Ruin

Ruin

I don’t want to hear of rebirth
blooming buds make it hard to breathe
and I don’t want the snow to fall
and I won’t fall for you again

I don’t want to stir in the night
bleak echoes ring hollow and dull
I don’t want to dream about you
and I hate sleep that never comes

‘till birdsongs vibrate the morning
and I don’t want the sun to rise
it will shine again without you
that’s fine, for your laugh rankles me

I can’t stand the smile on your face
summer warmth burns more than it soothes
I don’t want to inhale autumn
the fall winds part us from our bough

and all the miracles
phenomenal matters
the air passing through you

perfumed within your pores
enrapturing me then
are now tedious things

I don’t miss you at all
nor our modern wonders
smartphones for guileless fools

I refresh texts daily
remaining unrefreshed
rueful plea unanswered

and I won’t fall for you again
I don’t want to dream about you
I can’t stand the smile on your face
and I’m not waiting for your call

the world keeps turning without you
I’m not fixated on your scent
our paths don’t need to cross again
and I pray that you keep us here

because one more vile smile from you
one more goosebump-inducing laugh
one more text, touch, slip of your tongue
your cruel tenderness undoes me

I’d rather be resentful alone
than bereft among your promises
grant me this mercy of bitterness
for the hope of you is my ruin
***

Only Way to Know

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Photo by Valerie Elash on Unsplash

Only Way to Know

“Come and see”
you sternly demand
without speaking
in midnight silence
with icicle eyeliner
a cold glare that incinerates
inhibitions, leaving only
appetite and tongue wandering
to taste where boundaries blend
black and white into
delicious greyscale.
I see your intent
and hesitate,
just a beat;

“Come and see”,
I calmly answer
your unspoken demand
with an in-kind moon-soaked stillness,
and I wait, knowing
intuitively that the
crescent reflected in your scowl
won’t wait for my verbal consent
as my silence screams yes,
in fact, I am indeed
delicious;

come and see
that this cold pale night
is nourished with the
red succulence
she urgently craves;

come and see
if your prey bites back
with carnal-clawing contempt
as you hope he does;

come and see
where the pulse of my
power comes from
by gripping my flesh, my neck,
my third rail,
writhing, thrashing
as my voltage and current
animates and courses through you
and you find yourself
lacking the energy
to release me,

come and see
the ice goddess convulsing,
coalescing upon our blending,
knowing herself sated
and overflowed upon a
worthy vessel,
whose goal was only to answer
her unspoken question coolly,
casually, completely and
comprehensively.

Come and see.
***

Cosmic Shrug

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Photo by Emre Öztürk on Unsplash

Cosmic Shrug

I really can’t say,
but I feel it.

You too, right?

I feel it deep
within my truth,

where the luminous soul
attaches itself to
unremarkable marrow.

Can you do it?
Can you speak power to truth?

Or would you rather
claw at the vision until
your eyes bleed the lies
in rivers and streams in which
you flee to for quick comfort?

There’s no poem for it.
Not till now, anyway.

No pill or salve either,
unless you count
the ones that nullify it,

or the weed and brown liquor
that helps you forget

or briefly removes
the weight of remembering.

I want it as I want all things
eternally unobtainable;

end of the rainbow;
golden horizon;
promise of tomorrow;

comfort of being seen
and embraced by more than this.

I’ve mastered hide-n-seek
in ways where few bother
searching anymore,

though I’d still lie
and tell them I’m fine
had they not already
given up on asking.

But never you mind;
this is just another
melodramatic poem,

not an overwrought
cryptic cry for help.

I really am fine.
***

Proper Care and Cleaning (of Voice)

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Photo by Timon Klauser on Unsplash

Proper Care and Cleaning (of Voice)

What if I unglossed our painting before it dried?

What if my tears smeared our indigo finish?

What if I painted midnight horizons into pastels?

What if each correction lightened and undefined?

What if each stroke unburdened texture of weight?

What if ink flowed from canvas to brush?

What if I dabbed brush into pigment to clean it?

What if our cleaner lines were gobbled-up by my pen?

What if I sketched our imperfect borders into nothing?

What if I created perfection; a blank slate?

What if I swallowed the wrong words instead?

What if I said the right thing and you stayed?
***

My final poem of the year, written for the final Real Toads prompt ever: PLAY IT AGAIN! with REAL TOADS, hosted by  Kerry O’Connor. I chose to write to Kerry’s LET’S FIND OUR POETIC VOICE prompt and then – as a tip of the hat – to erase, clean, or “un-write my voice”, as many of the wonderful prompts here directly contributed to my poetic voice growing and stretching in ways I never imagined possible.

Thank you to everyone at Real Toads – both the hosts and the contributors – for all of your efforts, encouragement, and support. I know this isn’t goodbye, so I’ll see you all out there next year.

