Lips and fingertips
To hellfire’s teeth
The sweetest thing
Lips and fingertips
To hellfire’s teeth
The sweetest thing
Whether to say it or leave it
To swallow or sing
Yet to be true
I’m willing to disappoint you
My ear hoping, aching for
I love you
I’ve always believed
Better to say it all
Better to say
All the rights and all the wrongs
Cross fear’s line
Spill my darkness
Uncloak my secrets
Parade my demons
Not viciously deny
But own them
Rob their crowns
Topple their thrones
Then maybe you’ll understand
Let fall held doubt
Dismiss reasoning’s shield
Lower anger’s bitter sword
Choose kindness and mercy
Sew difference’s chasm
Pull me closer
But not into your shadow
I’ll do the same for you
Over and over and over
Just let me see you
All of you
Because then I’ll trust you
And we’ll be free of fear’s chains
And our demon’s refrains
And I will say
I love you
I love you
I love you
And it will be true
A heart empty
How can it be heavy
So heavy that I can’t sit up from bed’s sleep
So heavy ribs weep
So heavy every beat
Oh no, here comes more
The tears, the deep howl
Grief’s guttural retching
Loss’s artery unstemmed, cut
Absence pulsing out in liters
Waves across rejection’s sterile floor
Curse history’s men
May they rot from the inside out
Violating and ravaging
Pillaging the beautiful and tender
Turning me bitter and untrusting
Making me to grow thorns, too painful to love
I want to breathe free
Choked by the scars men left
Stained with the blood of their conquests
Crippled by their song
Their sword chained to my hand
My constant struggle to disband
Why must I suffer the consequence of their sins?
Fight the ghosts of their violence?
No more swords and guns
No more wounded sons
I want to love and be loved
It spins, spins
In they come, out they go
An un-stemmed flow
Too kind, too harsh?
Taker or Giver?
The door is still ours
Trading day for night
Waiting for dawn’s meadowlark
Among denizens of the dark
Thief, Wolf, Vampire
Any, all allowed
Into the fold
Across the threshold
Pieces of craved emotion
A patchwork quilt sewn
Of skin and stone
A habit, a routine
Shackles needs to pain
Suffering the only gain
The push-pull heart
Things are good until they’re not
Reasons the same
A tidal pulse:
Make them stay
Keep them at bay
Close, closer, too close
Run and hide
A shelter, a retreat
From love’s steady beat
Wrapped in silence
Bowing to reasons not
The magic, the beauty lost
Counting the imagined cost
What becomes of the bird of desire
When a yearned need perches the heart?
Of which more is born
Balm or thorn?
I bleed darkness
I’m not the escapist comfort that you seek
I’m your closeted nightmares, the static you can’t tune out
I’m not your spirit guide, your yoga partner
I’m your denied doubt
Fuck your namaste.
I’m not your manicured nails, your whitened teeth
Fuck your gated communities, your shopping malls
Your right angle dogma is geometric mortality
Fuck your huge plastic tits
Fuck your skinny lattes
Your deadwood ego-spawned reality
Your factory-ized life cycles
Fuck you and your soul-sick ways.
All I have is now and you steal it, turn it into a stillborn corpse
My days wasted building my tomb
Waking from your lullaby
Every fucking day
How dare I dissent
How dare I challenge
How dare I see the murder in your shiny din
How dare I bleed on your Mop and Glow floor
Fuck your blindness, your righteous god-book duvets.
The insanity normalized, packaged, marketed
To the children, the new cogs
Deafeningly whispered in their ears
Head in my hands, I ask
“Do you know weary?”
The kind deeper than muscle, deeper than bone
A weight upon the invisible unfathomable inside
What exists before and after and outside
The bounds of flesh and time
I confess with certainty
“I’m so worn.”
Like a travel-torn salmon
His will spilt to the last drop
Fighting water’s flow and stone’s maw
Scale and fin sacrificed
To instinct’s tortuous flaw
I howl in grief
“My heart is dry.”
My hand reaching for yours, grasping
The retreating blade of love’s sword
Blood running, dripping from my fingertips
These words ache to say
These words cry in pain
My bones begging to lie down again
I’m so weary
A tired only old dogs know
Loyal and true until their days are through
Whether or not it mattered to you
I can scoff no longer at these words
A subtle fragrance lingers
The scent undeniable
Am I drunk—
A buzz of emotion that will pass?
Am I struck by blessed fate—
Heart’s doubt slain at last?
