Pity the Pitiless

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Photo by Peter Lewis on Unsplash

Pity the Pitiless

You will never know true love
You, who weighs all things by gains
You’re left a wealth bereft of
Substance and joy, your void reigns

You, who weighs all things by gains
Born into meaningless means
Substance and joy, your void reigns
Stranger to spring’s renewed greens

Born into meaningless means
What is sin, you call a win
Stranger to spring’s renewed greens
The want you chase? Frail and thin

What is sin you call a win
You’re left a wealth bereft of
The want you chase; frail and thin
You will never know true love

You’re left a wealth bereft of
Compassion; lost, you taunt fate
You will never know true love
Your flock divides, wielding hate

Compassion lost, you taunt fate
Lies, scapegoats fuel your sad boast
Your flock divides, wielding hate
Both them and you suffer most

Lies, scapegoats fuel your sad boast
But spring sun will have her turn
Both them and you suffer most
You will never feel the burn

But spring sun will have her turn
You will never know true love
You will never feel the burn
You’re left a wealth bereft of

You will never know true love
To hold her hand, knowing God
You’re left a wealth bereft of
True gold, searched by dowsing rod

To hold her hand, knowing God
Surrender to selfless need
True gold, searched by dowsing rod
Not obtained through hate and greed

Surrender to selfless need
Unlocking joy none can buy
Not obtained through hate and greed
Treasures few can quantify

Unlocking joy none can buy
You’re left a wealth bereft of
Treasures few can quantify
You will never know true love

You will never know true love
You’re left a wealth bereft of
***

Written in honor of the peaceful worshippers in New Zealand who had their lives violently ended by a hate-filled man who was enabled by hate groups emboldened by greedy, racist, selfish, corrupt leaders (I’m sure you know the one leader I’m thinking of. I won’t give him the satisfaction of writing his name.)

Shared at dVerse Poetry–a Piece of Written Art, hosted by Victoria C. Slotto. We’re still dabbling with the pantoum form here.

Love, for Love’s Sake

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Photo by Charlie Hang on Unsplash

Love, for Love’s Sake

I have loved romantically
while being oblivious to its depths,
confined to the surface,
grasping at facades of
who I wanted to be
and who I wanted to
completely consume me,
growing mystified by
its brittleness
and inevitable indigestion.

I have loved, by sticking my head
inside an alligator’s mouth on a dare.

I have loved the greener grass
and the path untraveled
until detours revealed illusory scope
and textures tricking optics
into grasping curves
bent into ripened shapes
by light’s deception; I have loved
but a figment of her living ghost.

I have loved an imagination
and watched it slain by her reality.

I have loved deep
into the core elements of another
swiftly and inexplicably,
with the instant shock
of total immersion into
freezing waters,
slowing until bonds arrest us
in an exquisite insanity,
tricking the brain
into seeing love and attachment
as one and the same,
which renders all into ashes.

I have loved at first sight
and it seared my retinas.

I have loved
despite my best efforts not to love,
which, in essence, means that I have failed
at both loving and not loving
nearly simultaneously.

I believe therefore
we call it “falling in love”,
for no sane person
would willingly choose
this brand of nonsense,
steering directly into it
as one who wishes to be warm
plots a course directly into the sun.

I have loved over time against my will
and it was wonderfully traumatic.

I’ve flipped
the game
on its head
countless times;

each time,
my game piece
lands inside
the gator’s mouth.

I now love, knowing
its tremendous highs and incalculable lows,
the capricious nature of reciprocation
and whimsically fickle access to action
to fully experience and share,
fully aware that I wield little power
over the gambit,
only my position on the board
of an ultimately unsolvable game.

I now love with a full heart, knowing
that though I often experience bliss
and wield love to lift her
to fleeting triumphs with me,
ultimately I can never win,
and even as we run out of moves,
as we retire or surrender to fate
and, inevitably, as we
begin to lose each other,
the game will continue.

