I don’t have a name for these.

I

Your heart on my heart
and they’re killing time
Your beat parallels death’s
and it’s matching mine
We pull and
we hang
like we’re intertwined
Guilty like the
Gallows’ sparrows

 

II

You know you need your demon
and you know how he tastes
It’s bitter yet sweet,
you let none go to waste

As it dries on your lips
and it slides down your throat
you know you need your demon
just to keep you afloat

He grabs at your mind and
you think he might steal it
but you let it tear off
because at least
you can feel it

You know you need your demon
set behind your dead eyes
need the glint and the fire
but he won’t empathize

He knows that you need him
and he waits in the glass
He might be at the bottom
but he left you for last

You know you need your demon
and he can’t be erased
he stole all of your words
and wrote them on your face

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Blind

Last night I drank my eyes away
They sank to the bottom of my glass
Before I saw you, I heard you say
“You don’t need to see, you just need to feel”
So I left them there that way

You knew enough for both of us
I think I made you up that day
And as sunset turned to darkness
you asked me to press play
The record spun and nothing moved
Except the liquor through our veins
Still I could not see
but I could touch and taste
and you asked me if I’d stay

So I spent the night and I asked the price
You said there is no fee to pay
And you re-introduced me to every sense
as the sun came up where we lay

I left you there, not sleeping
but in my head you know you’ll stay
in the space once reserved for seeing,
the night I drank my eyes away

Artistic liberty, or something like that (6 poems)

I

You don’t know what you’re feeling,
not most of the time
unless you loosen the hinges,
start drowning in wine
As you plead and you gasp,
try to shut it back in,
as you bargain for air and your lungs are
screaming

That’s when he’ll find you
and he’ll offer his hand
You’ll thank your kind saviour
as you head to dry land

Coerced, young, and foolish,
you believe what you’re told
As he tightens his grip you think
you’re the one in control
But tell me my child,
can you remember your name?
At some point you’ve forgotten
Now you’re part of his game

The setting grows colder
It’s fading to black
And now you’re still drowning
with fresh marks in your back

II

You came here because
you wanted to feel something
More than you wanted love
you wanted to know
that you were capable of it
And you are…
or you were
But now it’s just another
emotional notch in your bedpost
Another hole in your belt
As you grow fatter with
experience you grow
less and less satisfied

Your waistline shrinks
and your cheek bones emerge
and you know the more you feel
the more you need to feel

You’re a sensational bulimic

Couches and dead flowers
and arguments and cleaning
the bathroom
This is your life now
You’re a modern day housewife
parading around in cloaked
dissatisfaction,
coining a front of charisma
so convincing,
for a second even you
thought it could be real
Your senses are numb
but for the scent of bleach
and boredom

As you rest your head
on his chest
his heartbeat reminds you
of your own mortality
You are ageing and
you’re dying
and the longer you wait
the faster it eats away

At least in the cold
you were preserved
on ice
You kept your heart
on the rocks for two decades
and now exposed it quivers
and threatens to crack

Yet you’re sure you can live
without it

So you seek solace in the flesh
of others
digging your nails in and
feeding off their emotions
and reactions
You draw blood as quickly
as you draw a crowd
You timed this,
you planned this
like clockwork
And you pretend you’re unsure
but immorality has always
had a special place in your bones

You’re a psychological vampire

And as you emerge
with fresh claw marks
down your back
you know neither is this “it”
There has to be something more
you can feel

There has to be something more
I can feel 

III

Your eyes
unlike oceans
show the shallow depths
of swamps
and in their muddy waters
I see not blues but browns

There are teeth
that let go at no cost
There are claws
that tear
until you are raw

Reptilian,
you take and abhor
until you need another
and swim back into shore

IV

You’re like a full bladder
an empty bottle of wine
everything you say doesn’t matter
and you take up too much of my time

You talk and you push
and I wish you’d just leave
I’ll drink ’til you drown
and I’ll plan to deceive

You’ll wake up tomorrow
to clean up my mess
and that’s why I keep you:
my tired conscience 

V

If it isn’t catastrophic
If it isn’t cataclysmic
then I don’t want anything to do with it

If it doesn’t clutch at my throat
and splinter my bones
then I don’t want anything to do with it

I don’t want half-ways
or “some day”s
I don’t want forever
or always
I don’t want anything to do with it

If it doesn’t inspire
and it isn’t this instant
then I don’t want anything to do with it

If it doesn’t gratify my wants
and set fire to my needs
then I don’t want anything to do with it

I don’t want 9-5’s
and staying barely alive
I don’t want insurance or security
I don’t want routine or mundanity

