Monday, December 10, 2012

For "Return Inside" ★★★★

It is like breathing
not in that it is uncontrolled
for in truth
I can manage my inhales and exhales
speed them up or slow them down
or still them completely
for a time.
Breath is so effortless and easy
in comparison.
Rather, it is like
the rise and fall of my diaphragm
as it pulls in life,
this vague crest and dip of ocean waves.
I feel the sense of myself
waxing and waning.
The worst part being,
I think,
the feeling of just regaining self,
whole and complete,
and sensing it being pulled away,
pulled out of me,
until I am left without words,
without movement.
The world dissolves
into shadows and monsters
and my body becomes numb and distant,
until I am floating in some silent sea
behind my eyes.
Whatever part that remains coherent
left floating out in some vast void
sending messages through membranes
and barricades,
dying before they reach my mouth,
wordless and motionless,
child-like and empty.
I cling to this thing I am 
so desperately
and I bite down panic
and the images that bubble up 
as if the filters inside me were failing,
sending me memories,
sending me visions,
the ideas of which become consuming
and frighten and churn and flay me open
I cannot fight back
not this.
I would take all of the pain,
endlessly for all of my days,
If I could surmise a way
to hold my breath.


It always starts out so well
They are so understanding
While I wax erratic and clutch myself
Biting back gasps and shudders
They fetch warm blankets
Hot tea and medicine
And whisper sweet sympathies 

In time they grow used to the ordeal
Sit uneasy as I pull at the skin of my arms
As I drift into rigid silence
As I cry out and churn
They say nothing
It's not uncommon circumstance
This strange melodrama
And they wait for it to pass
While I yearn for soft hands
And soothing whispers 

I see it in their eyes first
The impatient irritation
My body arcs and rebels
And I worry and fret
And they wish it were over
That they were anywhere else
That they could walk away
and not watch me break 

The comments trickle out
You're exaggerating, doing it on purpose
Must you do this now?
Must you?
Outright anger, gritted teeth
This again? Still?
Can't you just stop

And I want to 

More than anything 

And I feel like such a useless burden
The loathing wells up in my throat
I fight my very existence
And like a drowning man
Sink deeper and deeper
Unable to breathe 

Reaching out for a rope, a line
Longing for a string of words


It's a curse
I told him resolutely
And he looked up at me
With his hands still resting
On the abandoned lump of iron
He'd pried up from the earth
His hair an uneven grate
In front of icy pools
There was a quick falter
In his incorrigible smile
How do you mean?
I tore the fronds
From a fallen palm branch
Being so emotional
So all over the place
Every sorrow feels for me
A thousand times more
I want to be whatever it is
That means normal
But instead live knowing
that every morning
I wake under a shadow
For every triumph I have
It costs me more
And I am so tired of people
Always angry for things I can't help
And in turn me being angry at myself
For being who I am
His eyes fell
I know
He said
And of course it was true
He had lived his life
In and out of institutions
And was under the impression that
Of all the people he'd ever met
That my thoughts were most like his
He let the words settle
Into the cool night air
Letting the silence
and sodium lamplight
Move back into the space between us
He turned to me again
So the moonlight bathed his face
But because of those lows
We get to feel all the highs
The joys indescribable
And I think it's worth it
I nodded and wore a wry smile
I felt the ground beneath my feet
Letting myself get lost in the rhythm
That creates itself
When walking the wooden beams
Of railroad tracks
It's the little things isn't it
The sunlight falling through trees
And hot cider
When the cold creeps up under your cuffs
So why do you do it?
He asked
Try so hard I mean
Keep going
I wasn't sure
A hope of things to come
I guessed
That there will be sunsets and chocolates
And that all evil in the world can't last forever
You know
Once I abandoned hope
I told him
No, that's not true
I ran away from feeling anything
I became cynical and distant
Walled myself up
Abandoned my passions for half a year
I stared at the distant pinpoints
Scattered across the inky field of sky
I know what you say is true
I need to be myself
I'm a better person when I am
He grinned
So you keep on because of hope?
I laughed, reaching to take hold of him
More like a bull headed stubbornness
Not to let myself down


I read recently
In the news
That the reason our brains grew so large
Is that our cells resist dying
Deny their natural cycles
Letting our neural pathways flourish

A schism in our make-up
has caused us to become
The tempered beast
The eminent cousin

But because our cells
Linger onto life
They say we are more prone
We humans
To cancer
to this malignant failure to cease

I am broken.