I now love,
not as a matter of choice or dare,
not with purpose nor design on winning;

I now love without purpose
because I see little purpose in not loving,
and also, aimless, purposeless love
is just love for love’s sake.

I now love that I love.
***

Shared at Poets United Poetry Pantry #442.

I Carved a Wish and Let it Rot

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Photo by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash

I Carved a Wish and Let it Rot

I carved a wish and let it rot
Do not make us a trite cliché
We wandered lives we both forgot
In overripe, fragrant decay

Do not make us a trite cliché
Your focus shifts, discarding me
In overripe, fragrant decay
Your hold on me, an empty plea

Your focus shifts, discarding me
I know that look, lived in its gaze
Your hold on me, an empty plea
Our history, beautiful haze

I know that look, lived in its gaze
We wandered lives we both forgot
Our history, beautiful haze
I carved a wish and let it rot

We wandered lives we both forgot
You flirt with him, turning the page
I carved a wish and let it rot
A labored pace, our passing age

You flirt with him, turning the page
In your heart, I am long replaced
A labored pace, our passing age
A sketched-out dream blotted; erased

In your heart, I am long replaced
It seems your wish has withered too
A sketched-out dream blotted; erased
Yet I still smile at dreams of you

It seems your wish has withered too
I carved a wish and let it rot
Yet I still smile at dreams of you
We wandered lives we both forgot

I carved a wish and let it rot
As all things end in their own time
We wandered lives we both forgot
Melodic memory sublime

As all things end in their own time
I wish you love and a full plate
Melodic memory sublime
We conjugate, entwined by fate

I wish you love and a full plate
As we are not a trite cliché
We conjugate, entwined by fate
In overripe, fragrant decay

We wandered lives we both forgot
I carved a wish. And let it rot.
***

Written for dVerse Poetry Forms – The Pantoum, hosted by Gina. Other poets’ contributions to this prompt can be found here. I probably veered slightly from the authentic structure of a pantoum, but I knew from the moment I read about this form that I wanted to tinker with it.

My thoughts on the origin of this poem: Nothing major. Wifey and I were discussing how our previous marriages and romantic relationships ended and how we often have moments of clarity when a relationship has tragically run its course prior to either party officially announcing the ending.

This part of a relationship is rarely a positive experience, as rarely do both parties come to the same conclusion at the same time. Someone always wants to hang on a bit longer, and that makes things rather messy.

This poem is a fictional account of an idealized version of one of these endings where both parties maintain a semblance of dignity and equanimity at journey’s end. I like to think that the couple in the poem remained good friends even after their romantic journey ended.

Feel free to offer constructive feedback if you feel moved to do so. Or not. No pressure, either way.

 

Dead Roses (A Collaboration with Tre)

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Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

Greetings, all.

My good friend, long-time collaborator, and sometimes editor trE conspired with me on another gem. I’ll let her take it from here:

“Barry and I have been collaborating for about a decade. If I think it, he can bring it to life. If he starts something, I can usually finish it. We have meshed well for such a long time that I was beyond myself with glee to finally see him get active on Medium. Every time we work together, it is fun to see where we are in our work at that moment. He is a great Writer and a dope friend. Thank you for reading.”

The poem is called Dead Roses. I won’t host it here this time, as it is already available on Medium and trE’s WordPress site. Please drop by her place and check it out. I always enjoy creating with trE, and this was no exception!

Kinship with Saplings

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Image by author

Kinship with Saplings

Yūgen is said to mean “a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe… and the sad beauty of human suffering”.

Yūgen suggests that beyond what can be said but is not an allusion to another world. It is about this world, this experience. -source, Word of the Day: Yūgen (幽玄) from Just Think of It by David R. Woolley.

1.
The seed yielded to gravity,
falling to rest upon the good earth,
breaking its protective shell,
becoming primordial seedling,

stretching tendrils into the soft soil,
rooting as probe and anchor;
shooting upward in trunk, branching,

dividing, multiplying,
uncoiling in fractals
incomprehensible to what birthed it,

unfurling green leaves to capture the sun,
collaborating with wind
to compose meditative melodies
reminding all within earshot to breathe,

relinquishing oxygen
as a liberating reminder that
speaking to define this phenomenon

is unnecessary

nor does it necessarily
improve upon the silent
newborn rustle.

