Crazed House Band of These Strange Days

Slow down your song, give us something we can dance to.

Guitarist, play a melody piercing heaven’s earlobe with hope.

Bassist, carve out a groove deep as summer thunder.

Drummer, play the toms like they’re the polyrhythmic heartbeats of double-dutchers on New York City street corners.

Singer, belt out glowing oratories—new galaxies born in your voice; hands like orbiting planets, offering the sign language of starry nights.

Crazed house band of these strange days, play unplugged for a change.

Rid yourself of the chaotic beats wreaking havoc on the fragile time signature of these times.

All the Bright and Battered Places

From graveyards of last paychecks and amusement parks of promises kept. From open hands and clenched fists, bouquets of good days and absolutely withered looks. From confessions and digressions, open books of hope and secret diaries of dilemmas. From dead air and stringed silences, forward-thinking dreams and counterclockwise insomnia. From what we cannot remember, what we refuse to forget. From broken bones and broken Spanish, broken homes and broken English. The chains from which we escape and the kindred spirits with which we’re linked. We the weary, we the wounded, we the wizened, we the wondrous—we rise.

Mama’s Home-Cooked Wisdom

My mama never allowed me to borrow the devil’s compass when going on a trip.

Said never give your phone number to strange shadows. Never sleep in the middle of the road, or use a porcupine as a pillow.

My mama never allowed me to speak too loudly in the libraries of church light.

Washed my mouth out with the moon if I forgot how to sing the stars.

Wouldn’t let me keep broken mirrors as pets, or turn my heart into a stone to strike others with hate.

She said never throw out your bubbliness with the old bubble-bath water.

My mama never allowed me to ingest disinfectants as a way to kill the germs in my body.

In Praise of Beastless Beds

Once we are set free

from this quarantine,

I will search beneath your bed to ensure there are no more monsters—

monsters bearing the odor of heartbreak; monsters bearing smiles whose teeth are chipped tombstones; monsters stealing wonder and leaving only wounds.

Once we are set free

from this quarantine,

bring me a necklace of moons, and I’ll play you a song on my jukebox heart.

Meet me at the intersection of Grace and Good Fortune.

There are so many ways to enter the story of then and now

Years from now, what will we remember from these days?

Days when we helped one another remain real in a world turned so surreal.

When we graffitied one another’s inner walls with pep talks.

When we coaxed one another’s voices to finally tuned bells.

Days when our voices were strong enough to drown out the sound of sirens.

When our heartsongs fought off the crazed silences huffing airplane glue outta paper bags.

When we did our best to remove the eye of the storm from one another’s eyes.

Never have such diseased days spoken so much about what it means to truly live.

getting there from here and back again

How we got from there to here is something only history, the heavens, and intuition can answer with any certainty.

We’ve traveled high and low and everywhere in between.

Our journeys have taken the shape of ancient hearts beating tribal rhythms, water flowing around well-rooted trees, heaven-bound bonfire smoke, the bustle of dive bars with well-worn jukeboxes, and crows flying the straightest path to discover beautiful objects for nest building.

Darkness has risen up out of last goodbyes and has discovered the first light of new hellos.

Imagine now that the river of time stops flowing for a moment.

Step into these waters, go night swimming with me.

How Do You Say Good Morning To An Answering Machine?

When I just tried to phone

this new morning,

its voice message told me

its mailbox was already full.

So go these days

when so many crave connection,

when the solutions we’re seeking

travel faster than the speed of belief.

Some days,

I don’t know what it means

to be human.

Or, at least, it feels that way.

Like a dog taking a 30-day course

in optimism,

perhaps it’s all pointless.

The mind doesn’t need to wrap so tightly around certain questions

when the answers are already hardwired into instinct.

Think I’ll have another cup of coffee, maybe phone morning again.

If it answers, I’ll say hello for you.

Certain Days Feel So Heavy

Like that final weight pallbearers carry to the grave.

Yet say the correct password, and the moon will allow you into its secret room behind the shine.

That’s where good luck wears the scent of new laundry behind its ears. Where our brightest essence illuminates dark waters.

Often, these days seem like one long, weird dream.

The clock tells me when it claps its hands, I can open my eyes. It’s then I’ll be older than I remember and younger than I care to forget.

Should you see me holding something to the light, it’s a letter I meant to send you before all these troubles left their shadows at our door.

Once Upon a Midnight Querry

I witness the moon above.

It’s like a bright and hearty nightclub in which we’re all allowed entry. It’s just a matter of getting there.

Somewhere, someone drives a deserted highway, and sees the same moon. To them, it’s a guitar player’s tin cup overflowing with stars.

To a homeless man wandering the streets, the moon is a plate licked clean by God. To a woman sitting alone in a room, the moon is her mother.

To others, the moon is lightning in a bottle. Still others, a shotglass full of luck.

To many, it’s the radiance of finally being able to embrace one another.

It’s just a matter of getting there.

In These Days of Quarantine

I make wings from gutter dirt and twigs. I work as a guide for the headless horseman.

I swap pants with clouds that wear trousers. I repeat the last rites of dying evenings before dawn.

I feel my fears dress in the shivers of the sick. I dress like seedy Hollywood alleyways and reek just as bad.

I burn like frankincense in chapels of desire. I wait for you when you fall behind. I run ahead to seek help if you’ve fallen.

I the wilted. I the 100-watted.

I ride the rails and rail against these times.

I keep a pocketful of crows for when our wild magic needs a new song.