On Trusting

Standard

You could, at any time,

crush me

inadvertently,

with a look

or a phrase.

Yet,

we find ourselves in this position

by way of

invitation.

Step right up,

take your coat off,

stay a while.

Unvarnished,

and in confidence,

our inner machinations

laid bare.

I could,

at any time,

disappear.

But there’s nothing to

run from.

I see the rust in your joints,

you ascertain that I

have bugs in my software.

It’s in our nature

to ask until we know,

but knowing isn’t understanding.

Trust cannot be simulated,

or substituted,

only experienced.

In so doing,

we could —

without realizing it —

lift each other up,

just by being ourselves.


Beelzebub

Standard

Air abuzz with whorls of

black fog, thick diesel smoke

composed entirely of

highly aggressive horseflies.

He has arrived,

the infestation.

Mandibles gnashing,

fitting perfectly,

purpose built like lock and key,

into exposed skin.

A manifestation

of discordance,

the smell of carrion.

They land in your hair,

flap beside your ears,

brush against your arms.

Their presence felt

even when you don’t feel them

somehow elusive,

and ever-present

at once.

The morning star looms

in the dawn.

I bat the flies away,

but that only seems

to anger them.

Chaos for the sake of it.

How do we know

when evil has lost,

when evil has no plan?


Creature of Habit

Standard

Wake up,

and follow the rut downstairs.

Check the wall

of broken clocks,

and go to your favorite haunt

when the time is right.

It’s an acquired taste,

repeatedly smashing your head

into a brick wall,

but eventually you see

what the hubbub

was all about.

But you grow weary

in a moment of clarity,

and decide to spice things up.

You always do this.

Locals gather at the watering hole.

You take a big swig,

notes of minerals, calcium

and chlorine.

The bartender cuts you off

after 9 glasses

and an hour and a half

in the bathroom.

You spend half the night pacing,

reflecting on what you would have

done differently.

Wake up,

and follow the rut

downstairs.


Corruption

Standard

Cooked books adorn a silver platter,

brazen.

Watch for trap doors,

and red herrings

that lead you down spiraling pathways

to dead-ends.

Birds of a feather,

buzzards, stick together,

so long as they all

get a little piece

of the rot.

Charitable of them

to self-deal

with their cronies.

They all move

in the same circles,

overhead.

They let you navigate

their maze, sniffing,

dare you to chase them away,

then become untouchable,

chickenhawks.

A blurred face

need not be saved.

I cannot tell

whether they’re turning a blind eye,

or looking

right through you.


Laugh Track

Standard

Management left some notes,

the show needs more Poignant Moments™️

it needs approximately 25% more

human emotion.

In the editing booth

effect precedes cause,

if we so choose.

Throw in a few, oddly familiar

hearty chuckles,

compel the viewer

to react authentically.

I’m sure the audience

was itching to laugh,

I’m sure,

but nothing wrong with a little help.

No pleasure is truly guiltless.

The fourth wall

is merely pantomimed,

the watcher and the watched

enter an unspoken pact,

to affect one another

or disappear altogether.

Jeers, scorn and rotting tomatoes

don’t phase us at all,

that’s showbiz.

Stick around for the commercials,

they’re, in our opinion,

the best part.

Have a laugh,

we insist,

they’re infectious.


On Forgetting

Standard

Like cotton-candy

standing up

to a deluge,

sometimes these things fade,

quickly sinking

into the mud.

And sometimes they move in phases

as your recollection shifts,

like the coastlines

warping more the closer you peer,

just as you try to quantify them.

Tenuous already is our grasp

of the present.

The past does not preserve well.

The memories need to get out,

to stay fresh

but take up so much space

and don’t always make clean reentries.

Sometimes we compress

the things we’d like to keep,

or contain —

but they’ll usually lose

their original character,

or exaggerate it to absurdity,

whatever’s worse.

Left alone,

they may consolidate,

as a skewed synthesis of disparate events.

Or they collide, leaving hollowed-out husks

of days gone by,

flinging detritus

to where it never was.

In spite of this,

one tiny detail you find

in daily life,

that you probably forgot about,

can bring you right back

to where you once were

some time ago.

We use these pieces of experience

as planks to build stable footing,

keeping them flexible lets our platform’s

withstand the test of time.


Empty Words

Standard

I’m telling myself

these affirmations,

I’m muttering incantations.

I said all the

magic phrases,

the buzz words

and nothing has changed.

Is this thing on?

I held the pointed tips

of my sentence fragments

out in front of me,

hoping to cut through the noise

like machete through brush.

I lashed out,

swinging through

the tangle,

yet the exclamations

fell flat.

Flailing about

yet just barely scratching

the surface,

like a samurai sword

with a blade of

wet cardboard.

The truth isn’t always flashy

or impressive,

or what you’d like to hear,

but it’s the only thing with

enough substance

to breach

the dissonance.

Wield it wisely,

or you’ll put an eye out.


Second Wind

Standard

Sometimes during

a game of inches,

you will have a crisis of confidence.

You will feel as though

you’ve given everything

before you’ve finished,

and lament

the end of your journey

before the climax.

What else is left?

I dig deeper,

in a panic,

and realize there’s nothing.

The doubter’s voices crowd my head,

and they all sound familiar.

No fuel, not even a hint

of fumes to run on,

but I run on

when I was sure I was spent.

The naysayers

continue their tirade,

but I pay them no mind.

The march continues

and the runner’s high kicks in.

I’m going to do the greatest

act of defiance

that I know —

I’m going to make it

to the end.


Revolving Door

Standard

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

Standard

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.