Blessed Sacrament

In the ever-Summer glare and heat
I found my life’s pain and regret
sanctified into something replete
with but little Hope baptized in sweat.
So the torment, no matter how holy,
still rips around my beaten heart
as if it was something mad and solely
bent and intent to rip it apart.

Perhaps I can hallow my vessel so hollow
with the heat from a different kind of light,
as good for my soul as the heart to follow,
soothing all my pain with its godly might.
And that’s why I’m here dipping pen in ink,
the black sprung from my soul to my heart.
Drawing pictures in words so we all might drink
of this sacrament that heals me called Art.

As I like to say, completing these pieces I share does not make me feel better. But all the time spent immersed in the process of writing them does. And that, my friend, is the miracle of Art, no matter how poorly rendered. 

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Her Very Sorrow

If I, in thought,
felt not her very sorrow,
then I, in being,
am not very much a man.
If I, in jest,
made light of her plight,
then I, in the light,
am darker than the night.
If I, in belief,
see her as less than I,
then I, in truth,
am immeasurably less than she.
If I, in verse,
did not address her horror,
then I, in truth,
must never speak again.
If I, in thought,
felt not her very sorrow,
then I, in being,
do not deserve tomorrow.

Inspired by the current scenes that I can’t unsee and those first two lines, which are from Act 4, scene 4 of Two Gentlemen of Verona. No, I won’t illustrate this piece. You know what I mean.

To: My Editor … From: Me

It seems so silly, just
sitting here striving
to find the words to a story
whose ending we already know.
That’s me, always trying
to get the words right
before they’re written.
It’s a habit I picked up
since almost forever saying
the wrong words when
your spotlight’s on me.
Not that I’m not the loquacious
soul of glib insincerity.
I have the bent nose and
singed eyebrows to prove that.
But the truthfully sincere, I find,
deserve more time and care.
Since I’ve only ever given you
my life’s first drafts,
I’m your blue-penciled mess.
And I owed you better.

Ten minutes of free-writing, since my mind is mush here in this current emotional miasma. This poem may stink as much as my fetid depression, but you know how much I love talking to you when I can. And I can’t unless I try.

I Fell Again Today

I fell again today.
Not a little trip or slip,
but a real live death spiral.
I didn’t even bother to look
behind me to see the long trail
of smoke, tight where I was,
expanding to blot out the sun
the further I fell.
And I thought of you.
I thought of reaching out to you
to say, “Here, I’m falling, too.”

But I was already a few feet
from bottom, so I stayed silent again.
Besides, you don’t need any
of my woe, though you understand
the passion, the anger, the sorrow,
the heat, the chill, the vacant,
and the jagged in your gut as well—
or is it as badly? — as anyone I’ve known.
We make that same trip every day,
just with different landmarks
and memories and questions and regrets
and shame and here and there some pride.

And yeah, it’s like seeing your life
on a slow motion loop as death,
or worse, comes closer all the time
as you fall,
and you fall,
and you fall,
but you never get all
the way to the bottom
because that’d be too easy
and life has a thing about
never being easy. You understand.
I understand. And we’re not ready
to give up and just shut our eyes
and let the bottom have us.

We’ll probably drop again tomorrow
and maybe the day after and after that.
But a few things keep me getting
back up to take that long fall,
dangling like a spider under that
smoky pall, again and again.
I remember when you and I,
apart and together, would listen
to the music as the wind rushed past
and, for who knows how long,
we’d fly.

We’ll revisit some of this again soon. I promise. Because I care. Always. Me.

