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I find a fitting melody to rob me of the quiet
In the shallowest peripheral of allegories slipping
Where the stone is smooth as silk and all the instruments are chipping
In the slow pursuit of something half as meaningful as what it cost to buy it

But long ago I found, if only doing so in folly,
The perimeter of morning where the evening is resentful
And the lips that let me rise are, to my eyes, now only lent wool
That remains as dying needles from the pine that’s turning gray beneath the holly

And hoping it was mistletoe that hovered there above me
I recalled, as if a metaphor that only meant forgetting,
There were reasons for a second set of glasses for the setting
That extended, momentarily, beyond the limits lent to being lovely

But somberness was severed from the damages within you
Like a ribbon that was stolen from a present undelivered
For the arrows giving love and lacking pain are cruelly quivered
And the dust upon the feathers and the clouds within the sky seem to imply that this is how it must continue

Friend

I twisted my apologies
And sacred ideologies
Until the parts I needed most were true
I filled my heart with fuses
Just to decorate the bruises
Knowing not why what I choose is
Always different
Never different
Somewhere in between cerulean and blue

Where all of the apologies
Were pages from theologies
The sun had bleached to bone before they bled
Where letters are as flowers
Petals lost beneath the towers
Holding vigils for the hours
Always changing
Never changing
Somewhere in between the colors rust and red

I wove all of the similes
Until their lacking symmetries
Was something I could hold, or else pretend
For just a little while
Wouldn’t falter like a smile
Just a stranger in the aisle
Always watching
Never watching
Somewhere in between forgotten and a friend

Vigil

I put another flower on your grave today
The ones I placed before were losing color in the shade
Were growing duller as they grayed,
For, like a little congregation, they were dying where they pray

I placed a pair of roses there before your tomb
The other ones, I guess, had been devoured by the snow
And so they cowered, hidden low
For, like the severed things they are, they were bereft of ways to bloom

I placed another tulip where your body rests
Yesterday, an orchid, and tomorrow, daffodils
But like a sorrow seeks to kill
They seem to wither like a promise that we never had to test

I brought a new bouquet, it’s all I had to spare
I’ve brought so very many but they never seem to last
As if forever is the past
Because I know you’re still alive and I’m just waiting for the day you meet me there

Crashes

The problem, I guess,
Is the fear I confess
Or the fear that, I guess,
Isn’t valid unless

I can measure its weight
Or define its dimensions
In lines that are straight
I can bind and then gate
And assign to a valid extension

The problem, I guess,
Isn’t clearly assessed
By the fear I suppress
When I’m clearly a mess

And I’m digging a grave
In a desert of ashes
As if I could save
Anyone from the wave
That I cause when the fear that I feel and I crave,
On the shores of reality, crashes

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

Unfurling

Could I become the reason why
There’s something more to wake and choose to find
With fingers curling slowly on a blade that none could pry
…are reasons really good enough to sever or to justify the bind?

I wonder, all the same,
If it was shame or just a name
Or just an answer that I needed
So that something fully realized could shield me from the blame as I retreated

Believing, there in diffidence,
Were isolated islands in an ocean made of beads
And there, within a sky I knew was painted cold in insolence
…I tried to be the reason I continued drawing breath through broken reeds

Peculiar, in a sense,
That each lament was mere pretense
And that, with fingers slowly curling
’round the blade I feared to hold, I simply called it self-defense instead of calling it reality unfurling

October

As though a singer flawed my notes were sung in self-deception
While altering reception in the tone that chose to linger
I let my fingers run along your smoothest imperfections
And played a record full of grooves the way you used to love to

The underlying static was a sheet beneath the cadence
Bereft of all conveyance, though in ways more satisfying
Intensifying everything except the swift abeyance
That left a lonely echo in the missing song made of you

And maybe holding on to all the dim reverberations
As if elaborations of a letter left unfolding
Withholding all the sentiment, we killed considerations
And hid the pain in satin like the way poetic gloves do

With elevating tension growing ’round a waning smile
Like phantoms in denial of the hell that’s now awaiting
I’m fading with the memory that matches my exile
And wonder if you feel the weight I do recalling how I used to love you