unrest

December 7, 2009

it sneaks up on you
the restlessness
the soft buzzing panic
the dread that looms on the
borderlands of your consciousness like a
slate-colored fog

then you start to fidget, flinch,
shivver like you got a soul-chill
you mutter and curse under your breath
spontaneous tourettes
you try to breath normally

you imagine never being loved
you imagine never being welcome
you ignore the hours and hours you spent
over the weekend with friends and family
and focus on the word “single” in
your social networking profile

you look at the number of
emails in your inbox, and on any other day
it would be totally manageable,
but today you can hear the cacophony of voices demanding your attention and best efforts and it seems like you’re starting to lose the handle on your work and everyone is going to be let down and your coworkers who are almost but not quite your friends will see through you for the phony that you are, and then there are the things you have to remember, all these things, all these little changes and decisions you’ve decided that now seem so overwhelming and you know you’ll never measure up and you know that she was right about you she was right she saw right through you and you never could answer her attack dog questions with anything other than shrugs, so here you are now, trying desperately to hold your shit together as you pray for the minutes to pass until you feel unguilty-enough to leave because you came in late after waking up sick and tired and sad and not wanting to deal with the day and then there’s

you take a breath.
you tell yourself
it’s going to be okay,
you know what this is,
this is merely the beginning
of the dark humour you’ve grown
accustomed to over the last few years
but you’re trying to get better
so you stop and recognize the signs
the patterns
you give it a name, a label, as if that
gives you any control

you look up the definition of
holly golightly’s mean reds
for the seventeenth time and then
remember that it’s not quite the same
it’s like an angry panic,
this feeling in your chest, in your head,
it’s like a wounded, howling grendel
thrashing, bleeding, and crying
as he stumbles and slides into the
ninth-century darkness

you realize you’re overstating
and you feel self-conscious.
it’s not the blues, nor the mean-reds,
so you try to think of a new name.
the foul greys. the cold slates.

you give up on names, and try to
distract yourself with your email.

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space

November 23, 2009

i never stopped reading your diary.
but when you made it clear that we
weren’t going to work (and you were right),
it seemed like you disconnected. I wanted
to keep talking, but you drifted downstream
and found someone new to sing to.
and that’s fine, that’s your right, and if
you’re happier now, then i’m happy for you now.
but i still check my phone seven times a day
hoping for a word or two from you, even
a brown cow saying moo.
you haven’t been around,
and never said goodbye,
it seemed like you wanted space, and space i
gave, not willingly. so please, friend,
don’t blame me for disappearing,
i never went anywhere, i just gave you what i
thought you wanted.
if i’m wrong, tell me i’m wrong.
if i’m welcome, tell me i’m welcome.
but give me something other than
your metered accusation that i was
the one who rejected you because you
weren’t what i expected.
history doesn’t change, even when you spin it.
i never left, i just gave you space, and you drifted
out of my orbit.

i never stopped reading your diary.

sympathy

November 9, 2009

i’m trying not to listen.
the four man-children
sit circled by the window
spewing streams of skubalon,
so confident in their supposed wisdom.
(how old are you guys, 22? shut up, kids.)
and as they describe their conquests,
their past lovers, their apparently limitless
skills in the art of romance,
i pity every woman who’s had to endure
the droning nonsense of
their alleged brilliance in order to
quiet the loneliness in her own heart.

whomever you are, ladies who have suffered under
the weight of these four immature male egos,
i want you to know that i’m sorry,
that you’re better than that
and that you deserve so much more.

berlin

November 9, 2009

less than twenty years ago
you asked me to tear down my walls
so i tore my fingertips on their jagged stones
and dismantled them brick by brick
(peace by peace)
reconnecting to a part of myself that
i thought had been shut down forever.
the glasnost of my almost-thirties
(emotional perestroika)–

you have no idea what i’m talking about.
another sign of how old i’m getting.

the point is, the best thing about the
Evil Empire that everyone seems to forget
was the order of such a closed-off society:
the trains ran on time, and fear
kept the rabble from erupting in the streets.

after my walls fell, and my soul finally engaged
yours in free trade, i lost sovreignty, and now
this pretty democracy has
reduced my heart to
chaos
disrepair
and mob-rule.

burn

November 4, 2009

no matter what i write
(about ships or shoes or sealing wax)
you’ll think it’s about you.
(that’s okay, i’d do the same thing.)
and the fact is, it would be, because
you have been my great inspiration
for the past few weeks.
see, i first started writing
broken lines and off-rhymes in a
notebook with a spiral spine
back in high school when the girl i
thought i loved didn’t think she
loved me back. see, love has always been
the fuel of my creative fires–
when i wanted it, when i had it,
and when i lost it.

