Wednesday, March 31, 2010

on burning

Had my heart stopped I never would have known it. Had my luck changed it was far too late to tell. Your words somehow lingered in the empty room, your breath having forever altered the atmosphere. Leaving your scent, your sense, your flavor clinging to all that was once familiar. Leaving in your absence this tumult in my notions of feeling, this staggering insistent impression, the feel of your gaze entangled with mine. The feel of your lips refusing to linger, that maddening realization of mistaken inference, suddenly to be on the wrong side of unrequited.

It is a fearsome magic, to be suddenly in a wish come true. The realization that desire has worked against you all along. The knowledge that sometimes having exactly what you want does nothing for you at all. The awareness that some breaks will not heal stronger, and that everything left is salted in tiresome curses and diminishing returns. Measured less by magnitudes, now that the first hurt has done its best to heal. How embarrassing to be wishing after that same demolition still.

Trace the absence of my touch. Feel the mechanical hum of my imagination lingering on and on over the storm of your skin. The words you spat out with such distaste, a tell in the way the world had worked you, a map of how to find you always. You will have forgotten most of what was left of me, the awkward stillness, the willful denial. But you will remember how bright I shone, holding your gaze. How the things I said thought about you seemed so wrong as to be either mistakes or lies. Meet your own eyes in the mirror, know that they were neither. Learn at last the nature of the magic you devote your prayers to, when that last spell you cast is roosting upon the line some rough dusk. When the time spent winds up as lost as that list of reasons, and there is no hearth to hold these flames you can not extinguish.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

midnight and the moment

Midnight, and the moment is honed past sharpness. The moment so polished and so cold, it somehow warms while I watch it closely. It is an intimacy both welcomed and painful, marking myself against dull brick, lit by the nearly infinite. The whipped winds and the rattling pipes, antique pop music and flesh given over to the itching of bite and cut. The labors of spiders and the beauty of this thin slice of a vast decline. I close my eyes, sitting with all my shadows. Such a piece of work is man, and me only more so, only without the excuses and the reasons.

I'd like to add to my addictions, tune and extend them. Bind myself thoroughly to the splintering hull of this particularly broken vessel, dissolve into all manner of smoke and pulp. The burning depths of one drink too many, the delighted salt of another's skin. All this threat and promised dashed like so much bar ware, from clumsy hands to the brutal ends. I would like to lean so hard into the lonely and the hurtful aspects that they seem disappear. Leave all my alibis and diagnosis for some distant star of tomorrow. Leave this husk woven into all manner of wincing attachment. Instead there is this vibrant, warm darkness, this abysmal reach, this glorious defeat. I am awake, either to tend the embers of this fire, or to watch the ashes as they bleed heat into the fluid sky.

I shift on my spine, listen to the bones settle beneath these slabs of livid meat. The clouds roll by, the wind cold and uncaring. This storm leans just close enough to breathe against the glass of my life, a chill mist covering everything I can see. All my wants, all my affectations-- all my needful flickers dowsed so readily. Close enough for whispers, so far that even imagination will never find it. This moment so unburdened, this notion forged from steel. The clock plods on, without even a shoulder to look back over.

Monday, March 29, 2010

we claim the kingdom

The moon submerges beneath a tide of dark clouds, casting a quiet flare in the distance. Street lights flicker and buzz in a way no bee has ever sounded. A cab flips a U turn, pulling a pedestrian from the curb. A man with a fire in his head smokes sullenly on his front porch. Ten thousand other details too, to make up nothing happening.

Morning breaks like this, busy and uneventful, when you are up early for no reason other than habit. When the only work you have left is that of routine and of imagination. Before the onslaught of news stories, before the awful burden of other people, this is the only weight you carry. Leaden feet and warning aches, the dismal glow of others' dreams.

