Laugh Track

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Management left some notes,

the show needs more Poignant Moments™️

it needs approximately 25% more

human emotion.

In the editing booth

effect precedes cause,

if we so choose.

Throw in a few, oddly familiar

hearty chuckles,

compel the viewer

to react authentically.

I’m sure the audience

was itching to laugh,

I’m sure,

but nothing wrong with a little help.

No pleasure is truly guiltless.

The fourth wall

is merely pantomimed,

the watcher and the watched

enter an unspoken pact,

to affect one another

or disappear altogether.

Jeers, scorn and rotting tomatoes

don’t phase us at all,

that’s showbiz.

Stick around for the commercials,

they’re, in our opinion,

the best part.

Have a laugh,

we insist,

they’re infectious.


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

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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.


Empty Words

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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

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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.


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.