tried and true,
this blue fountain
pen glides ink
across the lines
of an empty page.
broad, wet summer,
hanging over us
like an olympic
to launch into
this letter, a
missive to you,
to prove something,
to prove my hands
believe my heart,
to prove that
ink is complicit
in flights of fancy.
yet in all these
no word is suffused
with anything more
than worry and
myself; no honor
to you, no love
no decency. i am
afraid, and i
swerve to avoid
it, but the pen
never allows me
tried and true,
my depression manifests as
“you’re not good enough.”
my anxiety manifests as
“nothing you’re doing is right.”
together they scream
a cognitive dissonance
like a banshee shrieking
into the pit of hell.
one line in a contract
that i agonized over
and was too nervous to
talk to the attorney about
because i ask too many questions,
i am over-burdensome
they are busy and important
and i am nothing.
i should know things,
every thing, all the time.
the sun reflects off koin tower.
behind it a wall of gray
dominion of clouds.
remove my glasses,
pull my hand down my face.
search through the labyrinth
for a fragment of solace
inside myself. something.
it’s friday, at least.
i’ve got that. i can hold that.
“this poem sucks” i think
as i write it. you might agree.
bright vibrant colors on thin squares
–we draft notes in thick black ink
upon your waifish pulpy paper hairs,
bold medallions of what we think
in languid moments of lucidity,
between the mulchy drone of living,
acting with intense perfidity
to feign a penchant for forgiving
errant thoughts among the turbulence
of being alive. each thought a lesson
brought to you by the letter C,
the number 6, the papal blessing,
a twine-bundled copse of sage set free
with fire and oxygen and astronomy.
we write this on you, you see.
i was staring out
at the brilliant
orange sunrise when
i realized i hadn’t
been kissed in a
very long time.
suddenly the dryness
across my lips
felt more potent.
time flies when
next thing you know
it’s 2018 and
you glance back
at the hole you’ve
been climbing out
of. you imagined
several feet but
it’s just a couple.
and then, like when
you remember you
have a thick,
in your mouth,
i remembered the
press of soft lips
against my own,
the half-open mouth
and awkward angling
of two protruding
noses. the innocent
of front teeth.
the moment in-between
when you lock eyes
and share each other.
i realized i
i felt embarrased
by it, like i didn’t
deserve it. tried
to shake it off.
the sunrise is just sun now.
“trust your gut”
“follow your heart”
born from coffers
from a trapeze
over a safety net,
into waiting arms,
a brief respite
into a savings
or a desperate
to a parent.
they get jobs
to see what
to be people,
and quit as soon
as it’s hard.
they wonder why
you’re always broke.
why you’re broke.
& it’s because
you never had
money to begin with.
i went for a run this morning.
the cold air bit at my fingers
like windy piranhas, my breath
labored like 19th century coal miners.
a lot of it was walked.
watched the artificial time
switch to midnight, the first morning
of the new year, then promptly
went to sleep. no alcohol,
no friends, no parties.
a classic end to a baseline year.
this morning, a run.
there is a hidden well where
my resolve resides, a secret cavern
in my own body. i search for it
every two weeks with my therapist,
but it is elusive. it rests and feeds
in fits and spurts. but it’s there.
it’s somewhere. and it finds me.
and it wrests lethargy and sloth from me,
and into my bloodstream it injects
a force of movement
that circulates for a few days
that’s why i need to find it, so
i can squeeze the life out of it
and into me, forever, and feel better,
forever. but that’s not how life works.
i went for a run this morning.
fills my vacant lungs
like absent ichor
desperate for nothing–
the vacuum of my
an anxious beating
heart continues its
and submerged in this,
a flailing brain, too
self-absorbed to care.
the beats of the heart,
prior to your own
to count, they ravage
onward toward ex-
haustion, and with them,
you. you had no say
in this, no power
over your own heart
and its context. you,
replete with feelings,
destined for the dirt
and meal for earthworms.
sand sifting through my
outstretched fingers. i
to lingering doubt,
held in position
through languid meaning.
