Smoke

Sometimes I peel my skin to see which parts hurt. Pull up scabs and ruin their healing; because you always thought I’d look better in scars and now, I hate to admit, so do I.

You’d balm your skin while passing torch that burned you, left hand betraying the right; crackling of its molten anger only drowned out by the volume of the lessons between your words.

You taught me to measure my masculinity in empty liquor bottles and full perscriptions; your lesson that real men only dull their pain when they pretend it’s for fun.

That service was inseperable from suffering, that goodness exists only to spite the dents in the same vessel and that as such it must be dented.

You taught of obedience through fear holding your doctrine to be as genuine as it is just; building paper walls for us to keep the world from the wood.

Your claim of course not to be mistaken, that you love me and that I am doomed. Yet fear was never a virtue, and your tradition cannot be my truth.

You taught that only love was set in stone; as if proof of rock’s mortality was not sewn across the beaches or blown in the wind.

Perhaps I kicked drugs to became addicted to tattoos when they let me feel pain, and build to something that might be permanent, or because they make my scars look like something I could love.

You think I hate you, I wish I did. Pictures are so much more complicated than paintings, and conversations so much harder than poems. Burning your flag kept it off my shoulders, yet the memory of its embers brings more remorse than thrill.

And as such, I think of you whever I smell smoke in my clothes. Nose filled with the rustic guilt of what I’ve done to keep myself warm. The loud blank memories that could fall anywhere between bonfires and funeral pyres.

Never saw

An owl perches overhead
Judgement’s omen in a tree
Your throat tastes of dread
Nothing more to do but flee

Heart pounding in your ear
leaves and twigs crack undertoe
the pursuer can hear your fear
but you couldn’t hear his bow

That’s where yout struggle ends
Caught up in its whistle and draw
His arrow always finds it quarry
The last man you never saw

Try Again

I will try again

writing about you is taking an exam on my favorite subject in a language I don’t understand.
Present and real; palpable and radiant but amorphous and complicated such that I can only jot down enough to never be satisfied.

I will try again

I can’t find it on a page so I have to find it in my pen, but whenever I try I end up spilling the well over my desk. It reminds me that by the time I’m done carving bars and scratching them out the paper would be just as  dark, anyway.

If I showed that to you – you’d still read it twice. You’d hang it on the fridge and know that every pointed groove is a monument to the idea that I tried and that’s the part you love. You’d hold the blob of ink to the light like you’re checking for counterfeits and see the words that you never needed the blob for anyway.

I will try again

You see a love of whimsy and intensity, a strong desire to believe in destiny. Someone who seeks nothing with their art but to find the spot in the aether where there is both tinder and match so I can finally light myself ablaze, admire the colors I might produce and at least be seen if never understood.

That is to say, I believe in me you’ve found the things you’ve always felt were too foolish to love about yourself. That sometimes I think we can’t define who we are to each other because giving it a name would force the idea that we should admire ourselves the same way, too, and contentness just looks too much like complacency to swallow with pomegranate seeds.

I will try again

I believe we’re not supposed to condense every beautiful thing into post-it notes. That if I were to place every letter of definition I could ever write about you in my scrapbook it could only be experienced as much as the scenic polaroids it borders, and that picking it up would only remind me to send you my newest favorite song for the third time this month.

I don’t believe that you’ll ever give up chasing the perfect painting of your pain and growth so you can display it on your guestroom wall for those you think might recognize it, or that anyone will cheer for each attempt as hard I will;
Or even that I could ever explain to you why it’s such important work.
But I will try again.

Pyromanic Depressive

The first day I found comfort should have been the earliest sign of my disease. When my throat could not tell apart the crisp winter air with the stale breath of a toxic mire merely because they both stand still. The way a lantern’s lonely flame tantalized me more than the structure that housed it. Perhaps it is so simple that I could never see the difference between movement and progress, or rest and stagnation.

It’s a predictable transition from ethanol to fire, from fire to smoke, from smoke to collecting ash of the remains of everything that mattered and pushing it in desperate to make a soot castle I might live in to see if I’ve built something suitable to burn down again.

At a time if felt the urge came from divine inspiration. As if I could pull some truth from the space between dancing lights that comforts me and tells me there is a purpose to my destruction seperate the horror that I suspect. As though I could find more comfort in the cruel release of energy displayed before me than in the home it had once been.

Yet the curse of fire was never a burden of destiny. Like Midas chose to gild all that he held I questioned to see what might be flammable. Instead of satiating a desire for wealth with things that shine I meet depression with pyromania only to feed the mouth I meant to be fighting.

Last year I knew the bravest thing about me was that I  would stand in every fire I set, to walk or be pulled out would have meant failure to see through what I was there to destroy. Adding a second failure to the home that I fell short of making fire proof.

This month I gathered my tinder and gases, lighter and matches in an willow box. In rising waters I could see that there are more beautiful things than flms, fonder places than the sun, braver actions than self destruction. I threw the box down a waterfall and prayed I hadn’t forgotten any match sticks beneath my bed frame.

