Poem: the four letter word (the curse) 22 October 2018, 1st draft

Love, it’s a four-letter word

A chemical disturbance of the nerves

A rewiring and misfiring of our precious neural wiring

Spinning us up in its web.

A writing spider sat beside her

We all heard the tale

If it learns to write your name

And spells it overnight

Say goodbye,

Say hello to the light

Was this some rare magic then

In this villainous creature’s sin

Entrapping ensnaring and pulling us in

Don’t resist

The spider calls

Here, hear little sweetheart don’t be scared

I’m gonna build you a rocking chair

And if that rocking chair don’t rock

I’ll make you a laughing stock

And if you don’t fall fast asleep

I’ll bring you something warm to eat.


I saw it there beneath the tent

In the corner coiled it sits

As thunder rattled overhead

and Raindrops fell as though they bled

I saw the web twitch and it ran

This way that way back again

It spun and hopped and twists and stops

And the line runs parallel

I crane my head and there it is

The first letter written in silk

A curse is a most thoughtful gift.

She knows my name, this spider queen,

That’s how I hear her speak

That’s why I see her in my rearview

And when I’m trapped beneath

Some wooden table scared unable

To look at the spider that spun

Soaked to the bone and cold as a stone

The flies while alive did love their web

Their dear cocoon

Their fuzzy place

Their velvet room

That comfort that

Lets you relax

And mother tends to you

I hear the spider from inside her

As she spins the U

This was all so long ago,

But it finished the name, it is true.


The legend says if the spider writes

Your name by night that come the dawn

You will be past tense,

Empty clause

I tried to make the spider pause

As it wove the I in me

I asked it, begging, plaintively

Love, it’s a four letter word

The best of the season

The glittering squirm

That flits in your stomach when you burn

In the absence of someone


You hurt because you yearn

And when you burn is when you learn

The spider spit, up she runs

Kicks off the table in a frantic plunge

Slowly in a line of silk the letter I is spun.


Love, what a four letter word

To make it a spider is most absurd

It’s not a spider, nor a web

It’s a not a trap

It’s not a jail

In payment for the quarter

cast in the wishing well

The spider whispers MURIEL



A mirage arose as though on the sand

As a wisp of the wind this ethereal hand

This magic gifted to this fabled spider

I really saw one as a child

In the rain by the riverside

We had been out on the land

When the williwaw took shape

And ran us all ashore

We sought cover and sat under

That ruddy picnic table

That’s when I saw the arachnid called

The golden weaver,

Hear its song.

It sat and watched me from its web

And seemed to whisper MURIEL

In a voice that seemed almost perverse

Profane, in fact,

a four letter word.


Haunted – panic improv


For many years I worked as an obituary writer
Every call received was another reported dead
Each time it rang it was as though a bell tolled in my head
The passing of some poor soul
Whose memory was left in my poor hands
To do with as I might
And they would send a brief description
Of the deceased, the family left behind
Their date of birth, their date of death,
And so I’d sit to write
Morbid as it was, it just got worse and worse
As each ringing that I heard was more like a curse
With little left to go on, I would write
As kindly as I could be, try as I might,
To be the caretaker of some son, some father,
some mother or some daughter’s memory
It was no right
But obligation
Ring ring! Another corpse
Ding! Ring! Another blurb
Ring! Ring! Five hundred words
And so I moved on,
Death was my living
But it was no life
To sit in the office through the night
And hear the doorbell ring and jump out of my skin
Thinking that each harsh resounding toll
Marked the passage of another wayward soul
Through the veil
no one has ever looked through
and lived to tell the tale
And yet it was my job to say my piece
To make my peace with all those calls
as the list of names grew on my wall
Sticky notes, each bore a name
A date and a dash between
That dash, that single dash between two dates
Exists to tell the story of a life
That’s all we’ll have when we are gone
To tell the story of us all
__ that’s it, that’s all they’ll ever be

The yellow wallpaper beneath the stack of notes
Each one with a name existing to denote
A single name, someone I did not know
Someone I had to honor as I wrote
As time went on I heard that ringing phone
In my sleep, out on the town,
When I woke / when I laid down
I heard that same horrid ringing sound

And so I learned
after a time,
Each ring of the phone signaled the dying
or so it seemed to me
Each ring of the phone it seemed to be
A family on the other side bereaved
Who waited for me to somehow append
My final word to serve as a haunting end
And so I took to drink
Could not focus could not think
Hiding from the sun and
Staying up all night
I unplugged my phone but still it rang
Until I ripped it from the wall
But the bell still tolled
And still they called
The doorbell went off in the storm

