People Watchers

Standard

No good deed goes unpaid,

so let me know when you’ve figured

out the going rate

for exposure.

We get that in spades

as the days go on,

and everyone talks, and talks.

“It’s none of my business,”

or so you say,

sitting on a bench

in a tumultuous place.

People going on and on

about their days, their weeks.

The meek will inherit the Earth,

but even they, sometimes,

are willing to bend the golden rule

for a laugh at other’s expense.

Moving along, moving along

we mustn’t dwell.

We’ve all got things to do today,

places to be,

stories to tell.


Canary Trap

Standard

Anyone with a high enough perch

yearns to be heard.

The higher-ups watch like hawks,

like harriers staring down

through the spaces between

the bars,

no need to rattle the cage.

Let them talk,

let them spin their yarns.

Tell them what they’d like to hear,

down to every, minute detail

but skewed

tailored anew to everyone you told.

No one thinks about the things that “everybody knows.”

Stymphalian birds,

cruising low and slow

surveying the land,

hungry bronze beaks glinting

long grass blown flat

to the ground

with each

beat of their razor-edged wings.

The hammer and nail

follow the trail

and retrace their tracks

back to the little bastards

who first chirped.


Along the Garden Path

Standard

We’re walking the old dirt road with wildflowers,

seeing the new sod from before over and over again.

That I can see the end and am lead astray frustrates us.

What we have established has collapsed still stands,

we were at least right about that.

From there we have to reevaluate what happened

I see the trail goes on from here it’s pretty short

but I’m curious as to how I got to where I am.

Every one who comes here loses,

dropping like a ton of fruit flies drunk with power.

The few raced past the exit turned back,

even they couldn’t believe their eyes.

When they saw it through,

everything matched up with what was not expected.


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.


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.


Telegraphing

Standard

I was just about sure

my words would always

go unheard.

Dots and dashes

between two cans

intertwined.

Who’s to say

the notes will make it there,

or side-wind

through one ear and out the other,

or bounce around

inside your skull.

Know what I mean?

Trapped in the highest spire

of our respective mind palaces.

No runway,

no helipad,

we’ll have to drop each other

a line.

Our words

will run along

the overgrowth.

May we drink wine,

tell tall tales

and catch up —

even when we’re far away.


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.”


In the Flesh

Standard

I wish the fire

in the pit of my stomach

would warm my heart

during cold nights,

but the heat

doesn’t quite

travel that far.

I belch up smoke,

because I am only skin and bones.

My Achilles’ tendon,

sore and raw

from javelin wounds

that won’t heal,

because I can’t stop

picking at the scabs.

I am only human.

If only I could

power wash

the spaces

between the folds in my brain.

Unravel it, rinse it off

and wring it out —

but it has to stay

in the case

because it doesn’t travel well.

I am the sum

of all my defective parts,

inextricably stitched together

with connective tissue,

take me or leave me.


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.