We all have our lapses, we all have gaps in the continuity that make our tired explanations that much worse in the rigors of belief. Knowing the heart by elimination, excluding all the fraught possibilities so that our improbable selves are discovered. Gestures of movie picture grace, spilling every comfortable lie to shine these giddy delusions. Mouthing smug condemnations while wallowing in some narrow heaven, we claim the kingdom we make from all these awful cages.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It is the deluge measured in thirst, the famine by the size of each plate. The moon pushes light into eyes staring into the shadows, filling everything with cheap revelation. The span of a reaching branch, the fly sleeping beneath the leaf. Some dazzling beauty caught unaware, a candid photo thieved straight from another life. Something now hung upon a wall, a trophy celebrating trespass. We make virtues from all our crimes, continuing to live in the sickness we will not see.

Spring comes, and almost immediately the battle begins against its bounty. The horrible engines of lawn mowers and leaf blowers, the sprinkler water streaming down the gutters. The ability to adapt becomes the latest bloodletting, the endless sacrifice towards gods of lies and squander. Such waste and fervid destruction shouldn't surprise. What else to expect from these cultures built upon the worship of death?

The strange fruit falls in these towers built from words, over-ripe and riddled with bruises. The deepening errors, the confusion of idea and object, of word and thing, have led us to this precipice. Leaning upon the laws we made ourselves creatures of a vast and foolish faith. We made a virtue of belief over the senses, dogma over fact. What piety we find, lighting all of creation a-fire. What holiness we teach, grinding all of the real world to dust.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

only this

The sun settles into the flesh, reflection and radiation binding in this being, hedging yet another of life's many bets. Complexity from simplicity, somehow the unfounded stories still need their tellings. From the blue wolf to the green turtle, from a sun murdered each day to a chariot always traveling west, the magic lives on in leaf and breath. Egrets flying overhead at dusk, bound for whatever marsh awaits them. I adjust my hat and remove my sunglasses, still warmed by the touch of that ancient and shifting god. Myth or fable or self-delusion, I take my blessings where I can.

The dusk settles over the skin, hush and riot in crowd and storm, the unleashed anticipation of reckless boys and the pure weaponized will of moth and mosquito. I smell of smoke and sweat and sunscreen, that vague hint of coconut and industrial conspiracy. Victorious in completing next to nothing, I move on to the work of this fresh night. Coffee beans to grind and bets to settle. That awful ache that is close to home, the inevitable blackening of any sustained blue. A few words to tend to the wasting of the day. A few words to lend themselves to waste.

The moon has its methods, its mysteries and spells. All those spring laden longings, all these bared shoulders and sun-slaked limbs setting into their midnight selves. The sound of music everywhere, the lingering work of the bees shining in the apple blossoms swaying in the breeze. I watch the sky loiter and bolt, clouds giving way to constellations. This lonesome feel giving way to something gentle and lethal and true. Only this world left, shedding days as it unfolds, common and astounding.

Friday, March 26, 2010

satchel full of light

It isn't that darkness follows the light, or that the light here needs to leave. It isn't that the feel of ionized air and the least of breezes, or that chilling your bared flesh feels too much like what you taste of love. It isn't the density of the wood or the pressure of the sounds that spill and spill. It is only that anything you can carry is a weight, even if only the weight of your held breath. Even if it is only the shine of reflected eyes upon your skin.

Now every word you held back is the prize you can not give away. The left unsaid and the left undone the same. So you choose instead to push on through these itchy sheaves of letters, wind your eyes tight around each curve and line. You shoulder aside words, your meaning all that really matters. You read these wishes like you would give everything left to write them now. Being everything you have to give until at last it is clear and bright.

Feel the tightness in your chest, the strength of your intent hand moving flesh and bone pressing so very near your heart. Feel the release and the radiance, the pleasure of know the grace of these shifting plates. The place where every burden at long last lifts you, and your weight is displaced by the draw of your shine. Where finally the things you never said are free.

breath and boil

Memories slowly boil away, changing states as they are warmed by the cool morning air. Where there was rain there is now starlight, where there was green there is now a night's worth of unabiding gray. It is ever too dark or too bright, always almost and even when certain never quite. I lost a day to old bonds and chaos, broke a few secret rituals and yet another promise to myself. I would keep score, but these thoughts weigh too much for the hour and for my status, and memory is such a fragile and fruitless thing.

