In every wing there is a feather
in every inch, infinite ways to measure;
in every crease, the mark of a fold;
in every sunrise, the times of old.
In silent, vain delight
I stir with fragrant cues.
Against the weight of unknown might
I surrender what I have to lose.
Bid thee gay, bid thee light,
soaked in rays of happenstance sights,
within walled up fragile thoughts
I tremble at this life’s looming cost.
you once were a flower.
Your hour has passed;
your bones are here to last.
I’ll clothe them in leaves,
adorn them with fine vines.
Your metamorphosis complete
as you stand still in time.
Seeds fall from your eyes
and your mouth open wide.
Have you remembered the promise you made,
when the sun on your petals once laid?
I know you didn’t forget:
In your tears and your spit
your will has been set.
When I say that the sun will rise again tomorrow
I mean that I will have trust in the stability of my horizons;
what I see is only what the light touches;
if (it’s true that the sun will rise again tomorrow):
let my faith be a sprawling oak,
with perennial roots and slow purpose,
a canopy spread wide;
touching the light;
Otherwise if (induction is not reliable and
symbols will change their meanings):
let my faith be a creeping vine,
with tendrils that extend and latch on,
what once meant secure might now mean release;
the light will touch a path’s edge at least;
my faith is but an empty hull,
prepared in anticipation of conditions never met;
what the light touches and what comes from it next
I am neither able to remember or forget;
A boy sat next to me on a street bench,
a carton of oranges in his hands,
noticing not my hunched form, fists clenched
around a misbaha, weighed by demands
that I could not fulfill, to my great shame.
The boy peels an orange, his long nails stained
yellow from the fruit’s flesh. I ask his name,
offer him a few dates, my voice restrained.
He takes one, offers back an orange.
I have many at home, but I accept
and thank him, knowing it’s not to infringe
to submit to another’s show of respect.
A discourse sparks, with joy I embellish
fruits from laborious study, a mixture
of philosophy and dogma, I relish
in those conclusions I drew from scripture,
the role of prophets, their hidden steps…
The boy listens, a faint smile on his face,
hands me another orange. I accept.
Though I have many at home, it’s my grace
To thank him for the fruit, for in truth
My gift was to allow him to provide.
He thanks me for the knowledge, though in truth
his gift was to allow my soul to thrive.
The soles of cold feet
pressed firmly onto a hard floor
in a bare room.
A life intentionally unsweetened –
though not without sweetness,
faint as it may be:
pale like the color of a dyed cloth
washed over many times,
subtle as it is enduring,
seen only by a caring eye;
tasted only by a sensitive palette –
that welcomes a world of inner richness.
I saw the perceived mentors,
who I thought could reel me back to shore,
rise, in estranged fervor
and cry shamelessly on the floor.
Drifting, drifting, evermore:
my tension eased; I had no lure.
To be like those to whom I measure for,
then just like them, I must endure.
The black skies, when they reach us here,
vulnerable I will be no doubt.
My shelter is a fickle seer;
my shield an open mouth.
To those from whom I sought for solace,
Be reassured that you filled your role.
We all bear the world’s heavy burdens, laced
with our ancestors’ unpaid tolls.
When I saw the perceived mentors
collapse and vanish to eternal rest,
I decided it was time to wade back to center
and I stood to bear the test.
[cw: contains images of addiction, violence and mental illness]
Spent the change I had on candy and coca cola.
Need money for the night bus now, need to get home to my bed.
I hate begging, but sometimes there’s just no other choice.
Fuck I need to smoke; I can’t stand this itch in my lungs.
I need a cigarette. I don’t plan on quitting in my lifetime. I’ll quit after I’m dead.
That guy I just asked had a whole fucking pack, I saw it in his pocket.
He didn’t give me even one. He walked away from me as fast as he could.
I’m going to stab his eyes out with a screwdriver, piece of shit.
I want to put his big mouth over the sidewalk, take my foot and: BOOM. Fucking right asshole!
I haven’t had dope in four days, I’m very ill. I want it so badly.
It’s cold, I don’t have any fat to keep me warm.
Finally got my cigarette! This man gave me two.
