Where the Rocks Kiss the Sea and the Waves Embrace All

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Photo by Hugo Kemmel on Unsplash

Where the Rocks Kiss the Sea and Calm Waves Embrace All

Standing on rocky midnight shore, the sound of the Sound beckoned his return to where he began decades ago; his wish, to bookend his life where ancient kinship first drew breath.

He intended to breathe saltwater and snuff-out all that rotten progress.

He’d just wade into the frigid current until the chill melted into warmth, freeing him of the dread of empathy among the specter of cosmic apathy.

Inhaling brine should sever the unending sinewave bouncing between two extremes.

Knee-deep within numbing, moonlit, black-reflected muck, the cold needles through, forcing his breath shallow. Waist-deep, and the current beckons him forward to rejoin infinity and nothingness.

He begins surrendering to uncompromising fate he’s chosen when far away an interrupted cry of a drowning woman breaks him from indulgence. He summons reserve to drag her back to the rocks.

“You’re welcome,” smiled the mermaid he “saved”.
***

Written for dVerse Prosery #1, hosted by Björn Rudberg (brudberg). Others have contributed to this prompt here.

On Transcendence

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Photo by Sora Sagano on Unsplash

On Transcendence

Koi become dragons
if they want it enough.

I’ve heard the lore,
seen both koi and dragon,
but never observed one
push through.

Swimming
with the current,
I doubt experiencing it
personally,

but
the Yellow River
is long, and
unpredictable.

I haven’t seen everything.
***

Written for dVerse Quadrille #81 – Here there be {poem} dragons, hosted by whimsygizmo. Other poets have contributed here.

Inspired by ancient Chinese myths.

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 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.)