Exchanging Masters

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Exchanging Masters

Fueled by misery,
Sloth rose, slovenly
grunting barely a half-laugh
with minimal effort,

easily overthrowing
Lust and Greed’s slipping,
thirsting, ravenous,
needy rule,

observed passively,
inexplicably so, by Wrath,
whose fiery talents
faded into the shade of
obsolescence and age,

creating a clear path
to the buffet
for Gluttony to feed,

leaving nothing nourishing
for Pride, who died while
withering away on the vine,

once green with Envy,
now ashen and drained.

Once upon a time,
you guys were so much fun
to attach myself;
to affix my banner upon;

now my attachments are
afflictions of fleeting spells,
seemingly over before
they’d even begun.

Ah great.
See what you’ve done?

Now I’m even fatter than before.

Fatter than I’ve ever been.

I surmise
we’d never have arrived here
if Pride were still alive.

In case it’s quite unclear,
I liked us much better
back when Lust and Greed
were allowed to steer.

Hell naw I don’t want any more
fried chicken and beer.
It’s wrong of you to ask!

Of course I want some more
fried chicken and beer!
Why ask this of me when
you already know the answer?

I just sat down, so
if you could bring them here,
that would be easier
for our new masters.

Pay attention!
Did you even notice
the stream changing course?

Or how labored
your breathing has become?

Or how indifference
feels heavier than struggle?

Daylight won’t wait for you
to caress her anew.

Idleness is its own endgame.

Time is a river,
eroding monuments of attachments,
revealing the true nature of suffering.

If we’re not mindful,
we won’t mind
or scarcely notice to find

that we’re all being worn away
under new management.
***

This poem was inspired by dVerse Poetics: 7 and 7 prompt, which as you probably guessed, is a meditation on the seven deadly sins. Other poets have contributed to this prompt here.

I could’ve gone deeply personal with this one, but confessional poetry is pretty much my whole “thing”, so I decided to zig instead of zagging by keeping things a bit more abstract.

Two poems in two days? Am I back? Nah. Not yet. But I’m starting to find my bearings again. Thanks for being patient with me.

Day 2 – Laundry Room Confessions

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Photo by Romain Robe on Unsplash

Laundry Room Confessions

The path beyond the garden soon to be rented by wifey and me in new life lied before us in sun-kissed San Diego adobe pastels when I caught a soon-to-be new neighbor sizing me up behind soon-to-be briskly shuttered blinds, disrupting what I thought to be a giant bee, but in actuality, was the first time I laid eyes on a hummingbird, which scurried away from our mutual startled scenery on wing of the bluest blues and rubiest ruby plumage I had ever seen, and my heart soared with her along unfamiliar blooming scent which smelled of promise and renewal, like nature herself was settling old scores.

As for my new neighbor, her blinds did not stay shuttered during our stay, though she stayed curiously guarded and curious of my own curiosity as we shared a thought or two, subconsciously synching our laundry days in the community laundry room, a respite from separate-but-equally unrelenting realities as she hid her bruises while I just hid and pretended not to notice, which wasn’t too far a bend for someone so frequently locked inside his own head; in fact, she said she’d never seen me smile in all our contrived, randomized encounters, and she wondered aloud if I was happy. Most times, a lie would do, but in this case, I felt she deserved to know the truth about that hummingbird.

it’s raining sunbeams
warming my faith, compassion
sunburns and bruises
***

Inspired by dVerse Haibun Monday: Faith prompt, hosted by Mish. I was going to try to stick to NaPoWriMo prompts this month, but today’s Day 2 prompt challenged us to play with voice and different tenses, and I feared that folks might be sick of me always playing with tense by now. Eager to see what Day 3 has in store!

 

A Cat

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Photo by Antonio Lapa on Unsplash

A Cat

On the first day of spring
a cat came to me.
Her collared tag sparkled,
reflecting glints of sunlight
from her bejeweled collar.
Regal, majestic, passive poise
was her manner of movement
and sitting stillness
– if a cat’s movement and
stillness could be considered
in such human grandiosities.
She received me just as
Grandmaster Yip Man decreed
when teaching novices
basic grappling techniques
– “Greet what arrives,
escort what leaves,
and rush upon loss of contact.”
A Wing Chun master feline,
ruler of our centerline,
razor claws, carefully
retracted while restricting
movement and momentum,
intimate dominance, fleeting
for before I made sense
of my senses, she fled.
Why she came I cannot say
– she wasn’t hungry, and
she only knew me in
the manner that all cats of
certain domestication
know their fellow humans –
and yet she came right to me
leaning into my space,
mewing a few kind words
I could only guess at
since I don’t speak cat.
Of course I mewed right back
unclear on the syntax
but knowing that only
lonely souls lean out to find
random comfort across
diverging species.
***

Shared at dVerse Poetics: Soul gazing , hosted by Paul Scribbles. Poets have contributed to this prompt here.