When my mind
Wanders the Plains of What If
Crosses the River of Why
There is no solace
You’re the first
And the last
As eye’s curtain draws open
And at sleep’s edge
I think of you
In my head but not my bed
I want to lie beside you
Watch your chest rise and fall
And fit to your curves
I want to be inside you
Your fingers digging into my back
My teeth on your neck
All we have is now
Let’s not squander it
What was, what will—
Places we cannot be
“My power,” they announced
So ego raged
And the pyramids erected
And at the tip they ruled
And the base exploited
The trumpets declaring
“This is your place,” they commanded
So the women knelt
And obeyed every whim
And lead lives dimmed
And swallowed men’s sin
Dissension answered with a fist
“My sacred way,” they claimed
So laws were created
And White God sanctified
And holy word justified
And sinner lives devastated
Whose rights reigning
“My superiority,” they reasoned
So shackles were forged
And humans enslaved
And tribes destroyed
And families maimed
Always taking, never leaving
Nothing but scars remaining
“My ownership,” they demanded
So the trees were felled
And the rivers soured
And the oceans scoured
And values accessed
The importance of Everything
“My entertainment,” they applauded
So the animals were caged
And violence peddled
And shock worshiped
And sex warped
The numbness of being
“The horror,” we cried
So our voices roared
And the volumed soared
And a unexpected chorus forged
And our minds are changed
“No more!” we are chanting
We want lives worth living
I case you weren’t aware, I’m a writer at The Good Men Project and contribute writing weekly. Pieces post on Fridays.
This is a repost my most successful piece for the online publication to date. It’s only a mere 500 words. “Success” for me means connecting with the reader. This unexpectedly hit the mark.
You can see the summit but you can’t reach it
It’s the last piece of the puzzle but you just can’t make it fit
Doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain
Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain
Howard Jones – No One Is To Blame
I’m in Mississippi.
It’s green here. Everything and everywhere. Trees buzz as if a thousand electric weed trimmers perch on their branches. Rain only falls like a river. Fleeting lightning dispels the night utterly. Thunder rolls, then booms, then cracks in the ear. The air is hot wetness.
I could have denied this experience, avoided the obvious consequential pain.
What if you found your matching unicorn? The one who compliments you the most? What if that discovery was the cruelest of revelations?
We both are missing the tip of the middle finger on our right hand, you see. She has the name of the street I grew up on, you see. She’s a writer, sees and paints the world in the same hues and tones as I. She’s scarred in the same places, aching for the same needs. She bleeds. She bleeds and bleeds from the same wounds, unwilling to deny their existence.
I wrote a haiku once.
What if love’s moment
Lasted but a single day
Would you not fear it?
It’s sickeningly romantic. A fool’s errand. I didn’t think it prophetic.
The population in the greater Sacramento region is over 2.5 million people. So many souls. It’s where I live. Surely my unicorn could be one of those. It should be. Love’s circumstances should be justly bound by laws set by romantic fate. But the only choice is to love or not love, fate only gives the opportunity. Why must it be this way? Why must my life be punctuated with painful ironies that heal as they rip me wide open?
May the southern white god curse the Internet.
I wonder if this is the only way I can tolerate such a connection. A coward’s unconscious strategy? The ancient guard of my heart gives no comforting counsel. The starving prisoner begs to be fed. The rationalist laughs judgmentally.
I am troubled.
“You know we will get burned,” I tell her. It’s too late for this warning. I’m already here. We kiss hard, like jaundiced vampires while sitting on her back porch as the cicadas sing. She nods, her tiger’s eye colored stare acknowledging what is already beyond the event horizon. We lie to ourselves that living in the present will postpone the inevitable. We call it crazy, and then agree to stop calling it that. Then we call it crazy again. Then any remaining rationales strip away with our clothes. Now a different fire burns, burns, burns as our we lay our defenseless hearts on the bed.
She has words tattooed on inside of her left forearm.
The words lay over and around older scars carved into her skin. I understand.
We are moored to different lands by children we adore. We smile anyway until bittersweet tears fall at the cosmic irony of it all. A few days are left to wake up next to each other.
I have to stop writing this. I have to go lay my head in her lap.
I change shapes just to hide in this place
But I’m still, I’m still an animal
Nobody knows it but me when I slip
Yeah I slip, I’m still an animal
-Miike Snow, Animal
This will probably ruin everything, if I haven’t already. I think derailing things before they start is one of my superpowers.
I have to write about it because I don’t want to write about it. In fact, I cannot NOT write about it.
