“A Few Haiku (46)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#271)

blurred images and
a smudge of words on a page
is this all I am

…..

(#272)

puddle of cold wax
where my candle burned out
waiting for the light

…..

(#273)

thirty-six hours
between my tears and your death
a lifetime since then

…..

(#274)

fallow fields, dry ponds
fences in disrepair
long-dead memories

…..

(#275)

hope stretched thin and taut
across brittle bones of time
a dry husk of life

…..

(#276)

sorrow’s bedrock or
hope’s aquifer; either way
naught left but to dig

“You There”

“You There”
(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

I can only bleed so much
but it’s never enough
to satisfy you, is it
nevermind my shattered soul
and flesh flayed wide
no secrets left
no shadowed clefts
to hide what’s left of me
just the cold glare of reality
and the medicinal stench
of silent eternity

you there
who wields the hammer
of sanity
whose blood-caked hands
crush worlds
whose vacuous eyes
speak of
distant crimson suns
and blue corpse-light
you there
who rends flesh from bone
blackens sun and moon
you there
whose wretched grin
devours universes
vaporizes souls

you there

what is it you want from me

my essence torn
cell from cell
bones a useless armature
not even a sigh left
in my lungs
all that remains is my mind
and that’s what you want
isn’t it

I have known you
all my life
your honeyed lies
and soothing growls
drain existence of
hue and humor
your breath upon my neck
fetid and abominable
your raging roars
shake my skull numb

but you shall not have
my quicksilver trees
and lavender skies
my sickle moon dozing
above autumn wheat fields
my green silence
in konara copses
my humming leas
of flea bane and lupine
and forest-carpet ferns
these are mine
forever

you there

you will destroy me
in the end
but my world
will live on
free of your rage and
blight and bluster
and that is
all that matters

“A Few Haiku (45)”

(c) Michael L. Utley

(#265)

scrub my memories
hang them on the line to dry
before the storm comes

…..

(#266)

summer thunderheads
the past tears a swath across
the plains of my soul

…..

(#267)

post-rain gloaming
ghost-light from an unseen sun
sorrow’s harbinger

…..

(#268)

in this endless night
even eternity flees
from my broken soul

…..

(#269)

sepulchral silence
as the stars spin overhead
in the dead of night

…..

(#270)

when my soul awakes
will I see the dawn of hope
or hope’s dying light

“A Few Haiku (44)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#259)

fallow fields
granary of memories
not fit for planting

…..

(#260)

mackerel scale clouds
and silver shark fin moon
eventide rolls in

…..

(#261)

cool moist predawn air
condensation in my heart
stillness in my soul

…..

(#262)

evening rain
I break bread alone
in the dim stillness

…..

(#263)

memory garden
I hoe every living thing
just to kill the weeds

…..

(#264)

summer zephyrs sail
the green grain ocean
wheat waves

“Anchor”

“Anchor”
(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

she sat there
9,000 miles away
on the edge of her bed
or the ledge of her building
I never knew which
and talked about anchors
and the black depths
of depression
and what it would feel like
to fly

“You’re my only reason
for being,”
she said
and was she laughing
or crying?
it’s hard to tell while
text-chatting
(damn my deaf ears)
“You’re the only anchor
I have left,”
she said
and there was a long

pause

and I thought I heard the
wind whipping past
my ears
and felt my heart
in my throat

“I’ll always love you,” she said
smiley face / crying face
emojis

my fingers wouldn’t work
my keyboard was mute
my mind as blank
as the empty miles
between us

