all that hasn't happenedPretty please listen to the audio.
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.
summergirlNow read aloud over here. Do give it a listen, won't you?summergirl2 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.
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.
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
lovesong for sailorboyRead aloud and explained (somewhat) here.lovesong for sailorboy2 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
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
suffocation keepthis city suffocates so we don'tsuffocation keep2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
no, at best
we sing in sign language:
the hushed glances, the solidity
of shoulder blades
let's leave the choking crowds
and chase out somewhere
where the wind blows
wide and rich--
where the knotted songs in your
to take these beartrap ribs
and let us
into the deepAudio version over thisaway.into the deep2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and the world will crumble, darling, but we will watch the stars--
watch the coasts curl up at the edges and the foam-slick sea drag them under
and history will bloom in brass and copper nebulas,
untainted by the tortured earth and its pleading
flecks of ash below.
but we will watch the stars
watch the galaxy unwind, spirals stringing out
the taste of ozone and plasticities.
the heaving sea will recede--the glaciers
pour their hearts out
the dunes rise up to the sated horizon.
will watch the stars.
and the hungering infernos hold no sympathy.
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 cure for everything is saltwaterand my voice is choked with pebblesthe cure for everything is saltwater2 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.
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.
let's start a fire“Can I get you anything?”let's start a fire3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
She shifts, splaying herself along his couch that is quietly becoming hers.
the empty glass on the back of his hand. “A drink?”
“Yes, please.” A luxuriant stretch. She watches his pupils drag all the way down the curve of her hip before continuing.
“I’d like a glass of Kafka—distilled, mixed with
dark rum and a splash of Dostoyevsky—poured
so sweetly down my throat and
chased with a lungful of smoky Fitzgerald.
“I wasn’t aware this was a book club.” He pours a soda before joining her, taking
a biting sip in the half light.
“There are too many book clubs,” she says, hooking her legs over his.
“Too many streetcorner ladies and their lace-veiled
threats over coffee and New York Times bestsellers.”
She harbors a
derision for New York Times bestsel
lightsdon't be fooled--lights2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the sky is not static.
there is an infinity between any
infinite hex codes
between the bounds of the spectrum--
this is the great secret of the universe, this
cosmic light show
we can't detect--
the changes too small for our
perhaps there is someone out there--someone else
even if he cannot see.
is not my blue--perhaps it all comes down
to the chemicals
the spin of individual molecules that all add up to become
our own blue.
maybe it's all on us.
the cosmos isn't trying because, really--
if i were the cosmos
i would have better things to do.
maybe there is something
in our ability to overanalyze
and oversimplify--our ability
to realize we know nothing
and try again, anyway.
ChloeChloe was born in the pouring rain and blinding dark, under a thunderstorm that cut power to five counties and lingered for days. Her first memories were damp and earthy and fresh--watercolor paintings of wildflower fields, thunderheads, and pale yellow dawns.Chloe3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
She grew up with summers swimming in lurid heat and trembling cicada calls; in winters soft with snowfall and tree limbs upraised to the icy light. She was a tiny sun in herself, glowing effortlessly. Plants reached up to her, swayed with her voice. Given enough space and enough time, her hands could have delved into the earth and come back up trailing with trees and vines, with berries falling from her fingertips and thick pale roots curled around her wrists.
I met Chloe in the middle of one electric summer, when the heat was aggressively breathtaking and I had to continuously swipe sweat from my eyelashes. Chloe was a breath of undying spring--cool to the touch. She tasted like almonds and cinnamon and clean, wet dirt, and like
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.
with thanks to salingerAudio version.with thanks to salinger2 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
the song of a roamerAnd darling, I've been gone for a long, long time. Your eyesthe song of a roamer2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
are still that steely gunpowder blue, but your hair has grown long,
and there's a softer curve to your waist
and freckles on your shoulder I don't remember,
and I think,
What have I missed?
You tell me about the weddings
the divorces. You tell me
about the babies
and the losses, and how last year
your dog died--easy, in his sleep--
and there is a hollow lack in you,
a space reserved for things that won't come back.
Long ago, was there a space like that
When did it collapse--when did it
fold in on itself
under the weight of things that matter more?
I tell you about Cambodia. I paint
the jungles for you, breathe the crushing wet heat
of it into your lungs. I tell you
about the kids in Africa
and how the heat is different there--
belligerent and fierce.
I tell you how much you would have liked Barbados,
and how much you would have hated Rome.
And I remember all the things I
can't tell you--all the things I don't hav
letter to a little me1. these are the anniversaries that will stay with you,letter to a little me1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
for better or worse:
things go up in december, as if the coming of a new year
gives the old one a kick in the pants.
look forward to decembers.
time likes to tie weights to your collarbones with silk ribbons.
right now i am two years into a subdued grief,
five years into a wild regret. but don't be scared;
just as many feathers balance out the iron.
i am three years into something truly
2. you will get better. the words on the page will eventually
come a bit closer to the pictures in your head.
by the way, you think in pictures--you don't see that now,
but look for it. use it to your advantage.
stop with the heavy moralizing. you try too hard.
you will abandon false modesty and snobbishness,
as you will find out that they are not attractive qualities.
you will, however, trade them in for navelgazing
and perhaps a bit of haughtiness and pre
north pacificAudio version thisaway.north pacific2 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.
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
lovely flying stinging thingswasp to the face, and lo!lovely flying stinging things2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
oh my hell holy jesus christ
my god what the hell!
did not spark forth like sacred lightning
upon the offending
page onethe waves are calling.page one2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
watch--stormbound, the breakers
arch up to clutch at the unyielding stones
with a roar and a hiss and a sigh;
gather themselves back and
the sea is patient, and your limestone fear
you will be
you will be beautiful.
the waves are calling.
Moon Eye Fire Eye SitMoon Eye Fire Eye3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
he says to me, and I sit and feel very small.
Let me tell you,
he says to me,
how it happened.
The creek dried up that summer and
the crops gave their last shiver
and bent down to the earth. And at night
you could hear the leaves crawling down the creekbed
like goddamn spiders along the rocks.
His face is half winter
pale and sparked with a milky eye like a moon
and half raw summer, twisted and scorched
with a flame eye that streams and shines in the firelight.
The ghosts came that summer,
he says to me, stirring the fire.
The ghosts came and whispered to her
that she was dying
until she believed them.
He is quiet.
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
syracuseListen to the audio version for the full effect, pretty please.syracuse2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
cloudshot sky like an oil painting and i am watching the
darling, i will swim for you
and swallow every whitecap.
i will pluck myself a coat of pelican wings,
sew them up with salt and spray--
become icarus for you.
you are calling me across the waves, love--
but you pull against the ache
in my bones, the hollow--
the clawing out for unseen sunsets and unturned tides.
i hear you, love
give me time.
i will always listen.