My neural pathology an unknown
I am aware only of the way it shapes me
Some deformation of my make-up
Causing the pain and spasms 
and sleepless night
The bleating days and drifting unaware
Without solace or coherent strands
To hold me in place
As if my mental structures grow unmanaged
Into chaos

The world I see is
sometimes what I think you see
Other times not
Or rather I see the same things
But with shifted interpretation
My mind distorts
Flattening, skewing, implying, eroding
Like being drugged
Or waking from a dream
I feel my own self or soul or person
In abstracted drifting consciousness
So many different selves, myself

This body; this mind

It has brought begrudging understanding
A delight in sensation
A love of experience
And also a fear
So frequently waiting just off stage
Tucked out of sight
Behind the sunshine and sweetness.

It defines me
Has sculpted me
with fine artist hands
Spun me from the aether

I am this.

An error of biology
With open eyes and quick smile
a strong will
And a heavy burden

A bedfellow to Sisyphus

I think there is something tragic
And beautiful
If what they say is true

That what makes us man

Is cancerous.


I remember my father
holding a tiny silver pin
in his broad, full hands.
I watched him
as he drove it through the skin of his leg,
pulling it taut,
not flinching.
He looked up at me
pain is just a sensation.
I was just a child,
with a mind like fresh clay,
and it settled like silt
on the bottom of a riverbed.
For many years it seemed
one of his oddities,
his strange teachings.
But I wonder now his intentions.
Because I also recall
the taut skin of my mother
as I massaged her swollen arms
I remember her
doubled over in pain
and mentally calculating
a shortest path
as every step brought agony.
I watch her fumble for words
this insurmountable woman 
who had faced down
and jury rigged 
the world.
Always with grace and compassion.
The genesis of my being.
And I worry.
Churning knots inside my skin.
Did he suppose?
That his sweet small child
would fail and twist inside?
That when he was gone
she would be left alone with this?
That blood to blood she would carry this burden?
Motives lost to the void.
All that is left
is to lay back in bed
and try to will it away.
Try another trick
another mental exercise
until swept up in shattering pain
I can only curl tightly in the sheets
and worry.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things I Need ★★

Its time I'm off shopping
for the things I need
milk and bread
and a wedge of cheese
lettuce, songs
and bits of dreams
a bulb of garlic
and fresh mint leaves
the pale soft glimmer
of the moon at sea
the smell of winter
some gathered seeds
fish oil to keep
the memories
of a man in flannel
and torn up jeans
butter and boullion
and toiletries

the things I need

the things I need

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weathering ★★★

We hadn't intended to have a hurricane party
But the morning after we danced and drank
and fell asleep in piles on couches and blankets
the storm hit.
Breakfast was soda and chips
and leftover Thai food.
We stood on the porch
wearing yesterday's clothes,
best jackets,
and swim trunks,
watching the rain come down in sheets
flooding the roads
and making great spinning gyres
that came over the hoods of passing cars.
And above it all, ominous
was the distant wail of a siren
and a disembodied voice
telling us to stay indoors.
It wavered in the wind
and seemed to come from everywhere
and nowhere
all at once.
The storm would thicken or break
as its arms passed over us
allowing us brief moments of respite
in which to rush to the car and
like valiant warriors
defying death itself
drive to get fast food.
Our return was met triumphantly,
and we sat and ate our spoils
doing our best to mourn that
they gave us the wrong order
and forgot the straws.
We laughed together,
with eyes bright,
as the storm washed us over,
and finally, as the weather broke,
we all went to our respective homes
driving highways filled with fallen branches
spying here a lost lawn chair,
there a rubber ball
and of course the water,
always everywhere,
in great murky pools
that invaded roads, ditches, and parking lots,
as if we had come back
to a different place
than the one we had left.

