poetry

The chimes of
friendly voices had just given place

To [a] sweet silence, when I ‘gan retrace 
The pleasant day, upon a couch at ease.
It was a poet’s house who keeps the keys
Of pleasure’s temple

-“Sleep and Poetry,” John Keats (1816)

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9.2.17

I Look for You All Day

I look for you all day:

A stranger with dirty-blonde hair
about yay high, with
aviator sunglasses
Turns around
and
it’s
not
you.

A silver dove updarts—
a whoosh of wings—
only
to
return

It pecks and coos at the bird-seeded grass,
and pauses,
to
tell
me
something
important

“Hello, Lucas—“
I whimper.
It responds with flight:
it,
too,
has
gone
away

I listen for you all day:

I say something hilarious
and among the voices of boisterous laughter,
I cannot distinguish yours—
I wonder if you’re really dead,
Or if I’m
Just
not
funny
anymore.

Where is your
loud,
unsolicited
opinion?

I touch someone else—
their hot skin is real enough
to
be
yours

But they don’t remain like
you
would.

I taste an amazing chicken wing,
realizing that you weren’t the one to
talk me into the
spiciest
sauce

Everything fatty and sweet and creamy and exotic
and delicious
tastes
too
much
like
you.

This place smells like dog and marijuana—
you won’t defensively point to an
empty
febreeze
bottle
anymore.

We won’t talk about how horrible cigarettes are
on
our
smoke
breaks
anymore.

You won’t call me at 9:00 AM Sunday
to ask if I have a magnifying glass.

You won’t bring me an
unexpected
99 cent
burger
anymore.

Your eyes won’t well with tears at the
drop
of
a
hat
anymore.

You won’t change my 8-year old tire
in
the
snow
anymore.

You won’t show up with a U-Haul
and say
“Let’s change your life”
anymore.

My rib-cage won’t be crushed by
your
arms
anymore.

My rib-cage is crushed because your arms
aren’t
holding
it
together
anymore.

You won’t
call
me
back.

Anymore—

It’s better when
I don’t
think
about
it.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
July 2017

What Remains
Is there any poetry left in you?
Do shadows of words still flit behind your eyes?
Or are the pills what make this shade of magenta?
Have you found every synonym for a good idea?
Where is the mile-marker for too far?

Was this July anochecer born of the bloody, nutrient-rich placenta of yes?
Blackened heels and soles trodden barefoot over someone’s unswept apartment floor–

Black coffee balcony nicotine mornings and
Half-watched movie, impromptu cider nights,
Black ring around the eyes, yesterday’s
Makeup precariously in tact

Tell me,
After one week of our Ted Hughes, shitty shoes, never lose synthetic Bohemia,
Do you have any poetry left in you?

 

Letters From Poet’s Loft

Let’s wear shittier clothes
and drink more coffee

Let’s eat peanut butter
and dust the bookshelves haphazardly

Let’s define “darkened luster”
and bleed our hearts

Let’s lose another dulling pencil
and another night’s sleep

Let’s take a stroll around the block
and step in Siamese tandem

Let’s look for poetry in crowded rooms
and the unanticipated sideways symmetry of pinball flippers

Let’s fix our gazes no further
and retire to an away place

 


Summer Rains

Summer rains are so easy to forgive
Not a hindrance, but worn as an accessory for the evening.
A soothing pitter-patter on the windshield
A slightly inconvenient sprinkling
that only adds more character to the night.

Or a welcome gift to our lawns and gardens:
The hallelujah afternoon downpour:
All watered and cooled—
the air fresh with verdure and petrichor;

A passing spell,
The whisper of Nature’s mercy,
A moment of weakness in the heavens,
A minor fracture in the sky,
A brief, cathartic sob

We receive with tempered joy—
Summer rains are so easily forgiven.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
June 2017 

 

Stories of Stability
When you woke up fifteen minutes early and sat down to a bowl of oatmeal and the morning paper,
noticed a chip in your favorite mug, and realized you liked it better that way
When traffic was slightly less horrible yesterday afternoon
and you saw a robin perched on the power line
When you got into bed with freshly-washed sheets,
and slept noiselessly, never getting too hot or too cold.When you laughed at the increasingly ridiculous tactics of telemarketers, and you told them how broke you were:

“Hello, is Robert there?”
“No, I think you have the wrong number”
“Oh, well maybe you can help me out; I’m calling from the fill-in-the-blank research foundation and we’re starting our annual drive…”
“I have zero monies”
End call.

When you finished all your reports and left work ten minutes early
When you listened to the silence of your still, unoccupied living room
and you found a popcorn kernel between the couch cushions.
When you decided that matching socks might, finally, be a good idea, and you matched them all.
When you smelled the potent, artificial meadow breeze of the fabric softener before you started the load.
When you sang along to classic disco hits on the way to your doctor’s appointment.
When you met your friend for coffee and struggled to find anything to talk about, so you both analyzed the complex body of your respective lattes.
When you took a walk around the block and waved hello to exactly three strangers.
When you watched a forty-minute eighth inning, accompanied by a cold coke.
When the ice on your windshield glinted in the morning light, and you remembered your gloves to scrape it all off.

