Regular Poem: I’m nobody’s 

3 Feb

i’m nobody
‘s
number one
no one
‘s
first person
emergency contact
insurance beneficiary
no one
‘s
contractually obligated
to love and care for
me
till death
or
divorce court

but there’s
something
to be said
for being thought of
at all
to be
secondary or tertiary
or even outside
the top ten
being thought of
when the moon is right
and a reflection of a wayward star
glistens
on a car hood
reminding someone
of your smile
or penchant for
something unique to
you

there’s something
to be said
for being
the person people
know
will listen
to weird stories
and get as excited
as you’d want someone to be
hearing them
the person people
ask
favors of
the person people
tell
jokes and secrets and confessions
the person people
give
thoughtful and specific gifts
the person people
receive
things from they’d forgotten they’d asked for
the person people
trust

the people person
not one person’s person
but a lot of persons’ person
kinda

Regular Poem: Skipping Town

20 Dec

But what if
I actually did
skip town
like I always say
like I always dream about–
a cache of cash
and a fast car
dark sunglasses
a dye job?

How much
could really be
different
and new?

(There’s nothing
new
under the sun.
Vanity of vanities.)

Surely
I would shower
the same–
buy the same
stuff and use it
the same
way.

I’m a creature
of habit,
routine,
particulars and specifics,
rituals.
And even if I weren’t,
my body
wouldn’t suddenly not be
my body–
with all its cravings
and allergies
and sensitivities.
A new identity
could erase
much
but not
that.

This new identity
(this hypothetical new identity;
I don’t have the faintest
of how to obtain one
much less how to
sustain one)
lives and breathes,
but what does it subsist on?
Lies and obfuscation?
Half truths and veiled memories?
A shadow play,
bound by its script–
more bound than my old life in some ways–
to its new setting and characters and plot,
imprisoned publicly.
Privately–
on my new houseboat,
in my new loft,
at my new desk–
what do I default to
in the darkness?

I run scenarios
algorithms,
catalogue
personality traits
and style choices
and belief systems,
distill
myself
into my very atomic structure–
down to the basics
(and the acids, too).
I sift
until I’m a fine flour–
a powder,
a dust–
mostly skin cells:
miniscule samples of DNA

recognizable as me
but stripped down
naked and shivering
in that drafty houseboat
quizzing myself
on my new social security number
practicing my new handwriting.
There I am–
running away from and into
myself.

Regular Poem: Controlled Burn

5 Dec

Refining by fire
testing a heart
by metaphorical heat
leaves one as silver
pure
and able to reflect
(that’s when a refiner knows
silver is refined–
or so I’ve heard–
the impurities
burn
and what’s left
is like a mirror,
shining
and showing
something above.)

Metals refine,
but proteins
denature–
molecules stripped
and changed,
chemical makeup
altered
from its natural state.

And that’s also the point,
isn’t it?
To free us of
our nature–
base and greedy,
wanton, ravenous–
to free us
from the furnace.

This metal–
or protein–
says ouch
for now
and
hallelujah
for later.

Regular Poem: Vocabulary

23 Nov

Stock phrases
pet words
dialect
idiolect
jargon
cliches
idioms
vernacular
slang
la langue

seep in
and overtake

no

overlap
stack up
pile on
intermingle and
interbreed

and the brain’s dictionary
catalogues
each page
and a vocabulary grows
adapts
and winds
in and out
of itself
summersaults over and around neurons
creating and exercising certain pathways
and neglecting others
leaving them overgrown and
covered in leaves and detritus.

Apparently
the words have been
written in
disappearing reappearing ink.

How did I talk
6 months ago?
6 years ago?

A shooting star
(a meteor burning up quickly in the atmosphere)
briefly lights my neural sky.
Sometimes
just sometimes
I can drive a reconnaissance Jeep
out to the crater
examine its ore
reintegrate it
into my current tongue.

But it always tastes
foreign
as though it’s
the first time
I’ve caressed it

like a song
you haven’t heard in 10 years
yet
you know all the lyrics

like the first cold night
you snuggle under
the blanket
you’ve once more liberated
from the hall closet
that smells like last year’s winter

like a face
you know you know
but you don’t
know
and in the middle of the night
you awake with it on your lips
the name middle name all suffixes prefixes designations birthday favorite color

and above all
a phrase
you associate with it.

One must wonder at that.
That that that
adheres itself to a specific cranny
in one’s brain–

a person
and its significant quotation
inextricable
indelibly linked
together
in memoriam
of the person you knew
at that moment
in that moment
for that moment.

Does that person
even say that
anymore?

That certainly
doesn’t affect
its placement in your brain–
the decimal system
is fixed
or fixated
with an image and a sound
or a sound and a fury
regardless all tales and all idiots
a brief candle
caught on camera
shared on Instagram–
tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
you will still think of it
until something new
cleanses the damned spot.

And one must wonder
further
how many versions
of oneself
exist
in other brains:
that thing you used to
prattle on about
in 11th grade
that political phase in 2008
that depressive episode two weeks ago

that caption on your photo
accurate in its way
like a yearbook
but innacurate too
a constant micro-evolution.

