Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sonnet #150

So, Golgotha wakes for us, and we must stand
Upon the hill of skulls? That's fine by me
No one ever promised peace for an eternity
Let us stand together, see the temple, see the land
Feel the stab inside of us, the powerlessness
Aye, they wanted Barnabas, the rapist, grifter, thief
They rather keep their devil than change against grief
We will all bow down to Rome, to Pilate, to Barnabas
Let the world keep their sinners among sinners
We stand on the hill, above, brace with pain
Let the world shout their misery, pretend as winners
We will hold our souls, and wash away all stains
Be gentle on Golgotha, let them dance regrets and burns
Let the hurt reveal the strength of us like keening trains

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sonnet #149

What came first, the gender or the pronoun?

When Adam had his rib removed, was there 
anything to call him until the flesh became clear?
He, alone, requires no third, no second, no sound.
Without those two, must there be a first?
What point is sense of self without another?
Is God's voice in our hearts enough for
the measurement of a pronoun? What's worse:
The idea that the self cannot exist without
Another person to bounce off of it,
Or that the self exists when nature's out
and I am in, and I am not a part of it?
And, if we accept that Eve's our rib, shout
at her, and pronouns break communion, doesn't it?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sonnet #148

Cancelled due to illness, shut the doors
Close the windows, go to bed, We're sick
and tired of all the cleaning, mopping floors
Washing dishes, trimming trees, let's stick
The laundry in the baskets for a day
Let's call the repairwoman tomorrow
Let's be sick and lie in bed and pay
our bills tomorrow, and sleep in sorrow
Let the pain wash over us, let it pass
Drink no coffee, feel the headache split
the skull, embrace the tremors, harass
each other about who must deal with it
Cancelled due to illness, invent a sickness,
Anyone will do, and hide all day in blankets

Friday, November 25, 2016

Sonnet #147

In dreams, I was an angel that flew above

the crowd, when a powerful preacher lied
to an illiterate woman, preached hate, I pried
his tongue from his mouth, and drove
the preacher away from manhood, now a dog;
Chased dogs away from the wriggling flesh,
Invisible by will, I hid it in a creche
Of a high closet, wrapped in old towels, a fog
descended on my flight of invisibility
I soared above the world all night, stealing tongues
of men who spoke of hate, voted in irritability

Say they own half the diocese, say they won
the world, once, and keep it in perpetuity.

Take away tongues; change them into dogs that run.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sonnet #146

Let us add to the seven deadly sins:
Ungratefulness is high on the new list
For it burns a resentment that spins
The heart into a hatred behind a friendly kiss
Also, let us add call waiting, because
It is very disrespectful to hold the line
And so impersonally engineer the laws
of customer service as weaponized time
Envy and jealousy, I think, are combined
Because people confuse them, these days,
And gossiping to harm: instead, let's entwine
All three of those together. Let's say
There are deadlier sins than this, burns and kills
But every generation has new ways to harm through will

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sonnet #145

Placelessness is a country I know too well
The airport waiting areas, the bus stops, the roads
The giant interchanges where highways cajole and goad
The benches where I rest, insomniac at my hotel
The gardens are meticulous, here, pruned
Into perfect geometries of blueprint drawings
The dumpsters fill and empty by unknown beings
The blowing trash has neither origin nor wound
We are all the drifters of this walk until we die
Until then, smile, be clean, polite and quick
The staff will yawn, the manager will not lie
The locals will be color and the food will be thick
The displacement of the self is the shell
That sanitizes us into a bravado of well

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sonnet #144

The things that no one tells you about kites:
There is no skill so great it overcomes no wind,
The best time to set one up is in the twilight
When transitions come and clouds unwind
When it's up, the tail is prettier than wings
The way the bobbing, dancing tail weaves
And caresses, to angels, this is everything
Pull, release, pull, release, to climb above the eaves
The ornery places of the sky are where the angels pass
To snag one on the line like a fish of heaven
Consider carefully how to catch what comes to pass
Where would one keep the angel? A jar? A battery? Bread unleavened?
When night comes, the steady tug is how we know
The ribbon tail cuts shimmery through moonlit clouds' glow

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sonnet #143

Turn the song in the club way up way up
Until the chests vibrate with the noise
And every dancer moves without a choice
Dance or die, move or burst, throw back cups
And throw off pretentious intentions just dance
Until the beads of sweat merge into a stream
And conscious thoughts dilute into a dream
We live in this moment, throw off all postures and stances
Be animals, be vegetables, be Zen Buddhist statues
Be mineral reactions, be factions of sound
Made flesh into an army of a mass truth
About the space between the sky and ground
Conquer the self, conquer the song, conquer the you
And when the song ends, be lost and bound

