A Father’s Wisdom
My father handed me his boot one day,
told me to grasp it tightly by the heel.
I had never held a weapon before;
it felt foreign in my hands.
“When you see a rat,” he said,
“you smash its head in,
smash it good.
You don’t make the pain linger
just because it pained you,
just because you’re
weak enough to fear it.
You kill the fucker quick,
send him to his god
and you get on your way.
That’s how the world works.
It’s no one’s place to question nature;
you can only walk the road you’ll walk
and hope that you don’t tread
on too many of the feet
that’ll happen to cross your path,
regardless of their intent.”
I could barely grip the shoe
with one hand, but I knew that
I would grow into it.
“Your fear and weakness
should never outshine
I’d rather burn brightly and extinguish quickly
than dwindle carefully for a long while.
Live to illuminate the room in a flash of brilliance,
not to light a single corner for as long as you can;
you should never cast any shadows,
even if it costs you your life.
We’ve advanced as a species
from broken branches to clubs,
from crude stones to
fine rifles; our handguns are
tacked to the walls of our homes,
cleaned ritually and used
habitually, always in sight.
A string on the guitar
that gathers dust in the attic
a miserable twang escaping it
that goes unheard,
a mouth that speaks
for the first time in two hundred years;
I have never wondered
why this world is falling apart.
My god can save you.
His teeth were cracked tiles that his tongue incessantly walked across.
Open your heart.
He unsheathed his knife, spoke with incendiary words that would’ve gone up in flames at the first hint of a spark.
“No,” I answered. “He can’t.”
He coiled round me like a snake, pressing up against me. His skin was rough and cracked.
What will you do without me?
I tried to answer, but I couldn’t; he stole the words out of my mouth, took them and ran into the shadows of some sleazy town, using my doubts as currency to fuel his addiction to the nightmares. My words changed hands, and just like that they were lost forever.
Stubbornness has killed your kin, as it has killed you. Nothing has meaning if you can’t sit with your sorrows at night. Who will save you? Without those words, you are worthless even to me. You would be better off on the other side of the line, playing close to the edge in the hopes that you’d eventually come back, even for a moment. But there are no ghosts here; only demons.
I heard his whispers in my sleep. I never dreamt again.
Your lips haunt me:
the words that curl slowly
from your tongue;
the way they form themselves
when they come close to mine;
how they release your breath
in inaudible slices,
that mimic your mortality.
These poems are short films
you’ll never see,
stowed away in the attic
behind boxes of my transcribed past
marked up with black ink.
I discovered the blues
when I found the door thrown open,
your drawers empty,
the breeze picking up
the edges of a shirt
that you had dropped
in your haste.
The strings cry
seared with your name;
the wind carries
I didn’t get to
meet you; I touched your arm and
you quickly ran off.
Love on the Living Room Floor
Your head is on the wooden floor and I’m above you.
Your hips arc towards me.
The phone rings.
It eventually stops.
I find the letters
on your body
and I pick up where I left off.
I add to them. You let me.
You aren’t a book in my library;
you are the novel on my nightstand
that I take with me every morning,
reading in the train, never reaching the end
but always reading.
Life and Death
Sometimes you close your
eyes, and sometimes you get to
open them again.
World’s Worst Boyfriend
I left for a reason;
I came back for a different reason.
Sometimes they weigh themselves,
dragging the scales in one direction
or the other, and I linger at the door
as I wait for someone to win.
There’s a difference between growing a beard and forgetting to shave
I tend to fall into the latter category
so that I could get over you
but all my stories were about love
and what it’s like to push someone away
out of fear and insecurity.