T. Birch: Featured Poet


Uriel’s Keeping

I. The Word.
Down streets, past lamp lit vacant lots,

      the clip clop walks,

the dance bar bright with pounding thumps,

      the drunken talks

with strangers known and not.

      The rayon black of halter tops

and tight black denim pants,

      pills in pockets close to the crotch

whispering, whispering like little clocks

      inside your head.  The strobe light shocks

the eyes that turn to watch you dance - 

      the hungry looks, 

the hugs you get.

      The spinning daze from the drugs you took.

The “oh, so pretty” compliments,

       sweat mingling with the perfumed scents.

The men, the men, the men that pace.

      The underwear with silk and lace

which tense male hands will soon embrace,

      tearing off the last vestige of a camisole’s grace.

Rubbing themselves, incessantly hard,

      rubbing you without any regard.

Trusting you not to interject

      complaints about their rough affect.

Just coo and whisper in their ears,

      lying there beneath their stares,

while thinking “do what you can to get to the end.”

      Trying your best trick, your game of pretend,

you scream “Oh God! Oh God!” so self-assured

      like Jesus came and you just heard the word.

II. Flame as a prerequisite.

Oxygen, it burns inside each of us,
the human breath. We feel it’s heat.
Naked and hairless we let it escape.

Sand Creek they killed them.
Shot and then hacked
when the bullets ran out,
and scalped all that were found,
the scarred bodies of women
boys and old men,
girls with their toys, babes nursing
and crying, and bayoneted
to shut out the sound.
Burned the lodges,
with the purity of a soldier’s torches -
the tipi ashes, the smoke, their fertilized traces
brought down with the rain
to a cold prairie ground.

The fires smoldered at Stalingrad
damped down by the cold,
stirred up by the wind
and explosions that sparked
long through the night
to give sight to the reckless.
The brave few survivors not fighting,
who foraged the mine fields,
the killing grounds,
among the remnants of dead men
for cold meats to eat
to keep flames alive.

Three was the number
(and his wife) who were lost
in the smoke on the night
Dad escaped.
Now he sits and he waits,
alone and bereft
of what passed for his life
before gasoline ignited the house,
and left their last words
in his care
while they burned.

III. Light as a wave to bear an angel.

Light radiates onto our surfaces
and through our surfaces,
onto an end
of what can be
heard at a distance,
and muffled.

We are the sons and daughters
of God, images,
simulacrums in material form,
but all that we see
with our eyes and our minds
is in Uriel’s keeping.

We are as radios tuned
to the frequencies known,
and beginning to fashion a message
along with the static
that comes from converting
photons to words.

Perhaps we’re confused.

© T. Birch 2002
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Featured Poetry

White Rose in a Tumbler
For You and I and Everyone
Uriel's Keeping
Take Any Word and Follow After It
This Is the New Century Once More
i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. ix. x.