Terrible Puppet Show Rehearsal (Blue Side of Pale Series)

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Photo by Sagar Dani on Unsplash

Terrible Puppet Show Rehearsal (Blue Side of Pale Series)

We were
the main characters
in a puppet show,
rehearsing countless times,

giggling
when we messed-up,
encouraging each other
to try again and again and

I guess
working so
closely with me
led you towards
unexpected feelings
of needing to be
closer,

so you leaned
into your vulnerability,
asking me,
in front of blue sky,
heavy summer sun,
and all our classmates
if I had a girlfriend,

and if not,
if I wanted one,
and if you
could play the role.

I scoffed
and told you
it depended on
if you could tell me
how you read my mind

as I confidently
rewarded your vulnerability
with a reach
for your hand
and

a first kiss
that split
our reality
in two,
into

before and after

as an audience
whooped and ahhed
and fell into ambient
background noise as time
propelled us forward into

meeting each other’s parents,
graduations, bittersweet goodbyes,
joyful welcome backs,
midday “I do’s”,
midnight “we did’s”,

telling our kids
the kid-friendly parts
of our tale from the
puppet-show all the way
to their smiles, living
a lifetime of smiles

that would certainly had been
had my childish grip
on my fragile vulnerability
matched your Black Girl
Magical openness

within the moment
of you opening to me
in front of God,
blue sky, glaring sun,
and leering bystanders.

But we both know that
rehearsal and reality
live two separate lives.

That’s not how it went down.

Oh, I did scoff though.

It’s what I did best when
looking for coiled demons
and ghouls hunting for
a pound of free flesh.

In every corner
of every heart,
I found shadows
of cynical weather
whether under blue sky
or not.

Pinning down demons
I thought I saw,

I scoffed and told you
it depended on if
you could tell me
what kind of fool you thought I was,

turning on my heel
to the sound of whoops and ahhs,
content at ripping out your heart
in front of our peers
before you had access to mine.

But as I peeked over my shoulder,
expecting your smirking derision,
instead, there was only the specter
of sincere aftermath, and tears
willing themselves not to fall.

That was ages ago,
but even now,
when I think of you,

I wish I hadn’t blocked
the gift you’d given us.

I wish I said the lines
and kissed you
like I so desperately
wanted.

I wish our last moments
together
were so much more than that;
more than just one of many
terrible rehearsals.
***

Day 29: Lark (Blue Side of Pale Series)

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Photo by Andrew Le on Unsplash

Lark (Blue Side of Pale Series)

A blue side of pale winter sky
A false promise of warmth
Mocking lie leaves frostbite
We learn to live without feeling
Breath before death leaves us warmer
Beyond all comprehension of touch

A blue side of grey spring and sleet
A note passed across the order
It reads as up is down and I am worthy
I compound why nots ‘till I forgot
We would never be, yet I felt warmer
Lark or not, I envisioned her touch

A blue side of bluest midsummer dream
Her declaration under scalding eyes
A fragile fondness that could never be
I lash-out, shredding her baby-bird song
I wound her before she could burn me
Sense of touch long beyond the pale

A blue side of amber autumn gale
Earnest harvest of unmindful fullness
Ripened want withered on bough
Unseen by us, insulated from life
Preparing for death has iced our light
Beyond all comprehension of touch
***

Written for dVerse Poetic: Theories of Everything and Anything, hosted by merrildsmith. Other poets contributed here. 

Also written for NaPoWriMo’s day 29 prompt: write “a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.”

In sixth grade, I was pranked by a girl who pretended to have a crush on me. Once the prank was revealed, I was the laughing stock of my class. Prior to that, I’ve always had poor self-esteem.

That prank confirmed every awful thing I thought of myself and informed my actions in the future whenever I found myself connecting with someone who claimed to be into me. I just wanted to explore those feelings again as an old man.

Anyway, I’m pleased to be the last person to complete #NaPoWriMo2019 #GloPoWriMo2019. Phew! Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. Life has been quite challenging these days.

I have a few more entries this month, but soon I’ll be on another extended break. I’m due for a sabbatical from writing as I spend more time reading all the wonderful poetry of my fellow online poets.