This is how I know I am a writer.
I’m writing this at a coffee shop. Writing is a lonely art and being in proximity to others makes it feel less so. But there is another motivation why I visit this particular shop.
It was a slap in the face, really. That’s the best way to describe it. She was at one of the registers and I was standing in line. It was the first time I’d come to this coffee shop.
I saw her and my jaw slackened. She looked, smiled. I smiled. She looked away, still smiling.
An older Asian lady at the other register took my order to my disappointment. I left feeling slightly dizzy.
I wonder if she had the same feeling.
I don’t know quite know how to explain. It’s attraction, yes, but feels beyond that. It’s confusing. Doubt erodes instinct. Is it really shared, or just a projection?
It’s happened to me once before. There was some unsaid thing between us read only with the eyes. I discounted it, especially because we were both married and our spouses were right there next to us when we met. It was too disturbing to address. So, I forgot. I saw her not too long ago and that unsaid feeling was still there even after almost ten years. She’s still married.
This is a feeling that I never had with my wife. Is it part of why we aren’t married anymore? I’ve been divorced for nearly six years. I clumsily looked for love for some of those years but eventually decided that it is something best left to fate. It’s scary to let go. Now this.
I didn’t know how to talk to her beyond a smile here and there. I swear that Asian lady was always the one to take my order. But finally she did. I didn’t say anything.
Things happened when I was young that made me overly protective of my heart. It’s held me back and I’ve suffered. Unconscious choices I have made to protect it have blown up in my face. Introspection and hindsight has revealed what I have denied I was doing for the majority of my life. So now I fight my old patterns. I write the hard stuff, I make myself vulnerable because it’s the thing I want to do least.
Real life is a different beast.
I was sitting outside the coffee shop writing and she sat at a table next to mine. Someone met her and talked to her briefly and then she was alone again. I wondered how to strike up a conversation. A car drove by with what looked like two ponies’ heads sticking out each of the rear passenger windows. They were white Great Danes. Great White Danes. “Holy crap,” I said, hoping she’d respond. I mean, it was an appropriate response. They were huge, even by their breed’s standards.
She was facing away from me so I couldn’t make eye contact. I started to cave to my fears. Then she stood up to leave. “It’s J, right?” The question blurted out past my will. “Yes,” she smiled. “I just wanted to say that I’m just a little smitten with you. That’s it. I just wanted to say that.” She smiled wider, a little blush showing on her cheeks. I’m not entirely sure what was said next. I was acting completely out of character. Alarms blared in my mind as if part of me was escaping like a fugitive. I think I gave her my name. She shook my hand and went back to work.
Even though it was a completely genuine confession, I thought, what in the fuck did you just do? Surely I had just creeped her out.
And this is how I make my life as difficult as possible.
It turns out that I didn’t creep her out. We even had a nice conversation at the coffee shop recently.
This is normal. This is what people do every day when they are interested in each other. But it’s a big deal to me. I’m completely out of my safe zone. This is when the trouble starts.
I think too much. I analyze things to death. I prepare for rain on a cloudless day.
Old patterns. I question my motivations, fearful that I’m repeating past mistakes.
I’ve asked her if I’m making her uncomfortable on more than one occasion. She says no, not at all. It’s relieving, but a part of me has a hard time believing her words. That part is afraid of scaring her away. As much as I preach about letting things unfold organically, I have the hardest time practicing it.
Irony. So much irony.
The other day I found myself within the perfect metaphor for how I’m handling this.
My roommate has a bird that has become infatuated with me. It immediately flies to my shoulder whenever it sees me. It waits outside the door to my room until I come out. It becomes jealous when I talk on the phone, biting my ear hard.
I was leaving the house and the bird flew through the doorway just inches before the door closed. Had I closed it, the bird would have been toast. It landed at my feet and I freaked. SHIT THE BIRD IS OUTSIDE. I scooped it up as my roommate rushed out the door with sheer panic painted on his face. I handed the bird back to him, my heart in my throat. As I began to leave again, it broke free of my roommate’s hands and flew out after me again. This time it landed on the railing right next to the door. I tried to roughly snatch it with both hands and it took flight.
“No, no, no, no, my bird, come back,” my roommate desperately pleaded as he chased after his bird and then out of sight around the side of the house. I held my breath as guilt hit me like a sleeper wave. All I could see in my mind was the bird flying up, up, up. Then the bird flew back from around the side of the house and landed at my feet again. I reached down gently and picked it up.
Jesus. I’m a mess.