Broken

It always comes back to this.
The sky falling upward.
The ground beneath my feet
sinking away.

The face of a friend,
burning like a satellite upon reentry,
crashes through my peripheral.
Her coordinates perpendicular to my own,
separated by this line on our horizon,
this equator of meticulous doubt
and hope and love
and hate and sex
and greed
and life.

The nurse looks me in the eyes;
she wants to know why I did what it is I did.
As if my heart
lying here as broken as a femur
is no indication at all.

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Just Keep Running

Life.
Day in. Day out.
Mundane and ritualistic.
Wake up. Shower.
Walk the dog. Coffee.
Press clothes.
Toast. Coffee to go.
Leave for work.
Left at end of street
through the S curves,
onward until our eyes meet.

I used to tell time
like any normal person.
Lately I’ve been using
your morning run.

If you’ve reached Gardenia
by the time we pass
then I’m running late.
But if you’ve yet
to make Valencia
I’m on schedule.

It’s a fleeting moment that we share.
A raindrop in an ocean of seconds
that comprise our infantile existence
in a universe so old… that time forgot.

What I mean to say is this:
my world stops when
your sad eyes find my own.
And I don’t know if you’re
running from demons,
toward salvation, or
just… running.

I’m not a gambling man,
but if I had to lay my money down,
I would bet on it being the former.
Because I’ve been on the run too
and I can spot that solemn look.
The one that measures the distance
between your desires and your reality.

If I could speak to you
inside our tiny moment,
I would say one thing only:
Just.Keep.Running.

Because if you run
long and hard enough,
you will one day find yourself
crossing a finish line to find
you never truly ran anywhere at all.
You merely caught up
to who you’re meant to be.

To Be Honest

I have a friend who says I should be a motivational speaker. Someone who helps people find the right path among the weeds. She laughs when I tell her I lack the motivation, because honestly, it’s a riot to think that a nine to five working class hero dabbling in part time poetry could possibly lack motivation. I laugh with her because it’s easier letting her believe the joke than it is to tell her how rotten I am. It’s easier still, letting her heart sprout wings than telling her I’ve had a firm no tolerance policy on social integration for seven years, and now that someone’s repealing that fundamental (f)law… I’m terrified.

The Infallible Doctor of 811.6

He tells me
I need to learn to love myself.
He tells me
I need to learn to let people in.
He says
It’s only natural
else I wouldn’t be wrestling with myself.

“Your capacity to love,” he says,
“far exceeds any other trait.”
But
(there’s always a but)
“All this self-hate
is diminishing your light.”

He wants me to agree.
So he says “What do you feel?”

I tell him it was seven years ago
when I mustered all my courage
and suffering
and strain
and built this rickety boat
I’ve been sailing in ever since.

“Is it dark?”
He pauses,
pushing his horned rimmed glasses
further up his nose,
“Out there on the water–
is it dark?”

I lie to him and say,
“It’s pitch.”

“What about her?” he says,
“If you’ve been sailing
on that ocean this whole time,
couldn’t she be your lighthouse
come to call you home?”

3:15 AM LAST CALL iNOTE

I don’t know this room,
Gravitron spinning.
I’ve never walked these floors,
pirate-ship rocking.

The faces looking back at me,
whimsical and free,
are not yours.

If they could read
my over dramatized
silent film heart,
they’d scatter its pieces
to the four corners
as punishment.

Because life rarely affords
Kodak moment fairy tails,
and besides,
I’m no knight in shining armor,
and baby… you’re no princess.

but I could love you true,
and I could love you absolute.

If that’s…

Camera Obscura

I died in my sleep last night. When next I awoke, we were living in a stranger’s photograph. It was the summer we spent in Townsend. Love was exploding into our lives, making us feel as tall as the mountains we were ascending. We were background fodder in a photograph of a family from Wisconsin. A crisp mountain breeze swept the ridge below and blew your hair into my face. It tickled, we laughed, and our lips became locked in a forever-kiss as a biker from Montana snapped their photo.

I’ve been so lonesome since you went away. I used to wallow in your absence in the days after your departure. Our empty home would listen like a passive deity as I practiced saying all the things I never said, hoping fate would orchestrate one more chance. It never did.

But as your lips pressed firmly to mine and we felt that exact kiss at that exact moment for a second time… you evaporated like a thought bubble in a motion comic. The watercolor mountains wept and faded into nothing. I feel out of frame into the abyss below. Swirling waves of obscurity carried my body ever deeper, as though the entire world were draining itself.