When you finally called your sister and you took out the trash
When your parrot asked you earnestly, “Where Bu?”

And you watched her take a nap, before snoozing yourself.


It Wasn’t Supposed to End Like This
It wasn’t supposed to end like this—
It was supposed to be a civil nod of the head
A conciliatory, halfhearted hug
And promises that we won’t forget—
because we won’t—
and that, in the end, it would all be OK.

Well-wishes for the next leg of the journey
with wistful smiles
and mutual respect—
Acting like the good people we both are.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this,
what sorrow.

 

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
May 2017

 
Relentless Lent
I ended up in the desert for more than forty days
and I did face Satan and his servants–
My own inner-demons
who spin sad fantasies
Satan tempts me with guilt
and fear.
I was to be the bride of Satan,
I was going to commit my life to the worship of my neuroses and insecurities:
“I must be miserable as pennance for my sins”
“I have sinned”
“I don’t deserve to be totally happy”
“I’m getting older”
“I’m not attractive”
“I must be made ‘right’ by someone”
“I am deficient and lacking”
“To improve I must be shamed.”
“Suffering is the greatest teacher”

Luciferic inversions and almost-truths
I was seduced by the illusion that all suffering is virtuous,
That I would fulfill my existence by sacrificing joy—
Satan disguised my misery as joyous things,
attractive, desirable things—
but nothing was what it seemed to be.
Satan offered me all of these things if I got married to my misery
He impregnated me with these fundamental doubts and delusions I have about myself,
that I am deficient,

When in Truth,
I am always whole,

or,
that I owe my progress to misery,

When in Truth,
I make progress by the miraculous

These ideas began to grow inside me,
I felt my light dwindle.
I saw my life shutting.
My energy draining.

I gave it all up—
I gave it all away—
Everything I had
Everything I had clung onto
And depended on

To realize that I must refuse the temptation of misery
I must turn my sights upward
And resist the temptation of fantasies that require my misery,
That these wild fantasies must not overwrite my Self-narrative.

I am refusing.

My Easter has come.

Dandelion Love
I am the sun
I am canary song
and summer lawns

My core is fractal yellow
A cosmic burst
bright as the light on the other side

hollow-stemmed and soft to the touch

I am everywhere

bitter-smelling
quick-wilting
hard-fighting
and irritating

If you’re fool enough to love me
and tired enough to welcome me
I will only get worse

I propagate myself as a constellation corpse
and by the second-thought wishes of passerby’s

capricious winds
capricious whims

and before you know it

I am everywhere

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
March 2017

 

Too Much (Saved)
One hour is too much—
any silver distraction—
any liquor—
emergency succor—

Half an hour is too long—
every dusty go-to fixation—
every threadbare coping skill—
the vertigo of imagined crisis—

Fifteen minutes is insufferable
All of the gravelly compulsions—
All of the scraped-up scraps of reason—

Inevitable surrender

Five minutes is an eternity—
Some brief reprieve—
Some taste of stasis—
Something better
than
this

Come to me now, distant savior

I need

Anything

Everything

All of it

Something.

 

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
February 2017

 

Predator (Siren Series)
I breathe you in like water
You rush through me and out of me:
a tickle at my ear.

I hum a tune that is faint and purple
wandering.
You barely notice that you notice me.

You will try to ignore it,
fight to push it out of your mind,
but you won’t stop listening.

I sing honey liquid notes
so soft
you’ll hear—
whatever you want to hear—

You will find yourself
ever closer to me.
Returning to
the perfumed air around me:
Sweet lotus blossom
salty ocean breeze
paranormal pheromone.
Intoxication inevitable.

You will find bliss,
you will lose yourself,
and I will take you there.

If you come closer,
I will breathe you in like water and
We will rush through me,
together,
no more pain.

 

You Ballet
The pas de deux of awkward hello’s
A chassé into “how are you”
The stiff arabesque of “Look, I’m fine”

Just trying to be en pointe

 

Fire Garden
Bud of light,
grow me calm

Wrap yourself,
in your evening gown
of licking flame.

Delicate blaze,
burn me awake

Swell yourself by
sipping on fragrant waxes
lavender
coconut
vanilla

Flickering fire,
warm me OK

Dance yourself
torch yourself
in a fit of passion

Blossom yourself
and melt yourself away.

Linger glowing orange on your stem
when you disappear in a string of smoke.

Garden of fire,
pin-prick nebulae burning bright:
Leave me immolated and purged.
warm me alright.

