Lot’s Wife in Prime Time

Wheeled out in prime time,
dusted off, makeup girls
powdering her up from crusted
toe to nose, Lot’s wife dug
from the desert, placed on a
sound stage under lights to
amuse the martini boys and girls
and sell a few six packs—here
the aftermath of a sand god
speaks to the masses in a tongue
they do not hear.

Could be Oprah or Maury,
Johnny or Dave—no matter,
any full set of teeth and lacquered
hairdo will suffice.

So Lot’s dear wife sits as a
caked mannequin, camel smile
burnt on for millennia, limestone
ears buzzed by an audience’s
tinnitus, listens to the micro-phoned
questions coming from a crowd
eager to consume a rock woman’s

Her thoughts ooze out like moss on

They would fish-hook them from her
frozen tongue.

Her gaze of ages from welded eyes
made cracked crystal by Sodom’s
burned turrets. This the lack of
obedience from the spirits’ warning
of not to gaze on the white incarnation,
solid fog made of mad oranges, blazing
reds, a tiny god’s history-pointing finger
that brought them all here, madly in love
with the heat that they imagined.

Her contemplations from a coral brain
remembering the shock wave cracked-foamed
over her form stilled in flight—cones of
electric light settling over, a stinger that
cannot be pulled.

These words she would hammer together
to make a house for them to live within:

do not believe that the force of history,
of rolled out consequences can be
peeled away, that forgiveness is flaked
stone revealing the core of kindness.

Do not believe that we can gaze
behind and find summer’s solace
choking the rot of autumn.

Do not believe that we are chosen
by heaven’s probability for
immortal glory after the arena’s

She would like to raise a stalactite
middle finger, but that would not be

All I did, like you, was look.

Bloodlines and Nuns

She asked him what his bloodlines were,
if he had ever seen a nun run down the street
on fire, or knew the smell of an orange sunset

through the headlamps of rusted automobiles.
I have a Brazilian wax job she told him,
a Fitrah act.

Was that your doppleganger I took into the
bedroom? he asked. The one that was so lewd.
The blonde sloe who moaned like a lion?

Remember, he sang a requiem to you, a sad dirge
of funeral songs in bars, looking for the wrong eyes;
you were thrilled by his ululations.

His late night chant was like a mind bludgeon
and she knew the coarse twin would have to take
a place in a pew.

I will chase down the wild nun on fire, she said,
and know the blood through her lens.

Berlin 1945

The photographs on Pinterest
are no more than reflected
ghosts, digital bytes fragmenting
even more a fragmented time.
Plato’s shadows blinded by Dresden’s
glare and barbed wire—no aged
facsimile can bring life to those
vanished faces, generation’s genocide
lost in the bombed-out rubble,
twisted head of an eyeless doll,
bone-bearing wheelbarrows,
ragged dogs gnawing on forgotten

Berlin after the fall is Duat’s
realm, nightmare place even
shades shun.

Screen thumbnails dark as
a railroad tunnel: Volkswagen
beetle, metal carapace covered in
acne pockmarked bullet holes—

German Panzer flying through
the air as though suspended in
a Dali painting—

American soldier before a gigantic
box marked with the Iron Cross,
behind him marble statues of
Mongol warriors, heads bent,
arms folded, eyes closed to
avert history’s horror—

Nazi soldiers lying prone on
a night snowfield, sky lit up
by all the gods’ anger as though
marking that humanity lies halfway
between animals and angels—

smiling SS officers instructing
beautiful women in target
practice firing Lugers—

Hitler and two henchmen posed
before the Eiffel Tower like
Napoleon sitting for a portrait—

Bikinied Eva Braun sitting on
a rock at Berchtesgaden, smiling.
In another photo clothed in a modest
white two piece, false snow purity—

Berlin from the air, maze of lost
majesty transformed by the allies’
fury into a black tar pit like some
mad cubist painting.

Cancer-created crematories
lying like insane blights
on Europe’s skin—

filled with gray ash,
no Phoenix wings
beating over the glow.

Camelot’s Cinders

Princip’s bulleted pronouncement
in Sarajevo was the flowing
undercurrent, little washes, eddies,
the thing that would cut the 18th century
philosophes into tiny little pieces,
morsels for the mongrels, fragmented
fragments, like searching through
shattered glass from 9/11.

How events bloom like red gushing
arteries, how the bones shake and howl
to be set and heal, how faces look up
for water to quench a burning sky,
how hands reach for any small grace—
dancing on Victorian buttons more
fit for horse and buggy than tank and steel.

The mad dance of mid-century Germany,
ovens not baking bread, swastikas beheading
David’s shield, modernism’s denouement
a fat mushroom’s nucleus that drove the moon

Then, women in long skirts holding martinis
at the door, white picket fences hiding street
rage—Marilyn and Marlon and Jayne
and gleaming modern kitchens and perfect
kids, perfect schools, perfect beliefs
developed from impeccable manners,
humming motor cars, shakes and burgers,
drive-ins completing assembly line perfection—

until November 22, 1963.

All the pieces were rolled onto the floor
that had skulked and hidden like
last year’s autumn leaves, brown, brittle,
blown by the winds into uncountable

waiting waiting for a mask, any mask
to wear.

