Refuse

I steal the light from others
And replace with a shadow of a flame
They carry it a while seeing something like the colors
That were taken and devoured
And they scarcely realize they’re not the same

A grain and then another
And before you know it, like an hourglass
They slowly drain away behind the ever-shifting cover
Of illusion that was soured
Only once they realized it couldn’t last

I see them start to spiral
As they bend into the shape of my duress
Shedding their departures at the cost my arrival
Like a seed that never flowered
And their better moments sold for my request

A meaning given viral
So I offer them the needles that I use
To strip away the edges leaving pulses running idle
And a life that may have towered
Do I watch it tumble down because they offered me a lantern and the shadow in me couldn’t just refuse

Directory pt.2

Part 1


“You can keep going with this woo-woo mystical bullshit if you want, but no one’s buying it.”

“Well that’s handy, ‘cuz I ain’t fucking sellin’ it. It’s a fuckin’ fact. Snatch. Guy Ritchie. No?”

“You think this is some kind of game?”

“I do.”

“Yeah, well, it isn’t.”

“Sure it is. You’re just pissed because you’re losing. And you’re losing because you don’t know the rules. And you don’t know the rules because you won’t accept that it’s a game.”

“Yeah, well, looks like we fuckin’ gotcha doesn’t it? Or you just biding your time? Planning your great escape?”

“Says the guard with a wooden baton to Magneto in the plastic prison.”

“Keep it up, tough guy.”

“Notice you’re not wearing your badge. Must have forgotten it, huh?”

“How’s this for a fucking badge?”

“Looks more like a gun. And you look like too big a pussy to use it.”


The rain is a meteor shower. Life is a tidal wave of red and white and green and yellow.

The world is streaks of color that yell out like angry geese with megaphones.

He’s screaming, “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.” in his mind while his lips are silent – hands gripping the steering wheel like a gun-lobbyist on Christian morals. He’s frantic. The world a blur. Letters zip by, half-obscured by rain and dark, by the glare of street lamps where the insects of the night flock like Johns to brothels – like prayers to God…like rain to the pavement.

The rotation of blue and red and white like the star-spangled banner is playing in color – like a floating apparition in his world. It’s screaming at him like a harpy that’s being gutted. It’s a cat with a bullhorn in its mouth. It’s the exclamation at the end of the sentence that once said, “Shit always goes sideways. You can’t plan for it. All you can do is adapt.”

He’s thinking back to that night. The night she brought him the list.

“The fuck is this?” he asked.

“You need…” she looked so sad and he didn’t understand why. Maybe he never really did. Maybe he never really would. “There’s a lot that you need to have right and…” she looked away and sighed. She looked so tired but he was the one that felt like he needed a small coma. “Just memorize it, okay? Just…you need to know the words.”

“I don’t even believe in this shit. You know that, right?” he said.

“It doesn’t…” she started to say.

“I swear,” he interrupted, “if you say some shit that’s akin to ‘Even if you don’t believe in God, he believes in you’ line, I’m gonna vomit. Like…seriously. I’ll fucking vomit.”

She looked so sad. Why did she look like that?

She shoved the paper into his hand and looked up with those doleful eyes. Those eyes that said they’d seen too much and yet never seen half of what they’d wanted. Those eyes that were begging him to do what he needed to do and yet seemed to say, “I’m sorry. I’m so…so…sorry…”

He took it with a shrug and said, “What the fuck ever…”

It rained blood that night.

At least that’s what he saw.


“You’ll do things you never imagined.”

“You’ll do things that you wish you never had to do.”

“You’ll do things that, right now…in this moment…you would say you’d never do. But you’ll find yourself facing them like a broken mirror. You’ll have to choose which shard of glass to use as your truth.”


Letters and numbers flashed by like hieroglyphics in warp speed. He could hear the wail of America’s finest in pursuit while he tried to get his bearings.

He needed time to focus. He needed time to sort things out.

