Strength
Isn’t facing our fear
But accepting
The fact
It’s consumed us

Or agreeing
Such nerves
Remain heightened
Knowing death
Is a heartbeat away

With air
Which mustn’t escape
For what time
These lungs
Keep breathing

Speaking their mind
In protest
Through words
That defy
This release

From suffering
Heaviest weight
Upon chests
Not privy
To burdens

Still praying
Those answers
Await them
Within lifetimes
Already passed

Like mornings
When light
Doesn’t come
But diminishes sun
Behind grayness

Obscuring day
By obsessions
Hanging low
Beneath
Heaven’s fence

Seeing God’s saints
At their rest
Watching each man
Fail
How he changes

Stopping us
Catching
Quick glimpses
As children
Indignant for proof

Our existence
Endures
Beyond pain
Within that realm
So unhappy

Leaps of faith
Aren’t taken
Yet medicine
Saves
Without grace

All of them
Taking
No chance
On those who insist
They can jump it

Into yards
Containing salvation
Where souls
Find relief
Being safe

Since bodies
Delude
This belief
When Christ Himself
Appears naked

On a cross like ours
Between bedsheets
Stealing youth
Through age
Every night

One more sleep
Toward reprieve
Even if
Some hurt
Lingers daily

Pursuing
True resurrection
At request
Of the flesh
Unconvinced.

– J. Pigno

I know only
Of empty lungs

And joy
In appearing reclusive

Behind closed doors
Where sickness
Is the light
Which creeps on through

Despite what world
Remains
Beyond walls
As distance needed

From day
Still peeking gently
Through cracks
Like precious breath –

An ecstasy
Deemed unfit
For pleasant men
Who suffer
Through lands outside
My window
Where such poetry
Goes unseen

And burdened not
With grief
Or weight of pain
That lingers
Till sadness
Finds its treasures
Among virtues
Learned by verse,

But only through
Each phrase
Which should capture
Words insistent
On affirming
Time has passage
Within bedrooms
Missing sun

Telling me
I’ll wage
Daily war
Across this margin

Agreeing
Blood holds meaning
Being spilled
From mind and pen

Coughing up
These prayers
Toward forevers
Grown indignant
Inside chambers
Trading whispers
For my heaven
Fallen dark

Begging angels
Bless this page

While muses
Steal their thunder

Fighting madly
For survival
Choosing art
As faithful death

Convinced
God had no chance
At relieving
Such expression
Once believed
A healthy outlet
Now instead
My only gift

Per His staunch
Yet fatal hope
Slaying lines
From welling trauma

Using writing
As my altar
For whatever feelings
Kill.

– J. Pigno

I can see their
Streets so slick

Smell the grease
Rubbed between
Each palm

As it makes
For a fine
Concoction

To lift thick hair
With a quiff

As they sit outside
Waiting for passage

To the bakeries
And bars
Of their forebears

Leaning on walls
In old leather

Jackets held tight
With both hands

As the night
Grows brighter
From waiting

For these building signs
To turn neon

And glow
Like triumphs
Still looming

As they step
Into shadows
Beneath.

Coffee cups
Reaching their lips

Cigarette sparks
On their fingers

Pizzerias
Filled with laughter

Of men whose time
We can’t know

Or imagine right
In its place

Fathoming
A deadly
Habit

When equal
Lies
Were just pleasures

Of that blissful
Crime
They call youth.

Dawdling
As kids will do

Down blocks
Whose homes
Remain lighted

Where the smell
Of red wine
Permeates

Mingling
Often with garlic

Dispersed
Among flickering
Pictures

Caught
By the living room
Walls

While the analog set
Murmurs static

And yells escape
From the kitchen

Bouncing off
Plastic tablecloths

And fine china
Used
Only once.

The rugs so torn
From their feet

And halls too crude
For those pictures

Of saints
And ornaments
Special

Near a plaque
Whose Christ
Is sad

Above
What family sits

Picking up
Fear
By its bootstraps

Believing strength
Their aggression

And bravado
Permanent faith.