 

Great First Lines
I was refilling my pill box for the week and thought of you.

 

Fragment 2/2/17
She preferred a multiplicity of flame.

 

Meet You Never (lyrics)
I’ll meet you never,
We’ll always be apart—
But I’ll kiss your shadow
And learn your silence by heart

I’ll see you sometimes
If only in my mind’s eye
I’ll feel your ghost—
Be your eternal aside

Goodbye
Goodbye
Goodbye

I’ll see you somewhere
Yeah, I’ll be around
I’ll sing you a song
that won’t make a sound

 

Never Fall In Love With a Poet

Never fall in love with a poet

Things      get     too     abstract

Often too

hard    to    understand

Things    get    too    meaningful

Things    get    too     rhythmic

Too      beautiful

You should know what to expect

although

There may yet be a plot twist

In verse

If you try

hard enough

To read between

The lines

And spaces.

Not enough

concrete

Not here

Not immediate

Somewhere

In vapor

In twilight

In theory

 

Winter Fodder
Glacial fire
arctic shelter
barely enough
warmth
to
survive
Fighting embers
dying cinders
capable of
igniting
if
Only
our
fuse
had
not
frozen.

 
Loose Association
Loose association
pastel childhood
therapist’s office
At the whims
of hesitation—

scribbled adolescence
black and white prints only
slideshow sideshow
in memory’s prison with
maniacal enthusiasm.

Melting into an armchair existence,
toes cold,
old blanket,
errant thought
afternoons—

Trained for careful analysis,
deep critical thinking
wineglass candle light
and year-old playlists.

Cigarette-smoke oratory
unravels the mystery of
trauma repertoire,
and the mid-morning cabernet
of incessant worry—

Desire that is directionless
panicked searching
for a lost child
in the store

Yearning as strong as
just wanting some fucking sleep.
Feelings as wrong as
just trying to figure out my shit, leave me alone
Patient as long as
it takes to decipher this ink-blot adulthood.

 


Let’s Not Talk About It
Let’s not talk about it.
Let’s think about it all the time and
Let’s allude to it in circuitous ways—

Let’s imagine all the things it could be
Let us wonder what it is
Let’s contemplate its meaning

Let’s keep cool
Let’s keep our hands to ourselves
Let’s hide the suffering,

Let’s not break cover,
Let’s not ruin the surprise,
Let’s not talk about it.


/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

January 2017

Like or As
I am like electricity;
I take the path of least resistance

 
To Andrew—
We both lost our minds abroad.

We have the same maladies and
We both receive the same antidotes.

We find ourselves in the same impossible situations
We both heal ourselves through poetry.

We live by poetry
We both speak a language earned by artistic suffering.

We admire beauty and minutiae
We both abide by the imagination.

We sink to the same depths and
We both lift each other back up.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
November 2016

 

Ode to a Hotel Bathtub
Your wide porcelain mouth yawns at me,
Inviting me to fill you
And drain you,
As you swallow a few more gallons of hot weary traveler soup

The cold tile floor along your border
Littered with discarded wash cloths and towels and
Tiny bottles of lotion and shampoo.
Three more fluffy towels are neatly piled on the generic laminate wood end-table
Still folded, still pristine,
with their precise terry-cloth angles

They perform a charming ruse that suspends disbelief:

These things have never been touched, never used.
These towels,
This bathtub

Has been in patient waiting for you

And only you

What I learned today
Today I learned that:
ships passing in the night
occasionally make contact

Occasionally a lamplight is flashed
By the one sorry soul
keeping cold vigil overnight
while superior sailors sleep.

In the black-night murks,
that swell and carry
the load,

These barely-beacons
Are usually swallowed by
The latest undulation

The lonely light
flickers on and off
in half-hearted morse code,
a throwaway hello:

short, short, short, short
pause
short
pause
short
long
short
short
long
long
long

This is usually a lost cause
But sometimes,
just sometimes,
another lonely light will reply

It is such an uncommon thing
that
the fatigued mariners
tend to assume it’s a hallucination

Then they return to their
telescope view of the
darkness.

 

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
September 2016

 

Rejoice
Let the drink be drunken!
Let the slinky be slunken!
Let the brink be brunken!

Just as long as
You won’t eat my pumpkin.

 

The Last Bee
Buzzing along
He happens upon
an autumn-tinged
Worn-petal cosmo

Its fading fuchsia
One of the few
Remaining
enchantments of the year

His limbs are stiffer
They do not freely dangle
Like the honey-drunk
Furry fat bumbles
Afloat in July

But he pays no mind
to his tired and comby legs;
His antennae meander slowly
Arbitrary, lethargic proddings
Into a dying
Beauty

He does not notice
that he is the last of his generation
The only one left,
Buzzing about
At his task

Just another day at work

Woefully ignorant
of the immediacy
of his loneliness

Inner-Space
Not limited to
three dimensions

Not limited to
photons

Not limited to
this

black
hole

disappointment

Not limited to
gravity

parabolas

Not limited to
correct trajectory.

