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Posts Tagged ‘prose’

Old Furniture

That old wooden clock,
my grandmother’s grandmother’s
keeping hand-crafted time and
still ticking long after we become
objects in bones, like furniture,
and no one knows the color of their skin
or the content of their character.

We think we live in black and white
but it is always Grey
and Baltimore was burning,
that great unspoken poverty,
the ignored, silent epidemic of
American tragedy,
vast, sweeping like the plains
across black ghettos, white trailer-trash towns,
and forgotten people in Appalachia,
we are all toothless and shoeless on some level.

Burning across the land without a hill
or a tree to stop the rising of
an evil beast’s heart
like a toxic Trump
or any other form it could take,
miles from any canyon or ridge
that could stop it.

At least there’s baseball and
sometimes Baltimore is all orange.

So down south where deep rivers
still flow in veins of deep hatred,
in Alabama on a college campus
I heard young men shout from a truck,
“They only brought you niggers
here to play football.”
I think of Langston Hughes composing
his symphony at day break in Alabama
wondering where black kids get
to ride the merry-go-round.

That old wooden clock kept time
during the Civil War in southern Virginia,
time that must have never seemed possible
to end, to change or mend.
My family was at Gettysburg on
both sides, both bled,
one lost an eye so
I’m a half-inch away
from never existing.
The clock sat on a chest of drawers
with a secret compartment in the top
to hide valuables in case of
a union soldiers raid,
perhaps a letter was once there
of a secret friendship between a little
white girl and a little black girl
who knew nothing of war,
who knew only what children should know,
the soft societal fabric of
small-scale love that keeps humanity human.

M.L.K. wrote a letter from jail unsure
of how to raise a daughter in such
a pointless hatred filled place,

so with a heavy heart
I have to stare at the clock,
at the future,
my reflection in the glass of
the picture frames that show
old relatives and the
chaotic twitches of their eyes
from their portraits unsettled
by their wasted blood,
my pathetic hands that
can’t do anything except
write like a coward in a book
all while knowing that
we are not teaching
our children
to hate less
than we do.

Kyle McHale         2016

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A Night on a Train Window

I don’t know that face that’s
over mine, it seems old,
not in years but in time spent,
it stares back, through me and
I stare through it
floating on a night-train window.

I focus on the whites of his eyes
to not see the black of them
and wish I had another drink so
I could forgive, forget the world
flicking by, through my
translucent face, printed smears
of distorted sweeping concrete
and light, black air and purple
silhouetted trees, missing fields
with broken flowers after heavy rain,
and litter angels picking up
what they can find on the streets.

It goes by so fast.
I don’t talk to you anymore,
you are in the past
and I cannot get there.

Am I the train or the dark air,
the seat or the glass,
those eyes or the sadness
of that translucent mess?

Am I the past tracks,
or am the next?

Kyle McHale            2016

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The Way We Live

Woven into a living fabric
an item of clothing that was a gift
that became meaningful and was
unintentionally ruined,
like ourselves,
given this gift ruined by us
on every scale,

bleeding the globe
bleeding our personal souls
and their need in the actual
living of life,

do not accept the formula passed
down as necessary,
whatever it is or was for you,
cycles of poor trailer-trash shit
uneducated and pregnant
neglected and unfair
given an inheritance of the burdens
heavy, sick as sin,
inescapable, cry-able,

spiders that spin webs to trap
themselves and eat their own hearts
and burrow into their own flesh and
poison the tissue that connects our
hearts to each other, our minds
to a future and our spirits to the earth,
a poisoned vein that sprouts, stunted,
toxic roots, spills the overflow into
and back out of us
so we all hurt the ones we love
hurt ourselves and this place we live in
so warmness feels uncomfortable and
misery normal,

label it whatever you want,
create the form it manifests for you,
call it a disorder or depression
make it a substance abuse problem
treat the symptoms of misery
and stay in it forever because
it’s become normal,

or claim it unacceptable,
pick up the shit you’ve
been given, smear it on
your face as war paint
smile and say, “fuck it”,
I’m going to play the
hand I’ve been dealt.

Kyle McHale          2016

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Between Buildings

As children we sought new hiding spots,
explored between houses, down paths,
under benches, through gaps in stone
walls and wooden fences, between
churches and tombstones and stained
glass in day light, sheds and gardens,
between buildings where strange, unseen
flowering vines hid in summer,
unpicked fruit trees blossomed and no one
noticed us, they never even looked,
they wouldn’t have seen us
even if they tried,
even if they wanted to,
we had found the gaps to dance and sing in.