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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 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 4: Fred (“He’s good and dead now”)

Fred (“He’s good and dead now”)

Fred wanted to be a New York Yankee
But a greater calling led him to lead
Honor student; voice for impoverished need
A credible threat to bureaucracy

Uniter of races spanning rainbows
He was drugged and slaughtered by his own state
Two rounds to his skull, not the final blows
His work became bloodied, sharing his fate

We wait for justice as brown bodies pile
Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, and more
Respond as technology streams the gore
But know these slayings were here all the while

Slaughter of leaders, of boys, of teachers
In-justice? These are not bugs; they’re features.
***

Shared to NaPoWriMo’s day 4 prompt: write a sad poem that achieves sadness through simplicity.

Also shared to dVerse OLN. Other poets contributed here

Written for all of our innocent brothers and sisters gunned-down by the state, and especially Fred Hampton, human rights activist who was allegedly* assassinated by the Chicago Police Department in partnership with the FBI’s highly successful effort to destabilize the leadership and political power structure of impoverished African-American communities and many other minorities.

The quote “He’s good and dead now” was allegedly* said by the policeman who administered the two fatal shots to Fred Hampton’s head, execution-style.

I prefer escapism, love, loss, and the human condition over the sad realities of the world we all share, but for some reason I was moved to write about this tragedy… this massacre allegedly* sanctioned and administered by the state in 1969. It was my hope to bring perspective to all the recent alleged* murders of black men and minorities by the state captured on video, and all the hand-wringing and outrage at the judicial system’s collective shrugs.

Everyone who are wondering how we could possibly let this happen in the twenty-first century needs to know that it has always been happening for the past 400-plus years. You only get to witness the massacres second-hand through the miracle of modern technology.

(*I added allegedly for legal reasons… but come on now. Y’all know what’s up.)

 

 

Day 3: Belle was a Humbug

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Photo by Mark Pan4ratte on Unsplash

Belle was a Humbug

Belle was a humbug. No such character
could ever release a loved one from
his promise with a full heart. It is
unrealistic and takes me out of the story.

Or perhaps I should not have revisited
that tale during dreary mid-January,
with all the cheer
left at a New Year’s Eve party,

where we couldn’t be bothered to pretend
to like each other anymore. A trick
time plays on us makes us mistake three weeks
for ages ago,

and a mostly-empty midnight bus ride – heading
towards total emptiness – lurches forward
into a future free of certainty and old routines.

“End of the line, boss,”
the driver reminds me.
“You good, young blood?”

“Yeah, I’m good,” I lie easily
with a smile – cause that’s my thing as
a practiced liar – skipping off
the bus into a freak wind storm.

Yes, I still skip from time to time. What,
you’ve never seen a black man on the
back-end of his twenties skip before?

It happens; get over it.

I soon stopped skipping as I began walking
North with the wind rushing me along
with the rest of the displaced litter,

placing further distance between
where we’d been, and
where ever I was going.

It began to rain that annoying Seattle spittle,
except for the random fistfuls of spite smiting me
in the face as the wind swirled and changed directions
as if it didn’t know what it wanted to be either.

I’m chilled to the bone,
knowing I deserve far worse
than this climate change.

It was only slightly too warm for snow,
but cool enough to keep me moving
through a desolate tree-lined park where
people smarter than I had long abandoned,

and the long, twisted shadows
had longer twisted memories.

“Human garbage,” mocked one of the shadows.

“You wanted her to catch you in the lie,”
sneered another. “You didn’t even have
the guts to end it like a man.”

“Shut up,” I countered. “I tried
to end it. She wouldn’t let me.”

“But now it’s different!” a third shadow joined in.
“She saw your text messages! She knows where you’ve been!
Where you’re going! And she still wants you back
like nothing happened! After all you let happen!”

“She knows,” I repeated,
“so we can never go back.
I made my choice.”

The darkness echoes with laughter
as the shadows talk over one another.

“What a safe and terrible answer!”

“You replaced a woman who truly loves you
with an empty vessel! An Idol of newness!”

