Do you still bleed when the blade crosses your heart? Or have you ceased running, like a freshet lying near-lifeless waiting for the just right rain that might never come? Cut me again, see how I’ve given up pumping the warm, red metaphor, this life led without the touch I always thought I needed. Yet here I am once more, carving for you another arroyo like so many I’ve inscribed during my days in this desert. I once cut the dust with blood from a full heart unscarred. Now all I’ve left is tears.
I wish I had a life something like yours, as sad as you feel you are. Yes, it’s dealt you some busted hands, here and there…even there…a scar. But at least you’ve lived and loved and felt, the sense that’s left me just old. And now I’m seeing that light up ahead, where the only touch I’ll feel is cold. Looks like I’ll always be left to wonder what my life would’ve been like if only… Wondering doesn’t feel so soft and warm, wondering like this only feels lonely. Too late now to hope some day I’ll find what I’ve not often felt to feel better. Your memories hold the warmth you’ve held, and I pray someday we can hold some together.
Perhaps if I dreamed I’d not find all my nights such lonely walks from light to light, like street lamps pouring down without warmth on this corner through the dark to the next pool of yellow glow ahead. Or like Tuesday to Wednesday. I’ve strolled or rolled my way through each, always wishing I could reach out to touch that warmth light and dark and I denied me, wrapped as I might be in blankets or shadows. But if I dreamed, perhaps I’d dream of you joining me here at the intersection of Yesterday and Tomorrow. Someday some warm Tonight.
Remember those days when we dreamt solitude in the midst of our daily chaos would be such a gift? Now we know it was all just a dream. In our own ways, we were always alone. And always crushed by the crowd. You, fighting your way past that throng of voices never giving you solitude, and I, lone as that looping hawk, writing everyone’s life and death stories on the clouds, ever searching for the shadow of my desire to trigger another dive at that dreamy silhouette. As I got closer, though, I always found it was mine… alone...all along.
In my dark, the one I and I alone own, I am alone. You know it. You who have loved and then have lost know its great cost. Yet when I open my eyes, in this crowd I feel lonelier. One of my five make-up poems to help me get back on track for my poem-a-day 30 in 30. This one is in the Korean form called a sijo. It is made up of three lines of between 14 and 16 syllables, 3-4-4-4, 3-4-4-4 and 3-5/5-3. Written in English, they can be broken into six lines. If you wish, you can look up more details about this lyrical form. I think it stands on its own without further explanation. I've always had a thing for exotic poetic forms. They're how I became a poet.
Sitting in the dark, the stage lights reflecting back on our faces, competing with the music for spaces where our senses hold sway. Walking back after the show, the warmth of your hand touching mine, a whiff of perfume charged by a hint of your sweat fill my head with sensation and sight from somewhere other than my eyes. Later, feeling your form tucked up against me there in the darkness, I notice the pillow next to mine is missing when I reach out, only to find the cold empty place where it should be. I’m forced to admit that’s who’s in my arms. The arms, the hands, the eyes and ears which will never have the strength to embrace you like my imagination does. Yet I am never without you. It is my greatest strength, thank God. It is my greatest weakness, damn it. For Day 4 of my NaPoWriMo poem-a-day journey I was asked to write an "active" poem. Let's face it, for the past year (oh, definitely YEARS), the most active part of me has been my imagination. And even THAT has been locked down and laid up...a lot. Nevertheless, here's the latest exercise my active imagination and I sweated out. Happy Easter, everyone!
The winds came up today,
shaking the old man awake
when they tousled the curtains
across his drafty window.
The winds came up today,
bending the trees,
in full late-Spring flutter,
to wave their frayed flags,
some spitting out their whirligig seeds
to fly from there to there.
The winds came up today,
tipping birds in yawing flight
from the old man’s house
to the school, where
cheering kindergartners freed
their new butterflies
each from the safety of
its cracked chrysalis.
The winds came up today
in front of the old man’s house,
tearing away the tag
on the wheelchair by the roadside
which said, “Free, no longer needed.”
“The winds came up today,”
the nurse said to the old man.
But he already knew
after they whispered him
awake from the drafty window.
The winds came up today…
Only the winds.
Only the winds.
It’s strange how a person
can sit alone,
lie in a lonely bed,
walk solitary in the woods,
wander by himself on city streets,
and not feel alone.
Though quite lonely.
Within his mind, that solitary soul
is beset by lifetimes of images,
regrets, sins, faces of loved ones
and those who never would be,
echoed voices behind those faces
expressing their hatred,
disgust, ignorance, ambivalence and
disappointment, and maybe encouragement,
trust, acceptance, friendship
and even a tad of love.
But probably not.
Around you a world whirls while
every person on it experiences
this same emotional maelstrom.
We are billions.
Yet why are so many of us
still alone among the countless?
Each of us is the center of our own universe
and the shell within which a universe
worth of questions without answers and
answers to questions we never asked
spin toward a black holes of loss.
Or is it a nebula of deliverance?
His eyes were going,
but he said he didn’t mind
too much because he saw things
most clearly in the dark,
especially during those hours
he stared at the starless sky
of his bedroom ceiling.
His hearing was shot long ago,
owing to genetics and
a corresponding need to turn up
his headphones to 11.
But he heard the voice and music
no one else could hear in this dark.
His heart was failing him, too,
what with the stiffened scars
he hated to admit it bore.
Some were idiopathic etchings
of unknown origins, while others
marked wounds self-inflicted,
one way or another.
So now what? no one asked, because
no one heard him whisper through
life’s lightless vacuum.
Not even the one whose caress
he felt on his arm, his cheek,
his chest, when it was really
his own left hand in that meantime.
But a man can dream.
After lunch, lovely Mary the Secretary
returned to her desk, where a half-dozen
pink and red, foily and doily cards
stood at attention, like gate-mouthed swains,
each proclaiming at least $6.95
of their undying love and devotion.
On the center of her desk, though, lay
a folded sheet of blue-lined notebook paper,
one edge ripped into erstwhile wire-bound,
college-ruled lace. Red ink block letters
spelled out her name, and when she unfolded
the supine note, she saw a heart
and a message ooh-so-neatly written
in the same crimson hand:
I watch you sit alone,
listening to voices on the phone,
ponder if two heartbeats do echo
or mirror-beat as only one that’s let go.
But this is only a dream,
one many nights I’ve seen,
in which I’m not the me
by dawn’s light I see,
but one you’d wish hold you
how you’d want enfold you
on nights it’s your dream to
be held by one who dreams that, too.
At workday’s end, Mary shoved
the phalanx of craft paper professions
of infatuation into the wastebasket
beneath her desk. But she once more
read a note on her desk, gently folded it
and slipped into her purse.
With a winsome smile, she bustled
toward the door, idly saying “Good night”
to Just Jane two desks over.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Jane said,
as she waved and ducked back to filling
her spreadsheets. Mary never noticed
the red on Just Jane’s blushing cheeks,
nor the same color ink on her fingers.
Here’s the first of 2018’s Valentine’s Day (or anti-Valentine’s Day) poems/stories. In about thirty minutes, this one bloomed like a hothouse rose. It’s no American beauty, but it’ll do in a pinch. More to come in this year’s bouquet. (I hope.)