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 28: She is Born

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

She is Born

She is born as all are; from their pain.

Their pain is born from fissures
in a ruptured union, leaking black bile,
becoming tidepools of resentment
under moonless night of regret.

Intensity of emotion
has brought her into this world
blind and formless.

After the begging had ceased,
after the demands rose,
floating away as all hot-air does,
after the tears dried and crusted
in corners, after goodbyes
scattered wounded elements
the way all stars fall,

a series of electro-chemical sparks
ignite her coalescence into
nebulous idea,

as hurt, shame, and love commiserate
with introspection, perspective,
and empathy; her formlessness
is shaped into a proto-philosophy,
the light splitting her darkness
is an empty notebook, opening.

Her energy not lost, but transferred
as all pain is, she reclaims herself
after a lost cause, opening, pouring
her dark tidepools onto pages, her bile
shaped into words they wanted to say,

but were too prideful, too shameful,
too fearful to voice to one another
when it may have brought them closer
to joy; their Shakespearian tragic timing
cooling, on paper, appropriately,
into a poem which begins as:

“She is born as all are; from their pain.”
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 28 prompt: write a meta-poem, or a poem about poetry.

Day 21: Dismantling a Mercedes

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Photo by Luca Santos on Unsplash

Dismantling a Mercedes

She was beautiful,
long before learning
a self-butcher’s trade.

Long before swinging
lifelessly
from a tree in a park

– her final act completed publicly
after countless private attempts – her end

was pre-assisted
by the animal kingdom.

Nature was a
giant killer hornet colony
nesting in her head.

Nurture was meat
for a Komodo dragon
ignored by farmhands.

She was banished from
purgatory paradise
by serpent-creator.

The meat became her own
expert butcher, carving
fortune from flesh.

A successful vendor,
despite the killer hornets
devouring their share.

But she dared to be
discerning in company of
lurking painted wolves.

Scavengers and hunters
combined to consume her
to the marrow, leaving only
her final act of defiance,

her final words to
the animal kingdom,
a day before her final act;

“Fuck y’all”.

There is no solace
in burying the bruises,
as only the living bruise.

She ended her pain
alone in a park
by focusing its sum
upon her kissable neck,

compressing the noose;
a temporary evisceration
for a lasting peace

that eluded her infested skull in life.

Perhaps not the beautiful ending
a beautiful butcher like her deserves,
but an ending all the same.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 21 prompt: write a poem that “incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.”

I interpret that as “go nuts with abstractions and strange metaphors”, and so I did my best with this tragic tale.

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 6: Resting Near the River

Resting Near the River

What if Hades’ waiting room
were a McDonald’s
at 9:30am
on a weekday?

With white collar and working class
having already reported to work,

leaving only retirees
regrouping transients
and the unhurried condemned,

resigned to inevitable fate,
hastened by McGrizzled breakfasts
of dubious origin.

Youthful anachronisms
among innumerable ancient ones
include a young Asian couple

finishing their coffees and mutual flirtations,
as hand in hand, they exit the side-door,
crossing the parking lot towards the river Styx.

An even younger mother
is herding a set of toddler-twins,
awakened earlier than they prefer

as they now crankily demand
identical sausage patties
and cheap toys destined for landfills.

What if life is as
bland and purposeless as the
hashbrown I just ate?

One common element of McHades –
aside from the young lovers – it seems that
none here seems pleased with their present
or eager to embrace their futures;

it is a collective rumination,
a group-think procrastination.

What if none of this matters?

But each of us must face what comes next,
and one by one, we do,
slipping through the side-door,

first the flirting couple,
next the mother of sleepy twins,

with the countless octogenarians
each taking as much time as they wish
in gathering their past achievements
and unspoken unfilled ambitions.

What if it’s all just a game,
and I’ve been chasing the wrong things?

My phone vibrates, warning me
that I must soon return to my role
supporting the white-collar,
working-class worlds.

I finish my Sausage McBluffen with Egg
and exit through the side-door. The river

seems much closer these days, but still
I still have a ways to go.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 6 prompt: write a poem that emphasizes the power of “if”.

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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a wednesday or thursday night at a half-empty pub

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Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

a wednesday or thursday night at a half-empty pub

hazy season
lost to memory
lazy reason
evaporated into
emptiness both felt

he seemed…
almost ok

she
good enough
for now

intimate chemistry of voids
imprecise, gap-filling science

trolling pubs for meaning
finding only flirty diversion

“I’m bored,” she said.
“Wanna leave?”

He nodded.
***

Written for dVerse Troll quadrille, hosted by Frank Hubeny. Other poets have contributed here.

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.