Then, Again, When

Then, Again, When

Your smile seduced a second look
better reserved for the next crash scene.

The look in my eyes invited conversation
that connected our storms with the serene.

Our conversation skirted the margins of comfort
as hands touched forearms, drawing towards center.

Easy comfort leant us towards assumption;
discorded motives bade us to enter.

Obtuse assumption flies into misunderstanding;
you braced for pleasure, I thrusted for connection.

Ripened misunderstanding decouples you
and me from us; introspection from fixation.

As you are still not who I thought you were,
and I am no longer who you thought I was,

we were bound forever, merged at when
we were whatever we needed again.
***

2019 In Review

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

2019 In Review

struggle
relentless, bitter
disquieting, dispiriting, disarming
dutiful, beautiful, wistful, wishful
beguiling, edifying, rejuvenating
merited, spiritual
respite
***

OK… this is my final final poem of the year. I forgot I wrote it. It is in the Diamante style. I encountered this form a few years ago, tried it once, but then promptly forgot it. I became reacquainted with it when I read a fellow writer over at Tao Talk, so I tried it again.

Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s hoping for more empathy and understanding in 2020.

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.

In Your Image

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Image source: ESA / Hubble, R. Sahai and NASA

In Your Image

After erasure, starting anew,
I’d begin with you in permanent ink,
and perhaps myself next in shading-pencil,
or even a charcoal, perhaps not
quite that dark or indelible.

You see,
I don’t know
where I’m supposed to be,
but it never really matters
as long as you’re here
with me,
and not necessarily
here with me,
but somewhere
on this massive rock,
daring to exist without meaning,

exchanging meaningful vibrations,
we’d bubble, churn,
and ooze into anvil-clouds,
raining grey slivers onto sunsets.

Because I love you,
and that is true and fine
and completely permissible
even without my understanding;

I say the words, and I feel it,
even as I don’t know exactly
what it means; I mean I chose it,
but even had I not,
I’d have it all the same,
splitting my breastplate,
spitting into my denying eye
as the heart rushes to keep pace
with the words that won’t come,
claims that get caught out-of-sync
like an 80’s high-hat sharp-hit
where a 90’s boom-bap snare-kick
should land as planned.

Nothing went as planned;

I crave order and there is none
and that is perfectly fine
except when it isn’t;

I desire structure and superstructure
even as I chafe at the yoke
holding us together; holding us apart;

I’d shatter the firmament
for your fleeting smile;

with a snap of my fingers,
I’d snuff-out the sun
if it meant that my final moments
were sitting on a rapidly cooling
solitary park bench
next to you,
hips scarcely touching,
in tranquil silence.

I’d ruin the image,
saving your sketched outline;
my greatest work.

How can I possibly remake this world,
the next, or any other?

My own name,
now and beyond,
lacks structure or meaning
unless you write its narrative
with hands that shape its very context,

or unless you call upon it,
breathing its purpose
with your own lips;

which isn’t the same as saying
without you in my life, in some way,
I am nothing,
but it’s oddly similar to
The Commodores without Lionel Richie
in that I struggle to find the point.

But what I do know is this;
I’d begin with you
in permanent ink.
***

Inspired by dVerse Poetics: New Year – New World, hosted by Mish. Other poets contributed to this prompt here.

Sixpence Finalities

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Photo by Ryan Parker on Unsplash

Sixpence Finalities

She lied, striking joy from our journal.
I bore false witness against myself ‘til she shattered.

I whispered to our synching pulses.
Here lives our melody; lyrics lost to history.

Betrayal smelled like him on her lips.
I blew kisses, burning our garden in foreign tongues.

She was of earth and time left behind.
I fold it as fabric, creased at where she and I met.

Displaced by ocean as decades blur,
we leave love notes as moon phases for blue stargazers.

The sky will fall, all voices silenced.
Her name transcends sound, as it is formed from cosmic breath.
***

Inspired by Real Toads May the fire in our hearts keep burning as though there is no end ~, hosted for the final time by the lovely, brilliant Sanaa Rizvi . I’m not gonna cry! I’m not gonna cry!

