A bird spoke.

A bird spoke.

“There will be rain today, and for forty days henceforth,” it said. The red sun had not moved for five and a half hours, and two clouds of dust began to swirl in place on either side of the desert path. The bird observed stoically, its obsidian feathers thickening and pulsing.

“My grandfather never saw the ark, only the mast.”

For a moment, we both stood alongside one another, my feet on the ground and his around the thin, leafless branch. For a moment, the unsettling stillness of the red sun was comforting. For a moment, the only noise was the rushing of water on the opposite end of the mountains. Then a raindrop plopped into cracked earth, and the bird flew away without a word, so I drank from my canteen, waiting for the peyote to hit again.

That’s when things really took off. In the desert, rain is as rare as religion. There are no gods here, only vultures and scorpions lying in wait for prey to present itself on a sterling serving plate. As rain fell, I watched wildebeests scurry across the hard sand into a rabbit hole the size of a mack truck, and followed, only to find a herd of bewildered wildebeests staring back at me with eyes the size of saucers.

I turned around and saw a father and son playing baseball together. The elder man hit a home run and broke his bat over his knee like Bo Jackson while his son ran after the ball and disappeared behind a sheet of rain. The red sun had turned purple, the sky a sickly yellow, and the sound of rushing water on the opposite end of the mountains reached a crescendo of crashing waves.

Water broke over the mountains and made a waterfall in the desert. The man with the broken bat aged three thousand years in an instant, and the bat turned to a staff. The man’s white beard was so long that it reached the floor, curled upwards and took the shape of a man itself. They stood there together, the man and his beard, shaking hands and discussing retirement plans while the son came back covered in lesions and blisters, feverish, panting and wheezing.

The bruised sky cracked with lightning, rapidly whipping wind ripped the whiskers off the man’s face and carried them into the sky, where another burst of lightning followed and hit the ground so hard the earth cracked in half. The father stood on one side and the son on the other, I in the middle between the divided parcels of land. Breaking waves rushed down the mountains carrying a boat the size of Cowboys Stadium, filling the gap between each half of land with a newly formed river. At the front of the ship’s hull was an obsidian bird the size of a man with feathers shifting constantly as though they controlled their own movements.

The bird spoke.

“I shall call it the Euphrates!” The bird looked pleased with himself following his proclamation. His crew of crows cawed excitedly, smacking glasses of rum together and singing pirate songs. I pulled myself along the bank as the ship drew near and dried off before it stopped. A rope ladder was thrown off the side for me to climb. As I reached the deck, the crew greeted me with an unblinking stare; at least seventy huge black birds, standing nearly face to face with me, all wearing men’s clothes. The captain spoke.

“My grandfather never saw the ark, only the mast. My father made snow from rain and ice from rushing water,” the bird paused for a while between each sentence. His beady eyes turned white and blue, and he looked deep into mine. “I made a river from the desert. Look on my works.”

Then the sky became blue again, the sun yellow like before, and the river red with what was to come.

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MURMURUMRUMURMUR

Meltdown in Manhattan, read all about it!

Immortal mortar murder morphing metropolises to Mordor!

Does that ring a bell, m’lord?

 

I am skin and bones, I am pointy nose

aimed at the ground like a beachcomber

scanning for scraps amidst the wreckage, restless

air raid sirens akin to birds chirping in the aching morning through a mega-megaphone

on a loop that doesn’t end

like a vile roller coaster designed to rip bile from the intestines

 

An opera of screams. Shroud the cityscape,

shadows and candles. Blue hour. Evening news is the new

Evening blues. Thieves and crews of first responders responding too late.

Too late like the warning. Too early like the bomb. On time

Square. Circle and line

on the wall. The word is big.

Fire is huge.

 

THE TRAIN TO AND FROM HOME, 12/16/17

Standing at the station in Absecon

with a heavy coat over my suit and leather shoes submerged under snow

until concrete. Sing to me –

He says I’m living over city,

all the streetlights glow orange down here and nothing is

taller than the telephone poles.

 

Neon lights on the white

horse pike. My brother’s here to scoop me up

In the white ford he smashed at Sunoco on the yellow divider poles

the first time he drove it with me

riding shotgun.

 

I’m swaying on the platform swigging

an expensive bottle in cheap pants

and red socks with bulldogs wearing Santa hats on em.

This old dog ain’t about to forget

barking up the wrong tree until the cyan sun set

and baked it’s initials into the ozone layer.

Oh, zone out and see me seeing you on the train back home

out the window at night

when black trees block everything but Christmas lights

 

I’d break the lights in here for some shutters

for some shuteye

for some-

Shut up.

Foursome at the lounge later.

Bring Valvoline and as many stuffed animals as you can.

We’re getting freaky.

 

Lindenwold.

E&J and cherry coke.

 

Remember singing in the tunnel?

Remember the acoustics?

 

Another sip.

The bottle is a jacket, don’t need no koozie.

 

We need your camera, Cass.

EOIE MMRS

Don’t go swimming in that lake you’ll come out smelling like a toilet

My mother had told me at the campsite

I heard bullfrogs chirping for the first time at night

I heard chickadees croaking in the morning

I saw a cricket swell to four times its size and explode in a teacup

I saw a locket underneath the water so I waded in

My mom waited in the submarine

My dad was wearing a mariners jersey

My parents have never been together in my lifetime

My father is a Phillies fan

Was a Yankees fan

Was a yankee in the civil war

Was a civil war within the household

A civil dispute

Settle it in civil court

In family court I pled guilty

They hauled me off to the gallows on the spot

They hung me like a wet shirt

My shirt was wet I sweated through it

My shirt was wet I never knew it

My shirt was wet from tears

From blood

From the cut above my eye and mud

From sea to shining sea

From me to you, beneath my shoes,

above my antennas

Above my line of sight

Above and beyond

To infinity

And below.