These are really old, but I'm posting them anyway, and adding to them at some point. College yearbook photos of sorts. A lot of these are about dealing with depression. In case anyone can relate. Click on each title to read the poem.
This is a sonnet that I literally composed in my sleep and remembered almost in its entirety in about 2012. I found it years later scrawled on the back of a page of jewelry designs I was working on. I was thinking about how our brightest, longest days are the shortest, darkest ones for the Australians, and how everything has another side to it.
The seeds of age and death are sown in youth. It's in the pitchest black that fire's spark Will brightest glow, illuminating truth The yin-yang knows: no light without the dark. Each victor's triumph, some other's defeat. Each bliss some sorrow's shadow will consume. The sun itself collapse, its light retreat. The night is day's inevitable tomb. Though spring is born from winter's silent frost, Each month the darkness swallows whole the moon. The balance of the equinoxes lost To unseen cruelty solstice casts in June. For even summer sun's most brilliant height Is some most distant stranger's darkest night.
Sophomore Honors English: 8:50 – 9:30 AM. An homage to my geeky, bow-tied and bespectacled English teacher, Mr. Dhuyvetter. I'll never forget him reading this Eliot poem, one of my favorites, written when Eliot was only 26 (amazing). This won't make sense without reading T.S. Eliot's The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock and Edward Arlington Robinson's Richard Cory.
His jacket is penny loafer brown today. Not the tweed one he usually wore The one that hinted at pipe smoke And derailed dreams of Ivy League tenor. His bow tie same as always. Richard Cory he was to me crisp, well-dressed, "Clean favored and imperially slim." Too boring for the bullet though. Void of drama, just a void. Straight edge for a smile. But this morning he stood at the nicked podium Like Martin Luther King – to testify: "Come to tell you all." His bow tie barely restraining the words Throttled in his throat. "I have come to tell you all." The patron saint of Honors English Where peons were poets, and the promise That under the acne and warbled villanelles Were smooth skin and sleek verse... But the bullet sang today. At the podium, the book – then he Fell open. Open to his private confession, "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock." The pages parted and the spine bent so easily There. As if they knew. But it was useless The book I mean. Because he knew every line As though he’d read it – lived it A thousand awkward nights. The peon stood before us With the desperate dignity, the passion Of a man frayed and fallen And unraveled himself with every line. Second in his class... almost, almost The vice president. The fumbling friend Who drove the ugly girl home after the party He wasn’t invited to because of some small oversight. His name misspelled (or absent) on every guest list. Dorothy Parker’s "Minor Poet" And don’t you think he didn’t know it. Forced to read again, again, immortal words His pen just wouldn’t write. "I am not prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be." And the semesters roll on and into each other Nudging him forward as his hairline recedes. And the students flicker in and out And onto books he’ll never write (But there’s still time! There’s still time!) And into circles he’ll never know (But he can say, "I knew him when…!") And – one by one – check off the To Do List Of things he’ll leave undone. And his wastebasket filled with failed attempts. "That’s not what I meant, at all."
"The next day, I went for a run along the ocean... Twenty minutes in, I stopped beside some wood - you know, planks - that someone had made to spell BYE KURT. I took a breath, looked up at Seattle, and wondered: What didn't he see? And if I've ever been to a vigil, I guess. . . that . . . was it." - Bruce McCulloch on the Cobain vigil in Seattle.
I remember where I was when MTV announced that Kurt Cobain had been found dead. My roommate was watching the TV and I was in my room half-asleep. I thought I'd dreamed it and staggered into the living room to discover the sad truth. I thought about his daughter - forced to grow up in his shadow, with his ghost.
