poems

 

Billboards

Listen.
Somewhere you’ll hear it. You’ll see it too.

It seems animosity fuses up through the pavement outside,
Seeps through every crevice and crack in the sidewalk,
Crawling (curling) like moss around the toes of its inhabitants.
You can see if you look hard;
The faint mark of judgment’s slime on the soles of your feet.
It’s there.
It burns if it touches your skin, that hatred.
It does.
And I tried to scrape the acrimony from the zipper of my boots;
But it clings with parasitic vigor to mobile tangibility.
And it stains, then, the fingers that fumbled with the zip,
And it coats, then, the eyes that are rubbed by that hand,
And it spreads, then, by the tainted perception of judgment
That did not exist ten minutes before.
It burns.

Look, then, and see
The judgment discoloring the walls behind our portraits,
And the tablecloths under our coffee mugs,
And the hollowness of our bottom lips as we argue.

Its funny, but I wish I could raise my blemished hands,
And stow away on the 12 o’clock bus to the city,
And paint over every billboard with the colors
Flowing idly behind my skin.

I’d strike and strew, for what it’s worth,
And break the streak of widespread epidemic with colors
As diverse as the size of our shoes,
Or the shape of our eyes,
Or the depth of our bras,
Or the reasoning behind our actions.

Because, those are what we are, aren’t they?
Colors, under it all.
Claw through the thickened animosity of public perception,
Words exchanged that never leave,
Labels: self acclaimed and misinterpreted,
And you’ll find colors.
Look.

UNTITLED

You are speechless upon waters encompassing all that is UNTITLED
Until word strikes your lip with the severity of a name,
Until you are no longer balancing with uncertainty
Along the lucid brink an ambiguous wave,
And finally, finally you feel rough concrete
Against your toes,
And fall back unto the welcoming security
Of solid ground.

Faith seeps its way between your widened arms
And spread finger
And, though lip refuses to depart with lip,
There is a smile painted upon silent flesh.
And nestled warmly within the crooked silver of apparent salvation,
— That is this ground –
With your head cradled by cushion as inviting
As that white velvet on your hands,
— That is your trust –
Is the veiling, deceptive ignorance
Of faith without question,
Submission without credibility,
Absolution without consideration of truth through empathy,
For if seven billion people kneed this earth
Balancing upon their shoulders
A block of stone perception,
We will never grow into the harmonious fluidity
That we have potential to become.

We will instead collide; continue to collide,
Finding on ourselves another corner of shattered flesh
Every morning in the mirror.

Only when you push yourself off your back,
And squint your eyes,
And peer around that silver of blind faith
That has become your only reality
Do you recognize those curious, uncertain waters
In vast proportion to stable ground.
Only when you open your mouth
And question the tangibility of a label
Can you find faith in inquisition.
The culture of the unknown is visible to our pride
Only when you find the strength to break the silence.

Who They Are

This poem is dedicated to the children at the Bleshman Regional Day School, most of whom have severe cases of cerebral palsy. A couple other students and I, through a program at school, connected with these children through music and dance; it was unbelievable how immediate the initial unease dissipated and how strong the bond that followed was. During our last visit, they gave us colorful bracelets they had made.

Empty faces, first, empty;
An assorted cluster of empty faces
Herded between jarring, walled blankness.
It seemed as though the blankness crept
Between the creases of the bricks,
Molding hints of empty and a blankness worthy of my ambivalent mind,
Coating each inch of the walls
And floors
And ceiling
With the rigid inveteracy of silence.

Empty faces, first, empty;
Until SONG dug its nails into the calloused stillness
And carved until it could peek through the hole it had dug–
Until the warmth of its breath melted away the remainder–
Until the saccharine life of the guitar
Reached translucent fingers from behind the seventh fret
And opened not their eyes by my own.

Honeyed SONG seeping through their lifted fingers,
Echoing in every corner of their prisoning chests.
Behind legs that could not run,
Behind arms that could not rise,
Behind lips that neglect the release of words amassed
Just under their tongue;
Behind the iron lock of distorted childhood
Are the children with whom we interlock our hands,
And submit to the willful motion of SONG,
And allow our eyes, ignorant by the blinding tar of normalcy,
To recognize that these children
Are as colorful as the colors woven around our wrists.

Denial

Denial sits upon the crown of my head
Bathed in course, satirical waters
Of ambivalent teenhood.

Its bony wing rests above my ear
Its back arched along the curve of my skull,
Craning my neck to sustain the weight
Of the denial I so yearn to suppress.

And yet
Its calf dangles just under my brown,
Concealing the truth
Woven into my eyes
By my own fingers and thread.
“How I wish you could perceive my handiwork;
How I wish I could capture your reaction
To the multicolored string in my gaze
Dangling down the brink of my eye
And darkened by the river of tears to my foot’s heel.”

And yet,
Before my denial’s blanketing calf,
Clothed by the mistrust of ambiguous glares of judgment,
Falsity is truth,
And my truth is a fairytale.
And to all outside my colorful gaze,
This paradox is clarity
And perhaps, love, you are the writer.

Questions Behind Glass

Cradled by the surging foam of wave’s brink,
Glass crawls out of the clarity
As if in fear of its own evanescence,
As evanescent and everlasting
As the ocean itself.

