Statues line the promenade,
sun bleached and wind worn
tucked between the palms
one or two lay crumbling,
beheaded, missing limbs,
impromptu Venus

On summer nights like these,
the ocean spray blows in
to cover the city like mist
gently drowning our ambition
in seasaltbreeze

Cyan & amethyst
LED streetlights,
empty quads and alleys
where someone is playing
a Haydn Quartet
mixed by way of Moroder,
windows spilling neon
and complacent violin
-the neighborhood a mash
of old brick and new glass
looking for all the world like
something out of
la quartier mécanique

And right here’s my favorite
24hr. detox and Japanese takeout place
the soda fountains all serve
GHB and TAB Clear
(think Crystal Pepsi w/caffeine),
Arizona Ice Tea,
and water that tastes like zinc

From the corner booth
you can just make out
across the street,
through the gently
shifting fronds
a dozen TV-VCR combos
stacked in an immaculate
storefront window all playing
the Twin Peaks pilot on endless loop

While beyond,
the sea stacks sway
and glisten in
the dead summer haze
and together we melt
into A E S T H E T I C


The Grave Robber’s Confession by Mack W. Mani

I’ve seen Will ‘o Wisps
and St. Elmo’s Fire,
mostly them in the Southlands
graveyards near bayous or swamps.

I once saw an entombed woman 
come back to life 
three days after her death,
I had just slipped the ring 
off her finger pale and bony,
when she gasped and rose with a cry.

One summer I lived 
in the catacombs beneath Paris
and for nigh on a month
never once saw the light of the sun,
only pale torchlight 
cast across fields of bones,
wooden chests rotted to their hinges.

I have walked the hall of ashes
and seen the rotting face 
of John the Baptist.

Once in Afghanistan, 
I even spied a ghoul
prowling the trenches near dawn 
picking the corpses 
of both sides equally.

These are my qualifications,
such as they are;
few know as much about death
and the places of the dead 
as grave robber, 
so believe me when I tell you,
there is nothing beyond the grave,
but me.

No voices 
or tunnel of light
just darkness, dust, 
and these two dirty hands,
trying to make a living.


[Wooden Grave by Marker Majel G. Claflin c. 1937]

Do You See Him Now?

Do you remember
that day in the courtyard,
just after the morning mist?

The man we met there,
with his tricky smile
and grown-up voice,
like he knew everything in the world?

I asked if you saw him there,
mumbling to himself
between the hemlock and holly,
with his grey-green cap
and stinking breath.

You said no, but you
had a smile on your face,
I was younger then by two years
and I didn’t know what to think.

You asked me to hold your hand,
I don’t remember if I did,
(it doesn’t sound like
something I would do)
but I know that I was afraid…

Of what I wanted to do,
of what I saw in the man
with the sticky hands,
fumbling with himself
there between the hemlock and holly.

Do you remember him?
That day in the courtyard,
just after the morning mist?

A Year in The Deepwood

Deepwood: The Hunter

I will hunt you to the ends of the Earth.

And when you see me,
you will know that there is nowhere left to run.
I have hunted the animals in The Green
and I have killed them all;
what do you think am I going to do with you?

I wounded you once, in the snow,
you left a trail of blood behind you,
so that I would have your scent.
I would have caught you then,
but you lost me at the edge of
The Deepwoods.

And in that moment,
I realized that I loved you

you clever little beast…

I love you.

And I will hunt you to the ends of the earth.