Plea BargainIf I trace my fingertips along blood lines dripping
from scars in cement
blocks. If I trace them they will run.
If I trace them they will stop.
If I am high off bathroom cleaner fumes,
settling in my hair, and if I inhale just enough
(not too little, not
too much, just enough), and
if I do it all for one crackling smile (yours, mine, who's
to say, really?)
If my layers blow away into worse
than nothing. If I smoke until my lungs are black
as cancer, dry as lecture,
sore as death.
If I hate myself. If I become
If I do it all in the name of the poet's God, a figure
more distant than yours, stone-hearted,
earthly. If I do it all for the sake of my own mistakes,
begging blindly to bodyless feet.
If it's all for a chance to be
beautiful, to be good at something other
than suffering. If I know I am wrong, but the other
half has been erased, eroded by glasspaper sand.
If I do it not for myself, but for everyone
who has ever stared, eyes and hearts
too empty for silence. If I do it for
Survival of the IllestAre those hints of lemon I detect?Survival of the Illest2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Look, I'm just here to get wasted, don't try
to make it more than that.
I'd drink motor oil if I thought
it could get me high; chase it with a shot
you can keep your survival instincts,
in that pretty velvet box (along with all
those other things
you thought you could convince yourself
you lived for). Instincts are the bare
bones of the impossibilities we wanted
to believe in,
those times you tried to tell me that
adrenaline was God's way
we were His chosen ones, we were
special, we were free.
I tried to tell you that instincts and God
can't exist side by side, but I was already
far gone, cornea constellations
spiraling and you looked at me with such pitiful
I just gave up the fight.
I told you once that my goal in life
is to kill myself slowly, immerse my organs
of whiskey and scotch
over a fifty-years-or-so period. "Just think,"
"it will be like an ocean, w
Concerning You, Concerning MeI am medicated, too,Concerning You, Concerning Me3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
just in a different way.
I wanted to know how the world
and 'round, and how I came
to be you (only slightly) and
how you came to be you
how we came to be separate,
but still fully fused at the spine.
I wanted to know
what it's like
to drown in hard liquor, self-pity,
and come out on the other side
(some may say unfortunately)
and what it's like to feel the burn
of chemical sorrow;
breathe in sweet resignation;
somehow snap back to me (to us),
(that you are still burning,
and it's not what you wanted
I wanted you, just a different make.
It's been years now (seventeen years and three hundred
since you were last a man,
and even longer since you were last
for being anything more than a regular
at the Motel 6;
a false celebration in more scotch than you
could handle, and enough opium
to powder the faces of all your ex-wives;
leave them breathless, gasping
How Book Club Ruined My Self-EsteemYou didn't even look at me.How Book Club Ruined My Self-Esteem3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I saw you there, I saw you.
Your leg was crossed over your
and your eyes were halfway closed
you were leaning back in your chair
like you weren't afraid of
like the rest of us are
because you aren't afraid of anything,
but you must be,
because I know our souls are
and don't ask me how I know,
I just do.
You didn't even look at me.
I tried to make myself accessible
in a way that wasn't too accessible,
but it didn't work,
because you didn't even look at me.
I gazed a good while
at your profile,
but only your profile,
the bumpy nose and the hair that always seems
to get away from you
and the lips that are so far
but I don't even care because
I like you like that.
Just look at me.
I wasn't supposed to be there;
I thought that it would seem
out of the ordinary,
like I graced you with my presence,
like I didn't give a damn
that this was not my meeting,
like I belonged to not belong there.
It didn't work,
YouthdanceDo you rememberYouthdance3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
when we pursued our dreams in playground chariots
drawn by horse illusions with tails of wind,
all the colors of the Crayola rainbow?
We were the children of Phoebus,
but free of the tethers
of vanity and pride.
We could have made it to the sun, too,
if only we'd pushed them a little higher;
if only, if only.
Do you remember
when we still thought we could fly,
if we tried hard enough, if we wanted it?
We never made it but we never failed,
because to fail you must give up
and we never gave up.
We still haven't, though now
we must be quieter
lest our elders sneer and scorn us.
They make us keep secrets, but they
don't even know it,
they don't even know it at all.
Do you remember
when we were more than this?
