Always Facing Whatever Way The Winds Blow

As the North wind bullies
the trees out of its way,
I watch the baby leaves
get shuffled like poker decks
within the branches.
I know that feeling, the one
where my thoughts scatter
and bounce within my mind,
buffeted this way and that
by winds some call emotions.
But guilt, doubt, anger, fear
aren’t ascribed to any direction.
They follow variable courses,
blowing hot or cold, sometimes
stinging my eyes to tears,
other times tortured, tornadic,
leaving behind thoughts as twisted
as the bedclothes I crawled from
this morning, like emerging
from a dreamy storm cellar
to watch the North wind show
how it should be done.
That’s when I hear myself whisper
to those flattened flapping feelings,
“Hold my beer.”

An “unsettled” poem. Oh, do I know unsettled!

Keeping My Head Above

Just thought I’d write today. No theme, no depth of subject or consideration of how it might affect my life and life in general. Just write. So…

My life’s a mess, but so is human life overall. The length and breadth of it is a litany of sloppy, awkward, falling-down trial, error, failure and maybe the occasional tie. There don’t seem to be any wins. And if we think there are such Me-versus-the-Universe faux-comebacks, that’s just the House sucking you in with a blast of endorphin to keep you at the gaming table.

I guess the best times are the trials, those times where I’ve messed in the mess and have yet to fall on my face in the slop of it all. There are few times where the mess isn’t within and arm’s length of me (or you). I dance on the edge of it, splash in it, wade through it, throughout the Sphinx’s four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night quiz answer for Oedipus. His prize was the keys to “a NEW Thebes!”

And we all know how that turned out, right? 

Yes, life is messy, from its hormone-drenched origin, to its splatter-flick, camel-through-a-needle’s-eye (so I’m told and have observed) delivery, over its boot-sucking traverse of the day to day swamp, until its icky finale and ultimate disposal.

I am up to my chin in it all, with the once-distant solid ground of my evermore within sight, which sometimes feels more appealing than yet another swallow of life’s wallow. I’ve taken on a lot of its turbid wash over the past few years, sometimes nearly going under, occasionally dreaming of scuttling this leaky vessel altogether.

But here I am, taking the gamble one more day, reaching my foot into the stark paper-white unseen in hope there’s a there there to support me until tomorrow when I hold my nose and take another sodden step. That’s the risk I take. Maybe you do, as well. I’ve taken many a messy misstep, sunk into it over my head and somehow sputtered like flotsam to the surface. I’m an expert at treading, though I’m more exhausted every day.

Maybe you’ve been lucky enough (or made your own luck) to find a map to the stars’ homes, isles of dryland dreams to keep your feet unsullied at least for awhile. I applaud you, but won’t allow myself envy. That’s just more heavy ballast I don’t need. I carry enough of my own. 

So here on this page I have smeared the results of my latest fall in the marsh of human existence. I’ve wiped from my eyes the detritus I observed upon the silty bottom. Exhaled more of the miasma floating above the surface like a diaphanous warning of days to come. And I’ve spit out some of my latest gulps of failure. 

Another mess. Another chance to tread on. Another tie.

Prisoner of My Own Device

I have become a prisoner
within this body, this mind,
this world, this life.
While I know I can’t jump
into any others, I also realize
I can’t jump anymore at all.
Meanwhile, they’re all
shrinking around me, this spark
of humanity, of being.

I cannot escape from this world
that exists beneath but one roof,
population: six and one ghost;
this hobbled body that cannot
do much of what it once did;
this mind atrophied by age,
sadness, anger and fear.

I exist in whines and complaints,
poorly expressed, framed within
postage stamps or cards
I’d send only to you.
And I don’t know why I try,
since even I don’t want
to listen to me anymore either.

Soon the air will be gone,
this spark extinguished,
these silent songs choked off.
I know I’m the key to my escape,
but how can I turn
if there is no lock?

I’d tap out this message to you on the bars, but there’s no you there to listen and we’ve each forgotten our secret code anyway.

Something About This

We need to do something about this.

I know. If this goes on much longer, I doubt he’ll ever be able to – you know – again…

Don’t even think that. If he stops for good he’ll just lose the will to go on…with anything.

Then we need to do something.

He’s tried almost everything, walks, music, reading. God, look how he just sits there. A blink, blink, a sigh.

I caught him crying the other night.

No you didn’t!

Yeah, in bed, alone, staring, like he was expecting someone to come to him from out of the ceiling. Or past. You know how he likes the room totally dark and cool.

So how do you know he was crying?

Heard him. Like a stage whisper. Said her name and then…well, a sobbing sound. Like he couldn’t catch his breath.

No kidding! Maybe we should suggest he reach out to her. And yeah, we both know she’ll eventually make him more damn paralyzed with misery than he is now. Humming away in his chair one minute and then…

I know. But he can’t go on like this. I’m afraid he might just…you know, POOF, gone. And what about us?

Okay, you go to his right and I’ll go left.

Wait. Listen. The laptop. Is he writing her? Think she’ll answer? I mean kindly? What’s he say?

Let me check. Oh… Well at least he’s trying.

