Magnetic South

Restless again;
Cold bones chime like northern bells
Quick, abbreviated cosmonaut breaths,
Aspirated, half-moon steps
Stilted motion in fragmented snapshots
Hope teeters like cuckoo eggs on porcelain branches
Worry beads shine like tiny new stars born in anxious, sweaty palms
Heavy, waking dreams of shouting gulls with eyes like tar pits
Ancient, lurking and merciless
The fluorescent siren call of exit signs
Soulless, medicated clacks in hospital hallways
Swooping, spiraling doubt
A mad glimpse at the impossible ledge
Another dark night of miserable, helpless waiting

Dead quiet in the pre-dawn mist
Dull thoughts echo in empty skulls
Beautiful pearl bullets ricocheting perfectly off alabaster walls
Poached-ivory lampposts
Eagle eyes strained from constant condescension
Caps well-feathered, pointless
Down slippers gently shuffling along
Dead weight dizzy, lost in spinning, panicked protest
Frenetic, frazzled states of unrest and half sleep
Electric meditation
Lobotomies botched in damp sanitariums
Livewires skipping about in synaptic revolt
Solidarity sparked in the sputtering congress of the lizard brain
Consensus from the hemorrhaging belly of the ungrateful beast
Must step off, slide down,
Fall into a dirtier truth
Seek out the unwashed seers and seekers and seethers
The filthy pilgrims below
The refusers and deniers in striped hats and loud shoes
Muck about in the real mud at ground zero.
Sea level.

Shallow pockets emptied at last
Forgettable keepsakes and forget-me-nots gleefully abandoned
Shiny baubles for Inanna’s gatekeepers
Knapsack packed, boxcar hopped, trailer sold and rented
Barefoot King of the descending road
Dusty highway of the disenfranchised, eternal deserter
Departed, dearly
Blank-slate wanderlust, cave-wall sketches
Flat echoes of an invisible, absent-minded ice age
Avalanche sleeper unfrozen at last
Bewildered but still striking out
A villager’s defiant fist, poxed and white-knuckled
Shaking at God and the barony gate
Hot lungs of a drowning boy
Rising and rising again for one last swallow of summer air
Then diving down, kicking hard towards the great, green ghosts below
Stone compass in a zombie death grip
Onward and downward
Magnetic South

Weary, shoeless and joyous days
Marching past the weird, earthy doors and suspicious, one-eyed stares
The ozone world, the nesting thrones, the mad shouters
Red ants and fireflies trading torture for fading light
Treetop saloons with tangled, rope-bridge walkways
Suspensions of misplaced belief
Swirling cinnamon leaves leap to their death on the sacrificial mounds below
Recklessly lurching on Autumn’s sweet turbulence
The breath of a candy-tongued witch
Whispering dark secrets wrapped in childish, pretty paper

Another bearded bartender with brown suspenders and bramble scars
Pushing homespun, noxious moonshine
Odd, wooden stories
Splinters of beautiful untruths
Or twisted, hidden branches
Limbo is a Suessian hipster bar
A lycanthrope’s paradise
Excitable Boys and beatnik wannabes sifting through the madness
Loathsome and fearless
Burning, beautifully skeptical
Scandalous, strange and terrible

My throat is a buzzard’s bed
Thirst is an easy fix in these drunken straights
Numb is predictable; comfortable, eternally temporary
Dazed. Confused.

Here is a tangled stranger with pills and bad skin
Daddy issues and the promise of pineapple shampoo
Little nods and teetering “ahhh”s like a cartoon snake
Sniper’s smiles and a curious, concerned eyebrow
I am precise and pathetic
A quick-fingered burglar
Knuckles crack slow and steady like distant, sad fireworks
Gun oil and burning papers
Ear to the cold metal
Ghost-white gloves like the shuffling slippers of an abandoned life
Some tumblers fall too easy
Too much perspective.

Sunrise- always a loudmouthed cousin- shows me the door
The dirt road again, ever downward
Wretched coffee and the stifled, morning air
The dull churn of the Daily Apocalypse
Donkeys and donkey-people
Narcoleptic liars and wood-faced voodoo puppets
Soul eaters, fear merchants
New clones for the death-defying, tightrope-walking, metropolitan circus
Speed freaks in mangled clown cars
Busy business monkeys on frayed high wires
Sweaty, nervous jugglers with familiar tremors and pulsing distractions
Gypsy-minded suckers tracing a bad trip on open palms and star-crossed charts
Invisible killers mumbling secret nonsense on their way to a bloody day’s work
Vacantly zooming towards the crooked nightmares below.
Exit. Descend.

