Gardens of Stone
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall
Through snow, wind, rain and all.
remains beneath our feet
Forgotten a generation after their demise
Left in silence the untended stones
as the empty shells rot below
Once love and hate and joy and fear
Life living unbridled and free
The gardens of stone.
you don't know who you are anymore, but that's ok, i do.
you are the ocean and you are
bursting over yourself,
dancing on the feet of children,
overflowing into the branches of the Missouri.
you are the graffiti on the boarded up windows
of New Orleans after the water washed away
everything we knew and left only
you are the light in my father’s smile
when he got the call from my mom that grey September,
saying, i know it’s still the worst day ever,
but i’m on a train out of New York City
and there are no more airplanes crashing,
you are the sunrise on September 12th, 2001.
you are the sound of grief and rage mingling with
the whisper of hope
in the wind.
The Bride Thief And Me
So he knelt down in front of me and
spat his words out at my feet
like a dog.
I am bad and
bad is me
I stole a bride and
took her to a different type of steeple
while you sat in the kitchen
watching the flies
watch the fruit rot and
the grass felt wet beneath my feet but she
And now he pleaded with me
“I need your forgiveness.
I do not want it gift wrapped,
in time for Christmas.
I want it in waves
in which to bathe my skin.
I want it to cleanse me.”
Finally, he cried
“I am bad and
bad is me and
my skin has become wrinkled with gin,
wine soaked, so
I am begging you to make me good.
I put my lips to his ear,
placed my hand over the other
so I knew my words would be forever trapped,
festering in his thoughts
“I once lay in your arms,
knew nights where you were my all and
willed you to consume me.
I once loved you, so now
there is nothing,
nor will there ever be anything
about this body,
or this heart,
that you robbed me of
the day you stole her.”
I am a writer
I am a shaking hand from too much caffeine
I am the space between 3 and 6 am
When the world is cold and silent
I am slurred words and nonsense thoughts
Half drunk on sleep deprivation
I am unshed tears
Hiding behind tired eyes
I am rough and inkstained fingertips
Smelling of handsoap and new paper
I am the dream you can’t remember
But still smile about
I am the voice of both self doubt and reason
I am the quiet coffee shop down the corner
That sells cappuccinos and homemade muffins
I am a writer
Was I supposed to be impressed
by how pleasantly
you never had emotional tendencies toward me.
Thank-you dearly for
burying me in a pit,
then remembering to water the soil afterwords.
It made it so much easier
for the bitterness to grow.
Eventually the grudge will vanish,
but the pain will not.
At least you were decent enough
to clean up all the metaphors
you made me write about
your lovely mess.
You can’t get out of this life alive
My grandpa said
While raising his glass
Of gin and ice
To cracked lips, dry
Scratchy white whiskers
Always chaffed my cheek
His grip tight
On my small arms
Spinning yarns of the Depression
Bean sandwiches for two cents
And his special runs
For the speakeasy
He saved everything
Reused the styrofoam trays
From the butcher
His cast iron skillets
Seasoned from the fried goetta
Grandpa rumbled around
The old house on Erwin Terrace
While his vintage Mercury slept
In the garage
And grandma’s stilettos lived
In the closet
Then he decided it was time to go
I miss our Tuesday night suppers
Simple food, never fancy
Watching Wheel of Fortune
In my youthful ignorance
I was always eager to leave
Discomforted by his wisdom
Now, I feel a kinship with him
I remember his words
His explanation for the gallons of gin
That disappeared down his throat
And his slurred speech
Of late evening
Might as well enjoy your days
You can’t get out of this life alive
Questions from the Flowering Bulb in the Bower
This bulb ululates enormously
like a throaty harmonica player
on a porch up in New Hampshire.
It ululates in the bower
beside my bedroom window.
Tiny buds emerge from its peak.
My tutor is curving me around
the baleful bulb,
whose subtle texture speaks.
I seldom speak to my garden,
but it has often questioned me.
It doesn’t ask me who I am,
it only asks me, who is she?
