Where the Rocks Kiss the Sea and the Waves Embrace All

hugo-kemmel-289807-unsplash

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.

Day 16: Poetry as Visible Steam

maria-teneva-1145320-unsplash

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

gabriel-matula-300398-unsplash

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

smoke-1031060_1280

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 7: Of Nothing and Everything

sunset-2052652_1280

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Of Nothing and Everything

I.
We are born with no expectations
needs are another matter
connections are made and broken
attachment chains us to fallacy
nostalgia affixes our affections
regret is an illusory gift

II.
I knew you had another
saw you kiss him, looked away
saw through your lazy lies
embraced an empty peach pit
knowing that I deserved it
and perhaps, even less

III.
Told you I’d walk my “friend” home
you saw us flirting, looked away
ignored my brittle excuse
you waited in our empty bed
as I fumbled her darkness for light
leveraging for fullness

IV.
Briefly escaping her fiancé’s warmth
she incinerated herself upon a stranger
telling herself it doesn’t count
thighs crush demands for clarity
trading vows on embers of virtue
fading blissfully into warm sunset

V.
No one deserves anything
ready yourself to release infinity
embrace, learn our broken landscape
most hymns sung are incomplete
from revival to wake; no joy without sorrow
we own nothing, for we are everything
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 7 prompt: write a poem of gifts and joy. At first glance, my poem may appear to be a subversion of the prompt, but that wasn’t my intent.

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

mark-pan4ratte-519575-unsplash

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.

She Reminded Me of That Night

joshua-newton-146019-unsplash

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.

code-switch virtuoso

75496900_1b3ab53b91_o

Image of author by author. My face doesn’t always look like that. 

code-switch virtuoso

I remember dad
made me say “yes”
with emphasis
upon the stressor

Nevermind
that I was nine
and tryin ta find
a kinder lesson

Cause he knew
that to stay true
the rule of two dialects
was needed

To succeed in greater stages,
I took heed for greater wages

That was the birth
of my first split,
my trunk from earth
and I admit

I never found out
where I fit,
forgot about
which was legit

If I could ask about my place,
Is it my mask or just my face?

I assimilate and then replace
but if it’s fate what gets erased?

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
pump-fake for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
phoniness controls me,
what I feel inside

I try to fit like 8-bit chipsets,
rely on wit
and slight-of-hand
to make you see
and comprehend
the fantasy

In apogee from what is me,
I hear the chorus and chime-in
a midi-synth vibe,
a remedy
that I prescribe

A suicide by a thousand cuts,
I lack the guts for full erasure
so I white-out, blot-out
the rougher sides

Not Safe For We,
or Not Safe For Me
to just safely be
authentically free

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
I fake for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
loneliness consoles me,
what I feel inside

Dysfunctionality amazing
when my laziness and cravings
take up space, ranting and raving

All my blemishes diminish
our corporate saving grace

I forfeit the part of me
that blends creativity and yin

Feeding them yang
yields hunger pangs
as I hang by self-inflicted sin

I cover-up
and smile through scars,
give my regards to Wayne Brady

It seems odd
the most successful switchers
go criminally crazy

O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby
cracked the code and set the bar

I ain’t with them, but let’s always
set the mode for who we are

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
breaking for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
only just behold me,
who I am inside.
***


(NSFW – cuss words and shit like that there.)

Written for dVerse Poetics: On Privilege, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Other contributions to this prompt can be found here.

My dad demanded that I learn to code-switch and speak the corporate lingo so I could “make money in the white man’s world” (his words). Big ups to pops for making sure I could earn a living wage, but yeah, I almost never feel like my authentic self, whoever that may be.

This one hit me where I live, so I just let it flow in one take.

 

 

Sage’s Laughter

Sage’s Laughter

Reaching the summit was of no small feat
Great Sister’s reception felt bittersweet
The young man bowed to her respectfully
The old woman shrugged an indifferent beat

“Great Sister,” he greeted her fretfully,
“I come to you troubled, regretfully.
Life seems meaningless, yet death do I fear.
I pray you change my heart’s trajectory.”

The old woman peered through somber veneer
Her response, sincere, and yet still unclear
“Your fear of death is a fear of pre-birth.
If your life lacks meaning, why are you here?”

The young man searched her words, seeking their worth
He puzzled their weight, finding only dearth
“I climbed this peak seeking your renowned sage
but you made it clear I serve as your mirth.”

Great Sister stood fast in his bleary rage
“My child,” asked she, “recall your pre-birth stage.
You cannot; for none of us know that time.
The same is death; an unreadable page.”

The young man mused over these thoughts sublime
He asked, seeking reason within the rhyme,
“So death is a void and life, but a joke?
If true, does that make existence a crime?”

Great Sister laughed soundly before she spoke.
“The void and joke are both yours to invoke.
We are a part, not apart from the whole.
I am flock and hen; you are shell and yolk.”

The young man bowed as her words took their toll.
his heavy heart lightened by her console
Path to the valley, beyond his control
Its footfalls? Perhaps his own to insole.
***


(NOTE: Audio at the 4:30 mark mildly NSFW.)

Written for Frank’s Rubaiyat Challenge on dVerse.