He needed time.

He needed time.

He swerved by a car that was taxi yellow, whether by mistake or by occupation, he couldn’t tell in a world where speed limits were suggestions and repercussions were theories. He saw it with clarity then. He almost grinned as he did.

Metal met with metal. Fiberglass warped and cracked. Glass erupted like a volcano of bad endings in every daydreamer’s worst nightmare.

His head moved forward with the urgency of life running from death and landing squarely in its embrace. His head like a melon as it struck the steering wheel, warping his skull and face like putty wrapped around a stick-figure frame of popsicle sticks.

In his eyes, he saw starlight even as the impact made the passersby suddenly shift backward like a bomb had gone off at their very feet.

He almost laughed at the irony.

Leads

Perhaps we never parted
Never did, because we never really could
Divide the imperfections
From the infinite reflections
That we never really started
To perceive the way we said we always would

So now we hold departure
Like an ornament that waits to meet a tree
In days of burning summer
Where remembrance merely slumbers
And the stars are set as archers
And the pines of last November are across a frozen sea

Where reasons were discarded
Like a litany of elegies forgot
By lips securing phrases
While ignoring all the phases
Of a moon that we regarded
As a bridge between the moments that we sought

And now we say it’s over
Plucking petals, all the while sowing seeds
Ensuring that tomorrow
Shows another gift of sorrow
In a world devoid of clovers
Saying, “Clearly, have we parted,” in a circle where nobody ever leads

Apparitions

What wondrous apparitions
Have we granted such a monolithic state
Wrapping all around them are the tatters of conditions
That we knew were never destiny and so we tried to say that it was fate

And placing them in chapels
With a tithing made of all that could’ve been
Candles burning brightly and an offering of apples
Knowing all they do is rot away inside a mouth of “still, I would again…”

So callous reservations
Are we wearing hoping they can keep us warm
Stepping ever lightly on the make-believe foundations
That are holding up a temple that would fall apart if truth became a storm

But asking, in contrition,
If, for once, the apparitions could appear
Granting recognition of the cost of our submission
Knowing well they never will and yet continuing to hope that if we learn to make them real then it’s okay if we, in pieces, disappear

Dismissed

Diluting my spirit with spirits diluted
I wonder, how much of me’s left?
When words elocuted are barely a memory
Borne of the wreckage that left me bereft

With wandering syllables slowly saluting
A banner I made out of dread
And wearing a uniform made of out of treachery
Leaking affinity, just to pretend that I bled

Dissolving the meaning with meaning dissolving
I wonder, what’s left in the end?
When losses are mounting and all that I’m gaining
Are wounds that I know not a surgeon could mend

With withering elegies slowly suffusing
A martyrdom made out of mist
I buckle a smile to cheeks that are dying
And speak all the words that are trying to swim in the ocean of pain I dismissed

Proceed

Would petulance remove you if I speak
The words as if they were as strong as I am weak?
And set upon my heart, as if a laminate,
An armor that would minimize the burden of critique?

By statement like a hammer yet to strike
Do I concede that we are nothing but alike?
Or bind, to the contrary, all the evidence
Delivered by an arbitrary pulse that chose to spike?

Would sentiment deliver me a path
Devoid of error just to circumvent the wrath?
When looking at the pictures made of circumstance,
Was I a fool to turn the worst emotions into math?

By rigid arbitration and a need
To see a meaning, did I merely never lead?
Or here, in hesitation, did I choose to hate
How much I had to hold on to the past, and on to you, so I could learn how to proceed?

Directory pt.1

“The thing you gotta understand is just how…unremarkable he was. You know? Like…he was one of those guys that you could talk to ten times in two years and none of it like…none of it really stuck. You know?”


“So wait,” Jim said. His bottle of beer hovered so close to his lips he probably felt the chill of the glass. The trajectory of a drink put on pause as he set the bottle back down. “You think you guys broke up?”

