Mercury"If I were an element on the periodic table," you say, "which would I be?"
I meet your upside-down gaze. You're lying belly-up on my bed, your head hanging off the end and your hair pooling on the carpet.
Scrambling for a reason, I nudge my notebook away and turn, straddling my desk chair backwards. You continue to stare, owlish in your attention. "Must there be a why?"
Chin on wrist on chairback. "You are colorful."
"That's cheating." You blink slowly. "Elemental neon is not inherently colorful."
"Let me think then."
Owl eyes give silent assent.
Some things end up meaning so much to you. You didn't even blink that time I nearly broke my hand when knuckles met wall stud in a fit of misplaced rageno, you grabbed me by the belt loops and skillfully incapacitated me, closing the bedroom door with your shoulder. Somehow, though, this means more to you.
"You," I begin. You sit up on the bed.
"Are." I slowly roll the chair over to you, the plastic wheels cat
summergirlNow read aloud over here. Do give it a listen, won't you?summergirl3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
you are crowthroated and tumbling
through the aspen grove
hair on fire with sunrise, lungs
full of sky.
eyelashes like wildflowers
and every morning brings
a new spray of freckles
and a sharper curve to your collarbones.
the cornfields hold no shadows
for your lighthouse eyes
and there are no endings in that
ii. you have grown
autumn finds you with broken ankles
leaning on an oak branch
and watching the skies.
crow to sparrow--you are quiet.
summergirl, there is peace in silence,
fallen antlers in your hands.
you will come to mourn your deer.
keep them close.
iii. by winter you have paled,
and like the streams
your eyes have frosted over.
you feel the chill--
there is no need for sight.
the beauty's in the leavingRead aloud here.the beauty's in the leaving2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
sweetheart, let's head out. let's
drink up the desert asphalt and that last bottle
of johnny walker blue--
one last toast to the copper sunsets,
to the good earth. a pair of
tailgate stargazers, you and i:
roaming curves across the glove compartment map, until
every foldline is worn flannel-soft
and it'd rather stay open
let's forget route sixty-six. let's forget
and pick up terra cotta dust--
breathe in the mojave. let's pretend
that the world's already ended
and it's just us.
let's leave the door unlocked
lovesong for sailorboyRead aloud and explained (somewhat) here.lovesong for sailorboy3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i have always loved words as you love the sea
but i have grown to hate
because i have always had words
but never for you.
words for everything
but i have words for this, so
i'll take them
one by one.
the ocean was your first love and
i could always see it in your eyes.
most would call them blue--just
like a swell over a sandbar
blue like the spring sky over a poppy field.
but i don't think anyone
got as close as i did and they're not blue
not shorebound and
they're gray like the steelbellied sea itself
like the horizon at dawn as it
hems you into an impossibly vast canvas
like a demarcation line
or a promise.
one you always chased.
maybe i had a streak of ocea
PilkunnussijaHere's what I think:Pilkunnussija3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
There's a certain joy in not doing this face-to-face. For one, I don't have to leave my apartment and I have the quiet company of my goldfish and my goldfish alone. (I don't like people, which is why I love books. You can understand that.) For another, I don't have to see your presumably crestfallen and injured attitude when I tear apart the prose you cried and bled and sweated over for weary nights on end. But really the best parts are those uninterrupted hours alone with your manuscript and the shred of you that lies inside. It's a small shred, but an important one. It's the one that tells me who you are and what you think and how you feel and I never have to look at you and be disappointed when the real thing doesn't come up to scratch. As I sit there, un-tensing and re-tensing and tense-shifting and shift-entering (and damn it, wishing English were like German so I could get rid of those clunky space-wasting n-dashes--oh, damn there they are again) I feel li
with thanks to frost Now with a reading.with thanks to frost2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
two roads diverged in a soulless dawn
and you pull over,
idling on the shoulder of route 50.
it's a polaroid morning and
the world is as grainy
as your eyes,
and one million miles
is not far enough.
it plays back, filmstrip,
blurred along the length of
and here you are:
facing a choice between
this loosejointed, hollowbodied
this is what
The FountainThere were sixteen tall windows. She'd counted them over and over when she was small, her chubby finger outstretched as she spun in tiny circles. Eight walls, sixteen windows, thirty-two black curtainsthe arithmetic of her childhood.The Fountain4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Eight window seats, Daddy. Eight buttons on eachsixty-four. I counted."