2.
I’ve never been content
or comfortable in our world,
never knowing my place
within it.

And so,
just as with writing my thoughts,
I’ve never had my voice ring forth
with a declarative

“Aha! I am now a poet!”

or “It’s all clear to me now!
I am an author of fiction!”

or “People laugh at my jokes,
therefore I am a humorist!”

When closing upon
defining my place in the universe,
it slips from my grasp;
I remain unmoored.

My voice crystallizes
lost among the icy mist,
dispersing as yūgen, and perhaps
that is as it should be.

For, though I have no idea
who I will become tomorrow,
today, I am a tree.
***

Originally published on Medium as Kinship with Saplings.

Special thanks for my good friend Tre for providing the seed to this poem.

code-switch virtuoso

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Image of author by author. My face doesn’t always look like that. 

code-switch virtuoso

I remember dad
made me say “yes”
with emphasis
upon the stressor

Nevermind
that I was nine
and tryin ta find
a kinder lesson

Cause he knew
that to stay true
the rule of two dialects
was needed

To succeed in greater stages,
I took heed for greater wages

That was the birth
of my first split,
my trunk from earth
and I admit

I never found out
where I fit,
forgot about
which was legit

If I could ask about my place,
Is it my mask or just my face?

I assimilate and then replace
but if it’s fate what gets erased?

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
pump-fake for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
phoniness controls me,
what I feel inside

I try to fit like 8-bit chipsets,
rely on wit
and slight-of-hand
to make you see
and comprehend
the fantasy

In apogee from what is me,
I hear the chorus and chime-in
a midi-synth vibe,
a remedy
that I prescribe

A suicide by a thousand cuts,
I lack the guts for full erasure
so I white-out, blot-out
the rougher sides

Not Safe For We,
or Not Safe For Me
to just safely be
authentically free

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
I fake for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
loneliness consoles me,
what I feel inside

Dysfunctionality amazing
when my laziness and cravings
take up space, ranting and raving

All my blemishes diminish
our corporate saving grace

I forfeit the part of me
that blends creativity and yin

Feeding them yang
yields hunger pangs
as I hang by self-inflicted sin

I cover-up
and smile through scars,
give my regards to Wayne Brady

It seems odd
the most successful switchers
go criminally crazy

O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby
cracked the code and set the bar

I ain’t with them, but let’s always
set the mode for who we are

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
breaking for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
only just behold me,
who I am inside.
***


(NSFW – cuss words and shit like that there.)

Written for dVerse Poetics: On Privilege, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Other contributions to this prompt can be found here.

My dad demanded that I learn to code-switch and speak the corporate lingo so I could “make money in the white man’s world” (his words). Big ups to pops for making sure I could earn a living wage, but yeah, I almost never feel like my authentic self, whoever that may be.

This one hit me where I live, so I just let it flow in one take.

 

 

Sage’s Laughter

Sage’s Laughter

Reaching the summit was of no small feat
Great Sister’s reception felt bittersweet
The young man bowed to her respectfully
The old woman shrugged an indifferent beat

“Great Sister,” he greeted her fretfully,
“I come to you troubled, regretfully.
Life seems meaningless, yet death do I fear.
I pray you change my heart’s trajectory.”

The old woman peered through somber veneer
Her response, sincere, and yet still unclear
“Your fear of death is a fear of pre-birth.
If your life lacks meaning, why are you here?”

The young man searched her words, seeking their worth
He puzzled their weight, finding only dearth
“I climbed this peak seeking your renowned sage
but you made it clear I serve as your mirth.”

Great Sister stood fast in his bleary rage
“My child,” asked she, “recall your pre-birth stage.
You cannot; for none of us know that time.
The same is death; an unreadable page.”