The boy next to me says he smelled like rotting flesh.
I can’t smell anymore, I say, my nose is broken.
Now he’s talking to me like he knows better than I do, stupid shit.
It’s been ten years I’ve been like this.
My IQ is 144. I’m very good with numbers. Even got my economics degree.
I’m a smart guy. I’ve tried everything — doesnt work.
I think differently than people like him. My brain is different.
Can’t fix myself. I’ve tried. Can’t.
I’ll be someone else after I die.
“You were born in my memory
already yearning for something further,
distant: what I too
wish I could articulate
but see inside of you.
Like the ray reflects light from the gemstone:
you capture what I could never say alone.
As the ray is to the gemstone:
so my inner world is articulated through your own.
The similes quickly cheapen, the language limp,
these words: movement frozen in time,
a mere fossil of the sacred breath, once whispered in my ear
(so faintly I could barely hear!)
Though maybe, you and I, together when we’re near
maybe we can find inside each other the ineffable
that we can’t find in ourselves.”
“I was born in your memory,
already yearning for something further,
distant: a howling wind
the tangled leaves
of dancing bullrushes.
Do not mourn for me at night:
the mundane like exposed blood
will only come forth in gushes.
Do not hope to find me in sight:
better to kiss a masochist
and to find in this
some nuanced kind of rite.
And night after night?
I may visit you, late,
but visit only: take heed.
I was always more pollen than seed.
In the bowels of our first moments,
my trajectory was clear; my nature a fate.
Eve always knew this, a shame you never could,
otherwise it wouldn’t have been an initiation.”
And who wouldn’t have guessed
that it would come back
to these dust covered windows,
coated in a grainy paste.
I’ve seen them before. I think of them often.
Those dust covered windows, those dust covered windows…
Your eyes on the other side. A flash of deep history;
I can’t jog my memory unless it comes up to me.
Should that happen, should I find you there
waiting in the fog-filled room,
should that happen, I will run out at dawn
and feel in good company
(though there won’t be anyone around).
I’ll make jokes, in the gray silence of the world
and won’t feel that they were wasted
in any sense of the word (whether or not they are found).
Before the season ends
and the fading lights descend,
before this moment lends
its empty memory to nostalgia:
we should make amends, my friend,
before the seasons ends,
yes, amends. How can we make amends?
What to do, what to do,
oh tell me what to do:
I’m a settled stone in a moving river,
I can feel myself being pulled.
Tell me, my friend, before the season ends,
what can be done now to ease the sting that inevitably comes
when the current carries me away?
Here I am,
sitting atop this rock –
the one you said you’d always come back to –
but here I am: alone.
How different this rock is, without you here as well.
It’s more real. It stares into me.
Do you know how to pour a glass of wine?
The falling crimson liquid,
for a proper glass,
will never reach the brim.
Let it fill just past halfway,
making sure to stop at exactly the right point:
where the smooth, curved glass
begins its upwards arch.
Though for you, my dear,
I can’t help but fill the entire cup,
and keep pouring as it overflows;
tilting the bottle further and further
to the point where it’s facing down in a vertical line –
the glass coated in falling wine
a fountain of energy misspent,
staining the tablecloth
until the bottle’s empty.
You helium balloon,
floating in the air,
I adore you, balloon,
I’ll smother you with care.
I’ll take you out for walks
while you sway but never swoon,
hovering around the ground bound rocks:
my helium balloon.
The depths of myself I project onto you,
my lovely hollow moon,
but my projections reach nothing, nothing but plastic and air,
for you hold not a thought nor a care,
inanimate and bare,
you simply are there
(just a helium balloon), drifting through the air.
There’s no soul within your empty, plastic skin.
Yet still I’ll pretend, again and again.
Old hand holds hanging lantern,
core shines with lucid glow,
and wise eyes see, through burning light,
the great secrets of the night.
Though only able to reveal parts at a time,
what lies further remains out of sight;
lamplight dwindles as it strays beyond,
so the Hermit must continue to wander on:
guiding the lantern to illuminate new land,
but leaving behind what its light once shined upon
which, marked with footprints and fading memory,
becomes hidden once more in darkness, in mystery.