The Asian Market

The shelves were cramped, and scattered
with cans and tins of striking colors and
ambiguously labeled jars that stung
my unfamiliar mind. I begged for spice,
for my soul had needed heat for some
time, an exotic catalyst to fuel my journey
to a home I had always known but never seen.
I saw the curries, too similar to the next,
but only to my unlearned eyes, and I
prayed that their pungency would
punch through me, and cleave my
severely structured world. The tiny
chilis, puckered with the heat
and wrinkled by the smile of the sun,
flourished green and red redolent. I
lied to myself, because I needed a foreign
muse, and said that I knew how to cook
them. Like those shelves, I myself was
cramped in those days, and begging for
a big expansion into somewhere new and bold.
Like we are like to do, I looked farther afield
than where the answer truly laid. It was never
the strange alphabet dotted across the cans
that really made me learn. It was the grass
that I sat in after my thrown-together meal,
feeling proud and not just the least bit
underachieved, that curled around my legs
and whispered true the words that led me
to flight: you are home when the newness
is found in the old, and the yellowed pages
of too-thumbed books and the weeds you
have always trampled begin to trust you well
enough to tell the secrets they have hidden
from their surfaces. It is when you sit
and see that the world is standing. And when
you cast a glare into a new store and worry
little about the pangs of “that’s not me,” and
let your newfound feet dance toward the
underbrush that has tangled you before,
but only to slow your watching to the immediacy
of this moment and all it has begotten.

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Cheap, old cars

I occupy a place where contours
are envied and rewarded. Their sleek
turns impress, and my impressionable
and simple feelings are no exception.
But, when I see a long, uncongested
stretch of roach, I remember a different
place. It was a place that had those
boxy, straight edges, dents, and cloth
upholstery tarnished and tattered by
adventure (and not all of it our own).
I have recollective moments when I
see in my soul those cheap, old cars,
and they point me unflinchingly to my
current disorders. We once craved
the rust and the rain that brought it,
and an engine knock that spelled out
the years and memories in the only
intelligible Morse code we ever knew.
I am loathe to say, as ever we are
when the gradual becoming truth
bites harder than has any surprise,
that I have replaced that craving with
a meaningless and penetrative fear.
I want the comforts that we toil to buy,
the smoothness and responsiveness of
heat, and leather, and steel. I think
of it as safety, what I have earned in my
time. But I will tell you what comfort is:
it is seeing that long stretch of road, and
dozing off without regard in the passenger
side, the climate uncontrolled so that
I may be in this world without veneers.
And I slept well, unafraid of impediment,
because our wits and taste for intrepid solutions
far surpassed our modern degree of mechanical
certainty. I have seen what I have earned,
and I what I must earn over again: that first
eager step into the darkness, with a destination
that we do not need to see to feel.

When things become too (un)important

I do not have graceful fingers

That can elicit a tune from strings

I do not have exacting arms

Ever since they were hung from slings

I do not have a discerning ear

That can pinpoint well the sharper part

But I do have a trembling noise

That is turning to music in my heart

 

It has been time, I am ashamed to say

And time not only, but indiscretion

That let me drift a listless distance

From the cohesion of my invention

That rooted me to me, which sounds

Unworthy of further commentary

But like all simple, self apparent things,

No discussion is more necessary

 

I will grab it when I see it

My life, a pen, for they are no different

But what I do with both in hand

Will determine if and how I’m distant

From the music buzzing in my chest

And the soft humming in my ear

That, no matter how blind I become

I hope will never disappear

The Mountain is Eroded

It was there, just the other day,

That I first noticed how small you look

In my new world. I remember you

Towering over the trees, and extending

So far into the sky that I needed a real

Beanstalk to reach you. I remember how you

Guarded the entrance to the soft land

That sung to me when I would sit in

Grass taller than my excuses, and how

Tough decisions and a fatiguing journey

Were nothing next to your brave and momentous

Welcome. It has been years, but not the eons

That I was taught to expect,

That took their toll on the height

Of the mountain that marks my home.

It has been eroded, by the wind and rain

Of my distance, when I walked away

To listen to a more societally conscious

Lie. I used to think that as we grow,

The things we love get smaller, and

Their majesty no longer protects

Us and drops our jaws again.

But it is not so: we are bigger then,

When we can still see that our facts

Are smaller than anything we used

To pretend, because they were not things,

And they were not fantasies: they were

The truths we buried under piles of

Efficiency. When I grip that shovel,

With white knuckles and a frenetic pace

That might cripple me in my later years,

It will be because I remember that you

Will be taller again when I sit in those unkempt

Grasses and talk to them like I would

A clever, forgiving, and forgetful old friend.

