On Service and Serving

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Photo by Ding LU on Unsplash

On Service and Serving

What a
bizarre perverse
spectacle we must be
to anyone with the gift of
vision.

Contorting our delusions
to fit absurd collective
narrative illusions.

Your happiness is
worthless
to me
and yet

I weigh my worth upon you saying
that you are pleased by my efforts
to bring happiness directly
to your seat with a smile in my voice

fit to claw your eyes out
to minimize eyestrain.

As I strain,

monks go door to door
with empty bowl in hand and
it is filled more often
than not.

If it be a sin
to covet a neighbor’s empty bowl
then I am the foulest
most wretched creature living

if one could subscribe
to the false illusion that
somehow this is life.

But I lie while lying;
it is his heart I covet most.

I would reach into him and
feast right upon it,
right there in his face,
sitting upright, cross-legged

upon the dusty,
nutrient-starved earth, and he
quietly, peacefully

would mourn the fact that
he only had the one
heart to offer,

withholding nothing.

I don’t even count them
as withholds anymore,
for they are nothing to behold;

I place the holy magic beans
inside the divine tabernacle
and watch random gods of diversion
snatch them all away like a

school of piranha
picking clean the bones of my
counterfeit coffers.

Thus, am I served.

It would be cute
to call it being
eaten alive,

but that would play to
the illusion that the beans,
the tabernacle
and my convent with the gods
ever existed and that

somehow,
this is living.

Oh, what a bizarre spectacle I must be
to anyone with the true gift of sight.

But I am ready.

Ready to leave it all behind,
take a leap into the absence of lore,
and see for myself
what this living business is all about.

Perhaps
the best part of
my yet-to-be-told tale
will be when I ended service
and served.

My story begins on the last page.
***

(Video is only loosely related to the poem. I only included it because I really loved the movie, and it makes me feel better about things in my life that kinda suck right now.)

Written for dVerse Poetics: The Art of Confession in Poetry, hosted by  anmol(alias HA).

Doink-Doink

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears

Doink-Doink

Imagine, if you will, training most of your life perfecting a difficult skill most don’t understand or respect. You hone your highly-specialized craft in a world where most risk life, limb, and brain-trauma fighting for that extra yard, and yet few who fight for those yards can replicate the one thing in which you have invested the most.

Now imagine developing a reputation for succumbing to external pressure and frequently failing at the one task you’ve spent most of your life perfecting. Your brothers who risk life, limb, and brain-trauma fighting for that extra yard continue to believe in you and try to boost your confidence as external forces clamor to see you fail again so they can tear your embattled spirit to pieces.

Lastly, imagine that the very thing you fear most comes to pass; failure on the greatest stage of your life, melting beneath the microscope of notoriety, your greatest effort summed-up in an onomatopoeic, “doink-doink”.

I sat on my floor, having just slid off my couch, staring at my screen in silence, no longer feeling January chill born from an old furnace and poor insulation. Numb to external elements, I didn’t feel the anguish I expected in typical expected terms. The team wearing the laundry I’ve rooted for since I was four had been bested by an apparent missed kick, and as I watch an entire city prepare to heap hatred upon the kicker’s slumped shoulders, a single thought echoed repeatedly in my head…

“That poor kid.”

frail sun slips away
winter night falls unannounced
I have faced both ways
***

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: January, hosted by kim881.

all the difference

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Photo by Alejandro Benėt on Unsplash

all the difference

On the path not taken
incomplete thoughts and wishes
pair with longing and regret
along elongated line-of-sight
shrinking to a point-of-light
as all paths do when curving
beyond known horizons
I close my eyes for vision

the grass is greener, and yet
the air is thick and toxic
reflection fails to muster depth
strangers call me pops and grandpa
ex-lovers commiserate
in much greater numbers, laughing
at flaws, triumphs, cuts and scars
revealed only to their eyes

pale winter sunset invites frost
breathing artic dusk breezes, I watch
my trail turns away from light
Orion the hunter claims the night
as he pursues the Pleiades
my hunt dovetails to warmer days
for the path not taken
is uninhabitable
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: Time and What If?, hosted by Merril D. Smith. Other poets contributed to this prompt here.

Condition Zebra

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Condition Zebra

The ominous klaxon wails as boots drum steel. Seatbelts are clacking among the hurried professional murmuring. My mental-checklist rolls tape automatically within: flashgear-check, gasmask-optimal, headset audio-go, mic-check good. My scope hums into action, glowing green and amber.

“Weps, One online,” squawk my butterflies, as I note the surface contact sent to me automatically by my boss. It’s beyond gun range, but it’s streaming right for us. A single anti-ship missile would hastily end its aggression, but we can’t launch a preemptive strike without just cause. And so, we wait.

“Weps, aye,” boss booms in acknowledgement, adding, “Surface-action port-side, bearing 279-relative…”

Breathe

“…Renegade gunboat coming in hot… not responding to our hails… I guess the pirates wanna play…”

Rely on your training. You got this.

“…Batteries-tight. Do not fire unless fired upon, but stay frosty, ya got me? We got this.”

