Sunday, May 12, 2013

Two Poems

She Comes Laughing, But Goes Smiling
Or, Pagliacci In Love

Far off in the distance
Nothing seems real
Boxed in a rear-view mirror
What matters, anymore?

Days and wine flow underfoot
And something’s learned,
ground is gained
but what and where, in carved stone?

The things we hold will warm our hands
But once let go, given to the wind,
Fireflies and candles, fireworks and stars
Die, blow out, turn to smoke, or dim.

We can stand on beaches
Watching waves go out
But if you’d built no boats
What ship is she on?

She’ll take to roads or skies,
Strain your eyes, crane your neck
She’ll dim and she’ll shrink
While you stand and watch. 

Take comfort, stick to your guns.
You know what it is you’re worth.
A quick joke, a laugh, but son:
 you punched up the fuck line.

The King Of Small Dark Corners

The king of small dark corners sits
Exactly where you’d imagine.
Surrounds himself with stacks of books, 
Never shelves

Crumpled papers, pillows and blankets, 
None folded, no forts.

This king of cobwebs, 
Dust and dim

Cross-legged, arms too
Sits lit by laptop screen. 

A mug of tea, no longer steaming,
Kept- a fine metaphor: lacking warmth.

The king of sad deserted places 
Stirs in your head, like a rattled cough

He stares impassive, a not-quite-glare 
His voice, tape hiss and white noise.

Yet some days you’re subject 
To the whims of this goblin-king. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


My hands were shoved deep into my pockets as I scanned the spines lined up along the shelves in your kitchen. Your apartment was hardly large enough to say these rooms were at all separate, the demarcation just a dresser and a wood-stove. Between them you stood, changing your shirt and insisting that I occupy myself in ways other than watching.

Books, everywhere. Books like a stripe along the wall, books stacked in some places floor to ceiling. You’d taken me in that night as my world fell apart. Earlier that day we’d flirted on my lunch break:
 ”You’ve got critterish, glittering, state-fair eyes.” I’d said.
You nodded and smiled knowingly.
 ”I’ll be seeing more of you.” 
That afternoon we met in the library and between the shelves conducted ourselves like a business meeting, an interview. We discussed past lovers and quirks, we spoke of dreams and favorite everythings. I was waiting for you after your class that night and explained the meltdown I’d just sat through.
“I have wine, but you have to take me to the store for groceries and make me a salad.” I thought it was a reasonable deal. I accused you of suggesting salad as a means of appearing feminine. You accused me of being an asshole, but did so without venom. You went to shower after dinner and instructed that when done, you were to find me on your bed with a stack of my favorite books off of your shelves. I grinned, as lopsidedly as I could force myself, in what I was sure was my most charming manner:
 ”And what if I don’t take well to orders, and just leave?” Your shirt fell to the floor.
 ”Then you’re an idiot.”, and you disappeared into the bathroom.
Once you returned we sat cross legged, reading each other Neruda & Baudelaire, Joyce and Bob Dylan. We soon grew physical, and between kisses I murmured:
 ”I bet you’ve got a lot of skin…” You were silent, but not appalled.
 ”I’d like to get to know all of it, is all.” I said, wine and poetry making me unafraid.
When the world stopped spinning, when my breath returned to me, still in the afterglow, still sweaty and tangled, we chewed on our names and  how good they’d look on dust jackets. Eventually- how could we not?- we turned to mergers of your name and mine, decided it was too good to pass up. Before long, my books crammed your shelves already full. I took special care to mingle them so there would be no line of yours and mine, no stacks to know which hers, which his.
I gave you a ring. You tried on vintage wedding dresses.

Before winter thawed the mountains we sat in your car, in the rain. We were outside the library parking lot, I’d sheltered there in the stacks like you’d sheltered me that first night. But you called me away and when the car didn’t start, I thought a new shelf was about to filled.
Little did I know, you were emptying it. After tears, a Neruda poem, and a return of that ring, I affably left, a forced smile, an insistence that I would be ok, that I would always be ready for you to return to me. Later I’d pick meticulously through our shelves, and god knows some of mine were left behind, though none of yours came with me.
But that day, in the storm, I walked into the library, and among those foreign public stacks, so different from our own, more impressive, yet colder, I sought comfort. Those stacks full of words and wisdom but vacant and unfamiliar gave me Salinger, and gave me Nims. They gave me back the tears withheld as I had tried to be brave in the face of your leaving.
But they did not give me back you.

Five Poems

I asked my followers on Tumblr to give me topics and I would write poems around anything submitted.
Here they are.

