Why Peter is not a poet.Cole is eleven. Age matters in October, when twelve is the only difference between the haunted hayride and the shelled corn sandbox. Age matters when a boy says the word "shit" in school (and Cole does). But age doesn't matter when the same boy has both sneakers dangling over the edge of a 250-foot grain silo, his hands sweaty on the rungs, the state of Nebraska breathing vacant and honeyed and infinite below him. For the first time in his life, Cole can't be quantified by the candles on his last birthday cake. Cole is young, but today, he is worth saving. Three facts about Cole:
1. His eyebrows are the most expressive arches his body has to offer.
2. He's so terrified that his very expressive eyebrows are threatening to take up permanent residence in his hairline.
3. He does not have suicidal tendencies, and later understands--for the sake of his mother's heart and Officer Roy's bladder control--that his strategies for
365 vignettes project(1)
I have adopted two soul mantras. I can't tell you what they are. I guess keeping them secret has a secret in itself, one that belongs to the universe rather than to me, but the intentions are mine. If I don't say what they are directly though, then I don't think I am breaking the secret. I visualise a running river, moving clouds, falling petals, growing buds, observing sunrises and sunsets, ducks, cats, wind chimes. I hear in my thoughts rain hitting everything, what that sounds like against tree bark, concrete, a car roof, a wooden verandah.
We are as a fire. The smoke rises and becomes of little consequence. It colours the air, twists into shape like moments, and dissipates. We are not the smoke, we are the fire. The smoke should always fall away, it is no use in holding on to what has already burnt out. We are as the fire.
It is not then. It is not even now. The moment has already passed.
There is no moon out. I cut out a white paper moon and held it to
The Dinner Hour"We need a refill on salt shakers at table two, a fresh ketchup bottle on tables three, four, and six, and for god's sake, see if we've got a spare pacifier for the kid at table five." Marcheline's lawyer-like voice rattles off instructions faster than anyone can understand them. Taking over her shift is like diving headfirst into an ocean current traveling at a million miles an hour.
I nod after every ten or so words; after sounding off eight commands in under a breath, Marcheline gasps, "Thank god you always show up for your shift on time." Then she flings off her waiter belt like it was on fire and throws it on the rung. I watch her dash out of the back room like she's being chased.
Poor Marcheline doesn't always do well with the evening rush hours, when anything can happen.
Already in my uniform, I make sure of three final things before I step out into the fray that is Elliot's Diner at 6 PM: 1) my nametag is straight and my name tag, because once I grabbed Pedro's nametag a
StringsNatalia was, blatantly, a pianist. It was impossible for her to have been anything else. She had this liquid grace about her that whispered sonatas and nocturnes and moody Beethoven. She'd sit at the piano in the college music room, rocking slowly back and forth and making a waltz rumble deep within its wooden body. Her fingers were long but her nails were always cut short so they wouldn't click against the keys, and her hair, long and smooth, was always pulled back into a big, soft braid.
"Daddy wanted me to be a concert pianist since the day I was born," she'd say in that gentle Eastern European accent of hers. I believed her. She could play any page of sheet music you set in front of her, and she'd look as if she weren't even trying, as if her hands weren't even touching the keys. I was always kind of jealous of her. It really isn't fair to be that monstrously talented.
We'd go to Central Park sometimes to feed the pigeons. Natalia liked the pigeons, and I had to admit there was som
A Year Ago Today1)
Joe's become a functioning alcoholic,
which I'm okay with. As long as he drives
in a straight line, I don't refuse our meandering
journeys: around the cornfields surrounding Plano,
where the suburbanites raise chickens and flirt
with country music. I like Johnny Cash but
Joe blasts something drawling, with an acoustic
bass thumping to the time of a drunk tractor's
sparking cables, returning from the bar and
driving crookedly behind us. Joe passes me
the joint, then takes a long swig from his flask.
He was a heavy guy before the cocaine,
but after I moved from the city, he went clean,
and there's something about the rounded
slope of his jaw that makes me want to cut
every excess fold of him until he's beautiful,
like the night he drove up to Bridgeport and
bought me a case of beer, fucked me on the stairs,
then pleaded for five more minutes in a voice
that sighed and pitched like the unsteady sway
of a pontoon boat on a windy lake,
"The thing about you is,
I always end up comin
Living in Metaphors You told me once the rain on the rooftop disturbed your slumber, not from the storm, but from the rhythm in the chaos. The thunder was discordant among the count you tried keeping.
