Indie Author

Finding & Creating Beauty in Unlikely Places

A Poem for T

The chains he beat me with
got nothin on these reigns
wrapped round my heart

I keep it on lockdown
Don’t feel quite warmth
or words you whisper
They fall on stony ground

Still I tell my nightmares
to you
tired
of bludgeoning demons with
blunts
tangling up our tongues
twisting sheets my eyes
are perpetually sleepy
but open

My ears eager to recognize
your voice in my night
when all lights
go out
like a permanent imprint
your sound
storm shelter

You
a melody I want to hum
but am
deafened by red rum
I never see his face
but am haunted nonetheless
I still hear him

Your fingers
trace alchemist constellations
up my arm
across my chest
down my pants
a down payment to the new
slave master

There are no victims
in victory
so I
keep these chains he
beat me with rusty
with angel dust cannabis
sunsets amber oceans

I bob like a cork in
the riptide of my
own making
I could rip me in half
so easily
with a laugh
and a shrug
and a lie

How the chains he
beat me with
got nothin on these
reigns wrapped round
my heart.

Summer Approaches

–I’d like to dedicate this poem to the woman I heard on the radio the other day, whose mother suffers from schizophrenia. Who said [paraphrased], “Thirty times, we lost her. And we got her back. And we lost her. And I grieved her every time.”  Thank you for perspective. And hope.

 

I am struggling
to live up to
my proud words

in my heart

I am floundering
this dry, lonesome season
outstretched like a crucifix
my feet affixed to a path

no choice

but to force forward
look to the East

But in my heart
I am not brave

and I am struggling
to live up to
my proud words

Not to the promise
I gave you
to love you
no matter what

Loving you is easy

Not to the truth
that I would offer
my very life

to help you
save you
resurrect you from
razor-sharp coral
you keep trying to
swim through

No, dying for you
would be easy

This silent passivity
being asked of me
is not

It’s not in my nature
to keep quiet
not fight for you

But remember
I know enough to know
that I could in fact
hack away at hardened
coral flesh til my
fingers scraped to bone
til my tears ran black
til it tore us both
in two

But what good would it do?

I know enough of sawing
souls in two to know
I can never do that
to you

But in my heart
I am not brave
and I am struggling to
live up to
my proud words

The Spirit says
I have to
otherwise
it is not love
and nothing short of Love
will do

I cling to that
when my fingers tremble
over keys I won’t press
calls I won’t make

when I burst into tears
at the mention of your name
when I recite poems
like prayers
when prayers are the only
Voice I’ve got
when the Void won’t
let me rest

I remind myself

Silence
is the love
you’ve asked for

And whether desert,
forest, sky, or sea
My Love
For You
Remains

True North
An eternal hoping
A resting place for all my
proud words

May

I keep thinking
I’ll make something meaningful
out of this
a little beauty for ashes

I walked the Appalachian Trial
this past weekend
crossed your road
J asked
“Do you know where you are?”
Yes
I’m in the wrong May

I wanted to go back
to the one where you
pointed out the path
for us
said
“The Appalachian Trail
runs through there”

I wanted to walk until
that road veered into
broken asphalt and dirt

I wanted to find last year’s
May there I wanted to do
what I wanted to do
then
cotton wrap your skin
fold you into Home

But I couldn’t get across
that double line
fast enough
I could’ve walked til
my lungs gave out
I can’t outrun
this May
fast enough

Jaymes Young:
screw you!
Forget Pandora too
I’m tired out being
cut out of my skin
every time I hear you
and Big Jet Plane
I wanna set fire
to the laptop
and hug the speakers

I rediscovered
Tori Amos
and
myself
in her randomness
I wish I could
scrape such beauty
from my consciousness

Lyrical fusions
tethered to nothing
then she’ll drop that
minor note wrap
God’s fingers around
my throat
plead
There must be something
here

I’ll sit through five minutes
of Baker, Baker nonsense
for one moment of raw truth

I’ll hold my breath through
God knows how many months
of silence
for
one
luminous truth
one I still love you

even if it’s just
an echo
bouncing off
the canyon
last May
was shoved into.

