Wednesday, January 18, 2017

bones (a duet)

(This poem is meant to be read by two voices. Bold indicated both voices simultaneously, unaltered is one voice, italics is the other.)

This conversation is coded.

I learned how to fight fire with a lie detector.
I learned how to spit in bubbles.

What I thought I was, was shot down.
Bullet holes.

To be truthful, I never learned to fly…
But I loved the lessons that it taught me.

God damn, it seems like it took forever.

I watched for halos covered in plain clothes.
I listened to the sound of taut heartstrings and un-tuned pianos.

I defined insanity with a quick two-step rhythm.
Limits have their limits too, they’ll give up when beaten black and blue.

I looked for an oasis in lucid eyes.
There’s a drought in my chest.

I looked for solace in the sunset.

I poured my sorrow out the same way
I break finished bottles
I identified the cause of my pity
and it was panic stricken under
the fa├žade of moonlight vigils.
Questions remain unanswered but truthfully
enough is said.
The “where’s” and “why’s” prove that
 I can’t commit to love-drunk fairytales.

The past doesn’t repeat; its patterns echo, but 
I can’t listen when the volume’s down. 
Ears strained but it’s just a whisper,
 a passed note, a hidden message. 
My secrets are kept in vaults in museums. 
For a price, you can see what I’ve chosen to show, but for you…

I would have flipped the universe. If only I knew…

… the definition of transparency.
… the slash marks on canvas.

I would sew the fabric of what kept us together with your angel hair.
I would sit back and read what you had written.

I would ask myself “What’s there to lose?”
I would ask myself “What did she lose?”

I would have flipped the universe for you to love me.

I would have flipped the universe for you to forget me.

… to love you.
to forget you.

Today, I learned how to rethink my history.

I wrote a list of memories with the point of a blunted edge.
I let it in the world and watched my lungs fill up while I curled my fists.

I am slow walking jazz with suicidal tendencies.
I am a cracked two way mirror…

My monsters are breaking through.

I write my name with calloused hands on rice paper.
I am delicate but wrecked, holding onto water not under the bridge.

I watched as you gave a reason for my existence…
… but cut me out of yours.

I watched as you pulled harp strings from your hair lines.
I overheard your silent symphonies.

I felt your footsteps into hypocrisy.
I smelled your putrid dishonesty.

I heard your deceitful dissonance.
You ripped my vocal chords.

You broke the skin.

I learned.

I watched…
I listened…

I am.


And I am his good friend, Broken.

fuel for a riot

concrete jungle
with your asphalt foliage
and your shouting wildlife
waving signs made with white pickets
torn from the “American” dream
that they were promised
but the banks denied them.
their credit
wasn’t good enough
because the company cut hours
and Father wasn’t making enough to
pay for Mother’s new car
nor Child’s new cellphone
and they are living paycheck
to paycheck with a backlog of debts
longer than Brother’s rap sheet
heroin does funny things to a person
widens the gap between sanity and insanity
like Goldman Sachs widens the gap
between rich and poor
wider than the legs of rape survivors
during the fact
they are living in a country
where sexual assault is allowed in the Oval Office
but love is not always accepted
especially not in the Bible Belt
what happened, America?
you had such momentum
but now it seems like the progress
is slammed stock still
then shifted into reverse
the railroad tracks that held you back
seemed to finally rust away
but your mindset is still stuck in the times
before motor cars, when coal lit the furnaces of
homes in your cities and countrysides
you are choking me, America
with the pollution of
your injustice and it is as if your
bullets can not differentiate between
citizens and criminals
you are making me weep, America
sorrow falls from my eyes
and lands like empty cartridges
in the blood soaked streets of Iraq
soaked with the sins of executive orders
and military action meant to secure crude oil
America, you bully
putting your hands where they don’t belong
to fill the greed of the bacteria in
your intestines
America, you think your shit don’t stink
but it soils the atmosphere and
it smells like crack houses in Detroit
because you assert your dominance
by declaring democracy in lands
that are not yours
but have what you want
and after all that
you have the gall to scoff at veterans,
who did not come home
the way they went out,
when they ask for spare change
you have the fucking BALLS
to turn them down when they ask for help
with the voices they hear
after being ordered to store
four corpses in one body bag
America, you are a melting pot
of rejects searching for success
but now you want to build walls
around the desert left over.
America, with one hand on your rifle
and the other on your prejudices.

AMERICA, how many times
do I have to say your name
until you listen?

