Papercuts

The pages hurt
too much to touch.
I can barely remember
the sound of you
laughing.

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Heavy things

Give me your bruises,
the nauseated stains of
your fingers too hard on my skin,
yeah I kind of like it that way
when you’re breathing (her) name
real quiet like you’re trying
to place her     between us,
isn’t it easy with the
whiskey on your lips

the green haze
swimming through the air
(we are just bodies now)
and sending our distinctions
of face and rhythm
to sleep-

Give me the passionless
thrust of flesh, just enough
to ignite the heat and     release;

with your hands tied up
in my hair like that, baby who
(the fuck?)
knows what touch or title
we’ll rub into our mottled
skin in the sober morning.

And we’re up all night again, cursing the torn-up road again,
we’re slipping under each other’s skin, and if there’s a lesson
shirking in the sheets it’s that kisses are real heavy things,
all your burdens and scars and scarlet grief clenched between your teeth-

Fallen

The point, above all
is to be out, to remember
which side of the word
to put the ,comma to thank God
that there’s a dependent clause
on this page and I must continue
on the next, or else I’d lose this
track, crash, forget-

and yeah,
I felt this coming
but I didn’t think I’d see it.

The sucking need of him,
a ballast of fallen avarice
the shrapnel of his silence
cutting up the couch pillows
or sticking from the carpet

and we’re not getting
our deposit back
because for Christ’s sake,
we got blood
all over the tile
and bleach didn’t do the trick.

No, I didn’t expect
to see him,
enormous and brooding,
face down again
and I have run
out of the magnanimity

to place the black sluice of pause
to piece together the scurried phrase

to pry him off the bed,
try and roll him over.

Home is a crooked word with no synomyms.

Under an afternoon splintered with gold and thorns, wind and clouds as fleeting as angels billowing above our hair, we pressed our hands into the new-churned earth on West Magnolia Road and claimed it as ours. The damp ground dried up and honored these birthmarks; to this moment, she still bears the hollow stars of our tiny hands, keeps our names engraved into her nethermost. This was our kingdom, epicurean cathedral of wild nights and firesides. The bougainvillea wove itself into verdant circles and we crowned ourselves emperor and queen, sacred groundskeepers and young scions of unbridled acres.

Under the star-washed violet sky, we sewed wings onto our sneakers and kicked off the ground. We believed in fantastic, impossible things: dragons and spies and imaginary friends that lived in the attic, we believed in forever and the infallibility of love. I do not believe we took it for granted. We loved the wet grind of concrete on our feet, spraying the garden hose in the driveway on summer afternoons, the cells of blackberry flesh bursting over our tongues, our shadows that always moved two-by-two. Above everything, we loved the dangerous flick of bonfires, their ravenous orange tongues, the shimmered dance of the trees seen through rippling grey air. What a luscious thrill, to beget the spark and flame, to coax it into scarlet rapture and delight in the midnight dance of mortal light, to smother it with cool streams as we licked the last embers from our fingers. In the morning I painted with the ashes. You raked the refuse strewn from the burnmark on the yard’s green face. We walked back inside together and slept soundly, the smoke in our lungs keeping us warm.

Sometimes I still dream of it, our own secret Manderley burning up while we watch from the road, windows coughing out heavy clouds of smoldered brick and pine.  Sometimes we still drive and sneak in through the broken back door, trace the letters of our names still stuck in the ground like we own something to be proud of. Once upon a time there was you and me cast in pure gold, wrapped in the deep blue walls of our newfound castle. Sound asleep while black harbingers swooped through the tremulous ramparts with malice in their wings. And just look at us now, Joshua, and isn’t she a sight for jaded eyes, forlorn grandeur draped in ivy. We’re waking  in outskirts of cold Magnolia, her petal scent and smoke lodged in our throat like swallowed lockets.

Impasse

The words will come when they’re ready,
but more often I find my desk steeped
in ash and vacant envelopes, white
paper tongues dry as corpses.
Shriveled leaves of absent thought
and passion. I had promised
to replenish their emaciated folds
with some new strain of spark,

but what can I do when
the hours sail by in perfect mimicry,
phantom passengers waving
their tattered flags to the bleached
skeletons leering from the shore.

Dreamscapes (I-V.)

I.
Undefinable,
though you will ask for some
careful and cogent precision
regardless.

Should I tell you
through the odd tilt of hours and pixel,
or incise the leather and pulp
with some new miracle of acumen?

When you are no longer
flattened to a laughing hologram
frigid to touch and sad to hold,

or the moment when we need
to hear and say it most?