At night you’d wake breathless, not from nightmares, but from crushing claustrophobia, even when you were alone. You said the darkness felt so heavy, that it sat on your chest and tried to eat you alive. Mouth to mouth I’d bring you back, entwined, you’d share your dark and I would share a spark of life. And long did you lament the earth’s rotation for not allowing light to reside always on your part of the world.
Sometimes you were a child, but I wanted you, dear man, for all your faults, for all of mine.
You confessed that the stars made you lonely because they were so many, and even when I was with you we were so few. You sighed, “we are small and insignificant and when the stars twinkle coldly they are laughing at us...”
It was painful to
quake (transitions)To the city made of shaky ground,
It's been three years, nine months and thirteen days since you first cracked irrevocably. September 4th, 2010, 4:35am. We lived just a block shy of industry back then, in a suburb which was just as like to invite you in for fried food and a beer as it was to offer you marijuana in the park. We lived just a block shy of industry back then, so when I was awoken before dawn by our shuddering home, it didn’t seem like such a strange thing. But the shuddering intensified into spasms and it didn’t stop, it didn’t stop and suddenly my father was in the doorway and where am I supposed to go in an earthquake? All I can remember is “stop, drop, and roll” from primary school, and some clever corner of me is aware that I’m babbling, that I need to concentrate; then, the earthquake subsides. The power’s out, the candles are lit, and the (battery powered) radio is already speaking statistics, projections, and ad
All Here For A ReasonI turned onto a shady, well-manicured driveway that, for all intents and purposes, looked harmless enough. Maple trees lined both sides of the street, and a parade of Canadian geese marched across the road to a wide duck pond with a flamboyant fountain. There were blooming crepe myrtles and rose-of-sharons, and as I grew closer to my destination, neatly trimmed gardens with neatly trimmed bushes.
I stopped to let the geese pass. They looked at me; one hissed. I honked my horn and moved around them.
At the end of the road sat a collection of grayish buildings and a number of signs directing me to the appropriate parking lot. "Welcome to Ten Creeks Hospital," said one of them. "Please enjoy your stay." I parked in the visitor's lot. Surely I wouldn't be staying.
I was shaking when I got out of my car. I had spent the morning getting high. One foot in front of the other, flip-flop noises, hot sidewalk. Mulberry and magnolia trees, freshly shaved grass. A bench and pan for smokers. A set o
The Angel in the House"Dearest?"
"Dearest, there, did you hear ?" But his voice trailed off with a glance at her blank little face, tilted at him with feline confusion. He rose the paper to the level of his nose and rustled it nervously. "Don't trouble yourself, I'm sure it's nothing "
Yet there it was again, he could feel the vibrations in his chair! His wife's obvious inability to hear it made him loathe to admit this, however, and he slouched lower under the breakfast table, observing her over the top of the business section.
She was an uncanny creature, he had to admit. Their courtship had been brief and perfunctory, more compelled into occurrence through their families than any actual inclination. And yet, he had come to love her in some fashion. The silent way she slid about the breakfast table; the sweep of dark hair against her pale forehead; the classic curve of her nose; her dainty, dexterous hands fluttering as she cleared up the plates. There were times when he wished he could em
the thing about writingthe thing about writing
is that it gets lodged beneath your skin
like your favorite dress caught
and tangled in the thorns
and all you can think about is
how it itches, how it hurts
how out of place, yet familiar it is
amongst your skinny bones
and stretched muscles
the thing about writing
is that you get lost in the metaphors
too often and too carelessly
to make much sense of the rest
and everything suddenly becomes a
breathing poetic device
the thing about writing
is that every story gets shifted
to the point where it gets
harder and harder
to tell the difference between
dreams and reality
Dirty LaundryThere is nothing poetic in laundry.
Your metaphors for tumbling lovers,
for blending and rinsing and making clean,
do not disguise the fact
that it is your dirty socks and my old underwear
rolling about in lukewarm water and soap.
Forget, too, your clever observations about dryers.
The heat settings have nothing to do with passion.
The tumbling lovers metaphor is no more useful here
than it was when you applied it to the washer.
The fact that two socks invariable become one sock
has nothing to do with an inevitable break-up.
Stop trying to see the beauty in this.