Not limited to
this

comet
tail

excitement

Exceeding
Six-hundred-and-seventeen-million
miles an hour.

Not limited.

 

Grammar is Love
A strange thing it is to be enamored of
the machine.
Enrapt.

The machine:
Undiscerning and rigid—
The wheels and cogs that drive infinite potential.

A verb is a verb and ever will be
A noun is a noun and always has been

Grammar is Love—
The namer of names:

thanks for telling me.

 

 

Artistic Profile
I was suckled on the teat of Romantics and raised by Modernists.

 


The Harcourt Arms
I once had a sacred friend—
we worshiped at the altar of whatever was on tap.

Next to a stony fireside;
we sat in pews of cherry wood barstools.

To read dead poet sermons—
scripture that told us how

We felt

And how we should feel

About each other.

 

The Pathophysiology of Schizophrenic Shrapnel
He asked the patient how he was feeling:
The patient said that the picture on the wall
Had a headache.
He asked how it had a headache
The patient explained that when a sperm and an egg meet,
There is an explosion of proteins and genetic material:
Nuclear fusion, but human fusion.

A genetic explosion—
Schizophrenic shrapnel from the father’s side.
Something went wrong.
Or maybe something went right.

The child emerged healthy,
Greeting the world wailing,
In a fit of tears,
As we all do.

Schizophrenic shrapnel,
Once embedded, takes time to grow
And develop through
exposure,
in limited doses,
of objective reality—
Virus-like, reality serves as its host
Feeding it,
the necessary input
For the eventual hostile takeover.

But this is only shrapnel.
The child wasn’t blown to pieces;
Its body will wrap it in scar tissue,
Preserve it for a while
Until it is dissolved.
Rusted away on the banks
Of bloodstreams.

The process doesn’t come without any complications
Of course.
The shrapnel glows at night,
A sickly green orb beneath the skin.

Think glow-worm dolls.

It can go on that way for many years
A decades-old beacon
Lurid
Lurid
Green

No serious complications develop
As long as the patient never looks at it:

Ignore the green glow

Suffocate it under the blankets at night.

Eventually they get used to it,
Sleeping with a constant
Palid-green radiance.

Eventually its light won’t keep them awake.

Take all necessary precautions
Should the patient glimpse the glow:

Breathing exercises,
All the coping skills they’ve learned
from their sixth therapist.

Hide sharp objects
All sharp objects.
Those who suffer from schizophrenic shrapnel
Are crafty creatures.

It should be noted,
However,
That the mysterious glow
Is known to produce
Lucid fantasy

Worlds have been born within it.
A heightened intuitive sense
Typically paranoid,
Or wildly insightful
In roughly twenty percent
Of cases.

Therefore,
It is recommended
That patients be supervised and given
A notebook
And a pen
To write through their hallucinations
For the duration of their psychosis.

We use the term “snapshot-psychosis”
In cases of schizophrenic shrapnel
For the episodes are fleeting in nature.
Usually triggered by
A low-grade glimpse of green.

The episode will be over
In nanoseconds,
But the patient might be left
Rambling.
A brief apashia
Coprolalia
Or
Anacoluthon.

That is how the picture has a headache.

Science?
I know I’ve known you before. Reincarnation does exist.

 

An Ode to Assimilation
Surely it wasn’t this hard for T.S. Eliot
Surely he had that inherent worldliness,
That inborn sophistication,
Necessary to become British.

The waste land I know is one of my war-torn Americanness.
How did he get on?

Surely he got on well, but was never doin’ good
And when he didn’t, surely,
it was not a problem to ask:
where the nearest offie is, for gin?

Where the loo is?
The flat?
The lift?
The car park?

Passing comfortably through corridors, never hallways.
And he was never broke, only skint.
As in, he didn’t have a crown, nor a fiver or a tenner.
As in, he couldn’t even afford a take-away curry for ten quid.

If he were to go to out on the town,
he would be in the city centre.
Possibly ending up on the High Street.
And we can only assume he’d wear both pants and trousers for the occasion.

He may end up in a seedy place,
Where Sex Pistols Clash in floozy-infested pubs
With Man. U hooligans
who use “cunt” like punctuation marks.
Perhaps a full stop.
These punks would ask him,
simultaneously challenging and greeting him,
Mate, you OK?

The morning after,
he’d do fuck all,
having been knackered,
but he would crack on.
Switching on the telly,
checking the expiry date for his milk
to take tea.

Surely all of this came naturally to him.
Surely he never stuttered saying farewell to the grocery man:
“Ch-cheers!”
Both sides of the Atlantic would never claim me for their anthologies.

