Category Archives: poems

Tree in November

I see your skeleton again.

It’s that time of year

when you have cast aside your leaves,

unflinching, unapologetically

departing thousands of tiny foolish notions

that it was ever better to hide behind

some contrived beauty

that is now wasted away,

quietly fluttering to the ground,

softly shattering beneath my footsteps

and returning to formless earth.

I see your skeleton again.

Not just your finest, greenest moment on boastful display,

but every single mundane one.

Every inch of limb and root telling a story of an instant

when you grew,

when you were,

a notation of times even when the sun was not shining

and the earth was frozen,

each moment equal and part of something larger than itself,

a timeline of winding curving branches

like the lifeline across my palm,

a map of a life spent

sometimes bending yet remaining

unmoved.

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“The Solace of Leaving Early”

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” – Twyla Tharp

There is a car broken down on the side of the freeway

near my house

and it’s been there for over a week now,

a note taped in the back window

which I keep wanting to read.

I wonder what it says.

Left to start over,

time for a new life,

or maybe

This car sucks, free for takers.

I got caught in a traffic jam last week

and thought about walking away from

the car and my life

and starting anew

and it’s not that my life is so bad

because it isn’t really

but I’m just bored with feeling like

a hamster in a wheel,

going and going and not getting

much of anywhere.

I wonder what note I would leave

taped in my back window:

Gone fishing

or maybe

Stopped sweating the small stuff.

What are the odds I would have a Post-It note

in my possession

at the time?

Write it on my grave

instead.

 

No Brakes

Today I heard about the woman

in Oklahoma

who they think was drunk driving or losing her mind

in some way and she

plowed into a parade and large crowd of

people and small children.

4 people died and more injured,

including a 2 year old child.

Everyone scratching their heads to figure out

why she would do such a thing

as they still struggle at the crime scene

to piece everyone and everything back together.

Her dad said she is a good person

and can’t understand why this happened.

They say she never hit the brakes and

actually accelerated at the

barricade and the crowd.

Her attorney is already positioning for

a mental illness defense.

Call me self-involved to think

about myself at a time like this

but I couldn’t help but feel a

small degree of gratitude that

not even my most prolific episodes of

Completely Fucking Everything Up in My Life

has never reached this level

of horrific nor any amount

media coverage.

Smoke and Fears

In a past life I was a dragon

because I want to breathe smoke

and it was a lie to say I quit

doing it when every day,

I still daydream about breathing fire.

I had settled for cigarettes instead.

Even if I never smoke another cigarette in my life,

I will never lose the urge to see the wispy

tendrils of the contents of the insides of my lungs

curl about me with every exhalation,

then see if the smoke makes shapes like clouds.

Funny

how vomit is not the same like that.

Or blood.

I love the way each cigarette

involves a constant optimistic mastery of fire –

it can kill you immediately if you are not careful,

just like with some people.

You have to hold it right

or it can burn your house down.

Impulsively impulsive

I’m consumed with wanting to consume,

Feeling so fast-food,

this racing craving to transform,

burn,

exhale

tangible into vapors

into nothing much left at all

but a yellow residue on my walls and teeth

and maybe a tank of oxygen later,

I can kind of pull it behind me.

But everything dies sometime.

In the quietest secret part of my mind,

I wonder what is so wrong with me

to be constantly restless and

craving something that can hurt me

more than I crave

not craving it.

I get up and go to work tomorrow

And never speak of this broken-ness within

which is far easier to hide

than the hanging stink of stale cigarette smoke on my clothes from the car

as I drove every morning into the city.

Raising a Generation of Accidental Feminists

My daughter’s hair is

long now. She twirls it very

slowly around her right index finger

and down the bridge of her

upturned nose, stares with her favorite shade –

“General Disdain.”

She knows what’s up, knows the deal

with her cycles and all that stuff, I told

her last year before it hit her, but

after her first panic attack,

I just found out I’d completely forgotten

to mention PMS.

My bad.

She has never once let me

curl her hair. She brushes it very

smooth and straight now and she

talks in the confident unwavering manner

typical of a boy. I know it’s wrong

for me to say that. I would never

mention it to her.

I suppose I can tell you a

thing or two about raising a

smart and interesting daughter, but

I can’t yet give you a girl

who knows how to shave her legs.

Baggage

Baggage

They always told me suicide doesn’t

diminish pain

but merely re-purposes it

for the ones left behind,

and it’s true.

Now here we

are left, all

remaining,

slow sprawl like

rescue workers edging across

broken ice, trying to distribute

weight evenly as to not

create a larger fracture and fall through

too. But you’re already

gone too

far beneath the surface

unreachable and

blue.

So

I carry this, my little corner of your

pain

and I hope it helped

and that you made it

across

smiling

because you are finally

traveling light.

Should Have Been a Seinfeld Episode

There was lady singing in the bathroom stall

yesterday on campus and I was not

entirely sure how I felt about the matter.

Between classes, I entered the

restroom and found it to be quite

crowded with Ugg-booted

leggings-clad young ladies,

a few who were waiting for their turn,

others at the sinks or

mirrors, washing hands or checking

hair and make-up, standard for

any day. But then I noticed a lone

voice, wafting up from one of the

pairs of feet in a stall, singing

a meandering and

aimless melody. I resisted the

urge to look incredulously

into the eyes of the others in proximity to me, but no one else seemed fazed.

 

Is this even for real?

The lack of direction of her tune

bothered me the most for some

reason – “Oh, When the Saints

Go Marching In” would have been

somehow less disconcerting.

I try to be a person whose

outlook is consistent with such

things as random bursts of

song and other displays of joy,

but this seemed somehow indulgent

excessive

and borderline insane. It went on from

the time I entered until the time I

left, ceaselessly.

It filled me with no joy, only

irritation and confusion.

Somebody is showboating their nice day

or their healthy bowel movement? I speculated.

Was it some kind of dare?

I realize my reaction may say more about

me than it did about the singing,

pooping woman, as things

tend to do. Have I lost

sight of my ability to find

fun in the random and insignificant

parts of my day?

Or

was it just another case of someone

straddling the razor-thin

line between joyous and

obnoxious?

I finished drying my hands and

went to class.