A Dictionary of Angels

Is in the boring section where
The bright kids go
Bright and boring is the book
They whisper over, holy thing
Bright, boring, book bound
Just like the angels they read about.

Not that I have a hangup about
Angels. If only their books were
Dark and dusty, we might know
Each other better. But I
Bet there are boring dark spots
Too. I have to bet because who
Would know? The spots are dark
Dark as a yawn
Dark as the inside of a
Closed fist. Dark as a book
Bound mind. Dark as a priest’s dark closet

Not that I have hangups about
Priests either. Or hangups
About what they hang up in
Their dark, yawning closets

Skeletons on pink padded
Hangers, white ribboned
Rose and garlic sachets
Tied around their necks?

-M. Ashley

Learning to Live Without (poetry)

I wonder whether the casket lid is
A death trap like those recalled
Drop side cribs that snatched
Babies into the jaws of death

But if it is a death trap, it isn’t
Inappropriate for this funeral
Where my little Christ-love lay
Blessed barely an age
Before being laid to rest with
All this ceremony. All this
Ceremony. I’m going to miss this
And funeral/baptism cake and potatoes
Going off into the worldly world
Christ-love less. Loving without
Magic underwear and ordinations
And special water and oil
For anointing and dove
Down comforters and man—
That casket crib was chock full of stuff
I think I can live without.
I think
I think I can live without.

-M. Ashley

God (poem)

There is a guy on my street.
He has an orange muscle car.
He lives in a sky blue house.

He warned me once about mail
Thieves–a couple in a gold junker
Slinking from box to box at
Night, pilfering birthday money.

He is a nice fellow.
He keeps his lawn nice.

He takes his orange muscle car
Out once a week–rolls slow
Down the block. Our windows
Shake. My dog barks.

It’s Sunday.
The whole neighborhood
Knows it’s Sunday.

-M. Ashley

Universal Piggyback

A very wise Indian fellow, or an Indian fellow we are supposed to think is wise, got awfully judgey when he said it is a terrible misconception that the governing force of the Universe is love. I mean, how sappy could we be? But the thing is, I know the Universe, have met it in a her/him person many times, and I can tell you for certain she is love-powered. She especially loves group hugs and jumping on your back for a piggyback ride. She giggles and sometimes covers your eyes as you run and run and run.

-M. Ashley

After a Dream of God in War

Traveler in the city convulsion
Where singed clouds and
Sewers perpetually burst

Walk with me the mud wallow
Streets. Hold the starving pigs
Off. Drowned roaches
Burbling and fallen

Down buildings, all the All, this
Rain must be nuclear too.
My god
My legs are giving way and my

White hair is coming out in wet
Tumbles. Take me in a cab mysteriously
Still running to a dry room
A dry bed.

Count my shivering
Eyelashes as I dream of you.

-M. Ashley

All Dizzy Things

The Star is the center. All
Things revolve around it—the
Room, dimly lit—the flashing
Optics—gilded mirrors that
Turn on time—doors pulling
Themselves open and closed—
Gears, wheels, sprockets,
Springs—gods, humanity—
All dizzy things.

-M.