Wednesday, September 11, 2013

For Bethany

Big Sister

Big sister,
are the years like clouds to you, rolling past with the wind?
Big sister,
how deep do your roots go? Can you touch everywhere I step?
Big sister,
can you feel me growing? Will you help me to be strong?
Big sister,
do you breath easily now?
Big sister,
does the sun come down to see you? Does she sit beside you and say, “my, how beautiful?”
Big sister,
will you stay here, and see my children, and their children, grow old and die?
Big sister,
are these others your family now? Why do you hold their hands so tightly?
Big sister,
don’t you get tired, holding up so many? Is it their songs that make you so tall and strong?
Big sister,
when it rains, do you step out of the ground and dance like our mother?
Big sister,
what if these little red ants love you best of all?
Big sister,
why do you sing so quietly now? Have you lost your pride?
Big sister,
will you keep my secrets and forgive me?
Big sister,
when I am earth, you will hold me again.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 10

In childhood, I hated the beach.
Sand annoyed me, got everywhere
and I just wanted to be clean,
god dammit.

Today the beach is all I want,
to be whiskey-skinned with
feet dipped in Corona-with-lime surf.
My twenties.

I want my hair to be light
and my flesh dark, reverse
the polarity of my biology, let me
change my ways.

I wont fear death in the ocean.
Entropy may seize me and change
me into something I hated, but
I will be home.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Day 9...awkward...

So let’s assume for a moment
that you’re out there, somewhere.
That you exist, but we have not met yet.
Assuming that fact, let’s say that one night,
maybe in early May or late April,
I take a walk, because winter is over
and everything smells like Eden
(or at least, what I would assume Eden smells like.
God was unavailable for comment.)
So I take my walk, and maybe I’m wearing
a fig leaf, or maybe I’m decked to the nines,
but either way I notice the stars
(because who wouldn’t, they’re straight up gorgeous)
and out of the infinite number of stars that exist
My gaze stops at one in particular,
for no discernible reason. I mean,
they all look the same, right?
But I pick this one, who knows why,
and I stare at it for awhile.
Now, because you exist, out there, somewhere,
you could also be looking at the sky,
and maybe your gaze stops on one particular
star, just like mine did, and you see
where this is going. Maybe it’s the same star.
Why not?
So I’m staring at this star,
and you’re staring at this star,
and it reaches down and takes my hand in it’s own.
Then it takes yours in it’s other hand
and it puts them together.
My hand and your hand, through this star,
in this star,
because of this star.
Even though we have not met yet.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Day 1

Dawn.
Slowly this creature,
    invertebrate,
     appears, born(e) from
the earth, eyes blinking
in the suddenly bright light.

He feels thirst
    for water, for
    adventure. There is little
around him, yet he knows
    where he is.

    In this past life
deep within the dirt,
    crunching rocks
     between broken teeth
and clinging to roots
he had been blind.

    Now the sun beat down
    like a sledgehammer,
his mucous skin shined
and in the light of his first day
he could finally see that he was beautiful.

Monday, January 02, 2012

My Anxiety, at 5:55 pm (Work in Progress)

I can run
And I can run
And I can run

I can throw one foot in front of the other
(I’m actually pretty fast)
But my pounding heart keeps up with me
Every step of the way.
And everything gets gray at the edges
of my vision
and nothing makes me happy.
The whole world seems dead
and everything is mocking how scared I am.
When the laughter of my
two-year-old brother can’t make me smile
then I know I’m in trouble.
I sympathize with computers
because I keep running every possibility
through my head, over and over again

What if?
What if?
What if?

If I do anything but pretend I’m someone else
some person in my book or a TV show,
my heart starts to chase me again.
Every mistake, every fear
endless opportunities for tears
and I feel like a rape victim.
I can feel my own thoughts throwing me down
taking all the power and control away
they take, and take, and take what they want
and I try to fight back, to lash out
but I can’t outrun my own heart.
Every day I swell a little more
and my face breaks out
and I’m finally starting to look the way
I feel inside.

She hates you.
They hate you.
I hate you.

Eventually I accept the fact
that I’ll never get her back
that people who used to be my friends hate me
that everyone around me sees me the way I see myself
that there’s this truth
and I can see it in blue, green, and brown eyes
when they look at me.
He hasn’t changed; it’s all an act.
He’s not a real friend, he just wants something.
he’s not a real person
he’s a child, acting like an adult
nothing ever changes
he never changes.

He hasn’t changed.
He can’t change.
He will never change.

