Second Wind

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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

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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?


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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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.


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?


Event Horizon

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I feel it,

I feel it

as I play this game of chicken

inching up

to the point of no return.

I’m pulled closer and closer

yet the gravity of the situation

never quite dawns on me.

My vertebrae, adaptable and flexible

to a point,

find rest

tracing the shape of the pilot’s seat.

I’ve sat for too long,

and need to stretch my legs.

I’ve come all this way,

and, out of nowhere

I’ve crossed the threshold and

I’m in too deep.

Before anyone I’d ever heard of

was born,

a far-off star collapsed dead

and left a void of

crushing fury,

the wrath of a blind idiot God.

For the crime of intrusion

on His private domain,

I will be welcomed in

for eternity.

And I will be pulled even further

beyond my limits.

I’m just a wayward thread

yanked from its seam,

falling into

the great abyss

I feel it,

I feel it.

Dandelion

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Go on,

get it over with.

I dare you to kick me over,

I will turn the other cheek.

Just try to mow me down

you won’t get my roots out.

Oh, what’s that?

You brought the herbicide today,

oh, green-thumbed one?

I hope you don’t miss

a single one of us

once.

Even if you can manage

to banish all of us,

our cousins will pop back over

from the neighbor’s yard.

No matter what happens,

we have the utmost faith

that we’ll be back.

In the face of degradation,

we live on

by way of what we scatter,

by what we leave behind.

May our hope,

sail on warm zephyrs

and forever outrun

your worst machinations.