Rock bottom was a twelve by eighteen photo of Pensacola Beach and my trunks were already on when I hit. The artist was a photographer from Oregon. She visited twenty-three beaches before finding her shot. We never knew shew as there.

A burnt orange sky on the horizon, clung to its last bit of blue. The tide had come in to feed on leftover sand castles. Your head was on my shoulder. You told me I had the memory of an Aquarian and tied a string around my finger. I promised it would never happen again. Time washed the red right out of it, but I died with it around my finger. Even death, the absolute clean slate, couldn’t force me to forget.

A new me stood within the old that you knew. I wanted to plead, and beg you not to let me off so easy but our beach melted into the Persistence of Memory. Our bodies dissolved into sand as well fell through the contours of an hour glass. I felt the nothing around me convulse and then expand in every direction, creating a dark room of shared memory.

Thousands of pinholes, suspended in space and time, opened themselves to me. With my prying eyes, I could see contained within each, a living memory of frozen snapshots. You and I played a walk-on role in every scene. A Laotian couple caught a glimpse of us passing through Magic Kingdom. They were aww-ssshucks posing with Goofy when we crossed the bridge into Adventureland. You were twenty-five years old and it was your first visit. Our excitement glowed in the afternoon sun.

Through another I saw an early Christmas morn. A father had taken a picture of his six-year-old daughter riding her first bike. You and I were on the front porch of the apartment. I had just surprised you with Max, our first puppy. He had peed all over your favorite blanket, the one with the holes for your toes. My head was thrown back in a fit of laughter. Max was licking your disgruntled face, tearing away any shred of residual anger. He always loved you the most.

I’ve spent eternity with you since last night. We shared a good life, you and me. I know it wasn’t all ups. But the downs, well, they never wallowed in ruin, did they? You asked me once if I believed in Heaven. I still don’t know when or where this undiscovered country exists. But maybe… maybe the less here is this: Heaven is how love looks at you when no one is watching, and Hell is not paying attention.

She

She invades my every notion
like a conquering force
stealing my ability to
articulate any single
cohesive thought.

Her voice lurks behind
every corner of my mind,
the loveliest fucking woman I know.

Her words drip
from technological advances
and linger like whispers in the ear.
I speak in semicolon pauses
whet with angst.

She’s a little sprite,
who fairy flutters my heart
with her fresh cut
lime and honeydew aroma,
reducing me to 9th grade poetry
and adolescent fear.

So I turn inward,
carrying myself to the river
that’s never failed
to quench a creative thirst.
I wade knee-deep into the
black and white.
But she’s beat me there
by a country mile.
Her laughter echoes
through the forest trees,
amplifying and projecting color
throughout my inner peace.
It’s a strange brew of pure magic
and uncensored truth.

I want to drink of her
until she’s a part of me.

A Song of Love: A Play in Four Parts

Act One:


Amidst the early morning hum
of rattling newspapers and whispering voices
a weary man enters scene downstage
and begins to weave his way through
the crowded coffee house.

A woman sits upstage
at a table made for two.
She’s the type of person
who orders her coffee under an alias.
Not out of any sort of identity crisis,
but because she thinks it’s pretty
when the barista randomly blurts
Summer Skye, or, Moon Star.

She notices our leading man
struggling to find an empty table,
and nudges the vacant chair
of her half-empty table.

“Do you mind if we share?” he says to her.

She smiles,
and for brief moment there,
the floor beneath him gives way
like a falling dream or a thrill ride.

He hasn’t so much as fell into his chair
when she says, “you’ve got to see this.”
“It’ll make you laugh
like you didn’t know you needed.”

That’s how it starts,
their 21st century time together,
in a crowded coffee house
with a few minutes of bored fate.

And though she has seen
these moving pixels
a thousand times before,
her laughter still erupts,
oozing over the room,
like hot, molten glee.

His eyes affixed, not on the phone,
but on her red stringed wrist
and the hand covering her mouth,
as if she could somehow
stymie the escaping magic.

To his ears, her laughter: a serenade.
A song he’s never heard.
One he desperately wants
to know the words to.

And to this day
when he asks her to sing,
what he means to say is
laugh with me.

Act Two:

A portable Crosley sits atop
a weather washed dresser
in an oil lamp lit room and
our leading man is dropping
the needle on a record.

She’s lying behind him,
blooming like a flower,
on a bed made for two.

A warm August night slithers
through a bedside window.
The odd breeze outside
kisses the lace of her curtains
before running back into the dark,
taking with it the tried and true
sounds of Otis Blue.