In Between

Today
I remembered when
a hand reached around
this door frame
warm fingers over mine
like I
was something exquisite
to touch

I remember when it didn’t hurt
this much to stare down a
crowd
wonder if I’d see you
there

When I didn’t dread
locking eyes with her
a face so like yours
now I can’t shrink into
corners far enough to
avoid
those
eyes

I wonder
how I was good
to anyone this
year
despite what they
tell me

Grief persists
whether or not the
blame is assignable

The Void
won’t fill
where only
You
fit

It is a heavy
hollowness
Congratulations
you’ve taught me
something new
How we hope
because we have to

How I’d just as soon
remove an organ
as recollections
of You

My love
for you
a voice box with
no lungs
still singing

Thoughts of you
elbow into
every quiet space
I pushpin them to
a thrice-opened wound

Too full of the loss
of You
to feel anything
but ocean floor
When I remember.

Declaration

I just want to go numb
be done with four-letter
words bearing weakness
so vividly
I just want opaque
withdrawal
out of body
astral extremity
no pressure points putting
pressure on you on sagging
limbs tired of hearts
too heavy to balance
too salted with my tears
too scalded with their
Unjustified jealousies

only ever

Love Out Standing Stranded
Love Opposite Simple Sincerity
Love Over-Stepping Self

Love Only Surviving Sin
Love Only Surviving Sorrow
Love Only Surviving Separation

Love Only Selling my SoulZen
Love Only Seeking Sanctuary

Love Only Searching my SoulBrother
Love Only Seeking my SpiritSon

Love Only Sewing Salvation
Love Only Saying Someone
LOVES YOU NO MATTER WHAT

Dally

Our inner bard only knows one song
One story we collect in our vocal chords
We got sidetracked the other day
talking about The Outsiders.
I had just seen the film and it moved me,
cause I know those kids.
You said, “Yeah. It’s one of
the two books I’ve actually read.
Y’know Dally? He’s my favorite.
And HE died!”
And all I could think was
Baby, you ARE Dally .
He’s boys like you, taught to
equate the fist with the size
of a man, when a dick’s all a
blow makes you
Taught to treat tears like soiled pants
something to feel ashamed of
You learned kindness exposes
your groin for the kick
Softness a foreign word you
can only decipher if the sex is bad
and I wonder how many tail tucks
it takes to turn a dog junk yard vicious
Or forget the taste of tenderness
Dally, is it too late to remind you
to watch a sunset?
You were once a Pony
so go on a treasure hunt for
the gold they stole from you
Cause thorns smothered your
kingdom while all the adults were
sleeping
And if they’d loved you at all, they
would have at least offered you
a spindle and a needle
I get it
Even Ponies can forget
the taste of a sunset
But there’s green in those
poems you spit
In that Lost Boy banner you wave
So pissed with those
confederate-shaped
rage-colored waves
carried on the wind you think
nobody notices
The mushroom cloud
The blood-stained boot
The fusion
I get it
Dally was Dally
His end
was always going to be
the same
But You
you were once a Pony
Til they broke your legs
& made you hard
But it is not to late
to go on a treasure hunt
And reclaim your sunset.

Evoke

Foreign Fields
you played in a cold cabin
five am on a
November morning
while my husband & brother
were hunting I
waited in darkness
to run the deer

in a green army jacket
and an old beach chair
staring at a still black
sky through pines & a
dirty windowpane

I could not cry

until I imagined
resting my head
against his collar bone
evoked gray eyes
messy hair
mischievous grin
I mourned
like morning was a
hope I’d never feel on
my skin again

November taught me
Loss
is a living death
the blade points inward
and if You hadn’t come back
I would have grieved you
eternally.

