Brick by Brick, Part 1

The calm veneer, the flowery scent,
The mold inside, the desiccant —
Deception: that’s our daily run,
But we think we’re the only one.

Now warning labels are attached
To butterflies, and zeroes,
With wolves in number at the door,
All advertised as heroes.

We do not know inside or out,
Nor when things end or have begun:
Our minds: too free or tightly held,
Yet we think we’re the only one.

Here come purveyors of the truth —
There’s always one around —
Who think they’re being honest when
They’re merely stripping down,

As though, in being naked, they
Have set aside their lies;
For truth is rarely shown when we
Decide to advertise.

But brick by brick is how we build.
And though not always honest,
There’s beauty still in simple things,
Like doing what we promised.

So we can struggle on, and know
We may miss out on many dreams,
But we are not the only one
Whose life just isn’t quite all

What it seems

Brick by Brick, Epilogue

I am not part, nor can I reach
Connection, as these bitter herbs
I taste upon a stinging tongue
I’m told to hold to keep the peace.

As though brick walls could freely speak
Much better than they listen, cracked
And worn upon the surface of
What was supposed to be a calm
Veneer. But really, anyway,

What is a body to betray
Than just so many afterthoughts
That some hold precious, effortless,
While others struggle just to keep the grade?
A street of alibis, a mill
Of absentees, a hidden house —
They all must somehow share the light.

Just this, in epilogue:
We know that what we build must fall,
For time is passionless, and firm,
But even so, and brick by brick,
We have our stories to construct
With all the messy leavings that entails.

Brick by Brick, Part 3

The mind is cynical; the body’s not.
Heavens. What we put our spirits through —
To turn down alleyways is to explore:
To find dead ends is one more thing we do.

But not all paths must lead to our frustration,
Or to the entropy of humankind:
Relationships – fresh air and stale vexation –
Sometimes it’s not the path, but how it’s lined

With flowers or with bushes or with briars —
Down cobblestone or brick or dirt or mud,
And whether there’s a traveler beside us:
For we are doomed, at times, to lose some blood.

But beauty creates pleasure in the moment,
And moments create story arcs and themes
That go beyond a mere array of choices
We boil down to adages or memes.

Though parenthetical may be our statute,
And quite unglamorous our common forms,
It is the stretching of us and within us,
The friction, that creates the part that warms

The colder bodies that we will encounter.
Those who this life has frozen, paralyzed,
Who may see us as stars in darkened heavens,
For what we do not see may still be prized

By those whose angle gives an “else” perspective:
And for whom questions are not only such
As lead to theoretical conclusions —
Those who life underfeeds, and overmuch.

Come turn the street with me, and walk a new way.
Though life be grievous, there is joy in talk —
For dancing never should have been a contest,
But more the way we should have learned

To walk

Brick by Brick, Part 2

A pile of shirts upon the floor:
These fabrics, touched by many hands,
That we acquire in carelessness,
Unheeding of their stories —

From train tracks spread across the land,
Came cotton, clips, and dyes:
Now woven cloth, and garments formed
In every kind of size.

In early April morning mist,
At mills like Bibb, and Swift’s
The queues were formed to punch the clock
By tribes that we called shifts.

And lo, the days and decades in
The dim behind streaked glass,
As trains were filled with products of
The overworking class

Spun out in webs to everywhere.
Labor, measured in yields,
Whose clothes touched newborn babies, and
Reached distant battlefields.

But over time, replacements found
For capital deployment:
The “minimum wage”, in truth, is always
Really unemployment.

So now, a row of skeletons,
These empty mills in bands,
Whose teeming cousins operate
In other climes and lands,

Whence raw materials are shipped,
And finished products come:
And cheerless lines are formed from those
Who make the factories hum.

We buy, of course, to meet the needs
With which our lives are rife:
Just barely cognizant that ‘this -‘
Was once somebody’s life,

In forests of iniquity,
To form and to outpour —
To then end up in thoughtless piles,

Piles,

On the floor