ttb poetry

Sometimes we have conversations 1

Sometimes we have the conversations
without ourselves for so long that we
have a lake to cross just to get home.
We’ll dig for something meaningless
enough to scribble a note on, and wind up
with a will that becomes a receipt.
I’d like the music a little lower, you whisper
to the plants and draft from the window,.
They star past you and I feel their ire
at the dying light. We’ll brew a pot,
plant a candle in the moon, review the foot
prints leading to the conclusion,
consequently falling in love with the missing
steps that gave some room a chance
to breathe and us to breathe with it.

We silence each other with violins,
do you think that’s what it’s like
to be filled like a cup? We endear
each other to other worlds in fractions
of ash and honey, but only find the gravity
when we curl back the rising over our chins.

Sometimes I’m afraid we’ll live as long
as mountains but never be in range
of the failure that keeps them fighting
to hold up their paradise.

Let’s have some coffee, stay awhile,
become more concerned with becoming
amber than sap in this animal life.

New Years

I.
I’m a bazaar of waves,
I’d like the moon to stop going
through phases and just lie
with me – here the wild awake
with their bones in fences,
bodies decontextualized to spaces
that can hold a christmas tree
and the raw trumpets of a year
filled with ghosts and the bravado
of every posture we’ve tried
in failed sleep – we’d rather
explode than soak.

II.
I remember every stone in the sky,
the date’s coffee and how its steam
corroborated that my desire was after
clarity, and that the way the lies in a shifting
moon’s face are lost on me. And when I said
I lust after you I really mean I want to memorize
you and have you rattle in my teeth.
The last bows of of sun loom like an aftershock,
the night is neither you nor I, but our dreams
dazzle with speed and oddness. Dreams mean
we don’t understand what is happening to us,
but that our sleeps roar from across the world
to a closer pillow. We reach across myriad risings –
what overlaps is what will last.

Poem Written With A Migraine

I woke up on the floor with a screaming
headache and a backache and tried to drown
them in coffee. I slip and feel cured
of my delusions of humanity – I’m squishy
and I age and the only discs I want
crammed in me are Oreos, in my mouth.
What life is this?! Quick, my body says,
keep escaping while there’s time to savor
sunlight pouring in your throat; or, stay
in bed until the pain becomes a volcano
pushing you to the brim. Neither intention
is evil, but keep trying to renew them over
and over until they’re willing to lean in
and kiss the lips of passionate happiness.

In The Dusk

Your skin asks, “Who are you?
How sharp is your shoulder?
Where does the labyrinth
of hair end?
Are you brave enough
to disappear without
imagining things
swept away with you?”

Wander into a room,
lick the teeth of the walls,
wonder about geography
and walking back into
the ocean and the tenuous
pebbles making waves
leaving a watermark
on your lids.

I wore a hat big enough
for us to dance in.
I lie and lie and lie
until I am bruised and out
of sleep and questions and
am speckled like a winter breeze.

A lamp has colored everything
red and blue and wail,
the city buzzes by the window
like every guitar took
to the balconies. We stumble
on to drain the light from dark;
we stumble just to stumble.

Love can be the case
or not the case,
hell is holding on
and if a golden
age poked its head
through the door
it’d lose it.
Everything else remains
the same, shadows
try passing by
unnoticed, the thought
of lingering is a proposition
in a sense, but I doubt
the validity of all
my propositions.
I can only marvel
at your existence
in the language
that existence permits,
I’d rather be a plain
and clear voice
pulling you through
windows by the wrist

All our wishes made us thirsty,
ready to risk the rain in an already
drenched summer and we’re distracted
by radicals: minutes incessantly reminding
us that we’re at the edge of where we can
still measure the increments of desire.

We welcome the morning informally,
thrilled to find ourselves: two halves
close to being reversed, leaving other
broken states in a house of ecstasy.

I checked the oil to get a good sense
of how much distance we covered
in such short time. If trajectory were an object,
it’d be a cloud roiling in the coming slip
toward winter. We black out the more familiar
skies, that last bit of tourism is true: no matter
where you look up, you’re sprawled about
the abundant absence.

But what I meant to say was that you looked more
splendid than the sunlight. Could we run into
next week rust free? There was the time the ocean
dreamt of us and we woke encased in salt
and knew that any jokes about the past might be
serious but not serious enough to be the theme song
for the current landscape. Then there was the time
we passed out in a room full of lit candles and had
dreams about the ocean – we floated like a pyre
billowing into a better representation of our massiveness.