Cobain
you neon angel
we both smelled like
Panic in the days that
He who was dead
yet speaketh

it took trauma
in serrated edges
& night sweats to
bond us
we escaped into
Pearl Jam, Bronte &
backwoods streets

He gave me Mira, a locket
filled with his blood
mornings I’d hold my breath
on the other side of a
locked bedroom door wait
for him to wake up
my bed
was the safest place
for him to sleep
during the day
and he gave me a reason
to rise from it
someone I wanted
to be strong for

You
were my first true Phoenix
& we know what it means
to be beloved
brothers in arms
we proud two
me & you
we survived

Jon BJ
Oh my!
I used to kiss the
shiny paper tattoo
on your four sheet
foldout daydream
before I fell asleep
at night
& she & I
broke our hearts
over your fictional
seductions

idealizing the kind
of love neither of us
knew from fathers
had enough of disgust
or indifference

She & I were two
halves of a have-not
playing at placing
fairy tales in beautiful
bodies long after Barbies
got old

Sister
I want to tell you
that the love at least
was real
we carried it in stars
under our tongues

And Brandi
for the boy who
grew up too fast
and knows the lines
across my face

are only for him
for me
to tell them to

I struggle to find
words to evoke the one
I belong to
so long my second soul
that we move in single
breath

I don’t exist as I am
without you
oh yeah well it’s true
that I was made for you

Poetry Is

“Poetry is what happens when I can’t say what I want to someone I love.”—Nicole Blackman, NYC 1968.

And if you’re curious
to know
Love
ask me sometime.

Stranger Than Fiction

Sometimes I feel guilty about using poetry as my therapy. It’s a certain kind of exhibition, masquerading all this pain in the catalyst of art. But what else do I do with these words? I don’t know if this poem will move past this blog, or if I’ll just let it rest here. I don’t know if this is me “becoming the enemy instead of making peace with it”. Maybe I’ll hold back the truest pieces for myself, and God, and who they’re really meant for. Regardless, it’s my truth, and here goes:

Dad,

This week you gave me a story you wrote. To edit, you said. And I’m still reeling from the backhanded slap into the past you just dealt me. I gotta hand it to you, the element of surprise was pure artistry, and even as I devolve into the flaw of these rhymes and lines I hide behind, this much needed distance from the truth, like the one you orchestrate while re-writing our history into fiction. See, I’m trying to shield you from facts right now, and together we spiral down the rabbit hole that never seems to end, does it?

So here’s where the poem stops. Let’s have an end to it. In that story, you wrote about your ex, things I never knew and I was fascinated to see this whole new dimension of you, even to see the level of awe and reverence you gave Mom.  So then, you get to me and I’m all built up for some revelation. You say your ex brought you closer to God and Mom taught you devotion. What role did I play in your life?

Well, I was born with blond hair and blue eyes, and one time [lines cut out of respect that I don’t know if the recipients deserve, but it’s not about what they deserve, it’s about the respect I choose to show by cutting these lines] I spent the first fourteen years of my life as a puppet, a living doll, a hairdresser’s dummy, a show child, a talking, movable mannequin, a porcelain plaything, a living, breathing lie. I was a terrific actress, wasn’t I? In that Stepford daughter alter ego that you (and she–not you Mom!) forced me to be.

And even though I’ve long since resigned myself to the sad fact that the prototype is all [she] has ever wanted of the actual ME, at least I thought you and I were more than that. So this week, reading your story, knowing that my value as a daughter, as a human being, in your eyes, lies in the lies…Well, what do I even say to THAT, Dad?

I’m sorry for you? Furious with you? I’m here to declare that I cut those puppet strings long ago, and it’s no use trying to fit me back into that plastic pink Mattel packaging. My heart has grown too old and too brave to fit anymore. You and she have taught me that the ugliness of truth is preferable to your fiction.

But you’re sliding back into the glitter with her. Crawling in the cobwebs cluttered with  the pieces you and she invented. It makes me feel as though I’ve failed you, and any proud words I’ve spoken about how far we’ve come are sticking to me now, like spun silk. I won’t reinvent the truth, or even tell it in its entirety. Maybe because I’m like you, I’ll only remember from here on out the pieces I want to remember:

When I was three or four I played the drums while my dad sang Born to be Wild and played the guitar.

My dad taught me the right way to wash and wax a car.

Dad used to play kickball with us.

I used to watch Rambo and Westerns with my dad.

