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.

Clockwork

Standard

Despite the flashiness,

try as it might,

lightning never strikes

the same place twice.

Power without focus

is just bluster.

Clocks, especially

the broken ones,

are much more consistent

than that.

But with nothing set in motion,

a steady hand

does not impress.

When the gears move synchronously

tooth-by-interlocking-tooth,

we can read deeply

into the kinesics.

To your horror

you may find

some things in common

with the automatons.

We all know the truth —

imitator,

yet another simulacra

lost in the wrong end

of the uncanny valley,

you tell yourself.

But who’s more convincing?

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?

———————————-

Instagram: @thefilepile

Facebook: The File Pile

From the Waiting Room

Standard

I’m convinced that

if I got to see purgatory,

it would have those

dim old fluorescent lights

like in the dentist’s office.

Coffee tables

adorned with Styrofoam cups

and nondescript vases

full of plastic flowers.

I will fall apart before they do.

And even with all of those

ancient magazines

to read,

I wonder if I’d find the time.

My crossed legs,

already well acquainted

with pins and needles,

would dance in place.

Caught in the vacuum

of stasis.

In this case,

I’m just fine with the cold comfort

of “could be worse.”

At a crossroads

between appointments,

waiting for my turn.

———————————-

Instagram: @thefilepile

Facebook: The File Pile