Day 20: Gas Leak, Revisited

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Gas Leak, Revisited

I was stuck in a country music bar on base
due to a gas leak; don’t ask, I didn’t get it
either, but our instructor bought us a round
of Jack ‘n cola to pass the time, and damn, bruh,
that shit tasted like tasty-ass smoke, ya knamean?

I was hooked on brandy at the time, but that changed
‘cause that Jack Daniels tasted like brandy with balls,
but when I told my classmate, he was like, nah, son
you should try this, and he fitted me with bourbon,
and damn man, it was like all my shit locked in place,
the air felt right, the gal behind the bar flirted,
the lady next to me almost got me dancing
and if we’d all died in an explosion that night,
I’d have been pretty chill with how chill things turned out.

But we didn’t die, the gas leak was cleaned-up good,
and my homey who showed me that dope-ass new drink
dropped me at the airport to meet wifey in-time,
and yeah, he probably shouldn’t’ve been driving,
it was fucked-up, but we got away with it, and
that’s not really the point I’m trying to get at;

I mean, when I was trying new drinks and flirting
with women I never would’ve met otherwise,
up to that point in my young life, I never felt
so… you know… alive… like I was finally here,
and all that woke shit came to a dead-ass ending
as soon as wifey flew back in from Chicago,
like, the vibe was gone, the warning signs were right there,
but I just said fuck it and moved on, making sure
I added bourbon to next month’s shopping budget.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 20 prompt: write a poem that “talks”; that is based in normal, contemporary spoken language.

I typically try to use cuss words moderately in my poetry and within context; never for “cheap heat” or shock value, but when it comes to my normal every-day dialogue, I cuss like a… well… you should know by now.

Note: I know I skipped yesterday. I was drained, so I gave myself permission to take a break. I plan on making-up yesterday’s prompt, though.

Day 18: Questioning an April Shower (Elegy for Momma)

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Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

Questioning an April Shower (Elegy for Momma)

There was not a hint of sun today.

It began with the kind of rain
that made me change my shoes

a healthy April shower needed
for continuity of respiration

as trees kneed saturated soil
roots rooting for their share

new leaves are budding, color
restored to pre-bloomed florae

vivid hues contrast with a heavy sky

unending clouds spill themselves
rolling in from faded sepia photos

I wonder if you’re enjoying rain now
just as I am, about two-thousand miles
and the rain-soaked earth between us

a miracle of technology at hand
and I couldn’t retrace my soggy steps
to you even if I tried, but I hope
you have a good view of a budding oak

I hope the rain humbles blossoms’ heads
showing you proper respect,

attracting good bumble-bee company
for reproduction and continuity of
respiration, for as long as this rain

is doing more service for you,
you who can no longer feel it,

as long as it does more for us
than forcing me into dryer,
sturdier shoes, then I ask you,

how can I not be content with it?
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 18 prompt: “write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.”

I almost skipped this prompt. Not because I didn’t find the prompt interesting, but because I did, and yet I struggled mightily. I’ve lost count of the elegies I’ve written for folks I lost, but I’ve never tried to keep the scope of my loss contained within the tangible world before.

If I’m dissatisfied with my resulting poem, it’s only because I had to restrain myself from bleeding wailing abstractions everywhere. This challenged me in ways I never envisioned, and I’m glad for it.

Day 17: Ménage (What Comes to Light)

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

Ménage (What Comes to Light)

I am the blackened
canvas where the
flexed and slackened
sinewed ghosts
of your regrets
come to disrespect
the light by making
reckless love to us
each night you dare.

I lovingly share
draping myself
over you both
countless times,
embracing you
and she – whoever
she may be
for I’m not choosy
and lack any
discerning light

– I embrace all,
lie and truth,
blessings and guessing
earnest grinding and
deceitful pressing;

but you only
ever noticed me
during the lessons
the lie sessions,
the self-deceptions,
the indigo-black
lack of reflection

contrasting with
the random gleaming
revealing moonbeam
showing coveted
curved, selected
mounds of flesh
waiting to be blessed,
devoured in secret.

I am both cloak
and receptacle
of our naked
sweat-soaked spectacle.

