Running Out of Me

What is a poet to do
when he has nothing left to say?
No matter where I look,
I see nothing that would move me
to some emotional spillover
like a simple blade of grass,
the aroma of bacon on a griddle,
a baby’s smile, or you just existing
once did.
I don’t know why this happened.
Does a painter run out of form,
light and color to paint?
Does a composer run out of tones
to string together? Of course not.
Then why have I lost my capacity
to sense and react with words?
Maybe I’ve just run out of Me.
And I don’t know where
to find Me’s anymore.

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That Last Hug

“How are you today?”
I ask too often,
speaking it into that empty space
where something of you remains.
Not like a photo,
since my memory is of someone
who probably doesn’t or never did exist.
This is the space where
I’ve kept something you wore that
conveys more than a fuzzy, faded look
of care-less I never did accept.
Even with years of hanging
in the back of my mind’s closet,
I can hold it by the hand,
impart some of my own warmth
to it, hoping it might echo
the sense of a hug and the aroma
of perfume and sweat that’d
mean more to me now than a slight smile
suspended from red-reflected eyes
an Instamatic caught in
a moment of surprise…
or maybe disappointment.
So I ask, “How are you today?”
though I probably wouldn’t
recognize your voice,
just the warm smell of you
from a last hug I made last.

You’d Even Knock First

A guy can scour his life
to collect all the keys
so no one can slip into
his heart without asking.
But it seems one or two
will always escape
his protective diligence.
Maybe one fell from his pocket
that day as he walked out
of their heart.
Or perhaps someone purloined it
just to mess with his key count
when he thought he was safe
from anyone looking into
his unmentionables in there.
Or maybe (most likely probably),
he just slid it under their pillow
or at the bottom of a pile of
memories he left with them.
In that case he’s abetted
his own breaking and entering,
which is interesting
when you think almost anyone
can enter what’s already broken.
But only you would use the key.
Probably would even knock first.

Reverse Flip With a Half-Twist

“I don’t need you.”

“No, I suppose you don’t. No one does.”

“But I want you.”

“You’re the only one then, I’m pretty sure. But if you don’t need me, taking care of a want is a relatively simple fix. Temporary, too.”

“Why must you always look at things so squarely, so black and white? Can’t you just live for the moment?”

“I tried that and ended up worrying how long I could do it. Figured until Thursday next. Nope, mindfulness didn’t take.”

“Oooooh, you’re so exasperating. I don’t know what in the world I saw in you.”

“Couldn’t have been my sterling personality. Though the snappy repartee has its merits.”

“You think this is ‘snappy?’”

“We’re at least talking. Can I hold your hand, too?”

“Um, sure. I’d like that.”

“I don’t think I ever realized this about your hands. Soft here, firm here, and the nails…”

“Okay, I chew my nails. It’s cheaper than Xanax.”

“That might be true. I wonder which is harder, quitting Xanax or chewing your nails.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tried to quit Xanax. The nails I’ve tried since I was eight. My mother and the nuns…”

“Takes discipline and maybe a lot more want-to than you might be willing to give.”

“Like I said, I want you. Maybe that’s where all my want-to goes.”

“It really doesn’t have to take all that much.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I kinda want you, too.”

“You do?”

“I’m still here talking aren’t I?”

“True. How much do you want me?”

“I want you more than… Well, let’s just say I’m the one who needs you, maybe even more than I want you. And that’s plenty.”

“That’s kind of confusing, but also kind of sweet…I think.”

“I know. My communication skills aren’t as polished as yours. And I have more rough edges than I should. But you smooth a lot of them down.”

“I like you smooth. Like your skin. I noticed you shaved.”

“Yeah. I hoped maybe we might be getting a little closer after we had this talk you wanted.”

“Why don’t we get out of here and go to my place and continue this talk. First though, I’ve got to go to the bathroom.”

“Okay. The men’s room is down there on the right. Where that hot guy with the bubble butt just came out.”

“So much for the smooth portion of tonight’s programing, Jennifer. I’ll be back in two minutes.”

“Bobby, when we get back to my place, I’m gonna show you something you really need. Five feet, three inches of smooth.”

“I’ll be back in one.”

“That’s my boy.”

“That’s my girl.”

Sat down and wrote that first sentence. Then I began hearing this conversation. Even envisioned the couple. But about halfway through transcribing my fictive eavesdrop, I realized the gender roles weren’t what one would think they “should” be just by “hearing” their voices.. That’s when the thought came to me of what this little exercise was all about. The roles we play, that society expects of us. Labels. Expectations. Roles. I think Jennifer and Bobby are fine just as they are. And there’s just enough weirdo, voyeur writer in me to want to be a fly on the wall back at Jennifer’s an hour from now.

On Hummingbird’s Wings

A hummingbird’s wing
is a whiz of a thing
should you ever get to see him.
They’ll tear through the air
at speed beyond compare
then perch stock still without a tree limb.

I saw one today
as by the window I lay
idly hoping for some poetic spark.
He went down, left, and right,
but what gave me a new insight
was how he suddenly just put it in PARK.

Little guy hung there in space
as that blur of wings whirred apace
his tongue sipping at a red flower.
But it’s what he did next
is why I wrote down this text.
He showed me a magical power.

I saw him fly in reverse,
his wings made my ennui disperse,
and my sour demeanor took flight.
He was no bigger than my finger
but now the sight of him’ll linger
forever on this page of white.

See, the world’s full of blooms,
more than humans have rooms,
and sometimes the muse just stops singing.
So I ceased my staring there,
got up and backed away from that chair,
sipped of nature and with a whir was I winging.

But Never Fell

The wind is a harsh mistress,
pushing the trees away one minute
then caressing and singing songs
older than time to them the next.
She fills their leafy lungs
and billows their chests with
faint whispers and panicked panting,
giving them voice as over decades
they reach skyward, their arms open
to accept as much of her attention
as they dare.

You know that feeling, that sense
of the cold shiver following
the touch that sends your skin
to chattering chill and then heat
like August’s exhalation exultation
when storm is near. You’ve felt
the caress and heard the whispers
that shaped you and carved initials
if not into your skin then for sure
your heartwood.

Thank you, my winds, my zephyrs,
my barely-there passing-throughs,
my gales, my limb-lifting,
branch-breaking darlings.
I bow in your memories as I bent
to your whims. Bent, but never fell.

Out of the Circle Game

Sometimes I wonder
if you ever think of me
while you float there
in your own stream of misery.
I’ve been in your place
and, boy howdy, I found
that floating faced up
will beat face-downed.

I came by this knowledge
quite honestly, you see,
as I cruised the banks
of the River Woe-Is-Me,
hoping to go under
at least one time around
on this circular stream where
my feet touched no ground.

And so much of that time
I thought of you and me,
face-to-face, back-to-back
and individually.
And that’s when I discovered
this persistent sound
of only one heart beating, since
I was the only one around.

I realized that even together,
we’d never be a We.
And my toe then touched bottom,
I don’t think coincidentally.
So I opted to wade ashore,
exhausted by the round and round.
Decided to share this story,
‘cause in for a penny in for a pound.

Now when I lie, to tell you the truth,
my lying is done with verity,
not supine in water, veritas-laced vino
nor even in psychotherapy.
I still think of you, though no longer
around your finger I’m wound.
I just wonder if you’d let me know,
when finally with peace you’ve been crowned.