I suppose it fell in one
swift slice of tether

the sudden rush of robin-blue
from the jaded thrush of sycamore-

these hapless wings
awash in the fetterings of broken shell.

You came far after
the rest sailed south
on the bristled hush of winter,

made your nest
of moss and
beaded twine.

In that surly crag of slate and rain
there never was a song like yours

but I so loved your slender alto,
soft on the snow’s sharp drifts.



There are these oftentimes I cannot reach you.
A heavy fog over your laden heart,
curtains pulled over to evade the sun.

An oceanic trench of disbelief
in the vehement hope I try to conjure.

There are these broken refrains
that sing flat and hollow.
I can never get the notes right anymore-
my voice always cracks on the crescendo.

And in the subsequent silence
I curse my tongue for its stumble,
the wreck of sound that cannot rebuild.

Sometimes I think it’s me that failed, dear one.
An arsenic-lipped lover with no antidote to offer,

a slaughterhouse mess of misguided intent.

I am told that it is neither of us,
that convalescence is a fortress
we cannot scale alone.

Please forgive, then,
the battering ram that tries
to shatter your iron door,
the stubborn want to reach

that which is beyond us both.

Reprise (A mind you can recognize)

…and baby this cigarette’s
not getting me any closer
to you or anything that
resembles your weathered memory,

this mortal tribute to every
nihilism you worshiped
with a seductive glance and
cold irreverence,

this relic of a time
when your tender presence
could obliterate
the malevolent empiricism

of all the demons
wreaking havoc
on my psychological infrastructure.

The enchantment never outlasts
the portentous gleam of ember,
but I can’t stop thinking I can
conjure another sequence,
another verse,

a perfect bridge of
perfect words,
a connection that outstrips
the cold geometry
of conscripted circumstance,

the witless strife,
the final try
of everything
I ever built, ever wrote,
ever dreamed for us

reduced to a smoldering filter
smothered under my feet.

…and lately I’ve been coughing up more than just the acrid phlegm of our mutual disease, the blackened sickness of festered agony, you can’t hear the broken mechanism of my heavy breathing, but take my word for it that the amoxicillin’s not killing the cancerous remnants of what you’ve done to me, the dissociative quotidian of unrealized odysseys and everything we’ll never be,
you never wanted anything but a body haunted by a mind you could recognize, and honey the infection seeping into my chest is just my displaced adoration manifest, a culmination of antipathic disregard for everything I am, I detest these apathetic wastes of poisoned breaths, the one-man debauchery of loving you alone, but I’ll cherish to the end the chance

to be the kind of person who will sit outside with your shadow
and make sure that the heady flames between our lips don’t ever die alone-

Letters (and other quiet perils)

Very soon these are the words I will be able to speak without the pen interposed, all these wonderings heard within the sweet proximity of you and me. And still I feel as though something innate and fearful binds my tongue, renders my ink-splotched hands nervous and fretful, like twin birds in impenetrable cages. That old nag, “Michaela, please put yourself away…” That old notion that all this feeling is something too heavy to hold.

And yet, there is so much left to tell that I imagine moments of confidence and conferred stories all of the time. It’s a ceaseless daydream of that evasive privilege, the chance to be understood by someone you love perhaps a touch too much. And it goes without saying that there are infinities left to know- crooked shadows that bare their teeth, gentle sublimities folded upon the highest shelf of memory, despised and desperate queries we dare never speak out loud, all of those invisible fingerprints and fossils pressed into your heart.

I think that it all comes down to a simple sentiment that I have nevertheless failed to translate- that I never wanted more from you; simply more of you. From, signifying an act of conference, an offering of word or deed; of, signifying essence, the very core of what and who you are. And even as I write that, my fingers recoil from the page. The enormity of such intimacy does not escape me, and you have always been at once ephemeral and indelible. It’s one of those things that comes with time I suppose, but isn’t that always what we lack?

