I believe
How these aging toys
And the dream
They once
Represented

Hide a kid
Whose wish
Has been silenced
After putting them
Back in their place

For nothing
But repetitive tasks
And stubborn lies
Which keep
Failing

At encouraging
Days worth living
Beyond
What fears
Became work

Before songs
Only heard inside
Redeemed
Each soul
Still committed

To an innocence
Openly humming
Those melodies
Tinged
With relief

By characters
Forever pure
Whose fantasies
Shaped
Our existence

For tomorrow’s truth
Disappointed
Such play
Is perpetually
Lost

On salaries
Making us sick
Trading angst
While we
Socially distance

From imagining
Human potential
As some child’s
Bear
Being hugged

Now together
Just sharing space
Even smiling
Though they seem
Saddened

Knowing soon
Separation beckons
Upon shelves
Facing decades
Ignored.

– J. Pigno

My breath
Deep inside those
Pockets
Is the change
You’d wished
Held meaning

From the wallet
Filled with reasons
For believing
Life
Had none.

That’s me
Unworthy of air –

Finding hope
Where cash
Was folded

Along threaded lines
Through denim
Near their dollars
Placed
On seams,

That dividing line
Like fear
When cruelty sworn
Was shelter
Becomes answers
Dreaming freedoms
Between fringes
Cut
By truth.

These ties
Are tattered cloth,

Our ambitions
Different measures –

Such anger
Wounded bodies
Patching lies
We’ve always sewn.

My blood
Has only words,
Never rags
Or leather pouches

Holding wealth
Which fears us
Naked,

Bearing needs
No soul can grasp.

Good art
Shows signs
Of wear,

Just as fashion
Tells
Its story –

This “loser son”
Will sport them,
Each abuse
Called “love”
They sold.

– J. Pigno

Where does
The manual state
How being paid
For help
Is courageous?

Such bad advice
Has potential
At exalting
Men
Who are dolls –

Defective toys
Become gallant
By virtue of gifts
They can
Leverage

Through instructions
Pushed as agendas
To approve
Their marketed
Face.

No glue
Can repair our cracks
Anymore
Than lies
Sell plastic

While parading
Treacherous glories
Behind masks
Whose figures
Grin

At a point
All models break
Thinking parts
Get swapped
With reason

Learning figures
Considered better
Claim dibs
On remaining
Whole.

Last time I checked
We were flesh
Not pressed
In factories
Tested

Like effigies
Far from humble
Telling kids
Some dreams
Mean less,

If success
Expresses truth
Which expose
False idols
Fearless

Owning roles
That question heroes
Whose feat
Was collecting
Checks.

– J. Pigno

I am no longer
Your son

Because guilt
Is not my birthright

Like the money
Which still can’t answer

What questions
Your soul won’t ask –

As an incapable feat
For rage

Whose flame knows
Only matches

When experience yields
These passions

While igniting God
In hand,

For the lie that
Bears me grief

Within flesh
Whose silence lingers

Presuming
My spirit missing

At the tip of a tongue
You’d burned.

This body
Just can’t speak

Anymore than words
Could flourish

Where fires dance
Through kingdoms

Of dreams
You’d had me torch.

My phrase
Can’t offer cash,

My pen bring much
But solace

Condemned as faith
Unworthy

For the man whose life
Meant less

Than the joy
You’d wish I earned

While pursuing jobs
So pointless

And convinced
Such work held purpose

Beyond building ash
On lungs –

Like collected smoke
Thought breath

Within mouths
Whose air went missing

So the fire spread
From neighbors

Bragged its brilliant light
That glows.

Now forever
I’ll spend each day

Flooding waters
Upon sore voices

Quelling damages
Pouring phrases

Spilling verse
Amid embers learned.

– J. Pigno

I’ve done little
With my time
And perhaps
That’s now
Okay,

Considering
Nothing matters
In a world
Where life
Means shit –

Even still
Despite our tries
Or the pleas
Young souls
Keep chanting

Across streets
While bigots listen
Tightening cuffs
On innocent
Hands,

Wielding sticks
Like phallic threats
Threatening rape
Of minds
Unyielding

Twisting lines
Good gospel peddles
Watching despots
Claim
Those words.

How can justice
Even risk
Finding hope
Among these
Devils

Stealing faith
As freedom settles
Into fear
Once thought
Long dead,

Only answered
For such days
If each victim’s
Screams
Get angry

Growing worse
Until they notice
We will not
Accept
Such hate,

But yet somehow
Soon forget
Over decades
Filled
With excess

Blinding rebels
Behind paychecks
Thinking cash
Can cure
Old sins –

Which is why
I’ll never work
Or hold jobs
Beyond
This writing

Bleeding ink
For sticking fingers
Up at racists
Called
Rich men.