Spears the dampened powder, it does,
A softness shadowed with each sporadic breath of a sea,
Foaming by the mouth of incomparable genius,
A wisdom and insanity
Sustaining the very feet of this earth.

Regardless and nonetheless
And with all words of molded neglect,
Jagged bits of glass thrust themselves
Into illusive welcome, a powdered sin.
And heat’s merciless palm
Cups the lingering beads of genius
And INHALES
Until enigma is merely
Glass in sand.

And yet, reflected within the tinted clarity,
Under grime of an hour’s homelessness
And blood of a runner’s toes,
Is the glistening hint of a lost brilliance,
Willingly sacrificed
Through fear of fate.

It is not the ocean I fear.
Nor is the glass beneath which I hide
For whom my tears are shed.
It is rather the question that surges the waves,
That is the catalyst for an ocean’s foaming lips,
That is the shadow that coats
All it engulfs
In its entirety:

Who are we behind the glass?
And who remain within the sea?

Words

Close yours eyes
And stroke the vacant breath in which you are planted
And enfold both fists ‘round the first letters [you] find.
Gnaw into your palm, they will,
Grinding your callused flesh between points of A and curves of U
Beads of violet blood drawn by the biting words
So carelessly combined.

Perhaps your fingers [will] rain purple gore
And assail the square in which you stand
Perfectly
Meticulously
At its heart,
Square scarred by the lavender trailing down the tilt of the surface
Under steadfast feet.

Perhaps purple storm will pool ‘tween your toes
And soak words that once sprang with vigor
From the tip of your thumb.
And with a god’s prayer hidden ‘tween the last two letters
Let its jagged edge dissolve into lavender silence
And let it [never] again strike the crumbling cheek of a woman.

Perhaps, with every liquefied word,

With every empty prayer from a soundless god,

The violet will rise to encircle your motionless calf.

Let it rise, my love, let it rise.
To the hip with quivering disbelief
To the palm slick with the residue of your words
To the lip that [know]s not the power of its speech

Perhaps
It is you
Your words will silence.

Join Our Brigade

Take hold of each thumb
And grasp until the snap of its thin spine
Meets your carnivorous ear.
Dig each nail into transparent flesh
To finally feed upon the soundless melody lying beneath.
Parasitic, your eyes engorge the bitter music
Leaking from each wound.

A thousand voices build below the arch of my brow.
And I perspire the words that I am unable to breathe.
So I breathe foreign screams
From a thousand foreign lips
That crawl from my grimace and,
With pity, caress my speechless cheek.
They await, in unity, the joining of my tongues cry
To their brigade of invisible grief.

And still, blanketing my tongue
Is yet another corps of sorrow’s sullen regiment,
Suited in camouflage
And cocking their guns in synchronized lament.

My broken thumbs and torn flesh
Embody the voices of a thousand men,
Bleed the music shed from a thousand mourning fingers.
And yet, my tongue is void of its own cry,
Jailed behind barring lips of silence.
I pray, in mute grief,
Keep hold of me.
Bend the limbs that once gloried themselves in song
Just to reassure my quiet ears
That they are my thumbs you are breaking.

Bled Fourth Below

The rich jade of my pen
Bleeds unto the page lying dormant four below.
Bloodied ink stalking line and curve,
Scarring blank faces with staining bullets,
Evermore tattooed
With the burden of my words.

And my pen weeps with murdering immortality,
And my tears bleed with the ink that I cannot use.

Now I slip between each word,
And dodge each mistake,
And feel my way blindly
Through slaughtered legacies, cool ink blacking my fingertips
Until I reach the fourth below.

Faint mark of a letter here,
Transparent promise of a meaning there,
That is no longer a promise, but a cold truth
And no longer a cold truth, but a raped reality.
A forced meaning through tired hands
Unto white innocence.

Two more kills and three more pages
Until the fervent flame
Raging to be written
Is, too, murdered
By the truth she induced.

Excused

Impulse sheds from shaded eyes of excuse
Into excused actions by an impulsive hand.
Five fingers, palm, and wrist
Armored by transparent latex that peels
Only when caught dripping poisonous red,
And, with tears on paper,
Confesses dysfunctional restraint
And, with this,
Fulfills a crime done and uncommitted.

But there is residue between fingers
And fallacy in tears directly hitting the page
As if the mark mistakenly left, seemingly all too deliberate,
Is false.

See, silence is awaiting death
And truth is pulling the trigger
And staining the innocence you forced yourself to believe.
But deceit is simply stalling the inevitable,
A debt
That only gains interest over time.

Because one day,
Wide eyes will strike upon the hint of crimson on thumb
And, only then will you finally understand
The truth
In a
Single
Tear.

Only Meaning

Malicious teeth hook into the curve of my words
And drag my hollow value down the gilded page of my book.
Foreign pens and malevolent verses scrape upon the face of mine,
Inaudible whispers beat upon my ink’s ear,
Soundless and yet
Just barely understood.
The strike by the lip of the astonishing
Just barely felt.
Twelve, or four, six, or two
Scrutinizing eyes
Shred my meaning from my back,
Stripped the purpose coating my flesh
And deserted me bare
To penetrating, dilated eyes of unforeseen critics
From behind the glamorous veil of their likeability.
Amounting to what?

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