“Yeah,” Adam said as he took a drink of a rum and coke that had already devoured a single ice cube and was now working its way toward a room temperature consolation prize.

“The fuck does that even mean? I mean…” Jim chuckled and took a drink that seemed intent on making up for the one he’d previously put on pause. Like a print queue after a paper jam has been cleared. “Dude, that’s some shit you should probably know as a definitive yes or no.”

Adam knew the answer in black and white terms the way a person knows when they see a car wrapped around a telephone pole that the person inside is dead. Their head and the steering wheel unceremoniously joined in unholy matrimony. But sometimes people lived through those sort of things. There was always that lingering percent. That trail of zeroes that leads to some seemingly erroneous non-zero digit.

“I think it was a sneak attack,” he finally said. Humor didn’t make it seem less absurd, but it was a lovely bandaid for the moment.

“She dress up in black garb like a ninja and leave a throwing star lodged in the wall with a red tassel and some obscure fortune cookie note or something?”

“Not quite,” Adam said. “That would have been more straightforward.”

Jim took another drink and gave Adam “the look”. Eyebrows seemingly both down and up at the same time. That sort of half-pursed expression that just said, “Dude. Duuude. Duuuuude.”

“So, you remember,” Adam began…

“Hold on, hold on,” Jim said as he flagged down a waitress.

She didn’t wear a name tag – it wasn’t that kind of place. She looked like a Sarah. Sarah? Maybe a Susan.

“Can I get another one, and uh…yeah…a long island for Captain Lonely Heart over here.”

Possibly Sarah or Susan smiled at that. She didn’t ask. That was something.

“Sure thing,” she said. “Both on your ticket?”

“Yup.”

“Alright.”

“Okay,” Jim said as she exited stage left, “so walk me through this. It might literally be the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

“So, you remember when I moved?”

Jim sat with a bottle frozen at his lips for a moment – not drinking, but not setting the bottle down. “Not ringing a lot of bells,” he said behind his surgeon’s mask of brown glass.

“I don’t know that I talked about it much. Not like it was a huge deal,” Adam said. “Lease was up, found something else. Whatever.” He paused and finished his room-temperature rum and coke as the waitress returned and set their drinks down.

“Beer,” she said as she placed another bottle in front of Jim, “and a long island iced tea for Captain Lonely Heart,” she said with a bit of a smile. Sticking out of the top was a wedge of pineapple and, from the interior, – like some plastic Lochness monster – was a red straw that was shaped like a heart near the top and then swirled around and up so that you could actually drink out of it.

“Don’t officially get my Captain’s License until Monday,” Adam said jokingly.

“I won’t tell if you don’t,” possibly-Sarah or Susan said with a hint of a smile.

“So,” Adam continued as she exited stage right, “anyway, I moved. Or, I was in the process of moving. Standard stuff. She comes over and she’s helping me go through things.” He paused and took a drink and immediately clenched his teeth as the sweetened turpentine concoction that is a made-too-strong long island iced tea has the potential to be hit his tongue. “Anyway,” he said, trying not to cough, “she’s helping me go through things. I don’t really pay too much attention. Some stuff is going with me, some stuff with her.

“I unpack stuff at the new place. I get things put away. It doesn’t really occur to me that anything is out of sorts. I put her toothbrush there, deodorant, hair stuff. Whatever. But then, she’s not really texting very much, but she’s busy. I’m busy. We’re busy.

“But then I notice it one day. No shoes. No clothes. All the stuff that’s hers is the stuff that you could get at a Target on Tuesday. Like the remainder of a person who stayed at a motel for too long and was living on takeout. It was all random shit.”

“That’s…” Jim began, his word hanging in the air like cigarette smoke might have in the days before it wasn’t okay to smoke inside buildings – bar or not.

“Fucking brilliant,” Adam finished.

“Not exactly where I was gonna go with that,” Jim said with a quizzical look that he punctuated with another drink from his beer.