 

The Moment Before (Siren Series)
The moment before a siren consummates her kill
Is the most sublime experience known to mankind
Submersion is only the beginning

Her eyes—a sunlight glint reflected on cresting waves
Her embrace—a warm Caribbean current, enrapt
Her kiss—the kind that extracts melodies from the depths of sunken souls
Her voice—a note of Beauty unending; a sweetest sadness; forgotten pirate songs

This ultimate disaster instantly dissolves into pearlescent glow
No suffering exists plunging into disembodied scintillation

The terror is so fleeting that they never know what’s happened
Pulled into the deep a blissful being
Finding eternity,
Lost to the world

 

Perfect Self-deprecation
O thing of beauty,
You know not your beauty,
Tho’ likely ’tis better
That you remain unbeknownst

For in your obscurity,
You emanate selfless luminosity
Without afterthought
Without the pride of things.

Other things of beauty whose conceit darkens their lustre.
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
September 2015

 

Twelve o’clock Register Shift, Bookstore
Another chance to ruminate—
For torture, longing that you’d stay
And though no promises were made,

Hopes can grow from barren soil
And rarely seem to go away

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
November 2015

 


The Life of a Siren: Introduction (Siren Series)

The siren is born with a song in her heart; it is as fundamental to her being as the very water she breathes. She is not a predator, but she is doomed to enchant. She sings her song because that is her purpose, her very existence. She is doomed to drown the enchanted. She may be the most splendid monster, but we should not judge her murderous enticements. After all, we do not judge the black widow for entangling and consuming her unfortunate partner… her actions are in-built and inevitable. And, like the black widow, the siren is doomed to loneliness.

Every sailor she’s captured should have known that oceans are vast and unforgiving. The sailor is advised not to listen to siren song, but he is helpless to hear. Every sailor, being human, has been endowed with sensory capacities: humans are born punctured with orifices, utterly susceptible to the penetration of loveliness. It is unavoidable that they will be victims of flavorful aroma, tuneful fragrance, and melodies both soft and delicious. Like the siren, humans are souls divided, and when they meet only one will survive. Survive on until the next tragic inevitability.

 
Epiphany pt. I
I took a step into that cavernous darkness
and determined that
everything
is
OK

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
August 2015

 

Mnemosyne
I can’t find my notes
I can’t find my notes
I know I put them in here
I know that they’re here
It’s hard evidence:

A letter, in your handwriting

There’s no way that I’d throw it out.

You said that thing
That thing I love…

But I’ll remember it wrong for the rest of my life
I only remember a word of it here or there…

I remember the feeling,

But I need my notes.

 

Reflections on Rochester II
You are greater than fiction, my darling
You’re the archetype that gives birth to
every word that’s been spoken about
every character I’ve ever loved on the
page
and
in the flesh.

I met you more than one hundred years ago
and we meet again
and again.

My Rochester,
my Heathcliff,
my Darcy:

I seek you out in your multitudinous forms;
I dare you to find me.
And then I dare you to betray me,

my grand delusion

Only to leave you
again.

And again.

It hurts every time; the thumping, rotating machine of history
like clockwork…
as I attempt to outrun its metallic arm
it threatens to catch me
and I anticipate that heavy thud of it hitting me on the back of the skull.
Running me over.

Again.

 

Reflections on Rochester
Pain, absolution, pain, catharsis.
chasing that high:
tension, release.
Resist, surrender–
The exhilaration of experience:
an object of desire so abundantly meaningful…
elevated close to total importance
to the extent that the pleasure of longing for it sometimes exceeds the pleasure of obtaining it.

A wise person once said that love can be defined as “the acute awareness of the impossibility of possession”
This is true.
I skirt along the border of attainment,
feeling the thrill of nearly
and the ecstasy of almost.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
February 2015

The Split-second Poem
Split-second decisions are full of lard and MSG and high-fructose corn syrup:
It’s calling you,
It’s saying yes,
It’s saying no,
It’s leaving.
I carry their weight for years and years
But no exercise regimen seems to exorcise the guilt compacted in me,
tumor-like, hanging from my bones
One idea disguised as inspiration or revelation or a stroke of genius
will be the last to leave me, stored in my gut,
sagging,
my lifelong hangover,
my tattooed asymptote.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
January 2015

 


This Morning

I awoke from the most vivid dream;
such a lurid attraction was playing before me in a sickly fuscia glow,

a sleek array of bottles neatly stacked along the wall.

A shouting, shuffling, squeezing-pasting Friday night atop a barstool—

You, too, were cast in this haze of hot pink,
and casting fleeting glances.

—Our possibility ignited—

a spark of connection,

the tangling of filament.

The music eerily, obnoxiously loud.
Your lips were moving but no words came out.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
November 2014

 

Happy Heart, Starving Sense
Her body was in revolt:
although her mind felt clearer than it had in a long time,
despite feeling light and free,
here she was
with a hole in her chest

stuffing down as many saltines
as will placate her cramping stomach
at 4:00 am so that she can feel
full enough to
go back to sleep.

