I have forgottennot the words themselves, but how
they wind around each other
like grapevines along a chain-link fence.
I know how it's done: the curt, argus-eyed
hellos to passersby, the courtesy questions
over the phone to keep the conversation
moving, like turning the page of a bad book.
I understand practicality. I understand
the emollient coos, infant-speech;
the harsh backhand bark against
your acerbity; the weeping tongue.
As does the world--even a child
can shed his natural-born cruelty
for a moment of understanding, the precursor
of compassion that can build men.
But it is this I have forgotten:
its ascension not unlike a god,
how to ease them together
into such an immaculateness that one word,
one feather removed would mean
the hard, dark earth, or the cold, bitter slap
of the sea. It is a sort of death
that goes quietly, a third-world death.
To think I had something amidst my grip,
that I could reach into the good light
of each morning, my footfalls
avoiding the crow-footed cracks
of the si
Europe, Twenty-SixAnd there, to the west,Europe, Twenty-Six7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
was a skeleton
that wasnt made of bones
and carried no flesh,
stretched taut across the skyline
and motionless, as if taken surprise
by the sudden black of night.
We gazed across the city,
electrified, two small eyes
peering out from the bright skull.
You lifted your arm,
fingers splayed like dark eyelashes
to catch the bright orbs
of streetlights on the horizon
and cupped them in your hand,
like small candles burning,
flickering luminescent in the midnight pupil.
DigitsWe always begin by learningDigits5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
how to memorize the back of our hands--
the quiet veins, each bend and crease.
One day, we'll know other things,
and reference them to the smooth,
deformed moons of our fists,
how they can ray out for high-fives,
to trace out the body of a turkey,
to block out the sun as jets
wrinkle the sky with contrails.
Young, the whole world seems to fit
along our lifelines, between both thumbs,
like a melon--or the tips of our fingers
as we translate the crosshatched biography
engraved on the face of a grandparent, or
the callousness of their own palms.
Isn't it a wonder how most of us never make it
to that age? Even tomorrow, God may
unzip the very sky and pull your soul up
like a nasty root or a dinosaur bone.
Even as we know how each morning rises
the way our hands guide us out of bed,
there is always that chance of darkness,
something so overwhelming and complete,
like an unending dust, that we cannot count
the stars anymore, like our final age of 10,
when we reali
Clockwork GodHe knew there was a simple solution:Clockwork God5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Go back and altar history—
He would work backwards.
The atomic clock would be simple;
one well-placed sneeze would knock it off course,
then he would find the Swiss watchmaker
and explain to him in chocolate tones
that punctuality was overrated.
The Greeks would be a challenge.
It would take the hands of several gods to convince them to smash
those handsome sundials.
Then he would reach into the soul
of the first homo floresiensis who
looked at the sky and decided to delineate day and night,
to make them into two halves,
And tell him that things were just fine whole.
And there would be no before, no after,
No hour, minute, second 'til
his four weeks left were gone—
There would only be now.
to youyou are probably reading this nowto you5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
a hand curled around the mouse
a finger resting on the scroll wheel
perhaps a few arching onto the home row
of your keyboard this is not the poem
you read in between porno sites is it?
I can imagine where a hand is now then
and that's okay this is to you
to hidden flesh a smile I only see as
sometimes teasing with a semi-colon
sometimes nothing at all sometimes
you are offline the time I notice
the sun and stars the cold the heat
whether or not rain pockmarks cement
or if wind tussles up dirt ruffles
leaves in the trees my hair
and perhaps this is when I breathe out
my exhalation carried along
the slick dome of our atmosphere
some particle reaching the far corners
of the earth to where you are now
no longer reading this outside
testing the depths of your lungs
the weight of humidity the shared
def-i-ni-tionThe definition of definitiondef-i-ni-tion5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
is a sea sparkling with fish.
It was always odd
to these elementary kids
to favor rice & fish
over burgers and fries;
learned the cutting cs
the short blow of "odd."
