Aftermath of the Swell

Aftermath of the Swell

Sometimes
your words dry up like soil in drought.
Unearthed clumps of rusty brown clay feel like rocks.
When clenched in a frustrated fist they turn to dust and slip through your fingertips leaving a meager pile of dry grit on cracked ground. Easily swept away by the slightest breeze, no trace they ever existed. No record that they were selected and held, turned over in the palm, examined. Like hourglass sand, they’re just gone. You can’t remember what happened in 1998, there’s nothing left from the sift.

Other times there’s a raging storm. The swell comes suddenly. A cumulonimbus emerges from the fingertip of the universe, the edge of a misunderstood dimension. A siren somewhere in Nebraska fires up, tries to warn you, you might recognize the sound, but you’re never really prepared. You stare in fascination at the calm green yellow glow of the adjacent sky as it gets darker. You are a frog in an unwatched pot, unable to look away. Your eyes search for the formation of a vortex like scanning a car crash as one does passing by on a busy highway. Pulse quicker at the thought of broken bodies, exposed bones, and blood. There’s nothing you remember more than the taste of blood in your eyes.

A rogue cumulus the color of Gotham City spirals counterclockwise and collides with the volatile rolling wall cloud racing northeast at a 40 mile per hour clip. It rips a hole in the dense grey gauze above you and rain spills out, pearl white peas spill out, your marbles, guts, and all of 2016 rains down. Bleached walnuts crack windshields a half a block away, break the reflection of the sky but still, you don’t move. You need this disaster. This is the very definition of need.

The pouring rain saturates the ground and starts to collect in pools at your feet. You dance in the swell, open your throat and drink it in giant gulps. If it becomes too deep you find a boat, grab an oar, and give in to the urge to sing. You ride it. You ride up and over each wave. You brace for impact each time the bow of your craft crashes down, but you don’t stop. You ride it. You ride it out, until it subsides.

When the bottom of your boat is low enough to scrape the pavement, you fish one of the bone white walnuts off the sidewalk and squeeze it in your fist. It feels like a rock, it doesn’t yield to the pressure. You squeeze tighter
and the cold of it stings your palm and fingers.
They become red and wet
and this.

Posted in First Draft Friday, Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Open Window

Open Window

I’m sitting by the window watching wind blow,
watching time go, watching cars
go by. The street noise and the taxicabs
can’t seem to reach me here.
What if one day all the cars below were stopped

in the gridlock and people all got out and started taking
started walking home or somewhere else they wanted
to go? Would she have written that note
that day and gone out the window?
Would she have been thirty two
flights above
thirty something, loving nothing
throwing herself away to change her life?

Would he have gone out the window
after her? Would we?
Or would we end up by a stream
with flowers in our hair.
Would we find peace is not having to decide
instead, work on watching birds fly
or the sunset, holding on
to life instead of learning to let go?

Would we discover what we lost
when we lost our way climbing through the gridlock,
climbing higher inside a starirwell
paint chipping off the metal handrail
to this 32nd floor apartment window.

***

I initially wrote this on Thursday January 17th, 2019 during one of many sessions with a group of like-minded writer friends who are all amazing writers and truly wonderful people. It was inspired by a prompt of the day  “Outside the Window”, which was one of those “365 prompts for your year” kind of sites.

There are a few stolen/partially modified lyrics from a couple of songs I really dig. One of which is Cake’s song “Guitar” and the other from the Violent Femmes Song, “Out the Window”, both of which I always think of when there is some mention of “out a window”.  I am not quite sure other than that how to give credit where credit is due.

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Portentous Man

Portentous Man
His speeches are portentous
pedestal stepping
hands waving in grandiose circles
finger wagging from his tongue
eyes on fire with conviction.
He means what he says
without question
without introspection
without compassion.
A herald in the eye of the storm.
***
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This poem was inspired by the word of the day on wordgenius.com. The photo was also acquired there.
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What’s In the Mirror

What’s in the Mirror

It’s morning again and I’m looking in the mirror.
Natural curls of my hair cling to each other in fluffy waves on top
and tight, smooth spirals underneath.
I flip it forward, in front of my shoulders,
check the length,
and then flip back again
admiring how it looks better
after just waking up.

