Seth Wieck

Seth Wieck grew up on a dryland farm in a region that receives less than 20 inches of rain per year. His father counseled him to leave agriculture, so he earned his B.A. in English and philosophy from West Texas A&M University. He now lives in Amarillo with his wife and two sons and teaches language arts to high school students at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch. Seth’s fiction has been published in Narrative Magazine. He keeps track of the things he's read at

Hammer Through Daisies

Death is too abstract a term; nebulous and murky, accreting all life to itself with an omnipotent gravity. Poets have a knack for hearing terms we can touch. For example:

            The maggot no man can slay[1]; or

            Her fist of a face died clenched on a round pain[2]; or

            Out of his eyes I saw the last light glide…[3]

Only a small company of poets can quicken death on the tongue like Dylan Thomas. At 18, Thomas worked a journalist beat that often took him to the morgue. If one were to judge from his notebooks of the time, death coagulated from concept to concrete in those months. Words like “scabrous”, “cankered”, “emetic”, and “spewing” gathered in his poems.However, in a letter written during this time, he treats actual death with an ironic despondency:

As I am writing, a telegram arrives. Mother’s sister, who is…suffering from cancer of the womb is dying…It lends a little welcome melodrama to the drawing room tragicomedy of my most uneventful life…But the foul thing is I feel utterly unmoved…I haven’t, really, the faintest interest in her or her womb. She is dying. She is dead. She is alive. It is all the same thing…Should I weep? For a moment, I feel, I should. There must be something lacking in me… I’m rarely interested in other people’s emotions, except those of my pasteboard characters. I prefer style to life, my own reactions to emotions rather than the emotions themselves. Is this, he pondered, a lack of soul?

I have a suspicion that his irony was just a young man’s bluster, or a device to test out the seeds of emotions he’d never experienced in youth. Notice in the last sentence that Thomas even made a pasteboard character of himself — he pondered — to examine his emotions.

When I was 18 my grandfather passed away, and I pondered, throughout that week, why I didn’t feel grief like my grandmother. She wailed and fainted when his heart monitor stopped. It was a strange, third-person perspective of myself, for which I felt a great deal of guilt in not experiencing a straight emotion. I’ve since come to dearly miss the man, and so, I think, did Thomas eventually mourn his aunt.

The notebook poem[6] he began after the aunt’s funeral treats the ceremony with ironic distance: “Death has rewarded him or her for living”; renders the woman as a “well of rumours and cold lies”; her life as “one more joke lost its point”. However, the poem’s final form five years later in After the Funeral (In memory of Ann Jones), Thomas revises his own petulant brat and notebook draft as a “desolate boy who slits his throat / In the dark of the coffin and sheds dry leaves”.

The aunt now:

…is seventy years of stone.

These cloud-sopped, marble hands, this monumental

Argument of the hewn voice, gesture and psalm,

Storm me forever over her grave…

The seed-grief which he pondered at 18 has now bloomed at 23, along with a guilt that the younger, pasteboard Thomas could neither feel nor write anything but dry leaves. He’s feeling now, even if retroactively, trusting his emotions and groping for a synthesis of the versions of himself over time. The distance is gone, but I wonder about the irony.

This period of poems also produced the famous And Death Shall Have No Dominion, which the biographer Ralph Maud reckons as a thesis statement that Thomas was testing out. The poem drafts “move from a fairly conventional agnosticism toward a personal religion of the organic processes…drawing on the specifically Christian.” Organic processes being birth, growth, and death, and then death fertilizing new life. The poem’s title is taken word-for-word from Paul’s Letter to the Romans discussing the Christian’s baptism into death with Christ, and the hoped-for resurrection. The final poem certainly ventures out in the direction of resurrection. In form, each stanza opens and closes — conceives and dies — with the refrain “And death shall have no dominion”. The line itself opens with a conjunction, signaling a beginning and end. In image, dead men’s bones are resurrected in constellations, those libraries of the ancients. And though they be “mad and dead as nails, heads of characters hammer through daisies”. Thomas’ religion of organic processes finds its pitch in that line: daisies on graves flourish on the flesh of the dead resulting in life again after death. Perhaps more importantly for the poet though is the device of flowers in poetry: the image symbolizes other poems, songs and stories. Dylan Thomas hopes his words (down to individual characters) will live again in future poets.[8]

Was that pondering, 18-year-old Dylan Thomas shocked at his lack of grief, even if he didn’t let on in the cold letter about his aunt? Perhaps the letter was only one voice of “the thousand contradictory devils speaking”, as he would have said. Surely, that petulant, pasteboard character — mad with the voice of an unfeeling sociopath — died, was killed by Thomas’ own guilt with himself, and then hammered through in the more-mature, more-living 23-year-old poet who wrote After the Funeral. These deaths-of-personality are abstract deaths and resurrections drawn down to the reek of decay and daisies. It’s powerful and useful. And ironic.