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sonnet #142

We are the infrastructure, the infrastructure is we

The pipes and wires of cities spreading out
Rebuilt, remade, replaced as needed, do you see
The way we built this organism, how it shouts
A wave of sound, a character, a living energy
From far enough away, the city is an organism
We are just the workers in the cells, our liberty
Is the illusion we repeat while smeared in chrism
Of the unity of us: petroleum, coffee, beer, tv
The narrow places where our imagination is
allowed to be, never push the cities back, never free
Even in the country, we're sending energy to cities
Even in the country, we're on the grid, on the economy
The world is networked urban cells we call community

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sonnet #141

The twilight hours call me to shoes
And, never alone, the dog thrills to join
Anything we can do together, she chooses
To do with gusto, even a humble purloin
of moments strolling about aimless, at peace
We walk together, then, the moon creeps in
The purple sky descends to lamplit streets
And as the dark is falling, we keep on
Starlight, does she even see it? Does she wish?
She bounds head down sniffing grass, no stars.
She makes her marks around. I guide her leash
and set the pace so we avoid the blinding cars.
This walk, we see two world of one, two sublimities.
So close in bonds of love, but no perspectival proximity

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sonnet #140

Imagine two worlds running in two halls of creation

One, we call earth, and the other, we'll call Narnia
For lack of a better name, Well, the souls' stationed
On Earth end their term and pass to where armies of
lions massed against the white queen. The fallen 
in battle, the brave and heroic, are born again here
And after their time among the humans, the calling
of the Narnian world, they go, forever here and there
A back and forth of souls, passing through time
And myth is just the memory of other lives
And the stories that we tell are lessons of Narnia
The battles we seek are the redemption cries
Souls passing back and forth, like training for a
third world, not yet made, all the little sins grieved
clean, that we may pass this twin purgatories cleaved

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sonnet #139

What do you do when a hundred lemons ripen?
The tree is prolific, and the fruit lasts only so long
The moment, now, when patience turns to song
When months of effort, from the flowers open
to when the sunlight bursts from golden peels
And all of that soaked up energy, effort, hope
All of that reaching root and leaf expanding scope
To make a single crop, one hundred lemons, kneel
to take the bottom ones and reach to take the high,
The buckets full, the wealth is here, the bounty
Remember they don't last so long, rotting is nigh
eat many, preserve yours in salt, then call the county
To share the summer sun distilled to lemon pie,
No dragons rest upon a hoard of rotting bounty.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Exclusive Excerpt of FORTRESS AT THE END OF TIME at Barnes and Noble SF Blog

When we showed you the cover of Joe M. McDermott’s The Fortress at the End of Time, a new novel-length release from Publishing, we just knew it was going to be a great read. Since then, we’ve gotten a chance to plow through an advance copy, and our gut feelings were right on the money: this is a fantastic book, military SF quite unlike anything we’ve read before.
[source: ]

Go on over and read about half the first chapter of my next novel, coming in January 17, 2017.

Pre-Order right now:

Sonnet #138

I don't think anyone knows what actually happened

We like to analyze and talk, and talk and talk
But we were not there, and even where we walked
the streets of history, our ego renders us blindered
So much of what we sense never breaks the veil
of conscious thought, and so little of that breaks
the parchment of memory. History is written by flakes
of snow upon a plain that blow a pattern on a windowsill
The pattern is invented by the human will for sense
But we see the faces, there, we see the picture of the world
And forget that all we see is a fog of snowflakes, dispensed
By weather we can't even measure, feel a wind hurled
Memory is a story that accumulates into a history
From this mythic place we gather futures out of worries.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sonnet #137

Here are fourteen ways of seeing the color blue
First, the sky is blue and vast, the backdrop of imagination;
Second, the Caribbean sea is like the sky's distillation;
Third, the sky pushed into diamonds, lapis lazuli's hue;
Fourth, there's pretty eyes; Fifth there's the poisoned ones
Whose skin fills up with quicksilver's deadly shade;
The babies born blue, their slow beating heart's fade;
The dead that turn blue when the coldness comes;
The note of blue in the sad cafe, decadence and invention
But mostly decadence; the blue of the plates; the blue
that comes from depressiom; the blue of the intentions
of voters broken in cities; the blue line of order and truth;
The blue in the face of holding breath against truncheons;
Blue's the color of sky above streetlights, all blue, all blue.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sonnet #136