Now they're asking about
my Homo sapien status,
and, you know, maybe I am,
maybe I'm not. It's that word
Homo that throws me off.
Ask for the dictionary--
with all its wonderment and
clarity, like our dreams--
and it's snickers all day,
the mind omitting
the trailing three syllables
until all that's left
is the small protuberance
between the leg, all of its danger
inert as an egg. So it's easy
to laugh about it,
roving each word
along the tongue: penis
vagina ovary testicle,
testing the illicitness
of every syllable.
A girl muses about testis
and the boys would say
it's the same thing as testicle
and she'd start a game
of double Dutch, hop along
until the bell rang,
all of us shuffling into class
for a spelling test
until we could swear
that each letter we wrote
MayMay walks softly in ballerina's shoes,May5 years ago in Songs & Lyrics More Like This
she's a morning-glow goddess with nothing to lose,
and she's got a secret, but she can't sing the blues,
so she comes and she goes
and I wanna know what she knows.
I wanna know what she knows.
Saw her lying last night in a sliver of moon,
scent of white wine and honey and jasmine perfume
she asked me "why are the good things always over so soon?"
'cause she comes and she goes
I wanna know what she knows!
I wanna know what she knows!
I said "May, what's this secret you've been holdin' so close,
curled up in your fingers like the bud of a rose?
Your eyes burn like cinders they're so broken and it shows
that you come, you you go,
and God, I wanna know what you know,
I wanna know what you know."
She said "it's that first glance of wonder; it's a kiss in the rain;
it's the smell of the thunder and the taste of champagne;
it's the banner we march under and it's drivin' us insane
watch it come, let it go,
Oh they all wanna know what I know,
Plane CrashI watched the plane go downPlane Crash5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
on another man's soil
and wondered where love goes
when the breathing stops
and how the bodies would find
someplace to sleep
for the night.
The way you hum
is so sad
like you live
an ordinary life
she said, turning her back
on the window
to face the television,
the noise drowning out
I tried to remember how she looked
without her clothes,
naked on the porcelain tiles
that night in Seville,
when I said the moon
would stop for her
but the engine drowned out
petrichorNiobe weeps.petrichor4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
gold scattered rough across
cracked earth and the last
remains of summer - they fell
like leaves in the arms of the wind.
some scents cannot be captured.
the gods bleed onto rock,
and the stone sends her prayers
in return: petrichor.
listen - the heavy thud of
rain on parched ground;
the monsoon sealing life back in;
the sky bows and kisses earth.
libya, 2011i. cartographylibya, 20115 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
fly east, a
blows. the sahara
into the skin
of your people.
arrive in time
and your land
to sanded annals
routed. ras anuf, lost.
two killed, five wounded,
viva la libye
under the overpass.
and brown grass,
wait. he turns,
the rebel flag
grab a gun,
a fighter plane
grab a gun,
or go home.
he fancies himself
you fancy him
stupid. and thank
allah, you think,
as he hesitates
over the fence,
he is afraid.
iii. the government channel
everything is okay.
in its place. the
ResolveWalk in the sand, drown your dry cracked feet in the ground.Resolve5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Step on ideas of glass empires, visions of what the dust has been.
Beyond the curving dunes you feel the antispace, the vacuum of possibility.
Step forward, human child, relentlessly drawn into the coming dayfall.
Light shower your nakedness in the potential final dawn.
Leaving red steps in your wake will show your juggernaut resolve,
and you must point your heels in all directions. Let nobody think
that you were ever sure of where to go. Mark the journey,
because it outlives the destination that will devour your body.
Nothing runs like the horizon, until you lift your eyes.
finding your lullaby.this is for you.finding your lullaby.6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
for all of you.
for those who are but are not.
for those who believe love is just a chemical reaction.
for those who are nothing but static on the mainstream radio.
for those who will never know forever.
for those who live in the highs and lows of the roller-coaster ocean breeze.
for those who hurt themselves because they're afraid of hurting anyone else.
for those whose cries have been drowned by the summer rain.
for those who have been mistaken for God.
for those who battle a thousand soldiers of themselves just to find who they really are.
for those who are nothing but natural disasters.
for those who sink somewhere between electric blue oceans and shimmering rainbows of euphoria.
for those whose insanity makes poetry - and those whose poetry drives them insane.
for those who are weighed down by gravity.
for those who have found equilibria in a heart that is caught in a chain reaction of passionate apathy.