The young man mused over these thoughts sublime
He asked, seeking reason within the rhyme,
“So death is a void and life, but a joke?
If true, does that make existence a crime?”

Great Sister laughed soundly before she spoke.
“The void and joke are both yours to invoke.
We are a part, not apart from the whole.
I am flock and hen; you are shell and yolk.”

The young man bowed as her words took their toll.
his heavy heart lightened by her console
Path to the valley, beyond his control
Its footfalls? Perhaps his own to insole.
***


(NOTE: Audio at the 4:30 mark mildly NSFW.)

Written for Frank’s Rubaiyat Challenge on dVerse.

Cicada Shell

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Image by author

Cicada Shell

Age makes me forgetful
and fudge-brained, I dread to say
or perhaps, greater advancements
and enchantments are at play

it only just occurred to me
a week into February
that this month highlights my history

cultural, personal,
and other mysteries

and yet I haven’t needed relicts
of my own humanity
as touchstones for skin-tone

I know I’m alive when she arrives
and our tactile forcefields interact

mysteriously melting presently
into history like a scribe’s ink
sinking into paper, as we seep

boring deeply into each other’s
borders and core,
thus is our union recorded,
soaked, and sodden

heartened, I held her tight
with all my heart and might,
firm hand, and soft as cotton

our pleasure’s-way
made the pressure-play
of looming Valentine’s Day
all but forgotten

after that, our anniversary will come
and go with a similar lack of fanfare
casually cast aside like sloppy rhyme
in the middle of middling poetry

she will spend our grand day
in Boston seeing a child’s play
for a weekend excursion with friends

as I continue sketching meaning
within uncommon Seattle snow
as it trends towards commonality

there will be a continent between us
and I cannot recall us ever being closer
nor a moment I have felt apart from her

perhaps age makes me forgetful, or
maybe pre-fossiled brain is less fussy and
savvy enough to cast aside frivolities
as a cicada sheds its shell to prosper

I just know it is unnatural
to fret over what feels elemental

we breathe and laugh freely
like nature casually
coursing through us
***

Blueshifted Music

Blueshifted Music

Somewhere in-between
procrastination and care
lives a unique skill

I enjoy moving melody
a half measure sooner
than the vibration hits the ear

anticipating the motive
prior to its motivation
breaking it all down just
before the breakdown

I steep her tealeaves
several heartbeats before
her heart skips into
craving its honeyed warmth

I trace the groove
that draws her taught
and leaves her slack
before our moves

I’ve always been a
Thursday kind of guy
for in Thor’s mighty voice lies
the promise of weekend bliss

Friday’s a branded catfight
among the past goddesses

my goddess draws breath
as mine was easily lost

exhaling clairvoyant will
into her deepest wishes

I melt snow-sculptures
before they’ve fully amassed
accumulation
in her driveway

I live in the tension
in a contorted face
before the cry

don’t mistime me as sadist
for hearing the cry is still both
jarring and frightful

but the building crescendo
is everything

living in this way,
using my singularly
blueshifted power

in half-measured strides
into our future

keeps me in pace
with our present
***

This poem was shared on Medium as Blueshifted Music.

 

Water-colored Soup

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Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Water-colored Soup

I daydream of living in watercolors with you
a soft, aqua-grey rainy still-life, content to be
captured eternally in textured contemplation
our pigments suspended, yet still blending earnestly
momentum of our joy arrested on papyrus

I would sketch us blue, sharing a bright red umbrella
two among coal-smeared masses bleeding grey clouds and rain
worlds inverted by reflective puddled apertures
all scurrying, seeking warm, dry shelter, captured here
an imperfect moment perfectly rendered in frame

I want to live inside a watercolor painting
presently framed, racing time flowing free, left-to-right
where we know where we’re going while free to be right here
an unending twilight of fullness, steeled for supper
not pictured; two steaming bowls of chicken-n-rice soup
***

Prior to this WordPress post, this poem was shared on my Medium profile as Water-colored Soup