Irony isn’t bad, of course. It allows us to grasp the nebulae of death or time or memory and examine them as things, briefly, because irony is a posture toward existence that grants the bizarre possibility that things like flowers could stand in the place of gigantic death. We need it. But in the end, the metaphors of irony’s garden are ridiculous little signs. If we forget that and carry on tending our metaphors, or worse preserving them as though they lived beyond their moment; if we forget that there is real life and death beyond these things, or maybe even a god that makes and sustains these things, then soon enough, all of existence is rendered ridiculous. Elegant maybe, but absurd. A single flower exacted equitably by the blood of multitudes, as Cormac McCarthy might say.

Irony was the great gift of 20th-century literature. Generally speaking, a collective oomph heaved from mankind as if we had created an intricate automaton, set the gears winding, puffed our chests as the machine can-canned and then the damn thing kicked us in the solar plexus. The institutions were suspect. Each had participated. If a thing pointed to an abstract like patriotism or god, then the thing should be disassembled and retooled so the eventual kick would land elsewhere. Flags and borders dissolved like wafers in wine. Authors used a thing like the Eucharist ironically, to point anywhere but its original intent. See Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.

Or see Dylan Thomas’ own This Bread I Break

Once in this wine the summer blood

Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,

Once in this bread

The oat was merry in the wind;

Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

The poem ends as the narrator goes to his execution (This flesh you break, this blood you let… // My wine you drink, my bread you snap). Thomas’ religion of organic processes traces, through death and resurrection, the oat become bread become flesh become oat, bread, and man again. Death has no dominion because in twenty years I shall be another stout, young fellow, not because death itself has been deposed as Paul claimed in Romans.

That’s fair. Examine the machine. If the Church, or churches, officially or unofficially, directly or not, participated in exterminating millions of human beings, then strip the Institution down to its basic institutions. In a scrapbucket of parts, who knows where a gear like the Eucharist actually spins; what other gear it touches; what appendage and finger it raises; what it finally indicates?

In Before I Knocked, Dylan Thomas has Christ himself, a figure “neither a ghost nor man, but mortal ghost”, cut the thread between thing and abstract; between flesh and spirit:

You who bow down at cross and altar,

Remember me and pity Him

Who took my flesh and bone for armour

And doublecrossed my mother’s womb.

At 24, I traveled to Rome in March. It was raining when I stumbled into a church hoping to glimpse Bernini’s St. Teresa in Ecstasy. Disoriented with jet-lag, I didn’t realize it was Sunday morning. Mass was in progress. The church’s cold fogged my breath. The priest scowled, so I found a pew (most of them were empty). Young men nodded off next to their pious grandmothers. When the Eucharist was served, it was just a thing indicating nothing but the slightest calorie one might convert to heat in digestion. Pondering that scene now, I pity something, but it isn’t Him.

Ironically, in the scrutiny of things, death too has become abstract. I watched a TED Talk in which the scientist supposes that death is only years away from dying. As experiences and emotions merge with technology, we shall live on through programs that read and express “us”. We’ve created another automaton, but this time we’ll get it right. Death is not a final, bodily stop. Death is a pasteboard character.

For the culture at large, the Eucharist is meaningless. Likewise, the biblical language was stripped of its shrouds, and the shrouds gambled for and carried off by Dylan Thomas and other poets. Now much of the church simply trades in language-relics sold by shroud-dealers.[10] This is fine. At one time, the Romans believed the Eucharist was a literal cannibal feast. I wonder in what ways the biblical language will eventually hammer through daisies and bloom couture to make royals blush.

Will it look like Tyndale’s project: both beautiful and common, rife with organic processes (pisseth against the wall) indicating God’s majestic teleology? How will the word God be rendered? There are many contemporary attempts, most sound false with an ironic echo, still in the mode of the modernists. Is there anybody doing this effectively now (please share if you know)?

