In My Former Life
As a Christian assassin, Jesus gave me an eye for an eye.
Where he got his, or I got mine, neither of us knew.
There were more important things to consider, like
where to rest the recoil pad to minimize shoulder damage
and how loudly to sing the beatitudes as bullets found homes
in the Sermon on the Mount, grazing the cheeks of troubled souls
gathered to hear the carpenter build a Kingdom of bread and wine.
Being poor in spirit, and pocket too, was all the incentive needed
to excel in the art of shattering darkness buried below that X
on your chest, no one but me could see.
If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out, it’s better to be blind.
But not this man who paid the bills by trusting his doctrinal scope
and range. I was the conductor on your train ride to heaven,
to what some call the forgiven life, the never be afraid
of your hands again life, the no fear of the sky raining fire on you, life.
My job had nothing to do with umbrellas or the pyrotechnics of mercy.
For years this calling to preach the gospel if he did it you can too,
was why I cleaned the barrel each night and washed each bullet
with water blessed by a priest who knew my real name.
The name no one repeated. Those were hard and lonely days,
spent making God so happy. Standing at the edge of my grave,
would I do it all again? Probably not. The old man’s been dead for years.
Endless days on the streets of gold have proven to be disappointing.
Even the angels have wings of snow. The sun’s been cold that long.
Negotiation if you will,
force if you won’t,
is how winter’s hand
glides in and out
with the soft, lovely gloves
of necessity and treason.
Felony or fashion?
Blossoms tell the bees,
it’s the brightness that loved you,
we never did. It’s the buzzing
you remember before the stinger stayed,
not the way you vanished in summer’s violation.
It could be the weather reminds me of you:
cold, black clouds creeping up the coast
dwarfing all life below and beyond
as good people pray with hummingbird breaths,
raising the roofs in this comatose town
like no tornado could ever do dear.
Not here, not as long as this island stands still,
refusing the glory of the six o’clock news,
showing the world what good people do when
the weather is what I love most about you,
your tongue always clearing a path for my eyes,
before and after the storm’s hard kiss leaves the hummingbird breathless.
The infinite, pink ribbon of sky resting
on the mountain’s icy crown, above
a world painted with frost, like
an old white beard hanging from the chin
of a happy drunk smiling his way through the
coldest November the island had ever known.
This could have been you, had your hands
not let go of the bottle and the genie,
had you not said smile so many times
it tore my face apart. This for a box,
filled with things to let you feel what
some hands do to lighten the weight of the heart.
And I smiled back into the phone
across America’s weathered face,
through fire lit houses of wintering souls
looking for a knife to cut the tape, letting the genie out.
A Lasso Of Sunset
Just say yes, if you can.
Twist your lips into the shape of a Y.
Let that place in your chest with the gladiator shield
marked with a big black N melt into a big red Y.
Do it for the people and parts that are stuck
on the thought that nothing deserves to be given
your blood or your breath or the touch of your hand
out of fear that sharing that much of yourself
would diminish the you that remains.
Ask if they remember who remains
on the frozen tundra of NO, where the lonely snowman
with shotgun shell eyes gazes at the world
as children stroll by, occasionally wishing his black button lips
could say something warm and kind.
Have you ever felt warm and kind,
ever imagine love’s raging hooves
stampeding through the dirt of your mind?
With a million good reasons to hold yourself back
from the flesh and its glorious dust, maybe the leather reins
of your spirit are tighter than even you know.
Either way, the soul grows small,
reduced to the size of a muddy corral where the wild
is beaten from the heart of the beast, as both tamer and tamed
surrender to NO, like servants of empty saddles.
Perhaps you need something less violent
than spurs to inspire change,
maybe a wink from your horse’s left eye,
maybe a lasso of sunset.
Daniel Moore’s work has been widely published in journals such as:
The American Literary Review, Western Humanities Review, Cream City Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Rattle, River Styx and others. Six of his poems appeared in a national anthology of poets, entitled, “This New Breed: Gents, Bad Boys, And Barbarians,” published by Windstorm Creative press. He lives in Washington on Whidbey Island where he is working on his first book, “Waxing The Dents.” He currently has work in Flint Hills Review, El Portal, Coe Review, Paper Nautilus, and Narrative Northeast. He has poems forthcoming in Dewpoint, Atticus Review, Cobalt Review, Wayne Literary Review, Assaracus Review and District Lit.