Only I recall
how frequently
and sweetly you
enjoyed your fleeting
secrets as I took
you both, erasing
your sordid twisted
tryst from view of all
but just us three in
the menagerie,

but don’t fret
on our vignette,
regret is staved-off
just as long as you
can let the triad
of our ballad be,
refraining from your
banishing me
from our night
by reaching
for that light.

Take what she gives
in my shadow;
fondle us both
as you fumble-grip
her hips within
our colorless sin.

It matters little
to me, for when
the lamp begins
to bring you clarity
to see your folly,

I will be long gone,
leaving you to mourn,
facing this self-made
quandary in solemn
solitary.

I’m just the night
who loves carefree;
what comes to light
ain’t up to me.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 17 prompt: “write a poem that similarly presents a scene from an unusual point of view.”

Day 16: Poetry as Visible Steam

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Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Poetry as Visible Steam

That iconic church
catching fire
is not upsetting.

Firebombing
less-iconic black churches
is not upsetting.

Random hate crimes
against minorities
is not upsetting.

A murder of another
based on who they choose to love
is not upsetting.

Having a government leader
with no empathy, no tact,
no impulse control, no shame,
no fundamental grasp of science,
not even the service of
an official proofreader
or spellchecker
is not upsetting.

Passing the tipping-point
of human-aided
catastrophic climate change
with a collective shrug
and a doubling-down
of business-as-usual
is not upsetting.

What is upsetting
is the growing numbness
incinerating our
collective superstructure.

What is upsetting
is realizing that faith in humanity
was firebombed decades
before observation,
like a lobster having no idea
they’re slowly being
boiled alive
until there’s steam.

What is upsetting
is our growing detachment
from the humane.

What is upsetting
is catching yourself wondering
what the victim did to provoke
such violent hatred
before remembering
that all they did was
have the audacity
to exist.

What is upsetting
is that a hilariously-terrifying,
poisonous, treasonous,
wood-rot-brained,
dementia-demigod
is executing the will
of a percentage of people
I call neighbor.

What is upsetting is receiving
such an oppressive influx
of terrible things,
that the nervous system
reflexively shuts down
to protect itself.

What is upsetting is knowing that,
even after adjusting cosmic perspective,
knowing that no one is coming
to save you from yourselves,
compelling you to root for the
sweet, sweet probability of a
random extinction meteor.

What is upsetting
is slowly realizing that
nothing is upsetting anymore.

Not even when the steam is visible.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 16 prompt: “write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane.” Again, I took license and adjusted the scale, as I’m running dry on mundane topics and I’m a bit sleep-deprived and grumpy.

Also written for Real Toads’ day 16 prompt: “poetry as an insurgent art”.

Day 15: Raw Fuel

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Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

Raw Fuel

I see darkness in you.
Rude of you to deny it;
to deny me.
Dark of you even;
to deceive yourself,
believing in the lies you live in,
to go about your merry day
merrily played-out, bottled-up
in your pretense, swaddled,
detached-lensing
pretending the surface
is glassy-smooth, beyond blemish,
denying the leviathan lurking
the trenches beneath the blue
waiting for you to slip,
losing tenuous grip
on what is socially acceptable.

I know what you want.
Where you want to be touched.
The falsehoods you claim to crave.
The shrieking, turning yourself
inside-out to find meaning
when no one’s looking.
You’re shook,
trying to shake me
off your scent.

Your intent; you want
to relinquish the burden to me,
but fear that I’ll devour you
lastly and entirely.
Pass the mic to me
and carry on, carrion,
cause I don’t eat the dead
unless I made the kill,
and you’re still glassy-eyed,
dead inside when they call us
animal, let me show them
the beast they should fear
and feast upon them all,
blending them into a
slurry of regrets,
downing their dregs
with a final mighty gulp
and actually never mind,

we just had a protein shake
and cheesy crackers;

I guess we were just hungry…
we’re good…

for now.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 15 prompt: “write your own dramatic monologue.”

Day 14: Scent of Roses

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Scent of Roses

Lounging unhurriedly
at the confluence
of Willamette
and Columbia,

Portland is
a confluence
of ordinary
and wondrous
non-sequiturs.

