Until I Hunger No More


Glowing Embers. Photo by Jens Buurgaard Niels, via Wikipedia

We, the human kind, know a hunger,
felt by no other creature.
It is a hunger of the heart we call
a yearning. It offers us gloriously
flaming pains we circle like moths
within our hearts all our waking days.

My yearnings lie stacked within me
like cordwood, each having a name,
each carved like some graven idol
resembling one I could not exist without.
But I do.

A new yearning comes along, turning
the idol to charcoal, or it just
flames out, the pain growing
smaller and smaller. But still,
they never let me rest.

It can be like a windblown tree branch
tapping at my window as I try
drifting off to a sleep without dreams.
Or maybe it becomes like the drip
of a faucet I barely hear but know
is there, softly haunting.

The other night, I give that tap
one more good twist to the right
and closed my eyes, believing
I’d shut down the last yearning.
But I was wrong.

There will always be that lone
echoing heartbeat I feel when
I place these fingertips upon
my own chest. I’ll feel that
glowing ember until this burning,
yearning heart stops and
hungers no more.

A Blessed Wound

I must admit, the damage done
has served me well. This hole
we tore in my heart opened a door
for my captive emotions,
hugs, longing gazes, a kiss,
and even streams of words like this,
to finally break free.

Across these expressive decades,
through all their joy and pain and
drying tears, I never sought to heal it.
To close the hole and seal it
with a scar would return me
to my hermit cell, and its days
of numbing darkness within.

I’m growing tired, though,
and see my body bending with age,
feel this heart folding upon itself.
That’s why some tomorrow or
its tomorrow, you may not feel
the warmth and scratch of my cheek,
won’t again sense my lips
brush yours in such whispered song.

That would tear a hole in my soul.

Beyond the Obvious

Beyond the obvious — you can’t
be seen or touched — sometimes
I wonder if you ever existed at all.
Oh, I’m sure someone can run
their fingers across
what I imagined was skin akin
to an infant’s. But I never did.
So I can’t attest to what I’m sure
must be your tactile perfection.

Beyond the obvious, you know,
I’ll never see you anymore,
I wonder now if I ever really did.
Oh, I’m sure I saw a somebody
who zinged my rods and cones
in a kaleidoscopic frenzy of
retinal fireworks. But the brood
of hairballs in my control room
have been known to hit the catnip
pretty hard after spying an enticing
wiggle on the end of a string.

Beyond the obvious, you never
really saw or touched me, either.
Never felt the goosebump pebbles
the mere thought of your skin
brushing mine would excite.
You never saw the hope and fear
the increments of intimacy we
never suffered wrought upon
this shadow you stepped across.

I guess, as far as you’re concerned,
I never existed either. And maybe
I don’t. I’m just a ghost who floats
among the phantoms and wispy memories
of mirages where we hoped to find
solace and the nonexistent answers
to our supplication. I guess I’m just
another nothing chasing nothing nowhere.
Until now, I never realized that was
beyond the obvious.

It Makes No Difference


Most of the guests had arrived and were getting into buzzy beat of Jen and Phil’s Valentine’s Day Eve party when the dull pounding started.

“What the hell s that?” Jen’s friend Laurie said, raising her eyes to the ceiling.

Jen said, “Oh, that’s old Manny Blue, the guy upstairs. Whenever we have some get together, or put on some music to…”

“Get busy,” Phil jumped into the conversation, laughing.

“Phil! You know what I mean Laurie. Whenever we’re what Manny thinks is loud, he bangs on his floor and we turn our music lower. Sometimes actually hear him saying ‘Turn it down.’ But not tonight. Tonight, we’re here to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our friends and if Manny has a problem, he can damn well come down to the party and tell us. Maybe loosen up the old crank.”

Nevertheless, Phil turned the stereo down just a notch, which none of their friends seemed to notice, and the pounding slowed and then stopped. After that, the party continued until past midnight.

In the morning, as Jen and Phil picked their way through orange juice, leftover pizza and aspirin for breakfast, they heard it. Above their living room they heard a dull thump…thump..thump.

“What the fuh..?” Phil said.

“We’re not playing the stereo and the TV’s off, God knows,” Jen said and rubbed her temples. “What’s his problem?”

“I don’t know, but I’m going to go up and settle this with the old bastard once and for all. Shoulda talked about this long ago, if he’d ever come out of his damn apartment.”