I find myself inquisitive when wondering
where your thoughts go as you give into
the glass of amber liquor that scorches
the heart in divine hope of forgetting
that without the sun or the moon, there is
nothing beyond the realm where you
forbid the wave from washing upon
my shore, where you forget that the rain
needs not return to the clouds when it
belongs gliding along the cheek as you lean
in to kiss the lips left so void in denying
the passing of my feelings for the one who
has brought along the balm to the scar
that lays between my breasts.
writhing in the familiar forever of a soaring blackout. that moment in the middle of inebriation where the next swallow means first tenderly tracing the neck of the bottle. the exposition of oblivion is itself the climax of bladdered grief. waving forgeries brimming with chattering words. falling for his parables though she had always known the gospels had been ghostwritten.
her portable slander circulating cold allegories that wear off quickly. breathing in the madhouse tension where cleanliness solves most problems while tastes keep changing yet gambling on the odds of imminent offspring never goes out of fashion. everyone covets a taste of eternity but no one wants to bargain with the devil in their twenties anymore. they’d rather just hang out and mooch off his unpredictable lassitude. the volumes write themselves when all one has experienced is an embryonic nip of suffering. and so the old verbs and dangerous adjectives linger on.
her desire was an abstract expression of tampered merchandise. dangerous forces compelling her to chase landscapes only lovers would dare occupy. she was a young vine and not yet ready to bear the kind of fruit the vintner would find useful. thus the simplest words would have to do when translating accents without the use of individual letters. her faith in Newton waned every time he held her. love has its own laws pertaining to gravity and inertia.
there is the preening rush of ideas. mention the desert and reap the tides. it is a dirty little business being so attractive. though the windows were well off the ground and though in daylight she had looked across the clearing and only seen a crush of trees, she pulled the curtains closed. and still she felt that eyes were somehow peering into the room watching her every sozzled pirouette. she had once cherished the thought that her oceans of love could sway him, but it turned out indeed he was the moon and even from improbable distances had managed to keep her at low tide while never quite turning away.
when his eyes seemed to suddenly become diamonds was her first moment of clarity, when she realized the drinks he kept pouring were turning her tongue to ash and amplifying her thirst, a lull that comes when sobriety gives way to invisible delusions betrayed only by dumbstruck giggling. those first fleeting glimpses of truth that line the rim of sobriety are the ghosts that haunt later when the famished bedsheets try to swallow you in one gristly bite.
somehow as she bravely plunged to the ocean’s depths eventually she began rising again and at last came up for air on the opposite side of the world. crawled to the distant shore, welcomed by lost refugees of Atlantis. they lie and tell her there is no going back. she marches anyway on slippery legs carrying the weight of parting words yet unspoken. she had traveled far from home, cast her lure, and caught her catch, but in a moment of weakness she returned him to the sea and would spend countless years trying to drown the sorrow of that parting to no avail.
There’s a peel of coke
syrup stuck to the bottom
of the glass you left
out all night. A handprint
still mashed against
your vanity mirror.
The clothes on the floor
tangled like the grass clumps
of mowed grass. With the musk.
Outside they’re gardening again,
for the third time this week
trimming the air with gasoline
powered leaf blowers and weed-
whackers. We lie in bed anyways.
The world will wait a little longer,
even if our hearts won’t.
Dactyli-spondaic Spontaneous Departure
Waking alone to the sound of you talking;
Regretfully rare that you’re up before me; I can
Hear in the kitchen the voice of another, and
Here time stands still
Listening intently my hand starts to tremble; I
Close both my eyes and attempt to fake sleep as you
Enter the room with your tell-tale foot-fall and
Pass straight by me
Crossing the room to the drawer of your desk I’m quite
Sure my deception caused no second glance; yet this
Shaking and shivering spreads through my body, but
Why? I don’t know.
Who is this man I can still hear below me? And
Why is he here at - what time is it? 4:00?
4:00 in the morning, on Sunday of all days; just
What could this mean?
Leaving the room now, you got what you came for and
Now I know just why you’re being so quiet; I
Sit up in bed as you walk out and drive off, your
Passport in hand.