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.


Aftershocks

Standard

It comes in waves,

volleys.

You’d think you would

get acclimated,

eventually,

but it seems to catch you by surprise

every time,

how much more the arrowheads hurt

when you try to pull them out.

Brought together not through

serendipity,

but now you feel their absence

so deeply,

you can’t see yourself without

them now.

A sorrowful farewell,

and the stemmed bleeding continues.

Shining blade in hand,

what good does that do?

The air hisses with lethal

flying fangs.

We have courage,

and heart,

and every poet and biographer will give us

the glory if we win the day,

but they have the high ground.

Distracted by

the flight of fancy,

a familiar friend

embeds itself

in the soft part

between your clavicle,

and shoulder blade.

It’s time to get out

of harm’s way.


On Forgetting

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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.


Astringency

Standard

Absent-mindedly,

I took a bite

before you were ready,

and thought nothing of it.

I’m so sorry,

so sorry.

The wound I left behind

oxidized and irritated.

You could see it on my face,

the part I excised

now sat on my tongue,

refusing to budge

blanketing my mouth in

choking cotton.

The bitterness pervades,

I have to throw it all away

now.

I was careless,

what harm I’ve caused

what a waste,

what a waste.

Nevertheless,

thank you for the reminder

that things can be a lot

sweeter

if you just

let them be.


Wrongs

Standard

This bed I made

is cold again tonight.

Been grinding this axe

so long,

I’ve become quite attached

to it.

But, no good can come of that,

my hands are chapped,

my furniture’s cracked,

the house may very well

collapse

from every errant and irrational swing

I took.

My clothes still smell

like a bonfire

years later,

the bridge to you lay in ruins.

I look across the chasm

in clarity,

no more will I miss

the forest for the trees.

You can’t hear me,

and I’ve no one to blame

but myself.

It’s not my hatchet

to bury,

nevertheless, I cast it

into the pit.


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?


Balloonfest ‘86

Standard

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

Standard

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?