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.


Pareidolia

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Lustrous flame dances

through the stagnant air

projecting an amber halo.

Bloody Mary, we’d like to have a word.

We’ve heard all about your exploits.

Do you hear me?

I can’t help

but get ahead of myself.

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.

The last one lingers

on the tip of my tongue.

The house creaks and settles.

You could be anywhere.

The shadows breathe yet all is still.

Beady eyes glint back at us

poor, naΓ―ve souls, I think.

I don’t know.

I hope not.

Do you hear me?

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.

An insistent knock

from outside the bathroom door,

but with no explanation.

Are you there?

I can put a name

to the face

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.


June, 2002

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Friends of friends

gather around the table,

cardboard hats and confetti

strewn about.

One part restaurant,

one part gift shop.

It’s cold in here,

animatronic animals

dance unconvincingly,

vines wind around exposed

pipes.

This place has a great atmosphere.

Recordings of monsoon season

in the Amazon,

echo through unseen speakers.

A prix-fixe menu,

presents the illusion of choice

to people too young

to travel alone.

Kids I spend every day with,

whose names I will soon forget,

don’t talk to me.

A cheerful orangutan robot,

turns it’s head

and says “help me, I’m critically endangered,”

but that’s above my pay grade.

We don’t get to choose

the bricks

that line memory lane.

I wish I could tell you,

“the journey beats the destination”

but I haven’t

gotten there yet.


Apocryphal

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Every one knew

that one kid in town

whose father worked at Nintendo,

so he was privy to everything.

Whose girlfriend went

to a different school,

but he swore

she looked just like Jennifer Aniston.

Who told you,

tearfully, to watch for crocodiles

lurking in the creek

behind your house,

although they are

not native to the region.

Did you think twice

when you dove in again?

Did you do a double-take

at every mossy piece of driftwood?

Is it worth the trouble

to move mountains of horseshit,

or is it better to just

drop the shovel?

Generation Loss

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Forgery begets forgery,

begets forgery,

to the point that

even the watchful eye begins

to doubt itself.

Infinite renewal is not

continuous preservation β€”

what we forget accrues

and crystallizes.

The patina looms

the colors wash-out

and dry-up,

leaving behind bleached bones

and shadows.

Gaps grow

into gorges,

cleaved apart by

refrozen murk.

Even garbled noise and static,

is buffed away

by graininess.

The record becomes the message.

If you wanted to see it so bad,

you should have been there

when it happened.

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Traces

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The loose change

from the time I’ve spent,

often falls out of my pocket —

landing on the sidewalk,

slipping between the cracks.

The things I’ve said,

for real or in jest,

left behind their residue,

whether I recall or not.

Those moments never left,

but for one reason or another,

didn’t stick with me.

Do we know

how much of our live’s,

fall down the memory hole?

Consult the hourglass.

I have to ask,

can I take some sand back?

Every spare moment

sloughed-off and discarded,

like old clothes,

like dust.

Where does the time go?

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Cult-Classics

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Night falls,

As Ana slides open the screen-door,

And snuck into her house with her friends,

While her parents 

sleep peacefully,

Unaware of tonight’s meeting.

The following entered single file,

Approached the shelf,

gathered around,

And pored over

the needed materials.

Meticulously,

They made their selections,

Offerings that each member agreed to.

Each had their own predilections

Toward eighties ultra violence,

Black comedy,

Or pre-recorded VHS tapes,

Of since-cancelled television,

With commercial breaks,

Intact.

“Cut the lights,”

The time has come

for another sleepless night,

Sitting entranced.

Volume at near-silence,

Doors tightly shut,

Muffling cheers for the anti-hero,

Laughter and schadenfreude,

Shuffling seats,

To avoid

potential tut-tuts

Of disgruntled authority.

You Will get Away With it

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Every so often,

I hear the doorbell ring,

When I’m not expecting company.

Sometimes,

I look through the peep hole,

And see nothing at all,

“Damn kids,”

I’ll say,

Presumptively.

Sometimes,

It’s just the mailman,

So I sign for something,

Then he’s on his merry way.

But once in a while,

It’s you,

“Come on in,”

I say.

“Take a seat,”

I’ll go get some drinks,

And snacks.

We relax,

Tell some stories,

To fill in the gaps,

“It’s been too long,” you say.

I know it has,

“But I cannot stay,”

I also know that,

“Take your time,”

Glad I could give you,

Some of mine.

When you stand up, 

With your arm,

Half in your jacket,

I ask nothing more of you.

When there’s nothing left to say,

All I want,

Is to be sure,

For now,

That you’re doing okay.

Remember?

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Holding a stack of Polaroids in my hand,

“I was there,

I was there,”

I said counting and recounting.

My thumb stuck to their glossy surfaces,

I turned them over to find the dates scribbled in black sharpie,

“April 10th, 1997– Hannah’s birthday,”

Curly, unruly hair and a missing front tooth,

And a little frosting on the tip of her nose,

And her brow.

She Β was laughing,

We all were,

Now I am.

The next picture,

All of us,

Surrounding,

A dented cake,

Seen from a bird’s eye view,

In a fisheye lens.

The next picture,

Blowing out nine candles,

Her face amber through the dim light,

While we stood nearby,

In the shade,

My face was buried in my hands,

Now it is again,

The stack falls to the floor,

Spreading the moments all about,

I look toward the hall,

I hope the door opens,

And you’ll be back again,

Someday.

Pastels

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The brittle blocks,

Seemed alien first,

Until you pulled them from the box,

Rubbed them on and smeared them in.

With some care and consideration,

And some practice and precision,

Whatever you’re working on,

Will look fuzzy and faded in.

The color binds to the blank space,

In whatever shape you’ve traced,

Wherever it’s been placed.

The mark of a good artist,

Is not the figure on the paper,

But the dark marks on their fingertips,

And passion that sometimes tapers,

But never disappears.

Keep fingerpainting,

But keep from scribble-sniveling,

How easy it is to make drivel,

How easy it was to be Picasso,

Or Van Gogh,

Or Michelangelo,

When you were little.