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Have you ever seen God before she started breathing?

skin the color of aubergine

then evolution kicks in, forgetting it's some sort of sin

and her lungs color her skin

have you ever seen God before she started breathing?


Have you ever seen God breathing through tubes?

rib cage the size of a bird?

His worshipers gather to pray over numbers

have you ever seen God before she started breathing?




I used to want to be wanted, now I just want to be sane

I used to want to be haunted, now I'm not sure

I can take the pain


Live was I ere I saw evil, 

now I do not wonder at all

This chemistry , this beast

I have seen the dark center

Live was I ere I saw evil, 

now I do not wonder at all


and I'm afraid


I cannot see through the grey wall

of what I was like before I lost my shit

I cannot climb the gray peace wall, 

all I've left is to lob molotovs over it


and I'm afraid


Half Yr Face


I've grown afraid

Of the same damn highway

I drive it every day

To see half of yr face


I'm just another tube

Stuck in your body

I'm not fluids nor food

I don't belong 


we named a small new woman

a a small new beast in the kingdom

just today some cops held guns up to children

and cursed their dark skin


will you soon curse us

for this world we have named you in? 




Christ the elect

has forgiven my rent 

but when will my brain's chemicals relent


God may forgive

but the body does not forget

when will my brain's chemicals relent?


in soil, in sweat

the bruised reed is bent

when has the rain not gotten us wet?


there's mud in our bones

and blood in our plans

when have we not been let down by my hands?





You should be one of the smiling mothers

Wheeled down through the revolving doors

With Flowers and nurses and phone photographers

Potent husbands with which you'd never grow bored


the parkway the parking lot

the lift and the doors

the washing of our hands

there is nothing more


the beeping of the heart

the breath inside the tubes

the flesh of our flesh

never untethered from the cords


You shouldn't have to be watching her numbers

Like the shadows of the kids you can't save

You bare your breasts in our plastic nest

Our flesh and blood tries to eat without choking it away    


I can never know the kick inside you

Nor can I  convince you my weak seed's to blame

We both stare alone out on our flat unchosen home

Until the void can respond with our names





Christ under a marble canopy

Pressed by the sky, plaza-throned 

Rung with the thousand

Keeping-blinks of visitors phones


Past the polite militia

Inside the tourism booths

I ditched my companions

And their crudities, to root


If you're like me - loneliness is a feast

Praying broken Latin with an unseen priest

In the bowels of a hospital lobby

In the annoying tourist colony


breaking the bread of His body

And counting the pulse of His bloody wrist 

I'm always praying for solutions

But His only  answer is a silent kiss


I'd Rather Die


I'd rather die than be embarrassed 

I've known that since I was a kid

And I've never gotten over it


I'd rather die than be embarrassed

eyes be closed and no one is there

but if i tell you what i am now

this new beast will just dissolve in the air       


Do you remember when I was afraid

Of the knives - I'd always want them outta sight


Strong men take the body they're given

And send their minds off to hell or heaven


Mine has stayed sun-shaded and riven

Spaded dirt that no spirit would live in


How long can I go

Where no one knows

My compline prayer

My sweet little pill

I just never taste it

But I'd rather die 

Than be embarrassed 


Kerygma Blues


It's said you are

A brake-less truck of wrath

With the velocity of history

You cannot help your need

To split me under your wheels


So I will run from you

Just like my friends do


I think I have heard you

Placeless bare whispers

Redemption of the body

Substance silence

No moment neglects you


So who are You?

And can I run to You?

Can I bring my friends too? 


Will You crush us?

Will You collect us? 


The Needs


You are all I need

Well, You and medicine and sleep


Can I quiet the demon

And keep the Ghost?


You are all I need

And money for bills

Insurance for pills


You are all i need

we keep saying it but I'm coming clean


You are all I need

Is not what I mean


A Canopy Hymn


Prayers that hit the ceiling 

No hole in the roof

To let them out or let us in


Brother of all the forsaken

Your hands have plenty of room

to let her rest for one minute


If God is love

Then you won't remember this






geographies b


time and enough I

can't remember
if there were some clues in the light

when we were flashing
our midwestern eyes
at unblinkable, unthinkable sights


time and enough I
can't remember
how us mortals can sense the nearby sea
like a stake in
the blank face of
our hemmed-in geography


with debt as fat as
baobab trees
counting our limits
by the ghost in our genes

time and enough I
can't remember
what's a good distance to stay safe from kings

now we hide our babies among the reeds
where we used to make love
and make up battle scenes

we're just trying
to save our seed
from growing into
our most-average compromisings



sea monster gods

chorus lyric from Paul Celan's "Psalm"