My infant eye too weak to make the imprint of your face, I’m left to gather the fragments of your splattered genius. Sound bites and photographs arranged to forge your shadow They smell of bleach and dust, not Daddy. Your disciples pose in straight and patient lines Exchanging flannels for silk Eyes motionless, their glint of rebellion now glossed with stupor. They dismiss me Unaware that in my genes lie dormant Their expelled demons and evaporated youth. You are their forgotten legacy, as I am yours. As I grow old, you become my child In death forever young In youth forever dead. Groping in the darkness for memory At the threshold of slumber I let your fingers brush my forehead Their smell of Pampers and hot gun metal. You sing me to sleep tonight Much as you did then. Daddy with a volume control.
my head scraped to the very last seed I slunk on my mental porch powerless to move limbless and lightless my candle extinguished by the night’s numbing winds. the eleventh month strikes and I am left to rot amidst the bitter wrappers of others’ sweets. winter whistles through my eyes and nostrils vacant triangles cruelly carved now pointless, lidless and defenseless against starvation of the senses. the flickering flame they guarded fluttered with the slightest breath but boldly flung its fragile brilliance through their paneless portholes. the world in fire and shadow cast the evening a kaleidoscope of autumn scents and visitors and the warmth of a capricious light that bathed them all in flecks of life but wax grows tired and wicks burn out and the candle, snuffed, is useless as the eyes and nose it glimmered through now windows to a tomb.
a cause a resolution an explanation forever sealed in that impenetrable moment before the switchbang distortion that bends the tv into techicolor taffy- foozy drizzles of electronic snow that twink your lashes and slack the muscles in your neck nitrous trampoline high then (blink) dropsleet blanket that smothers you -silent - in nuclear winter. chemical warfare’s latest mutation emotional mitosis mental arsenals align at either pole, each hoping to blast his estranged brother across enemy lines into the stratosphere poles shift, North and South, floor and ceiling you burrow and claw through shag-rug and shingles toward an inner equator, once a wide haven of equilibruim now pinched to a corset by your cold and angry Artics whose cruel latitudes sprout only skyscrapers of frost. and what black winter blizzards bring, a meager summer sun can never melt away, only bleach an ever more blinding white. but that was yesterday. Today your pigtails are pointing North. You remember exploding like a drop-kicked soda when examined and grilled like a three-legged pig. but now you ask, nerves raw, cells burnt. ‘A just cause?’ -No, just ‘cause. “chisel a smile, pigtails, someday you’ll grow enough to reach things like locks, switches and doorknobs.” but the horizon is a yawning chorus line of todays. so you watch sleet-eyed, tongue-tied as the carousel whrils and the dizzying mirrors reflect a disjointed fun-house smear of a dark horse and queasy rider hurdling thin air as though it were a thorny hedge. how ridiculous you look a girl tied to a horse tied to a pole tied to a caroucel that circles and circles and circles like a weary hound but never stops and curls to sleep. a frenetic duet of marionettes at a flea circus that never ends - but it’s an easy jump when the horse is low on the pole. Point and Shoot. the Nikon answer for the complicated made easy: curl of a finger and everything stops in mid-
Life's tattoos and rites of passage Diaries etched in code whose lines erode and slowly slough with time. Their rough and raw descendants form in kind. A badge of courage, mark of shame, an overzealous dare Remembered there. A symbol of the guts to play the game. Mysteries to unravel, leather keloid gemstones Kicked among the gravel of the battlefield my body has become. I've auctioned off my breasts and flung my legs like easy scissors But their rough and ruddy ridges remain mine and mine alone Their beauty’s merely skin deep, but their downright ugly penetrates the bone. Haloed discs and jagged lines, Kandinsky's palette Written in my flesh. Symbols of man and woman dueling for dominion. They attest to every cigarette burn, drunken tumble, careless slice with a rusty knife. The elements of life That carve my unfolding biography in my mismatched topography. When once in ten or twenty years One altogether up and disappears from view Like often, as a child, I had hoped they might Its phantom lingers like a missing limb or severed finger To remind me there was something there. An episode of life.
my father’s right hand smells of sweat and raw leather when it drops the tennis racket and wraps its calluses around an ice-clouded mug of beer his grip burns the frost from the handle its white film receding like a glacier in summer’s heat my hands smell of chain link and tree sap too small to hold a pencil, they are callused (a row of islands or little pitcher’s mounds) only by the metal hoops of my very own swing set two posts and a crossbeam of splintery wood that crackles in the August sun like the prow of an old pirate’s ship wood dark and dry as Indian clay, nailed together with my father’s hands that sling a duffel over his shoulder as he heads for the court and toss themselves high in mock despair when he returns to find me still the happy pendulum marking the hours - 10 a.m. till three, or five a kite kicking the leaves down the back bank beyond the row of shrubs that divide worlds like turnstiles. below, vines weave their way down the weedy hillside a net to trap a small animal who dares extend a paw or a patent leather shoe. but my bare feet swoop above the trees catch their transparent leaves with my toes my curls sweep the grass as I stiffen like a plank stretching my toes toward the sky, taking aim the way Babe Ruth pointed to the cheap seats before he launched the ball into orbit.