American Montage

I remember the day Karen Carpenter died
and the worshipping gay guy cried at the
grad student party. He was the son of a
preacher man. Her death a tragedy for
his sensitive nature, and here is where he thought
everything went wrong. He might, but we don’t

know where it went wrong.
We wake up each morning with this vague
uneasiness, this thing in the gut and the mind.
Some people say it was two messed up people
in a garden with some rotten fruit.

Good enough explanation for the simple, the faithful,
but not for Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, or any other
Enlightenment heir free thinkers that looked out on
a wrecked wasteland and shivered at the darkness,
the madness of a thing gone wrong, the ultimate
industrialization of death.

We toil at the long and heavy task, die without
leaving a word.

Maybe it’s some of these wrongs:

There’s Dusty in Memphis in 1969. By 1967
she was already out of step with the Summer of Love.

The woman—made to endure, to walk, to climb, to ski,
to sail, to love, to birth, to know the never ending cycle
of moon after moon—knowing that it is the far north, Alaska
and beyond, where she can walk through the last wilderness, seek
out the Arctic circle and meditate without the sun for more than
six months. She knows there the harshness of frozen tundra, the
forbidding green ominous stillness of fir filled forests, where the
owl speaks to her in a language of the connected. There she
is given the treasures of darkness, the tongue of ice and field, of ocean
and rock.

There’s Elvis in 1977 singing out his last Vegas caricature
on the final King’s throne.

Maybe for the mad 20th century that finally came to a merciful end
it was the 1960’s, the long-haired postmodern children that did not yet
know their name, did not understand that they were the ungrateful,
whining, privileged children of Modernity.

They rejected both the Father and the Mother, took up instead with the Stones,
Beatles, White Rabbit, Dionysian romance of drugs and brought the rot into
the main stream where crack whores pump out abandoned kids.

Not only the death of God but perhaps the death of America—the day the music
died was the birth of San Francisco’s Summer of Love.

Maybe it’s all obsession—obsession that we think there is mercy and grace.
We wake on Sunday in the temperance of mercy. By morning coffee the trees
still blaze russet and red, scarlet and sunyellow; the earth is soft umber, the rock,
moss-covered green, Mary’s breasts still full that we suckle from as in days of

We are comforted in our blind obsessions, that the bad news in the morning
paper is bad only for others: the tormented animals, the Muslim woman
forced to undergo a clitoridectomy (notice the clit-rid root), the African children
buried in a mud slide, the Chinese peasant denied his rice fields, and we think,
as in a dream of the soft Christ eyes, the sunhalo ringing the head full of love,
and we nod and sip and drink and know the lies that we tell while believing
them true.

We look knowingly at each other and remember the time we soaped
in the shower, drank wine, turned away the lessons of the dark
between love soaked sheets.

Those were our moments of false grace, fabricated pity, animals
with stone angel wings—that final demise is the order of things
when the coffin lid closes far away, the bee still brings us sweet

Or Jimi and Janis in 1970 going out with no more flaming guitars, only
burning cities and windshield wipers keeping time.

We laughed then and dreamed of 1950’s drive-ins as the modern
grail that vanquished Dresden’s ghosts, of sock hops and pony tails,
burgers as big as a first love, shakes like desert manna from heaven,
poodle skirts tenting our desires—when in that time I would say—
            stay, the fields are bare but always bloom
            remain, your skin is the barometer warning of this weather.

We do linger, we drink the night like the carnival closed down,
meaning of our pressed bodies antidote for the unthought.
In the morning it is all the same.
The Stones roll on gathering no moss. Flown into this century by
twin towers reflecting all the dichotomies, opposites that can
never know reconciliation.

We exist as binaries in a binary time. The sun and moon are both,
light of day etching the world, the window through which we gaze.
We reach out two hands that have known two times, uncouple
from the day’s beginning, light filling our eyes while half the world
runs through darkness—recognizes that like Ginger or Mary Ann,
the choice is always the same, both and neither.

History’s Amputations

Try to understand the mangled world.
Gaze at the cold stars, hold a lover’s hand
and know that all are amputees tormented
by the throb of ghost limbs severed by
birth, by marriage, by exiled refugees, by

Execution of some sort awaits all, fragmentation
by policies, gender, sex, religion, witch hunt
eternally existent as some sniffing hound or another.

Without lament realize that this has always been the
neurotic norm, the mutilation began with the first
human breath frosted out in cold air. The maiming
cannot be stopped but it can be controlled.

If confusion is the norm, try to fathom this dismembered
cripple. Books are one way: Claudius’ atrocity, Hamlet
sensing time out of joint, Eliot and the dissolution of a
fragmented west, the horrible myths carried around
like a slobbering child.

To see is to know: the stylish man and the beggar both
set out upon a long trip, and one will know the pleasures
of flowered scents, the other cold touch of oblivion
licking at the edge of space.

Sing praise to these mangled moments. Another way
is to remember our gaze in a room of crimson curtains;
travel again in the mind to that autumn time where you
gathered fallen leaves to press in a book for your children’s
children to find and smell the vanished instant.

There were bird feathers in the forest, eddying light
crucifying black branches that wanted only to sleep,
the mangled time pushed away like some mythical griffin,
seed pods burst in symphonic flight around your bare legs,
your white dress—settled down to the endless departure
and the bible of their return.