Smoking Habit

I’m thinking of tyring religion again
rolling up the holy papers to spark a light
A deep breath of salvation’s white smoke
lend me comfort until you scratch my lungs

They dressed me up in this smoking habit
Told me it would keep me warm in the courtyard
That a fiery mantle would light my path
Proving my cause to be something righteous

Melted off my shoulders, held by its own weight
Fallen victim to the curse of its heat

Even so the liquid remains fit in a syringe
Plunger down might give the same relief
Coloring our surroundings as if finger paint
Shifting demons to angels between heartbeats

Ashes and Flax

The dust in my rear view is ashes and flax
Remains of fire wood and totems
Flowers with seed I never turned to oil

Emergingly the brakes feel firm while the gas is soft
The only things that keep sole anchored to the right
Knowing that letting go will lead us nowhere fast
and that fuel and opportunity are rarely both priced well at the pump

I find myself questioning what you taught me of safe journeys
Like locking the doors when I drive too slow or not worrying of flashing light
My fault for mistaking the high school parking lot for a classroom
and the assuredness in your voice for some sign of wisdom

It’s hard to know so much of what I’ve been taught is the reason I like to drive toward walls
Tantalized by the cracks in the brick as if a sign that at proper speed I could break through
Without worry of bodily consequence or the weight of falling stone
Equally it was hard to have noticed how quickly you built new walls around me

You know I’ve grown to hate having your eyes
They make me look tired
They make me look like someone who stays up at night writing poems to calm down
Mostly though they make me look like sad

At least the path of overcoming the flaws in my roots causes me to bear some fruit
Like knowing when it’s time to keep my foot on the gas
Or the determination to gaze past the glamour of silver and gold
In favor of cherishing the sight that is ashes and flax

The Fall of Olympus


Hid behind a marble vanity
Clawing together what might be saved
Aphrodite desperate clutching pearls
Disbelief the walls finally caved

Hammering away on a final project
Betrayed by the product of his hands
Hephestus tries to forge a new life
In case his is spilled unto the sands

Athena pulls her bow with deadly aim
Hesitates too long from the shock
Sight of blood on her own fingers
Overwhelmed by the rising flock

Apollo atrempts at fiery rage
But learns the plight of Icarus
This time, the sun too hot for him
Blaze of glory and sweet caress

The seer warned of calamity
Hekate knew it was to pass
Yet the gods just dismissed
This pairing of stone meets brass

Younger brother to the throne
Master of the oceans crest
Poseidon as if lost at sea
Swallowed up with the rest

Golden footsteps leave a trail
Through halls and down slope
Seems Hermes may have escaped
Left the pantheon to cope

Zeus was the last to tumble
Highest perch touches down last
Yet even the mighty could not stand
After the last die was cast

In that moment they’re stuck
Their own forever Hell
Where they were
When Olympus fell

Poison of Eden


Our first mistake,
The poison of Eden
Affection of a serpent’s kiss

I feel your presence when I’m alone
Slithering through the heart
Pounding with the beat

Placed in my veins before I was me
I got you from my mother
Just a tainted gift

A song meant to induce rythmic fear;
On the most pristine pieces
A needle still stops

I’ve often dreamt of a fiery end for us all.
Crust opening to swallow in some
Others with volcanoes, meteors

It brings comfort more than shame
Partly, for few will see the end of times
The final perspective is of our admageddon

But mostly because when you arrive,
I hope to look you in the eye

The Year of Rebellion

The high sun begins the year of rebellion
Fires from the sky bring ash to the ground

Grey snowfall begets a somber tone
Recalls a lack of color beneath surface
Lesser shades from what is shown

Yet the blaze continues just overhead
Crackling reminders to sow your rage
Igniting the desire to paint it all red

Water ripples in the year of rebellion
Cooling pools within a draught

Movements rapid like hummingbird wing
Whirlpool dragging down the last regret
Cleansed until you again feel the sting

Torrents of change with personal grace
Cast rejection to the lady of the lake
Laugh at her gift, and cry in her face

Winds run hot in the year of rebellion
Steam bellows angry from every pore

Gusts of heat somehow make us smothered
Discomfort, this new reality with the others
A much worse meaning of “hot and bothered”

Yet stagnant air had left something missing
An empty field with no breeze is a false promise
It simply wasn’t our own voice we were hissing

The Earth lies heavy in the year of rebellion
Even sand grains add to crushing weight

Continents shift with passing fellows
Different boulders upon their shoulders
For standing beside different bellows

We were warned of an unfortunate truth
That passing to new world is still cumbersome
Like closing jaw against a broken tooth

Ironic that defiance is an obligation
Another hole to dig, a little bit deeper

Contribute to our change with them, women, and men
We’ve had room for weapons and microphones
Among the rebels, shouldn’t some of us hold a pen?


Anyone reading, thank you for the support! Today marks the one year anniversary of the website, and though I stopped posting as frequently for personal reasons I can see my poetry still steadily improving and being enjoyed by people in my personal life. It really means so much to me. -TJ

Water and Fear


Heat on, cut the meat, plate to spin, cut your feet
Pot’s boiling but I can’t remember to turn it down
Lost somewhere between its whistle and retreat
If I struggle well enough I might not drown

Freezing first might give some solodarity
Or split like ice before I shave the snow
Mad grasps for salt, oil and familiarity
Pray for a better interruption in the flow

The old tap’s stuck open from the rust
Trickling sounds will be the death of me
Moisture sinks and soggies the crust
Crumbles the version you’ll never see

Unforseen memories and troubling noise
Close the kitchen to avoid the weather
Withstand the cold, we have no choice
The sleet and rain can’t last forever

Paralyzed by the passing cloud’s frustrated tears
Tranquilized by its sound on the roof of your mouth
Sometimes I don’t know how you move those fears
The bounce of your mind makes a dope out of mine

Come we’ll search for safer harbor
Pindrop stands upon shaking ground
Such is attempts for light on the water
To find a single ant within a mound

Calmer tides come with sun’s rise
Victory stated in official decree
But sharks fins poke from placid waves
A primal reminder to fear the sea