Dad’s the reason I know Dylan, Hendrix, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Zeppelin, Deep Blue, and Kansas.

I love hearing Dad’s stories about growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.

Dad always tells the best stories.

See, that wasn’t so hard. Was it?

Hereditary

We are the sum of
absent parts too fractured
for our fathers to pass
on to us

pride & hugs
admissions of love
they harbor like empty
perfume bottles long
bereft of scent I remember
what it meant to live like
a squatter in my own home

welcoming my brother into
the bedroom I’d amp up the
speakers when screams
punctured the walls in stereo

when burning precious gas
dollars down back roads with
no center line or sunsets in
an abandoned cemetery felt
like the only freedoms I was
loathed enough to know
before my absence was missed
in an otherwise confined
existence my presence a
tolerated mandatory sentence

I daily wondered how someone
so disgusted with me
could care whether or not I was
around

Your generation is not the first
to seek an amputee home
though transience has become
a pathogen passed through the
water each year the mortality rate
grows younger & I wonder
what remission might be missing
if the wounds were only allowed
to fester a bit longer

My feet trod through
land mines of a battle
I was drafted in I
contemplated pastor’s basements
and then-boyfriend’s parents’
spare bedrooms
rather than wait for the misstep
I thought would solidify the sum
of all those fractured parts I knew
the breaking would be inevitable

But I waited.
I stayed.

You know, when the blast came
I was too numb to feel it.
All those flesh wounds hieroglyphed
each what, where, when
But I remember him being
more stunned by my apathy than
I was when the gingerbread house
caved in

By then I felt neither love
nor hate for the man who had
damaged me so much
the blessed coma of indifference
was a victory

And if that was the end of my story
I’d say to you
–run–
run & never look back

Instead I urge you Love
–stay–
go back
Live to fight another day.

In the short term was
cease fire coldness
his first “I love you”
felt as foreign & intimate
as a rape
it’s been fifteen years
since that date and I’ve
risen from those ashes to
say:

There’s Healing in
understanding our fathers
and that Mending is
–Necessary–
cause ghosts breed monsters
and we have to see them
for what they are
to keep ourselves from
slipping into that impalpable
grey likeness of hereditary
brokenness

Though their stories are dissimilar
at the core of our fathers is the same
guarded barricaded hunger
wanting to be loved but not knowing
how to give what they haven’t received
those instincts long buried with the dead
& with the rejectors & with the ones who
kicked them out of houses, made them
feel their lack of worth was a brand
under their skin they could never wash
out, these men emanate hurt
like steam rising from
asphalt

Nothing can resonate from a heart
iron-walled in, only if it be that
Pavlovian rejection, they do not realize
the imbalance of criticisms they pay us
with no praise or the silence we take as indifference
Pinter moments are all they have to offer us
but we weren’t taught to read their eyes like Braille
and they never recognized that the work of their hands
fashions a mirror symmetry of brokenness

Love, I’ve looked at your dad and seen the
kindness he wishes he could give you
buried beneath that rough veneer I fear
his asking you to stay was the closest to
an admission of love as he could give you

There’s a heart breaking for you under all
the inner shit he can’t claw through to
be what you so desperately need him to be

Know how I know?
A week before my wedding, my dad
threatened to kick me out for the millionth
time, all because he found a dirty cup in my room
and on the day of my wedding, my brother came home
and found him sobbing. To this day, on the rare occasion
that I get an ” I love you” it’s delivered with the reticence
of a dog waiting to be kicked. it’s been hard for me to
parent love to someone who’s been animal wounded
and tried to pass that heirloom on to me

but my hatred, and numbness, and hurt
are healing over. I wish Dad’s would but
he’s still trodding land mines, shouldering the
burden of hereditary curses on tired shoulders

So is your dad
because deep down our fathers don’t believe
they deserve our love
so they covet theirs greedily

But Love,
I tell you all this
because your tender spirit is
at that same precipice
and I’m filling up the emptiness
with true stories & fretting &
tears & prayers because

At this crossroad
We have one of two ends

Make peace with the enemy
Or become them.

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