Okay, but what’s he written?

It says, “We need to do something about this.”

(This is pretty much the only way I can write fiction these days. I imagine two characters speaking and then my imagination follows their conversations. But I’m miles ahead of where I’ve been for months.  In this case, I’ll let your imagination discern who – or what – these two speakers are.)

Where There’s Will, I’ll Find a Way

The rhyming poet his words moves around,
even though no one ever talks that way.
It’s more important to match that end sound
than put a verbal horse before the dray.

Sure, the rhymer throws words no one uses.
Great you’ve got vocabulary to burn.
Though he may try accepted abuses,
like slant rhymes and language kinda “fureign.”

Lately, I can’t conjure story or verse,
a condition I still fight more than fear.
Since I have no muse to help break this curse,
I’ll play this game to get my ass in gear.

I’ve a Shakespeare costume, and I don it.
then strut and fret on this page…my sonnet.

Leaving It All Behind

Within, the emptiness rules, cold and dark.
It’s been this way how long I just can’t say.
Probably long as I’ve not raised a spark,
in here to warm and light another day.

I’ve given up groping my way around,
gave up about almost all I once did
once upon a time, like new stories sound.
Now new stories have run away and hid.

You’d think I’d hear old echoes in this space
where once so many voices talked to me.
I can’t bear to listen, in any case,
lest your voice I hear and dreamed-up you see.

It’s new dreams I need, to fill up my mind,
not blank memories of this life left behind.

Sorry

He’s not too bad a guy. He has feelings as deep, sore and soaring as anyone else’s, I guess. Maybe even more so, we just don’t know. Few have ever seen them as he moved through the vacuum of his days.

I once caught him in one of his brooding moods, the ones maybe you’ve seen or you’ve felt. He broke through the 1,000-mile stare and wall of his self-imposed isolation to look up at me, half-grinned and raised his chin in greeting. He hummed his shrugged-shouldered humph when I inquired how he was.

“So how you doing?”

“I’m doing. Wondering if all this is worth it.”

“All what?” I asked.

“Just doing, being, thinking. You know, like that Descartes guy said, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Maybe I should just stop thinking so much.”

“That’d be no fun.”

Then he surprised me with, “I’m sorry.”

“What are you sorry for? You haven’t done anything to me,” I said.

“I’m sorry because I’ve never expressed to anyone my regrets for my sins and omissions, never cried at their funerals, never spoke up about how I truly felt, never professed my love to those I should have and never moved on from the ones I shouldn’t,” he said.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

“Because you’re the only one I can and that’s what I lament the most,” he said as we each turned away from the mirror and switched off our bathroom light.

I’d Love It Otherwise

I’ve talked about you so, so many times
you would think by now I understand you.
But no, seems you’re just a frame for these rhymes.
In my heart, I know it’s all I can do.

Because you are that thing that makes me weak,
and weakness has always been my power.
While your touch has ever been what I seek,
even touched, I’d more than likely cower.

If one day, emotion, strength and insight
might somehow stir me to honest action,
you’ll know I finally won this long fight
between truth and a fantasy attraction.

It feels just like demonic possession,
my love’s just another great obsession.

Day 9 of my NaPoWriMo poem-a-day challenge, a two-fer. When asked to write a Love and/or Anti-love poem, I ended up writing one that could be either…AND both.

The Stolen Years

It’s hard to calculate the lost years,
since I’m not sure if I should count them
one by one or exponentially against
my sell-by date or shelf-life.
What does it matter? They’re gone.
I could make a good case you stole them,
with your easy intent to hurt,
with your puerile propensity toward
always feeling the aggrieved
when you’re actually the aggrieving,
with your win-or-lose, life-or-death
binary way of looking at life,
just as long as you’re the one
on the plus side of the ledger
when the buzzer sounds.
But what does it matter? They’re gone.
I’ve tried recovering them, casting nets
like this one to capture my lost good life.
But like my life, they’ve gaping holes now,
through which so much has slipped
I can’t seem to hold them.
And as I sail west toward that horizon,
I have to admit, they’re gone,
and it matters.
It matters like hell.

Day 5 of Poem-a-Day April. Today’s prompt: a “stolen” poem. I just sat down ten minutes ago and these thoughts came rushing to me. I’ll choose not to parse their meaning, though in my present state of disrepair, I’d no doubt get even my own meaning wrong. Nevertheless, here it is. Number 5. You may discuss among yourselves.

Memories of a You I Can’t Recall

I’d ask your name, but I already know.
It’s who you are behind it I forget.
Or perhaps I never really knew, so…
Maybe you are someone I’ve never met.

I’ve forgotten so many old faces,
their names have nothing to hang onto there.
Though sometimes I’ll enter these old places
and recall how that light danced in your hair.

Some tell me this is part of growing old,
losing the treasure of recollection.
But that faculty has long since grown cold
since I felt the sting of your rejection.

So here by this window I sit and write,
of you nonexistent, and times so bright.

Back from making new memories with a sweet little girl in North Carolina to this cold space where I forget so much. Some worth the forgetting. Some not. Which, I can’t recall.