 

Soul-gazing
An endless ocean of blue
is contained in celestial spheres where great glaciers move
in seconds, right before your eyes.
A cloudless sky of the same hue
stretches on the way centuries do,
yet maintains its wonder circumscribed
while shards of night impose their shade
in their own sweet, seductive way
casting sapphiric shadows of your thoughts.
I soon become arrested by the glorious play
of twilight glow and sun mid-day
before me, as my chest tightens into lovely knots.
Beyond this world of other-worldly views,
the whole universe could be ending or created anew.
I’d never know the difference through the glare
Of crystalline pools reflecting truth,
their surface gleaming, gentle, smooth.
This is the picture of your stare.

 

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
October 2014

Lifechore
When every hour is
Drudge and plodder

And the greatest burden
is staying awake

When days are like
sleepless nights

You toss and turn your ungazing eyes
While the world looks on in wonder.

 

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
September 2014

 

The readerly fragment
A page, some musty
paragraphic incisions of ink.
This book, near spineless
swirling grey in a flurry of think.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
October 2014

 

Lifechore
When every hour is
Drudge and plodder

And the greatest burden
is staying awake

When days are like
sleepless nights

You toss and turn your ungazing eyes
While the world looks on in wonder.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
September 2014

 

Panopticon
What might you seek
in your mirrored malevolence?
What horrifying crepescule of candour
have you found in me?
To whom do you return your mangled messages?

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
August 2014

 

Nostalgia (salvaged)
Nostalgia will make fools of us all:

Our earnestness will crumble into opiate-eyed, downward dwelling—
Our brightest days will dim into phantoms of pleasure that we imagine lost—
Their distance felt immanently.

Points of enfolding desolation.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
May 2014

 

The Words of a Young Man
These are the words of a young man;
he is wounded and
nothing was ever fair.

They’re hollow but
still sting a bit
hurling them as if
there is no future.

In exhausted cadences,
the argument is that
all could never be lost when
it was always pointless.

Voice unwavered and feeling wrong,
piercing proclamations insisting on
meaning it this time.

Smothering all the hurt he has
Inevitably including the possibility that
he once loved you.

 

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
April 2014

 

Because it was 2:00 AM
Because it was 2:00 AM and she was haunted by someone else’s tragedy. She couldn’t imagine his pain but kept trying to, compulsively. And praying. Because she listened to beautiful songs– their vibrations sent shivers of sadness down her arms. All she wanted was to sing his sorrow, to begin the catharsis. The bloodletting, tuneful purging. Where was the melodious healing in the vacuum of his grief? She finally turned off her dim lamp in exchange for the dampened darkness. Just to give her eyes a rest. She fell asleep to the rhythm of internal invocations of hope:
Let him be ok.
Let his suffering be less.
He has so much to give and his rejoicing will be revived.
His breathing will come more easily.
Will swell and pass.
Swell and pass.

And so she slept.
Because it was 2:00 AM.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
March 2014

 


Writing Rituals
I must be a masochist because I’ve developed a set of rituals associated with writing that seem pretty painful, if not superfluous and unnecessarily exhausting. I think there’s probably an element of sacrifice inherent in the process of accessing the ideas– the creative energy– the ever-pulsing energy of the immortal human spirit, the divine.
But it’s not animals or virgins we sacrifice to create, anymore, I hope. It’s sleep. And rationality. And healthy eating habits. And human interaction. And hygiene. And general sanity. And the smooth, flowing ink of our favorite pens and highlighters. And post-it notes. So many post-it notes. At least these are some of the things that I sacrifice when I write.
Oh, and my living environment becomes a kind of battlefield strewn with the carnage of words. Weak drafts abandoned and left to die on the frighteningly unvacuumed floor. Books with broken spines lie in patient, vigilant waiting– atop piles of dirty laundry. Critical essays with their maddeningly over-highlighted and re-underlined passages are congregated in groups, their ranks organized by some chaotic system that I devised at 3:00 am. A couple stray crumbs of an emergency pizza’s crust have lodged themselves in my keyboard. Empty cans of energy drinks fall over; they topple and clank on the desk when I reach to grab a post-it note containing a fragment of my next paragraph.
I wonder sometimes how I’ve managed to create a ritualized hell. At the 19th hour of seemingly endless thought-flurries I often think “I’m in hell”. I try closing my eyes but abstracts and abstractions are swimming round my brain. I’ve developed vertigo after that last section of close-reading. I’m dizzy with analysis. My ears are ringing with setup phrases and transition words:
“… argues that…”
“With this in mind,”
“It is postulated that…”
“On the one hand…”
“… furthermore…”
“According to…”
“Although this may be true,”
“In other words,”
“… nevertheless…”
My eyelids are heavy and I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. But I’m tip-tapping at my laptop. I’ve sacrificed enough to the Gods of academia and they are delivering their message to me, through me. I’ve emptied myself out to become their vessel. Just in time for my conclusion.
I can push on for this last glorious section, the end is in sight. The power is coursing. A lucid summary, elegantly reiterating the points that I think (I hope) I’ve made ever so clear. Offering possibilities for further study. Inventing things with the last dregs of my imagination. Still a few hours left, only a few more words to go. No time for editing, no looking back at this point. Keep pushing. “And thus…”
“… indeed …”
It’s done. I’m done. Press print. Staple it. Start on the journey to turn it in.
And here… it… comes…
The cathartic RUSH: something has been created. I have created something. The deadline has been met and obliterated, that monster. The elation of freedom, of victory. And despite its madness, I think I’ll probably do it again. I don’t want to do it again but I’ll probably do it again. It wasn’t that bad.