When we believed in more than just what
we could see, more than what
we could fathom?
Do you remember when we were faithful?
We were sleeping bats
and our teachers, librarians,
they anointed themselves prophets,
Those Good Christian GirlsOh, God, please have mercy on this sinful nation.Those Good Christian Girls3 years ago in Emotional More Like This
The hairdresser tilts her head and purses her penciled-on lips, shears in hand. The client is going on about something or another; stocks, or children, or the relationship between black people and organized crime. Inconsequential babble. The hairdresser nods furiously and clucks her tongue and gestures wildly, just as she does for all the privileged women and prissy men who make their way into her salon. They come from gilded houses with crystal staircases, looking in part for a haircut, but also for solace and sympathy to which they know they have no right.
Their voices are hushed and often masked by the whir of Vidal Sassoon, but snippets of conversation can be heard across the floor.
"-went to the store for bread and came back with-"
"A husband, at her age? What is she-"
SilverYou two, soSilver3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
striking the same spot
You could turn around,
you could turn
to face each other,
to really see
but that would involve
that there is more to this
than a kiss goodnight
and a silent prayer
to the silver threads hanging
between your noses.
You two, so quickquickerquickest
to throw in the towel, to
the fabric of your navy blazers,
your coat-tail hangers,
the town in ash.
Do you ever really see
how the thread
how the pieces fall together,
only to be ripped
It used to be enough
under the illusion of affection,
the disillusion of
What of it?
It was enough but now it
so stop pretending
that it's all okay, that this
is anything but.
The silver, how it shines,
but a frayed rope ladder
you from running away.
It's not always cowardly
sometimes it's necessary
Ex. 1Feel it.Ex. 12 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Buzzed off the wine that you left
on the counter
(in an open thermos, no less)
for a week before drinking,
how we became
so old. Numb-tongued slack-jawed.
We are comfortable.
My life at the bottom
of a plastic cafeteria cup.
Smell it. Equal parts vinegar
and dirt-cheap perfume.
We return to the dirt and in turn,
We become jaded, and in turn,
lose the scent.
I tell you this is life. You sip,
grimace. I laugh.
This is your life.
It sits on your tongue and has
You say my eyes are cold, but I know it.
You say I can still
be saved. The beauty, you say, the
waving your arms like a fool
I am the fool. You know it.
This is my life.
My reflection, in a flash. I become it.
My greatest fear,
liquid death, I become it.
Embody, exhale. Embody,
We drink week-old wine
(This is our life.)
Gypsy TalkI can't help but feel thatGypsy Talk3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I am dying.
Today I looked down and my feet
flippers, dolphin fins,
and I thought to myself Well,
it's no wonder
I can't walk straight anymore.
And I went to Theresa, the many-eyed seer,
and I said Theresa, my feet have
She laughed and the force of it
knocked me to my knees,
when I realized
that my knees
were now compact discs,
and I swore that I would never dance
I could still hear Theresa's voice
in my head,
long after I had hobbled away,
shrieking and swearing and otherwise
disturbing my peace.
I swatted the curses away like flies,
and another voice,
one much softer, full
of honey and malice, whispered
That old hag knows nothing of you,
Let us throw stones
at their feet
and tie their hands to the flagpole
at the gas station down the street.
And I said You know, you may be right
but I see now
that my own hands have turned
and that flagpole is always
I think you are dying,
whispered the little voice a
darwin's revengein the embryo of the citydarwin's revenge2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
in their cage
they paint their nails not
that the sun is watching
from his trap door
in the cloud ceiling where
whales can't swim but go
and drop down their weight in rain
not measured in pints
but lives overflowed
in lost archipelagos full
of automatic islands
that catch the eyes like needles
when viewed from further away
than the end of the world
You Vex MeI've noticed you standing thereYou Vex Me4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
in your worn out Levis
and fury-red tie,
looking like you don't give
about presentation or reservation
or the clink of coins
in your pickle jar.
Boy, I've seen you standing there,
arms crossed, legs spread.
Clench-jawed, but in a way
that makes you hypnotizing,
and makes me want to know
what's behind those
I've noticed you standing there,
like a real life recipe
One I would like to
hide behind, sleep sound behind,
and never have to leave.
