09 November 2021

Umbilical

i have no excuse
lying on my back,
an ache behind each eye,
sand coating my throat.

i have no excuse
for this recurring dream
in which i am covered
gently
by the dirt,
making the mistake

of opening my mouth.

i remember you tried
to burn your prints away
but the groves, the loops
healed back, revealing
there's no such thing
as starting over

just again,
and a third time,
as if this were practice,
as if life were practice.

why not be here now
before we cough up
the mud of the past?


26 May 2021

if we go back

long before there were knives, there were teeth
to shred through flesh and crunch through bone

if we go back to "olden times,"
you have to put your weapons away

use what god gave you to impress survive

there is no cutting room floor
everything goes live

part with the club by the entrance
when you are done using it for the day

scrape the mud from your feet

await a return
to the same pattern of violence



18 April 2021

Your Own Medicine

sertraline
dangling
like an ornament
on the uvula--
to swallow
one's pride
is like hiding
evidence
to a crime



15 February 2021

The Drawbridge

On either side of a memory,
I wait
until the drawbridge closes
and the gap is filled--
without pleasantries,
without remorse,
just a pure, seamless destination
in front and behind--
from one town to the next,
and we can travel freely.
Until that bridge
serves its purpose,
I'll wait.
Between black and white,
between life and death,
I'll wait.

08 February 2021

Pretending

the light isn't coming back on--
too much trust for something
with invisible wires.
too much honesty for something
that pretends 
to be the sun.

I don't think I'm brave.
before your eyes knew me,
you thought I was--
skating into each tiny dream
on ice as black as fear...

when the light burnt out
I went to bed and
never got up
because it never came back.

a slight glimmer came, once,
a trick from my window--
or from my eye.

optic nerves, invisible wires tied so gently,
mapped by God and science...

too much trust for something
that is not guaranteed.

before your eyes knew me,
I philosophized.
I evangelized.
but then the ice cracked beneath my feet,
and I plunged
with you above me, 
so far away,
light-years away

16 September 2020

black cards

I no longer hear
from your friends,
all flat
in black and gray.
I've made peace
with their absence,
but not with yours.
maybe one day
we can talk about it.
until then, outlines and stains,
shadows of our potential chats,
clump in the bottom
of my tea cup.
fools suck it up,
but you sucked it up.
maybe hiding was a bad idea.
you believe in heaven,
so that is where
I will find you.


09 September 2020

blue light

 that soft blue light

has a way of creeping

      where it shouldn't.

and the click and punch

     of the typewriter

has a way of hypnotizing

when it shouldn't.

it's almost as if 

  you are speaking to me

from the next room,

but you are not here.

      it's almost as if

the blue light knows

whom to summon,

whom to follow 

       when inspiration calls.

uneven spaces, blue 

in the cracks, 

try to ease my hand,

ease my worry, 

  but no softness 

has enough force

to hit the keys,

and I am left with

your whispers,

your shadows

        where they shouldn't

appear.


28 August 2020

Unforgiving

the shape of grief?
there is no shape.
there is no road,
only interruptions
of quicksand.
there is no destination
only scattered paths
leading nowhere.
the shape of grief?
it's sand in the lungs.
it's sand in the eyes.
it takes the shape
of any open space,
unforgiving.

24 August 2020

Take

it's the decay
that finds me
and all of my
soft places--
a bruised fruit
on the ground,
only enjoyed
by those
whose only purpose
is to take.


02 August 2020

Indebted

I don't wish I were dead
even when I feel buried alive,
small rocks of grief in my mouth.
I don't wish I were dead.
I can't remember the last time I was awake,
a comb scratching the surface of my head,
wrestling tangles and knots so that
I can look OK, so that I can look
presentable when someone confides in me
only to forget to ask if I'm alright.
But no, I don't wish I were dead.
Just another person's wallet
would be emptied, then;
as if I never borrow.
As if I always borrow,
feathers for blood,
an endless well that goes
all the way down but fails to echo.
I don't wish I were dead,
but I keep having dreams
about the dead, bubbling in my ear,
fresh water myths rushing
so much I cannot hear my thoughts.
The dreams are always about it being a farce,
a prank, that she is gone.
"Who told you that?" She'd explain, exasperated,
and I would wake up, thinking I'd been lied to,
a penny bouncing off the wall of the deepest well.
I can't remember the last time I was awake,
floating in the water, feathers shiny,
emerging from a bloody wound.
When the light hits the back of her eyes
she'll know that she has been found.
Why would I ever wish I were dead
even when the mind is a trap?