The fountain stood dry and dead-center in the middle of the black and white tiles. Eight sides, eight lion-mouth spouts. Sixteen limestone mermaids poised gracefully around the edge. Four thousand and ninety-six blue tiles. Five hundred and twelve white.
And two doors. Always the two doors, huge and solid and radiating a sense of looming disdain. The rough oak had bitten her hands and it bit them now, when she pressed her palms against it. The doors eased open like wings outstretching, coming to rest against stone doorstops.
Her boots clicked against the marble flooring as she advanced, each click reverberating through the silent room. A mute ghost of a man stood in
the cure for everything is saltwaterand my voice is choked with pebblesthe cure for everything is saltwater3 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
and my veins are thick with ink
so i'll bleed out all my lovesongs
wash them down the kitchen sink
and i'll tell you that i'm leaving
and i'll flee this soulless town
for the silent sea is calling
and i'm not afraid to drown
and i'll search out quiet islands
let the blank horizons be
drench my soul in every ocean
sink my heart in every sea.
4 Traits of a Damn Good Boyi. drive4 Traits of a Damn Good Boy1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
buddy, you were a throwback. you had a lot of wolf in you,
a feral soul.
i hope heaven has eased the stiffness in your joints
and brushed the gray from your fur
and left you sleek and gorgeous,
a solid pack of muscle with the kind of determination
that can never be taught.
i hope there are lizards for you to chase,
doves for you to launch yourself after
and catch out of the air with a finesse that would make professionals weep.
buddy, i hope someone's up there throwing a stick for you every now and then.
i hope you give 'em hell when they want it back.
buddy, it seemed like the world was a very scary place for you.
i'm not sure why,
and maybe i laughed at you a little--
at the neurotic puppy inhabiting the commanding form
of a hunter--
and sometimes i got angry at you
and your insistence that the world was out to get you
and i'm sorry for that.
it took me years to realize that something must have happened
to plant a deep and unshakeable fear
The WeekendI show up unannounced, like clockwork, and when you let me in, the act of opening the door flows smoothly into the act of pulling me against you. This is our weekend. We won't leave this room for another forty-eight hours.The Weekend4 years ago in Scraps More Like This
You pull me over to the couch and ask about my week, and we trade stories of minor frustrations and negligible disappointments. The sun sets in a glory of flame, and our weekend officially begins.
Usually these things are unplannedjust a shapeless succession of quiet momentsbut you've planned something this time. You have a horror movie. Popcorn for you. Crunchy fruit-shaped candy for me. "You know me too well."
"Of course I do." The DVD player humsthe soundtrack to the next two hours or so of the senseless darkness and gore that's become our guilty pleasure. We haven't seen this one before. I jump with every sudden image. You don't. You just sort of absorb it, and that seems fearless to other people, but I know better. It'll haunt your nightmares f
SmokeYou smoked, and everyone hated that. The cigarette would hang loose between your knuckles, tendrils of smoke mimicking the tracery of veins and tendons that stood out along the back of your hand. You could do the most graceful French inhales, and sometimes you'd lean in close and grab me and kiss me, blowing warm smoke into my mouth. The scent would always cling to meI'd drag it back home with me and there would always be a fight over it.Smoke3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
You were sparrowlike, all taut pale skin and prominent bones. Your hipbones jutted slightlysharp elbows, sharp knees, a sharp jaw softened by cornsilk hair. When I ran my fingers down your back I could always feel every vertebra in your spine, a steel column anchoring you down. More smoke. More fights at home. You never belonged here and never would.
Lay back. Relax. Anythinganything you want. I'd close my eyes and forget to breathe because I knew you weren't mine. If anything, I was yours, a toy that trembled and kissed back.