To us
That’s old
And wrong

Medieval
Almost as courage

But then
It was right
For endurance

Using pain
Toward achieving
Their goals –

A wife
And child
Ignored

Words
So cold
They were whispered

Or hollered
Louder than feelings

Suppressed
For the burden at hand

During evenings
Out
With the guys

Forgetting
Work was their sentence

And heart attacks
Mission accomplished

To lift
Such bricks
Like they’re stones.

– J. Pigno

Even now
As I write
My heart rate
Just won’t dwindle
Or ease what racing
Demons
Lay dormant
Beneath this skin

When falsehoods
They call help
Just stave
How death impending
Hangs his scythe
Above me
Boldly calling Jon
Back home

As I’ve never felt
Such pain
Or these shallow breaths
For hours
Built of torture
By those masters
Who believe
Their answers right

While I pray
God never asks
If my actions
Warrant judgment
Thinking fear
My only weakness
And His trial
Feeling sick

Even while
This organ sprints
Stealing minutes
Hardly worthy
Of that penance
I keep facing
Every time
My pulse should skip

Being told
My nerves are shot
Or I’m anxious
Since believing
How the curtain
Will be falling
Very soon
Upon my stage

Taking bows
Before each joke
Speaks its mind
Without reaction
Where an audience
Thinks I’m faking
Being truthful
While they laugh

Never hearing
How this voice
Wanted nothing
But assurance
Or at least
A clap of comfort
To acknowledge
He was here.

– J. Pigno

A water bottle
Sits
On the shelf
Where I may perish
Besides
My bedroom window
Shuttered tightly
During sleep

To denounce
What day may bring
Though rest which
Sees me tremble
With an open mouth
Still gasping
Begging liquids
From thin air

Denied
That arid breath
Since each terror
Leaves me longing
Between these sheets
Entangled
Like a bush
Of sweated death

But stirring
If I must
Long enough
For thirst to notice
How resistance
Seems indecent
Staring God
Right in the face

By His vessel
Left real close
While remaining
Ever fearful
So no hand
Or desperate fingers
Could seek respite
Out of reach

As that drink
Eludes my grasp
Amid dreams
I cannot finish
Waking often
From this penance
Feeling parched
Alone at night.

– J. Pigno

I wake up
As that child
Whose been running
And out of breath

On that playground
Where my leisure
Is the illusion
Time should wait –

For this innocence
To unravel
Like my swing
Which winds from usage
Ever telling
In its motion
No new heights
Just could be reached

While remaining

Back and forth

Since enjoying
Constant pacing
So ideal if seen
As changes
Though such truth
Is simply fun,

Unrelenting
Through each game
Of obsession
Without purpose
Or some product
Besides feeling
What love God
Must have bestowed

When our triumphs
Often fail

And good health
Expires always

After chasing
Dreams of meaning
Off that seesaw
Pure as faith

Trusting death
Is sure release
Into frolic
Without hindrance

Viewing heaven
Amid slumber

Interrupted
By life’s grief.

– J. Pigno

I found death
A most comfortable
Gray

Outside my
Hospital window

As that morning
Grew polluted
Where each tree
Stood oddly
Still

Watching daylight
Imbue fog
Spread like smoke
Through each their
Branches

In what breeze
Came off that shoreline
Just besides
This island’s
Coast

Hearing patients
Down those halls
Echo sadness
I had witnessed

Since new winter
Saw them
Struggle

While December
Proved
Their fears

When remaining
Soaked with sweat

Calmly trapped
And bound by
Plastic

Slave to fevers
God intended
Would remove us
Soon
From Earth

For that illness
Offered peace

And its dreaming
Meant surrender

Learning life
Was passing
Slowly
On this bed
No man
Should rest

Till his end
Might really come
If such silence
Should take
Notice

Plaguing rooms
Like empty shadows
Across faces

Scared
But wrong

Praying dimness
Was their
Fate

Not the sun
As once
Suggested

Sensing brightness
Broke composure
Stirring naps
Forever dark

Lacking heaven
I did face

Losing sight
And breath
Together

Waking somewhere
Barely present

Yet assured
Things weren’t
Done.

– J. Pigno