Revolving Door

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Wherever I am,

I can’t get past it.

I’m back at the start,

seeing the same faces

off to the races.

All of us convinced,

we’re moving along,

getting ahead.

You’re either in, or you’re out.

Follow the flow

of traffic,

come along the bend.

The circular logic

exhausts me,

as I tight-rope walk

between a rock and a hard place –

a quantum superposition

of entering and departing

all at once.

The means

always seem

to justify the ends.

Sorry, other way around.

It gives me pause,

but not enough to stop me,

as the walls nudge and I continue to shuffle.

Where do I go from here?


Complicity

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You’re free to air out

your grievances as you see fit,

but all that means is that

every one gets a chance

to look them over.

The stain is plain as day

ingrained in the off-whites

of your eyes,

it permeates —

it’s in how you carry yourself,

how you react.

And you may try to hide

but the stench travels

for miles.

Don’t be surprised

when you get sniffed out,

it was bound to happen.

Your hands are dyed

and your hands are tied,

but fingerprints, every so often,

paint very clear pictures.

You didn’t start it,

but you didn’t end it,

and now the egg on your face

will not simply come off.

Eat the frog,

eat crow,

do what you have to now

to cleanse everyone’s

palates —

for your sake.


Balloonfest ‘86

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Our intentions were good,

they were pure,

all we wanted was

to put a smile on your face.

If only.

A million and a half balloons,

we thought,

would do the trick.

We let it all go

in public square,

never to return.

If only.

Our best laid plans

blew away

with a strong gust.

Crappy weather

brought the launch down,

but our spirits were still high.

Then came news

of a hail of balloons

interfering and inconveniencing.

We wanted to bring more color

to the people of Cleveland,

and they ended up surrounded

by it.

It didn’t have to be

like this.

I brush aside the falling orbs,

as they pile up, and cascade off of roofs.

They float placidly on Lake Erie

unaware of the chaos they’ve caused,

but I know it all too well.

If only.


Fig Leaf

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Judge me by my cover,

trust me on this,

I am an open book.

In the interest of transparency,

I have laid it all bare,

can you tell?

Look no further,

I can explain that away,

it’s really just a huge

misunderstanding.

It’s all perfectly normal,

perfectly normal.

I don’t want you to strain

your eyes on something

so mundane.

Some things just aren’t meant

to see

the light of day;

the curiosity

kills me

every time.

But not this thing,

which is completely ordinary

and totally fine.

Can you tell?


Bioluminescence

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Signs of life

glint in the corners of

my eyes.

Only giants sleep at ease

in the inky depths,

but there’s always something bigger,

hungrier

on the lookout.

I stare into the abyss,

and realize,

I’m falling right into it’s

dilated pupil.

Hold your breath,

and try to withstand

the pressure.

Packs of spineless marauders

jet through the void

with prying eyes and dazzling light.

They’re gone in a flash,

and if you’re unlucky,

so are you.

Specters wait patiently,

their torch held

right above a mouthful

of crossed rapiers.

Some take a different approach,

gliding through pitch black,

cancelling out their shadows,

sniffing out anyone else

trying to be inconspicuous.

Beware of bright beacons

there isn’t always

someone you’d like to meet

on the other side.


Decay

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The picked flower dies,

but not all at once,

it must first live

with what you’ve done.

It will spend some time travelling,

wrapped in plastic sheath,

until dropped into a beautiful vase,

filled with stagnant water.

And it will hang on,

hang on for dear life,

it will take in what it can,

it will persist.

Home is where

you are

and the rain isn’t.

Yet even with the niceties of climate-control,

the roots have nowhere to go,

in this final resting place.

Leaves shrivel and brown,

like they’ve been fried.

The stalk curls,

turning brittle and bald

in time.

Petals fall,

one by one

and crumble to dust.

Another day of atrophy.

Time heals all,

as it lapses,

until you too collapse.

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Voyager

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It would be a crime,

to confine,

to contain you;

to constrain you

and force us both to stay at eye-level.

Months of planning,

of meticulous engineering

and countless calculations

mustn’t be wasted.

I believe in you,

eyes trained toward the night sky,

you worked tirelessly for this.

Rehearsals

day-in and day-out,

for best and worst-cases,

drills and and regular upgrades

culminated, finally, in this.

Liftoff.

It was overcast,

like the black smoke

you left behind,

but where you’re headed

it hardly matters.

I stand in awe of you,

as you wrestle out of gravity’s grip

breaking through

the heavens —

you did this yourself.

Free now

to see the vast expanse.

I think of you,

of us,

and I’ll carry you with me.

I wouldn’t have missed it

for the world.


Stone Fruit

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There is a certain magic

when the little things

and the finer things

overlap.

Pick them with care,

leave no bruises, carry out

your trash and promise

to replant the pits somewhere sunny.

We all stand

under the shade of trees

planted by good samaritans

of days gone by —

we’re here because of love.

Savor those moments,

as the season is short and

there’s no time for

pithy observations.

I hold peace with this

fleeting moment

in the palm of my hand.

One crisp bite

on a perfect day

and I’m grounded again

no matter where I am

or have been.

Embrace the things that change,

don’t wait up

for them to come around

again.


Autophagy

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I’m tired of sweeping it

all under the rug,

of not acknowledging

the harms of an abundance

of clutter.

Yet I am a collector,

every broken piece, loose-end

and so on,

has fallen about,

my feet

regardless of redundancy.

I”m not comfortable enough

in my own skin

to leave it on —

too disgusted with myself

to pick all the empty suits

off the floor.

I’ve yet to come to terms

with the simple fact

that self-preservation

comes by way

of a controlled burn

at times.

With that, I curl my tail

all the way back,

and start to gnaw.

It’s all going to the same place

anyway.


Soft Power

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We have you right where we want you:

enveloped.

You will wake up

next morning,

kiss your spouse goodbye,

and go to work;

swearing our long arm

cannot reach you

and your perfect little life.

But there is no escape.

You will use our slang

to make plans with your friends.

You will watch our movies,

and laugh at all of our jokes.

You will do as we do,

and we will welcome you

with open arms,

as if you had a choice.

The outstretched hand

is much harder to dodge,

than the clenched fist,

because it’s intentions are

ambiguous.

This is not a hostile takeover,

we come in peace,

in the name of prosperity

with new wine in lightly used skins,

and the finest pyrite jewelry

money can buy.

Things are often true and false

at the same time,

tell me now,

would you dare call us your “foe?”

After all we’ve done for you?