Instead I make my mark just leaning into the mix. The business of sorrow, the clarity of joy, the realistic lies of language and art. I watch for marks, read the cracked ground for any trace or clue. Observe all the usual comings and goings, the changes and the sameness, the happenstance and definition of the inside and the out. Bird or bat, star or planet. All the satellites orbiting and becoming one another. One breath, and then the next.

Out here amid this residue, out here where complexity aches so, we wait even as we wander. The stories and the facts, the dreams and the steps, the aim and the exhalation of the shot. The old gods so shoddily abandoned, the grim new ones that ought to be treated just the same. Lost souls and letter writers, thieves and snipers and crummy poets. The architecture of the carnival and the garden, the path made with no illusion towards permanence. We are so lovely and so evil, so very nearly forgotten. All the grimy confessions, all the night-terror awakenings, all of the stories everyone is so afraid of that the pretend to lose them in bus stations and in shopping malls. They are always so close to being lost forever, that they are resurrected without a thought as to why. Always something novel and thrilling, stolen from the cheap dissolution of oaths misspoken and the sort of things no-one ought to say.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

storm warnings

Time thickens, it drawls and mutters in the shine of dust and the distance of dreams. It creases the wind with its sniper's focus and its lawyer's heart. Ticking clocks and clucking tongues, all my tomorrows misplaced and disordered. I am lost in my own thin skin. I am propped against all motive and intent. The sickly crawl of every hour, drowning every emotion save one.

I am gone, in this deft and loquacious blue, the startling hue of a sky on the march. I am gone, a shell and an opinion pointed towards the dimming east. I am empty when I aim, the words spilled on the floor and scattered about shabby furniture. This gathering of tumult, this slathered heap of dead pets and blown kisses. All of these letters, all of this misspelt fury, caught in these gusts and pauses.

These lamentations are the worst of indulgences. They seek to leaven bitterness with reflection, seek to build upon emptiness what I could not craft in the world. Wheels with-in wheels, these shabby infections and dismal cults. The radiant and the willful, and then the tattered rest. Pop songs that bring tears unbidden. Recording each absence until there is nothing left to say. Then saying nothing just the same.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


You sway upon the secret axis, between the flame and the lotus, between the serpent and the wolf. With every step you dance and smolder, every stroll sends many brave men to oblivion. You weave music from the very air, calling down clouds and flowers, tending to all your storms and swarm. Dark wings blotting at the sky as the sun wanders the world weeping, aching after your warmth.

How they have spent their best words and their blown kisses, salting the lonesome night with their tearful pleas. How they have spent the engine of their fortunes, trying to find some shine that could light your eyes. How long they have burned with the grace of your fire, how long they have shouldered the burden of proof of worth. You with your magic of spring and blossoms, your scents of bee-line and crow-flight. You with your ten thousand revelations radiating from the alchemy of your vivid living flesh. What chance is there when you own the cards and make the game? What is there to winning when you already have it all?

It isn't that I don't feel it. I am bound more than most to the workings of the timeline and the lapses of living. The world hums a droll, tuneless song as it surges through me, this collection of gaps and gluttony, this assemblage of opinion polls and guitar licks and archaic tools. The rhythm of your hips is the beating of my heart, and I feel the flames consume me, just thinking after you. Why should things be any different for me? I know that want is a full-time thing. Only its direction ever changes. So let your bounty sing and pull. Let your beauty align with the spheres and all their seeming. I am used to being on the outside, used to the sucker's bet. When I have been wrong about almost everything that isn't measured in blood, why would I even begin betting with the house? Having already denied myself so much, how little the difference left in denying you.