I don’t want truth
or sincerity
I don’t want confession
or honesty

I want worn flesh
and chapped lips
I want high winds,
an apocalypse

I want bruised thighs
and shattered lights
I want believed lies
and ruined lives

I want matted hair
and nails across skin
I want Christ cast out
and the Devil in

I don’t want hesitation,
or useless contemplation
I want here and now
instant gratification

I don’t want soft
I don’t want gentle
I want to come apart
watch as you dismantle

I don’t want conscience
I don’t want conviction
I want reveled sin
soaked in inhibition

I don’t want subtlety 
I can’t stand euphemism
I just want you and me
lost in hedonism

VI

Looking up from the cracks
I see the dirt on your shoes
and it won’t break your back
to step over my view

The heat seeps from beneath,
The flames cased in cement
As to whether you’ll join me,
we are all in suspense

I clutch at the sediment
until my fingers turn black
I did not mean to leave you
I just fell through the cracks

Yes, the company’s fair
and the wine never stops
There are thousands down here
That Time and God forgot

But it’s lonely, you know
here at Lucifer’s side
That’s why if you look low
You might still see my eyes

Glinting up from their prison
looking up from the flames
I thought I was special
Down here we’re all the same

The next time you’re walking
take a peek down below
For the cracks that you trod on
might be someone you know

Stranger

There is something uniquely horrifying about the sensation one feels when they return to their hometown to find out that they are the only thing that has changed within the entirety of their absence. Everyone looks a little older, a little more pregnant. There are offspring running around who look vaguely familiar; the spawns of the people you went to high school with, strange echoes of your not yet passed youth. There are buildings that have been erected since your departure but you almost don’t even notice them. Because beyond the snot-nosed toddlers and recreation centers, the gas stations and old folk’s homes, the air still smells as stagnant as ever, like the faint scent of rotting flesh and discarded dreams. It is a hellhole, wherein, if you don’t get out while you’re young, you likely never will. The hair on the back of your neck rises as you realize: this is the place where people are born to die.

You stay, because you’re committed now, to seeing friends and seeing family. You sleep in your old bedroom, which, let’s be honest, is now little more than a storage room. And you listen to the incessant chatter of “is this your towel on the floor” and you’re a teenager again, getting woken up by the abysmal voice of those decaying around you. No one is happy and it’s infectious. But how could they be? They are the product and infectors of a highly transmittable disease. If you’re not careful, you’ll catch it too.

Suddenly you find yourself sleeping later than you might, if only to avoid the fact that there is nothing to do upon waking. You stay in your room longer than you have to, if only to avoid talking to anyone, to avoid the realization that this is the sound of person’s voice when they’ve lost all hope and ambition. And in your efforts to avoid the disease, you start to become one of them. Like a flu shot that maltreats the elderly, suddenly you’re getting sick too.

Your head is pounding. Your vision is blurry, distorted, misguided, like your decision to come back in the first place.Your breathing is quick and shallow, just like you. Your throat is swollen, swollen with rebuttals and monologues of regret. You’re losing weight. Because you’re sick. You’re sick. Sick. Sick.

         Self-medicate. That’s how everyone deals with their sickness in this town. Everyone has an illness. Not all are identical but the treatment is the same and it approaches you with a smile full of sharp crooked teeth. It whispers in your ear and pokes you in the ribs if you ignore it, with splintered nails and false promises.

I know what will make you feel better
Smoke. That will take the edge off.
Not your thing? Have a drink. We have something for everyone here.

This town has very little but what it does offer in plethora is the ability to numb your inability.

         If you had to count—you can’t, but if you could—think of the calories you’ve consumed since you came home. How many of them were alcoholic? Half? More? And why wouldn’t they be? The food is infected, the land is infected, the people are infected. The only thing sterile here is the alcohol. It’s excused, because you’re home and you’re young and why shouldn’t you party? It’s normal; it’s what everyone does here. But be honest. You’re not drinking just because it’s fun. It stopped being fun a few rounds ago. You’re drinking because of the town. You’re drinking because it’s the only way to never realize that while you stay, your visit is short-lived and so are you. You’re drinking because at least while you’re drowning, you can’t feel the grip that it has on your throat.

         But you’re not one of them. You’re better. You got away. You’re just visiting. You have ambition. You have a plan. You’re from here, but you never really felt at home. You out grew it. It’s like an old shoe, you tell yourself. It’s too small for you now and what you’re feeling is just the blisters. It’s just the wear and tear of your resisting soul, insistent upon discarding its unnatural, depressing enclosure. But it’s just temporary! When you take it off, when you get out, you’ll be better again. You won’t need their treatments, you tell yourself. You’ll be able to breathe again, you repeat in your head. But repeat as you may, the town is still there, holding your hand. And when you leave, it will be there, even still. You’ll think that it’s gone, but you’ll look in the mirror someday, and there it will be, smiling its cracked smile, resting its calloused hands on your shoulders and softly assuring you that you’ll be back. You’re from here. It will always be apart of you. We’ll see you soon.

