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.

I Want to Call You Beautiful

I want to call you beautiful.

I see the question in your eyes, like slow moving water

under thick ice,

just beneath the surface.

I cautiously tap the word with my mind, and it tumbles down

onto my tongue, waiting for me to say.

No idea as to how you’d react, what you think,

or what you will say

when I give the word to you.

I swallow it, leaving it unsaid, and stash it

with the thousand other times I wish I didn’t.

And whatever tears you might cry,

and whatever else may flutter your heart

if I did,

are trapped again in the the ice that returns

to your gaze.

Are we mad at my silence, or relieved?

I do know the question in your eyes will resurface,

and I might even be ready, at last.

I want to call you beautiful before

the moment

and me and you

have past.

Unblended 2

‘You’re pretty for—‘

a novelty, a one-night stand, a fling.

‘You’re pretty for—‘

a light skinned girl.

A ‘lovely little thing.’

So I’ll put feelings in your heart

I think that you will like,

and when you give your heart to me

I’ll take the match

and strike.

A Rising Wish

Don’t wish upon a falling star.

It comes back to the ground.

Your wish will go unrealized,

and never will be found.

Rise high upon your tippy-toes

and stick it in the sky,

where like the stars, it ever shines its light into your eye.

Yes, wish upon a rising wish

just as a kite flies high,

within skilled hands, sharp minds,

strong hearts.

And wish it til you die.

The Imperfect Art of Life

My life, this life…

a scattering of

impressionist-ic drips and smears

that never make the canvas.

My life, this life…

A vandalized mosaic

of broken tiles,

discolored and on display

in a ruined museum

where only unadmiring vermin amble,

sightless in the dark.

My life, this life…

An ugly black and white photo,

where the only things in the light and shadow

are predators and prey.

My life, this life…

Misfired pottery that leaks,

or perhaps a clumpy lump of clay

molded by broken fingers,

a child’s misshapen sculpture

used as an ‘ashtray’ in a house where

no one smokes.

My life, this life…

A rainbow’s broken, dissipating arc,

a defiant banner of hope and beauty

across a barren sky and a dying land.

This life, my life….

An imperfect work of art,

bright with colors, rife with rust

laced with cynical hope,

veiled in gossamer trust,

and glued with love as fragile as unpainted seashells

waiting to grow stronger

despite the odd feeling of

emptiness inside.

Muttered Rage

In the muddy, midden corners of its cage

my rage

mutters, stutters, hiccups, sobs,

and folds in on itself

like a

dying flower.

Hate and anger climb to the surface

with sharp spikes and strong ropes,

as I work to cut their ties with

love’s violent sword.

Darkness dots my spirit like lawn weeds

and whack-a-moles.

The decayed and rotting past seeks to

coddle me, cuddle me, clobber me,

and sing the listless lullaby that induces

paralyzing ennui masked as sleep.

At the end of this gauntlet stands Death,

coated with cold, and patient as river stones

waiting to to wreck me on sodden, craggy points that

will break my spirit like rotten boughs broken off

a vibrant, growing tree, and

scatter my flesh

like fish bait.

And nightly, as the sun wanes and the moon waxes,

I realize that after all this time,

the cage was never locked.

Gaps

Gaps and false starts,

dying dreams,

fading hopes.

They tell you it is never too late

but time lays waste to the body

and heaven burdens

the spirit of man

with a choice.

But men have their own minds,

follow their own hearts.

Sometimes good comes out of it,

but mostly nothing remains

save the charred and smoking corpses

of love, hope, and plans.

Shrine

With shades of orange and pink, the rising sun smoothed the jagged edges of the snowcapped moutains, rendering them deceitfully gentle for a time.
Topping his final rise, the bedraggled soldier Olnan saw the shrine in front of him, not too far away now. Taking time to rest, breathing deep of the fresh, chilled air, he took a moment to admire its beauty.
As he admired it, a memory came unbidden, but not unwelcome.
************
His father was holding his hand. He seemed happy enough, but his breathing was labored at this high altitude.
“Are you well, father?”
He smiled at the note of adult concern in his son’s voice. “Yes, Olnan. I’m fine. We’re here now. All is well.”
“Do you want me to go in with you?” He was curious to see the inside of an actual shrine.
“Of course I do. It’s time for you to learn the rituals I perform that honor the ancestors.”
“Like …. ” Olnan took a moment to figure it out. “… your grandfather?”
His father laughed with pride. “Yes, Olnan! Well done! Yes, like my grandfather, but also those who came before him. We owe them a great debt we can’t repay. They went through many things to settle us here, and faced hard times.”
Olnan beamed at the praise.
His father lapsed into silence, but didn’t move. Olnan knew when that happened that he was supposed to wait; Father was remembering something unpleasant. When he spoke again, his voice was husky with emotion.
“But they didn’t give up.”  He looked down at Olnan. “Let’s go, son.”
Still holding Olnan’s hand, they entered the shrine.

*****************

Olnan felt warmed by the memory, and sadness at the empty space beside him now hit him unexpectedly hard. He took another moment to gather himself.
And now, my father has become an ancestor, and I’m not yet a father myself.
He took the offering pack that held the ritual’s needs off his back and held it instead.
It seemed even now that he could see his father there at the door, motioning for him to come inside.
Taking a deep breath, he walked toward the shrine, smiling through his tears.

   One day, my children…

What Do You See in Me?

“What do you see in me?”

You really care.

“Not just my eyes and my figure and hair?”

All of those things are as fleeting as snow.

“So what do you see in me?”

I think you know.

I see the way that you watch

when you think

I am not looking and having a drink.

I see the way that you smile at my faults,

but not at my failings; my wounds get no salt.

I see the way you receive me at night.

Even in anger, you make it alright.

I see the way that you smile at the sun,

holding my hand as we laugh, walk, and run.

I see the way that you cry in the rain,

holding me tight as you’re sharing your pain.

I see the life in you thriving inside,

happy to have him along for the ride.

I see the way that

your heart beats for me.

What do I see in you?

All there could be.