Today I went down to the Bureau of Words to trade in my autumn onomatopoeia. Usually I put it off until at least the end of November, but this year the squelch-thud of my boots in the mounds of soggy leaves brought me up sharp. I went home, gathered my dry snaps, crackles and swooshes, as well as the cheerful spthooshk of a water balloon left over from August and headed down to the department. The rain hurried down to meet my umbrella, an excellent winter sound for which I had no words. But that would soon change.
The stooped man at the front desk greeted me with a finger to his lips. "We're running the barnyard tests, so we've got to be very quiet. Get me?"
I nodded. Fortunately, the entire antechamber of the Bureau is soundproofed, so my rubber soled boots made no sound on the white carpeted floor despite leaving a great deal of mud.
"What do you have in mind for me today? I'm here for the seasonal trade-in deal."
"Well, we've got snow falling on cedars, rain dripping into a puddle o
The FuguistJonah hated Mars. He hated everything about it. Every minute he spent there he was plagued by a vague feeling of unrest: Mars was not quite foreign, not quite familiar, an endless mirage or coma dream. Maybe he was dead, and maybe this was purgatory. Sometimes he considered praying at night, asking for forgiveness, just in case, for whatever sin might have banished him there, but then he looked out over the barren, forsaken wasteland and thought his time was much better spent sleeping, or walking.The Fuguist8 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
But he hated how soft the ground was, how little clouds of dust exploded under his soles with every step, and how he could turn around and see his straight, months'-long trail of footsteps stretching out behind him, since there were no winds to erase that lonely path. He hated the air, which was so thin that no one breath was ever enough and so full of dust that he thought his throat and tongue and teeth were coated with the red powder.
He hated the sky, which hung too low overhead, ripe with
Bathtub EscapadeI am writing this to youBathtub Escapade8 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
From a bathtub in Jerusalem.
This room is gold
like the city itself:
stone sitting smugly
on strata pedestals
looking down haughtily
at my scrawny form:
into scraps. scripts. dusty dreams.
Till tongue is soaked
in movements and images of
people burying all mystery
in the same old void.
I was speaking to
the Rabbis wife tonight,
Slurring my words
and cursing myself
and only thinking about
The dead bird stuck in the Wailing Wall
Its beak jammed in there
like a personal love letter
its wings flapping like dead weights.
From here the world looks grey.
The faucet dripping behind
a backdrop of spinal chord
and emerging puddle,
The edges of our world are desiccated.
In a land that has been ravished, raped, bastardized,
I dont go hunting for boundaries
So in my mind,
let us live here
syllables spilling softly
drunk with the drip.
of this golden tap
in this golden city.
SocksYou can't always win a nobel prizeSocks7 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
or vicarious eyes
while thinking of ways to rhyme
with a 2 syllable word;
I spew lizard,
despite how absurd,
and whether or not
that strikes you in awe
or raises a brow,
or opens your jaw,
regardless of whatever you're thinking right now,
this has no relevance... to anything. At all.
Sometimes you write
about humanity's flaws,
write to grant laughter,
or analyze God,
but then when you write,
you imagine your bed!
so maybe you'd rather be writing
about... socks, instead.
It shouldn't take long
since i'm very much familiar
and quite frankly, an expert,
in the subject matter,
I mean, I wear socks
like, every day, man.
It's I think something
everyone should try.
At least once,
just sit down and write.
No theory, no philosophy,
no literary temptation.
Just write shit about socks,
and the feet that wear them.
Lobotomy for BeginnersIt wasnt the windowless room,Lobotomy for Beginners8 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the edges of the walls mixing with harsh light
while waiting for the doctors knock.
Or the sweat-leather straps and buckles braided into her hair.
It wasnt the operating utensils on the steel tray,
the scalpel that looked more like a butter knife
and the drill plugged in, lying on the floor.
Or even the way the doctor complimented her posture,
as if a stiff chin was more valuable than a working brain.
And it wasnt the taste of copper that filled her mouth
before she closed her eyes, not wanting to see
him squint at the black dot sketched
in the center of her forehead
before picking at it like a tender scab.
It was the way she sang My Country Tis of Thee,
forcing words out after each prod of the ice pick, soft lips flinching
until the tool garbled her song to silence
and the surgery finally stopped.
Through A Dim GlassThrough A Dim Glass6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Do The Disconnect
I changed my mind. I dont want to.
We are in the bedroom. His face is desperate he grabs my hand.
Please, please. You dont have to think about it. You can think about anything. His eyes race wildly around the room. Think about fortune cookies. Anything at all. Just please, please. I miss you so much.
Afterwards, he asks me how it was.
Good. I say simply. I like fortune cookies.
