Dreaming In Black and White

I did half my work
in a lightless room
where touch reigned
as the primary sense
and smell was a miasma mix
between a morgue and
a cruet of oil and vinegar.
And I reveled in it.

But to get there I stored lives
in a one-eyed jewel box
full of light and imagination,
accompanied by the song
of its mechanical acolyte
mirror kuh-lacking
and the squinting blink
of its shutter shih-flicking.

And in that captured moment,
my view of life disappeared,
blinded with hope and
exposed to everyone but me.
Later in that room of black,
when I revealed my vision
to myself, I never felt
so illuminated.

I remember those days
more often since time’s
blindfolded and muffled me.
Their visions and echoes
glow radiant, as does
this dream portrait of you
I’ve kept in vivid
Black and White.

Clothes Make the Man

“Why must you always look like an unmade bed in an abandoned frat house?” Clarissa asked me last November.

Before I could even give her an answer, for which I had none, she marched me to her room and revealed an array of men’s clothing. It looked like some dog had shredded a copy of GQ on its mistress’ bed.

“Is this some kind of intervention, Clarissa?” I said as my bare right foot shifted toward the door. But my sister already had her $75 a pop (tip included) acrylic hooks into me and, lest she draw blood, I decided to humor her.

“Yes. I’m tired of seeing you in some grubby sweats or jeans perched on your ass and bundled around your ankles. It embarrasses me no end when you answer the door in what looks like the same teeshirt with the stain between your moobs when I know ALL you have are teeshirts with stains between the moobs.”

“That’s a lie,” I told her. “I don’t have moobs.”

“You need to upgrade your look for after graduation. Employers appreciate — and I’ll be proud of — your more refined appearance. Now, just for fun, try on this Prime Wardrobe haul I ordered.”

My big sister — my mother hen, my rock, since our Mom died. So… 

“Here, you’ll look great in this,” she said, and handed me this very suit, shirt and tie. You’ll have to admit, she was right. 

I just wish I’d never need it like this before graduation.

First 250-word Thursday Thread story I’ve been able to write in I can’t remember how long. And it even has a bit of a timely finish. Which I must admit is f**king untimely at any time. Found out one of the really good guys from my working days nearly died from COVID this year. A miracle meeting of the myriad strings of science, luck and family he survived. Unfortunately, the beautiful Clarissa up there, didn’t.

My Heart’s Broken

They say even a broken clock can tell
the correct time twice each and ev’ry day.
But those frozen arms cannot ring one bell
and those works inside no tick nor tock say.

Within my chest a timepiece you will find,
one that can echo your heart’s song in rhyme.
It so thumps and bumps in front or behind,
musicians use it in songs to keep time.

But it’s my other heart of which I speak,
one that pumped out feelings, heady and strong.
This heart once gushed ink, now not a leak,
like the clock, ‘cept its timing’s always wrong.

My heart’s broken, shoulders dust-covered,
but it has no arms to reach, hands to touch.
My heart’s empty, where once t’was a cupboard
so full of love I gave away too much.

A clock can be repaired, and so a heart beating,
but can the one that poems to your heart sent?
Perhaps…if I find you still are reading,
but wonder where your heartfelt poet went.

I have no good answer for that query,
I’ve long sought it from someone up above.
To fix my heart, the one made you teary,
I don’t need ink, just a drop of your love.

Inspired by my listening all weekend, on REPEAT, to the brilliant Amy Lee and Evanescence’s “My Heart Is Broken.” Yes, I’m that obsessive. But some of you already know that.

Faded Away

He hates he can’t remember.
Wishes he could, but her face
has disappeared from his mind.
It’s like he left their scrapbook page open
next to an imaginary window and her side
of their photo’s faded over the decades
of summer and winter light.
As he lies alone in bed at night,
he still sees her body as it was then,
and regrets all he has are these tatters
of memories, ghostly stained sepia-toned
Polaroids of her younger self
his arms — both yesterday’s and today’s —
will never again reach. Days he spent
by a window took them, too.
One they both shuttered.

That’s a Lie…I Swear

I wish I could spin you a fiction,
but these days I find lies comparatively
more difficult to tell than truth.
I just can’t compete with the experts.
But what is truth except a tale
told while strapped to an oath?
And what is an oath but a promise
told under penalty from an entity
we’ve never seen, except in stories
told by men who say they might’ve?
You gotta give them some credit, though.
Their anthology’s an all-time best-seller,
chockfull of so much sin you’d think
they invented it. Which they kinda did.
And that’s no lie, I swear to…
Well…
See?

No Rest for the Teary

It doesn’t matter if I sleep or not,
since rest isn’t there when I awaken.
Perhaps, like blankets when I felt too hot,
I kicked it to the floor and t’was taken.

“By whom?” you ask, since the door’s always locked
and I try to keep the room in darkness.
I’ve no idea, my mind’s blank’ed and blocked,
which was its same state before I started.

