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
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-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.

Epilogue:

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 the cobalt of 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.

This is Normal

I’m floating. I’m sinking.
Tiny vibrations in the head.
Pocket universe of despair.
Falling free.
Loosely.
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.

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.
Peace.
Antiseptic and frighteningly temporary,
clears the anxious interior battlefield.

“And walked away.”

I am breathing.

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.

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?”

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 fell 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 she was 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 lesson 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.

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.

The Edge

We crawl and we cry,
we live and die,
and everyone relates
because these are
dog eared hallmark emotions
of the human condition.

Some of us, though,
are far too damaged
to shed a tear.

We lay awake at night
counting sheep and sirens,
breaths and cobwebs
spun from spiders who
dampened our spirit
with soft silken shade.

Sometimes we laugh.
At times, we even inspire.
But it’s not from talent or practice
or anything that could be
perceived as trade or trait.

Those suppressed few of us
have mastered the art
of hiding in plain sight.
Anywhere else just feels
too much like a sorority.

We’ve endured the hazing,
we’ve shouldered the ass-end
of others cruel comedy.
And don’t think, for one second,
that we didn’t notice
how your name calling graduated
from snot-nose to PHD blows.

You listen to the murmur of our hearts
with gold plated stethoscopes,
and label us with names like:
Clinically Depressed,
Bipolar, Cutter,
Suicidal…
Hoping to push us
from the ledge,
with your projected psyche
and Molotov cocktail
of anti-depressants,
but you won’t succeed.
Because we’ve been
standing there,
toes dangling over,
staring at that final dive,
into the unexplored unknown
for so long now,
that we’ve become
the very edge you
so cautiously fear.