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.
***

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.
***

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.

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

Tension: A Line Drawn Taught

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Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

Tension: A Line Drawn Taught

I am a tyrant.
I yielded her harvest so decent.

I play at decent.
I gorge on her harvest like a tyrant.

I am engorged; a tyrannical decency.
I yield to her harvest.

A yielding tyrant who harvests what she gorges –
Her decency.

Harvesting her “play at decent”,
yields her as a tyrant.

Decency of a tyrant!
Do I yield? Does she harvest?

Tyrannical decency! I gorge.
I gorge upon her.

I yielded, gorging her harvest so decent.
Do I play at tyrant?
***

Inspired by Real Toads Weekend Mini Challenge: The Uncertainty of the Poet, hosted by Kim M. Russell. As depicted, I opted to go with a familiar tension of sorts.

I’m kind of bummed that Real Toads is so close to ending their amazing run, so I’m trying to contribute more to their remaining prompts. It’s bittersweet, but as with most finite things within our cosmos, nothing lasts forever.

Also shared at Pantry of Poetry and Prose #7 hosted by Magaly Guerrero.

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.

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.