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.

Scattered Vapor (Blue Side of Pale Series)

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Photo by Msh Foto on Unsplash

Scattered Vapor (Blue Side of Pale Series)

Blue sky is a liar; her limits are blue
Her lies transmute fires that weld me to you

The sun brings to light every pigment we hide
Our surface perspires; misty deja-vu

The wind carries laughter, cool respite, rain’s scent
Nostalgia transpires; soil smelling of you

The earth turns away as my summer sun sets
Our shadows conspire to blend beyond view

To know is to love – is to hurt you, I fear
My love won’t expire; pain melds me to you

Whisper to the night, as blue-sky gathers lies
When your Bear retires, new moon guides us through.
***

Written for dVerse Poetry Form: Ghazal, hosted by Grace this week. Other poets have contributed here.

On Interracial Marriage

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Image by author

On Interracial Marriage

I don’t believe in it
it’s an obvious lie

not whether or not
it should exist, mind you
but its alleged existence
in an existential sense

there is no such thing
as interracial marriage
there is only the union
of those vowing to unite

for life is far longer
than most would know,
far shorter than we think

and it is ripe with vile horrors,
disappointments and cruelties,
and capricious random chaos, and so

if while navigating our bedlam
providence smiles upon you
as you brave muck and misery alone,

and you’re lucky enough to find
someone whom you vibe with
who leads with kindness, loves with
gentleness, rewards loyalty in-kind,

and makes you want to rise
to face the winds of fate
with a defiant smile on your face

then what in multicultural hell
does it matter of their lineage, creed,
sexual preference,
or the color of their skin?

Leavenworth

Image by author

***

Originally posted on Medium.

Of course, I couldn’t pick just one rendition…

Shared on dVerse Open Link Night.

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.
***

Luckiest Man Alive

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Image by author. (He made me step off the curb. He’s not really taller than me.)

Luckiest Man Alive

If you asked me
what makes a man

–  and I mean
a good man;

someone who
keeps it one-hundred
at all times –

I would pause, smile
and tell you all about
my little brother.

If you asked me
what makes a man
a devoted dad

who may not have
all the right answers
all the time,

but who still
throws himself, full-assed
into the thankless
hard parts,

again,
I’d begin the convo
with my lil’ bro.

If you asked me
what makes a man
a keeper of the flame

a caretaker of
my earliest dreams
and fears

a silent observer
when silence is needed

a vocal objector
when I need to be checked
and called-out

the loudest supporter
when I need saving
from myself

and the ruckus-bringer
when shit gets too hot
and needs extinguishing
with a flame-thrower,

well shit,
you should already know
though I do feel bad for you
and great for me.

You see,
I’m the one
lucky enough
to be able to say,

“Let me tell you about
my lil’ bro, Phil…”
***

Written for my lil’ bro Phil, on the occasion of his 40th birthday, and shared on dVerse OpenLinkNight #243. Others contributed poems here.

Ode to the Sassy So-and-So

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Photo by Erin Simmons on Unsplash

Ode to the Sassy So-and-So

You’re a pain in my ass; sassy so-and-so.
Atypical opening as odes go, I know.
But your fiery spirit serves you well thus far,
and as far as you’ve come,
who the hell knows where you’ll go?

I’m going to level with you here, dearest one;
this wasn’t supposed to have rhyme or meter.
In fact, I almost wrote another clichéd line

– about catching the stars, as if!
I mean, I know, right? – but

you’ve been earthbound
for a quarter-century now,
so no more fairy tales.

You’re as tough as I raised you, tougher
than I envisioned, and I’m relieved for it.
You’re tempered for a cruel world, and yet
you refuse to let it make you unkind.

And while I’d love to take all the credit,
like I knew the masterpiece of you
was hidden in the marble all along,
you are the artist of your destiny;

I’m just pleased to see who you are
and who you will become.

I say again, as it is a good catchphrase;
you’re a pain in my ass; sassy so-and-so,
and I’m lucky to have you around, I know,
wherever you go, I’ll be with you always.

Oh, and please rinse your dishes.
I’m your dad; I’m not your maid.
***

Written for my Turtle, on her 25th birthday.

 

Day 26: Vapors

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Photo by Yohann Lc on Unsplash

Vapors

It was just a dream; I grasp at the vapors.
Lying between them, I hug their legs close.

Unworthy of wholeness, I hug their legs close.
I can’t see their faces, yet I see their beauty.

I feel where they ache; yes, I feel their beauty.
It wells up within me knowing I am unworthy.

Their pain becomes mine and I’m so unworthy.
We lie there, and I talk of light we won’t see.

The night shines above; starlight we can’t see.
They take in my words in a naked silence.

We strip away lust, leaving naked silence.
Revealing softness, we bare our raw fears.

In dark, quiet space, we share our raw fears.
In dawn’s softened light, I relax my grip.

They scatter, taking flight when I relax my grip.
Released from a dream, still grasping at vapors.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 26 prompt: “write a poem that uses repetition”.

Recently, I’ve done more than a few repetition poems using various forms, but I haven’t dabbled in free verse repetition. I thought I’d give it a go while writing about a semi-lucid dream I had recently.

Granted, I (poorly) aped Jerico Brown’s brilliant style, so technically it’s not a free verse, but I don’t know what else to call it besides “style-jacking” so, here we are.

Oh, and I’m all caught up now, so it’s bourbon time!

Day 20: Gas Leak, Revisited

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Gas Leak, Revisited

I was stuck in a country music bar on base
due to a gas leak; don’t ask, I didn’t get it
either, but our instructor bought us a round
of Jack ‘n cola to pass the time, and damn, bruh,
that shit tasted like tasty-ass smoke, ya knamean?