I dont know why it makes him cry.
Were going to discuss memory therapy. Ill say a month, and you tell me something you remember about her, okay?
Im willing to try just about anything at this point. Hit me.
We went down to the beach. It was raining you know that ra
Tanka Series1.Tanka Series7 years ago in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
the perfect spiral
of my worn
asking her out
I proofread every word
to the free space
in my journal-
but how can five lines
hold autumn dusk?
sorority bake sale
the girl I dumped
a cold brownie
of a stray dog
the tarot woman's hand
against my own
even in the cool
of night air
Dragon SlayerThis book is a story of stories.Dragon Slayer7 years ago in Spiritual & Occult More Like This
It is fitting to begin with one of which there are so many variations.
Somewhere where there was a wood, far away and long enough ago not to matter to people who thought that way of getting rid of problems best, a little child found a bird on a woodland floor. The child was a boy; it could have been a girl, too, for it was just a common child.
But the bird was a majestic thing, which storytellers would later call the Simurgh Phoenix. It was crowned with glory, with wings like the sun, and all birds were made in its image.
It was a powerful bird, like an eagle, falcon or a hawk, that saw all things.
It was like a sparrow, very full of joy, that chirruped so that anyone with kindness would kneel to nest it in his hand.
It was like a magpie, that looked sharply at everyone, with a mind quicker than anything.
ForgivenessIForgiveness7 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
When the little girl woke up, she found cookies in her shoes.
It was December 6, St. Nicholas Day, her parents told her. Thats the day when Santa comes and takes your Christmas list and leaves you cookies if you were good, a switch if you were bad. Santa left her cookies! The little girl squealed in delight, in excitement.
Do you want to try one, her mother asked. The little girl put one in her mouth. She chewed. She swallowed. She smiled. It was the best thing she had ever eaten in her life.
You can eat another one, her father said. But the little girl wanted to save them so that they would last longer.
By the time she ate her second cookie, it was hard and stale.
Trust is fickle.
When you are trusted, its easy to keep that trust. You can be out with friends or something and just tell your parents that you were at the library or something doing schoolwork.
Maurice Eugene DobsonMaurice Eugene Dobson, aged forty-three years and two months, is standing in the middle of a car of the A train, on his way home. He is not holding onto the pole: he stands off to its side, swaying slightly with the movements of the train, but balanced perfectly and seemingly without effort. He never holds onto the poles. He takes pride in being able to maintain his balance like this, although he knows its not the sort of quality anyone else will appreciate, and its not really something you can put on your résumé. Too bad.Maurice Eugene Dobson7 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
He is a small man, though he prefers the word diminutive. He is five feet, four and a half inches tall in his stocking feet, and slightly built: his clothes hang on him as though bewildered to have such an insufficient resident. He wears pressed khaki pants, their sharp creases billowing several inches forward of his knees; he wears a stiff checkered shirt and a navy blue suit jacket with a single gold button that is somehow incongruous.
Immigrant's Guide to ColoradoI was promised horses. I remember this distinctly.Immigrant's Guide to Colorado7 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
My dad knew as well as I that moving isnt easy, especially to a place so very far away, so he would cushion it with promises such as these. Thoughts of horses and mountain ranches made the process of tearing away from my homeland all that more bearable, so I complied. My visions were of a log cabin situated on the hips of the foothills, with gentle mares that would lean their heads in my window in the heat of summer mornings. Of dirt roads and tractors, of cattle and barbed wire. But mostly horses, of course.
Colorado is not all horses and ranches. Our house turned out to squat in a quiet patch of suburb that seems a subtle copy of the very neighborhood from which I had come. It is a pale ivory and not made of logs, and the grass lives in trim, green patches like quilt squares, not in long stalks that whisper to my elbows. And the mountains?
FramesMy bike is a vintage 1973 Raleigh handed down to me by my father. The steel frame I use to bike those forty miles to and from class every day is the same one he used on his campus, way back in the Bronze Age. Sure, I've replaced the brakes, the shifters, the chain, the pedals, the wheels, and about half the rider, but the core of the thing is unchanged.Frames7 years ago in Biography & Memoir More Like This
It's only natural, then, that I was replacing the brake cable when I discovered them. I'd been inserting a Dremel bit to cut some sheathe when I thought to wear eye protection, and what should I find when rifling through the mess called my father's garage but a pair of glasses that could have been older than the bike I was repairing. Safety wear, to be sure; the glasses were un-lensed, but the thick black frames were standard eye-wear right about the time NASA was sending Armstrong to the moon. Instantly recognizable. I used them to finish cutting the sheathe and pocketed
Advancing Aubades...I conceived this palace constructed ofAdvancing Aubades...7 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
the reflection of a gleaming river moon.