“You’re not losing a wife;
you’re gaining a side-chick!”

“Side-chick, indeed? Ha!
You mean rebound-chick!”

“I’m sure this side-chick-rebound-upgrade is
going to work out great for you, young man!”

I hope you are truly happy
with the path you have chosen!”

I cover my ears
and cinch-up my hoodie.

Damn know-it-all shadows.

Leaving the mocking shadows behind, I
arrive at my destination, knocking lightly
on the door, as to not disturb anyone
not expecting me who may be already

asleep. I’m just used to slinking around.

A single light comes on, and soon she
is scrutinizing my soaked face.

“I did it,” I said.

“You did it,” she repeated with a smile.
“To be honest, I didn’t think you had the guts.”

“Yeah,” I said.

She leaned into me, gently kissing my wet lips.
“Things will be different now,” she said.
“Much better than hiding. You’ll see.”

“Yeah, different,” I repeated.

But if there had been no
understanding between us,
would I have sought her out
and tried to win her now?

I knew the answer.
It’s all a big humbug.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 3 prompt: write a poem that meanders, full of digressions, that takes its time getting wherever it’s going. Since that almost seems exactly what I always do, I really let myself ramble here. Sorry about that. 🙂

Author’s note: It’s only day three and I’m already struggling to stay on the pace! Also, between work, homelife, and writing, I haven’t tended to my reading and comments as well as I should. I’ll try to do better, but thank you all for continuing to drop in on me.

Day 2: Orpheus When you Fell

Orpheus When you Fell

Do you remember me, Eurydice?
We danced the summer in the upside-down

In moon-soaked gardens of Persephone
Below the fruit-bats, we swooped through town

Do you recall the bells we rang;
the song I should not have sang?

Can you trace our song back to me?
Or did you forget the key?

Our harmonious flight
You took wing beside me
Our alighted midnight
When we swelled like the sea

Whether wrong, it felt right
No time for a reprieve
Weather right for delight
Harmony our main key

I could live in your light
Did you want to believe?

Do you remember me, Eurydice?
August nights in electric tide pools

You inhaled habits that felt unhealthy
We exhaled our smoke of fools

Do you recall my answer, miss,
when you asked me for a kiss?

Do you regret the spell?

Cause I don’t kiss and tell
Reminisce on our bliss
Time much shorter than this
Did I comfort you well?

Lost our reprieve from hell
On this I feel remiss
Looking back gives me fits
An improper farewell

Orpheus when you fell
Can we crawl from abyss?

Do you remember our kiss?
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day two prompt: write a poem that resists closure by employing many questions and ending with a question. I enjoyed this one and wanted to add to the unsettling vibe by playing with the cadence and changing it up from time to time.

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Day 1: Aftermath (How not to Declare Love)

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Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay 

Aftermath (How not to Declare Love)

Allow her to drift back into blissful slumber
next to you
even after she gently tugged you
from your own dreams
to indulge in her fragrant valley
for the second time that night
long before the glow
of the very first time
you urgently knotted yourselves
had dissipated.

Sitting up in her bed,
with moonlight kissing her skin
where you had also done twice-over,
observe her naked breast
rise and fall
in melodic peace
as she
begins adding snores to
the composition of frogs outside
singing for their own
companionship.

Reminisce about two months earlier,
when random chaos
compelled your collision with this woman
whose smile gained a foothold,
whose laughter melted your guard,
whose eyes conspired with your own,
creating a micro-language,
with syntax known only to two.

Resist,
as much as you are able,
the persistent feeling that
even if this woman
is not to be yours forever,
so be it,
for some part of you
will always belong to her,
no matter how much you
rage against
this peculiar sensation

while simultaneously
flirting with abandon
to gain her favor,
knowing that in some way,
she also fails to resist her own
internal battle
as she is drawn to you.

Believe the lie,
with all your heart,
that you must stay the night,
for it is too dangerous to be
on the road alone
at this ungodly hour.

Accept the backrub,
for you are indeed tense.

When she kisses your bare shoulder,
your neck,
gently turning your head to kiss your cheek,
offer your lips,
for it is only polite
to accommodate a host
who holds your next breath
within her breast.

