Robert Payne Cabeen

The Promise

A moonlit beach near Mazatlan, the only thing that you have on--
Your tan line and a necklace made of shells.
You dive into the emerald sea and in the current, drifting free,
Your perfect body sways beneath the swells.
I join you as the waves roll in and as I touch your cool wet skin,
We slip beneath the heaving ocean's roar.
We move as one. I hold you tight. 
Our pleasure fills the Aztec night. 

We wrestle in the whitecaps by the shore.

But that was then and this is now, before I swore that ghastly vow.

Running through the falling snow, 
a winter wind begins to blow,
The fur around your collar frames your face.
As we talk our whispered words steam the air and fly like birds,
Then disappear--gone without a trace. 

We find a shelter from the storm--an empty cabin, dry and warm. 

You brush your hair as I light a fire. 

Our clothes are wet--all soaked through. We take them off. I reach for you.
You pull me close, as the flames burn higher.

But that was then and this is now, before I swore that ghastly vow.
Before the comet's tail rained from the sky.
Before we had survived a year--survived the panic and the fear.
Before the restless dead refused to die.

I beg you not to let her in. Her bones show through her sallow skin.
You wipe your tears and open up the door.
I hold you back, but you break free. You cry, "She wants to be with me."
I say, "She's not your mother any more."
The creature lurches in the room. She reeks of death and cheap perfume.
I raise my gun and pull you to my side.
You bolt to her--one last embrace. She strokes your hair--then bites your face.
The gaping wound is jagged, deep and wide.

But that was then and this is now and I have sworn a solemn vow--
A painful promise I intend to keep.
I swore that I would give you rest. I promised you and crossed my chest,
That if you turned, I'd give you endless sleep.
I'm as empty as this empty gun. No bullets left--except for one,
A final gift, with love, from me to you.
I wish it were a diamond ring, or any other pretty thing.
If only there was lead enough for two.

Where Are You Now?

Bones in a basement, a snake in a tree,
A rock on the moon, a ghost in the sea,
A face in a crowd, a tear in a sheet,
Rust on a statue, a dog in the street.

Everything is somewhere, so where are you now?

A voice on the phone, a toy in a tomb,
A crack on a wall, a chair in a room,

A bird in the sky, a lock on a door,

A cry in the night, a dress on the floor.

Everything is somewhere, so where are you now?

A girl on the beach, a car in the rain,
Cash in a bank, a man on a train,

A cloud in the wind, a key in the sand,
A kiss in the dark, a hand in a hand.

They say there's a place for everything,

But if that was really true,

Then where, oh where, oh where,
Oh where the fuck are you?

A word on a page, a bug in a bed,
Some nails in a jar, a song in a head,
A book on a shelf, a name on a cake,
A road on a map, a knife in a lake.

A clock in a box, a mask on a face,
Pills in a pocket, a star out in space
Ice cubes in a glass, a bat in a cave,
A scar on a wrist, a note on a grave.

Everything is somewhere, so where are you now?

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