ventilator to the good darkness

And then there were those open spaces of my youth, stretched out between memory and oblivion like a birthmark. The mitochondrial spaces of summer, lush with hazy green vitality releasing isoprene that like magic mixing beauty and pain braided here and there to make the hills blue when you looked like we all did through air thick with sunshine and easy unknowns.

Spaces of forests explored and persistently wild with thick undergrowth cut through by streams and fauna and man, spaces of battlefields where we’d passively imagine finding traces of those who only a simple span of time before emerged from the stoic treelines to fight less for the glossed-over ideals in our second-rate historybooks than for old farm land by the snaking river that for millennia preceded the highway’s bifurcation, still holding claim though not through ancient custom or rite but through the anachronism of thick books with delicate pages that they eagerly yet without intention allowed to limn the past an impossibly remote, ever-present matter of romanesque words from a language other than their original and it’s all still there, still that, but I am not and never was though like those words I’ve been old and other all my life.  

And the years advance simply, without us, like the soundscape of those spaces, humming a song that needn’t be as sad as it sounds, as it fades and I keep learning to speak.

 


Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala.

stack it up like cinnamon

You were pretty like a leopard or a fox and probably just as sharp though you walked with that dead-leg swish like one was longer or heavier than the other and I doubted your ability to chase even if you wanted to, keeping it sullen like your name had old-world ties to shoemakers and carts.

We are all just lovers, and all I wanted was to talk but knew better so instead I just watched as your strange limbs carried you down one side of that long, busy street on what must’ve been a weeknight—I’m never quite on the beat, standing still or leaping ahead.

The restaurant host with the dirty blonde hair almost to his shoulders put me up at a table for two and my bags kept slipping off mine, bumping chairs and tables and arms in the narrow space where I tried to belong but knew better.

Upstairs, he said, but you may have to move back down once it gets busy. That’s what I got for being alone and I wanted to blame you but knew better as the false candlelits flickered those faces, giving the impression of flames where there were only batteries.

Surely, you knew better.

 


Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala.

so the words knock in vain and nothing sticks

In a dream I dreamed some few maybe several dreams ago—they’re hard to count, hard, sometimes, to notice—I missed the city. From within it. Or above and through it, rather, soaring or perched, perhaps, perhaps parallaxed, in a sense—what’s the word for seeing through another’s eyes—in any event, above and through it I was and I saw its sights palindromatically from actual possible heights like blurry vignettes, like sketch scenes and stories and in the morning the sky was banality and banality was a trope of a reminder that presence isn’t about not dreaming, it’s about dreaming from here, from kitsch and cliché and this, all this, and everything it both is and isn’t, the flux and fuss of unrelenting contradiction. Tell me what’s beautiful about that and I’ll run with it—such is my morning prayer, resolute and irreligious.

liminality

UNITY in yellow letters on the back of a black hoodie, our differences bring us together. The kid at the table next to ours was head-down on his phone but the message on his sweatshirt said Ellison. In our true health lies division: that’s Hyde Park to me, and we talked not of politics but of the utter absurdity and debased detachment of political rhetoric, enthusiastic and stirred like true dissidents from time immemorial, inspired as the sun went down and the festival consumed the streets outside. I found what I love about this city, and I’ll find what I love about the next.

The things that interest me die on the bleached vines around my house while I’m away earning a paycheck, but yesterday filled me up. We talked for a while when we got home last night and a thunderstorm coalesced outside as if to prove it, inviting a downpour to wash away the solution. I said I seek to soak things up and take them with me, sometimes trying so hard I can’t remember. Those who have learned to write forget, I read in bed in the morning. Only the oral tradition remembers, so I write like a gypsy, ready to move on.

 


Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala like most everything else lately.

keep before you the swift onset of oblivion

The grass is patchy with indecision, or so I project, but the morning doves don’t seem to mind, pecking away with perfect indifference to the fact that the house smells of old painted-over plaster because that’s what it’s made of on the inside, but with new appliances like transplanted organs that haven’t yet taken to their host, much like me.

I struggle to write a poem. The neighbors are glad to have the day off, simply, making breakfast and coffee and planning cookouts for miles around, existing out of sight and half out of mind till a window is opened across the street by a pair of hands and diminishing arms. Partial existence is too easy of an analogy for beauty in this the golden age of rhetoric and armchair expertise, so I slap myself on the wrist and offer some superfluous indentations instead, privileging form over function and hoping no one will notice.

Everything we do, we do as an unnecessary consequence of something done before. A man in a white tank top smoking a cigarette at the foot of his front stoop says “there’s got to be something better than this, got to be something better than this going on somewhere.” I take it personally. The hateful sound of the ticking clock. I don’t want it to be impartial, but I understand.

 


Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala.

 

and everything is unanswered and vehement like the telephone ringing in the dark

It’s 8:00 in the morning on the first Saturday that feels like summer. Winter is gone but spring never really came around, apparently having other places to be, much like my sense of humor. The sun will continue to rise higher and higher in a sky I can see only as blue-white dappling through the trees outside my window and the day will warm to a boil, warm enough to remind me I’m getting older by showing me my youth in a small panorama of proliferating shadows and breezes and smells of general deciduousness, the air thick with a time that we’re happy to allow to hold us here. Birds I can’t name chirp in those trees, their voices carried on that air, across that time, and I hear among them an airplane and a car and a laugh and I want to go to sleep again, only to go to sleep again, afraid I can’t match their vigor, and afraid, doubly, of not wanting to, not even today. But I get up, and open all the windows to let in 8:01. 

put your heart in the hands of a cynic

You’re a marvelous being, he says to her, eyes squinting for a better view behind the smudgy rose-colored lenses of his spectacles, common sense folded neatly on the white linen tablecloth beside the sweating half-empty/full water carafe as he reclines in a slight wicker chair on a warm, impressionistic day outside the café he’s only just imagined could be the setting of a turning point in a life story called I Missed the Good StuffPossibility isn’t just enough, it’s all.

 


Originally published on Hijacked Amygdala with ever so slightly different formatting.