Unhurried Winter Dawn

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Photo by Vincent Guth on Unsplash

Unhurried Winter Dawn

Approaching winter solstice,
dawn is a selfish lover
refusing to yield our time –
stubborn purple shawl – to Sol’s
feeble glare; nature is still,
unsure of beginning as
humanity’s headlamps speed
through, splitting tapestry in
two in the name of progress,
civilization’s ego,
harsh budgetary deadlines,
missing blissful, seemingly
fickle metamorphic dance
of dew into mist into
diamond dust. The disturbance
is a series of ripples;
dawn creeps along on her own
terms, and I love her all the
more for it. I wait with her.

Some speed off into the day,
fixated on what comes next.
Others linger in the night,
trapped by fate no longer seen.
Stay here with us for a while.
Let your eyes adjust to her.
See how her shadow shimmers?
Unhurried, yet still fleeting.
Past problems hold no power.
Next year’s light won’t reach us yet,
but today’s sunrise soon will.
I wish you’d too embrace her,
in her splendid stubbornness.
Her wonders are apparent.
You need only to wait here,
and see her stir for yourself.
***

Inspired by Poets United Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Year’s End, hosted by Susan.

First and Last Wake-Up Call

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Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

First and Last Wake-Up Call

Lip cracked,
erupted.

Stench of
menthol-infused fists
kisses mouth;

sentient ashtray punch-out.

Penny-flavored,
earthy-scented,
crimson disgust;

skin rising,
purpling dough,
enough to draw sympathy;

not enough for state-intervention.

Manly punishment for talking back.
Lead-knuckled wake-up-call
to first adult decision,

aged sixteen.

Time to go.
***

Shared at dVerse Quadrille #92: Take a crack at poeming, hosted by whimsygizmo. Other poets contributed here.

Also shared at Real Toads  November: Nothing is more memorable than scent, Imagined By Sanaa Rizvi.

Always the Butt of Your Jokes

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Photo by Ashley Jurius on Unsplash

Always the Butt of Your Jokes

An ethereal inversion;
the television’s moonbeams
combining with darkness
masking our mockery;

our shared laughter at
your expense for once

instead of your typical
plucking at our insecurities
with orchestral precision; you,
still the chillest cat in the room,

but your arsenic-tipped wit
replaced by Bible psalms,
and sincerely, instead of
your standard

“The Lord is your shepherd,
you shall not want”
atheist parodies.

You didn’t seem to mind,
but in the upside-down,
for once,
the egg was on your face.

I awoke still laughing
at your absurdity.

Dad, you were such a
magnificent bastard back then;

just a gloriously
belittling jackass.

I feared drawing your attention
almost as much as I craved it.

We all hated verbally sparring with you
because you’d gut us like catfish
while taking far more care
not to drop cigarette ash on
your freshly cleaned carpet.

We hated being victims
almost as much as we loved
being living witnesses
to your eviscerations.

But this time, we got your ass.

We ganged-up and nailed you
and that pompous Jehri-Curled afro
to the fucking wall.

You took it surprisingly well
given your massive ego,
but there was no mistaking it;

Boom! Roasted!

On a night we all saw
our man Jordan
get dunked on
and his Bulls lose
by thirty points.

I awoke still laughing
at your comeuppance.

I reached for my cell
to give you a call to remind you
and rub it in your face again;

that you’d finally been dunked-on
by those you’d repeatedly roasted
countless times; after all,

they say you only roast
the ones you love, right?

But as I grabbed my phone to dial you
the punchline came; I remembered it all;

that it was only a dream;

that not once did we ever
get the better of you;

that you probably never would’ve
been cool with that anyway;

that we never watched MJ
lose by thirty with you;

that I’d long forgotten
your phone number;

that in my contacts list
there was a blank spot
where your name should be;

that I hadn’t spoken to you
for nearly a decade,
months before you died.

Sneaky asshole.
You got me again.
***

Inspired by Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Timetravel – Flashbacks with Björn, Björn Rudberg’s last prompt at Toads.

Blackness, As Meditation

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Image by bella67 from Pixabay

Blackness, As Meditation

What can I tell you about being black?

I honestly haven’t the slightest idea.

Sure, whenever I complete a form
that’s nosey enough to ask,
I check the corresponding square,

but I’m just some random guy
born into a reddish-brown shell, and
there’s no option for human doing his best,
given the tattered incomplete playbook
passed down for generations.

Everything I learned about being black
I learned from others, from momma’s
early-warning games that life’s not fair,
the playing field isn’t level,
and the rules are different for folks
who look and sound like us; that the
difficulty settings are disproportionately

skewed; that there are folks who hate me
at first sight, before I could even begin
to hope to win them over
with a smile and a silly joke.

Being black can be tricky, but

what can I definitively
tell you about being black?

You’re better off asking one of my
blood relatives who are black and proud;

I don’t know if I’m not black enough
or not proud enough, but by all accounts,
and my admission, it’s probably both.