I suggest Maurice Manning who, like Dylan Thomas, employs the image of flowers sprouting from death (on as many levels as Thomas); however, watch his language, and especially notice whom the poet addresses outside of the compost cycle of things:

…if I untaste the taste
of being bossed by you
don’t boss me down to dust
may I become a flower
when my blossom Boss is full
boss a bee to blue my lips
that one drop of my bloom
would softly drop into
your sweetness once again
if I go round that way
I’ll know the doing means
to you what it means to me
a word before all words

This poem is one of 78 poems (Bucolics), rendered in the same manner with no punctuation and simple language. Not once in the whole book is there a smack of irony, which in our notch of history is like a carpenter building a house without nails. Each poem is a simple voice considering a thing and then asking and interacting with God about the thing. God here is rendered as “Boss”, not with the modern awareness that God is an ineffective appellation; no, because the narrator is much too innocent for that, but “Boss” is an earnest attempt to name the god who must be there. It’s respectful, affectionate, indicating an authority that can be trusted. It’s like Manning found that scrapbucket of parts the moderns left in an attic, and instead of passing it over, he has found them beautiful, too beautiful to be without design; and if design then tragic, being scattered without the machine of their purpose; and if tragic, then please God, please Boss, be there to make sense of these things.

Perhaps it’s as simple as tracing the words of Dylan Thomas’ thesis, back toward the beginning, before the conjunction. What is the independent clause that comes before “and death shall have no dominion”? Maybe then we’ll know Boss. Then we’ll know.


[1] Find Meat On Bones

[2] After the Funeral (In Memory of Ann Jones)

[3] Elegy

[4] Maud, Ralph. The Notebooks of Dylan Thomas. New Directions, NY. 1967. p 18.

[5] Ibid. p 21

[6] Ibid. Poem 6, p 168

[7] Ibid, p. 24

[8] Perhaps the ultimate proof of this came when a young Robert Zimmerman changed his name to Bob Dylan, after Dylan Thomas, resurrecting the poet for another generation.

[9] It’s interesting to note that the early notebook version of this poem was titled “Breakfast Before Execution” and the narrator is Christ.

[10] This statement could be read as a dangerous generalization. Please realize there are many beautiful communities of faith engaging the task as Karl Barth laid out in Evangelical Theology: “facing squarely the question of the proper relation of their human speech to the Word of God, which is the origin, object, and content of this speech.”

His Tomb is with us to This Day

My nephew Jude was stillborn. The diagnosis came early in the pregnancy: an extra chromosome written into the genetic language would lead to, among other maladies, a terminal heart condition. A period on a sentence still being thought. Yet. Inside the womb, Jude was vibrant, strong even. I felt him kick my hand through my sister-in-law’s stomach. The reality of that touch was difficult to reconcile with the doctors’ predictions. The doctors had stories, narratives built from a battery of tests and data, but I had flesh upon flesh.

Actually, I had hope of flesh. But that was not my first response. My first response was to keep my mouth shut, so I didn’t say something cruel and dark and true. My silence lasted the whole pregnancy and is only ending now as I write this a year later. After the initial phone calls, the family matriarch admonished us to pray, to build a counter-narrative to the doctors’. But there was no story I could muster that seemed honest, and no one allowed discussion that the doctors might be correct. The family instead decided to host a baby shower for a baby the doctors said would never arrive. Speak and act as though he will live. So I was quiet as not to speak otherwise.

I have witnessed talk like this in my life. When I was six or seven, my uncle was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease which withers all voluntary muscles and is terminal. He was a carpenter and an athlete. He had two sons my age that he, no doubt, anticipated raising (and wrestling with). At Thanksgiving he had adopted a walker; by the new year he was in a wheelchair. Within six-months he was speaking through a computer like Stephen Hawking, then the muscles in his fingers could no longer click the mouse. Finally, when the voluntary sheaths of his diaphragm atrophied enough that he couldn’t breathe, the doctors cut a hole in his trachea and forced air in with a ventilator. He lived for about ten years completely immobile except his eyes. The fact that he survived so long is a testament to the undying devotion of his wife.

Congregants from their church often visited to prophesy healing. I would hide in the hallway and peer into the living room as grown men danced and sweated and shouted in what I was told were the “tongues of angels”: I bind thee, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Medical terms haunt the lexicon of tongues. Well-meaning people took up offerings and sent the family to Benny Hinn events because he reportedly healed the infirm. I know that seems outlandish for people of my generation, and maybe I enforce that sensibility when I use words like “reportedly”; but Dear Skeptic, let me ask you what you would do if it were your spouse and the best medicinal practices offer one result: death?