Allow what is occurring naturally to happen,
and then allow it to happen a second time.

Return to the moonlit moment
as she sleeps peacefully in the aftermath
mess-of-afterglow
you both created.

Overwhelmed by unwanted emotion
that has always been a persistent companion
to her captivating charisma,
nuzzle your naked frame into hers,
holding her close
as if you could grasp and own this moment
forever,
and whisper into her ear
the inexplicable truth
part of you wishes was a lie;

“I love you.
I don’t know why or how,
but I do.

“Perhaps I always have;
certainly, I always will,
but I do love you.”

Watch in muted horror
as her snoring stops suddenly.

Sigh in relief,
once her snoring resumes.
Add your snores to hers.

Awaken to a new day as if nothing happened,
for after all, this is just a casual encounter;
just a “friends with benefits” thing.

After all,
feelings are for suckas,
right?

In fact,
once she drops you off at work,
don’t even lean-in
for a goodbye kiss.

But do pause before leaving her car,
as she has just said your name
and tugged at your sleeve
to gain your attention
(as if that were ever in question).

Allow the goosebumps
to infiltrate your skin
as she kisses your cheek,
and when she turns your head,
offer your lips,

for it is only polite
to kiss the one who
offered you a ride to work
after claiming your body, soul,
and dome the night before.

Try not to react,
even as your heart
leaps from your chest
when she tells you,

“Oh, by the way; I love you too.”
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s Day 1 prompt; write an instructional how-to (or how not-to) poem.

She Reminded Me of That Night

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Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

She Reminded Me of That Night

The deckplates pitch,
dive, and roll
beneath my feet,
denying any firm sense
of place.

Darkness pours into sight,
lenses straining for substance,
pupils expanding to
engulf any semblance
of light in moonless night.

The ship’s hulking,
shadowy silhouette
lurches into view,
slowly shrugging as
I ride her spine,
the sound of her
slicing the ocean
is a choir of
Poseidon’s vanguard,
shushing our advance
through His domain.

The peacefully disquieting scene
is almost bearable until
turning my gaze upward,
facing the weight of the cosmos itself,
the twinkling slivers of each planet,
star, cluster, nebula, galaxy, light
from both minutes and millions of years ago,
all bearing down upon my brittle soul at once,
crushing me with the weight of
my own insignificance…

“Do you remember that sensation?”
she asks, pausing to clean
her multicolored,
dappled feline fur
passively observing
my tormented meditation.

“Stop it!” I gasp,
squeezing my eyes shut
even tighter.

“You became disoriented,
and had to look away
to regain your bearings,”

she continued,
chuckling to herself.

“Remember how the
near-endless
points of light
became the spots
of my fur?”
she pressed on
unhurriedly,
but resolute.

“Just reminiscing about it
makes my head spin,” I whimper.
“Please, Nihirizumu. Enough.”

“But you asked me
about the pulse of your poetry,”

said Nihirizumu
in a mocking tone.

“You wanted to know
where that throbbing vibe came from,
so long ago
or did you not?”

“I remember now,” I concede.
“It’s too much for me. Please stop.”

“Very well then,”
said my poetic pride
with a weary sigh
and dismissive tail-flip.

“But you need not shrink away
in fear of the cosmos.

“You think yourself insignificant
in comparison to its light,
but you are both from it
and of it.

“I hope that one day
you will gaze upon the vastness
secure in knowing
that you gaze upon yourself.”

I opened my eyes,
took a deep cleansing breath, and
began writing this.
***

Written for dVerse Poetics -your poetic hum, hosted by Gina. I missed the prompt, so I’m sharing it at Open Link Night # 239, hosted by kim881. Other dVerse contributors can be found here and here.

While there is virtually no link to my poetry and what I do for a living now (frankly, each entity exists despite the other), there was a link to when I was once a sailor staring into the night sky free from light pollution for the very first time. I don’t recall ever feeling as small as I did that day, but that was only part of it…

With the deck moving beneath my feet and no point of reference, it felt like being everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. It was as thrilling as it was terrifying.