The stars gazed down and descended
to watch the castles corymbs bloom
and float dance on creations solstice.
The celebrations interrupted with zealot
diplomats, marching over the east.
The bright ambassadors of morning,
continuing their divining conquest.
Their only tool, radiance, revealed
my house of gray stone and fireflies.
These bureaucracies of light
tend to remind me why
I prefer the night.
PsalmPsalm7 years ago in Spiritual & Occult More Like This
Ah! Doamne miluieste-ma.
Caci de mult vreau sa gust din mierea neprihanitilor.
De ani, ani multi, m-am indepartat de Tine
Iar cel nenorocit a pus ghiara pe mine ca un leu
Care iti face o rana ce nu o simti decat dupa ce faptasul nu mai este.
Si rau mi-a amorti inima.
Fa-ma suflul gurii Tale, Doamne si vorbeste cu mine cuvantul Tau.
Fa-ma culoarea ochilor Tai si vezi cu mine pe cei ce Te prea-maresc.
Fa din mine auzul urechilor Tale, spre a asculta cei care-Ti canta: Aleluia!
Necajit sunt Doamne, adunate sunt pacatele in jurul meu ca niste draci nenorociti
Pe care am calcat ani de zile cautandu-Te.
Nu-ti pleca lumina de la mine Doamne, si auzi robul Tau strigand.
Caci pe Tine te striga cu voce calda si tare.
Hraneste pe fiul tau, cu tine Doamne
Si taria-Ti daruieste-i.
Ca la sfarmatul crucilor frica sa nu-l cuprinda.
Ci bucurie sa-l umple caci se va intoarce la locul raureli.
Spre a Te prea-mari si a iti canta «Aleluia!»
Teachers to the DeadWhile we slept,Teachers to the Dead7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
you strapped your arm around
my chest like armor and possession,
like this one belongs to me. Together, we are
teaching the things that haunt us
to lie down in their graves.
Here, like this
your demons say to mine as
they demonstrate the art of behaving.
Together, we secure their
broken bodies and set them into six feet of
(but we do not follow
we cannot go in their stead)
They do not know theyre dead. Its
always a blow when we break the news.
They find themselves jealous of our
human skin and our inhaling
(we are too kind
to show that we are more alive without them
that losing them
The Voicemail of GodThe Voicemail of GodThe Voicemail of God7 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
Ever since I can remember, I have been one of those strange people who pick up pennies. I find them everywhere, on sidewalks, in stadiums, on the floors of grocery stores, in parking lots you get the idea. And it is a rare occasion indeed if I fail to pick them up. Most people, when faced with a copper portrait of Lincoln down by their feet, even if they dropped it themselves, will simply ignore it. After all, you cannot buy anything with one cent; why even bother bending over? I, on the other hand, like to think I am a little more practical than most. When I see one of those poor, unloved little presidents looking up at me, I have to admit that I get a little excited. Well, maybe excited is a bit strong, but you get my point. You see, when I see abandoned pennies, I see free money just waiting to be claimed. The only work required to earn it is bending over, and a simple motion of the thumb and forefinger. Yes, one penny is fairly useless, but I know that by
for to fall on your deaf earsYou glisten in my throat, baby,for to fall on your deaf ears7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and glow across my pores -
but for our love to be
effective, you've gotta start shimmering, too.
You, though, will remain dull and we will
be like either side of
a glazed vase - sparkling Side A
vs. cold, unfinished clay.
I had been content to play Dagny Taggart
to your Hank Reardon,
the dreamerDo you remember the days when you scooped me up and I thrived in your sand-grain pores? It was autumn then, the leaves were too crisp and red back then, and you know how terrified of fire I was. In the summers I turned into burning coal and cracking volcano shells, and in the winter I would be blown away in the wind, acrobatic summersaults until I became another piece of hail in an ice storm.the dreamer7 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
But the hail is beginning to thaw and soak sweetly in the swelling ground. The mud will spring grass and flowers and forests will grow before my eyes. Im still a naive fledgling but you have your own freedom to chase after. Im the flower under the stone, and its my time, I can feel it on the rise now, to lift it off with my own hands and blood vessels and adrenaline. I need to reach up and turn to face the sun. I need to hold on to its rays with my delicate rain fingers until I turn green, but for now Im only white, white as snow, white as an eggshell, white as an empty and
SnowMonths grouped together like careless footstepsSnow7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
stroll upon the lashings accorded to me by the sun.
In January I am caressed by ghosts
or something as cold and invisible.
They intrude upon hair, clothes; books
dampen with monstrous hand prints.