The cat insists on writing a poem this time

I ask her what she'd like to say, and she pushes
At my hands to drive them off from all rhymes
All keystrokes, just affection, purring thrushes
in her throat, the gentle knead of air, a flicking tail
She lives in a moment of imminent need
There's no remorse among the cats for when they fail
The only memory is instinct and muscle and breed
and what tiny training we managed to instill
Between the chases for lizards in the garden 
And the way she finds the things that smell 
like herself for her to lie and dream down in
If a cat's life can be a poem, if she could speak
Live for now, right now, is the only song she keeps

GoodReads Giveaway is Happening

Go over to GoodRead, if you got one, and put your name in the hat.

Sonnets resume in 5...4...3...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sonnet #135

When life gives me lemons, I bless them
And I slice them open, examine them close
I pluck out what seeds I easily see, and then
I pour salt into the wound -- lots of salt for those
beautiful, puckering fruit. I pack them in bay
because the laurel is the victor's crown that comes
from struggle, I pack them in cinnamon, a bay
of the tropics, to remember the burn, The peppercorns
The hardest, blackest peppercorns, to some
A breaker of teeth, but the wealth of the merchants
comes from the way the hard shell holds when we roam
The allspice, too, and some fingers of rosemary's scent
To call upon the mother of us all, who weeps
with pink peppercorns when flowers plucked early, sleep

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sonnet #134

There is a song in the garden we do not hear
Of cells dividing and pollen landing like drums
Of the rustle of the weevil and the dew dropping tears
The drum and drum and rippling drum of all that becomes
The vibrations of the earth, the tiniest juggles 
Are moving, cells dividing, ripping through cells
And minute hungry creatures chew and struggle
The songbirds whose huge shouts echo like bells
The whistling wind cut to ribbons in the grass
The click of the anole scales and claws upon the stones
The weight of the sun, the weight of the rain, the frass
that tumbles from the dying squash vine's broken bones
There is a song we cannot hear -- We know there's music
Because we see the beauty of the dancing world majestic

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sonnet #133

We claim that we defeated Nazis
But have you been to Germany's cities?
Once there were vibrant Jewish communities
Now not even their ghosts are permitted a proxy
Like scraping a parchment clean to scriven brand new
Where are the Jews that used to walk there?
The demographic destiny is very clear
Across the former Reich there are so few
What tiny DNA is left will drown in the flood of Aryans
The rest relocate to Palestine, make war, remember war
And all those empty neighborhoods, buried in
The flood, the legacy of hatred, the absent floors
Where empty space is filled without much thought beyond memorials
It is easy to say never again when it worked.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sonnet #132

Rise up, rise up, oh annual rye grass field
The weather's turned colder, and rains have come
The ground belongs to winter weeds and stones
that slowly melt where water kisses and rusts all steel
Rise up, rise up, oh winter weeds, hold the earth
before the snow and ice and wind, we did not plant
a thing, and here you are, ready to stand
America is held in place by roots whose worth
Will always be discounted by the kings
They think there is no profit in the pigweed dirt
They see just weeds and weeds and things
That will never make a seed that's any worth
But in this hum of forgotten ones, let us sing
All that is America is made by your death and rebirth

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sonnet #131

The thing that drives me nuts is not the winner, but

The things that come from mouths of supporters
The bluster and lies that baffles reporters
I've yet to hear coherent, plotted out policy, thoughts
Just tumble around a few oddities, like a country back
Win our country back, bring our jobs back, but
But, but, how, exactly? There is no plan, just
Bluster and anger and wringing tiny hands, Track
Any truth of the matter, you'll see, the lies they tell
That will not be lost to history. We planted seeds
in a garden we would never see, but we need
To know the price we ask of history. The bell
we wrung can't be unwrung. The white supremacy
The circling wagons of failed ideologies lacking in policies.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sonnet #130

Hey, don't let those assholes get you down,
The arc of history is famous for its bend to justice
It's too slow for the living, I know, it's nice
to think, though, that when historians make known...