Boy, I've seen you standing there,
hiding behind those
so the world can't see your soul.
That's where I'd like
to be right now,
bathed in blacklight anarchy,
with no where to go
but the moon and back.
Don't you mind me, blacklight boy,
Just know that if
the desire ever strikes you,
I will be there, noticing,
waiting to see if sparks will fly,
in myyour neurons,
or fizzle out
10.31.11Excite me, my dear.10.31.113 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Chasteness ill-befits you.
I am not one to tolerate
your vain attempts
your noxious laugh,
or the clean precision
of your antiseptic charms.
You look to tousle me,
but I assure you,
I am not so willing to be
put against a curling iron;
a beckoning gesture (a
cunning claw, but not enough).
Don't tread on me, for
united I stand.
The United Entities of Self,
unification of mind and mouth.
how the flash in my eye
never gave you pause?
Memory is but a crutch,
a cadence for crucifixion.
Do not trust it.
It is a fickle mistress.
You were never what you
thought you were.
A tortured artist, troubled
Satan's blackest minion.
Don't you dare shudder,
you little minx.
Chasteness ill-befits you.
Your verses are empty as the
shell you failed
but worry not.
You're headed in the right direction,
never you fear,
never you doubt,
never you bother to yank out
tufts of copper curls
and bellow to the Heroes, "Oh God,
despondenti.despondent3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"are you sleepy today?"
"but you were sleepy yesterday."
she stirs her pomegranate green-tea until it turns from clear to purple
setting it on her bedside table and climbing back into bed again.
her fingers follow the bluer-than-usual constellation veins on her wrists and down
to the freckle on her forearm and then the scar on the inside of her elbow
crossing the tendon as if it were crux.
and then she remembered that God hasn't been with her lately.
today is long and sunny but when she steps outside the humidity creaks her bones
and her skin starts to inflame.
she assumes that if getting the mail is a struggle, having a child would be too.
often times when she sets her tea down she remembers that her Bible is in the drawer beneath
along with the crucifix necklace that her mother made her.
her husband comes home late nowadays and she never questions why that may be
because she knows.
she would do the same too if she had a wife who took four different
A PhantomThere is a house of cardsA Phantom3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
cut into thirds,
then halved, and shoved into
an unsuspecting keyhole.
all shamrock eyes and Nevada nights,
cannot be expected
how to seep
through the cracks in the doorframe
and reach the other side
I wanted so to help him.
She speaks often of angels,
but I know that she's never even
Her mannerisms are far too cliché,
and she still seems to think
that God is synonymous
Oh, I tried to make her listen.
A phantom draws nearer
as it becomes clear that the eyes,
are not shamrocks, but emeralds,
much to brilliant for
a nursing home jewelry box.
Nevada is golden this time of year,
and a phantom can only take
so much yellow.
But yellow is beautiful, I told him,
I begged him.
She doesn't even notice the smoke,
that settles on her flesh
A phantom is a master of
changing his shape,
but she's too busy searching for angels
The Price of Dying“I want to be interred after I die,” Mr. Peters said. He made that clear to his family while he was still lucid, before old age and illness rendered him unintelligible. Seventy wasn’t that old, but he recognized the symptoms that were creeping up on his ailing body – the aches, the fatigue, the feeling of helplessness and despair. Despite his daughter’s attempts to assuage his concerns, he sensed his own mortality.The Price of Dying2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The worst part about dying, Mr. Peters thought, was what happened afterwards. Even since he was a small boy, he had been afraid of fire. He could never forget the scorching heat of the orange flames searing his skin, the dark billowing smoke entering his nostrils. The time that his house burned down, the fire almost took him with it. How ironic then, to escape the fire only to be fed into it after death.
So one day, he sat his son and daughter down after dinner. “I want to be buried whole,” he said, emphasizing the
Nearly IsochronalIt is 11:58 on a Thursday afternoon,Nearly Isochronal4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and I am sitting in this
thinking how the hell
am I supposed to sort this all out,
and what's the point of even
being here, and
why is the bell so goddamn loud?
It is 12:02 on a Thursday afternoon,
and I am worried about
and worried about my cough,
worried about money,
the epicenter of my deadbeat life.
