Poetry: Selections from Steve Grogan

Majestic Purple Aura of the Rebirth


Lately I’ve become a writing junky.

It’s like a needle that I need.

Sewing away into eternity, I can taste the rich tapestries

and I paste them to the window when I’m done.


(How strange it seems to pull away from people

and not even feel a withdrawal shudder.)


My mind constructs rigid boundaries

and forgets its own magic. This is home.

I don’t have to bind myself in chains.

In this land my words can dissolve anywhere.

They can blast their rudeness into the park

or flow silent as a stream.

Quite often they will reflect the images

of those I have chosen to ignore.


Their light isn’t strong enough to project a soul.

Just faces, blank and empty.

I wish they could understand

no hands can open my tomb.


Egyptian words bleed a wasted message.

Scrawl it on the air. So meaningless.

They create a curse that shall never

be unleashed. It shall remain unknown.

Spiraling off in time, an ignored mystery…perhaps

the first one to ever crawl across this planet.


I can see all that I no longer need.

An old religion, now an empty shell,

Left outside and drying up in the sun

like an old skin I have shed.

A romance that could have been,

which I had the strength to reject.


In a way I’m like the hermit who walks this beach,

plucking televisions from the ocean.

His hand like a crane, scooping them out one by one.

Damaged electronics. Weakened bones.


Your face illuminates the broken screens. I realize

centuries cannot echo if they are erased from history.

Memories. Checks that bounced. Blind spots.

Mind cargo. Aching to break free.


This is breathing. This is living. My favorite

era. Most extraordinary time. Feeling so alive.


I can find a much easier way to make 

this sour fruit appeal to my pallet.


Take this amazing landscape, for example. An unforgettable

discovery which I found by accident.

They tell me the gods

used to bury burnt-out suns here.

I take my time mining these fields, unearthing these cold 

celestial stones. No one cares. That’s how I like it.

No one seems to notice when I remove

the dead suns from their soft, neglected crypts.


You did, though. You wrote me a letter.

I still have the stretch marks to prove it.

I Have a Head Cold, Which Makes It Hard to Write

I still get to fracture my imagery

no matter how far away the topic

may place these pictures.


The girl before me twists her soul.

She’s changing her pace.

Her blood begins to boil,

and flowers sprout forth 

from these crimson rivers.

They must not distract me!


My sight is distorted.

My balance is unwound.

When the world is bleeding,

I must find some source of stability.


You’re falling down again.

You are hallucinating and sick.

You can’t even write this poem.


Incense burns.

Stained glass windows melt.

My arms and fingers break.


When did they become twigs?

When did I start making sense?

Exercise in Cut-up, Key of 7

Wisdom knows


of the sun.


the mysteries of you.


no boundaries,


stranded on Mars,


forever untying.


to the glory


I follow my heart.


Lost Now

I remember the day my hands started freezing.

The ligaments would not obey me.

A classmate rapped his knuckles on my skin.

“You’re turning to stone,” he said.


My anger could have popped the stars.


Celestial remains would have fallen,

scarring the planet eternally,

but I couldn’t let people suffer that fate

just because I was angry.


This has been destined to happen.

I have been asking for it, really.

Being such a dedicated artist, I should have known

someday I would become a work of art.


Not necessarily a masterpiece,

but a work of art just the same.


Then again, I never expected I’d become a statue.

Why am I not turning into a novel?

Why doesn’t my skin push forth hieroglyphics?


As my final days slipped away,

I held myself so far outside

the circumference of haunted things

that I could examine every detail of this world.


I wander the rows of buildings.

Concrete shuts out the compassion.

It exiles the caring spirits.


It forbids them to dwell here.

Still, if you try hard enough,

you can sense the beauty.


They hurt me with sticks and stones

which broke my bones

because they hit me 

before the transformation began.


Now my body has turned to stone.

