(Photo of G. Mitchell Layton)

 

Open Casket

 

They couldnÕt get your

color just right —

the baby blue,

off white,

too-pale

pigment of passing—

paler than before,

like youÕd never seen

the sun.

 

Single-file

ruddy masks with leaky

faucets, weÕre red

hands and noses—

drab colors smeared on

pastel walls.

 

 

The powder caked

on your face,

thick like paint,

polished and primed.

You were almost sleeping,

dressed as if you

were about to sit up and

hand your sister a tissue.

 

 

University Parking Lot

 

I saw and

thought to remember it —

air so cold it could

stop time.

I am two legs with

angry knees,

frozen and suffering

in slow motion.

There are puddles and

trees and

me.

 

I am brittle and backlit.

The sun was, and is not.

There is a moon

somewhere but it makes

no difference.

I am not looking up.

 

Quiet as a coffin,

no birds or cars.

Just sidewalks and the

weight of used books

under so many

street lamps—

my breath like a

furnace,

lungs like frost.

I am alone.

 

 

Waterboarding

 

The damp gag

of a tortured head.

Always drowning,

never dead.

 

 

Blind

John 9:1-7

 

Rip open your eyelids.

Peel them back and show them the earth.

There is no clay in the hands of Christ.

Your soil is sandy and tired.

When he spits in the dirt, it dries up.

 

Who has sinned?

Generations of evil led to crippling

of the tame and warm.

Rip open your eyelids.

Curse the iris and curse the lens.

Let the blood drip into your mouth.

You can taste what you canÕt see.

Red metal.

 

Stare at the sun.

It can do no harm now.

Dilate the cloudy windows,

the splintered doorways.

Rip open your eyelids.

Look upon misfortune,

the wriggling maggot,

crawling cheat and

freezing soul,

looking for warm blood

in cold places.

 

Let your heels raze

the serpentÕs skull,

the hellish face of

hopeful burning,

deviled scale

and vengeful slide.

Spill venom and

drain fate from

that lifeless hindrance,

that icy wretch.

 

Stare at the son.

Unparalleled warmth

from the mind of stars,

spirit of wind,

arms of earth and

eyes of heaven.

 

Rip open your eyelids

and peer into

colors imagined and

love unaltered.

Chandeliers blaring in

sight-song

and rivers of light

rolling into deeper and deeper

melody.

Streets of gold

and sun far golder.

 

Rip open your eyelids.

Look upon the light of the world.

© G. Mitchell Layton

Bio:  G. Mitchell Layton is a touring guitarist and published poet living in Los Angeles. He has a love for all things fried and fatty. In his spare time, Mitchell likes watching Twin Peaks and fending off bouts of existential crises. You can contact him at gmitchelllayton@gmail.com or visit his website at www.gmitchelllayton.com.