The soul of a second


I love writing 
because it reveals
my soul,

but I must admit,
our torrid love affair is often loathsome,
for reasons the same.


I am nothing. 
I am the god of the ocean 
and all in between.

I am the constant flow
of energy,
of excess,
of dismay. 

I am a god of unfairness, 
of decay.

I treat myself 
as the war times might,
a battle of self-reflection,
and self-loathing, too.

I'm fickle and flighty, 
but I'm a warrior, too.

I'm unsure of myself,
as I follow doubt
whenever it calls out to me,

but I can work my hands, 
and I can work on my knees,

and, “the Best is ahead,”
they've said,
centuries ago.

Now,
they say,
“our Shit is only
gonna get better.”

And I'm a believer, 

only because with age 
comes jade,

each year, less painful 
than the last,

with age comes enlightenment;
a healthy fear of death, 
a healthy fear of a wasted life,
a healthy fear of not doing it right,

and I am a seeker of my existence,

an inane question to pose,
but poignant to answer;

I am a humiliator;
a liar, a thief, 
a soft-spoken son, 
a rattler of grief,

and If I learn how to swim, 
I'll teach myself not to drown,

but my ties to my friendships 
and families are not so strong, 

I have been the instigator,
the propulsion of hurt,

half of it is living with myself,
half of it is living like someone else, 

I don't want to feel this way.

To weep with the sorrowful, lamenting few, 

to search for the existentialist
nothingness,

to hold my head in shame,
and never look inside,
to see what I'm made of;

I am not the instigator.
I am not the deceiver.

I am a man,
with ideas in his head, 

but I imagine that sounds familiar, 

I imagine you have felt the waning call
of the sorrowful,
lamenting few,

waxing into the night,
becoming soft,
like the coyote howl, 

soft like the whistle of a distant train,
disappearing
into the night,

and it’s soft for that second.

And for that second,
I feel it all.

what follows


moving across the land
into the pink and blue
pinwheels in the sky

out towards god
where the canyons meet
and the packmules wait
to be untied

into the mouth
of the Gunnison
with its
black
water
walls

where you breathe in the sun,
and the river engraves
your name,
where the moon snatches
your breath
and asks you calmly,
"won't you melt into me?"

and nightfall isn’t the curse
or the scoundrel you thought
she was,
she’s the queen of the celestials,
nefarious,
maybe,
but an apollonian
beauty indeed

she drinks your water,
she holds your hand,
and she rains comet kisses
on your forehead,
and in the morning, she’s still there,
you can see her remnants
when you open your eyes

you can see her moving
across the land
into the pink and blue
pinwheels in the sky

out towards god
where the canyons meet
and the packmules wait
to be untied

into the mouth 
of the Gunnison
with its
black 
water 
walls

into the mouth
of the Gunnison
with its
black
water
walls
that
run
run 
into nightfall 

all is bright


I wake up with darlin’ looking bruises all over my body
“what do you do to yourself?”
she asks,
and I tell her I don’t know,
“I wake up with darlin’ looking bruises all over my body,”
but she’s more abusive than me,
with all the cross hatching
and the stitching,
running
up 
and down 
her arms

she gives me her father’s sunglasses,
“80s,” she says,
I wear them until they break,
and I give her my Wal Mart glasses in return

she laughs so shrilly,
and I am not that funny,
and I check my watch
too much
when I'm with her,

but the arm graze
and
the hand grab,
and the, "I just want to kiss you
whenever I see you," 
it strangles us both,

and we sign our lives away
on tattoos
we’ll both regret

“you’re so young,”
she decides,
as if I am aging
backwards,
and she is the hag
with warts
on her face
and pigeons
at her feet

“I’m terrified of 30,”
she says,
“it scares me,
I'll be 30 before you,"
her voice is tumorous,
but she is more terrified to hear
that I don't care

she yells at me for hours,
and the only resolution we can find
is in the bedroom,
but the shouting only gets louder

“give me a kiss,”
she says,
in her maternal tone,
and I lean in
and kiss her 
melted 
lipstick 
lips, 

and it is the next morning,
it is the last kiss,
and she says,
“see you never,”
I laugh,
and I hope so,
I hope we both go it alone,

but we stick it out,
and she looks at me
like I am some sort of
stigmatic epithet,
some abnormality
she can't offset,

and the yelling
gets worse, and
I shed years 
of youth
with each eardrum blow,
and I return to the womb,
where the bedroom shouting
plays out too cool, 
where I am wrapped 
in your sooty hair

where it is mellifluous
and static,
where it is like drowning
in the mid-morning air

The end

standing on the east end of Eden,
and it is a million years
from now,

but we are young,
and we are old,
and the wedding lights
are down
and in a box
in your mother's attic,

and the Spanish house
on the sea
and the red clouds in the sky
are a memory
a million miles from here,

"wasn't it dandy?" you say,
"weren't we swell?"

