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.


Voyager

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It would be a crime,

to confine,

to contain you;

to constrain you

and force us both to stay at eye-level.

Months of planning,

of meticulous engineering

and countless calculations

mustn’t be wasted.

I believe in you,

eyes trained toward the night sky,

you worked tirelessly for this.

Rehearsals

day-in and day-out,

for best and worst-cases,

drills and and regular upgrades

culminated, finally, in this.

Liftoff.

It was overcast,

like the black smoke

you left behind,

but where you’re headed

it hardly matters.

I stand in awe of you,

as you wrestle out of gravity’s grip

breaking through

the heavens —

you did this yourself.

Free now

to see the vast expanse.

I think of you,

of us,

and I’ll carry you with me.

I wouldn’t have missed it

for the world.


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.

The Elephant’s Foot

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The last vestige

of catastrophe

is the open wound

which refuses to heal.

Meltdown in slow motion,

it cannot be allowed

room to breathe.

Domes of rebar,

abandoned forest,

crumbling infrastructure,

and red tape

keeps only the corium

contained.

We all feel

the open secret lingering

in the air,

falling all around us

like snow.

The truth is so plainspoken,

so brash as it stares you in the face

yet no one can do a thing

but trudge on with their lives.

If you dig too deep

and get to the bottom,

you will only find

what you knew was true all along.

An immovable object,

giving off irresistible forces,

leaves its indelible marks

in silence.


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, naïve 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.


Hydra

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Thick, tainted blood coursing

through black veins,

legs like two talon-tipped tree trunks

drag a confused creature

through the muck.

Breath of pure, unadulterated pestilence,

the smell alone keeps all

but the most intrepid

far away.

It picks the bones and chain mail

from seven sets of sated, grinning teeth.

There are many mouths to feed,

and all of them like to savor

each morsel.

A gnarled, writhing rat’s nest,

growing back stronger and fuller

in defiance of defeat.

An inexhaustible capacity

for contingency

plans.

Seven falls to six,

poison blood mist sprays

from mangled stump,

then two more heads

come roaring back —

a flesh-wound quickly repaired.

Much worse than a strong enemy,

is one that’s well-prepared.