An unofficial jewel
whose unofficial jewel
is probably Obsidian Stout,

a local import.

She is so unpretentious
that she seems extremely pretentious,

but she don’t give a fuck what you think
and she’s too kind to tell you

unless you get pushy.

She will bum a square outside a club,
or lend you one if she can spare it,

listening to your dreams,
sharing her own in-kind

before retreating inside
when her song is played and then

her stage name is called as
you slowly realize that
you’re now kindred spirits
with an exotic dancer

erotically peeling away
her layers, down to where
imagination meets
pale, toned, imperfectly
beautiful reality.

If she ever read this,
she’d laugh and be like,
“Really? Chill, dude.
It’s just stripping.”

Her indomitable spirit flies free,
but she brokers no jackassery or
disrespect of any kind. If you touch

her without permission, security
will escort you out, but after being

kind enough to help find your missing
teeth and stop the bleeding. As a spark-plug,

Portland doesn’t scrape the sky,
but she doesn’t need to;
she gets plenty high enough.

At the peak of her bustle,
she doesn’t impose her will on you,

but if you show an
inkling of interest
or curiosity,

she’ll lean into you
with a wink and sneer that asks,
“well what are you waiting for, old age?”

You won’t recall what street you were on,
or what landmarks you saw, or the wonders
of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

or how the roses smelt
(or if you prefer, smelled,
for they won’t check grammar
off the clock).

You won’t remember many
remarkable physical attributes,
though notable ones are celebrated,
eclectic, and prolific,

but you’ll remember how you felt
while you were in her.

You may have winced or
groaned at that last innuendo,

but she would’ve barely been
bothered to shrug before

either ignoring
or matching your lewdness,
depending on the weather.

Oh, and it rains a lot,
which is clearly a
wondrous kind of
ordinary.
***

Written for Real Toads’ day 14 prompt: The Streets (“Where is your favorite town or city to take a stroll in?”)

Also written for NaPoWriMo’s day 14 prompt: write a poem that incorporates homophones, homographs, and homonyms, or otherwise makes productive use of English’s ridiculously complex spelling rules and opportunities for mis-hearings and mis-readings.

Obviously, I wasn’t really into the NaPoWriMo prompt, as I didn’t do too much with wordplay. Perhaps I was swayed by Portland’s rebellious, counterculture spirit.

Day 13: Sageing

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Sageing

Three in the morning
an abundance of silence and shadows
I feel her absence
as if wholeness was hollowed by specter
sleep eluding her
leaving her fitful, alone with unknown
she left me to dream
unknowing dreams could tap into the black

Unmindful of demons that fill our voids
she left me bereft
earth’s shadow settled in, cascading chills
of losing her warmth
leaving creaks and groans of untended beams
as I tossed and turned
predawn creaks grew near, pressing into me
I felt her return

It was half-past four
her presence banished spirits to their rest
I snuggled her good
foreboding emptiness filled with refrain
I cooed as she snored
the cow jumped over the moon as she set
or was it reversed?
and we slumbered, all seduced by moondust

Predawn passed, a sleepy butterfly-kiss
I awoke at six
to birds serenading our growing light
to an empty bed
our night history told in a pale glare
she had fled again
her demons getting her goat, she got gone
snuck off as I dozed

I whined her awake
feeling unjustly abandoned to night
asked why she left me
to the tyrannical whims of unknown
twice in the same night
though I never felt her leave me again
she gave me a look
leaving us both in puzzled bemusement

Her next words went goose-bumping down my spine
“I never came back”
then who shielded me from wraiths while I slept?
who muted my fears
amassing stillness as I clung to her?
she gave me a shrug
as we took stock of all the empty rooms
“I’m sageing the house.”
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 13 prompt: “write a poem about something mysterious and spooky!”

Challenge accepted.

Day 12: You Are Here

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Photo by Yash Raut on Unsplash

You Are Here

on the surface
of an unremarkable rock
hurtling through vast emptiness
in countless relative terms,

one of which –
along with seven rocky
and gassy siblings –
circumnavigates
an unremarkable sphere
of super-heated plasma

– one of countless
sibling-stars clustered
within one of countless galaxies
within numerous
super-clusters of galaxies
within the observable universe.