You have a heart rotten with worry
and a pit in your stomach.

palliative care

the night I lost my dad
I left every light in our house on
just to fend off the dark
I figured he would be hidden
in the body of his guitar
with his stoic rosewood smile
or in the garden with his soul
sturdy as a tree trunk

I had never known loss like this
my chest feels like a roof
and I had lost a pillar
misplaced it in the rubble
my mouth- a waterfall with a river run dry
my tear ducts- a broken reservoir

have you ever felt absence so heavily?
like your marrow was uranium
and the bone was lead lined?
like the hole left behind was so massive,
it had its own gravity?

if I had my way
I would hang myself from the gallows with my grief
I would fill the Dust Bowl with my tears
I would scream until the vacuum of space had had enough of me


my mother is a moon
without a planet
and I am a comet
without direction

the night I lost my dad
I was not so sure that the sun would rise tomorrow

doctor's orders

upon the discovery of a tumor
the size of an orange

stop eating fruit

smoke a cigarette
to relieve the chest crushing compression
of your fatalism

pray to your unsteady God,
the one you keep around for emergencies.

smoke another for the irony of
mortal, good men.

tear yourself apart with indecision

build walls to fend off
the impending tidal waves of grief

fill yourself with hope
a feeling so foreign it feels like
a malignancy

imagine him as frail
as a wilting petal
as the medications wreak havoc

imagine the struggle
to laugh
to smile
to breathe

take care of him

it’s the least you could do
after all the years you’ve let him down
wash your hands of the tobacco stains
and rinse your mouth of the smell of ash

ask him if there is anything you can do for him
and when he answers

“take care of your mother”

try to keep yourself together

goodbye to the gallows

I have put it all on the table
ripped open my ribcage
pried each vertebrae from its place
shattering bone and spilling blood
like wine into the mouth of a lover
not drunk enough to care

my appendix came first;
I rarely hold onto what is unnecessary
my intestines came next
filled with the shit I tend to spew
the once pulsing heart came after
but what had once been
fleshy chambers
had petrified into

the hard shell of an acorn
to be buried
in the
of her stomach

the ground here is tough
but not barren
it is not to be dug into
with the
rusty, metallic
edges of a shovel

the shovel would break

I will dig with my hands
comb my fingers through the Earth
until I feel grounded

but I know I will not take root here

the trees are garnished
with nooses

hang me like a lantern
a ghost in the zephyr

this table is not sturdy
it can hardly hold
the weight of memory

it splinters


this is no longer warm

this is
fist-fighting the fire to breathe
this is
deciding what to take when you run
this is
regretting the decisions you made regarding the fact

remember that night
when I ashed my cigarette over
that depressing puke green carpet and
the ember fell out?

you said
let it burn
but it did not catch

remember that night
how we woke to the alarm
destroying everything we held dear
to see the candle had fallen over?

I first thought you had trust issues
but then I found out
you had rust covering the iron of your rib cage

oxidation, unavoidable as air

I guess you could call that a different kind of dying
losing parts of yourself to a world that is cruel and unkind
with specks of not few and far between

contained immolation
you showed me how to lock my grief
in a chest
to cremate it along with nothing else

I have learned to put distance between my heart and my head

the weather is an awful topic

you said
you were
cracking and colliding,
destroying towers of
what had once been deemed fact;
cement walls built for safety.

“this city is bleeding.”

born of disaster,
structured to withstand
the buckling of tectonic plates.
you said
there were fissures two meters wide
in the bedrock of your chest.
that at some points,
you couldn’t see where it ended.

your wind-worn eyes told me
Poseidon raped Medusa in Athena’s temple,
and that turning people to stone was just your way of

the shore-side curves of your shoulders told me
the sea had beat you ruthlessly,
that even though
your fingers were anchors in the sand,
sometimes holding on is
a difficult task.

there is so much we hide
in the way our words come out.

I know not of how storms work,
of the way high pressure systems
tend to fuck everything up.

I will not escape this hurricane intact.

counting freckles

there was no time wasted.

the seconds passed
grains of sand struggling against gravity
but hourglasses meant nothing.
there were no repercussions for anything
that had happened,
is happening,
and will happen.

we woke to a view of the afternoon,
buried in a shrine for the dead
in the ruins of the living.

sunlight fighting through clouds
finally reached the curtains,
the ones that were the shade of
air in Los Angeles.

I drowsily numbered
the blemishes on your skin
like they were blessings

or maybe they were wishes

or maybe they were sins

recently converted

the first time I found God

I was on my knees

in between
the legs of a Christian girl

I asked her what holy meant.

she had nails
sharp enough
to crucify me,
left welts
the Romans would have been proud of,
pulled hair with the
frustration of church in the morning.

this is why men went to war
for what they worshipped.

this girl had a body
like a burning bush.
I know how Moses felt
wandering the windswept

we shook like demons,
exorcised from a vessel
wearier than time,
dice in the hands of an angry God;

she had breath the temperature
of Charon’s river,
skin simmering with heresy.

I was fine with burning.

and when we were done,
I asked her,
“how are there saints when there are sinners like you?”
to which she replied,
“no one is an atheist during an orgasm.”
to which I answered,

“are you ready for the second coming?”