And I have
I know because some nights when I’m drunk
or when I try to give someone advice
about doing the right thing,
and they laugh in my face,
I will think about what I have done and cry
and my heart does a warm-up lap
it helps, the hot tears burn me like fire
purify me,
like the burn of the whip on a
priest’s alabaster back
like the burn of chemicals entering the lungs
of a scared, naked boy from Poland
like the burn of the whiskey sliding
down the throat of

My great-grandfather
and father
and me.

But when the pain from the whip-scars fades
and the impure thoughts come again
or when the goose-stepping soldiers
pick another child to be solved
or when my family pours another round
and toasts to cross-generational mistakes
or when my body stops shaking and
I can breathe,
my hearts crosses the finish line but keeps running.
There is no perfect solution here.
I just can’t make myself shut up.
“The only way to win is to love yourself,”
they tell me.
Therapists and mothers and very dear friends.
“Something’s not connecting in your brain,”
the woman who gave me life says.
“Your neurons just keep firing and firing
and aren’t connecting with anything.”
And I keep trying to run as fast as they are
but I’m in really bad shape.

Please tell me I’m okay.
Please tell me all this surprises you.
Please tell me to shut up.

I don’t like to talk about it
because I hate it so much
that I can’t imagine subjecting another person
to a glimpse of my average thought process.
But this is me
and my racing heart
and keys with letters clicking furiously
like my god-damned neurons
so here we go.

Great dinner here we are at dinner I’m glad to see my friends again I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve seen them since I was working on that paper studying for that test in rehearsal with my girlfriend and why don’t they seem happy to see me did I do something wrong are they upset that I haven’t been around did someone tell them something oh god I hope it’s nothing like no it probably isn’t I’m just being stupid but then again I could be wrong I don’t know let’s make a joke oh good everyone laughed I guess I’m okay.

So that’s what it’s like, and it’s quick
if I wasn’t so used to it I probably wouldn’t notice
but I’ve heard it so often I know it by heart
like a Four Tops song.
I hope you don’t feel guilty
because that isn’t the point
and no matter how many eggshells you
break with your bare feet
I’m always going to be this way.
On the other hand,
I think everyone’s smile
is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Love, According to Larry Stahl

“Treat each one as if it’s fully functional and loaded,”
he says.
And that’s my biggest problem
because I know what an empty chamber feels like.
It’s metal-cold and there’s too much room,
but on the other hand, you can’t hurt anyone
and I’m grateful for that.

“Never point it at anyone that you’re not prepared to shoot,”
he insists.
“Common sense,” the whole room thinks.
And, you know, I haven’t.
Except maybe once.
She said she never wanted to see me again
which worked out, I suppose, in the end.

“This is the shell,”
he says, and he points to my chest.
“Inside is the bullet.
That’s the part that can kill.”
So now I know what it means
When I can feel the piece of lead in my chest pound
Making it hard to breathe.

“When you pull the trigger
the hammer strikes the cap, and it explodes,”
he looks at her when he says it.
Maybe he knows what her smile does to me.
The way he describes being shot, it sounds like most mornings,
because when you open your eyes, I get tunnel vision
and I’d swear I can feel them looking right through me.

Did you know,
That when you finally let me see your face,
I feel holy?

“If they see you with it and stop you;
One: Do nothing quickly.
And two: Do nothing, quickly.”
But Larry, I don’t mean to be disrespectful,
I’m just so fucking sick of freezing when I see her.
So I’m going to spin it around my finger
Give her a John Wayne smile
And tell her to draw, pilgrim.

See, the thing is, Larry
I know I’m being unsafe
and your advice is great, don’t get me wrong,
but the thing is,
and I don’t know about you,
but when I find myself staring down the barrel
I get a split second to weigh my options,
pros and cons,
gain versus loss,
and, well, it may not be safe,
but we wouldn’t play with guns
if they didn’t make us feel so damn alive,
would we?

Friday, November 25, 2011

When I Am Drunk I Am an Indian

I am a warrior.
And I am poisoned
Just like all great warriors.
My stomach is full of the tears
That were shed
Or weren’t shed
On a long walk
My blood is thick with ink
Or names, or both
But because there are no names in my blood
I am full of poison
My ears are ringing with bloody, ululating pride
And when I slam my feet into the ground
They scream at me
To run faster

I am a warrior.
Unstoppable
I am a warrior.
I can do no wrong
I will never bow my head
I will never cut my hair
As long as I am poisoned
Or alive
I will wear a lopsided smile
As my warpaint
And when I am poisoned
I will never stop fighting

I am a warrior.
I am covered in scars
My head is full of the white man’s bullets
And they know everything
They teach me how to fill my belly
With unshed tears
But early in the morning
Before battle, before we walk forever
And forget war
I am whole
And there is no ink in my blood
And there is no poison in my blood
But I am only a great warrior.
When I am poisoned