ConversationAnd I've been telling you, you know, how heavy the sun feels and how it makes my muscles jump like a bird's wings as it flutters gently down on a windowsill. I still have those glass bottles on my mantle where the morning light hits themstill there, full of colored water and seashells. And maybe I'll tell you how they light up the ceiling in blue and green and pale yellow just like they always have, like nothing ever changed.Conversation4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I smell you on the sea air, sometimes, when it rushes in past the thin white curtains you helped me hang. They still bounce with every gust like exuberant dogs. And I've been telling you how the salt has most assuredly worked its way into my marrow now, and maybe if someone were to put me in a pie they'd find it too brackish for their taste. And then I wonder just how much you taste like the sea.
The ocean beats my heart for me nowadays. Even inside, even at night, I can feel each breaker rumbling through my sternum and radiating along my ribs. And I've been
you need to have a plan...so here's toyou need to have a plan...2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
to some forgotten shore.
2. fall desperately in love with
i. the ocean
ii. the sky
iii. the honey sunrise and
iv. the steelgray winter dawn.
soul-deep into the water and
4a. search out the requisite words
i. from behind white and blue curtains
ii. and underneath clam shells
iii. and in the wakes of fishing boats, and
4b. pluck them from the ceaseless
scrawls of sunlight
against the slopes of waves.
5. make time for
ii. and other
waking upand imagine my surprisewaking up2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
when my insides bloomed
into so many dandelions,
and in a single breath
SolsticeOnce upon a time, when you were still sunlighthouses and shimmering existence wherever you were needed most, you found him. He was November, shaky on his first last legs, and you saw through the mind-twistings he feigned to the mind-twistings that were really there, knotted up in his dreams.Solstice4 years ago in Scraps More Like This
You were still birdsong then, and thunderstorms, and your bodyheat melted the frost claws that held him tight. You held onto him as his November deepened. When he howled, you howled with him, and the wind played with your voices and pressed the softness of your lungs against your cageribsand then against each other's.
November became solstice, and you felt him shiver through that long night and didn't mind the coldbitten nails that grazed your skin. He slept when the moon drowned below the treeline, but the iceflakes began to drift in like small animals seeking the pulsing riverheat of your blood, and chilling you. He lay there, vulnerable as his world turned slowly towards the light, and you
with thanks to salingerAudio version.with thanks to salinger3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it's on those cold mornings
when you are nothing but indrawn breath
swirling and knitted up inside too-big
skin and weightless bones--
when the horizon arches up against
the half-thawed tendrils of sunrise
with golden teeth,
and smiling, begs--
it's on those cold mornings
when leaving is easiest.
the car will be cold, and you will
shiver, and the engine,
much too loud,
will smack of blasphemy
but you will find peace in the steady roll
of tarmac and the yellowing light
spilling across it,
with dust motes kicked up and carried
like fish in the undertow.
when you come to that first
crossroads, it will shock you:
the way the decision hangs there
trembling and desperate--
but there are no right answers and you will not
hesitate. and each successive choice
will be made of its own accord,
and you will roll the windows down,
and draw down the scent of ear
sirensAudio version here.sirens3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
sometimes the mermaids will watch the sailorboys, and green ocean eyes will take in the powerful shoulders and the instinctive sense of balance, and sometimes one will fall in love. and sometimes this love will fill up her chest so much it hurts, and sometimes it will make her reckless--make her swim silently up to the sides of the boats and reach up (carefully, with just the barest sound of water droplets tumbling back into the depths) and rest her arms on the wood that's long since been worn smooth from salt and sun. and sometimes the sailorboy will turn, but he'll see nothing--but when he hauls in his net it will be brimming, straining at the seams, and he will look out over the ocean for a moment, all the way to the blank horizon, and sometimes he will wonder.
and it's easy to love the girls that swim up from the bottom of the ocean with nets knotted up in their
rapid eye movementi am jealousrapid eye movement2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
of my birdwinged half-sister.
later, birdwinged reapers--black,
looming quiet in every doorway. they
followed me from my hemmed-in waking terror
to the free reign of my subconscious.