But I digress, can’t hold a thought too long,
when sleep in teaspoon doses is proffered.
Which is why I’m asking you in sing-song
rhymes for your help, since you never offered.

But you know grief, obsession and guilt, too,
you’ve worn them like PJs or a nighty.
I’ll bet you’ve ceiling-stared without a clue,
your need for sleep equally as mighty.

Like you can’t go on, you’ve awakened feeling,
all night you’ve spent tossing body and thought.
And, if you can rise, you’re then sent reeling,
weary from chasing what you never caught.

Sorry, this wasn’t to be about you,
since it’s I who need to find the best cure.
I should leave you alone, you’ve suffered too,
I can’t expect you to be my rescuer.

My bed’s too crowded after all these years,
with sins I’ve committed, choices I’ve made.
They kick and elbow me sometimes to tears,
I hide in the pillow where poems I’ve laid.

That’s the ink in which to you I wrote this,
and no sleep’s the toll I paid for the ride.
No wonder I feel so worn and worthless.
Not quite an answer, but at least we tried.

Suite: Voices of the Angels

It long ago came to the point
where I’m no fun anymore.
But it was I who made it hard.
I am no one’s, you are yours.
This does not mean I don’t love you,
I do. That’s for always.

I’ve always kept your secrets,
even after you revealed them.
Friday evening, Tuesday morning,
it doesn’t matter. Asking me,
say you’re now so free,
you’ve changed my life,
not necessarily making it right,
turning my pegs, tuning my heart
to something resembling
nothing but E’s, except for
that one string inside you left alone.
And so I’ll always B here,
for when you’re willing to listen.

You are what you are, so
don’t let the past remind us
of what we are not now.
It’s my heart that’s suffering,
it’s a-dying (help me, I’m suffering)
That’s what I have to lose.
What have you got to lose?
Are you still listening
to my lacy lilting lyrics?
Well then…losing love, lamenting,
I am sorry.

On this 51st anniversary of the opening of the Woodstock “Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” I was moved to see what I could find of my memories of Aug. 15-19, 1969 and its aftermath. This found poem came first, a lyrical collage of genius held together with homemade glue, with deepest apologies to Stephen Stills and Judy Collins. And you….

Gone Under

I never counted how many of these
I’ve made, let alone how many for you.
Perhaps I have some hidden disease,
the kind, you know, other obsessives do.
That’s my sole connection to any mystery.
Otherwise, I’m as transparent as glass.
Always a student of even our history,
a subject we both know I’d never pass.

Today I pondered writing you a tale,
the kind I used to when I could write.
But now my spirit’s spent and I always fail,
ergo, I gave up writing it without a fight.
The cruel world, all my inspiration it’s stolen
and I’ve no strength left to get it back.
I don’t write to you anymore ‘cause my ego’s swollen,
it’s more because ego’s something I now lack.

I’d give up my fingers if I still could
craft a story that’d make you go, “Ohhhh.”
I remember when you thought I was almost good,
and moved you to cry, you told me. So…
here’s this poem. Perhaps it’ll wring out one tear,
and not because, once again, I’ve made you sad.
My power to move you is all but gone, I fear,
drowned as I cried over my losses in a world gone mad.

Monday In a Heat So August

The AC whirs its chilling song —
no melody, but cool nonetheless.
A look out my window shows
no squirrels, rabbits, nor crows
doing their jobs in a noon heat
so “August” the driveway weeps tar.
But the empty trash bins beckon,
gape-mouthed, their lids hanging
like a dog’s tongue would,
if someone was so mean as to
leave their pup at the foot
of my driveway.

And so I step into the embrace
of the tenth day of the eighth month
of the Year of Our Lord 2020.
With only a slight gasp, I sink into
its warm hug, which I’ve needed
since January, when the world went mad,
that monotonal song was hummed by
the furnace and the wise crows
sometimes punctuated the yard
like a spray of commas in one
of these run-on sentences.

I stand at the driveway’s end
and notice a hawk drop his shadow
onto the road, searching in circles
for another shadow he won’t find
because only a man would do
his job in this heat in which
I whistle a one-note song while I roll
the bin up the driveway and
go back inside, pausing
for a second to tell him
“Caw!”

Broken Bottles and The Only Other

They say with words he always had a way.
Actually, it was crooked and potholed.
Sparkly, like broken bottles, you might say,
but roadside of his smooth talk soon got old.

There were a few who enjoyed his sharp tongue,
but misjudged him as a one-trick pony.
Cold steel fear, not brass, forged the sword he swung,
leaving this knight’s nights sleepless and lonely.

One judged him not for words but for his heart,
he loved her and she him since he met her.
One loved his art, but their hearts stayed apart,
her own crooked path led her to know better.

And so, on this road he’s nearing the end,
hand in hand with his love, not another.
But often he recalls his musing friend —
not the only one, but his only Other.