Peace in cities is in the wanderings
down side streets, alleys that lessen
the humming of the universe, where
graffiti can be appreciated and life can
be seen, felt in every window and on every
balcony, families sharing meals and someone
sitting out enjoying a beer and a smoke
listening to the radio,
the urban plants do their best to clean the air
between buildings, the only stillness left.

Then there was us in Venice,
it is better than they say,
being lost in Venice means anything
you wish it to mean, there is no
childhood pretending needed.

The apartment we stayed in had a
neglected courtyard between four walls,
over grown, cracked, forgotten, rusty barred
balconies and ripened vines, tattered drying
clothes out on lines, the sun was trying
to touch it all, the climbing plants grew
where it was possible to grow in the gaps
between brick rows out of the beautiful
sinking city and rose like
our heart fires rose.

At night, to look between buildings
into that city slivered sky, chasing
what can’t be seen, perhaps
a star or a place, some dream in the gaps
that dreamers dance between
what’s been built and what’s been felt,
in the veins of the city, or of the heart,
in the center, in between it all at night,
there is always hope for a small glow
of faint warm light.

Kyle McHale     2016

 

 

 

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Sky Message

Up there, cracked crust,
Continental drift, ancient collisions,
Earth history sped up
On that blue canvas,
A million years in a day.

Cirrocumulus shaped just right,
If you were blind and could
Reach out it would be brail
In the sky, only those few
Could read it.

I do not know what it would say,
A message from those before perhaps,
Or from the earth before people walked it.
We are just spectators here,
We are more temporary than the shifting skies.

Kyle McHale          2013

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Strange Hung over Me

What was to be a normal afternoon,
A Sunday, Quiet and pleasant, a mild winter day,
Suddenly a strangeness hung over me
Dropping down close, stratocumulus hovered
Intensely near my brain, a strange light,
Not the normal blue and gray, enough blue
Let into sight by the hovering forms
That it almost seemed on purpose.

A peculiar color as the connective tissue,
Muscle and fibers, veins and vessels
That held the sky together, each cloud a
Spider in a blue electric web-spun world.
Almost a lack of emotion. A freezing of thought.
It watched only me for I acknowledged
Its existence, others had not. Singularly
Bearing the weight of the entire heavens,
At least the weight of its glare.

Someone hanging from strings, like puppets,
A hundred uncomfortable paintings
About me, a maze of mirrors of the
Great scream by Munch in every direction,
Inescapable, that long face in an
Awkward world, brilliance in the discomfort.
Some surreal aura that dripped down to
Surround me, melting strangeness from a sky
That I wish was more Monet-like,
Monet’s clouds do not freeze thought or shake one’s core
Or stop inspiration.
His sky is for lovers and dreamers.

Perhaps it was Munch’s psyche during
Every brush stroke of his scream that
Governed the sky that afternoon.
Haunted and taunted by the insane,
The screamer from Munch’s twisted world heart,
Whatever pushed him to paint that now glared
Down on me from above.
Though beautiful, that Sunday
Strange hung over me
And it took several days to
Escape its influence.

Kyle McHale         2013

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Pearls

I imagine a thousand oysters drifting
away slowly, keeping perfect space,
like synchronized swimmers hanging in air,
suspended there like an oyster chandelier,
and then all at once begin to laugh, happy as
a thousand clams, crooked smiles opening
chuckling in a choking manner, coughing up
and letting drop a thousand perfect pearls,
white as ivory, clean as young river water from high in the hills.
Peaceful pearls in air, silent, like a pin before it drops,
like the sun before it rises,
hitting water a thousand droplet splashes turn into five thousand
water rings that for a moment do not touch and are in perfect symmetry,
a thousand pearl epicenters.

I close my eyes before the rings collide to keep
the moment frozen and think of the white orbs
sinking deeper into black water.
A calmness comes over me and I realize it was only a thought.
I opened an oyster once to find a perfect pearl,
It felt smooth in my hand with a sense of purpose
like a children’s marble resting on the thumb before it shoots.
Pearls do not remind me of any women though I’m sure they do for some.
One may find it a strange thought to think of
an oyster somewhere in some ocean, bay, or river,
sitting there not knowing it’s place in the world.

Kyle McHale       2013

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