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.

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.
***

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 3: Belle was a Humbug

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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.

Day 1: Aftermath (How not to Declare Love)

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Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay 

Aftermath (How not to Declare Love)

Allow her to drift back into blissful slumber
next to you
even after she gently tugged you
from your own dreams
to indulge in her fragrant valley
for the second time that night
long before the glow
of the very first time
you urgently knotted yourselves
had dissipated.

Sitting up in her bed,
with moonlight kissing her skin
where you had also done twice-over,
observe her naked breast
rise and fall
in melodic peace
as she
begins adding snores to
the composition of frogs outside
singing for their own
companionship.

Reminisce about two months earlier,
when random chaos
compelled your collision with this woman
whose smile gained a foothold,
whose laughter melted your guard,
whose eyes conspired with your own,
creating a micro-language,
with syntax known only to two.

Resist,
as much as you are able,
the persistent feeling that
even if this woman
is not to be yours forever,
so be it,
for some part of you
will always belong to her,
no matter how much you
rage against
this peculiar sensation

while simultaneously
flirting with abandon
to gain her favor,
knowing that in some way,
she also fails to resist her own
internal battle
as she is drawn to you.

Believe the lie,
with all your heart,
that you must stay the night,
for it is too dangerous to be
on the road alone
at this ungodly hour.

Accept the backrub,
for you are indeed tense.

When she kisses your bare shoulder,
your neck,
gently turning your head to kiss your cheek,
offer your lips,
for it is only polite
to accommodate a host
who holds your next breath
within her breast.

Allow what is occurring naturally to happen,
and then allow it to happen a second time.

Return to the moonlit moment
as she sleeps peacefully in the aftermath
mess-of-afterglow
you both created.

Overwhelmed by unwanted emotion
that has always been a persistent companion
to her captivating charisma,
nuzzle your naked frame into hers,
holding her close
as if you could grasp and own this moment
forever,
and whisper into her ear
the inexplicable truth
part of you wishes was a lie;

“I love you.
I don’t know why or how,
but I do.

“Perhaps I always have;
certainly, I always will,
but I do love you.”

Watch in muted horror
as her snoring stops suddenly.

Sigh in relief,
once her snoring resumes.
Add your snores to hers.

Awaken to a new day as if nothing happened,
for after all, this is just a casual encounter;
just a “friends with benefits” thing.

After all,
feelings are for suckas,
right?

In fact,
once she drops you off at work,
don’t even lean-in
for a goodbye kiss.

But do pause before leaving her car,
as she has just said your name
and tugged at your sleeve
to gain your attention
(as if that were ever in question).

Allow the goosebumps
to infiltrate your skin
as she kisses your cheek,
and when she turns your head,
offer your lips,

for it is only polite
to kiss the one who
offered you a ride to work
after claiming your body, soul,
and dome the night before.

Try not to react,
even as your heart
leaps from your chest
when she tells you,

“Oh, by the way; I love you too.”
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s Day 1 prompt; write an instructional how-to (or how not-to) poem.

She Reminded Me of That Night

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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.

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.

Doink-Doink

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears

Doink-Doink

Imagine, if you will, training most of your life perfecting a difficult skill most don’t understand or respect. You hone your highly-specialized craft in a world where most risk life, limb, and brain-trauma fighting for that extra yard, and yet few who fight for those yards can replicate the one thing in which you have invested the most.

Now imagine developing a reputation for succumbing to external pressure and frequently failing at the one task you’ve spent most of your life perfecting. Your brothers who risk life, limb, and brain-trauma fighting for that extra yard continue to believe in you and try to boost your confidence as external forces clamor to see you fail again so they can tear your embattled spirit to pieces.

Lastly, imagine that the very thing you fear most comes to pass; failure on the greatest stage of your life, melting beneath the microscope of notoriety, your greatest effort summed-up in an onomatopoeic, “doink-doink”.

I sat on my floor, having just slid off my couch, staring at my screen in silence, no longer feeling January chill born from an old furnace and poor insulation. Numb to external elements, I didn’t feel the anguish I expected in typical expected terms. The team wearing the laundry I’ve rooted for since I was four had been bested by an apparent missed kick, and as I watch an entire city prepare to heap hatred upon the kicker’s slumped shoulders, a single thought echoed repeatedly in my head…

“That poor kid.”

frail sun slips away
winter night falls unannounced
I have faced both ways
***

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: January, hosted by kim881.

Condition Zebra

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Condition Zebra

The ominous klaxon wails as boots drum steel. Seatbelts are clacking among the hurried professional murmuring. My mental-checklist rolls tape automatically within: flashgear-check, gasmask-optimal, headset audio-go, mic-check good. My scope hums into action, glowing green and amber.

“Weps, One online,” squawk my butterflies, as I note the surface contact sent to me automatically by my boss. It’s beyond gun range, but it’s streaming right for us. A single anti-ship missile would hastily end its aggression, but we can’t launch a preemptive strike without just cause. And so, we wait.

“Weps, aye,” boss booms in acknowledgement, adding, “Surface-action port-side, bearing 279-relative…”

Breathe

“…Renegade gunboat coming in hot… not responding to our hails… I guess the pirates wanna play…”

Rely on your training. You got this.

“…Batteries-tight. Do not fire unless fired upon, but stay frosty, ya got me? We got this.”

“One, aye,” I reply.

And now we wait.

the heavens shriek red
dawn or dusk, our plight unknown
now gird your courage

***

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: Waiting, guest hosted by Imelda.

One of the US Navy’s unofficial slogans was “hurry-up and wait”. Not very poetic, I know, but the topic of waiting makes me think of those days.

Pariah

Pariah

As an artist, he spins artistry – I wholeheartedly admire
But lustful seed; malicious need, delicious greed fueling his fire
Misdeeds come to light and overnight, his blights birth a pariah

Setting his art apart in heart makes me Descartes to his pariah
His harmful slips trumps craftsmanship, ripping all I admire
Provoked folks were broken on his yoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire

Using muses won’t excuse abuse; can’t recuse flair from our fire
Through introspection, we selectively reject the learned pariah
Yet we learned the life-affirmed abuse of the abuser I admired

This known pariah grown from man’s own fire of cruelty, I admire
***

Written for imaginary garden with real toads Fussy Little Forms: Tritina. This is my second attempt at this tritina form.

Also shared on Poetry Pantry #424.

Background: There is a gifted poet who I admired and wanted to emulate a great deal. I won’t mention his name here, but some of you may be familiar with his work. He basically came from nowhere, grew up in squalor, as his people were oppressed and all-but-erased by the US government. He was physically abused as a child. But he eventually fell in love with language, pulled himself up, and rose to prominence as one of America’s dynamic new literary voices.

But tragically, he then used his newfound influence to sexually harass aspiring writers looking to him for mentorship. Obviously, my heart goes out to the women he victimized. Also, I feel like a fool for admiring him in the first place, and in some small measure, for still admiring him today.

I’ve been grappling with this for several months now. His actions were abhorrent and unacceptable. But I also cannot ignore the abhorrent conditions that birthed and probably informed his actions. Hurt people hurt people. Should this man be erased for happening to others? And what of the others who happened to him when he was a young innocent child?

I don’t have the answers, but I just feel sick about the whole damn thing.