Monday, March 22, 2010


It is bordering four in the morning, that rough and solemn country where thoughts roam rogue and the mysteries of the night are outweighed by the baggage of so many missing dreams. I dawdle at the keyboard, wanting to spill enough words to free me from any further obligations. Wanting just to get this profligate posting business done with, to check one more thing off that never ending list of things I ought to do. The hours are turning, slow and cumbersome-- that slow fuse always burning, that sand always on the verge of running out. Three forty in the morning, and the time for sleeping has come and gone.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

on breathing

The even-handed air leaves its blessings in the blood, life burning slow and fierce. The sky settles in a holding pattern, moment by moment all the maps salted with such distant stars. Hard pavement talking to each little bone in my feet, some meeting of the minds of matter. This could be the last breath I ever spill, and that would be a fine thing. I close my eyes and wait for the brilliance of this seeming to fade. I close my eyes, wishing that this was but a dream.

An owl weaves slow circles from the clock-face of the grimacing moon, telling time its reasons. Feast and fallow, these slivers of exquisite bounty are the inversion of so much ache. The hunger of these wings, the shamelessness of this luck. Lingering so long that even the asking is out of order. Being so pure that all else is amendments and credos. Words left to the abandonment of each act.

It leaves slow, vapor trails and dewy steam. The burgeoning labors of matter always in transition, the poison spilled from lung and blood. Always a melting, always a dissolving-- so much of this is only process. Like the wish doused candles or the wanton dispersal of dandelion seeds, this identity is mostly myth and breath. Some aim taken, some wager made. This world, and nothing more.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Looking to the sky, I can't even get an answer as to its color. My eyes skip a few bands of the visible spectrum, blending hues when they color out. The blue gone gray caught in the fire of a sinking sun, the sinking of distinction into the long sigh of so much shadow. Overcast and underwhelming, another dusk too cool for the revel of bats and bugs. Another dusk bereft of anything but direction, night in tireless pursuit.

My bifocals are tilted back upon my head, though I can't remember what it was I thought I was reading. Magazine stacks growing along with my indifference. An article on psychiatric meds finished before the whole deal went into the recycling. A lot of photosynthesis and industry just so I can tilt my head and raise my brow. In a world that needs to measure you in wishes, contentment becomes a red flag for sedition.

I swallow cold water, feel the generosity of various aches as their chorus tunes up. The wind sweeps down for a drink. The day hurries as it settles its affairs. Cars rush and children squeal. Things that happened move slightly aside, and what might be lines up in queues of probability, pushing and shoving their way into tomorrow.

Friday, March 19, 2010

the reverse comb-over

After a week or so of delay and diversion, I finally got around to shaving my head. It is a task I very nearly dread, but it is a necessity if I am to maintain any pretense of grooming whatsoever. My baldness, like my lying, is of a distinctly male-pattern kind. A large purely bald spot on the back of my head gives way to a sort of sparsely planted wispiness towards the front of my head, and from either side a type of land-bridge grows to meet its mirror near the crown. This means, apart from a fastidious trimming and shaping to leave nothing but the sides, any hair growth veers towards true chaos.
When it grows outs, the hair on the top of my head is always reaching out in different directions, every strand for itself, lacking enough follicular mass to be tamed by any brush, comb, or dampened palm. No, having been abandoned and betrayed long ago by my hair, I can not afford any mercy on the shabby stragglers that remain. It is either clippers on a zero or a razor left to groom this mutinous lot of scalp bandits. Neatness demands of me a shaving, and I struggle to comply.

It isn't that this is a good look for me. When I still had hair, I let it run rampant-- pulling it back in a pony-tail to keep it out of the way, or in two tails on either side of my head when I was feeling pretty. It wasn't until I saw the large bald spot on the back of my head in a security camera that I realized that my youthful dreams of luxurious locks had had their run. I joined the ranks of the shaved that very night.