Somewhere or other I fold myself Crumpled into the atmosphere Of xeroxed days Whose margins soften, blend, Then harden again into timeless boulders That push up the hill only to roll indifferently down again, Carving trenches, dissolving into epochs Whose weight crawls over my back The procession of equinoxes Marching relentlessly up my spine. It curls me forward My face to the grass The sun-warmed blades touch my eyes That flutter awake to see your name Scraped and carved into the tanned back Of one empty hand, Carefully etched Deeply, desperately by the other.
Take back your gifts. What good is inspiration wrapped in paralysis? You kidnapped me, a reluctant bride Forever saddled with the weight of your name, The fickle whip of your passion That may claim my talents (my life?), but never my consent. Winds shift and I wake to the smell Of the hunt. The air thick with betrayal. Breaking and entering, searching and hovering You crawl into the cave of your familiar prey. Your two faces veiled in a thicket of shadows. One fist beats me senseless, the other full of flowers Knowing I'll bend to keep you from breaking. And while I'm bent, your hoof on my back You skin me and offer me my own hide Draping my shoulders as though it were a gift. My refuge and my assassin, a walking paradox So deep in my blood, without you I am not I. And what if nothing could close the hole of your absence? Is it better to be sometimes tortured than always pedestrian? I've grown accustomed to you Comfortable baggage whose weight I bear In hopes the cramped and wrinkled visions within may someday iron out. A bad habit I relish Destined to wander your mountains and valleys With flowers in my hair and thorns in my feet. Your are a perennial weed that strangles my buds to make them bloom. Let me loose but not go Slip your grasp from my neck to my hand And let me stumble a mile in my shoes. Our chemistry my bond of faith By you alone forever chased and chaste. Be not stranger or lover but treasured and intolerable guest. My doors locked, windows open for your present return. And if time and space spawn a bridge to reconcilement That leads you in my direction Tell me when you're stopping by And I will clear a path that Someday we may walk on even ground.
Among the ocean’s waves and white-capped thorns a bouyant world its bobbing head afloat within its walls a punctured buoy born and tossed, to tread for life, from reason’s boat. Caught in circadian riptides, I can feel the lactic acids build. I struggle though my exiled ancestors clip at my heels my flailing mute against the undertow. Surrendering, I slide, though keep in sight the water’s waning surface, senses loath to choose between the polar days and nights but foolish indecision loses both. Loose-limbed and languid, hovering in the death between two lives, afraid to err in choice I hear the liquid anesthesia’s breath: it’s here you drown, inert, without a voice. My dormant gills retrieved, I dive below my cradle in the sea floor’s ancient sands once boulders of torment, that long ago collapsed to dirt, the first marrow of man. Above, the ocean’s canvas, black and still to hurl my inner world upon. A new and violent physics reigns that bends to will and madness, painting them the hue of truth. Yet closer here to life and death. Terrrain that heightens and compels the senses’ crest and final breath to conflict in the veins that nourish life’s intense romance with death. The earth’s a sphere of mirrors - sky and sea a symbiotic whole, yet each to each appears a fractured non-reality incomprehensible and out of reach. Some float, blue-skinned and bloated, to the shore with minds none could dissect, cure or control. I’ll take my chances nearer the earth’s core praying for an amphibious soul.
