“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

“The Farm”

“The Farm’
© 2021 by Michael L. Utley

Nighthawks scream
With evening’s descent
They know the truth
Black god’s-eyes
See everything
From salmon-hued
As wings fold
Bird-bombs dive
Preying on the
A mindless alien-avian
Turn back
There is no hope here

Across the fallow field
Elk bugle mournfully in
Twilight cacophony
A hundred dim smudges
Herding in
Paranoid precision
Against the dusty dun of
Evening’s solemn soliloquy
Amidst dusk ground-mist
Trumpet-cries betray blind fear
A prose of unearthly moans
As pinyon-sage-scented breeze
Lifts this omen skyward
Turn back
There is no hope here

Dead-yellow foxtails
And cheatgrass
As I pass
A sickly meadow of
Thin-boned weeds
And cloying sage
Crackling underfoot as
Stickers pin-cushion
Socks and shoelaces
Ground beetles
And spiders flee
Dissolve into
Cracked earth
Each footstep
The shrill trill of crickets
They know, too
Turn back, they sing
There is no hope here

A skeleton crew of
Haggard, stunted trees
Stands sentinel
Against the coming darkness
Pinyons felled by
Insidious Ips beetles
Sap-dried cones
Long dead
Among carpets of
Desiccated yellowed needles and
Sparrow-emptied pine nut shells
Tinder awaiting a wildfire
Fragrant junipers stand
Amidst dead-berry piles in
Shaggy bark-suits
Peeling like scorched dusty
Sun-burnt skin
Swarming with black ants
Pungent piss-scent
Overwhelming as
Paper-bark crawls
In the shadows
The subliminal hiss of an
Errant breeze
Wheezes dark portents
Among barkless boughs
Turn back
There is no hope here

Muffled yips and
Strangled howls
Ride chilly currents from
Far obscure fields
As coyotes practice
Weird secret sorcery
In the gloaming
The cries of the damned
Of pain
Of madness
Of red-eyed tricksters
In shadow-garb
Preparing for midnight hunts
And the tearing of flesh
Yellow grins reeking of
Fear and dead meat
Champ and drool as
Festivities draw near
Their primal chaos-chorus
Announcing to all
Turn back
There is no hope here

In hushed
Sepulchral silence
Muted coos of
Mourning doves
Float softly in
Penitential pleas
Stillness magnifying
Lilting lamentation
Grief too much to bear
Their sorrow-song
An ache that
Never ends
Rends hearts
Cleaves souls
Tears flow
Purity and
Immeasurable loss
A calming balm
Inadequate to heal
All that ails
Ineffectual against
Forces of fear
Reduced to a
Whispered admonition
Turn back
There is no hope here

The broken garden gate
Aslant on rusted hinges
Unleveling the horizon
Of faded, ephemeral corn stalks
And rotting squash-husks
A tangle of ancient weeds
And briar bushes
Encases this bleak place
Age-drained of all
Color and scent
Poisonous soil
Long since emptied of life
Only dead things grow here
Rows of sorrow
Trellises of despair
A forlorn bounty of
Loss and regret
A stilled silence
Turn back
There is no hope here

The house
A gray thing
Hunched against
The gloom of
Bruise-tinted sky
Like some
Feral beast
Skull-socket eyes
Through diseased elms
As cement tongue lolls
Cracked and pitted
From front door
To yard gate
Lawn only a distant memory
Littered with
Shattered window glass
And random roof shingles



It’s been years
Since I was here
Since I fled
Since that day
The monster was real then
The fear was real
And it’s been with me
All the while

Concrete dust crunches
Bone-like underfoot
I reach the front door
Push through a
Latticework of spider-silk
Filled with memories
So many memories
Dust and the scent of
Ancient mildew
Rotting wood
Hang in mote-filled air
It’s smaller now
Ceiling plaster
Coats rotting carpet
In a patina of snow
Water-stained drywall
Bent and bulging
My room is there
Dark and cobwebby
Sisters’ bedroom
Parents’ room
Everything accounted for
Except the monster

There is no hope here
Dead monsters leave
Memory echoes
Down the years
A legacy of pain and fear
And while there is
No monster here
Neither is there reason
For rejoicing
This place is dead
Just like my father
The monster
Nothing will ever be
As it was
So much lost
Still more buried in
Dark locked crates
In my mind
I look around
One final time
Then make my way
Out the door
And into the night

It’s time to leave
The farm behind