Phil climbed the stairs two at a time to the floor above, with Jen slowly following behind him.

When they reached Old Man Blue’s apartment door, they heard the sound of music coming from inside. An electric guitar picked single notes and a quavering voice sang, Without your love, I’m nothing at all. Like an empty hall, it’s a lonely fall…

And then they heard thump…thump…thump and a low moaning and plaintive, “Turn it down, make it stop.”

Phil knocked on the door and said, “Manny” Mr. Blue? It’s Phil Hoover from down in 2B. We gotta talk.”

From inside came the sound of a chorus singing, And the sun don’t shine anymore. And the rains fall down on my door. Then, thump…thump, and “Please turn it down. Please go away.”

“Phil, something’s wrong in there,” Jen said. “Try the door. Try the door.”

Phil turned the knob and found it unlocked. When he opened the door, he saw the back of a sofa, an old stereo like his dad’s beside it, a disc of black vinyl spinning away on its turntable. As they moved into the room, they saw a hand with bloody fingers lift the arm and place it back down onto the record with a scratchy buzz and thup.

Hurrying toward the sofa, they looked over its back and saw the cardboard sleeve that read Northern Lights – Southern Cross, a circle of letters, cards and old photos on the hardwood floor and, in the middle of it all, Manny Blue, kneeling, his forehead bleeding.

For the sixth time since the preceding night, a man named Rick Danko began to sing It makes no difference where I turn. I can’t get over you and the flame still burns. It makes no difference, night or day. The shadow never seems to fade away… Manny Blue, a lonely man who once knew love, lowered his head to the floor one, two, three times. Then he whispered, “Please make it go away.”

A very quickly penned Hesch-style Valentine’s Day story. A poem is on the way…honest.

Nescio quid ergo sum

A wise man said
the opposite of Love isn’t Hate,
it’s Indifference.
By that same emotional token,
something like Indifference
might be the opposite of Hate, too.

Ergo, your indifference to me
indicates you don’t love me or hate me.
That may be a cock-eyed syllogism,
but I dropped Logic in college
when I realized studying something
that turned human thought
into a Yes/No equation
too illogical for words.

This apathy you show me
is just an example of your manners.
I’d say Thank You, but don’t
wish you to think me
the opposite of impolite.
Nescio quid ergo sum.

Catch-up day 100-word bit of nonsense brought on by the Horse Latitudes of mid-NaPoWriMo, the creative Doldrums of Poem-A-Day 2014. I dunno, the whole shebang just comes down to me crossing April’s Equator of Apathy.

Ice in the Blood

blood winter wallpaper

It’s not winter cold I sense
shifting the form of my blood
from liquid to solid. I feel
crystals of plasma and the cells
clink and link with one another
in the freezing cold
within my sweater and vest.
Perhaps bundled in
suitable-for-shipping layers
of fluff and flannel insulates
this cold old heart,
sluggishly pumping its slush of life,
since no longer are you here
to stoke the flames
of its imaginings. You know,
the ones I’d walk through for you
each day, head swiveling, sensing all
in the ninety-eight degree heat
that lit this pen with which
I brand a world.

Shared with my friends at dVerse Poets for the Feb. 4, 2014 Open Link Night, where I’m tending bar. At least I know I have sufficient ice, eh?

Christmas Tales


As I gaze out the window of my second floor writing lair this morning, the sun stretches the shadows of the trees–vacant, red-bud maples and the solid spruces–almost due south to north. A blue jay swoops and sits on the limb in front of me and we each check the nuthatch scurrying around the branches in three dimensions like a three year old full of candy running through the house on Christmas morning.

The dit-dot footprints of the wild ones, their own Morse Code, write messages and stories across the snow. That blue-white sheet, with one snowfall above another, works a lot like what a writer would hope to do. So much has been written beneath this surface, informing with depth and height that etched above.

And that’s how this Christmas message works, too. What I don’t see out there, what you don’t exactly feel, is the second set of plodding prints to and from the house, running perpendicular to the rest of this natural manuscript. That emptiness extends into the house and to hearts within the walls.

But, like all those tales told in the snow…that’s life. And today is a day to express the joy we feel for the life lived here among these sleepy, shivering trees and that life yet to come. It’s been a good one, as I hope yours has been, is today and will be, along with ours.

Now, as you can see, I’ve got some reading to do out back. Merry Christmas, friends! Blessings of this season to all!