Without A Sound

The old house stands quietly
before vacant skies.
The darkness suggests vague
impressions of hills and trees
in the dim, clouded light.

In a breeze, gangling
branches scratch at the tall,
arched windows. The walls
slowly contract, and creaking
floors howl—a sail to wind.

Alone, she lies mutely under
her furs and cotton, eyes leaden
and gray. The room a quickening
haze, she’s lost dancing with
shadows upon the walls.

Then, almost as a thought, she
hears a soft knocking in the
distance—at first from afar,
down the hall, through the foyer
—a gentle rapping at the door.

Slow, persistent knocks. They
continue—patterns of three. Slow.
Distinct. They ring out into the
hushed halls. Unknowingly her
body slips from its covers onto

the cold, hard floors. She steps
quietly through the black corridors
toward the growing knocking—the
senseless, somber knocking. She turns
a corner and languidly moves into

the dim lights that move like
wild things around the tall black door.
Crisp, even knocks—One. Two. Three.
She grabs the metal knob
and slowly moves the heavy wood.

He is waiting for her just beyond
the threshold—towering above her.
He stretches out his lightless hands.
She falls into him—weightlessly,

He carries her off into the night
without a sound.



Wild and Tall

The grasses that grow wild and tall
do not blame the winds
who press upon their backs.

Nor do the pastures cry out
to fruitless skies that buried
sweet rains beyond the horizon.

Green turns yellow.
No ill words are spoken
in the troughs full of fodder.

And silent are the fields swallowed in fire.


Desert Rocks

The streets swell in summer—
filled with sweat and dirt and
stained yellow of spilt garbage.

You can’t hear the children playing
for the droning traffic
and the frequent rumble of passenger jets

that drown out their voices.
You know what its like
to be swallowed.

The heat reminds you of many
terrible memories, but we won’t
speak about those today.

Leaves stir
in the thick hot breeze
when the earth gasps for breath.

It’s no wonder
the desert floors are barren
and all the rocks are painted red.

Someone’s got a greasy black gun
and they’ve tucked it in their
sweat-soaked waistband—

I don’t have to tell you how the story ends,
only that the streets will look a lot like desert rocks
when it’s all over.

In the summertime its hard to tell
the difference between sweat and



when I was a boy, I stood on my head
and imagined the sky was a great blue sea—
one in which I could never drown.

But that sky swallowed me whole, long ago.
Now, so many years later, I stare
into the ivory light of my bedroom window

and ponder the stranger I’ve become.
Searching for wherever
that boy might be.

I return to a fork in an old, familiar road long since
visited, which at one time was a great mystery
to me. A trace of what was once me still lingers there.

And when the long limbs of the tall trees
stir the slowly moving light of day—suddenly
the past comes rushing at me like a whirlwind.

And I wonder how it is that I’ve kept
so many fields and rivers and valleys and
lakes and bluffs and waterfalls and mountains

and caves and quarries and deep woods and
bridges and railroad tracks and abandoned roads
and stairwells and secret alleys and rooftops

jarred up in a
looking glass.

And I wonder what at all I learned
about life while lounging
in the high branches of magnolia trees,

or in the backseat of some old, smoky jalopy,
or rummaging through the wiry steel hills
of the city scrap yard, or running with the

bushy-tailed fawns into cold, naked woods,
or banging on the piano
at that party.


Somewhere nearby

—by some happenstance
or, dare I say, the hands of God,
limbs and leaves sway before cornflower
clouds and a maize-shaded moon.

And, for just a moment,
they all perfectly align.
The scene opens
as crickets drone persistently

into the quiet night.
Between every long, lengthy drawl,
even the cricket must pause
to take rest.

Somewhere nearby in the black woods
the barred owl glides—the same one that
came swooping down before me
earlier as I ran

along the edge of the lake—
her majestic wings spread,
subtle as a sail in soft winds and
silent as a shadow.

And that pudgy toad, who I met some months ago,
is still hopping in the weeds
far up the road.