I’m so weary of young men. But their fresh-faced instability is captivating.


Wonder-weary

I’m so weary of young men. But their fresh-faced instability is captivating.


Thinking of You…
I think of you…

I think of your poetry–
your pale-skinned curvature and
scruff, whiskered, irreverent-joke-laugh-smile

I think of your eyes, hazel-ish–
your observations of all that is strikingly insignificant and
sharp,

I think of your comedic strain-smile,
your propensity for incessant worry and
warm, tightening too-short-finger-nailed hand holding.

I think of your poetry–
your pale-skinned curvature and
scruff, whiskered, irreverent-joke-laugh-smile

I think of your eyes, hazel-ish–
your observations of all that is strikingly insignificant and
sharp,

I think of your comedic strain-smile,
your propensity for incessant worry and
warm, tightening too-short-finger-nailed hand holdin
I think of your poetry–

your pale-skinned curvature and
scruff, whiskered, irreverent-joke-laugh-smile

I think of your eyes, hazel-ish–
your observations of all that is strikingly insignificant and
sharp,

I think of your comedic strain-smile,
your propensity for incessant worry and
warm, tightening too-short-finger-nailed hand holding.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
December 2013

 



Memoirs of the Brain-Damaged

I almost died.

Some people ask if I saw the light; if there was a tunnel?
No, not entirely. There were cracks through which the light shone and then became refracted in a dazzling confusion of color and pain-killers.
Probably purple. Possibly green.

I felt my childhood rupture along an artery… every summertime sprinkler cold on your skin. Every snow day that never ends. When letters were hieroglyphics and you wondered what they meant…

My ancestors were there to greet me. They waited patiently for two hours, ready to receive me in their myriad European tongues.
They dispersed when a surgical drill broke through my cranium.
Consciousness lost comprehension; rushed out of me in blood-cloudy spinal fluid. I can only recall the sun-warm sensation of the peachy pink twilights that you hope to remember.

Memory repeated until it unclotted itself.
My quiet repose was nearly absolute upon sterile sheets, undreaming a short lifetime of misunderstandings, when a cacophony of beeping machinery hearkened my immanent departure.

I was a precarious hovering, a mist threatening dispersion.
Verging on vanish, riding the faint vapor of a final breath, I briefly dissolved only to re-enter myself.
And I can’t tell you why or the hour of my assemblage, just that I know the color of nondescription.

I opened my eyes: light.

I must be a masochist because I’ve developed a set of rituals associated with writing that seem pretty painful, if not superfluous and unnecessarily exhausting. I think there’s probably an element of sacrifice inherent in the process of accessing the ideas– the creative energy– the ever-pulsing energy of the immortal human spirit, the divine.
But it’s not animals or virgins we sacrifice to create, anymore, I hope. It’s sleep. And rationality. And healthy eating habits. And human interaction. And hygiene. And general sanity. And the smooth, flowing ink of our favorite pens and highlighters. And post-it notes. So many post-it notes. At least these are some of the things that I sacrifice when I write.
Oh, and my living environment becomes a kind of battlefield strewn with the carnage of words. Weak drafts abandoned and left to die on the frighteningly unvacuumed floor. Books with broken spines lie in patient, vigilant waiting– atop piles of dirty laundry. Critical essays with their maddeningly over-highlighted and re-underlined passages are congregated in groups, their ranks organized by some chaotic system that I devised at 3:00 am. A couple stray crumbs of an emergency pizza’s crust have lodged themselves in my keyboard. Empty cans of energy drinks fall over; they topple and clank on the desk when I reach to grab a post-it note containing a fragment of my next paragraph.
I wonder sometimes how I’ve managed to create a ritualized hell. At the 19th hour of seemingly endless thought-flurries I often think “I’m in hell”. I try closing my eyes but abstracts and abstractions are swimming round my brain. I’ve developed vertigo after that last section of close-reading. I’m dizzy with analysis. My ears are ringing with setup phrases and transition words:
“… argues that…”
“With this in mind,”
“It is postulated that…”
“On the one hand…”
“… furthermore…”
“According to…”
“Although this may be true,”
“In other words,”
“… nevertheless…”
My eyelids are heavy and I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. But I’m tip-tapping at my laptop. I’ve sacrificed enough to the Gods of academia and they are delivering their message to me, through me. I’ve emptied myself out to become their vessel. Just in time for my conclusion.
I can push on for this last glorious section, the end is in sight. The power is coursing. A lucid summary, elegantly reiterating the points that I think (I hope) I’ve made ever so clear. Offering possibilities for further study. Inventing things with the last dregs of my imagination. Still a few hours left, only a few more words to go. No time for editing, no looking back at this point. Keep pushing. “And thus…”
“… indeed …”
It’s done. I’m done. Press print. Staple it. Start on the journey to turn it in.
And here… it… comes…
The cathartic RUSH: something has been created. I have created something. The deadline has been met and obliterated, that monster. The elation of freedom, of victory. And despite its madness, I think I’ll probably do it again. I don’t want to do it again but I’ll probably do it again. It wasn’t that bad.