I stare a little too long
and try to squash the argument
about why I can’t feel the same
about the rest of me
and begin to wander
the brown, unwashed streets of
“something’s not quite right”.

Something inside of me is throbbing
and aching and winding up and unwinding.
Could it be my heart?
Could it be too heavy?
Or my mind stretching
to get itself around some external thing
like the sky being too big
or the possibility of a world without a sky –
some existence where the words “blue”
and “rain” and “clouds” and “wind”
are met with the furrowed brow
of incomprehension?

What if it’s not me at all
but a different girl? Katie
who I barely know
who was raped last week, on a date
and wrote a poem about it
and posted it on Twitter
who I have laughed with
over giving the finger to the moon
who I now want to reach out to,
and stand next to in solidarity
or maybe just hug.

Or what if it’s that other girl, Charlotte
who I used to know
who finally died of the cancers
that crept, like time, through her body
and sank jagged teeth into her bones
leaving behind two babies
who will only remember their mom
as a person fighting for her life.
They won’t know the 20-something,
strawberry-blonde girl, full of energy
who hung out at Billy Frogs on Fridays
after work drinking cheap vodka crans,
laughing at stupid things
and splitting nachos
who I can’t hug, because she’s gone.

Or what if it’s that other girl, Z
who I know so well because I gave birth to her
and she’s getting ready to fly
and the sky is impossibly vast
and could collapse in on itself at any moment,
strands of air clinging together as they spiral
down and crash into the earth
and leave her drowning in a dirty brown sea
with nothing blue or green to hang on to.
My mind flinches and stops
on that cold, dead end street.

I can’t stop time
or un-melt the polar ice caps.
I can’t save anything or anyone
from the certain doom that happens naturally
when human beings are involved
because they are inherently selfish
and sometimes only think about things
like how their hair looks
when they first wake up.

Posted in First Draft Friday, Poetry | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Paper Shredder

The Paper Shredder

apathy enters, unannounced, stage left
demands a spotlight
a flipped switch
a mislabeled outlet
a mischievous 3 year old
a love letter
accompanied by an old photo with no names on the back

imaginary, invisible strips of paper and rose flesh
scotch tape
and hours hovering,
recovering from hunching over
unrequited aching joints
unrewarded good deeds
unanswered calls
unsung, unwon,
Some things just aren’t meant to be
undone

***

This poem has been accepted by Z Publishing House and is now published in the anthology, “Nebraska’s Best Emerging Poets 2019”.

To purchase a copy of the book, which is a collection of poems by 10 different Nebraska based authors, please visit the Z Publishing website at:
Z Publishing House Featured Collections

 

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Permission

Permission

Mind the minor gaps in memory –
traverse across them as dust
caught in twilights gaze.
Behold regret
found in spaces between the light.
Take a walk with awareness
and embrace time,
a gift from an Indian giver.
Find freedom in the chaos of a windy mind, let go.
Soar up, and away like a kite.

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Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

A tangled web of twine tied round and round
and I wound up bound by a hunter
who had haunted me
set the trap and stalked me
through dense forests REM sleep.

There is where I set up my camp
and carried out ritual dances for the gods
of rain and fertility and sun and life
some nights I was walking endless halls
while others were about the end of The Word.

Now that I’ve been nabbed
there’s no telling which way the story will go
no one is at the post to dance and pray
no guard at the gateway to filter the flood
fair warning for all – the dreams are coming.

***

This poem has been accepted by Z Publishing House and is now published in the anthology, “Nebraska’s Best Emerging Poets 2019”.

To purchase a copy of the book, which is a collection of poems by 10 different Nebraska based authors, please visit the Z Publishing website at:
Z Publishing House Featured Collections

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