      I hope I would not remain quiet.

That sounds an awful lot like the atheist’s cold dismissal of religion: if you must comfort yourself with belief…

I am unsettled with my own statement.

When my sister-in-law went into labor with Jude at full-term, my wife and her sisters caravanned the two-hour journey, forwarding a string of text updates: she’s progressing; she’s pushing; she’s here…he’s gone.

Then, on a hot summer morning, at a cemetery in Lubbock, Texas, my brother-in-law eulogized his son whose life on earth was briefer than his own birth. He was not afforded the opportunity to be silent. His story was succinct: Jude wins. A name and one action.

His sentiment has precedent. In Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree, the protagonist ponders his twin brother who died at birth:

“…whatever be left of the child with whom you shared your mother’s belly. He neither spoke nor saw nor does he now… we were like to the last hair. I followed him into the world, me. A breech birth. Hind end fore in common with whales and bats, life forms meant for other mediums than the earth and having no affinity for it. And used to pray for his soul days past. Believing this ghastly circus reconvened elsewhere for alltime. He in the limbo of the Christless righteous, I in a terrestrial hell.”[1]

In Suttree’s eyes, his stillborn twin won the better lot in life by having no life at all. I don’t think my brother-in-law intended to imply such a harsh distinction between his son’s destiny and ours: we, grieving our hell-on-earth, the smell of sulphur staunch in our nostrils, driving us on to death where our yoke will be broken and we, too, finally win.

But Job was explicit:

 “Why did I not die at birth,

come out from the womb and expire?

Why did the knees receive me?

Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?

…Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child,

as infants who never see the light?

There the prisoners are at ease together;

they hear not the voice of the taskmaster…

Why is light given to him who is in misery,

…who longs for death,…and digs for it more than hidden treasures,

who rejoices exceedingly and is glad when he finds the grave?”[2]

I know: Job’s story ends well; although, I’m fairly certain that in his old age lounging among his restored riches, his three beautiful daughters would gather at his feet and ask him about the horrific scars on his face and arms. Did he reply, “Those were boils burst open, pustules scraped with potsherds, and I begged for death.”

My nephew’s eulogy was a short, declarative sentence. A subject and predicate. The word “predicate” means “to assert”; therefore, by way of grammar, Jude asserted himself upon the world. Predicates are the summary of action, initiated by the verb, and as any writer who’s been through a workshop can tell you, meaning exists in the verbs and breeds in the action. Jude wins. To tease out the meaning of that sentence: Jude’s death asserts that life-to-come is to be preferred to life-on-earth.

I don’t disagree with that, necessarily. But it sure casts a pall over life here. Again, that was not my brother-in-law’s intention, and I don’t want to place too much scrutiny on a father’s words in that position, but I am a father of the living, and my sons will gather at my feet and ask about my scars, and I cannot be silent as I have been. I need words that are honest and good and true, and which sow my sons’ eyes to see a life that is beautiful, whether it be on-earth or to-come; that all life is an assent and ascent; to wake and to climb, in C.S. Lewis’ imperative, “higher up and further in”.

Yet I cannot muster the words.

For sure, there are words that I can muster. I have an English degree. I teach language arts. I own and use several dictionaries. But there are great spaces of time in which I become despondent, for like the lying prophets Jeremiah decries, I have prophesied words and filled myself with hopes that rotted to vanity, and spoken visions from my own mind which turned dark. Small ruins have come upon me because of my words. And I know that I know, that my heart, that well-spring of words, is deceitful and desperately sick.  I do not trust my words, but I am found in the position of needing words to say.

Where does one begin then, but in the beginning? In the womb.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” says God to Jeremiah. By the way, this comes years before Jeremiah writes the famous letter to his captive countrymen in which God describes “the plans I have for you”; in fact, years before Jeremiah mourns his own birth: “Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land!”

“I knew you,” says God at Jeremiah’s calling in Chapter One early in his life, when the prophet first becomes capable of understanding God’s call in the form of words. “Behold, I have put words in your mouth,” continues God. Words that both “pluck up and destroy”, but also “build and plant”. He displays an almond branch for Jeremiah to see, and the seer names it true; then God forms a boiling pot, and Jeremiah is flooded with the vision of disaster.

