Becoming Caligari

Beware the sleeper. Tonight his master
wakes him, places the knife in his palm,
points him to slanted corridors
bordering her fragmented window.

She, the queen, bestows her throne
to an errant knight, a somnambulist’s dream.
The director made her do it.
He is quite insane, you know?

I put the murderous monster
in his straitjacket cell,
but now he approaches.
Who set the madman free?

The town clerk, then my best friend,
died in this twisted affair.
I saw words traced in air:
“You must become Caligari.”

All Hail the Crimson King

I. Callahan
Cursed and defiled,
I take the strange temptation:
way station rainbow.

II. Pennywise
Come see my sewer.
Red balloons pop as my soul
devours your fear.

III. Grady
I might release you,
but we doubt your willingness
to pick up the ax.

IV. Flagg
Let the virus spread.
After the warhead explodes,
I will be worshiped.

V. Roland
Chase the man in black.
When desert turns to roses,
climb the Tower’s steps.

A Poem About a Poem About Fall

I wanted to write a poem
about writer’s block.

The problem was,
I hated the idea.

“Focus, Ben,”
I said.

“Become Zen, peace
and calm and quiet.”

I spent twenty minutes
listing descriptions:

bright equinox, golden leaves,
mother doe, autumn moon,

swirling colors, quiet stream,
images signifying not much

of anything. Now I have
a poem about a poem

unfinished, sitting,
crying for more

flourishes, emotion,
certainly a

unifying theme.
Evasive inspiration

waits, possibly
until tomorrow.

Siddhartha Gautama Press Conference

Where did I go? Sabbatical. Reincarnation is painful. Have you been a starving ballerina in Belize or a felonious fisherman in Finland?

Here’s what happens: a giant, stone hand clutches me as I’m hibernating under still nirvana waves. I’m flung across the universe’s known and unknown spaces with monolithic fingers cocooning my presence. Planets pull from orbit at my increased velocity. Amorphous Rorschach civilizations dissolve in the aftermath, a trailing sonic boom.

I pass out then wake up as an infant or a rather nondescript, fully grown human. It’s like being drunk and having a strange nightmare, but my horrid dream lasts up to eighty years.

Enlightenment has rapidly declined, and I see it through eyes I can’t shut. I hear it through ears I can’t close. I speak with a tongue I can’t still. I am a cellmate with narcissistic vessels stressing over the proclaimed End of Days. They need not worry about nuclear weapons or germ warfare. One of my hosts was an executive in Burbank who condemned jihadist terrorists but signed business agreements to flatten rainforests.

You ask me what I can do. You ask me what I can say. A teacher with unwilling students speaks only to silence. My words are recorded, and my actions are documented. You want me to provide you with a sound ideology, but you throw stones without regard.

I am drained, so I’ll stop digressing: this is my retirement announcement.


I. The God Realm
Powerful and prone,
lying in self-submission,
I enlighten none.

II. The Titan Realm
ego-sated violence
throws the edge over.

III. The Human Realm
Continuous flow
sets me in humane trappings
calling the descent.

IV. The Animal Realm
Ignorant creature
submits to harvest master,
slaughter harbinger.

V. The Hungry Ghost Realm
Ghost, emaciated,
confined to wasted places,
I purge appetite.

VI. The Hell Realm
Negative karma
inflames my birthright freezing
dripping, torn blisters.