Sorry, we aren't supposed to be doing any martyring
But the way things work, injustice comes, still
The lies of history, the broken, angry and the shrill
Will shout the ancestral sins, shout a selfish terroring
That separates us, but when the soil and seas rise
There will be no difference between the fleshes
So the arc of history, the anonymity of death and lies
Will all bellow away into the wind, until just threshes
of wheat tumbling down, the migration of birds in all skies
The innocent babies born free of hatred, yet precocious

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sonnet #129

We plant the seeds before the storm to save
A little water in the bill, but more than this
We seek to reduce the water we use to brave
the future where water will be extremely missed
Every drop of water that we tap and drink
Had a place in watersheds and aquifers and ice
Instead we pull it all straight up the sink
And redirect the water into the cities of size
That water was supposed to go somewhere
That water was supposed to be something
Instead, we push our houses out  everywhere
We pull the water up from from everything
I have so little ways to make this better
We plant the seeds before it rains; trust in weather

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sonnet #128

Who will we become today? Another day is here

And every minute of the day is the building of the self
Are we the person in a clean house, with bookshelves
and exercise and all the big goals gently steered?
Are we the ones who give up and worry and break?
Do our brains lie fallow in a haunted field of failure
Do our minds reach up and grip the cosmic spires?
Are we prayers today? Are we givers? Do we just take?
Every morning is another chance to build a habit
Every morning is another chance to feed old dooms
Today I cleaned the kitchen, again, held no sabbath
I think today I will drink coffee in the living room
until long after noon, and watch the dog and cat at it
Worry old pains in my bones with the rain and gloom

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sonnet #127

We were supposed to be through with the uncivil war
Where men would draw steel to oppress other men
And state legislatures could decide enemies and friends
Where they draw their own lines. It chills me more
Than horror films to watch the descendants win
The war without a single shot. Just vote and shout
And shout and vote and build lies upon natural doubts
Until the mythic south will rise with all the oldest sins
The race war lingers under police batons, redlining
And what is worse? The Christian curses of crusade
And witch hunt and shame the women in bandaging
The south will rise again and break the power of the fed
The south will rise again and vote away the global rising
Swallow all the lies of power, what to do is what They said.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sonnet #126

A leaf falls in loneliness, that I know,

But it lands into the communion of souls
All lost leaves, all melting green into wormholes
Where the cosmic forces will reap and sow
There is a city in the soil, a galaxy of aliens
Every crevice in a stone is a suburb of the world
A leaf falls in loneliness, but then it drapes uncurled
upon the billions. Each footstep strike is salient
to the crushed houses and reconstruction where roots
Rebuild and insects crush and fungal pathways push
the highways of the underworld back from the boot
There is a convoy of life in every drop of river rush
There are spores of hope for every bit of soot
We are never alone in the room, never a dead hush

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sonnet #124

There is no wisdom greater than stay alive

Until the time it hurts too much, and burdens
The ones we love. But more than staying alive
There is also living. Leaving the house, around the bend
Into the city and into the forest, where people and flowers
Rise to bloom. I've sat in my bedroom too long
Killed monsters that don't exist to feel power
that isn't real, and it's time to set aside the song
of the poet, to stand and sweat and hurt and ache
To face the risk of looking foolish. Be more than vegetal
Be more than authorial, be more than just the fake
stand-ins for life made by artists like me. Enter all
crowded places, wander all hills, learn the lessons of meat
Learn the lessons artists cannot teach, of genuine heartbeats

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sonnet #123

...end everything I know about the after-

life I learned from living. How the sun
will rise each day regardless; How the matter
is neither created nor destroyed; One
cosmos always moving, always using
all the bits, discarded bits, where black holes
pull them in and someday the exploding
Parts will scatter all the ashes of the soul
How giant trees collapse but life won't stop
It just renews, where fungal growth and insect
eating insects pull the life all out of rot
Until the soil is rich and saplings rise from it
I see how all the tribes, we build upon what's built
Until the bits of souls, our human mudsill silt 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sonnet #122

We will not speak to strangers about the dead

We will not abandon the bodies of the dead
We will not permit the dead to bury the dead
Flowers bloom, cut short and browning on the dead
tombs and cemetaries, the grass is mown for the dead
That grass may never set seed to die above the dead
An eternity of grass, cemetery lily centuries for the dead
In gardens where the living ones whisper to the dead
And bring gifts to those beyond all gifts: the dead
will never taste your charities, they are the dead
And all gifts brought are for the living, not the dead
Bodies transform into a new way of not being the dead
But unlock the living cells that devour cells opened to the dead;
the resurrection is just so very small, there is no death, no dead