“I had the dream again,” she said
I squeezed my eyes shut
while she typed
I didn’t want to read it again
but I was helpless against
the machinations of my own heart
and she pried them open
from across the sea

we walked hand-in-hand
in a flower-burst
mountain meadow
the colors like something
out of a kaleidoscopic acid trip
the sky the hue of ancient oceans
the capricious breeze
flirting with her obsidian hair
her caramel eyes closed
her face
enraptured
turned up to the sun
and we passed
through columbines
lupine fire-weed
monkshood sun flowers
while conifers and aspens
susurrated, whispering secretively
in the language of the trees
amid strange atonal birdsong

then the wind arose
intensified
and her feet left the ground

panic smudged the smile
from her face
and she looked at me
wide-eyed
horrified
as she floated up
toward the howling sky
as though she were
being drawn by some
anomalous gravity
and she cried out in terror
her eyes bulging
her hand crushing mine
in a death-vise
and she screamed
“Don’t let me go!”
over and over
as she was wrenched
from my grip
and sucked up
into the sun

I turned my head
her text a saline blur
my heart pounding
ears ringing

and a string of
crying face emojis
snaked across my screen

a few moments passed

“I’ll always love you…”
she repeated
and ended the chat

and I felt the dead weight
of a severed anchor
crush my heart

“A Few Haiku (43)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#253)

your shadow remains
in the nest of my heart
long since you took wing

…..

(#254)

let me rest my soul
in the cool shadows of the
north side of your heart

…..

(#255)

thoughtless koi in lotus pond
I hover above, god-like
and go unnoticed

…..

(#256)

take the dappled path
through the green konara copse
there I’ll find my way

…..

(#257)

evening mourning doves
will never let me forget
day’s death and night’s tears

…..

(#258)

I arrange the stones
into cairns of memories
lest I lose my way

“A Few Haiku (42)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#247)

barren apple trees
culled from orchards without thought
so many regrets

…..

(#248)

in the desert
all pretense is stripped away
only truth survives

…..

(#249)

wooden ladle and tin cup
and a bone-dry well
life’s futility

…..

(#250)

take the empty cup
drink my fill of nothingness
let me live in peace

…..

(#251)

dragging the river
somewhere in the murky depths
I may find myself

…..

(#252)

leave the stones unturned
let the clouds drift where they may
live in harmony

“A Few Haiku (41)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#241)

semi-auto god
bestows eucharist of lead
solemn school bells toll

…..

(#242)

school halls echo with
screams of dying children and
NRA’s black sins

…..

(#243)

white men with black souls
and guns—God, so many guns–
MAGA paradise

…..

(#244)

bend them ’til they break
then suck the life out of them
my father’s parenting

…..

(#245)

my life etched in runes
incomprehensible script
I can’t decipher

…..

(#246)

creosote bushes
and alkali hardpan
I have no more tears

…..

(Author’s note: some of these pieces were inspired by the recent deadly spate of gun violence in the U.S., including an elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, where nineteen children and two teachers were gunned down by a heavily armed young man who recently purchased AR-15 rifles on his 18th birthday and who had posted on social media his desire to do this act. Reports have now surfaced that police officers responding to the incident chose to wait outside the door because they “didn’t want to get shot.” Welcome to America, where there are more guns than people and more mass-shootings than days in the year…)

“A Few Haiku (40)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#235)

so much damage done
by such delicate fingers
and a blackened heart

…..

(#236)

how soothing the words
whispered to a shattered heart
by her serpent’s tongue

…..

(#237)

days of green silence
heart fern-bound in oak shadows
dreaming with the trees

…..

(#238)

I have not yet reached
terminal velocity
my life in free-fall

…..

(#239)

carved into the bark
of my heart, her initials
overgrown with grief

…..

(#240)

bright sun hurts my eyes
just as hope singes my soul
best to stay inside

“A Few Haiku (39)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#229)

snap-beans in a wooden bowl
and tears on her cheeks
my mother’s sorrow

…..

(#230)

pre-dawn mourning
her eyes on the horizon
searching for the light

…..

(#231)

in konara copse
my soul seeks solace
in the still shadows

…..

(#232)

my reflection gone
even the stream forsakes me
as I drift away

…..

(#233)

these numb fingers
I can’t feel the difference
between hope and despair

…..

(#234)–(for Eivor and Pearl)

beneath verdant trees
joy and peace walk side by side
on the dappled path