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
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.
I was never comfortable wearing
such look-at-me accessories,
something I’d sport like
a flashy ring or a silk tie.
No, I’ve always hidden
what so many wear as comfortably
as a tee shirt and jeans.
To do so would expose that which
I am uncomfortable showing.
It seems like such an expense
of my life force that might
better be spent on something
I might find more important,
like squaring up the towels
folded on the shelf or
feeling guilty about not doing it.
But sometimes the mass
of my world’s sadness, grief, fears,
loneliness, loss and even joy,
push down upon what I keep
in that deep well within me. And,
like an Archimedean experiment
gone messy, my emotions squish out
from under the weight, displaced
after so long lying misplaced.
I can’t abide a mess like that,
for too long, but I accept
the physics of life and try not
to judge myself too harshly anymore,
most especially if a tear might fall
where you or I could slip on it.
Such accidents happen, like yesterday
and the hundred hundred yesterdays
If I understood women
the way they think they
I’d own that superpower.
Now I know a lot,
having lived with nothing but
the distaff side
of the world’s roster
All that being said,
I wonder just what women
believe they know about
somewhat testosteronic me.
Do you understand that a man,
can change over time?
Yes, it’s true.
Do you grasp that I know
how important feelings
are in your lives?
Do you comprehend
how I can’t work without
something to write on?
Yeah, I write on paper,
but also function on the fuel
of perception and emotion.
I keep this secret identity
out of sight,
like a flashy bodysuit
I wear beneath my clothes.
I break it out only
in the privacy of my
fortress of QWERTY solitude,
to fly across pages,
out into space and maybe
lift a few hearts
too heavy to lift
on your own.
Yeah, that’s me, the superhero known by a select few as…Poet Guy.
During summers on the lake,
I’d leave the family back
at the trailer after dinner—
because I was a big kid now,
almost 12—and walk to the beach.
The sun would be sagging
in its evening ease, casting
golden flakes upon the chop.
Over the next hour they’d melt
into orange, purple and red
slicks upon the quieting surface,
like a lake-wide gasoline slick
from some grand mahogany runabout
christened Hesperides in gold leaf
on her stern. The sun sinking behind
the pines gave the sky a black eye,
and I’d skip a stone along the surface
to shatter the image of the moon
in the southeast corner of this mirror
of my youth called Snyder’s Lake.
Tonight, as I watched alone the sunset
behind the pines back of my house,
the memory of that bruised sky
hit me in the eye. Must have been
a speck of dust, too, because
I’m a big guy now, almost 65,
and why else would I get teary?
I know it’s a secret no more,
but I kept the one I thought
might have mattered most.
I’m sure you’d care no more,
but I’ve always been the one
to try doing The Thing, keeping
the personal nuclear code,
for what mattered most.
But what if I broke a vow
I made to myself, broke
the code to my mind and heart
over what mattered most?
I panicked over how I’d
make you sad or angry or,
worst of all, just shrug your
To me, you see, your feelings
(even about me)
carried what mattered most.
I wonder what’d happen if,
one day, you gave up my secret,
now that my supposed stand-up life
no longer mattered most.
Would I, who dreamed that dream,
sweat blood if anyone learned
this covert pining and furtive
twining of metaphors for you,
my little secret, ultimately
was what mattered most.
For Day 8 of NaPoWriMo’s Poem-a-Day challenge, I combined prompts for a Panic poem and one that repeated a word or phrase. Closed my eyes and started typing. Other than I and you, “what mattered most” is the repetitive hook upon which this piece hung.
Today I rummaged through
my gray and wrinkled journals,
in the attic behind my eyes,
to see if a new thought
of old you I might discover.
But all I found were pages
of once-heartfelt words expressing
something I never understood
because I never understood
anything I could not see, and
I couldn’t recognize my feelings.
Empirically, I observed you
as a conundrum, deriving
a contrary pleasure from the
feelings you cultivated within,
as well as any you consumed
from others. But you never
harvested any of mine.
Oh, how I wish I could find you
bouquets and bounty watered
by my tears of joy and sorrow.
So today I ransacked my dusty
I feel like Spring is near and
I feel that annual need to see you
and I feel something I can never
explain nor understand.
I found no emotion to fill the void
of not feeling you by my side.
Just images I’d rubbed so smooth
there was nothing left
to feel one way or another.
But I could see your smile,
still hear your laugh, watch
as tears fell and I recognized them
as old memories of your pleasure,
but none of mine.
Based upon a line from the second verse of Maya Angelou’s poem “Touched By An Angel,” as offered in a prompt from my friend Annie Fuller. I had the honor of meeting Dr. Angelou in one of my first weeks as a staff writer for Skidmore College. She exuded an inspirational energy undeniable, just as this one line stirred up this piece from somewhere within.
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.