The heart just hangs there
like a pause, I inhale its smolder
until I am a cloud. We arrive
home priceless, laughing at the thought
of ever losing someone or getting lost.
We lazily toed the Pacific, speaking
in whispers of golden orange, knowing
the history that hadn’t happened yet,
the black ocean sounded like a desert from
where we stood at a distance from the stars
and waved, their medieval bulk shooting
light in dynamite specks, to their casual,
meaningless preciousness, feeling like we’re
rushing toward them backwards, close enough
to smell their bright peaceful sleep.

Four poems you totally shouldn’t read together. Or do. Whatever.

1
Have we given up already?
Have we plucked every satellite
from their vine and woken up
too wincing to address
the big air piling around us?
I put my arm around the brow-
beaten ghost, sending his
feelings nowhere.

2
How much is explicit? How much is the heat we feel
once we’ve ducked out from the sun? How much is
revealed without our consent – did the birds’ audience
pay to enter the forest? Even if we create utopia,
we’d still be incomplete, still collecting grass to bulk the walls.

3
Everything is bad and you don’t care,
I’m full of hard feelings and they invade the room
like summer flies, we lurch forward through lying about
in our dens. The mountains hang like a drip
in the morning, it’s blackberry dark and the sky
bursts into a walk of flames in protest of our
reliance. Oh, the world is bright and crowded,
it sounds bright enough to squint; we’ll walk
to the edge of the world and make our way back
to the beginning where the past is destroyed
into a terrible nightmare we are relieved to wake from.

4
You’re staying in the city again
I tried to direct you to the happiest
Place I could imagine
You walked into Starbucks
Like a browbeaten ghost.

If a world can be framed, then
we can also make sense of it:
numbless clouds plod on
the horizon, invading the coast;
when its answer can’t be put into
words, out-singing a squadron
of gulls, then neither can the question-
the riddle cannot exist outside
of a whistling defiance to the rain.
Gather up the space between the stars
to find enough to grab and shake
hands with your departed ghost.
If that’s the answer, then the sense
of the world lies outside of it.

Nothing fell out of night as it ought to,
I climbed to the top of the bridge
and yelled at the honey dusk
for always abandoning its finest moments.
The birds seem to know there are finer hours
to day than to drag me out into the unkissable
cold of a mean 5 am, but the kitchen buzzes
with wonderment of how the morning’s already
gone afoul. The strong sea of coffee wears hard
on a full thought, I cringe to be less
aware of how ghastly my head can feel –
please, don’t blow out my love before
I’ve had time to watch the wax obscure its foundation.
The snow seems a far crack away,
dawn rifles down my hopes to make it to heaven tonight.
And I’m not sad, just gold wanting
more tarnish in the sprawl of the sea floor.

I dream of traffic jams in 100 different
places in the city, of wine opening night
like a burn, of being cavernous like
the trail of a worm. On my way
out of town, I remember the buffalo
of Catalina, the stranded sun making do
in the cold, what might make things lucky
is a turbulent flight that pushes your kiss
to the ground like you were never displaced.

I’m guarded against promises
made about what can be accomplished
in my best suit — I’m pretty sure
the weather won’t come home with me
even if I buy all the drinks and the cab home.
What could happen, though, is a rebuilding
where I don’t end up an ineffectual puddle
of purple whining — I break the top
of every pyramid for their false sense
of longevity — if we cannot advance,
then I propose we redo everything from the start.

I play the piano on the dash
in a thousand intersections
waiting for the lights to whistle
a new melody like they’ve been
practicing all winter’s sauntering
sleepy dark, like they are a full
bloom out of the dark.

Somewhere, there’s a million Bronx’s
talking like a prophet or shooting star
or I wish could be.
But saying it can’t leads to couldn’t,
and I can’t figure out if I’d want to die
or just come real close,
and if it’s the anti-christ
or the holy ghost, but WHO
THE FUCK CARES because I already have
the receipts for last year’s despair
and it’s not enough for a deduction.
I get around just fine
even if I’m a little tired after
all the stairs that end
at some absurdity itching my throat
like a desperation reeking of March
and it’s wringing espresso
from my hair (from all places
to be tossed out of my own thoughts)
and diamonds from my fingernails
and Kilimanjaro from my whiskers
(of all the places to be plucked from).
Every year the same cliffs
present themselves like a sleeping
river to an awake land of vast
intractable voids and parking lots
that I’ve smoked a cigarette
or two more than the entire Bronx
and its entire head tilted up
beautifully and suddenly and brilliantly
like an Avenue A night that creeps in
(how I wish things didn’t just run on,
how I wish I could reorganize everything,
how I used to whisper operas to myself
in barren stairwells running up and down,
how I lost my sense of direction
like finding my way home was orbiting Jupiter).

