House of Cards

I sit untouchable in my fortress of matchsticks and playing cards, protected by the king of hearts hiding a joker between my teeth. State of the art crafting glue holding firm from the greatest of winds and inconveniences.

I invite you to come visit me, seeing that you need somewhere to tap the soot off the soles of your shoes.
You’ll stay for the romance novels and horror films but the poems will be too much; because you’ve always
been more interested in an entertaining story than a true one.

On your way out you’ll light me up and I’ll burn down with the house; from the top like every candle or cigarette that’s brought you comfort before, not yet knowing if I’m beyond wanting whole or just operating as I have been designed to.

I hope I’m not all that’s keeping you warm.

Memories of Elysium

Bring me back, boatman
to the golden dream that I escaped;
place me back, back in the amber clear I watch slip between my fingers each morning, clenched fist pushing away the memories from where I was before.

The angels sang to me of salvation,
Gentle harp’s familiar gilded string toned as lyres; celebrating the carress I long fought against, before they claimed the gift of argus and mounted his eyes on their wings.

Bring me back, boatman
That I might visit those you’ve taken.
You’ve gobbled your share and left us to mourn. Betrayed our love for your duty and now they sing in the sweet memories of Elysium that I’m pining for.

Perhaps we can strike a deal,
Nectar or honey – I’ve heard you like coins?
But even more I’ve heard you’re as much at their mercy as us, clawing on Charon’s walls unable to accept the cruelty that no place is so far away as yesterday.

Bring me back, boatman
take me through the ghostly waters;
refresh my memory that I might understand, where I came from and what’s held in my hands. Was I a hero? tell me what did I lose when I climbed from the Styx?

Was this the baptist’s price?
The gate toll to enter the kingdom of clouds.
Washing away the unclean with the rest of me, the Jordan left behind something pure as rain that felt a lie all the same.

So bring me back, boatman.
From Eden to Heaven and the odyssey in between;
There is a hint of fiction that’s stranger than life,
And something in this paradise that’s not in mine.

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.

Change

Change

Change

Change

Change is what comes when the machine fails
Rusted bolts screech louder when they halt
Mending again yet to bare no fruit
Replacement must be the only truth

Change is the needed outcome of a wound
Balm and bandage meant just to cover
Keeping such a thing so tightly bound
Distracts from a scar that never formed

Change is the nature of fluid’s fate
Contained with tanks and glass
Yet running over stone in rapid flow
When its full weight comes to break

Change is the pain of an iron man marathon
Walls make steps heavy and breath thin
Resistance builds until ankles are weak
Yet heavy feet beat louder underneath

A path toward desired outcome
Or just another act in the play
“Hungry for change”
It just sounds better,
Than “starving the same”

Streets are littered with hapless souls
Tossed about with just seed to plant
The choice is removed from which to be
Revolutionaries for a boundless age
Or, another beggar, looking for change

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

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