Tag Archives: blogging

The Day the Sun Fails Us

What if I tell you I’ve seen the future and that
the sun forgets to come up tomorrow?
Who will call her from her grave in the sky?

Will it be you?
Will you stand on the mountains of the world
and call us all to mourning?
Or will you cry you are ready for morning?

We reach with greedy fingers
to clutch the universe like a blanket, to pull it back
and expose the soft stuff underneath.

The sun will run to the other side of the galaxy,
cowering in a corner, hugging her knees.
She will cry perfectionist tears of having disappointed everyone
this one day, one day of all days.
You’ll have to heave her onto your shoulders
and carry her back to us,
burning all the way.

Atlas, when he comes around,
will turn from you in disgust.

How entitled we are, to expect so much.
How rabid our need to be guaranteed
this sunrise, this turn of the axis,
this glass of ice water and
this peeled orange and
this hand over yours,

this fleck of dust suspended
in a single beam of light.

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This is How to Live with Yourself

How do you live with yourself?
I don’t mean it like that.
What I mean is, how do you live with yourself
when your self gets up in the middle of the night,
leaving you alone with the ceiling
and all its chipping paint?

How do you live with your self
when she roams with a will of her own
and comes back to you from god-knows-where
smelling like beer and someone else’s body?

Each time she returns
she’s wearing a new face
and you have to peel your old one back
from the toothpaste-encrusted
mirror.

Do you charge your self rent?
Do you let her crash on your couch
for free?

You call her a beatnik and try living without her,
locking the doors and vacuuming the carpet
and pulling her hair from the sink.
You throw faces at the mirror
but none of them stick.

And after a while you grow lonely
and leave the kitchen window open
for her to climb through.

Like a stray cat, your self comes
and goes as she pleases. Forever leaving you
she finds her ways – miraculously, defiantly –
to return to you.

So you feed your self.
You hold her and warm her.
Otherwise her face looms in every window,
cheeks sunken in her skull
like some ravenous shadow.

And sometimes when you feel her emptiness
you panic
and turn on all the lights in the house

only to find her in the kitchen
pouring herself a glass of water.

I’m tired tonight, she explains,
after you ask why she isn’t off
on some new adventure.

Learn her name, then.
Call her what she is:

your gypsy,
your everything,
your midnight wanderess who digs around in dumpsters
and brings you back a personality.

And when she finds you in the bathroom
throwing faces, hurling them like baseballs,
she pins your arms to your sides
and tells you enough is enough.

This is how to live with your self.
Look at her, where it matters,

in those kaleidoscope eyes
which you have only now realized
seem too colorful and sad to be your own.

Cinquain Chain: Links #14 & #15

All aboard the cinquain train! Johnny and I are chugging along… 

Around
what dead thing are
the vultures circling?
There is always a corpse somewhere
nearby.

Nearby,
there are blossoms
breathing in the dark night.
Why is the air so empty in
our dreams?

Our dreams
where we descend
with stones in our pockets
like Virginia into the dark
water —

water
which bears the weight
and weeps to consume us
and delivers our bodies back
to land.

To land
in a place such
as this, to fall like bombs
into an abyss. Sky becomes
water.

Water
waits for what falls.
The bones of thoughts lie half-
remembered, settling, eaten
by time

by time
which wavers like
curtains by a window
devoured by moths, mice, and men
until –

until
time stands with a
backbone of its own and
says with breath from a distant wind:
enough.

Enough
of this wasteland
pantomime, this taste that
still waits on the edge of our tongue’s
desert,

desert
of the mind’s end,
end of the places where
we can offer our selves any
comfort.

Comfort
yourself knowing
there are seas beyond these
sand dunes, once you blink and open
your eyes

your “I”s
left behind like
so many broken shells
once you realize mankind is
one man.

one man
walks alone, as
kind as his dreams will
let him be, real eyes seeing more
and more

and more
than won men can
handle, more than bartered
men can bet on, until they close
their eyes.

Their eyes
flicker like light—
bulbs in dusty attics,
following him into the dark
places

places
no man should go
until he has learned the
way of the rat and the raven
and Poe

Cinquain Chain: Links #7 & #8

The continuation of a poetry exchange between Johnny Crabcakes and myself. We are forming a chain of cinquains in an effort to unchain our muses.

Around
what dead thing are
the vultures circling?
There is always a corpse somewhere
nearby.

Nearby,
there are blossoms
breathing in the dark night.
Why is the air so empty in
our dreams?

Our dreams
where we descend
with stones in our pockets
like Virginia into the dark
water —

water
which bears the weight
and weeps to consume us
and delivers our bodies back
to land.

To land
in a place such
as this, to fall like bombs
into an abyss. Sky becomes
water.