DinnerThe first time death came courtingDinner5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
he sought my kidneys,
sweet meat for such a famished guest -
enough to whet his appetitie
and lure him back for more.
The second time
he craved my heart,
warm as a steamed pudding,
plump and plated like a lobster -
such succulent sustenance
fit for a king
Then he envied my eyes
two orbs like oysters
brimmed with salt
or ripe olives
that he could pluck
and roll between his brittle lips.
But it was my skin
he coveted most -
that supple, quivering layer
flayed tender by his hands
breeding life so rare and warm
that he would never get to taste.
how it endssomewhere in my mindhow it ends4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
a little girl is on a swing, saying
i can't wait, but i will.
who is she?
and somewhere else,
a man gets off a train alone
just as the rain stops
and the skyscrapers pull their wet shadows
off each other.
i sigh. it turns into a yawn.
it turns into a sadness.
this is a poem--
this never happens.
or rather, it's something that only seems to happen.
so don't worry.
it's practically harmless.
it should probably end:
nothing is certain.
but it won't. it will end:
"forget it," i say.
i have a crystal ball
of flashing synapses
in my head
and over and over,
this is all it shows.
maybe i should have begun this by saying
nothing can enter the source.
maybe it would have changed things?
too late, too late.
i sigh. how is it that everything
is so often defined as not everything,
how is it that destiny is not just another word
is there no going back?
i should have started this by saying
a crane like the na
Scattered PiecesThere should have been a wayScattered Pieces5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
To frame your voice in silver.
Your comfort would be
A beautiful decoration.
If, somewhere, I could have
Collected your caress,
Relief would be a keepsake
On the mantle next to your portrait.
Our past had a brighter future
Than my present.
I should have preserved
Your embrace in the scrapbooks.
More than tender memories
Would flow from each page.
I want to hold each moment close,
Assemble them--store each second,
Since I have to face this life
Night boatI'm late for the theatre. Luca guiding usNight boat6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
down still lanes, I recline, dip a hand;
cool, sunless flow. Bleached palaces
pass, lovely homes of merchant sires.
In a damp brume, the night is falling.
My departure was recorded by spies,
Luca says, off to alert their masters
the lord-in-exile has left his quarters.
Lanterns lit, we are crossing the city.
There's a monotony to these streets
I don't dislike, and it keeps off tourists.
I shall probably stay the winter over,
though the local giovani are not
to my taste. But from what future
have I tumbled? My modern heart
backwater-bound. Drinks aboard.
Tonight, a single cup of wine. I have
given up meat, and English company,
both hazards to health. Serenissima,
beguiler, you've drowned the moon.
AttemptSilence was never written down.Attempt5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
This is the silence that I know:
night hovering outside the window, fingers
stuck above the gaping mouth of keys
and their strange, twisted teeth. Sometimes
the keyboard is a congregation of people
stunned by the light of the monitor;
they have lost their language, the voice
that spoke of history, offered hymns, knew God.
And that is when I step away, like an apostate,
and find a new sort of silence, my hands
guiding a book through its life, page
by page, the black stare of the television
just across the room. Sometimes a car
may growl by, too much like an animal,
and I'll glance outside that window
and witness the shuddering bits of its light,
always just ahead, evasive as prey.
Perhaps then I will discover something,
through this unnatural noise that dissolves
the silence of twilight, words lifting
from the page, a turn of phrase, a simile
that tells me that silence is like a bridge,
an overpass I h
WoundedIf my war wounds startle you,Wounded5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it's only God
thinking out loud.
