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 Illest1 year 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 Me2 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
YouthdanceDo you rememberYouthdance2 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,
Deathday AnthemYour memory turns eighteen today. The starsDeathday Anthem10 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
light up like candles, flickering.
My breath turns the air to smoke; benevolent specters
wrap the night up in itself. Blanketing
ethereal mountain-story-peaks, your face appears
in the street lamps, hovering.
And in distant piano tones, I hear you. In rustling
leaf-sounds, I hear you. In the midst of so much
wasted noise, I find you, swinging on makeshift beer bottle
chandeliers, silent as the day you first left
You are reflected into nothingness. I am reflected
into you, flickering.
I recall a time when the earth was gray, when bones
were dirt-dry, anemic. People who would help
it in were not yet known, but they would be
someday, somewhere near seventeen.
They would be, they were, they are. Now you reverse,
fading not out,
I see you and become the child I never was,
joyful yet pained, fragile
yet strong. Memories I never had come flooding back,
violently, rapid over rocks and valleys.
I look to the stars and you
10.31.11Excite me, my dear.10.31.112 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,
SilverYou two, soSilver2 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. 11 year 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.)
How Book Club Ruined My Self-EsteemYou didn't even look at me.How Book Club Ruined My Self-Esteem2 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,
A PhantomThere is a house of cardsA Phantom2 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
Ignite'Cause it's like adolescent assonance,Ignite2 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
That Rat Bastard Reginald SmittyReginald Smitty is the craftiest son-of-a-bitch I've ever known,That Rat Bastard Reginald Smitty2 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
Gypsy TalkI can't help but feel thatGypsy Talk2 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
The Cold PartBaby, do you love me?The Cold Part1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
Don't ask me that, you know
you can't ask me that.
(You are just my ecstasy, the salt
within my bones)
Tell me how you need me, baby.
Tell me how you want.
Please, just come, just sit
Your hands are much too
(I want you as revulsion, as the thing
that sets me free)
Baby, won't you come and see?
Come see me, babe, come touch.
When you close your eyes, I become her,
Raven-haired, sweetly smiling,
in her angel eyes.
(I'll see you just the same,
I'll see right through your lust)
But baby, do you love me?
Do my charms sing to your heart?
I have a secret, too,
that I shut my eyes just as tightly
Are we really so different,
so magnetic, that we can blot out
all good sense?
(Your charms are rough, needle sharp
as the tales I whisper in your ear)
You can be a real bitch sometimes,
you know that?
I wish you knew the lengths to which
to witness the
Nearly IsochronalIt is 11:58 on a Thursday afternoon,Nearly Isochronal3 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?
You Vex MeI've noticed you standing thereYou Vex Me3 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
I am _____.It was somewhere between sun-kissedI am _____.2 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
OzymandiasSaturday graveyards inch closer, closer,Ozymandias2 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.
GoldmineThere was something there;Goldmine2 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
RosewoodJust tell me that this is moreRosewood2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
than a mountaintop longing,
a corner shop wondering.
It's getting so late,
and I have no where else to go,
no place to go but
to the shelter in the woods
where we first discovered
we were angels.
And if I could climb those
to the mountain peak
where we wrapped ourselves
and kissed the dandelions goodbye,
I would, but my legs are
so very tired,
and the winged ones won't take me
Angels we are, but wingless ones
(isn't that quaint?)
I could have sworn once
that I felt my shoulder blades
but I was frightened,
and so they stopped.
If I could go back to that day
and soothe myself into submission,
I would, but my back is
so very sore,
and I wouldn't be able to fly
I used to be stronger than this,
I was, I was.
I used to run for miles,
with Apollo at my heels, and he
would clutch his laurel bow
like he couldn't quite fathom
that I was not Daphne;
that she was
despondenti.despondent1 year 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
And Back AgainAsk me to name the ways in whichAnd Back Again10 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
I love you. They outnumber the stars.
Heavy in my drunken stupor, I rise.
You lay shivering
in rumpled clothes, blankets strewn
about your frame. Groaning, I stumble to your
side, toss my blanket over
bony shoulders, protruding
hips. I study the angles of your face, the subtlety
with which your chest rises
shallow breaths shuddering.
“Big like the sky,” you whisper, sighing
as the moon lights up our corner room.
Illumination shrouds our eyes
from all things that wish to harm them, and
for the first time,
I am happy here. Big like the sky, you love
as children do, fearless and free.
Ask me to recall the ways in which
I watch you, searching beyond. The spotlight
follows, footprints in the sand.
I have never been a fan of gimmicks,
cheap grins. Through all the harsh truths we
speak, warm as winter breath,
I just love you, in all the ways I’ll never
ShatterEmily saysShatter2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
that the blackbird is Death,
and everyone nods vigorously,
hmm, hmm, oh yes,
Some girls rave about the symbolism,
and how blackbirds always gave them
that the blackbird is Wallace Stevens
just look at it, it must be true.
No one thinks much of that idea,
and we hear nothing else
for the rest of the class.
One bird, two bird,
The pattern is immaculate,
a gallon of undiluted bleach
with battery acid,
eating through the cardboard covering
of the starving poet's most treasured
Mr. Stiegel says
that he still doesn't know
what the blackbird is,
like we should be surprised.
I think that the blackbird is
full of shit,
but that's hardly proper for English class.
Murder, MurderI.Murder, Murder2 years ago in Scraps More Like This
I am but a mangled clump
of once-sable fur,
pulled and peeled from the skin of dead mammals
and spun into tunics of straw.
Pine needles, long dried under threat
of far-reaching drought
weave in and out of cracks in the pavement,
waiting to trip sun-burnt strangers.
Needles and straw makes strange bedfellows
to those whose work best in the darkness: the shepard,
the wise man,
the dealer and me.
Vagrants stomp on sidewalk cracks
as feral mothers jump, and sniff the air in fear;
as the slivered moon turns inside out
and dead things crunch under our feet.
Remember how the wind whispered Murder, Murder,
and echoed through the willow trees;
blew match smoke into our open faces;
kept us from shrieking in horror, pure disgust.
As sooty black crows called for long-due revenge
and coated their feathers with rust.
Those Good Christian GirlsOh, God, please have mercy on this sinful nation.Those Good Christian Girls2 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-"