I put my pen down, walked to the door
Cracked it open just to glimpse the form
Of some ghost who’s quiet and forlorn
A haunting attached to a ringing noise
That I still hear with each ringing phone
The requiem that tolls for one more departed soul

And so I started hearing at my door
An anguished knocking, shouting, no more! No more!
I pushed the couch and desk against the wall,
Wrapped myself inside a heavy shawl
And shouted at the ghosts that stood outside
Demanding that I say more of their lives
There was no way I could apologize
I did not know! Not you, or you!
I did what I had to do!
Ring! Ring!
There she goes.
ring-ring-ring! Another ghost.

Perhaps there is no masterplan,
Or no master at the very least, as sand,
Will take us all and our great monuments
Stop our mouths and silence our great instruments with dust
And if there is no master, what then of the plan,
A delicate dance of chaos and chance
Leads us through an improvised dance
Not knowing whence we came not knowing when we go,
And so we make up the master and his plan to soothe the soul
So we may say that if another’s is lost,
At least they got some great reward
For which they paid the cost

The cost to live, is a life for the life we live,
We never got a chance,
We asked no one to give us this
This mortal coil is not a gift,
It’s more like shackle that must hold us all
To the earth that loosens as we fall
And whether we float up and out as do balloons
Or meet the master whose great plan we can’t improve
We do not know as no one yet
Has whispered from the other side of death

To cry out to we children in the dark
Or light a candle so we’ll see the spark
That it might guide in our brief sojourn
Instead we fumble blind and do not learn;
From nowhere to nowhere
Our legacy may only be what we get to leave behind
Our children or our artwork or a bawdy rhyme
But if I was to somehow haunt this world
I would not want to be some ghoul perturbed
But rather the blind ferryman who takes the coin and carries on
To ferry those across who have the coin across that river long

Across the river into the bank of haze
That no one living can pierce with a gaze
And the best guess is that there has to be
A purpose for this whole menagerie
And that there must be some sort of master plan
To protect us from the whims of chaos and the cold hands of chance
To shield us from the winter that must come for all
For which there is no getting warm, there’s nothing but the Fall
From on a great high, so we’re born,
And as we’re falling through the storm,
And wonder why it we fall at all
Or if from some prior life we jumped ourselves
If karma carries over to repel
With no knowledge of this life before the urn

And yet it’s said in these ancient tomes
That each action that we take sticks to our soul
And this soul just migrates in and out between
One body to another, with its form based on our deeds
And yet we only guess and do not know
From whence we come and where we go
And so the haunting stays,
Despite the passing of each ghost

They leave their mark which is quite stark
like a fading footprint in the snow
A haunting is more like a legacy;
No petty poltergeist that floats about and creeps at night,
No prankster that tosses stray books about
Who opens doors and hopes to scare us out
Who calls to us through Quija boards
through mediums and cryptic forms
but just cannot speak clear
but we believe because we need to think it real
Ring! Ring! And so another goes
Ring! Ring!
No wise man, no Sufi knows

The ending point we reach as we slowly fall
Hurtling down we try to hold the wall
With the delusion that we’ll keep it all
That what we have in hand wont shatter when we land
That it can go with us and pass that veil
To the highest heaven or the darkest hell
And who goes where? and who to tell?
Ring! Ring! Ring!
Not that electric hell!
Ring! Ring!
Oh! Stop the ringing of this bell!

Dear master, if I may say,
if you ever had a plan,
I must say it’s gotten out of hand
And we are all mere children lost
Lost in a world in which we’re naked and screaming tossed;
And yet each person living fears the fall
Though this is not a thing to fear at all;
We cannot stop the falling, nor cling to rafters jutting out,
We should not fear the fall,
we should rather fear the ground.
On the other side of morning the Great Silence wraps us round;
And so a hymn for the great silence then, which calls
Each of its children to the place we fall
To look back on everything before it’s gone
Something more than a sticky note that’s clinging to the wall
In an office by a drinking man who who fears to get the call
Who no more knows a comfort true,
Than he knows to comfort you
But so I did my job and wrote their tale

I did my best, I could do worse
I took the cash but hid the purse;
And wondered as I saw each passing hearse
The siren that went off as bells inside my head
Was as the singing of the silent dead
After so many years in the business that is tears
I had to leave to try to help myself;
My nephew died, and we all cried,
And called out, Oh my God!
Where were you when the child was torn apart?
What part of this plan needs a child smeared on the road?