Are these shells of half-dead creatures
holding themselves, ancient in a cavern somewhere
or tethered to the earth by thought?
Bits of cloud, the flesh of heaven
picked off like a soft disease
nestle on my shoulder as if pulled from my sweater.
they emerge quietly like droplets of blood. Whisper:
we are the teeth of ancient things.
White drift presses upon the house
and the window. Its cool breath scales
my chin, pries open my mouth like a tenacious lover,
and settles with a small sigh on the tongue
like a hiss of steam.
We have made and unmade warmth.
Suspended AnimationWe will hide in roomsSuspended Animation7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
of corpses in clear coffins;
our names carved into every surface,
our fortunes told in fish eyes
and sharks teeth.
We are frogs in formaldehyde,
puffed up like tear-stained faces,
we are jellyfish in jars,
hanging like bleached willows;
tangled tentacles dangle, flaccid,
and spectres of the Pacific
will not stir us.
In the mother-of-pearl,
in the birds of paradise,
in the ribcages and tortoiseshells,
we linger, petrified,
and do not hope to be unearthed.
Now we stand like stick figures
pinned to twilight
as orange and blue hesitate in the sky;
starlings swarm across the stuttered sunset,
bubbling and breaking, meandering and mingling;
a sentient storm that plummets to the horizon
and rises on an unseen current.
In that paradise of half-light,
we wait and pretend
that you and I can stay undecided,
and time moves on without us.
pencils and knivesOur getting together was a roll of the tongue, a curve in my nerves.pencils and knives8 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
We played clever and intelligent and poetry-slam line break, smiled at our own pretentious predigested words, coffee and donuts and hardly a table between us. Your eyes flashed white and my smile flashed red and I pretended to be without makeup, and you, without frowns.
We discussed Small Things, work and play, and we discussed Big Things, God and philosophy. We faked thoughts and I made petty arguing comments just to sound like a brain was in my head.
It was perfect.
You said you believed God was a woman, for people are so wonderfully flawed and couldnt only a girl create such emotions and make things so delicate? Our trivial emotions like jealousy and rage, curiosity and adrenaline, they all had such a feminine edge, you said.
You threw in a compliment about me somewhere in there and I nodded and bit my bottom lip because God suddenly seemed very, very real.
You asked me something vaguely romantic and it hit m
This Organized LifeWe are having dinner at a place I cant afford. Carl has gotten into middle age at some point, complete with good posture and brown loafers. Hoping he plans to pay but erring on the side of caution, I order soup.This Organized Life7 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
It is not awkward. We speak easily as ever, despite the pricey menu, Carls shoes, and the last time he and I stood yelling in a room together, each so loud the words became one great indistinguishable noise.
Im so glad we ran into each other, he says. The waiter pours more wine. I begin to assume he is going to pay; that is what a man his age does when he brings a woman to a restaurant like this. You always said it, and its still true: I rely on statistics to predict Carls behavior.
Carl takes another sip of his wine, and I think about you. You do not know where I am. I have avoided thinking of you precisely to avoid guilt, and now I arrive at the thought of you and find it filled instead with weary affection. You do not know where I am
Eclipsemoon guides meEclipse7 years ago in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
on its voyage,
fingers as white,
the marrow of me-
I can't shiver the
chill from my soul
as intense as
everything I feel
while there's life,
where it takes me
I don't know,
I don't wonder
to feel the course
eyes soft focus,
Digging a HoleDigging beneath dappled shade,Digging a Hole7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
And a chorus of applauding trees.
A sharp-spade chewing sound,
Metal hum like plucked wire.
Aching back, muddy smears,
And not a blister; just
A certain hardness of the skin,
Cracking like a gourd
Across the wrinkles of my thumb.
Why were you digging a hole?
She asked me, afterwards.
It felt I answered,
Like the right thing to do
At the time
Mulch smell, wet and bodily.
The hole opens, organic;
A ventricle, it gasps.
a moment of your time I am a writer because my mother says so.a moment of your time6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I am a writer because I am teaching myself to look for my pothole blue eyes, fat stomach smile, and popped-bubblegum cheeks in mirrors, television screens, and reflective surfaces. I am a writer because one time I had an innocuous crush on my second cousin and I still cherish all of his two-line emails. I am a writer because I am the stereotypical, spoiled, overloved only child.
I am a writer because my grandfather, whose name is utter gibberish and the colors blue and red and green and radio talk shows and old black-and-white television sitcoms and whose beard is a medusa's pond of browned acid hair, tried to teach me to draw, croissants for eyes and big butterflies for chins. I am a writer because the entire time all I wanted to do was write poetry, turn a phrase,