If You Go to Fight
consider as combatants
a knight wearing plate mail, shield, wielding a morning star
an assassin wearing leather armor with a short sword and dagger
a guard wearing chain mail with a pike and a short sword
a woman with a sharp needle concealed in her hair
the knight anywhere that's not an open field equaling a dead knight
the assassin coming up on a sleeping woman equaling rape or murder and love
between the knight and the guard equaling so much noise they don't hear a thief, hitherto unmentioned, wearing nothing but black velvet slipping into the room to cut their necks open
stealthers will get skills to evade blocks rooms will have flags to indicate the type of terrain none will be particular about
just-after-frost moss beds, a downed tree angling across other trees to form a bridge there will be options
about choosing not to kill other people overpower, capture, show mercy
honor duels etc combat will be settings and tactics choose
your hallway, beauty, your skills choose mouth or mansion tank truck plane
choose horse or ram gnome or monster all the same blood ponds
will grow new kinds of vegetation a roe will stop to drink become a kind
of terrible buck, hunting heads stabbing cabbages with each of his
vindictive horns I mean against a deer with those stats what kind
of hunting would be effective come in a large party bring a mage
I Pull Out Behind the Empty Hearse
On speakerphone, my boss talks about deltas
and deadlines. How often the data should be
backed up. A dogwood shakes its sodden head,
sending blossoms through the street, where they
stick to the wheels of the long black hearse ahead of me.
An emptiness is here, so perfect it must have been
rehearsed all week, all month, all year. It must have been
waiting for me all my life—a quick splash
of sunlight, a droplet of late rain, but where
is that driver headed? To pick up the dead, to arrange
the dark, polished body, to write in his log
a street address, a name, a date? My manager says
we must wait for corporate buy-in from Switzerland.
But he promises chocolate by mail, tickets to
a bloody hockey game. I have lost
the desire for wisdom. At best, now, I attend
good sense. The lukewarm liberty we've won
has come to this—a distance of miles
that can't be bridged, a little hurt, a sort
of incandescence following behind us
wherever we go, even down the darkest roads.
The dogwoods shiver another white cascade.
I think of calling out to you. I think of explaining.
A short drive. A city full of new leaves.
But I doubt that you would see it that way.
Every Morning We Go Through the Mountain
Not to it, but through. Above us, new homes,
new versions of existing homes, all paneling
and staircases. Below, veins of ore, goblins,
devils, who knows. The sky that is out there
is no longer apparent, no longer present, really.
As if it was only visiting us, now pushed away
by cold, dark fire. But that was years ago.
That was before we moved, before the road
sickly twisted, loitering straight up, down.
Now every morning we go through the mountain.
Every morning we see Jesus in the toast,
but tell no one, ask for nothing. We don't even buy
a lottery ticket.
We keep seeing an angel over the mountain.
We switch to pancakes. We try to run in another direction.
Every morning we go through the mountain
and are brought out on white filigree,
carried through rainbows of gasoline.
And the syrup trees decorate the distance
slick with their sweet sap, the green vines hanging
like slipped straps of a dress.
We are beneath now, we are part of the mountain.
We are brought out on the morning, carried into the beyond—
which is all Huli-Huli Chicken and King Hot Dogs
and the fat white Mercedes waiting on the lot for its buyer.
Which is the sweet-by-and-by, or as close to it as we will ever come.