-C.S. Henderson

This poem is written on 90% post-consumer
unbleached euphemism for struggle. It could have
been a grocery receipt or a police blotter
or a torn water bottle label or a finger nail
in its past life. Forgive and forget that some struggles
aren’t the precursor to progress but black
ice in an absurdly clear world. I’ll give you a tip:
just because you choose to fight does not mean
the fight is under an obligation to choose you.
That last post written on the ‘script instructions
was drowsy and this one is hung over but shocked
alive with coffee and a world that is truly cold
enough to freeze. It may be impossible to measure
the necessary translations of a bruised fist
but we can try to understand and even help
ourselves in determining the perfunctory distinctions
of a knuckle among the small seeds of dreams piling up.

A heart can be wild,
what a terrible thing
to drive at 85 to the future
already dead. Am I too focused
on time? Perhaps a different smile
would help, but passing
into and out of anything
is how rashes start, and what did
I expect trying to trounce
through an unplowed field?
The sun moves unexpectedly,
which is false, I know, but
then again I can’t explain
a 24 hour day anymore
than I can use a fingertip
to get closer to the sea.
Technology gets useful at this part,
with quick explanations of rhythms
and cycles and contractions

of gravity, but a heart can be
wild and avoids such
bellowing acts of vengeance
against unfettered awe.
So goes it that splitting
a sandwich might be a truer form
of love, and so sharing
a taco is practically martyrdom
for it, but the commandments
get fleshed out over drinks
and lost on the way home -
the closest anyone comes
is splitting the bill,
gratuity not included.
Next to that I believe in being

a good sport, since the heart’s
wild might be immortal and thus dead
for our purposes here – it’s shameful
but if the sun still wakes
everyday to find his friends
gone without goodbye or even
throwing away their bottles
then I suppose trying to find
new conduits through which
to live in even a modicum of extra-
ordinary is manageable. What’s not
clear, though, is who buys
the coffee, grinds, sets, pours, feels
best at the first sensation of fires
rocking the body awake,
nobody expects baby birds to fly
through their throats so early,
but I like it, yes I do!
Their ambivalence is victory
over our lack of control,
like the fitted sheet coming undone
or the dime-sized drip from the pot
characterizing the kitchen
like a mole. No edges are sharper

in the wild than pine needles, the heart
fragrant and untouchable
until you get to the root,
the juxtaposition most fragile
when you think about it.
Field notes are helpful if you fill
them in yourself, the brain named
itself and reinterprets everything
it sees, what, like, 10 times
before you notice the flock of birds
roosting at dusk, so a new
name for everything is less
a song title than an imperative.

A heart can be wild, don’t you know,
distinct and ragged but answering
to the same word, distinguished,
perhaps singularly, by what you
had for breakfast today.

I’ve been staying up late even in your absence,
the dead night breathes and twitches in it’s first
moments of sleep. We keep our smoky clothes
hanging in the living room to entice us into days
where we near froze together. Though things
thaw and you can still eat them, what’s invariably
changed is memory – I remember what it tasted
like before but the crystalline hope of total preservation
skips town without a note. Old life, you are gone
but not forgotten, memorialized at the park and
smoked under, we have a giggle-fit and think
“how crazy the city’s teeth felt when we were
at our biggest mouthful, how it would sound
if its eyes, squinting at us in the moon, could speak.”

There are a million poems that don’t
recline into the dark and leave creases.
I told myself I’d write at least 50 of those
and haven’t even balanced a checkbook this year –
the notes of a cold day are abandoning me.

The theme instead is that winter always
comes early and thawing is the most impressive
feat I can muster. Motown played throughout
the year like a birthday song, that elated sense
of kissing death on the forehead and setting
a new trajectory through the confetti of snow.

So in this world overwhelmed by irises full of heartbreak,
let’s count our days in trees, speak of each
other only in superlatives, toss dignity out
the window, talk about our friends in tall tales,
tackle the impossible and believe in what isn’t true yet.

To enjoy yourself is to reveal yourself
as a heartbreak of irises
or the petals of a bomb.

To describe is to measure
the difference between
what we are and what we expect
to be: if seed,
then the boom; if petal,
then the plume; if blink,
then blink.

I blink and see the edge
of blood accelerate through
the window, if heart pounding,
then the room is empty
and you can see it clearly –

the heart is a bomb shoved
into a glass show and brought
to the party as our getaway plan.