i know nothing of
happiness. i trudge
through morose thickets
in eternal search.
how many people here are dead?
it’s an honest question. dead inside.
yeah yeah you’re all alive, you got a heartbeat,
but in mid day on the weekend
you’re staring out at the sunshine
from your dark, listless bedroom,
staring at computer screens or paper pads
waiting for inspiration to strike.
where is it? where is it?
you’re trawling the depths of your heart,
ripping your emotional muscle fibers,
growing the thick, dense muscle
needed to support your weighty state of mind.
how many of you are dead?
head lolling along your neckline,
twisting verbiage in your mind,
waiting for that next big thing?
you read that stephen king book.
you know writing takes practice,
you know things take practice,
and months later in your dead-end job
your corner store groceries
your pale wispy skin
your permanent scowl
somehow you realize with pained regret
that you don’t want the practice,
you want the end result.
you want the writing botox.
the injection is clean and quick.
you get what you want: a facade of success,
the flat painted to look like rome
when you’re in a black box theater in boise, idaho.
you’re all dead. we’re all dead.
we’re searching for life and we’re already dead.
you asked me what i was passionate about,
and i thought
and i thought
and i thought
and nothing bubbled up
so i said, “i don’t know”
and looked forlornly at the blank wall
of our apartment, slightly biting my bottom lip.
i tried, i plumbed the depths in search
of something to latch on to,
something bright that would light the corners of your smile
when you saw the finished product.
but there was nothing,
and it didn’t feel bad, or off, or sad, or numb.
i thought about the buddha, meditating underneath the tree.
am i doing that? i thought during brisk morning showers
shaving quickly, tying ties, draping myself in cloth.
my mind made montages of your falling face.
my mind raced with answers to a question
that i didn’t know needed answering.
how do i find what lights you up.
how do i hook you in to me?
where is satisfaction.
i watch your eyes grazing the morning newspaper,
clad in panties and socks,
softly crunching on toast with butter.
the crumbs like dark freckles on your pale breasts.
i kiss your forehead, i run my hand through tangled hair.
running out of answers.
bungee jumping, scuba diving, literature, theatre, art,
hanging out with friends, stabbing myself with swords,
anything, video games, drinking myself to oblivion,
shooting TVs like elvis, jump rope, making square pancakes,
anything, anything, i could try it all and feel no dopamine.
we fuck and that’s great
but that has passion embedded in it
and when the lights are low and red
and we are underneath the warm light
of the patio behind the bar,
the middle of winter,
your friends discussing something
my ears are not tuned
and i am thinking of …. what.
what am i thinking of.
you ask in pillow talk and i can’t answer.
i have no answer. i have all answers.
“i don’t know.”
“nothing.” but i am always.
i’m thinking of how to keep you
and show you i am worth your time.
but i don’t know how.
and i am treading water.
and i am drowning.
i’m sitting in your lap.
and i’ve got my arms wrapped around your neck
and i’m looking into your eyes
and gently tousling the hair on the back of your head.
and my body, my brain, we’re all wondering:
“this surge of energy knotting up my chest,
is this love? or is it just adrenaline coursing through,
expecting sex or connection?”
the laptop has some netflix show on.
we ate pasta, rigatoni in a robust marinara,
the kind with chunks of tomato and garlic,
mushrooms and basil, the kind that fills you up.
i can smell you, the soft scent of dinner
mixed with whatever deodorant you’re wearing,
as well as that irresistible smell of man that some men have.
i’ve been with so many men in varying degrees of “been”
that i couldn’t tell you what love is anymore,
that every time it creeps near me it wears a different mask,
sometimes catches me unawares,
sometimes wrestles me to the ground
like a luchadore.
with you i am silent, a purring kitten,
reading an old magazine while you write
platitudes to old girlfriends on your blog.
i get it; you’ve learned something from all of them.
the lurch in the pit of my stomach
is only a reaffirmation of this strange love for you
that bubbles up like alka-seltzer
dropped in a glass cup of still water.