the Teller

he is our story teller,
limp and listless coming up the beach
from an ocean where others are dying

amongst us looking are his friends
who lean forward on taught leashes
forward like dogs toward a shuffling on the porch

but they cannot help.
he rests his load above the surf
and begins arranging the pieces

he worries because he knows he doesn't have them all
the pieces i mean
he surfaced way out there
kicked to keep his full arms above water
under skies colored parking lot dust lonely
and waves that bullied away some of those heavy tiny truths

the name of a dead daughter slipped out the crook at his elbow
the slow recitations of a pitched grenade
and the way intermittent sniper fire in the afternoon rain had not first
been their vision of war

these things'll make their way to the beach, too,
as the sun-bleached illegible memories
he was supposed to take and tell

our teller always drags out his words
in the sand first
he pulls fingers through the beach
like panicked Moses on Sinai
scribbling first drafts with charred sticks
not sure he's remembering the order of things,

his digits are knotty and clubbed
for even as we've loved him
long we've made the boy-teller
hold these cigarettes to our mouths
once he's rolled them just right

he draws a fruit stand 
then a stanza about charred sandals
and fires by the sea
and then little furnaces folded into tiny capsules and dropped from planes
and rebar showers and the jagged teeth of man and
he scrubs it off the beach
and glances back to the water
and cups his temples whimpering

he babbles and taps his forehead
rattling nonsensical couplets
that rhyme Bonhoeffer
and the seasons,
he walks himself through
theories on the death of trees
and he's trying to remember which color comes
last before the leaves fall

and he paints the beach that color
he writes it everywhere.

we leave him to the beach and move just
inside the treeline
for night, when he's more fevered.

he's seen things about humans
out in the waves, where we cannot
and his guilt is for the form of the telling

he is a teller
a caste which comes from a line of teachers and
one to whom, now and again, a prophet is born

it's a cohort of madness,
cursing tortured stories on the beach,
who all guard the knowing.


  1. I really like the "his digits are knotty and clubbed..." stanza. I felt like I really related to the sentiment there.

  2. i picture the story-teller emerging from a raging surf, 3x as tall as a normal man but bent over by the weight of his stories....great writing buddy extremely visual.

  3. This is the sort of thing I shy away from commenting upon since I'm not sure I can do it justice...