poetry

The Speed of Light

Disappear with me into the amber grass
that chafes our backs. Last time we looked up
from here, the ice beneath us chiseled out tattoos.
We still have matching ones (at least I do).

Usually, I disappear alone into the weeds
and dream they are flowers. I feel the seasons
spinning around me, but I concentrate on stars
which twirl eternally in their Viennese waltz.

I know that some of them returned to dust
a million years ago. I know that right now,
some are gasping in a vacuum and choking
on dark matter. But I can’t tell from here.

I wonder what you’re thinking. If you long
to return to the sky like I do. If you even
remember all the constellations we made…
or if you care about them, anyway.

You aren’t looking at me, your eyes
are gazing into the depths of dark matter.
At last, I speak. “You see that star?
I think that’s the one we wished on.”

You shrug. “It’s probably
dead already,” you say,
and walk away.

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poetry, Uncategorized

Apoptosis

you start off predestined
to die. the gods
in your chromosomes
decree
that you shall live
in this body
a certain number
of days and then return
to stardust.

do you know?
perhaps
there’s something deep
within you
that fears
your judgement day
is coming… soon, you will
break

apart into a thousand
minute stars.
stars… which burn with fury
though they are
lifeless. stars,
like you,
are set in their days.

each day,
i try
to beat your gods,
to protect you
from dying
like trench soldiers…

by thousands…
by millions…
so
i hold fast
to your bodies

even as they rot…
you poison new cells
but you’re all
that i know.

so
i will hold on
as surely

as sun shines
(which is to say

temporarily.)

poetry

Symbiotic

What a thrill –
cried the cat,
his paws
swatting clouds.

His comrade
helped him –
compelled him –
to leap.

If a cat
is a masochist,
a flea
is no parasite.

poetry

pretty house

there’s a house on the hill
with gingerbread sides.
it’s got sugarcane windows
and rock-candy bricks.

see candy apple trees
with peppermint bark.
a lifesaver swing
hangs from a red vine.

children always say
“it’s such a pretty house.”
that was the house
where they wanted to play.

grown-ups always say
“it’s such a pretty house.”
on zillow, they estimate it
at 1.1 million.

the house has two stories
and a million more
it could tell –
if it liked talking.

inside,
cotton candy
cobwebs deck
the drafty halls.

a gingerbread man
sprawls out
on the sofa,
gobbling up red hots.

another
obsessively sweeps
powdered sugar
off sticky tiles.

like the house,
the inhabitants
aren’t much
for talking.

they’ve sealed
bedroom doors
with royal icing
over the years.

the chocolate floors
don’t give much
traction. but hey,
they look so sweet.

and even as the chocolate
is melting away,
if you stand on the lawn,
“it’s such a pretty house.”

poetry

From the Dock

The clouds have always said I belong to the water –
I can’t help wonder if they may be right –
I remember what it’s like
to run –
eyes closed –
into this very lake
and to feel the water
sneak through cracks in my skin
and slowly replace blood –

I remember what it’s like
to run
out of this very lake –
in sudden, icy sobriety –
and into the snow –
to feel water
crystalize around me –
a cage like a castle –
I ruled from that palace
beneath the cloak of pines
where the clouds couldn’t give me up to the water –

I remember what it’s like
to stare
across the lake
and watch the waves shimmer like tears
and call my name across the snow…
not loud…
just murmurs…
a heartbeat from the depths…
until even echoes dissipated…

I remember what it’s like
to emerge from a cocoon
and to feel the deadness of the winter
descend with the water’s silence…

I remember
as I sit –
waiting –
and sometimes I believe
I hear the waves whisper as they kiss the shore –
but I won’t seek refuge in the snow
anymore –
and I won’t run with closed eyes
like a sleeping child –
this time
I will listen –
listen to the water –
and wait.
I will let one foot
dangle off the edge
until the water pulls me in.

poetry, Uncategorized

Strange Fog

Mute dawn
seems
in supernova glow
again today.

Beneath gray sheets,
our eyes lay
naked
to rays that should blind…

This time, we wish
ears
had lids
instead… for

we hear
of another garden
taken
as offering…

We breathe
sick sacrifice
second-hand.
Some wear masks. Others

evacuate. Then…
come virulent winds
and we know
there’s no other way.

But not you.

You say
it’s “water”… or
“ocean spray”… or
“just fog”…

You close your eyes
to ash
and soak in
sweet toxicity.

You cough more
than you used to…
but
“that’s just how it is.”

I wonder if
you’ve
ever known
blue skies…

But you
insist
this strange fog
will pass.

And you won’t leave…
So I’m forced to
watch
you dance…

you dance…
in the acid rain…

 

*My heart goes out to everyone effected by the NorCal fires.

poetry

When Tasked With Reconditioning,

the planner foolishly thought
the brain would be laid out
like the streets –
associations like interchanges –
traumas like stop signs – stop –
then proceed.

the skeptic foolishly believed
poltergeists are as fictional in mind
as in films…
Down haunted halls of the amygdala,
solid phantoms roam and dance and laugh
and kill.

the poet foolishly forced
every memory – every object –
into symbol
so that tree equals him equals
fear equals man equals self
equals pistol.

the addict foolishly strangled
the planner and the skeptic and the poet
so it could
rule the brain as a puppet rules a stage…
Perhaps one day, it could kill the ghosts
for good.

poetry

Nocturne

I guess it might be like that,
like the syncopated symphony
that roars in the sky
every Fourth of July.

Maybe
it’s like the onset,
when the conductor
taps the stand
and the players tune their instruments
and the theater lights dim
slowly…
And for a moment –
before the first blasts –
the crowd sits
still.
Eyes tilt upward
expectantly,
fearless
and filled with only anticipation…

Or maybe,
it’s like the drumbeats
that pulse through the heart like tremors.
Reverb
wracks the body
as cacophonous colors
explode in the heavens
and each member of the audience
jolts back
as though only now realizing
the irrepressible power
of each detonation…

Or maybe,
it’s like the encore,
when every musician
pounds an instrument at forte
and the sound never breaks
and for a moment
it all might be so very grand
that, like the sun,
it might blind those
who gaze too intently…

Or maybe… maybe
it’s more like the curtain.
Maybe,
when the drumbeat goes silent
and the colors
take their bow,
the impenetrable sulphur shroud
is all that remains.
It descends over the sky and the eyes
and sticks in the hair and the throat
until it’s hard to remember
there was ever a grand orchestra…

Maybe
it is onset
and drumbeat
and encore
and curtain…
Or maybe
it is just
as it seems,
just
dim lights
and sound waves
and color
and sulphur…

Maybe
it is all those things…
But maybe
you
are none of those things.
Maybe the metaphor
doesn’t do you credit
and maybe
you’re not as simple
as onset
or drumbeat
or encore
or curtain…
Maybe
you are more
than dim lights
and sound waves
and color
and sulphur…

Maybe
an orchestra
is just musicians
and fireworks
are just gunpowder…
But maybe,
for a person,
the word “just”
is just not enough.

poetry

The Silkworm

Follow your instincts. They

tell you to eat. So eat.

They tell you to weave. So

weave. They tell you to eat.

Tell you to weave. Tell you

to eat to weave to eat.

Instincts don’t fail. So

when they tell you to weave

a fortress around you,

you do as they say

and believe you are safe

in this new silken cage

that protects you from man.

Perhaps, one day, you will

claw your way out. Perhaps,

on that day, you will spread

the new wings you worked hard

to grow and discover

just how heavy they are.