Somewhere nearby,
towering above the great standing stones
of the metropolises,
above the lighthouses

that crowd distant shores,
above jagged, jutting peaks
and silver soaring jets,
beyond the barred owl and the toad,

behind drifting clouds
and limbs and leaves,
set upon the dark, dappled sky,
the old moon stands robed in light.


Second In Line

I must warn you, oh wanderer—you should not have seen
this place. You—who gaze out to me from my sister’s estate.

I am not like her, with her silvery seven seas and unfailing
fields. I am not adorned in robes of barley, nor polished

as a copper chalice, nor lithe as orchard grass, nor fragrant
as lilac and lavender caught in the ambrosial breeze.

It is my sister—not I—who bares such milk and honey.
She sings with meadowlarks, as I sound the clarion.

She has always been the favored sister, with satellites that
swarm around her. And her moon—how fond she is of him.

I am not like her. I turn left when she turns right—yet the
others follow her, not me. I am the retrograde.

I have no moons—no satellites. Here the air is thick and
sound is sleepy deep. No feet tread upon my desert floors—

these barren lands sprawl out to every bleak horizon. My face
is harsh—charred,    chapped, and     chiseled. And so my sister

mocks me; she heralds me a goddess, a morning and evening
star—but she knows I am a waste land,            vast          and


My halcyon days are lost in yore—before she stole my hues of
blue—before I befell the gusts of solar winds, and clouds grew

thick across the skies until my face was shrouded and my sight
went black. That was when she seized my seas and skies.

I am a forgotten relic—a glimmer in a star-filled sky, a torrid
shell roasting in the sun.

Here are neither trees nor rivers. There are no fawning orbs,
no obsequious moons—only perfectly             lonely rocks,

tormented by the infernal day
and the long, black veil of night.


While the butcher argues with the baker, the weasel empties both their pockets, and the whole town starves.


Giving Away

As you left, I listened to each footstep
that echoed off the walls, that muttered of your departing.
I listened as the stairs creaked and groaned
as they called you to stay,

and to the door that shuddered at your sudden absence.
I stood for a moment and listened
to the tap, tap,
tapping rain.

Then—feeling a sudden urge—
I ran to the upstairs window
in hopes of catching one more glimpse of you,
as if to see you off with some silent

and solemn salutation. But you had vanished.
I only saw the
persistent drops
building puddles on the smooth rocks.

The air wrapped me in melancholy
as I stared off into the mute, wet sky—as every
dreary, drowsy drop
stirred the sprouting buds of the birch tree

beyond the columns of the balcony.
Some spirits whispered something
of you to the old tree that the young leaves were
giving away.


The Gutter Culture

“Within any important issue, there are always aspects no one wishes to discuss.” —George Orwell


I. The Culture

In discussing cultural hegemony—the leadership or dominance of one social group over others[i]—we may observe that among the variety of cultures in America some concede to dominant cultural practices more so than others. This concession occurs in several forms, from consumerist trends and food-culture to lifestyle values and health habits. In America, acceptable cultural norms include: paying taxes, keeping up with news, furthering education or skills in order to be gainfully employed, following fashion trends, and more. Conversely, some cultures possess characteristics that not only are different from the dominant group, they actively oppose accepted cultural norms and are thus labeled deviants. In sociological terms, deviance is defined as “behavior that violates the norms of the social group in which the behavior occurs”[ii]. It’s important to note that being a deviant is not an inherently negative quality; deviants simply do not reflect the practices, beliefs, outlooks, etc. of the majority. Instead, they establish an identity constructed from a different set of values and customs. Many deviants are our heroes, our champions, and our pioneers—they are accomplished innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs who’ve found success through deviant behaviors. Deviance is a highly normative aspect of culture, and many functionalists argue that it is a constructive, necessary quality of every society. However, there are other types of deviants, both individualistic and cultural, which are troublesome and antagonistic. When a culture of purely negative deviance flourishes, not the innovating heroes mentioned before—but the group of teenagers who knock down mailboxes—this has a corrosive effect on our larger systematic society.


Soft Winds

Nature speaks without a tongue,
and sings with her every motion.
She moves with elegance unfelt,
save for the soft winds, to whose
song the tall trees dance.