Golden Hour

Standard

A crackling bonfire,

devotes all of its passion

to what its given,

until it’s reduced to glowing cinders.

You can’t help but look

on those ruby embers,

and wonder if you’re playing God

by letting your cup runneth over them

before you go to bed.

You brought them into this world

and now you’re taking them out

while they still have so much light left.

Does the Sun feel guilty,

in the slightest,

for leaving you in the dark

every night?

You can’t help but ask,

“am I the smoke, or am I the ash?”

It dawns on you, then,

while waiting for the sunset

that you never see “the end.”

That you’re not spent

day-after-day,

week-after-week.

While waiting for the next “good morning”

you’re thankful that the sun,

cares enough

to give you time and space

to rest.


Byzantium

Standard

Bystanders look

to the lumbering mass,

leaving long shadows

across their paths.

Marching at glacial pace

it shuffles in place,

too dense to move much.

Stained glass windows

at the ground floor

obscure a well-appointed lobby,

unoccupied.

The designers weren’t that clever,

everyone knows all the decisions

are made in the basement,

where there’s insulation.

Everything outside the tower

is a blind-spot to the operators

while they pull the levers

and argue amongst themselves.

The decaying superstructure,

rarely course-corrects –

it’s well-suited to clashing

with other titans of its kind,

and much better at picking on others

smaller than it’s size,

and little else.

An illusion of imposing strength,

a well-placed stone

is all it would take to

topple the colossus.

We already live in the ruins,

might as well act like it.


Potemkin Village

Standard

Colorful façades line the waterway,

jutting out from nowhere

like weeds wading in the marsh.

No one goes there anymore,

it’s too crowded,

or so they say.

Announcements blare

from the watchtower.

“There is no way to appease

those who criticize us

from afar.

Repeat after me,

they hate us for who we are.”

Something is amiss,

watching the patrols march

along the perimeter.

No one enters,

no one exits.

Well-oiled machine,

you are.

“Repeat after me,

we are lucky to live

in such abundance.

We have more

than enough.”

Tumbleweeds

dance in the town square.

Bus loads of enthused

locals arrive in the nick of time,

to greet guests.

Both visits scheduled well in-advance.

“Repeat after me,

you are free to leave,

if you can’t keep up.

Cross the river

if you prefer

to live in fear.”

This is all exactly

as it appears.

Nothing to see here.


Road Rash

Standard

As you approach

your personal best,

a classic fishtail

jettisons you to the ground

with a whipcrack.

Earth,

caught in the tangle

of opposing gravitational forces,

careens toward you

at hundreds of thousands

of miles an hour.

But you are going

slightly faster,

bouncing as you make impact,

you land on your back

and come to painful rest.

Abrasions on your

forearms, knees and shoulders

where the gravel

made contact.

Shirt torn and bloodied.

When you stand,

and dust yourself off,

you feel all the bruises

to your ego.

You want to tell yourself

good lies

like “I’m totally fine”

but must confess,

those never mend

broken skin.

It doesn’t look like it

but you know just

how lucky you are

to limp home.


Sun Spots

Standard

Life-giving radiance

more than intense enough

to destroy all

that leans in close.

The seared paint

and armor plates will

shield us

but not for too long.

We are stuck inside

the worst piñata ever.

Flares breach the surface,

crashing back

to bask on brilliant light.

The surface crackles,

dappled like the starry nights

it vanquishes.

And even the Sun

couldn’t keep the heat

all the way up —

certainly not forever.

We don’t have long

to admire

what we plainly see.

That’s why we get out there.


Living Fossils

Standard

I am the way

God made me,

nothing more

and nothing less.

We all have our cracks,

yet I am not broken enough

to fix.

I may be stuck in my ways,

only because I know

they work well.

I’m not looking

to be understood.

Things have changed,

new ages

came and went,

but I’m still here,

rock-solid.

Time has told me

only one thing,

that I am well-designed.

To endure

means a lot more

in the long run

than to conquer.

Rarely do I reflect

on what has brought me here,

I know only

how to survive.

“The fish is that last to know

it lives in water.”


Inhibitionism

Standard

In the throes of

cost-benefit

analysis paralysis,

I change my mind.

Give me a nudge,

in the right direction,

just enough to budge,

and overcome the friction.

Pivot after pivot,

like I’m double-jointed,

but I’m too rigid

to be a contortionist.

In the midst of

figuring it all out,

I think twice.

I’ll come around again,

as I move along the bend.

In a moment of clarity I ask,

is this just how it is

forever, then?

I’ve begun to understand myself,

then I thought better of it.

Heaven is Under Our Feet

Standard

You may never

step in the same river twice,

but it feels

all too familiar

to tread water.

We’re up to our knees

and it seems

we’ll be bogged-down

for a while.

You must accept

that if you get down and dirty,

you’re bound to leave

some footprints.

Press on, press on —

the adventure doesn’t end

because our shoes are scuffed,

our pants

caked with dirtclods,

our hair more mussed

than when we just woke up.

The world is your canvas,

and you are equal parts

artist and explorer-

this morning is a once-in-a-lifetime

opportunity

to simply live.

Just make sure,

upon your return,

that you don’t track any mud

on your clean carpets.

There’s a time and a place

for that.

Chrome

Standard

Rows upon rows

of identical 3-bedroom homes

say “success,”

but where are all the

happy families?

Wrought-iron statues

depicting long-dead

historical figures

say “tradition,”

but what happened

to all the sculptors

and scholars?

An assembly line of shining,

suped-up cars —

plastic fenders

sprayed with glinting chromium

paint says “progress,”

but what have we

left behind?

A wide-open field

of gleaming

gilded lilies swaying

in the breeze

says “prosperity,”

but where did all the food go?

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Hanging Gardens

Standard

Please,

please stay.

I’ll do

whatever it takes.

You’ve come a long way,

and I know it’s not ideal —

It’s a huge adjustment

and you miss home so much.

If it helps,

I’ll bring the oasis

to our backyard,

to take your mind

off the dry heat.

No more mirages,

no more marauders —

only figs and pomegranates

in the shade.

Trickles of spring water,

date palms,

verdant vines

that wind and climb

up the bricks.

Brisk breezes

and reliefs along the walls

that tell our story,

it’s all for you.

This isn’t home to you,

not yet,

I get that.

Please,

please stay,

I’ll make it worth your while.

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