Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The past is hunting me.

The past is hunting me.

Blooms in my old room

like a snail.

It leaves cum smears

on the mattress.

Feasts on fallen

lint from my navel.

Redecorates and makes use

of every stained corner.

It follows me to work

like a ratted dog.

Plops itself at my

desk and answers

the phone. Lapps

at the ear piece

and gobbles the wax

I left behind. Digests

slow allowing for time

to become familiar.

Its presence here makes

me uneasy. The gilded horses

in my stomach prance

up and down up

and down (an E ticket

ride) as the slide

show in my head

introduces the next freak.

The music they play here

is frightening.

Poem and photo copyright Robert P. Langdon

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The Disney dream is a lie. Bambi has been rewritten.

No longer is it the danger of flames and firearms. It's crossing

a four lane highway and being trapped against a median.

A warm blood Flower streaked by the wipers of a Humvee.

The roads are littered with animal parts

scattered like pummeled puzzle pieces.

Turkey vultures claim their day—an overkill of death—

their feathers defying the cars zipping by.

Displaced crows pepper the sky above Walmart

soaring around the naked tree branches or

feeding off discarded fast-food French fries.

Their guttural caws—thick with resignation—trumpet the air.

Woodland creatures claim a piece of their space
that has been replaced with snow-specked cement,
white-washed fences and air-pumped Christmas
decorations big as the SUV sentries standing guard.

We have raped the land. Stolen the forest
and rebuilt it with doors and bay windows.

We have given the mountains a mastectomy.

Condos and spoiled children sprout up like mushrooms.

Fungus much too wild, too rich, and much too toxic to the touch.

poem and photo copyright Robert P. Langdon

Alone Still

Four years ago you left.

Tossed me aside like a Sweet Tart

when your tainted mouth craved mint.

A part of me died when you said

"You can't give me what I need."

Once you liked sucking sours.

You snacked on Jackie Collins like a bored

housewife licking up the trash

dialogue as if it were sweet cream.

I recited Anne Sexton across the New Jersey Bell.

"Too depressing," you said.

You always liked cheap words.

On Fridays we romanced with pot,

take-out and sitcoms.

Lucy and Ethel made us wilt in laughter

like a wax tulip on a hot Connecticut day.

Our very own coushioned rut.

Once you liked that Lazy Boy.

On Saturdays we went to garage sales.

I pouted outside. You returned

beaming like a nipple toting mismatched dinnerware

that belonged to someone dead.

"Something for my hope chest."

You always liked a good bargain.

A lifetime later and I sit in this darkened

theater ignoring the sun like a roach.

I think of Lucy, her mouth pregnant with chocolate,

and I cry remembering I'm alone still and that

once you liked my smile.

poem and photo copyright Robert P. Langdon


I didn't hunt that weekend.

I stayed home with the girls and rolled cookie dough.

My father came back with a deer blasted from the woods

and tied to the roof of his Chevelle like a Christmas tree.

The neighborhood men rushed over to gauge

the size of his kill. Most of their homes

have something dead hanging on the walls.

They carried the deer on their shoulders in victory

and hung it by the rear hooves from the backyard elm.

They circled. Arms crossed in judgment.

"What a beaut," they said. "What a rack," they said,

caressing the antlers and petting the pelt as if it were alive

and obedient at the foot of their armchair.

They slit the animal from throat to crotch.

Blood emptied with a rush.

Intestines unwound to the ground.

He plunged his arm deep into the animal, pulled out

the liver still warm and full of bile. "We can eat that.

The other guts can be used as fertilizer."

They took turns pulling off the skin

--stripped from the animal like contact paper--

and carved the meat into chunks.

After the deer had been packaged and frozen, and the organs

decomposed in the garden--I once again protested, "I am not eating

that deer," as brown meat and onions were spooned onto my plate.

"It's steak," he grumbled, grabbing himself a heaping helping.

Over dessert he announced with a sly smirk, "You just ate deer."

I left the table and vomited in the garden.

Next year's tomatoes will be nourished by bile and shame.

They'll have a deep blush.

They'll be irresistible to pluck.

And gulp down like a man.

poem and photo copyright Robert P. Langdon


As an adolescent I would finger

the belongings my sister left

behind. Boxes brimmed to their

corrugated edges with photo albums.