Meet the new town, same as the old town
But closer to the filthy, tentacled roots
A Neanderthal with tiny black pupils peddles dirt weed then trots out his real wares
Eve or Faith or maybe Jane
Brown-eyed nymph, wood fairy, inbred and magical
We smoke and stumble through broken words that disappear like exhausted balloons
Failure writ large on the charcoal sky
She is dull as a watched clock
Lust is a tongue-tied Goblin King

Capsized morning, a mariner’s curse
A barbershop pole, a shepherd’s note
Birdsong and gravity’s leaden bootsteps
Conviction on shins well-bruised like old brake pads
I will find some battered, forgotten truth down here somewhere
Under the bombed-out rubble and brain-dead brush
The forgotten trap doors and bleached, carrion bones below

Last leg
Dead rest on a forgotten bus stop bench
Washing stranger’s feet in a muddy circle
The kids seem far from alright, but the Kool-Aid has a spark
Overcast again, a hazy, deep and perfect purple
Crashing Michael’s gates, not in Bethel or Bethlehem
But somewhere else, somewhere slippery and subterranean
These last desperate hobo-steps finally feel like my own.

Lower still. Lowest.
Grungy salt air, swirling and primal
Briny hints of some strange feast in a God’s pirate galley
Muscles plucked from the wreckage
Flexed and forgotten, impossible albatrosses adorned and adored
Long abandoned sandcastles crumble under my cursed and clumsy, time-crushing toes

A well-weathered, long-haunted lighthouse
Standing vigil on a stone-fingered jetty
Blankly tolerating every bored yawn of the sea and knowing blink of the universe
Guarded dully by a silent armada of starfish and anemones and plastic green soldiers
Faithfully serving under the gasping light of a trillion dead stars
Bone-crushing tidal forces twisting and wrestling
Oceans pushed and pulled by the drunken moods of an abusive, relentless moon
Seas and islands and continents crashing and drifting and breaking and disappearing
The spitting fissures and rogue waves of yesterday
Enemy troops retreating into the rocky terrain of forgotten playthings
More broken toys left in the sand as a sepia-toned station wagon lurches slowly back into Town
Evening shadow of another nostalgic tourist outside some rusty biker bar
Near the broken-down beach house of his tarnished, golden years
Throwing gnarled driftwood for a long-lost childhood pet
Peace is a stick-chasing, wave-dodging border colie
Stupidly, brilliantly ranging this melon collie, moonlit surf
With the sea foam and the jellyfish corpses and the dull aches
Love is forever a panting, gorgeous apparition
Barking simple orders for a twelve-year-old boy;
Just throw the damn stick kid, once more for old time’s sake.

Some moments are a closed fist
Clarity is a crusty bitch with a noticeable limp and a mean streak
Transcendence is a sucker punch taken, badly
A smirking, tinkering watchmaker
A Flying Dutchman rounding the Cape of Good Hope
A lazy summer stroll along a forgotten coastline
Lost snapshots in an abandoned blue shoebox under Poseidon’s dirty mattress
The shimmering, golden hum of memory
Pulsing slow like a beautiful, golden whore
Another fractured mirage on the parched horizon
Truth is an underwhelming sigh
An empty glass, the bloated carcass of a butchered bartender
I am everyone. I am nothing. Everyone is nothing.
The transitive nihilist has the conch.

Arrival. Return.
Observing the observer
Detached and perfectly still.
Inverted and converted, spent and saved, found and lost, worthy and wasted
Surfing the eternal, silver now
Endless moments ending, again and again and again and again
Waves and stars and this glorious, ghostly moon dangling somewhere in between
Half-starved seagulls scream like young love in the salty sky
Ravenously certain, oblivious and doomed.
I will close my circle
And crawl furiously like a blank, newborn turtle from a cracked egg
Across this final, terrifying, rocky strand
Back into the cold, wet belly of forever.

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