Each blunder tells
a story -
a gash where cannons
met their maker
out on glory road,
or a shattered bone
leaving the witnesses
like barren fodder.
There is no joy
only a thin bandage
that seals off humanity
and cuts my flesh
to the core.
So make your words
a quick and shallow grave
for my eyes say
do not disturb
is a deadly animal
I have left broken
in the dark.
Admitted under duress:There is a certain melancholy in which I live,Admitted under duress:6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
an odd way the light falls that illuminates
your face and its still chasms.
The jumble of question marks, peeled
back from my brain's flesh, clamoring
for something. I don't know what; stop
asking me, stop holding your head like
a tragedy has already happened.
(Nothing's gone to ruin yet. Maybe it never will.)
You're frozen on the sill, a petrified star
fallen into my life by chance. I am not
prepared for your brand of beauty--how you
fill a room with brightness, with the fragility
of the wrong chords played in quick succession.
Other-end Voices"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."Other-end Voices5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
It all ends with forgetting.
In the restaurant, we laugh
amongst friends, but scoff
at the waitress with the sad,
lazy eye to find new employment:
the glasses are half-empty again.
To think that a phone
could pull the devil from our mouths,
convoluted with horns, a chattering
ugliness. We don't know the face.
We only know that bills must be paid,
that something void, a hole,
has sucked out all the light
from our homes. Our memories see
only the voice on the other end,
how ours fluctuate
through a thin sickle-shaped smile.
They struggle to pull your life up
on the bright, square eye
of the monitor. They stare
at your life through numbers,
through late payments
and canceled promotions,
and you think that this voice
is a robot voice, an unreal voice,
a voice that only knows you
as another voice. But you forget
The Opus Of The Everythingthe ocean floor, the twisted sea andThe Opus Of The Everything5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
all the flying jacket bees, and all
the flying birds and he, the one who
caught the glint of spring, who laid
it on the downy dew, the crispy green
of May fescue, who saw the plans of built
up lights that burn to light a thousand
pools of dripping rain and puddles lay
on any given night or day, the brick by
brick, the mortar spread, the snap of sugar
sweetly felt, the brine that made it
through the cloud, the opus of the
everything, the great and wide, the heat
of flame, the sun in cold but sunny sky,
the sound of when a child laughs,
the opus of the everything
SignTwo-fingered peace on routine lipsSign5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
meant a pack and a half:
day, night, the angled light between--
first light, last light--the darkness
revealed after another haunting dream.
For years, whisps left the remnants
to extinguish (tray, sidewalk, beneath
a trekking sole), ephemeral life
that knows the yellow, brick-lined hole
of the mouth, the inhalation,
the minutes of pause. Never cause:
the slow, 8-hour degradation of a job;
new miracle, new accident: another
WIC application; the alwaysness
of death: the hugeness of big business.
It does not know that, nor the subterfuge
of time and its enatation--the depths
of a new century. Its impending ruination.
It only knows now, the solemn moments
amongst the calm of smoke, tug of a newborn
breeze. Even if just to cope, it is a signal,
arriving from each new-torn pack:
index and middle fingers juxtaposed,
a new light burning brightly in between.
the aromatic Miss MirandaA blouse turmeric yellowthe aromatic Miss Miranda5 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
On a youth, terminally mellow
Lined, crumpled, irregulous
Silk, a fabric to be ironed
She a girl not bothered
By a few creases in her fleeces.
Paprika red tresses, cropped close for convenience
Bristling with potential for lyrical length
By a girl bored of boring.
A herby heathen vegan
The incredible, edible
aromatic Ms. Miranda.
atrophy of the mindI've got two brain cells left;atrophy of the mind5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
one's standing still
and the other is chasing it.
to its tracks;
a plane crash
cut in half -
My mind is running down my face
and I can't find a cup
to catch it in.
conscious (of this fact),
of the moments
My ears fell off a while ago,
if you are still talking
I can't hear it.
to your skin,
'til you sleep
I've sewn my lips shut tight,
even if I said something
you wouldn't understand.
the way you