There’s a camera in my soul,
you told me over Chinese and
too many bottles of wine.
It records the bad things I do,
and God will watch the film when I die.
What about the good things?
I asked, more concerned about
the leftovers than your immortal soul.
You smiled and touched my cheek.
Sweet boy, you said softly.
Later, we stumbled into bed
and told jokes in the dark until
you fell asleep, breathing deep
and slow, like the rhythm of a dark
ocean I knew one day would drown me.
I bloom darkly at your words.
Such nice things you have
on your tongue, silver and
gold that sink like liquid into the
mouths of my hungry children–
these thoughts are my children,
you see, the flesh has all but
abandoned me for better coasts
and cleaner air and heavier gravity–
but in this holy space of darkness,
petals like forgiveness float in the
breezes of memory where we walked
slowly together after a sad day
and searched all night for your fear.
“You were bleeding in your sleep
again last night,” you tell me as
the sun crests over hills so blue
they look unreal, under a sky
as dark as God’s disappointment.
I look down at the crimson sheets.
Your face is a mask of quiet thoughts
and concern, stained red, and I feel
myself falling back asleep as my
flesh opens again to mourn.
I’m deeply distrustful, and often terrified of, water.
The Pretend River Flatters Me, Plots My Demise
“Did you think of me as someone handsome?”
I asked, “someone capable, strong, with vibrant eyes,
quick, sure smiles, and hardy handshakes?”
“I certainly do,” Old Man River said and winked,
its banks rife with flowers and redolent with miracles,
its rocks glittering under a made-for-TV sunset.
“I competed in the Depressive Olympics,” I said, “and I medaled
in Free-Floating Anxiety and Abandonment Issues.
When they played the national dirge, I hid.”
“That’s the saddest thing I’ve heard,” Old Man River said.
and I know from sad. People dump their tears in me.
I’m more salt than freshwater at this point, did you know that?
“I often wring myself out like a murderer who regrets killing,”
I told Old Man River (which was masquerading…it was actually
just a creek with a over-sized ego and a penchant for flooding).
“You’re a golden man, and I’m deeply in love with you,”
the pretend river sang, but I didn’t believe one gurgling word,
because water lies, and it waits for the right moment to drown us.
I should use this as my writer’s bio.
I’m scared of leaves on Sunday,
and egg whites chastise me often.
There is exotic fruit in my backyard,
which is an unknown planet.
I made of video of my time
in the womb, but it did not go viral.
My core body temperature
is hotter than your wife.
I can’t understand colors,
so I call everything I see black.
Still on a writing break (for the most part) but the opening lines to this short poem kept running through my mind, so I sat down for a moment to see what would come of it.
You want to breathe new
life into your past, rewrite
the flash fiction of your youth
into something longer and deeper.
It doesn’t work that way, I tell you
and you smile like Cleopatra
before Marc Antony, before
she thought the only way out
was to hold an asp to her breast.
I’ve been looking through old journals lately and found the first draft of the poem below. I thought I’d posted it before, but it seems I didn’t.
I lie to my atoms,
telling every electron
that you’re still close,
not a million stars away.
Fooling my system is easy,
but I’m still hungry for your pain,
the sky of confusion in your eyes,
the quiet hurt on your tongue.
If you slept with me again,
you’d find my angles and lines
are knives ready for cutting,
my first blood ballet.
But you’re kind: you’d never
sell me to the Traveling People
who would replace my fluids
with bitter paste so I would never
understand water again.
Come back to me,
my mysterious cloud.
Let us eat blackness together.