I know better

and you know better
we should throw our treasure
at the open mouths of sea monster gods

girl we can trade
an ancient cask of strong fear
into modern work
loose the fount and
do it like (it's your) a career


"praised be you, noone"


tell me: who could carry
a life untethered to Leviathan?
you see all of them doing it:

they're just showing off their granaries

we all know better
than to genuflect before
but sea monster gods

their blue and grey eyes
are easy now to see
and we've all grown a bit too flush
to scratch at invisibility​


"let us return to earth, to fear, to loam"

the bloody sea

 I saw a poor man​

walking on the salty sea​

ambling to genessaret
just stepping on the bloody sea


if there is a ghost in this story it's me


in my peregrinations
what's necessary about his eyes?
despite the storm of my locution
i'll float the gale for the surprise​


if there's a ghost in this story it's me


crooked heart

outro lyric is from WH Auden's

"as I walked out one evening"


put your fingernail to the sidewalk
and you will feel it bend
yellow cabs will roll down their murky windows
and everything primeval descends


with what I'm made of, I won't feel anything about it


pull on a t-shirt when you hear the click
8 million light switches at once
make a visor with your fingers at 6pm
your mind will color in the sun


I'm keeping up with Grand Army Plaza
and the smell of the traffic in the spring
of all of the people who can't afford it
we might have the least to bring

"you shall love your crooked neighbor
with all of your crooked heart"



basic earth


  You have emptied out our eyes
leaving them to a mean fate
spading out the basic earth
our first and final mate


we've not fallen far from the tree
if by the tree you in fact mean
the green golden one with all the sweets
that left us naked and in retreat


Your silence is too much for us


if anyone should know better
than to leave us with no words
it's You, and Your ageless eyes 
it's all we've ever heard


will You leave us then

to our basic earth?


inferno tourist

would you lend me your dialect
just for a few public moments?
leave it with us through love's neglect
to hear You when the noisiest saints relent


give me two breaths to work out this new found lex
where I'm promised good land
and promised fiery death
our puissant shepherds are now armed to their teeth
though it's been blazoned some kind of ashy mercy


it's only (an) inferno


how many years can we hide our flesh from our flesh
and fill these ruddy bags with frightened prizes?
bless the bloody teeth of our latest winner's righteous face
his brave dominion over the spoils he confused with grace


so owe me an inferno


seriously, seriously

zoo glass, i'm seeing the world through it
i have smudged it with my fists
with my simian thumbs i will write all my wrongs
and when my speech has gone numb i will pull out my tongue


i was once warned of uselessness
but rare is my heeding
such squash-faced seriousness


hand over your plastic trust
and fly me up like Icarus
all i can think about is convincing
my friends that i'm just like them
but none of sees each other so close to the ether

with our best playing dumb
we could never go wrong
and with our simian thumbs
let us make nice with thin songs


kings! kings!

am i so different from a tree, in the hatchet eyes of a king?
it's worth my head on a pole, made from the wood of my bones
that grew in the soil, in the peat
into our grey neighborhood fief
gathered into a halo, around a blue radio
a Warsaw Pact for the cul de sac

God's own blessed envoys are telling me
to turn my eyes to a man's proper reaping


I'm sure a missile gets lonely
until its usefulness in the hands of certainty
and we are all aware of our betters: with silos erect
and war chests and trophies and fetters
I've got the right anatomy, apparently,
to storyboard her morality, apparently
while the remainder in the math: the women and children in the back
are defecting over the few frozen seas
are we so different from a tree
in the hatchet eyes of kings?


spare a flag?


our empire lost it's market
our king buried under
a wafer thin battlement
the treasury is up for rent


our new halfway palace
with chlorine marble floors
our beauty was the ballast
but who can stake that waste anymore?


a sexless eunuch's demigod
and his royal food
is giving us brand new Chaldean names
and changing our clothes with his mood


all the flags have changed, and we still feel the same


water ghost


the nosy rain
darkening the surfaces
matting our hair
and bending the branches

putting on blinders
to the ghosts on the waters
just barely there
but shrill as sirens

chasing the golden grid
like i know where i'm going
and the native prosody
will fill my gut to satiety

the evening boat
stirs up the brown water
politely seismic
known more for the effects

than the blunt presence


geographies c


you fell someplace across a wide, grey sea

sometimes, baby, geography is everything

dislocated every bone in the bag I bleed

sometimes, baby, geography is everythiing


all lyrics by dustin ragland

copyright 2013, 2016

Six and One Half, Doesn't The Other?

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