 

Quills

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Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Quills

The hedgehog
craves closeness of warmth
and comfort
but it can’t
risk hurting those they care for
or wounding themselves

Dismissive
nature or nurture
combining
avoiding
emotions flatlined and taut
growing defective

Reflective
not seeking the gaze
transparent
apparent
apparitions, illusions
flowing refractions

Subtraction
by adding my quills
I will wound
inaction
pricking with lethal absence
living detachment

Reaction
defies all reason
yes I care
but won’t share
reason, nature can’t undo
an inert hedgehog.
** *

Written for dVerse MTB: Phantom Form — Shadorma, hosted by Gospel Isosceles. Poets have contributed to this prompt here.

*EDITED: to fix the erroneous syllable count. It’s kinda cool what two extra syllables per stanza can do to add a wee bit of spice.

On My Way

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Photo by Mário Silva on Unsplash

On My Way

Midnight black and midday grey
paints a tapestry of melody
across evergreen-scraped cloudscapes
that sing ghostly choruses heard only
by old creaking bones elongating
upon currents whisking between
whispers unseen but felt where
few dare to dwell in disrepair.

The horizon, a hollow,
imaginary point of dim light,
nature’s slight-of-hand sight trick,
a fixated point unfixed
in space and time on spatial waypoints
that can never be affixed,
beckons for resolutions that
will never come but come what may,
at least I can say, I was on my way.
***

Inspired by today’s dVerse prompt, Poetics: Finding Emotions and Concepts in Things, guest-hosted by Sarah Russell. Go here to read other poets’ submissions to this prompt.

I’m not sharing mine over there this time because… well… if you’ve been following this blog, you already know damn well I’m not supposed to be doing prompts right now. But some of the prompts, like this one, are so tempting that I can’t help myself. I may need a poetry intervention so I can go work on the poetry I’m supposed to be working on.

Still, I know I said I would stay away from the prompts for a while, but I met my project goals today, so I deserve to play with words for a bit.

Syrup

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Image source via google

Syrup

“I asked you to get real maple syrup,” she said.

“The fuck you talkin’ about?” I asked. “I got real syrup. It’s right there. See the bottle shaped like a lady?”

“I see it,” she said. “It’s okay, but it’s not real maple syrup.”

“There’s a difference?” I asked. “You fuckin’ with me, right? It don’t get no realer than the lady-bottle!”

“I’m talking about the real shit from the tree,” she replied. “Not this processed stuff.”

“Oh. My bad,” I said, trying to mask my wounded pride. “I honestly didn’t know. Must be a Black thing.”

“That’s no excuse,” she said. “Meh. Just squash it.*

And I squashed it, because she was right. It was no excuse, but it was a valid explanation, though a poorly-worded one lingering in that grey area.

It wasn’t a Black thing; it was a poverty thing.

Growing up in poverty, syrup was an unconventional indicator of how a family was doing financially. Strange, I know, but true. Another surprising thing about urban-American poverty; even when faced with syrup-sandwiches-and-sleep for dinner, we sometimes had the audacity of being picky.

Sometimes eating nothing was preferable to eating crap (which I’m just now understanding, is a relative term).

I’d wake up on a Saturday to the heavenly scent of pancakes only to find they were drowned in the sticky muck of something in a non-lady-shaped bottle with the word “Syrup” labeled in plain black-n-white font.

I’d take one look and be like, “God bless you for trying, mom. You did your best. Why don’t you just take a break and let me throw these pancakes in the garbage for you?” That obviously never went over well, but that’s another story.

But occasionally, Saturday pancakes were accompanied by the creamy, artificial goodness of the lady-shaped-bottle, alerting us to two things; (1) breakfast was going to be delicious, and (2) one of the parents had a come-up **, which meant there were many more delicious things in the pantry besides lady-shaped-syrup-bottles.

It’s funny for a forty-something male to not know the difference between real maple syrup and processed, lady-shaped-bottle syrup. I know this. But when I bought that crap, I was speaking a love language to my beloved that only I understood. My bad. It’s fun learning new things.

crisp, grey morning sky
sunshine drizzles her sweetness
memories of you
** *

Written for dVerse’s The beauty and the misery of grey – Haibun Monday, hosted by Bjorn. Go here to read other poets’ submissions.

I know I said I was taking a break from prompts to work on a passion project that I’m almost done with, but to quote Pacino as Michael Corleone:

 undertaker-sitting-up1

*squash it – urban slang, to abandon the conversation, agree to disagree, and move on to more positive topics.

**come-up – urban slang, an unexpected windfall, bargain, success, or other positive outcome benefitting a person or a group of people.

