Outside the Lines

How is it you can bump my elbow
without even being in the room,
bringing me these happy accidents
that some people think are art?
How I wish you could actually
come up from behind me to touch
my arm, sending a prismatic shiver
through your fingers into this heart. 
But then, you’ve always inspired me,
lifting my gaze above the ordinary, 
the black and white of my day-to-day, 
moving me, touching me, as you do. 
Thank you for the nudge to sometimes
break the rules, just a little, spreading 
wider the contents of this palette
I didn’t even know I possessed, coloring 
outside, not only between, the lines.

Trompe la Mort

Among the papers that I’ve kept 
to remind me of who I was, 
I found a story, and almost wept.
Not that it was sad, just…because.

Because it stirred a time so bright
when this was like respiration,
autonomic, just sit down and write,
instead of wheezing desperation.

The open vein has run its course,
I can find nothing left to bleed.
When you were my art's driving force,
of these banal rhymes I had no need.

Perhaps the old I shouldn’t see
if all they did is bring more pain.
Maybe I should just reinvent me,
and tap some imaginary vein.

No, you could tell it wasn’t real,
and more fraud than ever I’d be.
So I’ll just tap the scars I feel,
a roadmap to my heart, maybe.

I’m not that same man, no longer,
but a poet of love and light still.
I cheated his death, now I’m stronger.
Just need time, my life to refill.

If I recall, a sorta-kinda translation of the French phrase “tromp la mort” is something like “cheating death” or someone who does. And it looks like I might’ve done just that.  

In the Simplest Sense

If I was to write you a story, 
I don’t think it’d be very happy, 
because happy’s hard to find, 
like the tilde on this keyboard of mine.
If I tried to write you a poem, 
I don’t believe it’d very pretty,
since the pretty words left home
just after Christmas this year.
If I did write you something, though,
it’d be from a heart blind to what 
you believe isn’t pretty — but is so.
That’s because you’ve touched me 
and I’ve felt you in a way senses cannot.
I hope that’d make you feel happy ~ ~ ~
even if I can’t.

Hi, remember me? The usual struggle for words got worse over the past month or so. Then I sensed I wasn’t being myself in what I was trying to say. So I went as basic as I could, letting my blind heart lead me here, where you’re beautiful and I’m just the me you don’t need to see ~ you just need. Simple.


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.

Your Feelings of My Feelings

I like the way you hold me 
when I try to speak to you,
how your hands close ‘round 
what my fingers wish to express.
I love how you might understand 
what I have to say, even though 
I’m not making a sound 
anyone but you can hear.
Perhaps that’s because no one 
listens so closely to my
clumsy, earnest efforts to let
you know we’ll be all right.

I blush when I see you looking
at me so attentively the way
you always have, parsing meaning
from between my creases and
lines that speak to you even
when our eyes are closed.
But mostly I love how you've 
always kept a place for me 
within the warm spot few 
have entered and even fewer 
you’ve let stay, even if what you 
hold, hear and see of me are just
your feelings of my feelings.

Just a Pile of Words

To you I might be just a pile of words
that probably doesn’t say much,
a voice that makes no sound,
a silence that roars truth
if I’m doing this right,
At least that’s what I hope you found.
One day I might get through
to myself with the message
I’ve much too long been missin’.
But in truth I’m like you,
to whom this truth can’t get through
if to my own truth I don’t first listen.

Telling You A Lot Since I’ve Nothing to Say

The words won’t come to me today, 
at least ones that make any sense.
Forgotten their rules, too, that is to say,
except, perhaps, number and tense.

But what do I know? I’m just a man,
who daily hooks his heart to his sleeve
and hopes what he says you’ll understand
and keep you near and never leave.

But I’ve no control over what you feel,
only Hope and Faith I might give you pleasure.
I pray a little of your heart I can heal,
or maybe steal, what I regard as a great treasure.

I’ve rattled on here much too long,
especially for someone with nothing to say.
With Faith and Hope I’ll send this along,
but (again) looks like I’m sending my Love today.

This truly started out as a free write this afternoon. Couldn’t get any words to knit together, so I just wrote what came to me when I wasn’t trying. 

Freedom to Write Bad Poetry

Where do I start except top left,
since my language runs to the right?
But lately my words lack any heft,
lack anything since they’re out of sight.

Can’t blame the muse, she tries her best.
Besides, I’m not one to cast blame.
If I can’t write words at her behest,
then Her Poet’s a name I can’t claim.

And so I write without a thought,
nor inspiration I can see.
If any sense I’ve herewith caught,
I thank my disembodied She.

So here it is, some free-write rhymes,
Coldplay’s “Fix You” planted the seed.
Or was it my muse gave me these lines?
Then I got what I want, but not what I need.

Maybe someday we’ll meet somewhere,
but if not, I do understand.
If I’m a bad poet, She doesn’t care,
as long as I stay her good man.

And yes, this was indeed a free-write poem. I just sat and started writing, since my poetry machine has been in the shop for a few months. I thank my muse and Chris Martin for whatever magic sparked on the page by the time I was what might be “done."

Another BLINK of My Life

I still count my days 
by my nights, 
or at least by the single blink 
each night has become. 
Slide into bed, 
click off the light, 
settle my head and 
The problem is the moments 
spent between settle and BLINK, 
that period of near-sleep 
where I breathe those
pretty or sad words next to 
the face that will appear 
in maybe-light or almost-chiaroscuro
on the ceiling.
When my mind finishes, 
it closes its own eyes 
and we rest without sensing 
the passage of time. 
We'll have done all our dreaming 
in penning the words on the ceiling.
Then dawn, the "K" piece of BLINK,
scatters them like birds except those
I was lucid enough around "B" o'clock 
to slip under my pillow.

For Day 23 of NaPoWriMo 2021, I borrowed a prompt from my friend Carolee Bennett again. She asked that I consider what repetitions in my life mark time, and write a poem featuring one or more of them. If you've been around for my relatively short "life" as a poet, you know about my love/hate relationship with sleep. Perhaps this poem explains why.

Still Trying to Find Myself

Can you help show me the way 
to find myself? Who or where
I might be I’m never sure.
Am I a destination
or a denizen? A thought
or a thinker? Or maybe
I’m an island, alone in
the sea, or in a river
waiting for you to float by
and wave hello or goodbye.
So tell me about your quest
to find who you may have become
on the road from who you’ve been.
Or are you still lost as me,
just standing here, knowing you’ve
chosen what’s left but hardly 
ever what was right in all 
those forks on life's one-way road.
Perhaps I’ll never find myself
because never have I ever 
been able to arrive at 
the who I wanted to be.
Except for these quiet times 
when can I sit here with you, 
knowing I’m no longer lost.

Day 14 of NaPoWriMo and another promptless poem sprung from my quest to understand who I might be and why. Something I'm fairly certain about, though. Sometimes, I feel that while I'm writing these, I'm speaking to you and while you're reading them, you're listening to me. Together. Spiritually simultaneous. And I don't feel as lost and lonely sitting at this keyboard anymore.