Comic Books
The map led to a blighted plaza
And the was a hint of the familiar.
I was thirty miles out of my way
On a trip  200 miles too-far

I’d come to this shop
I’d read Flash and Bone and Spider-Man
I discovered Wizard and Dragon Dice-
But Never Spawn. 

Odin’s still stands,
Though the nearby pizzeria is gone
Odin’s trucks on, handing out  
Magic and flight.
I’d made my pilgrimage
To the place where Superman died.
I left with a stack of Green Arrow
And sweet potatoes from next door. 

I told the man at the counter
What his shop had done
I told him about the small, awkward kid
Who now came back to call. 

There is a cat.
             and purring 
                                and watching 
The cat sits 
on the dark stool 
in the dark room 
where we curl on the floor 
to weep.

My eyes-
puffy, half closed, 
Watch the cat as she watches me.

If my pupils were black holes

If my arms were infinite
A thousand times they’d wrap around her.

But distant she watches
And in that silent, feline way
(In which Pharaohs must have been enthralled)

She judges, and I know. 

God sent angels to sit on our shoulders 
They point:
left                                                            and                                                     right.

Some one sent a cat
to sit in my heart.

She whispers:
I told you so.“ 

You bastard, blanched and blighted cur!
Be ye broccoli, or be ye cabbage?
Be gone, whichever, mongrel, sir!
Heed me and my new-minted adage:

Cauliflower, wickedest in the garden
Plaguing man since fifteen hundred:
Causes babes to weep and hearts to harden,
Thus drive it out, lest lunch be sundered. 

Distant Friendships
The tides and tolls of seas and bells
Ring and wash the particulars. 
“This night, or that?” we laugh, 
“Was he there, or…?”
The forgiveness known 
Between two so separated 
Is deep, and simple.

The purity of simple joy
Though infrequent-
Makes each reunion a holiday.

You find me,
I lose you.
Months go by. 

But sometimes I am lost and lonely in some warm corner of the world
And I know you’re not thinking of me.
But I also know
I walked into what room you are in-
Or should you into mine-
The night would last ‘til dawn. 

Two cups between us,
Two long books of unspoken words.
The cups soon were emptied,
And while much was discussed
And many words exchanged
Those two books sat empty,
Scarcely a prologue uttered between us.
We finished our coffee, we finished our dialogue.
for now.
A heap of change rattled on the counter 
The bell on the door jangled softly.

Two turns before me,
Two roads my car to take.
The highways soon were emptied,
And while miles & songs fell away beneath me,
And more coffee flowed to guide me,
I found myself no closer to answers,
No destination  on my map.
I finished my wandering,
Turned my back on that horizon
For now.
Your words rattled in my thoughts,
Your passions echoed in this writing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some Nights I Dream Of Thaw

In hallways and shopping malls I find you
Invariably, I am with others-
With friends/family/lovers.
I leave them at the sight of you.
In the last one you threw things at me.
I knew immediately you were you-
You who could never assault
You were saying “Were I violent
I’d be violent. Could I hurt you-
Now I’d be hurting you.”
But you couldn’t bring yourself to that. 
So you flirt.

I look into your eyes and I know you’re hiding.
I follow you down those crooked paths/alleys/halls
And you continue just out of reach.
You are a casket for a flower,
Your feelings for me are schrodinger’s cat.

In my dreams we evade all that we’ve known, 
Our days reduced to our own simple company, 
Our own simple joys.
We don’t speak of the past-
We don’t dare speak of your present,
Our thoughts, but never our words
On our futures.

In my dreams you’re there with an unspoken promise of sex
In my dreams, it’s a matter of time.
And before consummated,

This wakes me- terrified.

Your memory is with me then all the next day.
I’m certain you’ll call,
I’m certain your sister-
My last thin strand tied to you-
Knows what I’ve dreamt, 
Certain she watched us from the wings of my dream
Certain she’ll slap me to rouse me from this fevered belief
We could ever touch again.

I’m certain of so little, by nightfall.
I crawl hesitantly into bed,
Wondering what new dimly lit mirage
I’ll be met with.
You’ve yet to come back a consecutive night.

I know only the frost of your silence, 
I know only an endless litany of my wrongs against you,
New ones recalled with each dream.
Recited like prayer, another meaningless apology
Thrown on a heap of what you’ve made clear
Is the garbage of my useless apologies.
The punishments and rewards we doled to each other in youth
We’ll never forget or forgive.
I wish you well with your Whirlwind lover,

I hope only you think of me
Less often than I think of you.