Fleurs de mort

The morning sky is blue and grey and red,

could hang on an office wall, be worth a glance

of empty notice on the way to a meeting.

It doesn’t notice us, and when we die

it ceases, more so than a flicked-off light.


Everything grows in a single garden.

Everything comes and goes in a single garden.

Nothing is removed, and nothing stays.


The mornings bloom and wither, petals drop

and dissolve without a visible trace, absorbed

without a change in the day or viewer, as

a saxophone’s soft wail can hold the voice

of listener and musician in a way

no instrument of soul or science can

detail:  it all was there before the notes

swelled out into the night, and will remain

untouched as echoes fade in empty alleys.


Nothing is changed, and nothing remains the same.

Everything dies in a single garden.

Everything crawls and flies in a single garden.


A man, a flower rooted in dead men

who rest in him as the memory of an earthquake

resides in shifted mountains, ragged chasms,

a five-petalled blossom in the garden

of desperate daylight through the tinted glass,

listens in the hall for an absent song…

within, they listen….  Then they all move on.


Hunt for the truth

The truth is simply the truth.

It doesn’t wait to find out

your politics or religion

(imagine the physics of that) –


it is, as it was and will be

before and after you,

and as it would be

if you were never there,

the truth, entire and here.


It is the shape of a galaxy

shivering in a raindrop

running down a leaf

deep in the forest.


It is what we try to say,

not what we want to say, or say,

and if the fact is not the truth,

the truth will never be



If it escapes us, in the end,

there’s witness and theory,

and broken branches

at the side of the road.


Perhaps a unicorn has passed.

Not some imagined

horse with a horn,

but something that ran

through branches, breaking them.


The beast with one back


Animal and angel locked in the mating dance

enacted, continuous, by its bastard spawn.

Two heads that rage above a single swollen neck,

blood-slicked fangs clashing, sabers that slash like lightning

in a storm that clenches the world like a strained fist.

There’s no peace in this war, just casual pacing

while eager eyes circle the thick and pulsing throat,

stare and look away, and look back.  The feast is there,

and the loss, and electric appetite howling

at the moon that shifts and shivers on the dark eye.

And the slow death and the slow life are entangled

in tangled, rusted chains of time and circumstance,

in clumsy rites of continuance, the meaning

never more than this, and never enough, but still

a meaning, a language of meat that captures light

and transfers past to future, does it just enough.

JBMulligan has had poems and stories in several hundred magazines over the past 40 years, has had two chapbooks published: The Stations of the Cross and THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, and two e-books,

The City Of Now And Then, and A Book of Psalms. He has appeared in several anthologies, among them,

Inside/Out: A Gathering Of Poets; The Irreal Reader (Cafe Irreal); and multiple volumes of Reflections on

a Blue Planet.