This is Normal — [For Michael McClure]

I’m floating. I’m sinking.
Tiny vibrations in the head.
Pocket universe of despair.
Falling free.
Sonic waves. Plastered voices.
See you there on a field of roses.
Cold and dead.
Wilted extremities.
These meditations;
telling myself I’m breathing.
Reminding myself its normal
to feel anything at all.
Treading a sea of gravity.
Pinned in place.
Lost in (head)space.
Trapped with no air.
Inhaling stars.
Extinguishing light.
Refilled. Recharged.
Taking my place among the Gods
who jumped for love and landed in the sky.

Starlight & Her Weary Knight: A Play in Three Parts

Act One:

Amidst the early morning hum
of rattling newspapers and whispering voices
a spent 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 due to any sort of identity crisis,
but because she thinks it’s pretty
when the barista randomly blurts
Cloud Flower or Cosmic River.

Our Moonbeam notices this leading man
struggling to find an empty seat,
and so she nudges the vacant chair
at her half-empty table.

“Do you mind if we share?”
he says to her, as if it were his idea.

She Starlight smiles.
For a moment,
the floor beneath him gives way,
like a falling dream or thrill ride.
She pushes the chair out,
inviting him into her circle.

He hasn’t so much as fallen into his seat
before she says, with elbows propped on table,
“You have 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 crawls
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 watches
her petals as they begin to fall,
one by one, to the floor below.

She takes him into her hand
and pulls him close.
The dog day heat of her love
sifting through the bird cage bars
of his single-cell sociology.

His brown-eyed imperfections
stare, threadbare, into the
chestnut hue 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-pat
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 his over-sized Cure shirt,
chases them away
with broom handle –
trash tray urgency.
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.
And don’t even begin to ask her
when it was that he
last made her sing.

The days slowly unfurl
for her shipwrecked captain.
There’s not much left
of the man she used to know.
Resentment could easily
replace the love in her eyes,
but when she looks at him,
she knows it wasn’t long ago
when her Moonbeam faded,
leaving a life full of
unanswerable riddles
that only time could solve.

She, too, swam the shores
of crisis infused mid-life insanity,
but somehow managed
to climb her way up the cliffs of oblivion.
Standing there now, atop her past,
she’s lighthouse calling,
she’s Starlight guiding him home.


An elderly couple lay center stage,
in a hospital bed made for one.
It’s that part of 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.

Somewhere in the twilight,
his eyes find hers,
and they see within,
the ghosts of past played roles.
Friends turned lovers turned
Mother and Father turned
Saviors in discord.
Starlight and her Weary Knight

She lifts her 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 Supernova smiles
“just sing to me.”
He laughs…
… like he didn’t know he needed, and says
“Hey,” still chuckling,
“that’s my line!”

He half expects to hear
echoing back to him,
the very same laughter
that got him into this mess.

But she’s gone.

He knows this 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 oblivion
that has now enveloped them,
and charts a course
into uncharted waters,
like an explorer of old.

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

A Woman Named True (or) I Am Breathing

Brooks bit the granny-smith
that his wife packed for lunch.
A crisp frrsshunk echoed
across the blistering blacktop.

“Focus!” he commanded.

I lay there, back to pavement.
Shaggy head sweat dripping
to instantaneous sizzling evaporation.
Arms extended, red palms down.
My abdomen is collapsing.

Brooks sat criss-cross applesauce
atop an outstretched polo.
Heat rose from the ground
like an apparition;
melting the horizon
in ultraviolet waves.

“I once met a woman named True.
She had a crooked smile, and a pretty virtue.”

My chest is rising.
Slowly. Controlled.
At three breaths per minute
untrained nostrils flare.
Air conceptualizes
and burrows deep
into expanded mind.

“I sought refuge in the bosom
of her battered hope.”

My belly is rumbling.
Hunger and thirst,
immense and clamorous,
skips-to-my-lou down
yearning corridors
of bleeding heart.