“Oh, don’t get me wrong,” Adam said. “It’s messed up. It’s cold. But you gotta admit – it’s fucking brilliant. She hit the eject button right in front of me. I literally watched her grab her shit and leave and was like, ‘Makes perfect sense to me.'”

“You think she was cheating on you?”

“Nah,” Adam replied honestly, “not her style.”

“Man, that’s…” Jim started to say. “Actually,” he said suddenly, “You know what? I know…uh…oh it’s…” he pulled his phone out and started to scroll through it.

“Not really looking for a hooker tonight, but…I mean…maybe after this drink…”

“Ha-ha,” Jim said, “I’m looking for… … …Kim. I don’t know her that well,”

“Didn’t think you were that kinda guy,” Adam quipped.

“But she knows her,” Jim said.

“And,” Adam said, “that’s helpful because…?”

“Women talk,” Jim said – clearly he was having a Matlock moment.

“Ok…”

“I wanna see if maybe she said something to Kim,” he said as his fingers tapped out a message.

“Because…?”

“Because…I…” he held his finger up in that ‘uno momento, por favor’ type of way.

Adam waited quietly and took another drink of his long island. Either he was getting drunk enough for it to not feel like he was sipping on diluted napalm, or his initial assessment had been off the mark.

He was betting squarely on the former.

“Huh,” Jim said.

“Has she ruined the moment? Do ladies not, in fact, talk?”

“She says she hasn’t heard from her for a few weeks.”

“I dare say that context is going to be a factor here. Like, are they ‘we talk on holidays’ acquaintance or are they ‘we talk on the phone while we watch the same Netflix episode’ friends?”

“No clue, man,” Jim said. “I mean, she doesn’t sound worried about it.”

Adam shrugged and took another drink.

“Shit’s cold, man,” Jim said.

“Yeah,” Adam said flatly. “Cold, man.”

Rings

A cluster of geometries I hold and rearrange
Comparing them to circles and elliptical designs
And moving them about as if in doing so I’ll change
The way they never fit –
By turning hexagons a bit
And forcing spirals into places made for lines

A handful of obscenities with edges filed down
And bent into the clamor of a ticker tape parade
That flickers in absentia there beneath an iron crown
That never really shone
Beneath the canopies of stone
That there were reasons never said for why it stayed

A clutter of anomalies I fold and organize
Contrasting them to syllables I never really spoke
And holding them aloft as if the doing could resize
Their gravity and weight
Or, to myself, how they relate
Or, from the fire, the immensity of smoke

A grouping of amenities that all metastasize
A gathering of angels bound to neurasthenic wings
With lips upon the badges made of blood I thought a prize
They sing a serenade
Before the banquet that I made
And ’round my fingers, all their teeth, I wear as rings

Cross

Should I have thrown the sky into the sea
Gone racing for the water in a lake of mirror waves
And promised that the effigy I burned
Was never what I promised it should be
Where fingertips are mausoleums in a world of graves
With stoic gaze, should I have never turned

To face the sun I swore to watch decay
A penny in between my fingers blotting out the moon
Embracing every spurious eclipse
As testimony to a better day
That tapers like a candle that I burned before it’s noon
To hide the tombs upon my fingertips

Should I have chased the sea into the sky
Gone flying over chasms that would only spiral down
And told myself that plummet means ascend
That living is the epithet to die
And breathing is the prize that I deserve for being drown
When death I duly found and surely penned

Upon a page that purges any ink
And leaves me a reflection that is surely just as blank
Should I insert the memory of loss
Between the vivid sights of every blink
Deposit them as coins into a vacuum of a bank
And mouth the words of thanks as I obsequiously craft another cross

Bleed

She left me
So I left me here with wrist set like a sieve
She left me
So I guess we only have this to believe
She’s gone
And maybe dawn is just a joke for which I grieve
She left
And so I left and now the only thing that’s left to do is bleed…