drift. . . shift. . . consciousness sifts. . . the optic slideshow twisted inward for the night’s digestion slips through an open link in a chain of thought succumbs to black suggestion. the process is subverted, the images inverted and smeared across the wicked spleen of the unconscious and unseen compartments of the prostrate brain. Their shadows flicker, spastic flames on the black canopy that enshrouds a nightmare. alchemy. . . sorcery. . . shadows to mist a phantasmic cloud with the slithered twists of a gaseous snake slanks along the underbelly snickering and hissing and crashes your party sneaking you awake. its shadow fades, and in its place the fragmented splinters of an ancient scream rise like steam from the crevice between carpet and bedroom door come closer. . . closer. . . smell the core. . . lingering in the open threshold shallow breath, trembling flesh pink pajamas on the cusp of the cosmos. voices escape like noxious fumes and curl their spiraling plumes of orphaned tongues around your dangling toes that poke into the stratosphere. their origins unclear. . . . and out of the mist floats the mothership pregnant-hipped, colossal planet angel’s golden throat to the tongues that sing an ivoryswirl harp of a thousand strings or so it seemed. . . for the mist congeals into a ghostly hand whose brittlebone fingers pluck away the human strings, the souls that linger neither saved nor damned. emaciated torsos, taffy limbs stretched taut and bound at either end with hair turned wire. Lucifer‘s choir, a host of agonies caught between here and hereafter a multitude who squeal on key at the demonic whim of their master.
Another weekly midnight ride past scattered, darkened mini-marts toward my fluorescent haven whose sprawling murals promise consumer salvation: Pea Soup $.69 everything as it appeared on television under the bzzzz of a sickly alien light whose green sallows the skin but makes the asparagus look delicious. my cart a skeleton to flesh with fish and blue light specials, I wander through a Technicolor tunnel of detergents that promise to make America white again. And at the back, in voyeur’s windows, pre-packaged flesh - breasts, thighs their moist and meaty pinks and reds gift-wrapped in cellophane. The single shoppers saché through the fresh vegetable lounge amidst stale music, voluptuous honeydews, mist from the lettuce-hose boys. a beetle-browed potato-skinned widower spies his match: old, pickled, with alfalfa hair, her tan purse stuffed with radishes. she fumbles with coupons as a pony-tailed waitress sniffs the anus of a cantaloupe, then tosses it onto a disheveled heap of Scotch and diet products - her cart slowly resembles her like a dog its owner. we retrench our unconscious tracks around the maze of vegetable bins that bumble us toward each other in an absurd ballet of 3-point turns. A price check jars me into reality, launching my pilgrimage to aisle 7 hemmed in by carts and sacred rubber grocery dividers I contemplate a last mad dash for deodorant calculate time-distance formulas. someone drops a can of beets and shatters the polite elevator silence a three-piece suit, seizing his chance, furtively eyes the Soap Opera Digest an uneasy boyfriend stalks the maxi-pad aisle. they UPC, I ATM, and I am funneled past the red-light district with its cigarettes, magazines, and candy racks of oral pleasures into the food-gorged evening air. I arrange my bouquet of doubled plastic bags by an inverse scale of weight and fragility adjusting for the total cubic volume of my trunk. I feel American. (purged and discarded, my lonely cart wanders aimlessly toward a Mercedes Benz)
I walked around the bend today something in the air; crickets bickering, the scent of apocalypse a plump, hair-sprayed housewife bursts into flames near a pay phone the first hint of something slightly amiss at the mini-mall I inspect the change return for quarters but my balance is shaken rabid pets rush by me and loot the shops, cats and dogs conspire and make away with high quality, MIDI-compatible stereo equipment Grade A chickens, recently escaped from the smoldering market peel and eat each other raw. they speak in Southern accents and tear each other's skeletons, vying for wishbones religions and discount stores catch fire and K-Mart shoppers barbecue their marshmallow enemies I run back for graham crackers and fudge squares but I am blocked by giggling children playing hopscotch in the chalk outlines of their murdered parents gingerly avoiding the cracks in the parking lot cars at the station shoot themselves up with gasoline and swerve off into the nitrous oxide sunset their cheap vinyl seats split open to reveal foam yellow guts and stale cheerios horns laughing green like angry mallards taunt me as I run home tripping over skyscrapers and TV cameras the dam by the nuclear plant stoops to examine the racket and spills a floodlane conveyor belt of dining room tables and smashed in mailboxes by our soggy garage families bob for VCRs, three-headed fish practice synchronized swimming a toupeed game show host dispenses salvation and imitation pork hot dogs and we climb on our roofs to look down toward the city snooping for dry chips and the odd catastrophe