Bald looks good on some guys, but I have no illusions that I am one of them. I have a particularly large and enlumpened mellon, misshapen from too many blunt force traumas and too little high guard. The flesh of my scalp has a somewhat mottled look, and bug-bites and irritated follicles seem to map out fresh new constellations on my skull with each fresh shaving. The end result is a beady-eyed face peering out from a oddly shaped lump of dough that does little to please or distinguish. Mostly sporting the shaved head has served to teach me the value of hats and sunscreen, and the names of many professional wrestlers that kindly strangers are nice enough to shout at me while I lumber dully about in public. At least the look has become common enough to no longer be only suggest neo-nazis and circus strongmen.

That many other bald meaty fellows have adopted this look has to do with an inversion of an old hair-loss coping strategy. The comb-over, where one cleverly camouflages one's scalpular affliction with the deft combing of extra long hairs from one side of one's head over the naked and offending region, while still in existence, has given way to yet another act of tonsorial cowardice. This weak-kneed grooming tactic is, of course, the reverse comb-over.

The reverse comb-over, of which I am a confessed practitioner, is a simple procedure. Rather than concealing the shameful baldness with some mad combing science, one takes the bald spot and spreads it over the rest of the head. Thus, instead of pretending not to be bald, the clean shaved head suggests instead, "Hair? What hair." Or, in the words of World's Toughest Milkman Reid Fleming, "I'm not bald: I get my hair cut this way." It is like movie magic, only without the magic. Or any movie.

So fairly freshly shaved and virtually stubble free, I have answered the unasked questions that have been lingering deep in recesses of your dirty minds. What's a reverse-combover, and how can I get one? If you're so smart, why are you bald? And perhaps, most pressingly, "So what did you do with your Friday night?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the seams

It is a blue of a furtive timbre, rich and slightly hesitant, abiding in the levity of the passing moment, trying to decide if you are the type to trust with secrets. It seems to be set upon by such green reaching that the bright and sunny yellows of new leaf become untethered in the giddiness of the spectrum. The long notes and the sad refrain, a gull of silvers and grays circling in such a stretch of blue sky.

The wind works the chimes hanging from the porch, beats out bells and gongs. A dog sneezes, rooting through alyssum and aloe vera, ice plant crunching beneath cracked pads and the longing of claws. A ragged cactus sways upon a worn stake and a nylon rope. "If not now, soon," gravity seems to say.

All the weeds make their mark on planning, reminding of all the labor spent to make this story. A fable made of green hills and English gardens, of war and disease and technology and theft. The place we are always seeming to be forever, however fragile the foundation and the firmament. The brittle expanse of these GI bill oases, shrub and fence and every breath paved over. The world worrying at the fissures and the cracks, life always that same song. That steady reaching, that niche to breach. The vivid line of necessity that permits all possibility.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It goes without saying that I remember that kiss, hard and long as we pressed against that wall. It goes without saying that I remember your lips, strong and fevered as they lingered over mine. It goes without saying that not a day goes by without some trace of you-- some myth, some vision-- crowding into my dull senses. A hint of wisteria, a ghost of the ocean, the smell of burnt oil and the flavor of salt. There is no mystery of me where you are not a suspect, no blown kiss that doesn't pass without the touch of your name. You are stitched beneath each scratching notion, haunting the voices that whisper in my head. Spilled milk and empty hours, you fill the shadows and the spaces.

It isn't so much that I chose this love, as I chose the losing. It isn't so much that you press so heavily from the past, as the future I intended has so thoroughly collapsed. The bridges we burn are as much our histories as the beds we make. The choice, or the illusion of choice-- it all plays out the same. The smell of smoke, the shine of mosquito wings. Irish music on the second biggest amateur night of the year. Sober beneath the wings of owls and the crawl of stars. Tasting tequila while sipping coffee, thinking of you.