These six Landay (Couplets of nine and thirteen syllables) may be read as a single poem, but they were created as six separate poems about six separate subjects.

 

Pure Intimacy

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Image by aalmeidah from Pixabay

Pure Intimacy

“True intimacy is a state in which nothing exists between two people; no space, no inhibitions and no lies.” – Ranata Suzuki

Have you ever had pure intimacy?
Not to be confused with lingering,
humid summer passion,
it is timid, pallid winter sun
kissing ice crystals with fleeting beauty,
arriving at low angles on high latitudes,
vulnerable, rarely intense enough
to accompany morning tea,
breaking fast after breakfast as lovers
franticly throw open south-facing curtains
capturing as much tenuous warmth
as time and nature allows.

Ever leaned into a winter sunset?
It ignites frosty edges of clouds,
embracing with fiery shadows,
but then it is barely there,
gone in a ghostly cirrus whisper,
leaving Mercury in retrograde as lovers
shrouded in twilight wonder
if it ever existed at all.
***

Inspired by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Sunday Writing Prompt “Intimacy”. Other poets contributed to this prompt here.

 

Not Like That, But Deeper Still

Pharos

Pharos ~ The Lighthouse
Kerry O’Connor
@skyloverpoetry

Not Like That, But Deeper Still

Your soul pierced the black,
guiding me to your shore;

to you, unmasked,
regardless of
jovial exterior;

your amiable patina,
outshined by
your inner light;

moonbeams divine
whitecap from ocean,
revealing your pain;

inside, you’re lonely like me;
we resonate without words;

wings spread,
I flew to you.

Love-at-first sight? Superficial,
unlike your beckoning lighthouse.
***

Pacifico

Pacifico ~ The Pacific Ocean Kerry O’Connor @skyloverpoetry

Inspired by Real Toads Art FLASH! / 55 in December, hosted by Kerry O’Connor.

Also shared at Poets United Pantry of Poetry and Prose #7.

Bed Unmade

Bed Unmade

“But I couldn’t control my restlessness, an eagerness for violation was growing in me, I wanted to break the rules, as the entire world seemed to be breaking the rules.”

– Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, a novel by Elena Ferrante

We should forget.
It’s better this way.

I won’t divine
entangled spirits
from rat-nested bedsheets,
shades unfurled,
eclipsing shame.

We have fun.
Yeah we did.

No love misplaced,
like spilled spirits
and tongues.

Yet I return,
haunted spirit,
to the mistake
we never made.
***

Inspired by Real Toads Words To Live By, hosted for the final time by Rommy. We were asked to reflect on a word or quote that means something special to us.

Ironically, as someone who loves words, I drew a blank here. Ultimately, I settled on a quote from a book I’m currently reading (Book three of a four-book series by Elena Ferrante, collectively titled Neapolitan Novels.)

Also shared at dVerse Quadrille #93: Spirited Poems, hosted by whimsygizmo. Other poets contributed to this prompt here

Last Thing I Hear

Last Thing I Hear

I bzz-buzz his beer
‘cuzz it’s bittersweet.

He shoos me;
irritatedly,

so I bzz-buzz her martini.
She’s staring past me,

through him, past his seat,
to wherezz? Why ask me?

I’m to bzz-busy, you see?
This bzz-sequence is key!

She ignored me! I’m in!
Sweet delectable sin!

Bzzyum yummy-yum,
oh I knew I’d love rum,

now-drowsy, oh no,
the bar scene runs slow;
no one can save the groove,
molasses-mellow,

morass-indigo;

wings heavy with
melancholy
fate and doom
sweet regret swells,
atrophy and ache,
can’t movezzz!

She frownszz,
slow-blink,

he frownszz,
I drink, I drownzz,

I think, unwound;

can we flies think?

Impaired,
the bland bar muzzac
disappearszz
into thin air.

Do flies have earszz?
Meh, I don’t care,

but the last thing that I hearszz,
before it all vanished into ether

he zz-said to her wet eyelids,
with scarcely a whisper,

“I’d have given you kids;
we’d have been good together.”
***

Inspired by dVerse Poetics: Surrealism in Poetry, hosted by Linda Lee Lyberg. Other poets contributed here.

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.