He turns about face and observes
her petals as they begin to shed,
one by one, to the floor below.
She takes him into her hand
and pulls him close.

He rests above her porcelain body;
the dog day heat of her love rising,
sifting through the bird cage bars
of his single-cell sociology.

His brown-eyed imperfections
stare, threadbare, into the
cobalt blue of her essence.
What he finds piercing back
is less like honesty and more like
some fundamental truth
he missed along the way.


Act Three:

Ghostly echoes pitter patter
down the hall of a home made for three,
and linger there like phantom memories
in all their arrogant splendor.

Our lady of the house
in her holey Cure tee
chases them away
with broom handle –
trash tray.
She’s spring cleaning
the sixteen hundred square feet
of immeasurable distance
that’s befallen her heart
and her husband.

She glances at him,
while he sits unsuspecting,
at the living room window
and wonders when it was
that their eyes last met.
She can’t remember
the last time he made her sing.
His own heart ran out of songs
so very long ago, now.
There’s not much left
of the man she used to know,
just the scruffy exterior
of a faint resemblance.

So the days slowly unfurl
for this shipwrecked captain
and his first mate.
Resentment could easily
replace the love in her eyes,
but when she looks at him,
she understands.
It wasn’t too long ago
when she had a head
full of answerable riddles.
She too, swam the shores of insanity,
but somehow managed
to claw her way back from oblivion
for him.

Act Four: 

An elderly couple lay center stage,
in a hospital bed made for one.
It’s that part of the morning
where life is only starting to rise,
and deathly shadows still
yearn for demise.

They lay there entangled
like young lovers in afterglow,
amidst the incessant drone
of medical machinery
and time-bomb ticking.

His eyes find the cobalt of hers
somewhere in the twilight
and for the first time
they see within,
all the ghosts of who they’ve been
and who they’ll ever be.

She lifts a frail hand;
shackle weighted
by cold plastic tubing,
and brushes the white
of what little hair he has left.

A darkness creeps beneath them
with an insatiable appetite,
gnashing its tick-tock teeth,
countdown commencing.

Her thumb catches a solitary tear
tracing its way down his worn leather face.
“Don’t cry,” she whispers,
“just sing to me.”
Her lover laughs out loud
through tear-blurred vision,
“Hey,” he says to her, still chuckling,
“that’s my line.”

He half expects to hear
the very same laughter
that got them into this mess.

But she’s gone.

He knows it by the final tick
of his metronome heart,
and the grief bomb
that just blew a crater
in his chest.

The old man stares
into the abysmal twilight
that has now enveloped them,
and charts a course,
like an explorer of old,
into its uncharted waters.

His eyes close.

The rising sun from the living world outside
intrudes through an uninviting window,
blanketing the room with its security,
like soft, warm comfort.

Back Monkey

Leftover garbage pail pies.
Boysenberry flies.
Saturday morning imaginary cartoons.
Tree fort farmer tans.
We fought wars. We fought peace.
My unalienable friend.
My ultimate foe.

Rains come torrential.
Forrest flood archipelago.
Broken land ruled by broken boy soul.
Cool water for to quench our thirst.
We swam. We sank.
My buoyant friend.
My anchoring foe.

Then come Suzy Lee.
Pigtailed freckles on pale palette.
Study hung in halls of heart.
We married. We fell apart.
My understanding friend.
My loyal foe.

Black dank decomposition.
Gut rot worm food smorgasbord.
Six feet down.
Be buried deep with me.
My admiring disease.
My contemptuous infection.

The Walmart Rose

We made out to Elliott Smith.
Electric blue passion kisses
from a Basement on the Hill.
She was about a minute-thirty shy
of becoming an all-out chain smoker.
Breath full of beer and menthols,
she tasted like Rock N Roll.

By day we were wrecking balls
bulldozing small talk.
At night we became archeologists.
Adorned with hard hats and flashlights
forged from longing and loneliness;
we went searching for our
heart’s forgotten muscle memory.

The great discovery of our time
ended up being her proclivity for lust.
In the pre-dawn soft pink
she uttered a five word confession:
“I’ve been seeing other guys.”

Any anger I felt was afterbirth
to expectation.
I could taste philander
and smell restlessness.

She tried desperately
to project the perfect portrait:
Ruby lips smiling.
Single mom strength shining.
But everybody knows
her Dorian Gray
is weak and wilted.
Like cheap wine
and Walmart roses.