Both visions of this life, my sons, are true. Our sentences, God willing, are long and rife with action that could not be contained in books: where you are destroyed, you will be planted; where you are born bloody and cast off, you will be found and nurtured; when death breeches your door and your soul abandons to the grave, then may your flesh dwell in hope and your bones thrill with pride at the voice of the one who named you. Name what is shown you, and name it true.

[1] McCarthy, Cormac. Suttree. First Vintage International Edition, 1992.

[2] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

photo by: HaPe_Gera

Little Girl Found

My cousin is a local news anchor, and many family meals have been spent in the thrall of his stories. A few years ago in a neighboring town, booming as a safe alternative to my relatively safe city, a man with no criminal record or history drove into the parking lot of a gas station and tried to steal a little girl. The girl’s grandmother intervened and was shot and killed in the process. The man fled the murder into the quiet suburban town and kidnapped another girl from her front yard. As a police chase ensued, the girl leapt from the car, sustaining only minor injuries, and the police killed the man in a shootout. Apparently, he had missed a few days of his behavior medication. His family issued a public apology. They were as shocked as anybody and were grieving the loss of their father and husband and baffled at the latent evil that had resided in the person they loved. My news anchor cousin stopped by the house a few days after the story had blown over, and we talked about the giant questions looming over the whole thing. Why does this happen? How does this family wake up tomorrow? I’ll say this: be glad the news doesn’t tell you everything that happens. We don’t let our kids play in the front yard anymore.

After that, my wife also refuses to watch movies that portray kidnappings. Most of those movies end well enough, but the dark fact heightening the tension in those stories is that in real life there are a lot of headlines about children lost, but very few headlines about children found. That fact has taught me the creaks of my house at night and how quietly my boys sleep. Those movies that end with the happy restoration of a family, with the perpetrator dead, with the community in balance again, and no ripples of threat or counseling or rent illusions of security—those movies provide saccharine comfort. A comfort that probably tastes much like our ignorance at the end of a news broadcast.

In the midst of this, I still have the lingering belief—no, belief implies something I’ve conjured—I still have the lingering orientation, yes like metal shavings around a magnet, that stories can provide real comfort; as real as can be offered in this world, anyhow. So why do stories so often fail?

That may be a larger moral question than I’m capable of tackling here, but perhaps I have room for categories that provide some help in that direction. When I was in college, Sean Penn directed a movie called The Pledge. On the eve of a detective’s retirement, a little girl is murdered, the murder seems to be the work of a serial killer, a suspect is brought in and commits suicide in the police station. The detective, however, doesn’t buy that the suspect was the real killer, and pledges to the girl’s family that he will find the murderer. Over the next few years, as he alienates his former colleagues with dead-end leads, he becomes desperate to make good on his pledge and prove that his work was meaningful. Finally, and horrifically for the audience, he befriends a woman and her daughter and uses the girl as bait to draw the serial killer out. The movie ends tragically with the old detective, completely ostracized, having become the kind of monster he was trying to stop. One of my professors praised it for its unflinching appraisal of real crime. I’m not so sure.

Penn’s intention was tragedy, for sure, and I think he executed it. Tragedy after all is meant to be cathartic, to provide a purging or purification. When I was a boy, my dad was hunting doves. Late in the day, he observed the birds along a fenceline eating the berries from a plant and thought, “The birds surely know what is poisonous and what isn’t.” So he tried the berries. Within a half-hour, he was vomiting and hallucinating. His brothers put him in the back of a pickup and raced him to the hospital where they gave him charcoal tablets and crossed their fingers. He pulled through, thankfully, and after some research, a game warden said that Dad had eaten something called snow-on-the-mountain[1]. It’s deadly for humans, but apparently it doesn’t affect doves.

Catharsis—purging by story—is historically a noble aim for storytellers with roots at least as deep as Ancient Greece. A culture, primed emotionally by real life conflicts, might gaze into a tragic story and “enter the maws of hell and be spat back out, purified and reborn—or if art fails in this medicinal role, simply shocked and repulsed[2]“. But I have to say, the entire cultural project of the Greeks, the direction in which all of those stories aimed, seemed to be tragic. Even the heroes become shades longing for any sort of life—the plight of a farmer’s hired-hand for example—over the anhedonian wandering of the underworld. The purging their stories offered was only a mild nihilism in preparation for the ultimate nil of death. Anyhow, I’d like to think I have the stomach of a dove, but most days I’d suffer the indigestion of a cloying comedy over the wretching of a bitter tragedy. My orientation still suggests these are not my only options.