I even came up with a politically correct way 

for people to describe my situation:

you can call it “stoning over”

without causing any offense

or being forced to attend

a sensitivity seminar.


Bones, goodbye.


Skin, so long.


It’s been great knowing you.


Now it is imperative that you leave.


Fingers fixed in a writing position,

eyes focused on the paper, 

heart unable

to feel anything.

Sky-Scraping Hopes

There is a moment

when the cathedral trembles,

displaying its weakness.


An orange weather vane

haunts my horizon.


This vision! 

Its beauty is 






We are sparing you 

the depth of realistic poetry,

just to give you bastards an easy read

so we can sell some copies!


If a landslide of

surrealist interest

suddenly buries this nation,

then we will be billionaires.


As it is, we must hide away

all our psychedelic rainbows.


These thoughts must travel our minds

forever hungry and alone.

It’s an insane trip.

Why must we mutate this beauty?

Because it just won’t sell.


While I’m lying here

crushed beneath cinder blocks,

I won’t feel the urge to shudder.


Please believe me.

These emotions will always remain true.


Silk sharks shed patterns

that resemble passion.

Symbols die.

Death goes out of fashion.


(Water doesn’t go too deep here, does it?)


My substance of choice

never goes away.

It’s always lurking somewhere,

haunting a space in my head.


(Life doesn’t create chasms.

You made them yourself.)


Somebody’s scissors 

cut the sun to pieces.

Now we are unable

to see the culprit’s shadow.

Only Two Books


An old man wandered the streets gathering bones this morning. His wings would not tear. The archangels had sewn these feathers together. (That’s what I was told anyway.)


If angels exist, where were they when my body was broken? Why don’t they scream when any human bleeds?


I don’t know the answer. Don’t even know why I’m writing. Some mysterious force drives my hand. When I stare at the stars, I can almost locate it, wriggling through the constellations, choosing certain ones for extermination.


Can a writer have only two books in him? I ask because that is how many I have written, and now no more ideas have come to me. I’m starting to get worried…and scared.


Certain people suggest that I should write what you know, but I know so little. So how can I possibly pick a subject? What plots could I adopt as my own? Somehow, I must conquer this block. It is dragging me down. Drowning me.


Somebody…anybody…please come along and help.


Save me.

Any Good?


My control over words is slipping.

My wit is fading fast.

My composition’s intellect is a dry well.

Don’t believe me?

Toss a coin into it, then wait and listen.

I guarantee you’ll never hear a splash.


Once my poems were fantastic visions,

buildings raised along the horizon, towering high,

spires reaching heavenward,

these mental spikes set to penetrate the skies

of countless shining strange minds.

But that age has come and gone.


Once my cleverness was abundant and beautiful

like the rising of golden dawns.

The magic made every word swell,

leaving them bloated on the page

but never submerging the reader

in egomaniacal hell.


And now, instead of singing to the universe,

the words can only stare back at me blankly,

relaying fragmented messages in relentless monotony

and I know the fate broken prose will bring.


It isn’t right how this magic disappears!

Once I could trap these feelings

and pin them on the page,

writhing and exposed.

Maybe they weren’t the most noble emotions,

but at least they were mine,

and they were pure.


The longer I try to chip away, to sort through the lies,

the more jumbled these puzzle pieces get.

I can’t outline how I feel.

I can’t identify with my identity.

The only landscape I see

is an endless field of frustration

as I lose my grip on what used to be,

the only dream I lived for

crumbling and ruined,

robbed from me by drugs and disease.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?


Please let me go.

I hate the way your skin feels.

It disturbs me, the way you

seem to continually change.


You’re twisting my head,

shattering my senses,

until it hurts just to think.


I’m falling down,

choking on dust, 

no easy way to get up.


Love, love, love, love!

It’s no easy demon to tame!


Someday your confession

must break.

Perhaps I can fall apart while

attempting to smash it.

Maybe then you’ll know

how much you’re needed.


I hate this!

I hate this!