And if it is such a great master plan
What kind of monster would frame such an end?
The life of a child, barely 9 he died, beneath a bus
A mile of blood ten more of guts
Was this a part of that great master plan?
The guts of the good, the blood of the lamb?
The rape of the young, the fear of the old?
Or is it just a story that we have so often told
That we’d rather believe this madness than let the purpose go?

To think that the fall is all there is
One moment just a blink to feel the wind
And each second that we fall is another minute gone
We look up at the ledge and see how far we’ve had to fall
And look down to see how much further we must go
A distance that is always out of view
A place we’ve always headed to
Which we have never knew
But if there is a place of grace beyond that silent waste
And a master whose great plan was to leave us sick and wan

I’d like to make a plea on my behalf;
Whatever plans there might have been
To give purpose to Fall’s own children,
Is a purpose not quite worth it /
not one ounce of blood
That is taken before its time
Not one child left to die
No one child who’s left alone in a world that’s harsh and cold
No great purpose could redeem
The misery within the stream
A stream that starts just where it stops
The person that must live their life
Will die – that life forgot
And each memory will be
lost amid the mustard seeds

Strewn along a beach that never ends
A beach of glass that has been made smooth by time
The multicolored rainbow is no promise
But a lie
No promise of peace, but reminder of
The price
Is our own life to give for the chance we had to live
And yet we do not keep
The memories that make us who we are
The view of the mountain and the stars
The laughter of our children
And the sun
The dancing and the singing turns to ruin
Heir to ruin are we all
with no choice but yet we fall

And if we chose the plan is flawed;
To put us with the rest atop the board
Of pieces animate and multiform
to avoid each day another unseen check to slay
To remove us from the board and stop the game
We do not get to see those moving hands
That shift us round the board dumb to the plan
The master plan! There’s night and day;
We wake as we must crawl back to our sleep,
How little we may say!
And when we finally see the final play –
And no that there is no way to escape
We curse the hand that moved us into place
The rules, the game, each night, each day,
We dwelled on death and loss but not on grace;
To concentrate upon the cursed fall

Instead of being grateful that we get to be at all
Perhaps the masterplan will make no sense,
As it is rendered in the minds of men;
But the galaxies and stars that are far above the bars
Keep going in their circuits as of now unharmed;
According to their laws
And on and on
The finish line appears for each galaxy that wheels
Just as it appears for you or me;
The largest planet and each giant star
That we can only gape at from afar
Has but a little while to shine
Before submitting to the dark
And if we were to live until the end
Upon a drifting life-maintaining bridge
One by one we’d see each long-lived star blink out
Those great titans that once hung above
That we so worshiped in our infancy in droves
Are no more immune to darkness than the rest
And so if we stood there upon the bridge
In a cold world with no lights to guide us left;

For the universe as it is right now
Is no more permanent than the most brief of sounds;
A brief shout along a breaking ride is all
The little time that we mere mortals call
Out to the master whose great plan has cast us by
Into the stream we can’t escape to die
To let us worry as we drop and drop
What will happen when the fall comes to a stop
If there is but silence and we rot
Toss the plan, and toss the sense,
For worrying won’t give you half an inch
Or lift you back up to the ledge to let you leap again
There are no candles save ourselves
And our wick is set
To burn as bright as we can burn until the wax is wet
And hardens into something like regret
Regret we did not seize the time
to seek the heavenly and sublime
In the hope a thief might find
A back door into paradise
Instead of worrying as we fall
The ground swelling before our eyes
Though it is true that all must die

It is not true that all must live;
So take the cash in hand and spend it all
Dance away the day and night enthralled
We have no other chance to see the stars
So we must view them while we can in awe
That we were born in such a world as this
Replete with beauty quite surreal that sits
In its own place and time to wait and pine
For someone mid-fall to glimpse and divine
That if there was no plan at all
To hit the ground and kiss the silence
in the end was worth the fall.

And once the game has finished,
Each living piece reset
The game goes on until it all
Like the stars
Blink out and fall
there’s no immortal hand or eye
That set us at the gameboard just to die
No hand to frame our pride and shame
No wisdom that can take the pain
Remove the haunting and the stain
Of the fallen and the slain

And though a séance may not seem to work
We may conjure up the long lost through our words
Abracadra, poof! and Al-shalimar!
And here upon the blank page burns the star;
Aroom ayan mio myar!
And the child may rise to speak again;
To commune with who we were and who we are
As we wait ready in the autumn cold
Watching each leaf drain of its bloom and fold
Drift idly to the ground, how like we all
The flower once it blooms can only fall.