I’m amused by the idea of claiming pride
in something I had no control over;
it’s not like I achieved anything; it’s not
like I’m one of the best blacks like Barack
or Beyoncé or K-Dot; I’m just some dude
who popped out of his momma with
reddish-brown skin, a fear of
creepy-crawlies, and a love of words.

Being black can be bemusing, but what
can I honestly tell you about being black?

To be honest, I don’t think about it
very much these days, not unless
circumstances compel me to.

I’m certainly not doing it right,

just ask anybody with the
privilege of voicing opinion;

I don’t speak the language well enough
for anyone; if I’m confident, I’m too uppity;
if I’m insecure, I need to be saved
from my own ignorance; if I’m silent,
I’m one of the sneaky ones; if I’m loud,
I’m one of the angry ones; if I’m

actually angry, I’m a threat
that needs to be stopped by any means
that will most likely withstand
judicial scrutiny.

Being black can be maddening, but

what can I unequivocally
tell you about being black?

It would seem that I’m unqualified
to say for absolute certain.

My chest rises and falls to its own cadence.
I smile big smiles, laugh belly-laughs, and
dream dreams like any other common human.

Tears well in my eyes, and I weep
openly during sappy love stories,
or when a vigilante is acquitted

by his peers for murdering one of my peers.

(Granted, we’re all peers, but my neglecting
to use first-person singular possessive here
could be perceived as not black enough.
Refer to “being black can be tricky” above.)

I have irrational fears of spiders and zombies,
and a hyper-rational fear of meeting
the wrong policeman in a dark alley
after fitting the description.

You know the description;
it’s always the same description.

Being black can be terrifying.

But what can I fearlessly
tell you about being black?

It can be tricky, bemusing,
maddening, terrifying,
all these things at once,

and sometimes, when I’m alone,
staring at the stars above
on the blackest night,

as starlight takes eons to reach
where blackness has already been,
waiting indifferently for it,

it is an absence of all these things,

for when the cosmos
overpowers my brown eyes
with overwhelming proof
of my own individual insignificance,

that is when the truth speaks to me,
that being black is human,
and is but one of many facets
of our collective humanity.
***

Trigger warning: The video below contains satirical graphic gun violence.

Inspired by dVerse dVerse Poetics: On Shades of Black, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Other writers contributed to the prompt here. I know this one’s in dire need of editing, but I may leave it as is, as it came from an honest thread of thought.

All Hallow’s Etiquette

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Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Hallow’s Etiquette

There is just nothing
remarkable about a
Hallow’s witching hour,

where absence of light and sound
pile upon one another

until the deprived
senses conjure demons, ghosts,
and apparitions of distress

manifested in the failures
of our memories, or
their perfectly successful manner

of projecting memories
of our failures back upon us
like a house of haunted mirrors.

That ghoul is not a ghoul;
it is an eye-floater
casting a shadow upon
your retina

that became entangled
with a stray set of neurons
where an unresolved
disagreement with

your long-dead beloved
continues to take up
residence; our evolved
pattern-recognition

makes us see their sunken cheeks
and disapproving glare, and
nothing more than that.

At the very least,
that is what I tell myself
to keep my heart from racing

and my unspoken words
from spilling into this dense,
uncaring,
unremarkable space
at this ungodly hour,

where no one replies
to my wailing demands for reason,
and for good reason,
as no one is here
to hear them.

But in the extremely
unlikely event
that I’m wrong about this,

all of these reasonable
observations,
which I’m mostly certain
is extremely improbable,

if they truly exist
between our realms,

my first thought would be
probably
that demons, ghosts, ghouls,
and all the like,

in addition to being
needlessly frightening,

in all these years of
ignoring my queries

they’re also extremely rude.
***

Inspired by All Hallow’s Eve and Poets United: Midweek Motif ~ A Million Years Howl When Voices Whisper Among The Trees, hosted by  Sanaa Rizvi.

Also shared at dVerse OLN: Casting a Spell, hosted by Linda Lee Lyberg.

The Art of Ghosting

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Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

The Art of Ghosting

It requires a deft feel of
space, atmosphere,
my place within it.

Shrinking is the easy part;
few notice my contortions
to accommodate.

Conversations flow in torrents;
my awkward trickle dries,
I silently observe.

By the time anyone pauses
to notice my absence,
I’m long gone.

Disappearing one’s self
from physical social functions
call for skill and patience.

Social media ghosting only requires
resolve to never logon again;
no one looks for you there.

Voiding verbal social contracts
with friends and loved ones
can be a bit trickier.

But total mastery of this art
necessitates majestic dexterity
and stately self-loathing.

It is mastered only when
you never leave your bed
no longer seeking connection,
and no one ever again seeks
comfort within your touch.

Ghosting is easy with practice,
but living with the aftermath,
not so much.

It’s doubtful you even noticed
that I left this poem.
***

Inspired by dVerse Poetics: Your Majesty, hosted by Gospel Isosceles. Other poets contributed to the prompt here.

We were supposed to implement some type of majestic vibe into this prompt, but as you can see, I predictably went the other way with it.