It is 12:04 on a Thursday afternoon,
and I am counting the
until I can be worth something again.
Can I be worth something again?
Okay, I'll wait.
I'll wait forever,
but don't be too long.
It is 12:07 on a Thursday afternoon,
but no one gives a damn
about Thursday afternoons.
It is 12:09 on a Thursday afternoon,
and I just want this to be
goddamnit, why can't this
just be over?
Why won't the lights die down,
and why won't the teachers stop
why can I still feel them
staring at me?
It is 12:12 on a Thursday afternoon,
and I am hungry,
Jesus Christ, I am hungry.
Won't you feed me?
OzymandiasSaturday graveyards inch closer, closer,Ozymandias3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
to the mandibular mandible mandibosity
of loveforsaken skeletons; the chiseled king
in his rocktattered throne
(all that remains of Ozymandias, choking,
dust particles till they crack
and start to sing)
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair
It's back to Egyptian cotton
and reminders of a grander time.
The stones, they tell a tale
of death and failed rebirth (of failed immortality),
and we fall.
I am _____.It was somewhere between sun-kissedI am _____.4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and late night viewings
of Donnie Darko,
of that much I am sure.
The blood pounding in my ears says
"Look, a distraction,"
and I fall for it every time,
abandoning my search
but never altogether,
never ever altogether.
Or maybe it wasn't.
Sometimes I feel that it could be
right beneath my feet,
but the calluses formed
from shards of sand and ravens' bones
keep it's shallow breathing hidden,
under the teeth of dragons
and red-gold phoenix feathers.
No, it must have been the sky,
for the sky is what
I fear the most.
I can fly in all my dreams,
but always so high,
For what, I know not
(Comfort? Control? Oxygen's reach?)
but too high nonetheless,
and I scream, and my blood voice hisses
"Hush, stupid girl,"
and I listen, though I know I shouldn't.
Perhaps I can fly because I'm supposed to be
I hope that's not the case,
'cause I'll never find it there,
in those should-be-ecstatic dreams
I try so hard
GoldmineThere was something there;Goldmine3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
There must have been.
Something, something, anything,
a tiny thing,
a tiny sliver of a thing that was ruined
by the rapturous dust of false allergies
and my own
A little thing.
A little, tiny something; a little,
tiny something lifted up
in heavy hands
and ground up to resemble
A little thing, but worth its weight
so much more than I knew,
so much more than I ever cared
A miniscule droplet
of liquefied emeralds, a touch
of holy myrrh,
an infinitesimal pinprick-pinpoint
of an angel
of the head of a needle.
of bald eagle, captured by the last breath
A scraping of Eldoradon roads.
I should have cashed in when I could,
but I'm blind as a bat when it comes
to mining gold;
I just don't have that eye
like you do.
I find myself now,
covered in dirt-cracks, in splinters of hollowed-out
wood, 'cause no matter how I dig
in your goldjewelbaldeagle
That Rat Bastard Reginald SmittyReginald Smitty is the craftiest son-of-a-bitch I've ever known,That Rat Bastard Reginald Smitty3 years ago in Comedy More Like This
that's for damn sure.
You see, I was supposed to go to the neighborhood Valentine's Dance
with Sadie Anderson, that ample broad from down the street,
but that rat bastard Reginald,
he snatched her right out from under me, pulled the rug out,
he did! And so I says to the guy, I says,
"Look here, guy, that's my lady you're taking to the Dance,"
(all polite-like, 'cause I'm just that kind of person, see)
and he turns to me and laughs! He laughs in my face!
I swear, some people have no class,
absolutely no sense of honor, and if Reginald Smitty
had been taking Sadie Anderson to the dance first, well, by god,
I woulda left her alone.
Reginald Smitty has a fountain in his front yard.
Now, how he managed to get a fountain in his front yard overnight,
I'll never know,
but boy, was Sadie Anderson impressed;
you'd think he built the statue of David out of toothpicks
and melted ice-cream for all she swooned!
