what remains of us

Strange, what remains of us, your name– gone from memory now. You were among the first to believe that I’d a voice– telling me of your novel, 70,000 words, sitting in a wooden drawer. My own only reached 10,000 words, a few worthwhile, before strangling itself.

Strange what remains of us, not even a name, but the image of a soul’s culminating essence– a dark sadness that mocked its own fair-skinned birth, an inward virulence, yes– madness, a jester-hatted smirking bedfellow to your kindness, its possession of your soul, complete.

Only a woman could’ve done this– tho you never told me her name.

young vagabonds

It was then, when we’d been tussled young vagabonds– that I’d learned of words, their promises, and their treason. I remember the first beige-paper letter I ever wrote to you and the stark room– where a crimson-glow sun bled out inside a narrow window that didn’t open and the walls stood tall and blank beside me. I’d only wanted you to be where I was then, or I with you– both of us rescued from this world, every detail shared.

I didn’t love you yet.

I mailed the letter from somewhere in Kansas; on the road, there ain’t nothin’ but nothin’, and more of it over the horizon that never arrives, only changes– nothin’ but screaming thoughts and haunted voices, and whispers– your song and your laughter gave solace between the rumble-thump of tires and the red needle dropping low.

Finally home, four dark walls made me miss the horizon, its rising hem that teases our wishfulness as we give chase, right foot to the floor. Each letter was several pages longer than the last. I wrote to you for hours every night by the heat of a yellowed bulb. Oh, the places we traveled, in my mind– we danced again, but this time sober, aware, inside the moment’s fire.

I still have your letters here, somewhere; I know better than to read them now.

love’s cherishment

Poetry is too impersonal to convey love’s cherishment. The trouble is in the words themselves. Each would wish to be a god, but there are no gods. There is only seduction, shouted into the soul’s echoing well, when we’d wish’d compassion’s whisper.

Can you remember– the lake’s shimmer? Aye, the way the water held the sky above us, and kept us from the darkness below– Our conversations, our silence, both brimming, and entwined, each a continuation of the other, seeming never to end. To the east, there was a fence, broken by vandals, its opening wide enough to crawl through. I’d ventured inside once, finding another lake beyond the tree line, but without you there, after you’d left, all I could hear was the calls of the birds. I’d watched a swirling-purple sky yield to night’s cruel obsidian, and I spoke to you, without speaking. I’d whispered your true name, that which’d been known only to me, that which’d been told only in silence. Nothing stays the same.

honor

they’re the largest lies

ever told

these poems–

in third person

pronouns

entire existences

reduced

to she

or her

distanced–

as though

a poet

could watch

a soul

from above

if I’ve any honor

remaining

in these years

grown slender

I’ll never write

another

as such

red-painted letters

Love stays in our shadow, never far behind, tho silent, as are a poet’s deepest poems, those never written.

Morning had come and mostly gone when she’d arrived. Haughty, pleasantries’ fraudulence danced between white wisps of smoke drifting upward from my cigarette like lovers whose fingers never brush against the skin of the other anymore; a double entendre leaped through a shivering silver-haze ring, as graceful as a dancer, tho unnoticed. If you listened closely, all you could hear was the distance, the mumbled muddle that fills the days.

“Words are the worst invention yet,” I thought to myself, perhaps saying it aloud, “never able to tame a thought, unable to hear a soul’s symphony, deaf and useless, never able to love. Death is not the end of sentience; our words shall end us.”

I’d spent the morning writing poems.

We knew before we knew– where this rendezvous of retrospection was going, careening toward our only honesty, headlong into wrist-bound surrender, the silence between gasps of pleasure screaming all our secrets in red-painted letters that reach the sky.

When it was over, and it always ends– leaving us to the echo-voices of our solitude’s madness, she asked, “When did you start drinking again?”

Karōshi

Karōshi, they call it
such a lovely name
for working ourselves
to death

you can feel it–
a diminishment
as the days fall over
piled upon those prior
flattened, like a folded hand
all the mass
removed

tho a redemption
another soul
taken notice
this one moment
saved
from the gray
savored
like a poem

young trouble
talking on the phone
yellow-straw hair
tied haphazardly
intentionally random
head tilting
and the thinnest wisp
of a smile
softens a stone resolve

keep on walking, brother
it just ain’t worth it
for something
strange

she was wearing
those big sunglasses
like all the girls
are wearing these days
and like the movie stars
used to wear
last year
a slim white cigarette held
between her middle
and ring finger
sizzles and crackles
when drawn
a slow exhale
lips pursed
and she’s
gone

keep on walking, brother
the time ain’t right
and it ain’t ever gonna be
right
she’s for another
but you know

she’ll

make you feel
alive

like a woman
who screams at you
swearing
red, and sweating

and then claws at your back
until you’re hearing bells
and the taunts of angels
who cackle, spread their wings
and depart, leaving you there
panting, and bleeding
but most certainly
not dead

tho, how
can we ever be
certain?

tall silence of the gray

there is a bottom
to this place
tho it looks a lot like–
when you’re on top
when nothing can go wrong
but you’ll find
some different people
there
at the bottom
where the valley is wide
and flat, and hoary rubble
where the pinnacles
we’d once claimed
hold new flags
in the clouds
tho the sun still shines
and the days
still come and go
and come
and go
as always
aye, you’ll find
some different people
below
some, the same–
and oft times a few less
than you’d known before
tho there be hordes, unknown
wanderers, and crossed-eyed babblers
and slurring lunatics
or mutes, scratching noisily at their skin
or anarchists, black-clad and clamorous
or some– becoming suddenly
red-faced, and pious
and some are quite loud
about it all
to stave off
the tall silence
of the gray
yet still, they are each
distant
muddle, and murmurs
from miles away
even when right beside you
screaming– about nothing
or about everything
and everyone
loved
and all things
touched
are not really there
anymore
the reach of a hand
to comfort another
passing right through
where they’d once been
souls, and flesh, now like notions
become ghosts in the ether
except the ground
the concrete streets
of the fallen cities
stay
there is a bottom
and the stony soil
of the wide valley
remains
unyielding, beneath
those grown weary
tho they’d wish it
give way