“The odd misshapen edges
of our imperfections
fit together like a puzzle.”

Brooks chucked the core behind his back,
running fingers through receding grey.
A mortal sigh rose from his depths,
and dispersed into open air.

“The ticking of time’s erosion
set upon us like water to a mountain.”

My lungs are filling with air.
Impermanence swells
with tsunami force;
flash flood cleansing
broken levee of
decaying soul.

“We stood opposite what was left,
like dueling gunslingers of old.”

My lungs are emptying.
Antiseptic and frighteningly temporary,
clears the anxious interior battlefield.

“And walked away.”

I am breathing.

Drunken iNote Manifesto

I believe in proximity infatuations serving as a healthy substitute to true love. I also believe this to be a fault and the single greatest source of sadness in my life. I believe in warm coffee cups in cold hands. I believe espresso art should be collected in a coffee table book. I believe there’s a pun there, but I’m far too drunk to explore its possibilities.

I believe in those tiny moments before a lighting storm where the hair on your arm stands on end, and you consider for a split second that there may be forces larger than yourself controlling anything resembling a destiny. I believe in dirty rain that seems to fall from another dimension, washing this town clean, and by extension, me.

I believe there is healing in the sight and sound of ocean waves breaking on an empty beach at four in the morning. I believe in sand castles and flip flops and vanilla ice cream cones on hot summer afternoons.

I believe I’m meant for grander things. I also believe we lie to ourselves in order to justify certain actions or inaction, and I believe that’s okay so long as we never truly believe.

I believe there to be a Medusa-like power hidden deep within the cobalt of her eyes, and with every glance I steal it grows increasingly difficult to look away. I believe in the love I feel, and how I’m the king of missed opportunities, all of which are bottled and saved like tears for a Pensieve.

I believe in laughter so authentic it hurts, or snorts or squeals like a tiny circus mouse. I believe in the lost art of listening to someone when they speak, and remembering the little things that constitute the sum of a person. I believe in shoulders to cry on, lean on, and laugh on. I believe in performance art practicing simple, unadulterated, mystifying, heartbreaking kindness every. single. day. I believe the mysterious meaning of life does not lie in some destination on a horizon we may never meet, but in the getting there.

I believe in rum and pirates and buried treasure excavation quests. Sometimes I believe we bury the treasure within ourselves, and that’s a whole lot harder to dig up. But… I also believe Goonies never say die.

Teen Angst Poetry by a Thirty-Something Fatalist

Part One:

Those of us who’ve been through
traumatic or toxic relationships
have expertly learned
how to shut people out.

Some of us build walls around the heart,
emotional defense mechanisms
keeping people at arm’s length.

Me? I built a fucking castle.
Complete with hot tar traps
and archers in the ramparts.
And for a while,
I lived quite happily in there.

You and I fittingly met on a Friday,
the only day of the week with any
real possibility in its blood.

I was giving a speech
on the burden of expectation
when I finally looked your way.
The cobalt of your eyes sparkled
like a Confundus Charm,
removing my ability to speak.

I st-st-stuttered and you blushed.
It was there that I told myself,
in the middle of that introduction,
that I wouldn’t fall in love with you.

Then I heard your laughter,
and felt the warmth
that it brought to this cold boy smile,
and I knew it was a losing battle.

Part Two:

You’ve succeeded where many others often failed,
in demolishing ten years of Doomsday Vault Defenses,
laying siege to this old decrepit heart.

A prize of which you have no use for.

I’m not angry,
nor do I fault you,
people rarely love
what they can’t see.
It happens.

Never have two people
been so many worlds apart.
A fool’s hope, and a story
told ten years too late.

So, forgive me my assumption
that any one part of this was purposefully done.

Forgive me my shade;
in all its variety.

And please…
please forgive me my love,
of which I will continue
to give so freely from afar.


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.

Just Keep Running

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:

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.”
(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?”


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…