22 May 2020

Two Weeks

Grief is the worst type of heartbreak--
there is no promise of spring,
just leaves crumbled into dust.

And the days move ever forward.
And I feel left behind.
And I am looking for you,

listening for your voice--
but you are dust.
Death is the ultimate promise.

It is the worst type of promise.



17 May 2020

May 8

There are not enough artifacts
nor trinkets
nor letters written
nor rough maps drawn

blue ink
cursive
a "T" forgotten,
uncrossed

There is not enough time
hands ticking
coming closer together
three or four clocks, at least,
I count
while sitting
where you last rested

Somewhere, I will find
your memory boxes,
your address books,
your yellow legal pads

Somewhere, I will find
your bookmarked Bibles
with tear-stained pages,
your 91st Psalm

But today, nothing I will find
will be enough
I am selfish
I want soft arms
I want more than
recordings
to save and replay...
"He is risen--he is risen indeed!"

I want your songs
your hums
your interruptions
your "not only that"s

I knew this day would come
but seeing you
in robin's egg blue
head tilted
as if napping
I was not ready
I guess we never are

Whose stories
will ring in my ears
now?

Whose loud, persistent voice?

All the time in the world
still wouldn't be enough
with you--

big brown eyes
now closed

I can ask why you left
and if you'll be back
but these questions
are for children

I am so small
facing vast darkness
"But the light returns,"
I can hear you say
"Everything will be okay
I promise"



01 May 2020

Power

My vote
is a Molotov cocktail
thrown at your sneering,
sweaty face.
How dare you;
like you are entitled
to my trust.
This flaming liquid,
these glass knives
jab your throat.
They are all
you are entitled to,
motherfucker.
Yell then, won't you.
Maybe someone
will cover your mouth,
too,
when you scream.


31 March 2020

Sacrifice

Speaking with
a dead man's voice--
anonymous,
cooling embers,
feeling
each individual tooth
crumble
into dust--
when is too late?
Does it matter?
You take a stick,
swirl the ash.
It's not just
one person here.
There are many.
When each throat
cracked, the yolk
of mucus breaking,
did you give a damn?
When will you learn
that coins
are always cold.



21 February 2020

For Dean

Water lilies...
Even the eyes,
far away and knowing,
smile delicately,
Lotuses...
when the blue arrives
to carry him away--
a wise young "he,"
tucked into his bed.
Orchids...
Take a small curl
for a keepsake.
Remember the folds
of the petals--
his favorite flowers
Roses...
that he wants so much
to show you.
Listen for the gentle laugh
on the breeze,
and decide, then,
to follow it.


17 December 2019

False Safety

The repeated
police sirens
lull him to sleep.
When awake, he says,
'I like to be alone
except when I'm afraid.'
Pulling on his collar
is a ghost he calls friend.
Catching him
by his tender throat,
he understands
the price he pays
for false safety.




30 November 2019

Pebble

I don't expect apologies,
sharply-formed like a pebble in my boot,
so I am the one
to say
I'm sorry
over and over,
until the sharpness lessens,
until I receive permission
to free my heel
from your fucking grip


17 April 2019

Across the Bar

"Hello," said trial and error
to the twilight of experience.
"What will it be today?"
"Rest," she replied.
"I want to rest."
And in a fluid, sweeping motion,
trial and error
honored her wish.
He waved his hand
over her golden head,
and she rested it,
nestled in
folded arms
across the bar.


18 January 2019

The Peacemaker

I want so much
to be easier
to love--
to start
from square one
less often,
to be held to fewer
expectations,
a tide
whose only job
is coming in,
not to polish and refine.
Because I can't anymore.
I can't inspire
or crack a loaf
of bread over my knee,
and say, "Here,
be at peace
with me.
Settle
for my limitations."
I will not be well again,
but it's so difficult
to know
that healing
is not an option.
I want so much
to not be difficult.
I want the routine
of joy without
sacrifice--
no more
blood in the bowl,
a tide
that only rushes
past.


20 November 2018

Yolk

Swollen brain, pulsing to be
everything I hate,
forgets
that you have a monopoly
on mental illness.
You--
candy floss hair;
biggest eyes,
milk chocolate
and over-sweetened--
grasp at the thought,
sprinkled and dazzling,
but you won't
forgive me.
The core of me
gave every piece of advice
I could muster,
small cookies
hot and sugary.
I gave you the last one
when you decided
it wasn't ample for you.
If only I loved you enough
to give you everything,
every morsel of myself.
My swollen brain cracks
into a big white bowl,
sits on the counter,
sulphurous and cursed.