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May 1, 2019 Poetry

5 Poems*

William James

5 Poems* photo


Curse the sun, you lonely king 

of ash, of husks & of ruin. Howl 
at the encroaching flood 

as your tongue chokes on thorns. 

Greying host. Poison nectar. 
Perfumed blood will flow 

from your withered hands. 

The pillars of flame that licked 
at your aching body are buried 

in the dirt, the iron which held you 

to the earth is broken into shards 
of bright silver light. 

No drought is endless. No horizon

is dark for all time. Walk freely 
through crimson waters, and leave 

hope in the furrowed arms of night.



 A new American blasphemy

                                    a god with no gun 

            who howls from his graveyard 

                                                with a shaking voice 

                        that makes all your old nightmares 

obsolete.                      There’s a cruel wind 

                        & bombs falling from earth to sky. 

The bodies of children washed ashore. 

                        A prophet reaches out 

                                    his knife to the congregation 

            & they claw at their eyes in worship. 

Cain tears out his mother’s throat 

                                                with his teeth. 

                        The sun dies, 

            a broken colossus. A kingdom of sour blood 

                                    & venom swirling in the sky. 

Somewhere above the mountains, 

                        a trumpet plays, 

            sounding like a museum of ghosts. 



All glory to the broken machines 

the massive angels 
beaming with light. 
Shrieking restlessness. 


The ancient pull 
of the sea. A celestial 


of Armageddon 
needles forward, 
awash in savage grace. 


If we are anything, 
we are black dogs 
barking, crawling 

blindly towards 
our own extinction. 
A kamikaze 

cadence, gnawing 
at the dust 
in God's hands. 



The broken god of man 

towers above us in a filthy 
            heaven.            hands down 

monuments to splinters, 
            to ruins. a heavy crown 

of desire. robes black as 

           a child’s dreams buried 
                        in the earth. 

            & kneeling in light, we sing 
for the flowers & the sadness, 

            for the forgotten & the heavy 

of heart. for the sorrow that stirs 
            in us the half-belief that prayer 

is not only the anticipation 
            of mourning to come. oh, 

what joy! what stillness! 

           what blessed comfort 
                      there is in the sky! 

we weep from the pain of living 
            but glisten with light. we survive. 

has the world ever been so brave?



It was how you danced 

                        that struck me. A flicker 
of sunlight through leaves, 

                        as if your body was pulled 
between the lighthouse 

                        & the stones. Withered, 
wearied, you scorched 

                        the earth. Sparks to embers, 
to fires, & you burned 

                        with fever as I sketched
your portrait in the dark 

                        with a heavy key. I pulled 
god down from the sky 

                        & you shook with indifference. 
The script torn in half. 

                        The sun gone vacant. 
We buried our fathers 

                        joys & fell into the water. 
Like a dirge, or a release.



These poems are deconstructions of previously existing texts. Namely, the lyrics to various albums that have made an impact on me. I take those lyrics & run them through software that lists every word in alphabetical order, thereby stripping away the original context of the work, and I use that word bank to create new poems. I constrict myself to using only the words that appeared in the original work, and only as many times as they appeared.

  • Curse the sun, you lonely king (SUMAC – Love In Shadow)
  • A new American blasphemy (ZAO – The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here)
  • All glory to the broken machines (FULL OF HELL – Trumpeting Ecstasy)
  • The broken god of man (THE BODY – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer)
  • It was how you danced (ALTAR OF PLAGUES – Teethed Glory & Injury)


image: Aaron Burch