“This World is Yours”

“This World is Yours”
(c) 2023 by Michael L. Utley

you thought you could
save the world
wee lad
you couldn’t even
save yourself

those bleak nighthawk skies
where dead stars fall
like blood-bloated flies
and fey winds howl
in deafened ears
a behemoth’s fetid exhalation
violent and ignorant
and inexorable

breathe it all in
the sweat-soaked fear
the bitter tang of futility
fill your lungs
wee lad
this world is yours
as far as tear-blurred
eyes can see

pry up decrepit floorboards
in the dim derelict
cellar of childhood
see the blind white-bellied
squirming things
trundle dumbly, aimlessly
in sepulchral voids
gelatinous excreta
glistening in darkness
a treasure trove
of memories
a box of hell
a gift that keeps on giving
handle these with care
wee lad
lest they consume your soul

you battled the familiar demon
on twilight moors of yore
he wore your scar for years
you’ll wear his for eternity
wee lad
your popsicle stick sword
your pie tin shield
your best intentions
your noble cause
did you really think
you had a chance in hell
of slaying the beast?
what’s a little blood
between father and son?

the elixir of time is a lie
there is no balm for
a childhood stripped
from its moorings
with such casual cruelty

see the sullen sun
heliograph dully
on the lake of fate
see the dun birds
peregrinate incuriously above
see the reflection on the water
the wee old man
with hollow eyes
and broken soul
see the pulsing stormcloud
brooding, ever-present
on the horizon

the myth of idyllic youth
the hue of quicksilver
and autumn wheat
the clever, cloying scent
of false hope
the raucous, pealing thunder
of sundered souls
the thresher’s flail looms
and you fall before it as chaff
blown from this world
on eldritch zephyrs

within the forest of years
the darkling path
opens before you
and closes behind
in peristaltic spasms
as the trees swallow you
in green silence
this quiet place
devoid of time
a resting place
a tomb of giants
a dying place
for those so inclined
no memories allowed here
nor light nor love nor healing
only darkness
and the furtive murmur
of moon-shadows

you were a boy once
for seven years
now your ethereal form
drifts among
strange nameless constellations
across forgotten eons
you won’t find yourself here
wee lad
that kid is long gone
but you must find something
before all is lost

“A Few Haiku & Senryu (57)”

(c) 2023 by Michael L. Utley


childhood’s end at seven
I’ve been nothing but a ghost
since then



through dark watches of the night
a young boy’s burden



all these long years
the monster dead and gone
yet the fear remains



thunder and brimstone
the profane currency
of childhood



in the end
he felt no remorse at all
my father’s death



how to feel again
when all I’ve ever known is fear
how to live again

“On Kestrel’s Wings”

“On Kestrel’s Wings”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

Must everything have
Pedantic meaning
Must I be ground-bound
By the numbing gravity
Of grim solemnity
Must unrelenting
Earnestness be
The boot heel
Upon my neck
Must I suffocate
On the cloying
Of grave sobriety

These shackles
Which rub wrists raw
With the weight
Of morose introspection
And fetters which
Render my
Hardened heart
Captive to my
Saturnine mind
Have exhausted me
I am so tired
Of the weight of worlds
Upon my broken shoulders
Of an eternity
Of anguish and woe
My soul begs for respite
A cessation of fear and worry
So that I may open
My sorrow-blinded eyes
And see the sun again
As I saw it as a boy
Golden and eternal
And life-giving

I grieve for that
Little boy
Who lost his way
Who only wished
To be a child
And breathe freely
Of fragrant morning dew
To fly through cobalt skies
Of imagination on
Titian-ashen kestrel’s wings
To feel both wind
And tears of joy
On summer-gilded face
To traverse universes
At the speed of thought
To savor all things
At all times
To live and grow
And play
Sleep the sleep
Of innocence
Dream the dreams
Of truth

Where is he
Where is that boy
Who wears my face
And if I call him
Will he answer
Will he come running
Will he throw his arms
Around my neck
And rejuvenate my
Heart and soul
Will he
Can he
Is it too late
Do I even
Dare to try

“A Tanka Trio (5)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley


It is only blood
Just a cut on father’s head
Battered mother weeps
I have slain the beast for now
Ten-year-old son dies inside



In the backyard ball
Bounces against shed all day
Louder louder must
Drown out monster’s roaring voice
Dusty tears streak child’s face



There are things that I
Should not know but can’t forget
No child should be forced
To defend his mother’s life
Against father’s flying fists

“I Did This”

“I Did This”
© 2012 by Michael L. Utley
I did this
A handful of fear and feathers
The black eye of God
A handful of blood and feathers
I did this
A tiny universe
Gasping for breath
Grasping for death
Stopped cold
By the golden orb of fate
I have seen myself
In the black eye of God
The dulling
Eye of God
And there I stood
An empty eternity
Before me
My marbled form
My ivory eyes
Yet full of knowledge
A handful of bones and feathers
I did this
I cried
As the sparrow died
In my hand
Its blood a tracery
In my palm
A crimson filigree
My life line stained
In its death
I cursed myself
Railed at the sky
At the earth
At all things
There is no why
There only is
And this was bitter
The dead bird
Was still warm
When I buried it
A handful of nothing
A heart crushed by everything
I did this

“In My Image”

“In My Image”
© 2012 by Michael L. Utley
Father said
I have seen you in my dreams
My alabaster boy
My pristine son
Marked neither with scar nor blemish
The innocence of childhood aglow
Upon your brow like the light of
A thousand suns
Your mind untouched
By fear and the lies of men
Your future the color of
Quicksilver and autumn wheat
Father said
And so I must put my mark upon you
For it is my right as your father
To shape you in my image
To lay a path before you
From which you must never stray
Thus sealing your destiny in the book of life
According to my will
Father said
For because I am of lowly station
I shall make you ashamed of your station
For because I am uneducated
I shall make you ignorant of vital truths
For why should you, my son
Benefit from an enlightened mind
When I have not
Father said
For because I am selfish
I shall make you want
For because I am angry
I shall make you timid
For why should you, my son
Benefit from the ability to love yourself
When I have not
Father said
For because I am unstable
I shall make you distrustful
For because I am violent
I shall make you afraid
For why should you, my son
Benefit from a happy childhood
When I have not
Father said
For because I am controlling
I shall make you powerless
For because I am abusive
I shall make you hate yourself
For why should you, my son
Benefit from healthy relationships
When I have not
Father said
For you are mine
And I control all things
And you will never be free
Of me
For why should you, my son
Benefit from a loving father
When I have not
Father said
I have seen you in my dreams
My alabaster boy
My pristine son
Therefore you shall have none
And I will be there with you
Until the end of your days
For why should you, my son
Benefit from life
When I have not