An editor once accused me of being like William Blake. I say accused because I didn’t know what he meant when he said it, so I took it as accusation. I can’t say that I’ve since discerned that editor’s meaning, but I think Blake offers something helpful along our lines. In his Songs of Innocence we find a set of zygotic poems: Little Boy Lost and Little Boy Found. The narrator of all the Innocence songs, of course, is a child, and so in these poems we hear a boy calling after his father who has either left or lost him in the dark. The implication is that the boy dies, but since the narrator is a child, this is not explicitly stated or even understood. Death for a child, although real, doesn’t carry with it the weight of memory and stewardship. Flip the page to Little Boy Found, and in eight lines the child is found by a new father, God, being “ever nigh”, and led to his mother who preceded him in death. A new and holy family. This is comic, but it isn’t cloying because the restoration has consequence.

These poems have their twin, or perhaps their future self, in Songs of Experience, beginning with Little Girl Lost about a 7-year-old girl named Lyca who has gone missing. The narrator here is decidedly more adult, sympathizing with Lyca’s parents’ loss, voicing the community’s disbelief at the death of a child:

How can Lyca sleep

If her mother weep?

Death has gravity now, for those survivors who must continue suffering in the grief that must only grow and pull and slow the passage of time, delaying our escape to relief. Why doesn’t the exertion of our grief restore she whom we lost?

The title of the second poem, Little Girl Found, might suggest Lyca’s miraculous restoration; that she simply fell asleep beneath a tree, awaking no worse than groggy, but found, at least, and in a lot of trouble. But instead the poem opens like this, and this is important because this is what stories are capable of:

In futurity

I prophesy

That the earth from sleep…

Shall arise, and seek

For her Maker meek.

In futurity I prophesy. Lyca’s parents suffered the real loss of their daughter. The poem recounts how the parents spent the remainder of their days searching for their daughter in deserts and valleys and are eventually slain themselves, in their search, by a lion in the road. This is tragic, but for the prophecy: the parents are awoken from death by another lion, a king, presumably God who leads them to their daughter. A restored family, no doubt bearing the ripples of their suffering, but the poem ends with the family

not fearing the wolf’s howl

nor the lion’s growl.

Prophecy has looked different in various cultures. The Old Testament prophets will never be called saccharine, but I don’t think they can be called tragic either, even if as many of them were: called to tragic vocations; ignored or misunderstood by their audiences; slaughtered by the people they served. On that level, they were like their counterparts in the Greek prophets, Cassandra and Tiresias. But the Tiresias we met warning Oedipus, we ultimately find lapping goat’s blood in Hades alongside Achilles. Hell didn’t spit him back out. It consumed him leaving smoke and a nostalgia for the blind man’s heat. The stories of the Old Testament prophets aimed at something different, stoking imaginations against the nil-fates of the ancients, finding their cultural fulfillment ultimately in a man who charged through death, clamping the jaws of hell, brandishing a light that sent darkness cowering. Stories can be after that.

These are the stories in which I keep imagining myself, anyhow. After all, I am a husband and a father, foolish enough maybe to bring children into this gaping world. And more hauntingly, against the tragic potential latent in my own desires, I am a father with no criminal record or history.



An Horologist Returns to Work after His Wife’s Diagnosis

Here hear the clock: the tick the tock the tick
The swing of pendule swung by gear-dinked chimes,
Or quartz hum the pulse that clicked the quick
Escape of the wheel to regulate time.

Hear then my heart: the push, the mute, the hush,
The push, the headlong measure fails to cease
Save when work, save when play, save when I blush,
And veins relax pushing blood to my cheeks.

This though. This is the close-weighted metronome
The unwatched pot screaming to life in heat
In heat frenzied with the cells of her own
Blood her own bone the flesh her flesh will eat

Hear now the feet that meet feet on the floors
The feet chiming for rest twitching in sheets
The beeps the whitecoats tight-lipped like pushed-to drawers
Neighbors worried about what we will eat.

Hear then my shop: the tick the tock the tick
The beat. The measure. I’ll change the long long measure:
Make seconds like minutes. The pulse will draw a slow
Escape of my heart in response to her.

This is my work this is my day this pace
This pace won’t change my heart won’t change this pace
This is the blood the push the mute the hush
The push the long long mute that does not hush.


photo by: martinak15