In and out it seems so paltry now
to think of things in terms of why and how;
how is for physicists
and why – philosophers
We chase this meaning but no gleaming of that other shore
Reveals itself
And if no sinner has to enter in the halls of Hell,
And the saints are as the wicked when they cross the veil
We are even in the end in such a way
That’d we never notice underneath the canopy of day
That dwarfs us, looming o’er and ’round and ’round
That great fire in the sky
Round which this little marble in its little dance goes by
And as it does we count each circuit round
though it may seem forever as brightly as it gleams
it’s little more than one small point of light amid a stream

Of the great silence and oppressive night
that should give us cause to celebrate the light
And the flowers that reach to the sun
Leaning toward the light to feel the warmth
Each has its one brief summer in the sun
A puff of smoke is blown through a gate from nowhere
And dissolves as it goes out the other side
Disappears as cold breath in the winter night,
So if you try to hold on as you go
You’ll end up thinking real this shadow show;
A time to reap, a time to sow,
A time to plant, a time to grow,
A time to plan, a time to throw
caution to the wind and cherish that
Delight in chaos and in happenstance
No need to mourn those who I may have said
A thing of two when I first got the call
Before I put the haunting name and date upon the wall
They surround me now
and each one speaks to me

In the language of silence most discrete
and I imagine that if there is a place
Where we may sit beneath unending shade
beneath the stars that stay to light the night
To usher in the morning sun with such delight
And if it doesn’t what have we to fear;
The silence – no, we cannot hear

There was no plan, there never was,
no meaning to our hate or love
There is no meaning imposed from above
That’s not to say that we can’t say ourselves
What it all means to us works just as well;
We need no master nor a plan
To enjoy this brief trip in this caravan
That set out from that gate of nowhere to
Another gate to pass out and adieu!
Adieu! We say!
no good goodbye
Only farewell, that gets us by
And hopefully we can embrace the fall
Learn to enjoy the view, embrace it all
Forget that bridge that would immortal stand
At the end of time above the sand
Which covers all the monuments of man
It must be much nicer now that we have
A blue sky saddled in white clouds in bands
And at night a carpet full of firelight which spans
Which, for lack of plan and master touch,
Must be considered in the end enough

To accept what we must have to pay
For our hour in the sun, the cooling shade,
For the music and our friends,
for the sirens, and their song
Trails off and dims and moves along
So it moves, it moves so what!
That we get to live to fall is nothing short of luck
Though there’s misery and stumbling round
In this brief fall to the ground
leaving these breadcrumb words to cure what ills
us of our own fears that often make us feel
We need to leave a check to pay the bill;
The thoughts we had we’ll leave behind
our life was not for nothing and if it was that’s fine

We do not need a master plan
to bask in the taper light of brief sunshine
So if you ever get that final ring
A date and cause and know it’s me
Say what you will, I’ll haunt you still,
I’ll stick myself inside the wheel
So that when it turns round once
and hurries on
as karma counts up all our rights and wrongs
And if there is another life to live,
This is all that I have in this current life to give
It’s a reflection of a thought,
that flickered for a moment and was lost
That fluttered for a moment on the shore
Then was heard aflutter nevermore;
So in closing I must say again,
Forget the plan, the master,
The saints and all the sin;
For the fall is all there is
we can choose to leave our own blood stains
smeared across a page to leave our name
we can lose ourselves in misery and end up in a cage

And though the game is rigged
at least we got to play;
Though there is an end to light,
we got to see the day;
the belt of Venus blue and pink
The stars above in narrow streaks
And when we must crawl down below
And greet the silence with our own Hello!
Those who get the call when we go on
Will stick our name upon their wall
Ring! Ring! Another tolls
Ring! Ding! And there she goes.
And so I must bring this to a close,
As there’s no much left to say in prose;
except that I admit what it’s about;

To exist in anyway we must stand out!
We must shout as we fall and hope some hear our call
So when we land someone will take the call.
That’s all that it’s about
A human being must keep screaming I’m alive, and shout!
Until the dust stops up our lungs and we descend
Into the gate beneath that quiet pen,
We must try sing of spring and not of ends,
As the birds in summertime without a care
Chirping blissful and yet unaware

Of each tick each tock and squawk
Is a moment gone, there is no spare;
no money in the world that buys
Another hour in the sun to lie
so each moment must be priceless to then,
As not one second can be lived again;
it ends, it must, and
It ends,
it ends,