I Don’t Know What She Did or Said…

I don’t know what she did or said

to make me love her…

Perhaps it was the stacking of

small kindnesses

she did for me.

Or the way she managed to hold my attention

when she looked at me and told me her stories.

Or the sharp wit that made me laugh with her.

Or the day she casually touched my shoulder,

looking down at my screen to see what I would do.

But all I did was like the feel of her hand there.

Or the day I overheard her say she thought I was handsome.

Or the day she smiled at me as she passed and said it to me.

Or the day we had dinner, and I kissed her twice,

and she let me. Twice.

I don’t know what she did or said…

Baby Sees the Teddy Bear

In the crib, baby sees the teddy bear

and smiles.

Baby smells the powders and potions,

feel the soft hands,

hears the songs of the mobile,

sees the soft light,

and feels the warm hope,

laughs at the tickling fingers,

and sees love in his parents’ eyes.

On his deathbed,

grandpa sees the teddy bear.

And then he sees the tubes and machines,

smells the alcohol and disinfectant,

feels the soft tug of bandages,

hears the beeps of the monitors

and sees the indicator lights.

He feels the focused shifting of the painkillers,

and laughs at the fading memories,

seeing the good-bye in his legacy’s eyes.

He takes the bear his grandson gives,

and holds it to his wet cheek,

and smiles.

Black Magi 2

You

played by the rules, stayed off the streets,

out of the pipeline,

and never brought static to police radios.

With honors, you walked across the floor

and brought tears of joy to your family,

and a smile on the face of your girl.

You took the scroll that said you did the work,

that ‘school’ was over, and ‘life’ could begin a new chapter.

Know this too,

Black Magi…

those who toiled in the hot sun,

they see you.

Those who endured the lash and the dogs,

they see you.

Those who were broken,

taking their ‘master’s yoke with downcast eyes,

they look up to you now,

and see you.

Those who taught themselves to read by candlelight and lanterns,

risking their lives to pass down the knowledge you were (finally) allowed

to access through the front door,

they see you.

The world over,

the ones who suffered to survive

so you could one day strive to achieve

what they could not,

they see you.

From the bottom of the oceans,

still wrapped in rust and barnacles,

turning to silt on the sand floor,

they see you,

Black Magi.

As one, their spirits lift their heads and eyes,

and every one of their voices, and sing to you

through the centuries of their love and pride.

What happens now, Black Magi?

Who will

you

see?

Proverbial

“Nice guys finish last.”

I’m poured out like a libation,

but not unconsumed.

On the short side of life,

now in the

emerging shadow

of my sunset years.

The bell’s final toll remains

unseen, unknown, and left to hide.

The cold aspect of

the Reaper’s featureless face

gives me a sage nod.

Captured now by my choices,

I live the life I do,

a life forged of heart and mind,

iron will and querulous wavering.

It is not the life envisioned or imagined,

and time turns its back on my recriminations,

moving ever-forward,

taking the vision with it.

And so…

the life I have.

“Nice guys finish last.”

The words sound bitter in the darkness.

And yet, for all the times of hardship and failure,

and getting back up to fight once more

because

it was the only thing left to do,

those words don’t ring quite true.

Lovers Quarrels

I see the wall you start to build,

so I build mine.

I see anger and pain in your eyes,

and so I fill my own,

but yours leaks down your face,

and mine does not,

for I am the better warrior.

And whereas your pain is fresh and new,

whenever inflicted,

my wounds have long scarred over,

and the pain within is dulled beyond sensing.

You quickly clutch your handful of quarrels,

and I slowly gather mine,

and we dip them in the poisons

of our tongues, and memories,

place them in our quivers of rage,

and loose.

They are barbed and painful

these quarrels,

meant to shatter and break,

meant to defeat the love that yet might

burn in the heart,

and smother it.

We try our best to find new flesh to pierce,

but we have only hit the old marks again,

rebuilt the chasm, and destroyed the bridge.

The peace of our home is in pieces.

The security of our love is set aflame.

The silence of our emotions is a dry wind.

And the quarrels are exhausted.

We retreat within the walls,

and pull them out, one by one, ruminating over each,

wondering why we still share the same space,

and little else.

It is a war we’ll never win,

a victory denied,

a constant obstacle of overcoming,

frenetically undermined.

So, my former darling,

we raise our white flags

into the light of a setting sun,

as you go your way,

and I go mine.

Dust on the Gold

Cursed be the one who plucked this rock

of captured sun and moon

from the river’s silt, and called it

gold,

good and worthy of pursuit.

Cursed be the demon jester

that blinded me and spun me round

until I believed it.

Given over to my desire,

abandoned by all who cared for me,

I dove deep, and dug deeper still,

until I gained all I desired,

then stole from other men.

In this hell-hallowed hovel,

now covered in ice and snow,

surrounded by dulled senses

and barren woods,

my status symbols decayed and decrepit,

daily mocking my misspent youth,

the wind howls outside and

echoes the cries of my soul’s solitude.

The hearth is lit, but the logs are thin.

And all around, the hissing of white snowfall

heralds the cold blackness of the grave.

Before I die,

I sit before the meager fire,

and take the dregs of my life,

and the ashes of future dreams,

and polish away

the dust on the gold.

Sidewalk Sanity

The pulse of the pavement,

the beat of the street,

the big city’s rhythm,

the rhythm of feet.

The flow of the traffic,

the heat of the air,

charged with high energy,

love, hope, and care.

The current of bodies

at high tide and ebb,

caught up in the music’s

incredible web.

The calm of the evening,

the settling down,

the balm of the neon lights

painting the town.

And candlelit dinners,

and laughter in bars,

and you and me,

intimate under the stars.

Tomorrow is Saturday.

Give it my best.

We’ll break from the rhythm

and stay in, and rest.

The warmth of your body’s

my blanket to keep.

You’re loved and protected,

and so am I.

Sleep.

The Sound of Your Soul

Your words now:

harsh, dry, sere…

searing.

These words, O poet,

do not want to reach out and touch you,

they do not want to connect with anyone.

They want to

slam and slay the broken spirit,

and rip the weary soul apart.

These words, ultimately triumphant

over your largesse and ennui,

burn and swat

at you like roasting,

wind-driven

desert sand

until you crack and shatter,

and they are free to heal your mind

and bind your brokeness,

to start anew.

Drain

The words grow strained and rusty now.

They’re murky and unclear.

Is there no need for writing now?

I’ll read them, if you’d hear.

So much to read, so little time.

The shelves of shelves are full.

We need to know our better selves,

the tug becomes a pull.

The words are circling the drain,

no washing them away.

Our better selves do not exist.

Let’s finish out the day.

Pushing Off

And so I set myself adrift

on a capricious sea,

prone to unpatterned winds and

uncharted currents.

The danger of being caught between

two symbiotic, warring gods

is less dangerous and painful

than what I leave behind.

Whether my new home will be a bright new shore,

or the briny ocean’s silted bed, is for them to say.

As I push off, there is no one there on shore to share a kiss,

and mourn and say farewell, no one to witness the wake I leave save for the

dull grey gulls, and the cirrus clouds suffused with color by the rising sun.

And yet I travel on with hope in my heart,

to fill the lonely days by a loving hearth,

as the cold of Time draws close, and

all I am and was called to be,

is complete.