I hate this

when someone’s scorn

burns the wrong flames.


I hate to see you

burning yourself.

Your fire is so bright

that it robs me of sleep.


One second

in a world that grants wishes

is all I need.


(That’s one second we don’t have to spare.)


Now our bodies must part, like the

continents are destined to drift, because

seeing you can weigh me down.

But then the fear takes hold.

I am scared that, if I leave you now, 

a tragic event will unfold. 


If I let you down,

how could I live?


You don’t understand my concerns.

Why is your mind such a maze?


What makes you hide your thoughts from my sight?

Tell me: is this gentle touch of mine adored or not?


Drag out the hidden meanings.

Burn these ancient scrolls.

Read the shrapnel 

and make sure you know your way home.

Last Night I Had a Dream (i)

Last night I had a dream

that wishes were tossed aside,

disregarded, forgotten, scattered

like sand slipping from your hand.

I was the complimentary

king to your queen,

god to your goddess,

husband to your wife,

dark to your light,

hate to your love,

love to your hate.

Romance burned our hearts,

and we rose, purified by the fire,

floating above it all,

drifting so high 

that not even the mountaintops

interrupted our sight. 

We saw the sun and moon unite,

saw the tombs and cathedrals

crumbling into a halo of gold.

Our hands never lost sight of one another.

Sacred chants broke my skull, 

and who was there to collect the prizes, 

the treasures from my head?

You, of course. Only you. Always you.

Pulsating inside me is a river of elation

waiting for me to swim in its majestic depths.

Yet even in the darkest shadows of its mystery

I can still see your eyes, your face, your figure…

can still feel your embrace

and only yours



Crazy caterpillar

crawl the distance

of 1,000 years.


Stonehenge dreams

of Martian ecstasy.

Mangled hands reach out

to love my glass.

Pigs bleed in sapphire dreams.

Let this sacrifice wash all sin from me.

It's an intense sarcasm

that shares my disease.

This knife,

cannot help me.

There is 

only one outlet

to connect me

to my conscious mind.

Hazel mornings transform,

melt and fade,

seems they take forever…

only to suddenly solidify,

to become a war-torn memory of me.

The Open One

I am the one who made these stains

when metal made tunnels through my wrists

and countless needles stuck into my forehead.

Wounds opened all over my flesh.

My arms are stretched out to my sides.

My legs hang down straight.

A nail has turned my feet into one unit.

I am hoisted up to look down at laughing mouths.

Death calls to me, and my body lets go.

Three days later I’m pushing at solid earth.

Light creases my eyelids.

Darkness is my only companion.

The tunnels still mark my feet and wrists.

I emerge from this tomb.

People make a fuss

just because I appear like a lamp.

Gates open because of my presence.

Behind me they stay that way.

Come visit me in my home in the clouds.

Opening Notes

With arms outstretched

I tried to fall

into the haze of yesterday.

My halo broken,

my eyes sewn shut,

how am I

to find my way

when life is a maze?

They raise

so many walls

around themselves,

surround themselves.

And I try to bring them down.

My hands

turned to stone

when the sunlight

bleeds out of time.

In this life I want you

to let me show the truth.

All these things I say

are never heard.

So I fail,

disappearing in the flames,

waiting to confront this fear


There Are Those Days

wretched hands, wretched feet

secret keepers of old

freedom through broken teeth

broken fingers at midday

soaking in scented sorrow

malignant Monday blues

too much of something forgotten

we're random and weird

our flaws are reflected in soup spoons

limousines crawl in stereophonic dreams

blurry eyes on midnight highways

tongues twisted in madness

wooden men scarred by dulled blades

final pitch for funding, say good night

humming and patient

crimson shirts, sky-blue pants

mixed signals in these daydreams

intelligence dwindles in the shade of muscles

sore and torn, the last walk of shame

blown out through the rear view

there are those days


Working class poetry: 

