As bright as darkness gets

there are no stars
in my eyes tonight
the city streets
aren't dark enough
for me to see them.

this isn't merely
the usual night blindness

headlights, neon signs,
and emotional flare-ups
render the heavens
almost invisible.

sitting at a traffic light
i find myself wishing
that i could be like the stars
disappearing from view
the ugly side of life
is most conspicuous.

the light changes
from red to green
and alone, i blaze
down the boulevard

past the slow fires
of densely-packed
shopping centers

as i drive into the night
that lies before me
my home, an abyss
that awaits my fall.

i guess this
is as bright as darkness gets
in my little corner of hell.


it's easy to understand
why a thinking man
feels nausea
the world
the brute facts
of existence

in all of their hideous glory:

the fetid emptiness
always waiting
to be fed
the bottomless pit
of the ego

the curse of Tantalus
the fraud of all
that is unattainable


the pain of regret
the prize
that you wish
you'd never won

the beauty
that bewitches
but ultimately betrays

the wildflower
that springs up
with ease
from the dunghill
while we lose sight
of its roots

don't make
that mistake

always remember
to hold your nose
and bear in mind
what lies beneath.


old Humphrey sits
vigilant at the open door
squints at the harsh light
of a single 40-watt bulb
stares into the stale
cold void that stares
back at him, glaring.

he hasn't eaten
in almost 24 hours
and his stomach
isn't all that's growling

as he ponders
a masterless life
and wonders
what lies behind
the half-empty jar of mayo
and the lone longneck
lying on its side

and he waits
for good fortune
to appear
like some magic tidbit.

his ears twitch
at the sounds
of hangover groans
wooden shuffling
down the hallway
and vacuous chatter
in the background:
the TV portraying
a neglected spouse.

his nose wrinkles
recoils at molecules
of perspiration and
flesh, smells oozing
the warm afternoon air.

he looks up, looks over
at the kitchen entrance
sees a familiar figure
wavering, watches
the wiry frame
as it doubles over

and a half-digested volley
of breakfast spews
onto the dirty vinyl floor.

the bulldog waddles
across the room, sniffs
at the yellow and brown
slurry, headlamp eyes
lit with hunger.

he tilts his head
toward the pitiful man
wrinkled canine brow
humbly pleading:

"Is it okay?"

his tail

Jack T. Marlowe is a gentleman rogue from Dallas, Texas.
A writer of poetry and fiction, he is also the host of the
"Outlaws of the Spoken Word" open mic. Jack's online
stomping ground can be found at: www.inkandblood.net

2007 Underground Voices