“Done Haunting Houses”
Death is the devil’s work
Love is a cheap card trick
Truth is a poor man’s dream
Thought is a quick-sand pit.
And all my years spent cursing up the stairs,
“Good morning, God.
Forget those bad dreams.”
We’ve been awake
and waiting far too long,
And thinking up our deaths.
Sleep is a sick, sad joke.
She was in the back yard,
Digging out a trench
Praying for her father’s gun again.
All the holy weight they’d laid across your back
And the hundred years you’ll waste
just thanking them for that.
And you can’t blame anyone for what you’ve done
Oh my God you can’t blame anyone
Before the bridges are built, you’ll burn them down.
You had built a new face,
empty but awake
And painted it the one shade you could never fake.
Love had kicked your crutches
out from underneath.
I was still the sandstone cutting up your feet.
God was in our back yard, tearing down the fence,
Calling out our father’s name again.
So we fixed him to the floor, covered up his ears
And spent another lifetime
Shaking off our fears.
Oh but I could be something else entirely
And spill out of my burning head
And underneath your door.
No, I do not see what you see
in your old eyes.
And I will be cutting up your feet
Reach in for it
Your rusted, iron-covered cross
Pour out your breath
into the furnace again.
I think I found a better way to live
And I think I’ve found a better way to die.
And I’ve been fitting myself into that small space
That you set our for the screaming of the wind.
That is all I’ve ever been.
And sorting through it,
I never saw something so clear
As your hands bound up in prayer
Behind a closed door.
I thought I’d walked a better road, alone
Until I felt my feet turn into stone,
And that’s when I turned back.
“For His Old Branches”
There is a wheel
That spins to keep the river flowing.
It runs a course between your eyelids and your aching jaws.
There was a bird
Who took your voice and turned it backwards.
He and the past were aiming arrows at your heaving chest.
You took a train into the mouth of all you hated,
Spent half an hour watching hope pass through a window
You’ve got that singing crown of thorns
around your thick head
You and the kid that you once were
are fighting over it.
(Then we ran down the river Van
To the mouth of old Fenrir
And he swallowed us up)
I collected rocks, filled up my pockets
and tried to swim across the stream.
I was told I’d be kept afloat
By the ghosts of the hills that I’d flattened to get here.
Trusted a fiend and lost my hand.
My blood flowed white and filled the canyon,
And I saw faces in the leaves
And they were preaching to me.
There is a tree you cannot cut.
He knows your name and all your fears.
You dare not lay an axe to his old branches.
They dug a coal mine by your house.
His yelling kept you up all night.
All of your friends got caught between his black teeth.
We left our shoes under the ground,
tied yellow feathers to our arms,
and learned the language of the aching mountain.
Then I went out west
and tried to build a better version of myself.
My iron tools got swallowed up by spirits.
And I knew my head was inside out,
so I sold my soul to taste the clouds,
ate from the tree and started digging up the ground.
There is a thought you cannot shake
Of her asleep under the lake.
The ice is eating up the surface and you are the fish
I’ve been waiting on a response for days.
There’s been a complication
It seems your heart needed a break
From pumping the blood through your veins,
and keeping the oxygen okay.
I still see your face in the day.
And I see your eyes in the bottle that was way too tall
I finished it just to see if we could talk.
Now I’m speaking with your ghost again
It’s telling me that I don’t listen.
Can we be friends,
In another lifetime
I might pretend that we are right now.
I summoned demons from a dying tree
I took a long walk off a short levee
I drank the poison from a black moon seed,
and then I saw you.
I felt your kiss in a dream I had
I felt your skin in a monument
Then I went home to live a brand new life without you
I buried all our things
Beneath the giant shadows of the clouds.
And they will stay there underground,
but no matter what I do I never will stop talking to you.
I never did get the last word in,
And you said I always did.
“A Weather Vane”
All that time that you killed,
Pulling smoke to your lungs
In a parking lot covered in green glass
The light on your face starts to darken and dissipate
The ghost was inside your mouth
Placing bets with your teeth.
Forcing your voice out,
Pushing your tongue up from underneath
And out past the fields we were racing the sun.
You slipped away past the fog and the firelight
I saw the footsteps cut out of the ash.
We traded names just to see if the colors would change
And they did.
I got sick of the pull
You just sputtered and sank
You were nothing
A curtain of sawdust
A weather vane.
And don’t try to skip past the part where you realize.
But I lied my way out of this one
And you lied your way to a ditch
And I fought myself just to stay up
Out of your street-walking, tongue-talking sleep.
How it consumed you
and eventually me
I am not the devil under the water
Pulling you down by your old wooden ankles.
Splitting and shriveling,
seeping out of me.
God, I’m afraid of the songs you’ve been singing me
God I cannot hear your voice quite so clearly.
And I am the walls crumbling down.
We are clearly the saints
No, we are not afraid
Our names cannot be engraved in the sand.
I am just a sinner, pulling my splinters out
Chipping away at a crackling flame.
Well I felt my shoulders begin to get lighter
When I realized that it all would get harder than this.
But I don’t believe in the surface.
We can’t see through the sheets
No, we are not asleep
And I will not be the leaves on your tree.
I am the tides
I’m the beggar left for dead on the side
And I am the walls crumbling down
They’re watching me fall through the windows of saints
They’re making me something I am not.
Your brother got killed in the snow while you slept
But you never grew out of the secrets you kept
To keep all his light-headed hoping alive
Carried for miles inside of your mind.
Now I’m writing down all of my saintly complaints
And pulling the strings they’ve attached to my face
But I’m done haunting houses
And cursing at God
And filling up spaces with black and white fog.
I saw my whole life in the glass on the floor
Well what did you think all of that shaking was for?
Now I’m floating downstream
Chasing after my bones.
Well I guess I grew old
But I never went home.