poetry

Reason

Isn’t it strange that I am your voice of reason
but not my own? And for good reason, too.
Me being your conscience seems so unreasonable:
there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t be,
why you shouldn’t listen to me,
and yet you do.
Words fail me. Reasons fail you.
You are not my reason for being here,
just as I am not the reason that you’re still here too.
There’s no rhyme nor reason to any of this.
No raison d’être to be found in our town.
‘Reasons’ doesn’t look like a real word anymore,
for some reason.
It looks like it should be the season for treason.
No rhyme, no reason.
No rhyme nor reason to be found in our town.

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poetry

The Pleasure Of Perpetual Communication

No matter the number by which you decide
to split
the dividend of times I lied
to myself
you’d still have a quotient I wouldn’t know how
to pronounce.

Good sides are derivative and I know mine
suggests communication equals a judicious need
to see
the language of my circumscription—that, in other words, needing
to write
means needing
to outstrip
my speech, leaving only immodest thought to bare.

Once upon an otherwise ordinary
evening, I found I didn’t have
to seek
out and retrieve the telltale slant that, with (despite)
everything, alive is so simply good a thing
to be
no matter the manner of calculations
behind what I may feel or find
to say
or do, blithely adding myself up
to you.

 


Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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poetry, prosetry

The Light That Sometimes Increases the Wisdom of Joy

Sometimes I’m alive. Look at the sky. Feel the breeze. Read Dante. Write a poem. Love/lose someone. Have hope/despair. Good morning/night. Enjoy a meal. Ponder existence. Learn a new word. Paint a dream. Hold your breath. Ride a car. Drive the train. Run. Be here. Get somewhere and make it strange. It’ll be hard to take anyone along with you on this, he said. You have no faith in medicine. No, oxygen—the peaks are craggy and daunting and altitude sickness will make fools of the best of us.

Sometimes my mind is a run-down tenement with a sparkle inside where best friend and worst enemy are principia interchangeabilia. It’s not art that’s at stake, it’s identity, slipped in with faux-Latin. It’s not art, it’s identity. I do not so much insist on that as acknowledge it, I swear, though there was a time when insistence was all I had and let’s not go back. The question is now, whether to hide behind or live through. To live through identity, live through creation, or get mixed up in the matter of the mortar for adding more bricks to the wall.

Sometimes seeking specifics, I wonder: how often do you like who you are? Fact is, I like who I am to you, enjoying the pleasure at being a cause. Seeing myself in the reflection from the liquid in my cup one morning as slivers of sunrise slipping through the cracked blinds marked my multiform alliterations with what was left of dreams of humble harmless hands around my neck slowly squeezing the life into what I write, I again chose to remain out of focus, glad nothing is still a thing sometimes.

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poetry, prosetry

Pinned Like A Note On A Hospital Gown

Wednesday at 8pm on the back of a plain white business card, the address below. 4256 N Ravenswood, the ominous Brothers Grimm-ness of which is not lost on me though any sense of numerology very much quite most certainly is.

That’s today’s first certainly is, and it’s after 7:00. The next two are that the street is split by train tracks, and it’s the west side I want, southbound, quite certainly, because south is down and west is away from my shadow. Dial intercom 242. 2-4-2 on the intercom upon arrival, that is, more properly. Meet 3rd floor, less so.

Well at this rate I’ll be there by 7:50 and the sun will still be up over this the great shared world and isn’t it just beautiful and don’t you just want to smile? You better, because each and every single last fucking one of us is hurled nightly into a sleeping world all our own though I bet you didn’t know I just stole from S. Ocampo to say it so who’s to say whose is whose.

In transit, I consider language and liberation, considering that language may in fact be liberation and yet all I can seem to think to scribble are stories of how we’re living and obscure directions to other destinations.

That’s the problem with seeming to think. Better to just go on and do it, and leave all that seeming to the wanting, particularly the wanting each and every thing to be the thing, because we only get one shot before the next transmogrification.

So, taking mine, I push the envelope into another envelope and insist this time I will be delivered, now that I know the address. The sun has been fierce today and I wipe the fear from my brow with a no less fearful forearm, an act which merely smears the beads into streaks of misfortune.

How absurd it is to try so hard to be so tame when every single very last pore pronounces total freedom.

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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

tabernacled in flesh

It’s the keeping in that makes my heart palpitate because it’s not telling the truth and then I’m in a hospital bed being nothing but honest about the white in my beard. Football (or fútbol) or baseball (or fútbol). Boxers or briefs. Scotch or whiskey (or wine or beer). Blondes or brunettes or both or whatever. It’s this or that, to be a man, and sometimes life or death—but you saw that coming.

Poets are soft i.e. effeminate and I’ve been told I have both but definitions are fluid and you wouldn’t know it to look at me. All that matters is right now, he said, stoically, warm with stern tradition, and I’m constantly surprised to be here, tormented at times by possible selves and seeking an appropriate rendering of manhood to stick to.

Today I am the type who folds over the corners of too many pages of too many books, parturient with the power of what words have done to me and holding fast to the strange singular spirit within.

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prosetry

like a shadow burned into a wall

It was a week of work, my first in over two months. Funny how you can tell what kind of day you’ll have in the first ten minutes of wakefulness. Is sensitivity something we learn? It’s hard to emulate the idiomatic and constitutional, but easy to hide behind it.

Thoughts of authenticity the other night after watching “Atlanta” connected themselves to others about lived experience, my life, and Charles Johnson, who is from the town in which I now reside and will be here again to give a talk in May. This is apparently worthy of transcription.

Self-conscious self-criticism always “kept me honest” while I sought ways to raise myself up out of the everyday, confused, predictably romanticizing “just making it” and being afraid of dependence. Writing isn’t the application of forms, it’s unfolding. I’ve made my truths, fiction et non, and still going.

Really I’m not my past, but I can get back to it like Theseus to Ariadne. Peter and the Wolf gave me a glimpse of heritage as a child and I made it my own mythology. Peter was the violin and my middle name and all was quiet, all was well.

Russian fur hats and black boots and military jackets and good-natured young boys and protective grandfathers I never knew, if I had to pluralize. Now I write prose poems because they’re somewhere between rap and short stories and because I’m from somewhere where that makes sense, working for a living and working on a novel about belonging that I might should maybe call The Clew and the Minotaur but I won’t tell you who’s who.

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