"it was grand," I say,
"we sure were great,"

and the red clouds in the sky
swell up,
and they burst of fire and flame,
and my heart and your heart
erupt,

and it is longing,
and it is pious tears,
and it is that empathy in your eyes


Leaving Sharpsburg


it is lonely here,
and all these
teenage girls
aren't old enough
for regret

lake sweat,
and Matt smokes
his wine-flavored
cigarettes

“I can’t wait
to get out,” he says,
against a heatwave
and a smokecloud

he signs his name
and puts out
the cigarette,
he hits the ship
and sails the seas,

and the girls don't
miss him
when he writes no letters
home

Falling out



“how

does someone
fall

out of love?”


no answer
for you, dear

a half-smile,
a look down,
drowning,
happening
to us

lying with you,
scratched up,
drunk,
not knowing
we fucked,

in the car,
when i wouldn’t come back,
and you said you cried
all night
and didn’t sleep
for days,
i was sorry,
said i was
so,
so
sorry

tried
to get out of bed,
but waited on you,
to feel your cold hands
on my face
and warm you
under the blankets,
waited on you
to feel
if i felt
for you 

see-through house,
neighbors could see,
it was happening,

neighbors could see,
how someone 
falls 
out of love,

and when the car
came
through our window,
it was you
who didn’t mind,

it was you
saying,
there was nothing left
to shatter in two,

A sparrow song



Sometimes when the sparrow lands outside my window
I think about how I miss your song,
your sweet whistling
and dance
that went on and on 

And sometimes when the sparrow lands outside my window
and sings its speckled sparrow song,
I wonder,
“will I ever be strong,”
have the strength to tell you,
“You were the only whisper 
that gave me the courage
to keep traveling on”

And sometimes when I watch the sparrow feed its young
I wonder,
if the sparrow gets lonesome,
how does it continue on

And sometimes when the sparrow lands outside my window
I think about how I miss your love,
how sweet you held me,
and how I was home,
how I’d listen
to you whistle
your sparrow song

And sometimes when I look outside my window
and the sparrow doesn’t come,
I think you are that sparrow,
somewhere,
traveling on

And sometimes outside my window
I hear your whistle
in the breeze,
blowing against the branches the sparrow sits on,
and I’m delighted, easy to please

And I know somewhere outside my window
you’re whistling someone else your sparrow song,
some new sweet sparrow,
some new sweet home

And sometimes inside my home
I wish I were traveling on,
looking for some new sparrow
to whistle me
a sweet sparrow song

But sometimes when the sparrow lands outside my window
and whistles a sweet sparrow song,
it soothes me, 
and I feel ready
to whistle a new sparrow song

Terminal

and there you are

legs crossed with a gem‘ round your finger

hugs and eyebrows and, “it’s soooooo good to see you,” you say

“it’s nice to see you,” I say, 

and I get real fake serious, real fast

"is he handsome," I ask, "is he blonder than me"

"he's as blond as can be," you say

"I never was much of a blond, "I say, "it never looked good on me"

you snicker, and I snicker, and we spit bullets through our teeth

 

and here we are

legs crossed getting drinks at the Malongo Café

and we laugh

and we kiss at the bar and in the bathroom and in a taxi to the hotel and in the hotel

and in the pool

and we get ice and we drink champagne and you take off your ring and I take off mine

and we laugh the night away

Snail mail



you say you didn’t get my letters,
but I saw ‘em on your dresser,
lookin’ opened
and all,

I know my love
is confusing,
doll,

but I write you
to try and set myself
straight

“trouble, trouble,”
you say, “you’re
dangerous”

I laugh,
put my hands in my pockets,
“you compliment me so”

“was it worth it,"
you ask

“what,” I say

“y’know, leavin’ me,”

I shake my head, “naw,
I don’t suspect it was,”

but you don’t hug me,
you don’t kiss me,
just say, “I thought
you’d say that”

I hang my head,
and I want to take back
those letters,
‘cause they musta been
misaddressed 

New Mexico


I can see the stars again,
and I’m blank, reverent,
whatever,
small,
so goddamn small

under the big lights,
I’m a ghost,

and the neon bar signs
don’t do much
to distract,
when you’re already
hot and drunk,

but there’s no fix,
I can’t help missing you

every goddamn minute,
every goddamn day,

and New Mexico girls,
they aren’t the same,

but I’m sure,
if I let ‘em,
they’d break my heart, too

they’d take me in to
their pueblos,
their adobe houses,
their gaudy bedrooms,

lay me down under that
sienna sky,

and they’d break me,

they’d break me
with their posh galleries
bleeding art no one has seen
and no one will,

and they’d break me
with their kitsch
bookstores and western
wearhouses, their cowpoke
bars and authentic
restaurants,

and they’d cook me
under the sun,
and I’d look weathered,
and I’d feel weathered,

I would feel the sierra-comfort,
the emptiness of the desert
in my stomach,

but you know me,
every goddamn bit of me,

I ain’t much for sticking around

lord knows
I’d end up
in one of those galleries
in one of those picture frames,
and no one would ever see me again,

but you know me,
every goddamn bit of me,

I ain’t much for sticking around