“One, aye,” I reply.

And now we wait.

the heavens shriek red
dawn or dusk, our plight unknown
now gird your courage

***

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: Waiting, guest hosted by Imelda.

One of the US Navy’s unofficial slogans was “hurry-up and wait”. Not very poetic, I know, but the topic of waiting makes me think of those days.

Ephemeral Inquisitor

Ephemeral Inquisitor

sunset spies our pose ephemeral
second-hand glides a blushing sky
nectar merged near hip-femoral
the hands reside, each on a thigh
though breathing strained, there slips a sigh

there slips a plea to make it fall
broad, gentle strokes now urgent, coarse
tongue strikes nerve; it ignites our squall
as hands kneed flesh, chorus falls hoarse
ripe shadow probed, more we endorse
***

Written for dVerse Poetry form: English & Spanish Quintain, hosted by Grace.

I enjoy tinkering with new forms, and Grace suggested that we could even apply the form to another desire and sexuality theme similar to the Poetics: Desire and Sexuality in Poetry prompt I wrote Concentric Snapshots for earlier this week.

I mean, I certainly could use a few distractions, and what’s a better distraction than a little smutty poetry between friends, right? And it’s not even that smutty! 😉

Concentric Snapshots

Concentric Snapshots

I.

Two new high school grads
our duet, playing at probing,
experimental love;

clumsily grasping
at the third rail,

illuminating our
respective darkness,
calling the freshly found
fool’s gold
love eternal.

II.

Victims of circumstance, we
circled the idea as
adults consenting at this
scandalous dispelling of intent, this
instinctive discontent

sucking at the plea; a need
we’d already met
in spirit if not deed, she,

splayed and braced
for our forbidden crossing,

forever eroding a
gold-pressed
promissory note
as false idol.

III.

Never bothered catching her name;
would’ve fumbled it away anyway
in the aftermath of two bored barflies
stalling to return to our respective
counterfeit lives, finding life and little
deaths pressed between, rubbing for wishes,
but granted only golden gilded-guilt.

IV.

Last night with her was…

last night was…

it was… have you ever

in all your
quarter-century-plus of life
been so sure of someone,

so secure in her warmth,
so open to your own vulnerability
so overeager to overflow,
to explode,

to lose containment of self,

spilling onto
and into her essence
until you forget
where you end
and she begins? Like… you know…

uhm… like two novice glassblowers
playing in molten golden sands,
you both know it’s real and urgent
and wonderful, and powerful and… and…

…and inevitably,
one or both of you
will still shatter it
once it cools.

Anyway,
it was like that
with her.

V.

There was something
within this sad, soulful
old-soul lonely eyes

that fleetingly
stole her soul
from her fiancé

for an afternoon delight
that never happened; that was
her story anyway after
entering a bachelor’s loser-loft,

asking for a glass of water
she never drank a drop of,
spilling it on the night-stand
next to her thirst and
a certain creaking
secret-spilling mattress

and I can’t say if anything
she moaned into my ear
was gospel, but truth is,

sometimes
seeking that golden sandy fullness
leaves us spent, wrought
with emptiness.

VI.

Neither of us
are in the mood,
molecules moving
a bit slower with age
and still,

catching me
admiring her hips,
she wiggles a spark my way,

igniting knowing smirks
encircling in decaying orbits,
concentrically spinning
towards collision

saying inflammatory things like,
“I thought you were sleepy?” and
“What you wanna do?”
with knowing grins,

knowing the answer
before it begins with
clumsy grasping of our third rail,
transmuting darkness into
golden hues.
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: Desire and Sexuality in Poetry, guest hosted by Anmol Arora (HA).

Initially, I was going to skip this one and just exist within my depression for a minute, but then I began reading everyone’s steamy contributions, and as Bjorn predicted, I became inspired for some reason. *heh*

Passion and sexual desire are often their own reward, but I thought it might be interesting to examine the fact that often these desires don’t exist within a hermetically-sealed bubble. Sometimes indulging is great and the circumstances wonderful, and sometimes the whole sultry exercise may be wrought with symptoms of a deeper need.

No judgments here! Lord knows I’m not qualified to judge anyone. I just thought it might be interesting to play with circumstances.

I enjoyed writing for this prompt. It pulled me from my doldrums for a bit. 🙂

 

not a cult.

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Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

not a cult.

u·to·pi·a – /yo͞oˈtōpēə/ – noun: Utopia; plural noun: Utopias; noun: utopia; plural noun: utopias

an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect. The word was first used in the book Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More.

 synonyms: paradise, heaven (on earth), Eden, Garden of Eden, Shangri-La, Elysium; idyll, nirvana, God’s country; literaryArcadia

 “it may be your idea of Utopia, but it’s not mine.”

Utopia is not a cult.

It is not a snowy compound off the grid,
but it was two young lovers
throwing popcorn at each other
because there’s no snow in San Diego.

Utopia is not a cult.

It’s not group-think or conformist factions,
but it was sitting
through the same community play,
year after year,

knowing mean old Ebenezer
will have a change of heart,
and yet still weeping tears of joy
when he does, hugging his nephew.