What We Talk About When We Talk About…

Maybe someday we can shelter out of the heat to talk about this thing that binds people together in the way ropes might, or even transplants, like giving one kidney to another. Yeah, that thing. I can’t describe it in any way by which someone else would understand it as I do (or don’t). Some people like that proximity that comes with being tied together, immobilized yet mobile or freely captive with another, feeling their heat, shivering with their cold, sharing the showers and sunshine as if they wear the same skin. They can construe it as “being together,” I guess. Until someday, somehow they cut those cords. I have seen many people walking around still attached to their walking shadow even after he out she has left them, one way or another. Other people can subsume, with proffered permission, the object of their visceral need after searching so long to find that perfect match, one fraught with the minimum amount of rejection, yet, only with diligent aftercare, most likely to keep them alive. They can live on together even after their partner in this organic life no longer can. Yet still, there is always that spectre of rejection, loss, need. The one thing both of these experiences share is how all involved are irreversibly changed by the experience. Maybe it’s the scars they can display or conceal, maybe even from themselves. Maybe it’s the memories of their partner’s touch, both on and within their skin, a heartbeat they feel even as they lie alone at night. But I’m no expert. I’ve walked this earth carrying a platter full of bite-size pieces of my marrow-rich thirteenth rib, like some faceless butler named Adam at a grand party of the interested and disinterested. Some have idly taken one piece just to wrap it in a napkin and toss it in the potted palm. Others have taken it with thanks and thought, “that’s different,” and moved on to bacon-wrapped shrimp. And for others I’ve placed one on their plates, wrapped in wordy ribbons with which they might secure it to themselves like pins for some needy charity. A couple have actually taken them to heart, but I moved on because this is a big room and a server’s duty calls. What do I know? Maybe this is why someday we might sit somewhere, with a batch of iced libation between us. Maybe it’ll be something different that we talk about when we talk about love.

Now that’s a ponderous bit of prose poem or maybe fictional one-sided conversation, free-written around my morning shower. The inspiration was brought to me when I needed it most and I have no idea from where the results come, but I thank my muse that they did. Unless you know Raymond Carver, you won’t recognize the title, though maybe you recognized it without my coming out and saying the word until right before the final period. Perhaps one day I’ll revise this unspoken “thing” for a more concise, or expansive, dive into the phenomenon that touches and changes us all. I chose purple for this note because it is the perfect mix of blood and the blues, both of which are sluggishly coursing through me right now, so I’ve been unsuccessful in giving you something to think (or talk) about.  Let’s hope my over-the-transom inspirations cut a few more drops from me soon.

Battle for the Heart and Mind

I armed myself with a bottle of water,
eyeglasses, computer, and absolutely
no advance intel. This is no way
to face so cunning an enemy.
A few years ago, I’d attack these sessions
like a free-writing commando.
Sure I parachuted into the dark,
but I knew my target, its flat white topography
and the objective: break another prisoner
free from the prison of my heart.
I’d toss some metaphors into that
hardened space (like I just did),
set off a smoke grenade to hide
my true position and maybe bring a tear
to anybody who thought to watch,
and make the snatch and run.
I almost always extracted a prisoner,
though sometimes they had nothing to say
when I got them to my lines.
But somewhere along the way, I lost
my sangfroid in a story over New Mexico,
or maybe it was that poem about
how she made me a prisoner in the darkness
of our own making.
Some days I fear I no longer have
the thirst for battle, finding the pen
too heavy for the old parry and thrust.
But I can’t let those prisoners rot in there.
So I guess I’ll jump again tomorrow.

Day #9 of April 2018 PAD Challenge called for a “Battle (something)” poem. 

Naughts and Crosses

He thinks of her from time to time.
Often during the nights, but
other times during quiet days
when dreams have greater access
to the doors both closed long ago.
Always, though, when he’s alone.
A certain loneliness was about all
they had in common. That and
the darkness which never strayed
too far from their shadows,
so close that it often impersonated
their silhouettes, perfectly
outlining them in basic black.
His knots and crosses could never
hold her, when it was flowers
captured her heart.
But seamen know naught of blossoms
and blossoms know less of the sea.

I’ve been away from home for some days, away from my creative function for longer than that. Here’s a mid-afternoon drabble I dribbled onto the keys on this day after I’ve returned to the cold and dark I know better than the warm and sunny. Would that it was the opposite, eh?