110mm memories mounted on crusted

adhesive. Snapshots of Teddy

and Gary basking like beefsteak

on the flat rocks that line the Delaware

River. Their eyes weighted with weed.

15 years and 3,000 miles later,

I return to find my own photos

niched next to the crates of Christmas

ornaments. Forgotten like a bastard boy.

Their plastic pages protect memories

of dally days--Judy and Rose, eyes

and smirks stewed with Smirnoff, slump

on the couch, beer bottles high

in salute. Rose is not wearing underwear.

Her denimed crotch is damp.

In the family room, my parents,

like beacons, watch made-for-TV

movies and cooking shows. On the wall

hangs a photograph of me at 12 years old.

Plump cheeks and tired eyes.

Confused smile and simple stare.

Captured like the other

ghosts in the attic.

poem and photo copyright Robert P. Langdon

A Grimm Tale

One day during the free love of the 60s,

a boy, looking like a haggard man,

popped his head from the manhole

of his Mother's womb

escaping the sour amniotic

that he'd lived with for too long.

A masked man grabbed him,

turned him over and bruised his ass

for the first time.

He cried.

His sister decided to remain below

and savor the erotic world of womanhood.

She liked being inside the uterus,

worshipping it's beauty

and eating it's delicate food.

She knew the outside world

would not tolerate her desire

for such a preference.

But they cut her out.

And she cried.

The parents, sappy with tradition,

named them Hansel and Gretel.

For twelve years they lived behind

the barricade of a white picket fence.

Hansel would prance in his Mother's heels

while Gretel challenged

Johnny Bench's Batter Up.

They did what felt natural.

Warnings of damnation

made them feel guilty

but could not change their ways.

They called Hansel

a mama's boy

but secrets knew

he belonged to papa.

Bruises, fleshy as eggplants,

hidden by Fruit of the Loom

stretched the length of childhood

and planted him in a dream

of cauldrons and warts.

Gretel corked her eyes

to the drama until

the day Hansel could accept

his Father's devotion with ease

and she became the object

of drunken patrimony.

She protested knowing this was not

her lot in life,

but muscles outweigh reason.

Each night

she thought of ways

to lead her brother

from this secret suburban forest

and into a world where

there was no fear of witches.

A slumber dripping with sweet dreams.

A land that would welcome them

without the price of midnight visits.

On Mother's 39th birthday

a jolt of nicotine bolted it's way

to her coronary

sending her to the ground

with a terminal thud.

The tears burned

her children's cheeks

as the embalming fluid

stung her veins.

After Mother's abandonment

Gretel was forced to quit

her habit of climbing trees

and knot around her waist

the strings of an apron too big

for her empty hips.

It was now her burden

to fuel Father's addiction

when he returned from work.

Father's senses were so dumb

that each night

before he lapped

at the adolescent meals,

Gretel would kiss his cocktail

with a spoon of arsenic.

It did nothing

but bless his poison blood

and strengthen his grip.

A soused night later

he slipped on a roller-skate

and tumbled down the stairs

like a dusty weed.

His fall was in vain

for a broken leg did nothing

but confine him to his bed

and Hansel's bed

and Gretel's bed.

For the length of a moon's trail

Gretel schemed of ways

to snuff Father's last breath.

She patiently waited for Fall

knowing this was the season

when death was in bloom.

It seemed appropriate

for his body to rot

with the used leaves.

Her chance at freedom

was a day of thanks.

She prepared a ritual meal

of bird and feed

while Father,

his dirt eyes

slit like paper cuts,

drank and cheered the pigskin violence

flashing from the television.

Gretel called him in

to check on the progress

of the dead fowl

bubbling in it's skin.

He leaned into the oven

in the same way that Hansel

would bend forward

when Father missed Mother

and needed release.

In one move

Gretel pushed Father in

and shut him out.

He was too numb to know.

Hansel joined his sister

at the pyre

to shrug off

the last meager efforts

of polluted pleas.

The children watched

as his eyes popped like corn

and his skin peeled

like weathered paint.

When they were sure he was dead

they removed his turkey pillow

and fed their stomachs

to digest the memory

of the monster burned like a witch.

On board a Greyhound

they raced with the moon.

Hansel dropped M&Ms from the window,

but the wind was too kind to allow for a trail back home.

He wasn't sure where they were going,

but the candied road ahead

was sure to promise a life

of happily ever after.

poem and photo copyright Robert P. Langdon