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 become 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 when 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.

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.

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

Oh Prophet

Oh prophet,
Deliver us from temptation

Oh prohet,
Show me another path

Oh prophet,
Your words of wisdom often prove true
Unsullied doves soar aloft from your sleeve
Bring me God’s will, what’s a man to do
Show me the way, what I ought believe

A herald of good could do no slight
None might suffer in your holy wake
You saved them from horrendous blight,
So without your ear the people break

Oh prophet,
I bring your tribute from my hovel,
What coin I gathered for my labor.
I beg you now, if I must grovel
How am I to love my neighbor?

Pointed tongues pierce our spirits
For tortured bulls to swing in pain
A cape bore red so they might fear it
Showing our progress may be in vain

Oh prophet,
New man’s forces drift from the south
Barbarians reaching in for brutal kill
They know not value of your holy mouth
These savage men seek metal and thrill

You’ll see us buried if we don’t present all.
Prepare the coffers, we’ll surrender our gold;
Men in the valley have no fighters to call.
Just a small number of the sad and the bold.

Oh prophet, false prophet
Remnant from the memory of kings

Oh prophet, false prophet
Mason of our own grave

Oh prophet, false prophet
Scratched in your tomb lies a warning
Do not hail out answers at our first clue.
The sun will arise again in morning;
But your bones lie still, as all will do.

Yet dawn’s answers will still lie bare
Clarity brightens what we don’t know
That same void brought you to chair,
Covering the sun created your glow.

Oh prophet, false prophet
Caught in your plan and its hassle
Perhaps this truly wasn’t your fault
If one is to stumble upon a castle,
It proves wise to build it a vault.

Like many you chose a path to rise;
Found yourself on a fine hill to die on,
And seeing opportunity to open eyes;
You mistook the perch for a peak of Mt Zion

Oh prophet, false prophet
A shame you’ll never see truth of the plan,
The wisdom you believed that you had.
In the end proved just another man,
A slight bit beautiful; but mostly sad.

Rudis

The last foe falls in endless game
Victory lifts the hopeless struggle
And you find it all feels the same

Step forward and claim your prize
Oak branch twisted to mock blade
Set with feast for prying eyes
A mighty boast of higher grade

You fought for survival
Beneath cruel master’s leash
Now find your revival,
Or die within your niche

The flames were to burn
But just so they were to shape
To see the colors you could earn
What we might make of hopeless ape

Fighter cut from metal and stone
Forged with sand, tempered in dirt
Became a weapon they couldn’t own;
A person they could not hurt

Absolute victory stands before you now
The promise of peace, it was a lie
You will stand but not take your bow
Though it was not here, you will yet die

What we’ve made, a champion of the sand
A warrior stands removed from his plight
Things fall in place just as planned
You’ve gained freedom to choose your fight

You knew your struggle but not your stakes
The symbol of freedom is oaken sword
Wood for it to bend before it breaks
Blade because peace is not your reward

You will pay for victory with your life
Condemned to continue on the sand
In freedom you will yet choose strife
Hilt will once again find your hand

Join the battle for those yet in chain
Find a way to help cast their weight
For they are those that feel your pain.
For they are those that share your fate.

A symbol earned by knowing its name
show your rudis to all who’ll see
Only then could they know your claim
That we all might be set free

Broken Throne

When I decline their offer of cheer
I always wonder if they see the fear

A kindly gesture met with refusal
Chilled bomb within grasp
My very own Mozel Tov cocktail
Terror clawing at sanity’s clasp

Do they see me wrestle the wheel
Take the right turn on the wrong street
Committing a sin against my song
Trying to resist my own beat

Craving the sweet taste of submission
Wash of failure drowning out that fight
Momentary charade of peace in the land
Shield blinding from the reality of blight

When guards are down sleeping shallow
Silent invaders seize their opportunity
Disguising themselves as if they should be
Uniting all of me in peaceful toxic unity

A silent war hid snuggly beneath gaze
Carried on the back for all else to know
Yet we find the truth of our betrayal in our folly
Naming our enemy for a chance to grow

At the end of the road is recovery
Yet the journey stands hollow and alone
A civil war raging for a new king
To hope the close lends no broken throne

Still I wonder what people think
When I tell them I don’t drink

King of the World (a buncha couplets)

Our world seeing now some troubling things
Reminds us to look for hope in our kings

Master of strength; show off your brawn
Move the sun forward to dawn

The light of the moon shines often dim
A hopeful reminder of your whim

But your people lie suffered in the dark
Grasping for the song of meadow lark

Though the record of the sun goes strong
The presence of night grows long

Won’t you use your might to correct the mistake?
Or will you watch as your people break?

Sovereign of mercy, enforce your desire
Clear us a path away from this fire

Friends in the south suffer and choke
Watch it all burn and go up in smoke

More still east inherit fear of the west
Ravaged but still comes yet another test

An iron bird’s wail is a troubling sound
Engines breed tensions wherever they’re found

Will you prove name’s promise to the world below?
Or will we our fears bloom as part of your show?

Ruler of music; play us a song
Make it go down a little less strong

Drinks are swallowed with much more ease
When drowned out is the sound of the least of these

Averted eyes can find new opportunity
Fresh songs are best heard with less scrutiny

That distraction can grant new insight
In sorrow we forget to turn on the light

Is the love of your fruit a blessing in kind?
Or yet another attempt to deafen and blind?

Lord of wisdom inspire your voice
Remind the masses we have a choice

King of the world, where lies your crown?
Is this your will, and must I take it lying down?

My Short Angsty Relationship Poem With A Long Title

This will be the last poem I write about you
Personal closure on what I’ve been through

To think that you’d find, this lost face of mine
Deep within the thing at the tip of my spine

I remember swooning, lost in your touch
Planning things out as if I’d earned such

We’d have a house; on top of a hill
And watch the world stand a little bit still

I think I’ll wake up, after this tune
Realization stalks me from across the room

Dreams can be goals, but they’re often a farce
Reality is usually just a little more harsh

Such a delusion; it felt like me
Why did I choose not to be set free?

I don’t hate you; I admire a lot
You helped to bright the shadow I fought

No reason to stand; but a care about me
A window to look at the man I’d be

You’re much the same, but I know I’m different
‘Cause I don’t even care that you’ll never read it

The best way to guide, a lost man in love
Is simply to burn it

Ghost

Torn from body
Spirit from bone
Parting our worlds
I am left alone

Today I woke ethereal
This just couldn’t be
Separated from material
Nothing left of me

Did I leave you empty soul?
I should have taken more care.
Our hearts should have been full
Before I vanished to air

I’d give a body for this life
I demand you put charge to brain.
Put that flesh under knife,
And make it just just the same

Walking this place I am so near
Wandering halls I have no claim
These portraits once brought me cheer
How is it that they aren’t the same?

Been cut down yet I’ve grown
Tear these walls and build anew
I’ll stick the queen back to throne
And find a way to hold the glue

The weight of flesh pulls me down
Unfamiliar gravity put foot to ground
Somehow I think I might not drown
I hope you’re proud of what I’ve found

After tears dry
I still wonder most
How did you die
But leave me the ghost