You’re the same species
still
but your vocabulary
begs to differ.

Regular Poem: Like a Heartbeat Drives You Mad

18 Nov

I tend not
to keep my visions to myself–
I tend to
share them with whoever
will wrap around my dreams
with me,
blanket themselves in my imagination.

I tell them
like a traveling bard
singing of adventures
memorized and set to music
about how

my unconscious mind cycles
(I haven’t been able to pinpoint
any correlation
to lunar cycles
or hormone cycles,
stress or food,
anything,
everything,
nothing.
It cycles at its leisure
like me on a wine-drunk
spring night
on my cruiser,
jingling my bell at raccoons.)

This month
(I might begin
in introduction–mysterious,
engaging)
I’ll dream every night:
vivid,
intricately plotted,
detailed,
engorged-with-emotion-
and-bizarre-imagery
tales
of wonder and woe,
haunting melodies and laconic meanigful phrases–

visions.

Last night,
(I might continue,
lead with an example upon which
I will build my argument)
behind my eyelids,
under my sheets,
within myself,
my slumbering brain

saw with its unseeing eyes
the woods–
not any woods I consciously recall,
not any woods that exist–
Ozarkian and Evergladesian
at once,
dirt roads
not winding but sloping,
sloping up and down–
a roller coaster–
the horizon appearing and disappearing as
the car I’m driving is bouncing
like a cartoon car.
Ahead
on the top of the mountain
an animal tableau:
two cougars ready to fight,
a gigantic donkey,
three timid but curious does watching, waiting.
The bouncing car bounces down to a valley;
the vision is gone.
The bouncing car bounces up to a peak;
the vision emerges again
larger,
looming.

In the dream
(other things
occurred,
and I might recount them
depending upon audience engagement,
but the point is)
I was unsettled
by this strange herd of strange animals
so far away on the hilltop
and so big,
poised in almost combat
but never moving,
stagnant,
intimate in its strangeness and
stillness.

They say
(I might add
for ethos–
scientific credibility
rather than the mystical
nature of
one who dreams often and loud)
you can’t read
words
in dreams.
But I could’ve sworn
(I might add
for pathos, a touch
of the confident but vulnerable)
I read a text message–
or maybe I heard the voice of the person sending it and merely saw a jumble and assumed I had read it–
(I might add for logos,
the rational dreamer)
that assured me the
vision
had been weird
but ultimately had meant nothing–
in fact that the picture I had sent of the scene
was a poorer quality
than the other picture the sender of the text
had also received,
but

I was convinced,
unnerved,
wondering at the
import of the portent.

And I awoke
with foreboding,
(I almost always
end with my waking feelings in
a tidy, pointed conclusion)
a metallic bitterness,
dizzy,
with scratchy eyes
as if I had been allergic to
the woods
or donkey dander.

And so I don’t
keep my visions to myself.
I invite others–
women who come and go,
the rain that washes one clean,
the thunder that only happens when it’s raining–
into my own

silence of remembering.

Regular Poem: that kind of everything

15 Nov

Started working on this poem about a month ago when my dad had to be hospitalized for drinking himself half to death. It doesn’t exactly feel finished although he’s out of rehab and doing well now. 

[1]

it’s that kind of night

i haven’t looked for the moon
i’ve been too busy
on earth
i wonder if
it’s as big and looming
as i feel it should be
(i learn later it was a
new moon
not even present
sent in its absentee ballot
or maybe abstained)

i want to
shoot my gun in the air and
scream
fuck a stranger
get in a fight
swim in the wine dark sea
until i’m so tired
i can’t make it back to shore
just bob on sleepily
until a fishing boat reels me in
and when they ask me to explain myself
say i’m a mermaid and
refuse to discuss the matter further

“don’t ask me hank why
do you drink”
he sings
and i sing too
i always sing too

the air is smoke
no oxygen left nothing left to even burn 
and my body itches
as my mind
screams
screams
screams

if you were a bettin’ person
you could put money on
my doing push ups

it’s what i do when i get fucked up
it’s dick measuring
(measuring against no one)
it’s stress relieving
(not working)
it’s
me
(but barely)
and i could do hundreds
and feel the ache in my first rib
the one my chiropractor put back
in place last week

the pain of it reminds me
and makes me forget
it
screams
screams

“why must you live
all the songs
that you wrote”
he sings and
i sing too
i always sing too

it’s choking
(i’ve choked before
but never as much as i’d liked
to see someone’s eyes bulge and
scream)

the lady
who takes his information
is foreign
indeterminately British
and i wish i were anywhere but
here
on this phone with
this lady
four eyes boring into me
(the other two eyes dim with drink and dehydration
staring into Hank Jr. songs
in a whiskey abyss)
regardless they all
want me to say
the right thing
11am
she says they can admit him
i’ll probably have to call in
tomorrow
and i’m glad
(though later when
i do
i don’t remember
how
and i’m still
glad)

i’ve done 80
push ups
good ones
butt down
nose to ground
and still
he doesn’t think
i can haul his 125 pound carcass
to the bathroom

he smells
like a dead man
and i smell
like a
scream
all cigarettes and beer and vanilla

and i don’t
scream
but i want to

[2]

it’s that kind of evening

full of
blessed nothing
possibility
cursed nothing
impossibility
improbability
probability

alone
with plenty of garages to clean
and not enough people to kiss
too many beers to drink
not enough willpower not to
too many songs to sing
too many couches to lie on
too many novels to write
too many thoughts
too many feelings
enough of it all
too much of not enough
everything happens all the time
too fast
and never
enough

