings?
To be proud, transfixed upon the stake?

Cauto semper. Seize this message? Clasp this scourge?
Caustic and tempered, a proof of mettle.
Kiss the anvil, bless the smoldering forge;
Kiss the blade, bless the smoking barrel.

Chisel yourself heartily; turn exact in the lathe.
Cut the fat and excess; leave ye heavily scathed.
Leave not one prisoner, exact no quarter;
Accept not one fissure, throng all with mortar.

Surrender all meat, sinews, rivets, rills, and tinder.
Submit all feats, muscles, tendons, tills, and vigor.

Let it go, that which does not serve you,
give it up, that which gives no light.
Bring it near, that which much unnerves you,
pull it dear, that which withstands night.

Pay it good mind, that which offers poof,
that we cannot control all things though we wish it,
Give it little thought, become ye bliss’d, aloof.
We cannot keep all we want, though we’ll miss it.

Meditate on this: all things pass,
and anon, it will be june,
and you will see, by chance but ordained,
your friend, abiding, the moon.