II.
A girl on a fishing dock
looks east and whispers
to the bodies sleeping underwater.
Schools of silver flick
and twirl in cavernous skulls
masked in feathered green,
in the white cages dissolved
of any lasting substance.

Do you see them too ? she asks,
looking to the mob of tooth and claw
slinking along the foothills.
Call out to them, hold out
your palm and whistle soft.
They can’t hurt you anymore.

I like to picture her in white,
a modern Emily Dickinson with
a pocket of scrap and petal
sewn above her thigh.

III.
A thousand origami hearts
hung from heaven by thread
and twine, celestial ramparts
athrum with the creased thud
of our boundless epicenter.

Yours is quiver and sigh,
weak tremor of
ventricle and pulse.

I cannot snare the rhythm,
though I claimed to know it well.

IV.
When I was a child I often drew
the optical illusion of two faces
fading as a vase as twin
silhouettes as a black candlestick,
an hourglass, and so on.

A sly indentation, and there
a nose, ornate
metalwork, a bulge of lip
or porcelain, it always
depends on what you want to see.

V.
You, in the cold western
valley, slumped at your
writing desk while I read
to your dreams endless
verses, poetry and the stars:

here is my formal redress,
left where I believe you’ll find it.

Work poem

It is such that I can only
think of them in small
gasps of glimpse
and blink

a scent I catch
on a stranger’s
black collar, the
instance of bitter
sweet respite

as I lean against
the kitchen sink
with my head
in calloused hands,

flickers of voice and light
slipping down
the drain.

Fight or flight (we’re running out of options)

What did you think?
That distance and
inward difference
would drive out
the inexorable,
obfuscate the clarity
of ghastly recollection,
dull the rusted tip
of memory’s unspeakable knife?

You’re in the center
of interminable winter,
the stark white faces
of immortal demons
bearing scarlet teeth
and singing for the offering
that quivers under your skin.

Delusional to dream
that the landscape
would morph
over the course of
casual vagrancy,
that the sinister terminus
of winding blacktops
would diminish in its
abominable potence.

Don’t think we don’t see how you choke-
your throat closes with every voyage
into the caliginous domain of insidious horrors,
headspace reeling and amygdala aflame as
the technicolor film plays out in every corner;
you’re bleeding out the strength you sought and won,
seething with unshakeable panic and pleading
for some goddamn reprieve from these black inundations,
shrieking in your sleep when unconsciousness
can’t vanquish the monsters that slithered
through your ear and
into every dream.

This is fight or flight honey,
and you’ve already tried
the latter.

So for the sake of
salvageable sanity
and those who redeem
this noxious wasteland
into something livable,
find a means to subsist,
a way to exist with dignity

in the midst of the devil’s
playground.

Indelible

Here we are in the heart of it, love, 
     
  the hearkened rise of    aurulent dawn 

           all space and    weight    dissolved 

a denouement written with    lips and fingertip 

            on familiar curve and crevice. 


The blue morning    imbues the room 

with prismatic iridescence,    ascendant

       luminescence over our    languid bodies, 

            violet moons    under our eyes and 

tired limbs intertwined. 


Were it not for    a pale hair in the brush, 

      hasty photographs on a cracked screen

      or the lingering    sweat imprinting your body 

on the tattered mattress,    I’d believe 

          I had    dreamed it    all-


What but grace,    its tenderness without 

provenance or promise of tomorrow, 

     could answer for the    low moan    of breath 

and bones    restless    upon the quilt, 

quiet laughter in place    of attended sorrow? 


I understand now, the miracle 

that speaks not of light 

              but of what it shines upon. 


Here we are at the narrow doorstep 

of resolution    and remembrance.

      A brush of skin    brought out of shadow, 

                      inocciduous morning stars 


that cross but do not   

         fall.


29/5/16. 

For Gloria

Make this pilgrimage with me one more time,
gnarled feet and transient hearts
treading towards that final, ineffable
expanse of sacred, a solitary temple
unfurling across impossible lengths,
aquamarine reliquary of nameless bones
and corroded vessels. We will go,
like so many other foreign homes
with oars and rope in hand,
the litany of names glittering on our lips
and an X
marking the zenith
of our surest, remembered hope.

I can already see us there ma belle,
the swell of water up to our waists
a hint of wisteria curling over the waves,
running our hands over their faces
and calling tenderly their names
with every crash and cry that wrecks
the thallassic landscape, anchored
in the shallow end of the deepest chasm
that we conquered, once,
before we had the world to lose-