The Barriers We Break

I know your skin, and I have loved
each uncovered section.
For a timeless time I have erred,
for longer than my flesh has been
connected to my bones, for this
thought and the lies just like it
were bred into my species so
that I, too, could, never know the
depth of love, and I would need
a heaven to carry me home when
materials expire. This thought,
errant and destructive, that as
we are naked, we are exposed,
and viewed clearly, unable to hide
ourselves and unable to hide from
others: this thought is wrong.
I rested on your sweater, my face buried
in an otherwise sensual place,
but I knew then, as your heat carried
through past the roughened fabric
that could have scratched my face
in more sensitive times, that naked
is not the truth, and is not the pinnacle
of contact. It is when, in that chair,
separated by a wool veneer and the
grime of the day that caked my face,
(or was it the grime of living that
I can never banish?)…
In that chair, I found the life of
contact that nobody really wants us
to find, when separation means nothing
and we cannot be closer than if
we fused our nuclei.
I didn’t need your skin on mine
to be a part of you, and I didn’t
need to lay in a bed after we
try to prove to everyone not
watching that we are meant for
each other. Wool, and grime,
and the prying eyes of others,
are no barrier to who we are.
Taking off our clothes
would just be needlessly redundant,
for yours are always off to me,
and they are always mine.

Posthumous Recognition

This is for all of you
(and it might be none of you)
that are reading me after
my withered feet have sunken
into the ground, and far after
I gave up hoping that someone
would tell me my words
were heaven-sent. If you
are reading, be it in a book,
or on a screen, or on some other
yet-unknown device that has
pledged to monopolize tactile
sensation and do lightly away
with your ability to see downfield,
please know that I drove home
tonight and I was just like you.
I saw lights flashing in the dark,
and they truncated my senses,
the pulsation blending together
my life and the world around me
like a strobe light on short delay.
I was intoxicated by the pace,
the sluggish, mindless creeping
down a path meant for speed
and attention. It was then that
I thought of you,  sitting and
questioning why you do not
have the same stories to tell
as an old, decaying scribbler.
But you would not  guess that
I stubbed my toe tonight, and
it bled more than I expected.
Watching it slowly seep,
I thought more of you than
you will ever think of me.

The Lake

The color of the water
(and the watercolor on the
horizon above) spoke deeply
of temperate seasons past, those
medium, buoyant times where
life does flourish, that comforting
path that shrugs off brambles
with a smile and not a sweat.

We walked deep into the dark,
not just until the dark as
we may in times of harsher cold,
but past the fall of light
and deeper into the wooded
places in ourselves. Our feet
were bare, caked with dirt
and the trimmings of the
forest, and we knew that
permenance had found a home
when our earth-crusted soles
brushed out the crackle of
thirsty wheat. We went home
too early (for we went home
at all), and I remembered,
after our voices blended together
like a mosiac starched by time,
to scrub my feet before I
stumbled into bed, but it
was never the dirt
that had made me unclean.

i talked to you today

I talked to you today,
finally, they might have
me believe. But did we really
talk, or am I still here
with a lump in my throat
where there should be the
wounds from words outpoured?

You can be led to water,
but i can’t convince you
that the drought should end.
Will the ground crumble,and crack like brittled caramel
the day I bury you?
I really pray, i really do,
for rain before my shovel strikes.

Thunder

It really does roll, though,
even if I never thought that to be an apt description.
But it does, and it rolls ever
forward on this night that
should be night, but is not
night, for we are bathed in gold.
Not the kind of bars and coins,
no; it is much more valuable than
that. I heard the roar, and it
rolled forward as joy does
when we are most convinced
it won’t. We were then as
we should always be: alone
and still not fearful of the storm.

Throwing away keys

The twist and turn
and delight of delatching,
the subtle click that
leads me home and forward.

The things we open and
our tools for doing so
have a tendency to matter and
have a tough time flying away.
My history on rings,
my access and trust have,
through nothing more mindful
than the dull draining of time,
sunken into obselence.
A drawer, a door, both
hidden before, are, with
my casting, locked forever
once more. But, remaining
still, the most pitiful of all:
two that I cannot remove.
Two that I cannot remember.
The places that they go,
perhaps I never went there,
and, resultantly, do not know.
Or, more like, I went and forgot
and realized, then and now,
that some fantastic voyages
end in lackluster ways.

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