You lack significance
to even register as dull
as far as the cosmos is concerned,

but you are the cosmos
and you are my cosmos
smelling of lavenders
found only in our corner
of the cosmos

and you taste of honey
made by bees
who defend their queen
nearly as well
as my will
to protect you
and make you laugh,

and upon hearing your laughter,
there probably won’t be
a butterfly effect
that destroys Tokyo,

but as vibrations
of your laugh
met the membrane
of my eardrum,

my heart skipped several beats,
so you shortened my life
by fractions of fractions
of fractions of seconds,

which is far too insignificant
a measurement to fret about.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 12 prompt: “write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it. Alternatively, what would it mean to you to give away or destroy a significant object?”

Okay, so I cheated a little bit and shifted the scale ever so slightly, and I didn’t write about a thing I own. Thirty days of poetry is a lot, you know?

I’m already scared enough of boring folks.

I worry about my own words being too dull for me to write about actual dull things. I’m beginning to get sick of my own poetic voice and writing about my favorite pair of holey underwear just wasn’t going to cut it today.  

Day 11: Ordinary Origin

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Photo by Manyu Varma on Unsplash

Ordinary Origin

Want seduced Ignorance,
creating a singular silence,
a deafening heartbeat
that grew stronger,
becoming aware
of the barrier between
internal and external.

Displacement
from the external
yielded wondrous
observational treasures
greedily gobbled up
in cold, detached manner
until external forces
compelled the barrier
to break,
forcing the two entities
separated by
winter moonbeams
to mingle in
direct sunlight.

This new existence,
as frightening as it was fantastic,
compelled the once cocooned
to battle instinctive nature
to hide and protect
perceived vulnerabilities
while simultaneously
striving, straining to
compile and catalogue
countless new
external wonders
rapidly and thoroughly
as if time itself
were the enemy.

His mother
named him
after his father.

A perfectly ordinary name
for such an imperfect
ordinary birth.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 11 prompt: write a poem of origin (not just location, but emotionally, spiritually). I think this covers the essentials. I thought about going big and bombastic, but I felt that keeping it simple would be the more complete approach.

Day 10: Make This Work

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Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash

Make This Work

Once content with affixing my fate to another’s will,
blissfully ignorant of the destination, gleefully
glib along the journey, suddenly I found myself
cruising along the gash of rainforest between

the Olympics and the Cascades, within a sea of green
and grey and greying, as if awakening from a dream
a persistent, insidious dream born from the mind
of another person, incapable of acting upon it.

We sped by the soggy world on a grey asphalt ribbon
as I became aware of the world spinning right past me

I didn’t choose to be here – not directly, anyway –
but I cheated death in relentless pursuit of someone
else’s dream destination; I’d forfeited my own path.

I was stranger to myself; ignorant of my own power.

There’s a saying around here; if you don’t like the weather,
wait five minutes, and then kill yourself. It was meant to be
darkly amusing, but after waking to my wasting of
my twenties, nestled within unending wet wintery darkness

of the United States’ armpit, waiting to die, the humor
was long lost on me, leading to a glacial resolution

Gradually, one resolute, measured drip at a time,
I began waking, slowly thawing my dreamy ice-prison,
taking full measure, exerting my will upon my own fate

The sunset pierced the clouds to the west,
bathing the left side of my face in warmth,
producing a double-rainbow to the east
as rain continued to pelt our shuttle.

Mamma told me when I was a child
that sunshowers meant that the Devil
was fighting with his wife. That visual
filled me with fear, but I dismissed it
as I got older. Now I’m not so sure.

“I already love it here!” my wife said,
beaming ear-to-ear. I remained silent.

“I love the rain! Isn’t it amazing?”

“No,” I said, “it’s not. But give me some time
to adjust. I think I can make this work for me.”
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 10 prompt: write a poem that starts from a regional phrase describing a weather phenomenon. I took some license with this one. I didn’t start the poem with the phrase, but I included two of them in my poem, so hopefully that makes up for my deviation.