poetry, prosetry

with the demented enthusiasm of full-fledged existence

I am the monster lurking on the hillside, chased by something even more terrible. I am watching myself be the terrified monster. I am the mirror that sees clearly but refuses the truth. I am the shadow behind thin curtains at night, lenient light from an unseen source playing on the softly undulating folds, imagining essences, routinely absurd. I am the reality harassing works of art, browbeating them into mere signs.

If only I were the beauty in the things I see and touch and hear and smell and want. I am what’s left of my sense of humor.

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poetry, prosetry

meantime we will express our darker purposes

The patio overlooked my fantasy but we sat inside and had overcooked fish. Clinking glasses of white wine: Here’s to hoping you’d be someone you’re not, she said—or was that me? I’m trying to be more definitive but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t notice a silhouette in the upstairs window of the shadow-dappled brick building across the street where I could swear I once heard knocking. The young woman sold hand-made shawls at the street fair down below while the hot afternoon lay syrupy like nostalgia and poplar seeds fell like snow, but like usual, I didn’t need cover, only more sets of eyes. The churchbells ring at noon and nothing changes, just what we’re trying to be. Absence is at least not nothing. From it we derive the existence of all else.

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life, poetry, prosetry

all i’ve ever known is true

Suppose life is just one big missed connection and post an awkward public notice to the young man inside.

I saw you walking down the uneven sidewalk on Tuesday night with your head hung low and hands in your pockets, exhibiting all the telltale signs of dejection and I wanted to offer something vaguely inspiring like sometimes there’s nothing to say so do what you can and trust your voice. Past action is the best indicator of future behavior, or so I recall when it’s convenient. Mentality is what mentality does and doesn’t that sound armchair rationalist. I know you didn’t ask—you didn’t even see me—but mine’s forever somewhere between gathering and telling and there’s a self-addressed open envelope on the drafting table with an undated note inside that says something Wittgensteinian that you might’ve once written like look, without explanation, without trying to remember the words, and try trusting that you’ll find the feeling and they’ll come together to form meaning that is free of fear or self-approbation. And maybe one day you’ll be lucky and cursed enough to lay like James Wright in a hammock at William Duffy’s farm in Pine Island, Minnesota when he realized he’d wasted his life and you’ll know you’ve wasted yours if this message ceases to reach you.

Post it, and see who responds.

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life, poetry, prosetry

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.

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prosetry

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 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.

Why didn’t I hear from you? Surely, you knew better.

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prosetry

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 this morning. Only the oral tradition remembers, so I write like a gypsy, ready to move on.

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prosetry

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.

 

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