[3]

it’s that kind of morning

all red lipstick and rage
quiet and held in the shoulders and neck and jaw
and that rib that’s out again
along with a few others

is she a chiropractor or a priest
i pay her for flagellation
my cranials plead for penance
she absolves my joints and listens
and i want to cry in her arms
but she’s not someone i hire to do
that
she just adjusts my sacrum
and tells me she doesn’t know what to say
i say there’s nothing
to say

it’s time
for emotional outbursts
in diners
stares from old couples
as my eyes well up
with old hollywood tears
i’m pretty when i cry

torch songs over coffee and pancakes
and a convertible top that sticks midway

[4]

it’s that kind of afternoon

too windy
there are funner ways
to get lipstick all over your face
but what would i know about that
all i know
is a glitchy convertible
and surreal sad songs on the radio
drowning
drowning
in harp over electric guitar over
physical restraints at work

my body
lunges into them
hoping to make my mind forget
for just a sec
just one sec
but my mind
sings anyway
it always sings anyway

“’cause i was filled with poison
and blessed with beauty and rage”
i wonder if he’d be into her
under the right circumstances

too much coffee
too much music igniting it
and i’m doing butterflies
with no tap lessons

[5]

it’s that kind of night

again

he’s sober but not exactly with it
i’m sober but dog tired

and i’m daydreaming about applying
hydrocortisone to my incipient stress rash
and skipping town

(this kid at work
hates me
it takes him a while to
remember
sometimes
but when he does
it’s two hour tantrums, 65 self injurious behaviors, 22 headbutts
it’s this
scream
as if i’m an actual axe-wielding madwoman
someone
should record it and use it
in horror films
he could pay his tuition with the profits that would make
and instead of begrudging him
every time
i just think
what it would be like
to make that noise
with that intensity
every time i was upset
about real problems
instead of someone doing their job
politely telling me to wash my arm
and then i think
that problem
to him
is just as stressful
for whatever reason
as mine are to me
but anyway
point is
i’m envious
i can’t make that noise
and headbutt everything
i detest and want to postpone indefinitely)

it’s that kind of night
that i want to fall into my bed
and sleep in my clothes
(i’ve never done that before
what does it feel like
to be the sloppy person
who does that
i would ask one
but he would just give
excuses
rather than answers)

excuses
rather than answers
and that rash is getting worse

[6]

it’s that kind of night

rain and rash
cramps and costumes
small talk and big eating

it’s hard
not to sing along
to a song you know the words to
you can try to hate it
and even succeed
but there you are
singing anyway
always singing anyway

[7]

it’s that kind of night

it’s always nights
when the sun sets so early
and you’re inside all day
so you try to soak in
some kind of phantom sunshine
it’s not there
but you are
outside
where it’s crisp and night sounds and neutral smells

no one
has lit a bonfire tonight
and no flowers are blooming
it’s just
you and the night
and two lines of a song
cascading

a glitter and glint
of porch light on a puddle
and chunky little clouds
covering up the stars
(what constellations are even
out?
i always accuse everything of being orion
and remember i’m always wrong about that
and retract that
and accuse everything of being sagittarius)

and everything is
nothing
so lifeless and lackadaisical
and the rash is on its way out
and i almost miss it

[8]

it’s that kind of morning

why feel good

when you can go about
every inane daily event
out of duty and ritual
hating everything
or ar least feeling unsatisfied
and then drink
hating yourself the whole time
and wake up the next morning
hungover
and hating yourself even more than the night before
and do it all over again
in a stagnant depressing cycle

why feel good

when you can lift up
prayers that would be answered for other people
but not for you

(that’s why he’s sober now
i think in my pathetic rage
my prayers are selfish and stupid and unlistened to
[or perhaps the answer is just always no]
but i’m good at recruiting worthier holier people)

it comforts me
that all the people god chose to bless
in the old testament
were dicks

(it angered me when i first realized the pattern
but then god revealed it to me
that all of us are dicks
and it sunk in
more than it had before)

i’ll take my esau blessing
(do you have only one blessing
not even another little one lying around in the back shed)
for now

but at least there’s
hope
i’ll be one of the chosen dicks
one day

Regular Poem: Coiled

8 Oct

i’m coiled
i think at first
like a taut spring
ready metal
with a sharp point on the end
just aching
any moment
any moment
and i’ll shoot

but
i realize
as the day descends

i’m a plastic slinky
instead
stretching out
wearing out
disassembling
with an ungraceful flexibility
laughing into the night

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