You hear dogs barking, lawn mowers mowing, people yelling. But no one is going anywhere. It’s the hotel California of your nightmares, and you can’t stay any longer. This time, you have outstayed your welcome.

I think it’s time to go.

 

 

A few rhyming poems I wrote last year:

Birds

There are birds in my head
but I fear they are dead
because I haven’t heard from
them in a while

They stopped pecking
so I’m checking
but I can’t get them out

The birds haven’t been fed
maybe that’s why they’re dead!
And now they’ll decay in my mouth 

Funeral

There’s a funeral in my living room
and Satan whispers in my ear
He spills his wine upon my floor
The blood of Christ drips ever near

I wonder if he wants it back
But he’s not as he was before
Jesus is shooting up in the bathroom
and says he doesn’t need it anymore

There’s no designated driver
Absolved of responsibility
Lucifer looks me in the eye and says
“There’s something here you ought to see”

But Jesus stumbles down the stairs,
He is hammered once again
I ask him where his father is
He says he’s never been my friend

So it’s time to play the game of sinners
Where the rules cannot be defied
There’s a funeral in my living room
I just can’t remember who died 

Conscience

Tap tap tap
It asks, “Are you asleep?”
No not yet,
how could I be?
When splintered nails
keep poking me
“Remember what you did last night?”
Of course I do,
it wasn’t right
Whether my eyes are closed
Whether my mouth is open
no variations stop
my conscience flowing

Reminder! Reminder!
Set the clock!
Set the date!
This poking, prodding shadow
doesn’t care if it is late

“I noticed your breathing…
I noticed that it slowed
and I couldn’t help but to 
remind you
that I will always know”

 

End

Last night I had a dream
I dreamt that I slept
And while I was sleeping
the entire Earth wept
The seas drew from their beds
and collapsed with finality
And while everyone drowned
they had no time
to look for me
Volcanoes shuddered
and threw up their guts
and until everyone perished,
the Earth didn’t give up
Mountains, they crumbled
and fell at my feet
and all of the while
I still stayed asleep
I awoke all too late
and missed my own demise
I missed all of the blood,
burned flesh and the cries
I missed man’s last prayer,
last bargain, last lies
And my punishment now
is that I’m still alive. 

 

The Blank Page

The empty page: it’s a mixture of both the most beautiful opportunity and the most tiresome, bothersome reminder that you’ve. got. nothing. Eventually, given enough frustrated dedication, it may simply become the arbitrator of procrastination, the humiliating advocate of “turn off the computer and go to bed.” When your only profound realization is that you have no profound realizations, the blank page becomes more like sitting in church on a Sunday morning with a hangover, reeking of cheap beer and creeping inhibition. Though your vision is muddled, you see through its stain-glassed façade, discard all of its supposed possibilities and potential, and as you look down at your shoe and wonder if the stain on your toe is blood, booze or semen, it hits you: Jesus Christ, what the fuck am I doing here?

So give up. Accept that you’re, in this moment, a failure. Jesus is not coming and he doesn’t have any brilliant ideas for you to expand upon. No one is going to hold your hand and guide your fingers to your next astounding literary achievement. You decided you wanted to be a writer but you’re not writing. So, what’s your alternative? A drinker. You can drink, and you will, in the vain hope that this next glass is going to loosen the hinges on the floodgates of brilliance that lie within the depths of your prematurely shriveled mind.

But it doesn’t. All that it loosens is your idea of responsibility, and maybe your ability to keep anything in your stomach. You forgot to eat again and as such, find yourself sitting hunched over the toilet bowl, staring into the dark remnants of drink number god-knows-which. As you watch the acidic mixture float in the stagnant water before you, you wonder: is this my great masterpiece?

If you’re lucky, diligent and have any sort of notable talent, it is possible for this archaic process to be punctuated by eventual success. You can only drink your way to stupidity so many times before you eventually and accidentally stumble over a naked and vulnerable creature of inspiration—a fetal reflection of your lost potential. It is then your job to nurture and build this aborted mutation before near-sobriety jealously casts it away from your clutches. It is imperative that you not tell yourself “I’ll remember this in the morning,” because you will not.  Know that there is no greater deterrent of brilliance than a throbbing headache and the humiliating illumination of the rising sun. So go ahead, write it down. 

Suddenly, you’ll find, you’re no longer staring at a blank page.