It isn't even a
compareeins.compare3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the smoke pouring out of her mouth,
(misty coils of a vague filth,
dancing to noir jazz, fading with each note)
smudged lipstick on the side of of her mouth,
and the little streak that crawled to her tooth
when she bit her lip in a supposed wonder,
and her eyes threw a faint film over themselves,
(like an elegant lady wraps a silk shawl around herself in a light breeze)
the light feet of a dancer
whose calluses were hidden under tight shoes,
whose toes would arch like Nut over her children,
(and she or you would spin with the earth, holding her frame as if-
as if earth was something of mass, as if it had a shape to hold onto)
whose leg would stretch over her head,
her arms, long, pretty, snakes, her fingers curled, and her wrists tense
(her eyelashes were grazing her cheekbones,
her ballet whisking her like a beaten egg, and the laces of her shoes
caught on a rusty nail, which sliced her ankle open, a wince danced on her lips,
Whale Songs of the PacificListen, the girls swallowed by whales are the ones that grow up lucky.Whale Songs of the Pacific2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Listen, no one will warn you about the little boys with the magpie eyes and the fists swinging splinters of glass. No one will warn you that their smiles are sweeter than their words are sweeter than their souls are sweeter than their intentions. No one will warn you of the sheer weight of the world.
Listen, sometimes girls are fragile. Sometimes girls are frothy. Sometimes girls let boys nuzzle "I love you"s into their necks and sometimes girls drink the wine of believing them.
Listen, sometimes the boys really are sweet, and little girls' tart puckered mouths can't taste the difference.
Listen, writers are the ones that drip fishhooks down their throats to coax out their hearts. Writers are the ones who fling those heart-hooks into the sea even if they have a message but not a bottle. Listen, sometimes fish swallow them. Some of those fish sink to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of the world in those heart
windstorms and labworkafflatus, inflatus, my morning globe,windstorms and labwork2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
as lithe as your impermanence.
and home! dread homes! are rabbit dugs,
spoonholed piles of mexican brick
where nothing ever touches down,
nothing here alive receives
the plains’ poor offering of gypsy light,
the ugly wind that meets the mudline.
1. a mottled fence
2. and how these storms hold faceless teeth
that slat their eyes through butter-wood
then purge their guts on wintered florets
4. some freshly headless nativities,
their polyethylene skirts upturned
from violent sacks
5. and knowing i’m a souless
i lick at what is manifest
beneath your hair
each poison tab
and religious studies
i know, i know you never mean
but do not say “live for yourself”.
i’ve come online to see the god
that came before me.
we are so poorly married
like bookend spines of Plath and Hughes
up on the shelf
crystallophonethere is a punchcard sincrystallophone2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
like a queen of spades smoldering in an alley.
you hear how the gears churn,
singing faster than we did before
back when black magic dropped like a
pair of socks from the sky with supplies
taped to a note that said
(oh, look at you now)
such a beautiful brain:
runs on gasoline?
have a gallon
or we can call it a balloon,
and a new pair of glasses
for your tapered eyes
(you peel the bark back on the logs,
but you're not sure what you see),
and life says,
either nail jello to a tree,
or keep your
icicles hanging from the eaves,
caterpillars frolicking in the ashes,
your 'Sam, I still don't have your number,'
and your totaled passion:
someone to hang inside out with,
string you up like a steak with.
what the hunger
is trying to tell me
my brain churns like butter,
my insides aflare, my chakras combusting,
Ignite'Cause it's like adolescent assonance,Ignite3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and who fuck are we?
We thought we knew, but goddamn were we wrong,
we never even knew
that the square root of gettin' gone is going back,
we'll never go back.
This pride burns us up like liquid fire,
(what a fucking SIMILE, amirite?)
and we're just here to dance.
We're just here to dance, and nothing, not
can keep us
from those lighters with the painted flames,
and cheap cigarettes
(the kind that'll kill us, Momma, the kind that'll die).
If there is hope it lies in the parolees, isn't that
what ol' Orson said?
Momma told me I'd never get no where,
well look at me now, Ma,
all dressed up with no place to party and
I left my keys again.
Come on Momma, don't be that way, don't leave me
out here to die.
I may be a fucking waste of space, Momma,
But I just wanna LIVE.
If there's one thing Daddy taught me it's that dyin' is free,
but livin'll cost me my life
and I don't do nothin' for free.
I got the sickn