Category: poems

My Dark Love

My Dark Love

She had a penchant for dark thoughts
and darker deeds, which I found rather
heartbreaking…nonetheless, I burned
for her like no other, my skin shedding
anxiously whenever she declined my visits.
Eventually, she let me taste her fingers,
and her breath glowed in the moonlight
as we smiled, melting into the warm ground

Change

So it went that there was
a golden time that I emerged
from my shell and made nice
with all the flowers, and the sky
darkened because it didn’t like
my sudden change of heart
and wanted me to remain cruel
and full of hate…

…but I had outgrown that,
shed that skin, and was ready
for new experiences that
weren’t so twisted and full
of shards of black glass.

The sky threatened rain,
and I held up my cup.
The sun began to bleed,
and I offered a bandage.

Below, on the green earth,
I turned and turned in my
hot dreams, and my waking
life began to resemble
a memory of something
better than I ever was.

Is it real? I asked the birds,
who flew on and ignored me.

I visited the water, my ancient enemy,
and asked, Have I really changed?
Of course not, the water murmured.
You’re the same as you always were.
Look at your growing list of victims.

I turned the other way, convinced
the water was lying (it always had before).
I made my way through my dwindling years,
buoyed by the thought that I had been
reformed, reimagined, and the dead
were not dead but merely pretending,
playing a joke that I didn’t understand
but would get on a not-to-distant day.

Nautical Steve Gets His

Nautical Steve Gets His

He was fat with shrimp and regret.
His lady, a painted jumble of aches,
shrieked at him to get a damn job,
for Chrissake, how can he just sit
around and fucking drink all day?
Could he at least answer her that?

He couldn’t, actually, so he rolled
a joint and told her she wasn’t doing
him any goddamn favors by hanging
around and she could hit the road
any old time…like right then, just
as the sun forced itself over the hills
and the birds sang like they gave a fuck.

Before she left, she visited a frying pan
on his oversized head, and he sank like
a stone to the ocean of the filthy carpet.
She grabbed the keys to his new Harley
and cranked it up, startling the living hell
out of the chickens at the trailer next door…

…and off she went into wild Florida once more.

Where I Found You

Where I Found You

I found you in the river,
which is strange because
I normally avoid rivers
and oceans and ponds.

Give me earth, mountains,
terrain, dirt, grass, and trees.
Water everywhere be damned–
our lives are miserable enough.

You were floating face down
and I thought you were dead,
but you stirred, your hair
dripping blood as you rose

from what should have been
a watery grave, and I took you
to my house, where I taught you
about everything terrestrial.

Trying to Sleep in Dying Town

Trying to Sleep in Dying Town

Do you have spare change for the death toll?
asks the man, dressed in drab, offering
a smiles of knives, making me rethink
my decision to bed down in Dying Town.

Shaking, I fumbled through my coin purse—
a rare item, passed down by my avuncular
grandfather, that lion of perdition, that boaster
of threats made good in a whip-tide of battered
promises and green sails infused with his tidal breath—

and produced some blood-tinged money,
smudged with countless fingerprints, warm
from ghost transactions and pocket love,
coming to me through a brain chain of events.

Here, I said and flipped a quarter and nickel
to the man who caught both with a wrist snap,
the air around his hands charged and smoky,
reminding us both that his time was short,
bringing to mind my own looping heartbeat.

In The End

In The End

I waited—with no one—
in the world’s most fierce, final storm.
There, in the greenish firmament,
a spider screamed, and birds decided
to watch banal TV shows in the air.

All the while, I chanted
the only words that mattered.
In the end, when the universe
was close to heat death
and circling God’s drain,
I had two thoughts—

but they evaporated like tears
in the sun, though there had been
no sun for ten billion years—
ah, I remember my two final thoughts…

I wish I had loved myself more,
and when I sank into eternity,
I wish it would feel like you,
and it did, and I finally fell
to pieces, atom by grateful atom.

In the Company of Rabbits

In the Company of Rabbits

When I opened my brain
with a black can opener
I borrowed from the dead,
I figured things would go
a certain way: I would see
the tendrils that connect one
awful thought to another,

but now I found myself giving
a speech to an audience of
rabbits (some robotic, some
organic, and some hybrid)
on the myth that eating carrots
will improve one’s eyesight,

a theory peddled by my 20/20
grandmother to her dim-visioned
grandson who would grow up
to be a man who borrows a can-
opener, peers inside his brain, and
finds solace in the company of rabbits.

Things I Don’t Know

I’ve started going through my poetry book collections and reacquainting myself with them, starting with James Tates Selected Poems. Tate had a major impact on me during my second year of college, most likely at the recommendation of my mentor and teacher, Dr. Lynn Burris Butler.

From the Poetry Foundation:

Many of Tate’s poems are character driven, featuring a narrator’s various encounters with a gnome, a goat, an insurance agent. In a 1998 interview, he pointed to one unifying element in his work: “My characters usually are—or, I’d say most often, I don’t want to generalize too much—but most often they’re in trouble, and they’re trying to find some kind of life.”

I hadn’t realized how much my style resembled his until I began reading his work again. When I’ve had my fill of Tate, I’ll turn my eyes back to the wonderfully weird Charles Simic.

My hope is that I’ll write more if I read more. That generally holds true for fiction, but aside from Stephen King’s recent (and excellent) short story collection If It Bleeds, I haven’t read any fiction…certainly not any that sparks ideas.

Things I Don’t Know

“There are some things you
don’t know,” she tells me as she
sews the children’s mouths shut.
She has a deft touch, and the
children hardly move as she works
the needle to and fro, humming.

“There are many things I don’t know,”
I say and begin sewing my own mouth
with a practiced hand, though I lack
her touch and soon begin bleeding
as the night blossoms deeply around us,
covering our little house in shadow.

The Black Record

The Black Record

“I’m listening to blackness
and getting lost in it,” you say
showing me the record.

“Play it,” I say, and you
place the needle gently
in the groove of the first track.

“I’ve only listened it once all
the way thro—” you begin to say,
but we both slip into that night space,

that infinite shadow, where language
and thoughts have never existed,
just wave after wave of blank silence.

A Portrait

 

As previously noted, clocks appear rather often in my poems.

A Portrait

It was he: master of the nondramatic
handshake, non-functioning plumage,
and reasonless flicks of the tongue.

He was a fan of asocial sunset parties
and slick, adamant monotheism.

He was known to drag his eyelids.

No one sniffed when he parceled
out a spit of land for his dreams and lunged
for the kindest security he could find,
a maiden of gray habits and uniform grins.

Together, they invented wild secrets
as they quietly crept into small clocks.