no guidelines, no system, 

no soil to take out of nails- 

peasantry in your Marxism industry- 

shafts of metal, revolutionary- 

urban tension sticking to brains- 

covering your fingers of gold- 

hovering over me bars of light- 

give me enough energy to consume myself- 

xenophobic zoology today still vexes me- 

quite recent death still can taste the grim reaper’s scythe 

 where it left a deep groove in the bone 

much deeper than the scar in this soul 

which that skin once held- 

contain contain contain-hold me back- 

fluid Jesus liquefying himself before me- 

good aching-let me see your blood 

full of opium to curse me- 

yester-today in your veins- 

broken halo broken leg- 

today the sun did not rise- 

chalkboard boredom podium- 

for your voice empty now- 

good luck using chemistry 

and physics formulas 

to determine how your life 

would have turned out if you had chosen 

path A instead of path B 

when you had to make choice- 

Ch Ch Ch Chinese opium fiend lives next door- 

took a time machine here from the 19th century- 

to steal a snort of cocaine-to take a hit of acid 

because he heard our vices far surpassed 

those of his time- 

part of me cares-part of me is living death itself- 

am I an idiot or is it that my mind moves so fast 

that not even I can keep up with it? 

that question is frustrating enough 

to melt my frontal lobes- 

possible yes yes eternally possible 

to critically crumble fall apart

Shame Enough

People talk of madmen and Jesus, 

keeping these subjects 

only five seconds apart-

heaven is locked away like a secret room-

fucked off on a jackhammer-

drilling pounding brittle pelvic bones 

and skin of ass to quivering pieces-

the light goes red with the chainsaw’s swing-

opens a wound in futile flesh-

leaking half-smile carved into ruined torso-

menstrual blood on the bed, 

dripped and stained in certain patterns, 

detailing the full effect 

of the guerilla warfare attack 

on the crumbling mind 

of the platoon’s sole survivor-

leave me here alone in deserted living room 

from a French porno flick-

there is a hint in the last murder of yesterday 

that all this savagery will end soon-

blurred hands reach out to scream-

they don’t live long enough 

to finish their story,

but that doesn’t matter-

their charred remains 

are shame enough…

The Great River

My life is a paradox I cannot survive.

When you linger outside my flesh,

I long to join you there

but something holds me back.

This world is bleeding,

cutting itself open with a giant razor,

committing global suicide.

This society dismantles your personality.

When you are rebuilt, you are never the same.

They poison your blood with their idiot logic.

Help me! I’ve been tainted against my will!

Let your magic transport us

to another time, another place.

I can already tell this is the kind of world

where you don’t need to fear being corrupted.

Perhaps your words will dissolve this disease

if you diffuse into my bloodstream

and ride the red, raging rapids

of my veins and arteries.

I wonder if your raft has the courage.

You better make sure.

Otherwise you will be ripped apart,

and your remains will drift inside me forever.

Even when my body shuts down and I die,

your broken oars will be in my memory.

My mind is a blank screen.

The projector will start working if you die in me,

playing films of times when you and I were together,

sharing each other’s company,

touching each other’s bodies.

I know you loved those forbidden hours

where we experimented on our skin

to see how much pleasure we could withdraw from it

before the sensation gave way to pain.

The wheels of my mind have stopped turning,

because their axles have broken,

because I severed them with lasers,

because they could not resist.

My skull might as well be gone.

My mind is broken.

I wish its remains would melt away,

but no one will lend me a flame.

I remember how peaceful the summer days were,

even when the screams pierced the silence,

issued forth from tortured mouths

that were attached to tortured bodies

that housed tortured souls.

They were hostages locked in dungeons

that used to be located behind the waterfall

which supplied our hometown with entertainment

as it poured into the great big river,

the same one that served 

as our first meeting place

during teenage years.

Steve Grogan is from the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. His short stories and poems have been published in several magazines and ezines. His biggest influences are Phillip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, and Thomas Pynchon.