It’s not a cult, and yet, it was there

pretending to be sound asleep
when tiny children impatiently stirred us
to see what the fat guy in red and white
brought them the night before.

Utopia is not a cult. It’s just not.

It doesn’t demand wealth redistribution,
even as she anonymously paid the meal tab
of a struggling young adult
on year one of surviving alone,

knowing that nearly everyone
has a year-one story
that hasn’t been heard.

Utopia isn’t a cult.

It doesn’t demand mandatory appeasement,
but she gave the greatest cuddles
in human history, and she never tired
of delivering comfort.

Utopia doesn’t measure cups
except on the occasion
when she examined empty cups,
looking to fill them again.

I don’t know if Utopia is a she,
but I know she isn’t a cult.

Utopia’s voice was frail and robust;
hearing her song filled your own lungs
with chorus,

but you are not required to sing,
you ninny!

Only sing with her
if you want to,
and you will want to.

Because she ain’t a cult!

And I can’t tell you who she is
but I can tell you who she isn’t
and describe who she was

whenever she cleared her throat
etching her soft voice into memory

whenever she replenished her neighbor’s bowl
without hesitation or thought of her own

whenever she held me as I cried in darkness
patiently awaiting my slow turn to sunrise.

Yeah, I know who Utopia was
but I cannot tell you who she is

for I cannot describe the phenomenon
while simultaneously living the miracle
any more than I can put legs on a snake
or feathered wings on a fish.

Utopia is of us, within us, and beyond us.
She is ours to grasp, or leave alone.
She is perhaps my next breath,
and certainly was my last smile,

But she ain’t no damn cult.
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: Utopia, hosted by Gospel Isosceles.

Also shared at Real Toads The Tuesday Platform.

Quantum Entanglement (The Lovers)

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Photo by Rhett Wesley on Unsplash

Quantum Entanglement (The Lovers)

In a blink
all he thought he knew
subverted

With a wink
all she thought she outgrew
reawakened

On the brink
all their fates knocked askew
re-knotted

With a kink
all the cosmos curled a screw
unfastened

Interlinked
by indifferent ether Déjà vu
enraptured
***

Written for dVerse Quadrille #68: Winkle, Winkle, Little Poem, hosted by De Jackson (Whimsy Gizmo).

I wrote this before coming up with a title for it. I got my title from here.

Bad Day (The Shots You Don’t Take)

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Bad Day (The Shots You Don’t Take)

I was stopped for speeding earlier this week, and justifiably so, unless the cop was just profiling every black guy who just happened to be going 43 in a 25mph residential area. (I was late for work. That’s no excuse for driving like a menace, but it is a valid reason.)

In the aftermath, I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking for the remainder of the day. As a child, I never grasped why my family collectively feared police, but by age 45, I completely understood the subtle nuances. I laughed at the long, subtle transition of perspective, especially in this era when one false twitch can make guys who look like me into a hashtag (#BarryD #HeWasHarmless #HeWasScaredOfSpidersAndCopsAndBeingLateForWork).

My boneheaded commute had earned me a two-hundred-dollar citation, but I wasn’t lying lifeless face-down on the pavement riddled with peace-keeper rounds, so I considered it a net-win. All things considered, it was just a bad day that could’ve been far worse.

I discussed this with wifey, and she said that us humans have a one-hundred-percent survival rate during bad days. I supposed that was true, even while dismissing this as a bland “You miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don’t take” motivational slogan. But then I began to analyze this statement, and while technically true, on the occasion that a bad day is not survivable, depending on various lifespans, your bad-day survival rate drops anywhere from 90 to 99.9999 percent, which is not too shabby, all things considered.

Granted, your percentage will never again increase on account of you being dead and all.

So, you will either survive your bad day, or you will perish from it. But more often than not, you will survive it. I consider that a net-win. I told Wifey there’s a poem in there somewhere, and I hoped to fish it out. She urged me to reconsider, but you only miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.

November stormfront
frozen rain stings rosy cheeks
I blush through the grey
***

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: Transitions, hosted by Merril D. Smith.

Nocturnal Remission

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Photo by Jay on Unsplash

Nocturnal Remission

Once upon a frosted moon
I gathered diamond dust in June
Nonsense or hogwash, dare you say?
Perhaps you’re right; it was in May

With snowdrifts icing late spring blooms
I laced my skates and headed north
Her hand outstretched from feathered plumes
My butterflies flittered for warmth

This bird migrated in three-fourths
I lagged behind her melody
Her song was lilting, light, on-key
We danced our dream with fragile force

Her sea-salt kiss reigns tearfully
Melting capricious symphony
My snowbird left this lonely loon
In sentiment and fantasy

That once upon a frosted moon
I gathered diamond dust in June
***

Written for dVerse  Stock Phrases, posted by lillian in Poetics.

I enjoyed this prompt… but look, I get it… I know there’s not much to hold onto in this poem (or perhaps too much, depending on your perspective), so pardon my whimsy.

“Once upon a…” prompts get me in a bit of a whimsical mood. 🙂