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.

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

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

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

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