so no matter how
bad i feel now about the lost chance
of us (and i do mourn the loss),
i can admit that you’ve
made an impact in my life
that i don’t, for a second, regret:

for you, my dear,
have once again
set me ablaze.

good news

November 2, 2009

redemption
(this is my story and my song)

redemption
the crux of hope (la cruz de cristo)
the apex of anticipation
redemption
all your broken pieces re-formed
into masterpieces
all your cracks and bruises bound
your broken bones mended
your lacerations scarred over and faded
redemption
for the forlorn, the forgotten, the abused and abandoned
the scarred, the scared, the scorned, the stolen-hearted
for the betrayed, begrudged, besieged.
for you, yes you, the one who doesn’t think
she’ll ever be able to heal from the hurt of lost years
and spilled tears
for you, just as it was for me,
redemption
(this is my story and my song)
redemption
this is my testimony and my call-to-arms

[hope is a revolution.]

not to press

November 2, 2009

giving you space is hard
when i catch myself checking my phone
hoping that you’ve sent me a hello.
i know, i know, we talked about this, and
i promise to respect your request for
distance and time, but against my
better judgment, i find myself pining
for you.

not telling you what i’m thinking
is also hard. having to bury the feelings
that are bubbling to the surface like
black gold (texas tea) every time i spend
more than three seconds in your presence.
and when you ask me why i’m smiling
it’s because i’m thrilled to be even let in
your awesome little club.

so, remember how i said that “not yet” is no good
and i just can’t be that guy who’s
left in emotional limbo, hoping, wishing, praying
for a change of heart?
i’m a liar. i wish i weren’t.
but against all the wiser angels of my nature
i find myself happily waiting for you to come around.
i don’t know how long it will take, and
i don’t care. i’m here. take your time (but
not too much, if you can help it) and trust
that when you’ve made your decision, i’ll
be waiting for the result.

in the meantime, and i mean it, i’ll do my best
not to press, not to get ahead of myself,
not to make you feel like you’re
letting me down or holding me up or doing
anything other than making me happy with
the sheer possibility of a future “us.”

plans i haven’t made.

October 29, 2009

the subject of my non-existent thesis,
which will cap off the imaginary post-graduate
career i share with my collegiate
contemporaries. moving to chicago and becoming
a really really real writer instead of a
talker dreamer schemer imposter
blogger. marriage. or for that matter,
engagement. or dating. or asking.
where i’m going to move when my lease is up.
how i’m going to make ends meet next month.
how i’m going to handle not sharing my
thoughts and feelings with you. what i’m
going to say when i call.

(cross-posted from pbb, written 2/16/06)

she’s a brave girl, putting her life
in boxes and loading the pieces
into a trailer and driving away.
it’s a big step, not just in location
but situation and relation. she’s
embracing change like her long-lost
lover, or the brother she welcomes
back from over the seas, clean-shaven
and dressed in military whites.
there may be nights when she stares at the
lights passing through the blinds and casting
bars on the walls, but she will see them
as piano keys playing the melody of some
sweet future song, arias of hope,
refrains of gentle assurance. she knows her
journey is being conducted by a Wise Hand,
who wants His child to be happy and fully alive.

she will thrive there, in the tall grasses.
she will grow. and the flat, dusty landscape
will rise up and call her blessed.

(cross-posted from pbb, written 03/07/06)

hope is madness, so i shun sanity;
give me simple, bright-colored dreams to replace the cold grey day.
i’d rather live oblivious than in oblivion.
let me sound foolish as i discuss possibility,
and put your “likelihood”s and “probable”s back in your black billfold.
i’ve lived too long in the land of foolish dreaming
to change my address because of one more disappointment.

let there be feasting without reason!
let there be celebration without solid cause!
let us dance to hear of one dim possibility,
for it has the greatest chance of saving us.

(let us pray that Love will save us.)

too soon the shadow draws in, squeezing
each bright note from bluebirds’ songs;
so sing, scream sonnets, with blue birds–
or black birds if you must–
but sing desparately, with the conviction that foolish wishes
are more beautiful a sound than silence.
sing now, before your light grows dark
and accepts that the doubting, dampening voices
know what they’re talking about.

get your hopes up! count your hatchless chickens!
enjoy the rosy glow of not knowing
as long as such sweet fog lasts,
and when the heat of day burns it off,
mourn its passing and pray for
more reasons to grow unjustified hope
in your back garden, like contraband plants,
like coca.

let hope be your illegal drug,
smuggle it through your life,
spread it around,
and smoke what you sell.

[rage, rage against the dying of hope.]

(cross-posted from pbb, written 03/21/06)