(Editor’s note: Much like Mrs. Butterworth’s isn’t “real” maple syrup, I’m aware that this post isn’t a “pure” Haibun. But y’all know ya’ boy likes to stir the pot a bit, so let’s just squash it. 🙂 We good, fam?)

 

Kate and Edith Too

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The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David

Kate and Edith Too

She was made mostly for me
harvested, fermented, distilled guarantee
she parts my lips and pickles me
bad is blinded, blended, bound as tamed

She was not made just for me
plucked, dried, rolled into opaque slips of a tree
weaponized vapor, she infuses me
heavenly scent, demonized flames

Together, will they be to me
what opium and hemlock were to Socrates?
I’d empty the goblet with boundless glee
no toxin could bind with sweeter degree

Together, we’ll be poetry
smoke and spirits consumed, transmuted, free
green dragon extract from our torrid sea
can a phoenix be drowned in poison? Let’s see
** *

Written for dVerse Poetics with poisonous plants, hosted by Bjorn. Others have contributed to this prompt here. I know I’m supposed to be taking a break from these prompts to work on my collection, but could pass on such an intriguing prompt as this? Is it still procrastination if I’m technically still writing? Probably, but I had fun so screw it!

Monkey Pause

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Photo by Matthew Kane on Unsplash

Monkey Pause

A troop of

young Japanese macaque

frantically chase

evening moon’s reflection

upon hot spring’s surface.

 

Moonbeams reflect,

refract, fragment, flitter,

fleeing tiny grasping fingers

scattering light

leaving callow plunderers only shivers

for their boundless efforts.

 

Matriarch and Alpha

observe the scene

sitting in silent stillness

warming, cooing,

grooming one another in the depths

content with the moon above

its countless illusions below

and the crisp air between.

 

Nothing is obtained

this moment is now

everything is as it is

what should be is trickery; just

moondust eluding monkey paws.

** *

Written for dVerse I Once Used an Earthquake–dVerse MTB: Symbolism, hosted by Victoria Slotto We were encouraged to write a symbolic poem. This one still feels a bit “on the nose”, but meh, I’ll take it.

 

Go here to read other poet’s contributions to this prompt.

Left Hand

Left Hand

Melody

she plays with me

in familiar keys of

The song

pulsating with a vibrancy

she glides with me

reliantly

she comes

spiraling from soprano

rafters like a raptor

 

I am captured flat and

sharply raptured back

 

into wry smiles

within her rhythm,

her movement

moves Miles

along

currents swelling

from fingertips,

compressing

 

flowing,

spilling vibrations

sensationally

sonically caressing,

 

undressing her expression,

tingling a taut spine,

into loosening,

expressing what

we want

which is to tap

our foot in time

with her universe

 

increasing rapidly

haphazardly

astoundingly

muttering a curse

 

as the floor is felt no more

as our rapport

goes on unrehearsed

awe is dispersed

and then

what comes

is the melody

she played for me

in invented keys, free

to romp

pulsating with a vibrancy

she glides for me

defiantly

we stomp

diving from soprano

alighting near the altos

capturing counter-tempos

we come

baring nimble fingertips

ruling our rhythmic hips

soaring above mundane grips

we jaunt

and then we thump

to her melodic

microscopic

atomic-smashing

powerplant

it pumps

and then it jumps

tracks,

exchanging tempo

in time with

refined lines

I skip it

with her,

slightly behind,

but shit,

nobody minds,

freely

we balter

her id

leading evocative

moonbeams to traverse,

as planned

 

I skid,

reading provocative

loony dreams,

unrehearsed, and

I miss it

we falter

she has me

right where she wants us

 

at her fingertips,

and her fingers slip-weave

constellations

 

she baits,

but will not wait

for me to map her

destination, so I

play catch up

while she plays

parlor games with my soul

using only her right hand

she kissed it

with her left.

** *

Inspired by dVerse’s Jazz poetry with Amaya, hosted by guest poet, Amaya Engleking. We were encouraged to write some jazz poetry, or jazz-inspired poetry. Go here to read other dVerse poets’ contributions to this prompt.

I guess my whole vibe is that I kind of accidentally already live in this jazzy poetic realm. Still, this challenge reminded me of a recent jazz session.

I had the privilege of taking Wifey out to Jazz Alley for her birthday earlier this month and catching Hiromi Duet featuring Edmar Castaneda. They were amazing together, and Hiromi was especially mesmerizing in her solo piano work. I found a clip of her performing a song that just knocked the stuffing out of me live. It’s called Sicilian Blue. Anyway, my poem isn’t exactly about her, but it is most certainly inspired by her music.

(Also, sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’ve been struggling with depression and some unexpected life-altering changes. No one is in danger or poor health, but there were changes that I’m still struggling to adapt to. I ask for your continued patience and kindness. We’ll survive this. If I don’t see you again by year’s end, I’ll see you on the other side of 2018.)