Conversation (poem)

Conversation

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.

Nocturne (poem)

Nocturne

“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.

The Pretend River Flatters Me, Plots My Demise (poem)

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.

About Me (poem)

I should use this as my writer’s bio.

About Me

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.

Before (poem)

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.

snake

clearly not an asp (image credit)

Before

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.

Comparing Hands (poem)

I’ve been on a writing break since around Christmas and am just now easing back into daily writing, editing, and testing the creative waters. Instead of writing, I’ve been focusing on composing, studying music theory, and learning how to tune a piano. I’m hoping to turn the latter into a career; I’m done with traditional classroom teaching, both on the public and college level. 19 years was enough. I’m still teaching English to Chinese students online, but that doesn’t feel like teaching at all…it’s more like encouraging.

Anyway, here’s my first poem of 2019. 

Comparing Hands

You tell me fix my hands, like they’re broken,
as if they’re useless stems I just happened
to be born with, not finely-tuned instruments
for giving love, back-rubs, applying pressure,
or anointing, whichever the situation calls for.

You pretend your hands are perfect when, in truth,
they’ve written reams and reams of lies,
and still you brag that they helped set the stars,
soothed the earth’s waters until they calmed,
the record of your work preserved for heaven’s sake,

to make the angels scratch their luminous heads
and wonder how a creature such as yourself merited
favor, taking secrets bets on who you slept with,
which principality or power you blew to in order
to win cosmic favor, to be the fairest in all the land,

and all that shit that fills fairy tales…but this is life
on life’s terms, the hard and the harder, the blood
and the eye that sees the blood, the scream and the ear
that hears the scream, and all the while you doze
in a patch of sun, the world burning down around you.

6:03 PM in Hell (poem)

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the last few months, but I still write when I can. I wrote this piece during office hours before teaching a freshman composition class. I’m glad I can write just about anywhere.

6:03 PM in Hell

She rolls over in the darkness
and asks, “What time is it in Hell?”
I fumble with my watch, still set
to Hell time, and say, “6:03 PM.”

She’s quiet for a while, then says,
“I guess they don’t do daylight
savings, do they?” I sigh, pull
the covers up, and answer, “No.”

It’s so like her to ask about my
experiences there, in the middle
of the night, just as I’m starting a dream
that has nothing to do with the damned,

screams, or eternal anguish…and now,
it’s all that fills my mind as I flip the pillow
to the cool side, grateful for having escaped
but bearing scars I’d rather not discuss.