Don’t assume
We have some chance
Ending bias
Through their
System,

For true evil
Dwells eternal
Within actions
Laws
Can’t change –

Even God
Remains perplexed
By His Earth
Turned Hell
Incarnate,

So forget
Your fucking day job
And make art
Worth fighting
Back.

– J. Pigno

Mortal hearts
Are its actual
Cause

But cooked
By pride
So easy

Thinking cupboards
Bare
Have utensils

Or ingredients
Bad
Sitting low

Could inspire chefs
Who play
God

Yielding dishes
Grand
Beyond saving

Growing ripe
Through tainted
Promise

Eating fruit
Sharing sin
Thought prayer,

Wielding wealth
On privileged
Spoons

Within palms
Whose fists
Bear weapons

Chewing whole
While mouths
Hang open

Begging food
Though forks
Point back –

Worried sick
True hunger
Is judged

Making meals
Much more
Disgusting

From the fact
Such lives
Should perish

Still begging
Those hands
For a piece.

Though they tighten
Around
Each neck

Choking throats
With freedoms
Rancid,

Revealed
As gluttonous
Hatreds

All monsters
Believe
Keep fresh

Since agreeing
Flesh
Left raw

Tastes better
Only
When hurting

If based
Upon recipes
Biased

Now stirring
Rage
In this pot –

Served hot
On plates
Absurd

Knowing fear
Holds their daily
Menu

Which proves
How heroes
Hungry

Wish villains
Would hurl
That feast.

– J. Pigno

We are all
Terrible dreams
As far my eyes
Can tell –

At least
From a backwards
Glance
Where life
Appears so long,

But never
In media res
Upon this proof
Conceding

To minds
Whose fearful
Sleeping
Deludes each sense
When woke.

Valueless
Though we believe
Our gifts make
Appropriate burdens

Like feelings
Expressed intently
Through an image
Etched
On flesh-

Our bodies
Masked with stone
Broken
By God’s great chisel,

Hammering tales
Off faces
Fixed
For forever
At last.

Those cracked
And colorless skins
Hold truths
Unsaid between us

Through statues
Stoically crafted
Made calm
While modeling
Death –

Beautiful art
Untouched
If assessed
Without that knowledge

How time
Apparently dawdles
Inside
These nightmare
Shells.

– J. Pigno

People
Jumping off bridges
Seem to be
All the rage,

Lacking
Need for explaining
As times like these
Prove hard

Where death
Is a basic statement
Of life which
Falls so easy

Since fear
Has offered freedoms
From heights
No man should plunge.

Yet I wonder
If God will judge
Those souls
Who bravely plummet,

Daring hell
Despite knowing
Such sin might
Break their leap –

Worried how
Faith confirms
Why conviction
Remains an answer

Toward humans
Facing disaster
Each day
We’re gifted breath.

Isn’t sickness
Penance enough
Or experience
Torture already,

Watching friends
And our families
Suffering pain
Without cause?

But cowardice
Never endures
Beyond moments
Rashly ventured

Garnering blame
Deemed sufficient
In eyes whose love
Loss hurts –

Spoiling
Beautiful ends
On chances
Apparently wasted,

Stealing
Memories cherished
Then sullied fast
After grief.

Even though
Flesh decays,
Tempting fate
Every second,

What minutes
Elapse with meaning
Far outweigh
Quick relief.

– J. Pigno

Sleep
Is appropriate language
In which God
Can tell us
Stories

From the world
Outside each window
Now that home
Has become
Our bed

Where life
Provides long rest
Yet clings
To sobering
Daylight

Reminding us
Time still passes
Even if
Such sun
Seems strange

During hours
Meant for work
Now a theater
Ripe
With leisure

Letting fear
Project its pictures
Under blankets
Pulled
On heads

Over eyes
Who grow concerned
Watching nights
Just entertain
Worries

Seeing stars
Across skies too vivid
Crystal clear
From worlds
At pause

Before films
Behind closed veils
Prove hits
While indulging
Solace

Upon screens
Viewing classics
Routinely
Most souls would agree
Should distract

Since images
Take their stage
And reveal
Sacred insights
Begging

To explain
How destinies
Tethered
Will collectively
Dream their fate

Performing
One-act plays
When an audience
Thrilled
Yet captive

Believes
These narratives
Witnessed
Replace moments
Actually seized.

– J. Pigno

These cinders
Coat my throat
As the pain
Goes down
Real easy

Mistaking air
For fire
While both lungs
Expel
Clear smoke

From a furnace
Burning steam
Within
This chest
Left begging

Between
What breaths
I swallow
To assume there is
Still hope

When gagging
On tiny coals
Too small
For life
Extinguished

By flames
Not fearing water
Since that ash
Will fill
Each hole

And line
Exploding veins
Through our mouths
Hung open
Daily

In disbelief
Now common
How those embers
Fuel
Such thoughts

Near death
At simple coughs
Wishing God
Was always
Greater

Than His heat
Which passes judgment
Upon sickness
Earned
With sin.

– J. Pigno