These lost loves are such troubled proof--. The litany of love letters saved as evidence against all further alibi, the tears spilled and distance travelled. The others that were better suited towards the particular challenges of this burden, the ones that were left or were always leaving. The debts inherited, the misfit pets, and the books returned unread. Knowing that these desires are the mingling of need and wishing, mistaken fate and star-crossed deliberation combined to cost so much with so little gained. Knowing that to want is to lack, and these tremblings are another shape of self. You aren't the one I would wish upon myself even at my most self-loathing. Yet under these warm dark skies, I can still taste you. The flavor of midnight aches and labors lost, your kiss still marking my location. A sigil marking my blood and breath.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Just before the smoke subsides, just before the light weighs in, just before the cacophony of another day winds its way through the doorjambs and window glass, there is one slip left of the world you lose. As these tattered flags of worn-through flesh ripple upon the tent stake and kindling limb of rolling bones, as eyes slip along the ceiling and the walls, the questions escape at last. What name, what nature, what land unfurls within? The trailing grace of words sparking some unsettling flint, lighting at last another day of life.

Now the clouds of gnats have gathered. Now the sun has burrowed beneath the sky. All the constellations find their footing, and the music of unhinged meat takes to the wind. I scratch at some mysterious wound, wondering vaguely what chance has caused me harm. The skin has already begun its worrisome stitching. Maybe the scars will stay to hint of history. Maybe this skin exists for these swarms to feast upon. An indefensible host of hosts.

The stranger in the shadow, the face in the mirror, all the names spat into the wandering air. Everything in half measures-- the greater the contentment, the more horrible the crime. The day crunches beneath the feet of these lost crowds, the night warms to the subtle invasions of all these failed dreams. The best marbled portion is still burned upon the altar, hoping these tags and stragglers will be enough to safe guard my insolence. This noisy worship exhausting the empty embers of the world.

Monday, March 15, 2010

the introspecter

The days swarm by with little change but the temperature and the weather, fresh budding spring leavening the gray with slivers of green, hints of the greater green to come. Blue skies have broken out, with song birds in the pine trees and dogs sprawled out in the yard. Memories crowd and swirl like ashes after they abandon any last ember of light or heat. I am still loitering in the periphery, life flowing in festive and funerary ribbons right through me. I am posting again, these cartoons in the margins, these captions for the things left unsaid.

The break from posting wasn't so much a break from writing, though that itself was an attractive facet of the hiatus. It was more a brief respite from these habits of seeding my own isolation, the Russian roulette of recording these moments when every sense of tomorrow was dissolving, watching as I generate a precipice out of gray days and bad chemistry. It was about avoiding that shudder that ran through me while I watched the sickness overtake me, words clattering to the curb like reject brass. The heat of despair glowing in the dullness of my eyes, awaiting some untold measure of violence to curse the world with the gift of balance.

For awhile the weight of my consistent and overwhelming failures was a constant and bedeviling distraction. The combination of my depression and my misplaced obsessions made a particular poison of all the calamity I had tethered to my tracks, reason returning again and again to this path of the sinking ship, and the captaincy of dissolution. All of this plus the particular sort of prose-poem journalism I have been using in the attempt to capture the living truth of the moment, mingling the feel and the real made for seriously bad juju. And as we all know about juju, the bad kind is simply about the worst kind of juju there is.

Still, though I am posting again, I am in no way well. I am not cured of the blue murder streak that runs through my blood, or of the casual oblivion that lurks in the hollows of my heart. I am still as broken, as sad, as buried as ever. But instead of lingering upon every slip of longing, I am trying a little harder to play it as it lays. Less hope strangely makes a lot of kinds of living easier. Hope is another country, calling from across the sea. The world we are left to work with is something we can engage, figure out something steady from all these seething possibilities. So I try to find comfort in doing what I can, even if all I have left I can fathom is the fall.

This is the return to that same old neighborhood. That glimmer of twilight, that brooding touch of dawn. My habitual babbling now posted at a daily rate, a free lunch of dust and feathers. All the usual suspects, from the empty roads to the moonlit devil dancing on the line. Raccoons and raconteurs, filthy needs and bleeding reasons, all our cartoon pals on hand and raring to go. Angels and ministers of grace, you know what to do. Spill that breath and haul that ballast. That inverse wisdom is upon me yet again, shining like the longing of a sheathed blade. Waiting until the cards demand some wager, and the wind, when willing, will turn on its heals and flee, laughing madly into the night.