Alternate Heats (for Christina)

(Photo Credit: Flickr / HWicker)
(Photo Credit: Flickr / HWicker)

And so I’m left alone
wondering: what if
I’d tried to love you
rather than the warmth
of your best friend?

Would we have fireworked
just as vaingloriously,
pan-flash spark spewing
color just as quickly
as we could shed our clothes?

Or would we have bubbled
like sugar microwaved and molten,
forced into a form
we were never meant to be
shaped of or by –
the crust of our former love
crumbling everywhere in its hardness?

Or would we have brewed
like tea leaves steeped in the boil,
finally unfurling our dried tongues
preserved months ago
for someone else’s tastes,
releasing the flowers
we’d kept clenching
for no other reason
than constant reservation?

Perhaps the kettle is still,
waiting to whistle.

Poking with Sticks (for Charlie Hebdo)

(Photo Credit: Flickr / Albatross)
(Photo Credit: Flickr / Albatross)

As I read of your deaths
oceans apart
I haven’t poked the sleeping
giant in ages.
I’ve treaded softly
but have forgotten
the function
of the big stick:

not to steady the walk
but to shove others off theirs,
to knock their knees
out from under,
to steal the breaths
of their lungs
as their skin slaps
against hard ground.

The offended’s rules will never apply to us.
We’re here to push envelopes, not paper.
With every smile we crack
they crack
we make them crack
and the world releases
tension like knuckles –
loud, unrestrained, uncomfortable
in its pop and chemical pleasure.

Ours is a land without law,
and so our sticks must serve
a second purpose:
defend, parry, attack
like martial
arts like water
like rivers running
like oceans pooling
like tears falling.

May they be not of sadness,
but of joy,
for anything too true to be good.

How Hobos Happen

(Photo Credit: Flickr, Mariano del Valle)
(Photo Credit: Flickr / Mariano del Valle)

 

Society says money doesn’t make the man,
but when man doesn’t make the money either,
then what does that make him?

 

He will lose his honor, his hope, his self-respect
trying every thought he thought he ever had
to make money in an honest way, and still,
his resumes will go unanswered.

Most managers won’t even reply to tell him
of his uselessness to them, keeping him baited on the job hook
trying to breathe, swim, drown in the same ripple of muscle.

He will forego his mind and return to his once-able body,
breaking brick and hauling mass for 20-hour days
until his back submits and crumbles like the faulty frame
of the first and last house he was finally hired to build.

He will lose his home, his family, his feed, his health, his worth –
because what’s a man good for if he can’t provide anything?

He may lose himself in drugs, in theft, in violence –
but he’s only trying to give back to the economy
what it had once gifted him so unexpectedly.

They’ll call him shiftless, shameless, homeless,
lazy, broke, dumb, unlucky, crazy, fucked –
but his fullest story will go untold.

His pain and struggle will go unnoticed
as the hobo squatting on your favorite street corner
not begging for anything, but offering
to exchange his hard-earned wisdom for a few coins
dropped in his paper cup. But you will pass
him without eyes meeting. You will not listen
and not reply to his calls, no matter what he cries.

You will only pull your sweetie tighter,
urge your legs to move faster
and try to outpace his too-human stench
before it infects your life
and passes on his disease.

The 6 Types of Breakups

(Photo Credit: Flickr / Tanner Almon)
(Photo Credit: Flickr / Tanner Almon)

The we stayed in this for too long for hope of comfort.

The this is all happening too fast and we need to stop
burning rubber before we burn one another.

The hide your illness from me for over a year,
hope I never get good at the seek half of your games,
and cry childlike when I find and tag out.

The I stopped caring about you months ago,
but led you on and just decided, on a whim,
to tell you tonight that we’re through.

The I love you so much solo,
but we’ve never learned to play our song as a duet.

Death: The one that comes with flowers.

I Want My Brother’s Eyes

(Photo Credit: Flickr / Tommy Hoyland)
(Photo Credit: Flickr / Tommy Hoyland)

I want my brother’s eyes –
they can know success,
viability with one swift glance.
They can gaze and weigh without emotion,
like scissors shearing cloth.
Watch now as his jagged excess falls
to the ground, plopping
slopping into a heap to fester,
left for someone else to sweep up
the scraps, make do with that
with what he does not
want to be bothered by.

My People, Your People, Our People

(Photo Credit: Flickr / Looking4Poetry)
(Photo Credit: Flickr / Looking4Poetry)

My people came by boat, broke
with only bits of their broken families
and hands holding in the heat
of their mothers’ last kisses.
This would be the only thing to keep them
warm as they sliced across iced oceans.

My people have never owned other people.
This is the disclaimer I have used for decades.
I’d hoped it would distinguish me
from every copied wasp that managed to cut
across ponds and sting the angered beasts
huffing and stamping on the other side.
We are more alike because we are so different –
someone clipped our wings, too;
we gave up flight and learned to hold
our breath for longer
and longer trips held underwater.

My people were fortunate to find soil here.
Yours still rage in the fruitless search of it.
We have discovered how to blend with the dirt,
to forget our native tongue and simply nod
whenever mistaken for what we’re not,
for what we’ve never been.
And for this,
they’ve finally accepted us as one.

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." — Henry David Thoreau

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