I am in a hot Laundromat under harsh florescent lights,
watching clothes spin and tumble in unappealing ways
while you are busy looking for the beauty.
Lover, put down your pen and notebook;
there is nothing poetic in laundry.
And while youre at it, fold your own damned clothes.
india inkfor some reason shes dipped a paintbrush in ink, taking a thick oxhair brush and soaking it with a cheap replacement for india. you see, she says as she drags the brush across an enormous piece of banner paper, this is art.
no its not!, you want to scream at her, because something in you is rebelling against this scarring of a clean white sheet, at this waste of ink and time. your fingers ache to rescue her brush.
the curve of her lip when she smiles at you is another name for irony: you know she isnt happy with you and the smile is a lie. she keeps smiling, though, maintaining the mask as she makes a dark slash across a white corner. your hands jerk, unconsciously.
art isnt only pictures, she tells you, beaming at you pleasantly. to you it looks like the leer of a barbarian. the falling ink makes round black dots on the edges of the paper, inappropriately perfect. art is expression of emotion. any expression.
A Bumblebee Among The PoemsA pale hand's reach
for long forgotten poets
dust soaked wings
on a stripped jacket.
Snown by ashen rays,
they soar towards
Even my lantern
does not uncloud
the ash they long for.
They are looking
for their flower.
Not the sun.
SamsonI will reap
what I have sown -
wine and wildflowers
and honeycomb ;
they say Samson never needed
and when the lion came,
but even gold
will bow to silver
when it comes
in thirty pieces, cold
behind the kiss
of that sweet Delilah,
summer bliss ;
I will reap
what I have sown -
love, unblinded, screaming
this house will fall
as it stood -
Definitely Not FlowingI'd like to believe that rivers could flow to the sea,
That every river just keeps
Going, going, going,
But I know that many freeze beside highways,
Or dry up underneath mountains,
Or settle for lakes and ponds and just give up.
And some rivers,
Perhaps the strongest of them all,
Are swallowed up by nameless gods,
Searching for a way to quench their leeching anger.
Writing is not She can stop you in your tracks. She doesn't even need to touch you. Your eyes cover her from head to toe and when you are finished, you are changed. You know the shape of her so well that some say you don't even need to see every part; your brain guesses the gaps.
She doesn't need to say a word. You hear her voice within your head. She shows you things that cannot be seen. She holds the key to worlds that cannot exist.
She is full of secrets, so open to interpretation. She is everyone's, and she is her own. She listens to your thoughts, with patience and serenity, before lending you the beliefs of those gone before.
She is learned, she is wise. Her tongue is full of the voices of the dead. Her head is full of prophecies. She can tell you the words that history speaks. She can tell you myths and t
Raconteurthey carved tanka out of pebbles and
haiku out of mountains;
of epics and of ballads,
they sighed in astonishment
whilst the past was preserved
in eliciting dance.
they accused the cento of being a thief,
but did eagerly build up
with bricks and mortar
the rhymes they taught their babes
were ne'er attached a name.
in a melody of clapping,
limericks found their fame.
loomed from the past like ghosts,
repeating, repeating, repeating
sonnets were reserved for roses.
they were the pastime of moonlight
and the gentlest rains.
they belonged to the privileged,
the gifted, the vain.
sestinas came, tapping their heels
they did not leave.
tapping their heels, sestinas came
then tumbled in the villanelles,
and they did not leave.
of its own volition, falling through the words,
was blank verse.
AdieuStrangling myself with this silence,
I am one rung closer
with every little death descending deeper
into Gehenna's bowels,
brandishing a soul through drawn eyes
and watching it all burn.
A plea for deliverance
stretches thin over this thrust
my masochist thirst insists.
If asphyxia is Heaven,
my throat is the horizon.
You can't sever midnight sky from sea,
the black from the blue.
Rolling back on my spine serpentine grande,
I at last experience revelation.
To dream in grayscale and melancholy
is to never suffer disappointment
at the hands of Life's disastrous folly.
I feast upon the fruit of despair
its seed binding me like Persephone
to Hades' throne.
If I die before I wake,
I need not pray no more.
There was a time when songs rang out on high
in glorious appraisal
for lettings of blood, conflagration
of flesh and bone.
Every man was equal under the Gods' gaze,
gaining favor through slaughter.
I see priests eviscerate the sheep,
I see flames 'round the martyr creep.