Water
waits for what falls.
The bones of thoughts lie half-
remembered, settling, eaten
by time

by time
which wavers like
curtains at a window
devoured by moths, mice, and men
until —

until
it stands with a
backbone of its own and
says with breath from a distant wind:
enough.

White Noise

It’s back again – the familiar itch
that tugs at me like a whining child:
when is our next adventure?

Day-to-day life is a steady drip of white noise.
My ears have forgotten how to hear
and need the sound of foreign tongues
to remind them.

Here is the voice again,
nagging, necessary:
Do you remember France?
Do you remember cathedrals
and fresh-baked croissants
and sunflower fields as far
as the eye can see?

Yes, I remember,
and I cannot breathe in this town
that is too small for me

the way a jar is too small
for a trapped insect

the way a backyard is too small
for a fenced-in dog

the way this body is too small
for the voice that pounds
all day long like a fist,
like the chime of a clock,
harsh and insistent —

When is our next adventure?
When? When?

Meeting Michelangelo

You should never meet your heroes.
Ah, but how many times have I heard a stale cliché
and proceeded to ignore it?

A month ago today I met the author of The Book Thief
and stood like an ant before a mountain,
trembling in my bones beside
the fullness of him.

Who was I, to this man?
I knew every crack and crevice of his story
and he did not even know my name.

He was about my height, actually.
He was not ancient and he was not towering,
had neither black cape nor scepter
nor raven perched upon his shoulder.

He was not grey and wise,
he did not have marble universes in his pocket
or shoot fire from his eyeballs.

I had wanted to convey in pure poetic genius
that his book carved me into a person
the way Michelangelo chipped away
at marble and found David inside

but all I managed to do was hold out my copy
and stammer, Thank you.
Thank you so much,
for this.

He did not – as one might suppose –
strike me with lightning.

Rather, he put his arm around me.
The hand that wrote my favorite novel
hung for a moment around my waist
as he told me he cried to write the ending
I cried to read.

How human he was, then.
How the stone crumbled, with a single tap,
to reveal a face just like mine.

Lost

And while you’re at it, listen to one of my favorite songs here.

I am afraid I have lost you,
unintentionally, the way I lose pennies
down sewer drains and socks to washing machines.

Where have you gone now?
What river or pipe has carried you far from me,
to where fish will nibble away at you
and mice will steal you for their makeshift nests?

I will find others like you, and I may
keep them.

It never leaves me, though: this sense
that I have lost something small
and vitally important

down the well of
space and time.

Bird and Worm

Before the bird eats the worm
it looks to me for forgiveness.

How do you tell nature it is not evil?
How do you promise there is nothing barbaric
about the way it stabs its beak into the earth
and uproots a body?

The animals were the first
masters of war, after all;
before we had rifles and bombs
they had tooth and claw

and knew how to strike a weak spot –
throat and eye and
soft underbelly.

But I was wrong about the bird.
It was not asking for forgiveness,
it was not even looking at me.

Nature, it seems,
does not need permission
to be what it is.

NaPoWriMo as Cardioversion

For Johnny, and the resurrection of our creative selves.

Today’s poem rests atop a precarious
pile of essays and to-do lists
and unfinished emails.

This, I have to remind myself,
is the important work

this: my art,
the heart of my life,
that I must sometimes shock
back into beating.

One Voice, Speaking Without a Mouth

To play with an orchestra is to surrender control
and to let your hands move
as they know how.

You must learn how to become
the person sitting beside you
and to bend, like the grass,

to the music that moves you.

The flutes with their birdsong
and the cellos with their cathedral chords
have much to teach us

about the simple strings and buttons that,
when touched, stand tall
and speak for themselves.

When Wood Gives Way to Water

When wood gives way to water
the structure must collapse.

No mind is built to last.
The psyche, having weathered the storm,
shipwrecks itself

and lies like a beached whale,
groaning and heaving.
No one knows why

to be human is to hurt
in the deep places

and to know when to seek
shallow water.

So when the sea has conquered the cellar
you are already half-sunk

and when the waves have raided the wine
the sailors have already mutinied.

Do not look for buckets;
nothing can scoop out an ocean
or a thought once it has
gotten inside.

Instead, drop your anchor –
drop it and feel the weight of it
leaving you

as you emerge from that wreck of
wood and nail and bone.

You will know land once you feel it
under your feet, once you remember
you have feet

and when wood gives way to water
you will know how to carry yourself forward

like the newly-hatched turtle
under the eye of a watchful moon

or the tortoise that blinks its slow eyes
and knows how to die.

Spring Cleaning

Your mind is a house with all the curtains drawn.
Don’t you know I would come marching,
feather-duster in hand,
to clear away the dirt and the darkness,
to put away the dishes,
to replace the bone
your dog has been gnawing
for months now.

But instead, you are there,
in your body, and I am here,
in mine

and no amount of dusting
can fix a rotting floorboard
or a ceiling nearing collapse.