There are at least a dozen letters like this one, scribbled on receipts and business cards, restaurant menus and the handsome pages of a fine leather notebook. Some are quite brief, merely a scrap of lines in scrambled languages, others more complete, but I keep them all in the secret hope that one of these days the paper will not feel so heavy, that not a single sentence will bear its weight alone.

M. Alden.

Mightier than (Fallible Excalibur)

This utensil I’m cowering behind
is a poor man’s tourniquet.
Its black effluence blights my courage
in a scribbled cacophony of ricochet
and unforecasted consequence,

and though these words should be
an airborne intoxicant of visceral pathogen
spewing from dauntless lips with no
ink-sketched mask or artistic trepidation,
an extemporaneous weapon to eviscerate
and devastate your impassive
vacuous headspace,

they’re no more than a colony
of fire ants injecting subversive venom
into an immunized body of pulp and dye,
a wooden sword dulled to impotent pine
swung by enfeebled arms as it passes
through your fading shadow.

Fuck all of these
inconsequential tropes
and hopes that these words
would find their way home,

this pen was my last
conduit to touch you
and it’s as good as Excalibur
welded in stone.

Sous la pluie

Look through the rain-laced window

as the road unfurls over the strange

eastern rivulets of cold terrain, or

wander through the bleak angevine

rain, sempiternal mist within

the odd fragment of western valley

a ghost brushing their lips on your skin.

Remember how the absence of tint

and feathered light used to be

a strike to your quivering, solitary heart

floating among the crows and drifts

of silvered curtain. Lift yourself

a bit higher, and you could be

footsteps from her window,

a waver and pause before you raise

your knuckles to heaven’s weeping door,

you could be an arm’s length from her

matted hair entangled by wind and

laced with smoke, fold yourself into

this hour’s perfect canvas and don’t

look down now, you’re just one

blithe revery from home-


and darling, isn’t this
(my highest sincerity)
everything you’ve ever dreamed,
lift the glass veil (a universe
between your hand and my skin)
between sleeping beloveds,
the space of infinitesimal
décalage, and you
may as well be folded in the same
corner of wild earth (seething
desires of my dismantled heart)
the cool in-between
dispersed by his slow breath
and the brush of callous on your cheek
sing the old litany of words,
those that are yours (is that
me in your poem?) and verses
torn from dogeared leaves of prayer
(not really soothing, but soothing
nonetheless), the fractured
dreamscape of his face obscured
by the blurred reflection of your
slow-moving lips (I died for
Beauty but was scarce-)
side by side along the water,
too weary to reach out an arm
(all my wits to you)
and swim


Poems noted:

a universe between your hand and my skin“- mad/ness by Holden Lyric.
not really soothing, but soothing nonetheless“- The Torn Up Road by Richard Siken.
“I died for Beauty but was scarce-“ by Emily Dickinson.


Not the fervent sentiment
of your squinting heart
that strains to catch the fickle
glance of celestial fathers-

I want a simple candle
to extinguish with my irreverent
tertiary breath.

A request you don’t need to contort
into a transcendental query: A means
to get by, a lottery I can bet on,
just a few more miles, a car ride to
bring him home. All of those
immediate, desperate simplicities
you dare never entreat

are the seething desires
of my dismantled heart.
You see, the shortest distance is not
a pilgrimage or even a leap
of faith, and my hands are made
for letters scratched on paper napkins
the witless strife of love
you needn’t close your eyes to feel

and some things we must guard 
more zealously than the altar,
the terrible caprice and spin
of those mysterious ways.


And at last the weary thread of patience
     slips through the elusive silver eye,
a line of blanket stitches through
     the sheets I pull over our dust-cloud mouths.

And I am learning to reconcile with
     the tilted magnitude of memory:
A grand arc of aurulent miracle
     In my reverent, covetous hands,

Or perhaps to you,
     An ephemeral dart and glance of fate
             As you make your way towards the hall.

Leave the light on when you go, love.
     The thimble is heavy on my fingertips,
I am forgetting how to weave us in
     To the tapestry of sorest hope.