far better suited to their purposes.
thunderstorms like supernovae out at sea, and
empty little boats tossed on emptier shores.
it rains, and the sea advances,
cresting the saguaros. someone is lost.
i don't know who. i don't know why i
care so much.
cliffs and skyscrapers. tightropes. sometimes
i am afraid of heights, and sometimes
afraid for those who are not.
the skinny girl
with the long dark hair is
always worth dying for.
sex. i am in turn
bemused, and indifferent, and bored, and
frustrated, more often than anything.
i like that i still remember how it felt to hug my dog,
right down to the cool wirecoat
and the warm fluff beneath,
and his immense
sometimes i wake up with misty
recollections and the overwhelming thought:
i wish it could be like this.
jungles with ancient
sleepon quiet islandssleep2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
we are quieter--
breathing with the ocean's heave,
rosemaryyou licked your lips when i walked inrosemary2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
smelling of woodsmoke. there was a weight in the air, and the empty space
felt unusually antiseptic.
somehow i wasn't surprised to find you perched on the old
rocker granddad had built,
your fingers tracing a labyrinth of grain.
your voice surprised me.
i sat on the floor,
spine rooted to the doorjamb.
i let you talk.
my eyelids were branded; when i blinked
the plasma echoes of the flames licked over your sharp edges.
the moon hung low and weary and it seemed too light, still,
to ask you to leave. hospitality
has always been measured in lumen. so i heard not your words
but the erratic rise and fall of inflection,
and remembered the way the fire sucked through the perforations
in the washing machine drum. feeding.
there was a brief insistence in your tone, and i
started paying attention again.
the question you swore you'd never ask.
'can i stay?'
i looked away from you then,
through the window,
and all i saw was a sto
all that hasn't happenedPretty please listen to the audio.all that hasn't happened3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i want to remember
the rumbling piano baritones
high notes like hailstones--your hands
running soundless scales.
i want the summer seas
the vineyard overlook, the olive
trees and sunwarmed coasts.
we filled the empty pages
with whole notes and halftones,
oceans and lovesongs.
we lived, we live
inkstained and drowning
through nights thick with words
and days shot with sound.
A Love Story in Four Actsi.A Love Story in Four Acts3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I loved a blacksmith once, back when the sand still clogged up my soul. It was only far after that I began to love the desert too.
Underneath the casual noise--glass on wood, heat-smothered conversation, worn cards slapped down in careful triumph--there was this low, thrumming quiet that wouldn't be broken. He spoke in sepia undertones. "We're getting out."
Hot iron smells like hot blood, like blood that's been poured out under the white Arizona sun. It's something you don't forget easy, like the taste of whiskey or the plasma patterns left on your eyelids after watching fire all night. It sticks.
My childhood was fed on medical books, and I've got this pain right behind my eyes and I wonder if this is what it feels like being lobotomized. Of course the brain has no nerve endings, but the hurt has to manifest itself somewhere.
pyrite girlNote: Pretty please listen to the audio version for the full effect.pyrite girl3 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
you noticed things
little things that came sneaking slyly in
smiling crooked like good children
with bad deeds freshly done.
of course you loved her all the same,
your little lighthouse among the tendrils of east coast fog
she tasted like mineral water
and you lived in soft, sweet depression
gazing out at a broken world from a tenth-story window
and breathing in the cigarette smoke.
your little pyrite girl
bright eyed and dark mouthed
a tiny dirty moon, dragged through the gray city snowmelt
and left to dry in the glare of rooftop suns
"who would live here?"--
musings from the tenth floor
and you knew the answer.
broken cities feed on broken souls
and even they need angels.
north pacificAudio version thisaway.north pacific3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
icewater and tumblestone beaches, and i wonder, clifftop,
if the fog tastes like forest.
the ocean carves its histories
in the driftwood--creation stories and
lullabyes worn smooth,
bleached to a polish.
it might be sand shifting but maybe--
maybe i can feel the whalesong,
low and deep
thrumming in the hollow spaces of my bones.
i envy the seabirds
who have more room to feel.