Recurrency ★★

Let me speak of echoes.

There are two true monsters I have known,
vain attractive bewitching creatures
each as cruel and elusive as the other.

In a way
the latter came to feel
as a shortened parody
of the one that came before;
both were marked
by an error of the body
and by a tattoo on the breast,
a design of their own fabrication,
as if the ink had sunk into their very flesh
and twisted their hearts.

In my memory they had eyes to bite the soul
though one wore blue and the other honey.
They shared a similar tastes in clothes,
and obviously in women ,
because they both sank their claws in me.
For a time anyway.

Our meeting was
a story told twice by different tellers,
starting with a concert missed
that led to sharing drinks with his friends
then slipping into his arms,
and then into his bed,
and then not doing anything more
but sleep.

The endings follow
and are always bitter
both took with them,
from me,
besides the grief and biting teeth,
besides my pride,
a book with a story
one separate from what was told on its pages,
and one I still would find
worth fighting over.

Do I receive such men unto me
as recurring punishment of past misdoings?
Am I haunted by some ghost
with a memory come unwound
trapped repeating it's story time and time again?
Or is it I who is cursed to repeat the same refrain?
a song, a dismissal
a karmic cycle

And if I looked would I find others?
Did the girl who called me names in grade school
in sleep blossom inky flowers
upon her thin breast?
Is life just you and I
sitting around a campfire
singing rounds
each picking up the last in endless echoes
each the same but slightly different
until we all collapse in sleep?

Used To Know ★★★

I say I knew him well
as if this is a thing I stopped doing.
Knowing him I mean.
Instead I seem unable to displace
that ocean of unneeded trivial details
that comprise his uneasy memory.
The way his hands moved during his mounting anxiety.
The soft scent of him,
always bringing to mind the color green.
I can uselessly recall the way he takes his coffee -
with milk, two spoons sugar -
or the bend of his body in sleep,
the rise and fall of his chest
while I lay melancholic beside him,
afraid to make a noise.
Burned into my eyes
is the brand of that coiled form
How could there be such peace and burden?
Yes, I know him.
Or I know who he was,
the immortal frozen titan in sleep
so large and monolithic
in each small breath.
A body now more mine than his
in the recollection of his whispered presence,
caught in me and lost to him.
Just as I am stuck in other chambers still.
But if you saw us in a photo,
if any still exist,

and asked,
I would hear myself say,
in what must be my voice,
He’s just someone I used to know.

Grey ★★★

It’s the middle of the night
and the world consists
of brilliant flashes of color and gradients of black.
You sit beside me in the car
singing along to the stereo,
a forgotten album
from some one hit wonder from the nineties.
Instead of stars we get a charcoal grey
and the air is hot and sticks to the skin
filling our breath with thickness like oil,
but things are just fine
here with you.
My windshield blurs the lights of the cities we pass through
lens flares and psychic auras and ghosts
that we leave behind us each in turn
until we are left alone in grey,
but such a splendid shade it is for once
though I couldn't tell you why.

Embody ★★

There is an itching in my fingers
somewhere between the palms and the tips
that makes them yearn to curl and grasp
lock onto some material tautness
but I know it would only make the stiffness spread
so instead I spread them wide
to let the night seep through them

I twist a dial and it starts to blend
with the dancing melodies
or drifting somber notes
riding them out as if physical
as if it were the thing that breathed the wind in my hair

The dark becomes endless like the ocean
and brilliant and hot like desert casinos
some vagueness swimming alongside me
like a friend
but only one you would trust
just so far

Soon I feel as if melted into this thing I have created
and the unknown alleys slide by
hidden places I have never tread
and there is darkness in my teeth
and pools sliding between my lips

I can ride this out or turn away
for my mother taught me strength and force of will
and my father taught me strength and how to use that will
how to consume pain and fear
and also
to always be prepared
and how to look like you know what you are doing
and when to run
because these woods are full of monsters
and I am alone