I was hooked on brandy at the time, but that changed
‘cause that Jack Daniels tasted like brandy with balls,
but when I told my classmate, he was like, nah, son
you should try this, and he fitted me with bourbon,
and damn man, it was like all my shit locked in place,
the air felt right, the gal behind the bar flirted,
the lady next to me almost got me dancing
and if we’d all died in an explosion that night,
I’d have been pretty chill with how chill things turned out.

But we didn’t die, the gas leak was cleaned-up good,
and my homey who showed me that dope-ass new drink
dropped me at the airport to meet wifey in-time,
and yeah, he probably shouldn’t’ve been driving,
it was fucked-up, but we got away with it, and
that’s not really the point I’m trying to get at;

I mean, when I was trying new drinks and flirting
with women I never would’ve met otherwise,
up to that point in my young life, I never felt
so… you know… alive… like I was finally here,
and all that woke shit came to a dead-ass ending
as soon as wifey flew back in from Chicago,
like, the vibe was gone, the warning signs were right there,
but I just said fuck it and moved on, making sure
I added bourbon to next month’s shopping budget.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 20 prompt: write a poem that “talks”; that is based in normal, contemporary spoken language.

I typically try to use cuss words moderately in my poetry and within context; never for “cheap heat” or shock value, but when it comes to my normal every-day dialogue, I cuss like a… well… you should know by now.

Note: I know I skipped yesterday. I was drained, so I gave myself permission to take a break. I plan on making-up yesterday’s prompt, though.

Day 12: You Are Here

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Photo by Yash Raut on Unsplash

You Are Here

on the surface
of an unremarkable rock
hurtling through vast emptiness
in countless relative terms,

one of which –
along with seven rocky
and gassy siblings –
circumnavigates
an unremarkable sphere
of super-heated plasma

– one of countless
sibling-stars clustered
within one of countless galaxies
within numerous
super-clusters of galaxies
within the observable universe.

You lack significance
to even register as dull
as far as the cosmos is concerned,

but you are the cosmos
and you are my cosmos
smelling of lavenders
found only in our corner
of the cosmos

and you taste of honey
made by bees
who defend their queen
nearly as well
as my will
to protect you
and make you laugh,

and upon hearing your laughter,
there probably won’t be
a butterfly effect
that destroys Tokyo,

but as vibrations
of your laugh
met the membrane
of my eardrum,

my heart skipped several beats,
so you shortened my life
by fractions of fractions
of fractions of seconds,

which is far too insignificant
a measurement to fret about.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 12 prompt: “write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it. Alternatively, what would it mean to you to give away or destroy a significant object?”

Okay, so I cheated a little bit and shifted the scale ever so slightly, and I didn’t write about a thing I own. Thirty days of poetry is a lot, you know?

I’m already scared enough of boring folks.

I worry about my own words being too dull for me to write about actual dull things. I’m beginning to get sick of my own poetic voice and writing about my favorite pair of holey underwear just wasn’t going to cut it today.  

Day 9: Things that Fulfill the Senses, Leaving Lasting Emptiness in their Wake

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Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Things that Fulfill the Senses, Leaving Lasting Emptiness in their Wake

1.
Singular flames
roosting, dancing atop candles,

especially collectively
as birthday cake toppers,

especially when singularly
illuminating rooms
where lovers begin loving
in earnest,

especially within places
of worship and vigil
and mourning

2.
The round, full sound of bells
singularly, as a bicycle warns stragglers
to make way

or when affixed upon a cat’s collar
to mitigate hiding and stalking,

or from the needs of a beloved
on their sickbed
requesting soup
or cuddles,

or the one tolling
for their sudden departure

3.
The round,
full sound of bells
in plural, as in church
bells after weddings, or a bright
rapid

sleigh bell
cacophony or incessant
rapid ringing of a
land line, leading
edge of

a next-of-kin notification

4.
Laughter of infants
discovering their toes for
the first time, followed

by squeals of discovery
that toes can be quite ticklish

5.
Laughter of my father,
which sounded like a warbling
singular bell when it hit him
deeply and unexpectedly,

informing my insecure childhood
that regardless of any
dire circumstances,

everything
was going to be alright
in the end

6.
My dad’s laugh,
despite himself,

accompanied by his
subtle rebuke and
halfhearted admonishment

as I made him laugh
repeatedly

by quietly mocking
my freshman health teacher
during parent-teacher
conference night

7.
My dad’s laugh, accompanied by
his circular dance on an invisible candle,

as his wide, astonished eyes
observed for the first time,

his adult son, fitted in service dress blues
as a newly-minted Navy boot camp graduate;

I scarcely believe his swelling pride
let his feet touch the ground once

8.
Two decades later,
with a raspy hiss
replacing his resounding laugh,

dad’s eyes,
laughingly admiring me
even as his raspy voice
admonished me

against making him laugh
as it aggravated his cancer
as I continued instigating

because cancer deserves to be
agitated, unseated
whenever possible

9.
Those rare moments when
hilarity takes me by surprise,
causing me to break out
in giggle-fits, only to hear

the warbled-bell of dad’s laugh
ringing from deep within me,

or when I catch him
peeking at me
from my own reflection

as I wipe tears
of laughter
from my eyes

10.
Toes.
I mean, what can I say?
Babies are right; toes are both
hilarious and mostly worthless.
***

Happy Birthday, Dad. You would’ve been 67 today.

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 9 prompt: write your own Sei Shonagon-style list of “things.”