I almost died.

Some people ask if I saw the light; if there was a tunnel?
No, not entirely. There were cracks through which the light shone and then became refracted in a dazzling confusion of color and pain-killers.
Probably purple. Possibly green.

I felt my childhood rupture along an artery… every summertime sprinkler cold on your skin. Every snow day that never ends. When letters were hieroglyphics and you wondered what they meant…

My ancestors were there to greet me. They waited patiently for two hours, ready to receive me in their myriad European tongues.
They dispersed when a surgical drill broke through my cranium.
Consciousness lost comprehension; rushed out of me in blood-cloudy spinal fluid. I can only recall the sun-warm sensation of the peachy pink twilights that you hope to remember.

Memory repeated until it unclotted itself.
My quiet repose was nearly absolute upon sterile sheets, undreaming a short lifetime of misunderstandings, when a cacophony of beeping machinery hearkened my immanent departure.

I was a precarious hovering, a mist threatening dispersion.
Verging on vanish, riding the faint vapor of a final breath, I briefly dissolved only to re-enter myself.
And I can’t tell you why or the hour of my assemblage, just that I know the color of nondescription.

I opened my eyes: light.

 

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
November 2013

 

A Return to Immersion
A backward searching
Nostalgic prying
Wherein we find what will not be revealed.

It is in that silent solitude
of darkness color
that we bathe again in suspense.

Comes one lisping epiphany
almost-truth unfolding
lifetimes of gradual distillation.

Repose, suppose
Lay down, look up
Immerse afresh in slight slumber—

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Spring 2011


Found Poem: The SHAPE of Keats

A thing of beauty
15 seconds to sexy gorgeous hair;
is a joy forever
NEW! The lightweight makeup
Its loveliness increases,
That blends away
it will never
pores and…
Pass into nothingness

 

 

Umbrellas Hasten Alone
There was drizzle and wind, biting. Wintry plague of frost descends upon streets, dense. Crowded with people, bustling. Bodies adrift with fixed stare upon feet, inhaling. Scent of wet concrete, exhaling. Clouds of breath into the cold, evaporate. Umbrellas flower open in array, colorful. Each unaware of the other’s beautiful display, alike. And individuals they will be, oblivious. As cells in a vein, umbrellas hasten alone. They cross the street and rush down the sidewalk in solitary tandem, circulating.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
January 2009

Sonnet for a Wish

What more amorous nips may we have known
And fingertip-warm grazes we’d have found
If for another hour that darkness shone
O darkness all-consuming and profound.

What more intoxicating breath be drawn
And your proximity so close remain
If only this phantasm survived dawn
O Sing to me indulgence, a refrain.

What quickening pulse could have o’ertaken
And made one eventide a lifetime long
If our Love the world had not forsaken
O lament our moment’s unsung song

Such moment isn’t now; ne’er to finish
Perpetually bound within a wish.

There was drizzle and wind, biting. Wintery plague of frost descends upon streets, dense. Crowded with people, bustling. Bodies adrift with fixed stare upon feet, inhaling. Scent of wet concrete, exhaling. Clouds of breath into the cold, evaporate. Umbrellas flower open in array, colorful. Each unaware of the other’s beautiful display, alike. And individuals they will be, oblivious. As cells in a vein, umbrellas hasten alone. They cross the street and rush down the sidewalk in solitary tandem, circulating.

Nostalgia will make fools of us all,
Our earnestness will crumble into opiate-eyed, downward dwelling–
Our brightest days will dim into phantoms of pleasure that we imagine lost–
Their distance felt immanently. Points of enfolding desolation.

We will cease to see.