I spent February spinning in Springsteen
When it’s good you can’t even taste it
Sliding down with the rest of them
“I’m not drunk enough for this why did I ever open my mouth”
To see the oxidation and the flame
Take full color carousels of ribbons and curls
Tell me there is reason in things I walked out on
“Okay I don’t have 18 years and a degree in my back pocket I’ll shut up”
Naiveté makes me optimistic and you the papered pessimist
Because it’s in the concept and in the concept
That the machine breaks down
I spent August as a minimalist
In the cerebral department of
Some staggering building
“You can check out any time you like but you can never leave”
Neither can the moon, six feet under the stars
In a rented car after the bells stopped ringing
Telling me the past doesn’t leave with every chalk mark on grey cement
The late night sadness that ignited a lie to the burn
“Did you know we are all just stardust recycled again”
And you can change the pieces until it puts enough makeup on the open sores
But burning the paper doesn’t unwrite the story
We all etched in smoke
Lovely to know that no one noticed
That was my life, put in my soles
Worn holes in my shoes
I look through windowpanes
Of the latest fashion
Nearsighted, now sighted
Beautiful to see no one wanted
Handles built sans machine
Stationary defeat comes pre-marathon
Does that turn you on?
Happiness does not burn forests
It builds waterfalls
So what if Sundays sleep?
My frames have changed
Do you lovely notice
My soles unshaken?
Once the coins tossed on the counter
Now, there are less encounters
Dripping, and sticky, and sweet and pink
I don’t think
The words I heard
Gorgeous to feel it crawling on my back
Trees are legs, muscles lacked
Called beautiful by a stranger
Obligated to feed the fire that is my danger
Who couldn’t know that
Echoes in my mind remind me
“You’re so fat.”
In the same way I am corrected
When I do not care after my mistakes
There is no room for mistaking in this sweep up after world
I like the smudges and the fingerprints
Trying hard to be a person
Bravest person I ever met
I need synonyms for I, I realize
The psyche looses itself
Everyone else is an i
Or a u
Or an it
No originality I image
On tired nights that is the weight of the world
I liked his eyes, they were full of fire
Like the way hope refuses to back down
Dickinson is calling
I say what comes to mind
But not your name
Who am I writing about anyway?
My want to speak another tongue overwhelms me so I talk here
And become animated in rubber face
Insanity is the only cure if you’d like to become an artist
There was something in the pastels that I think they call drive
Oh, this is fatigue
And it’s bringing on commas
Soon there will be apostrophes
I won’t surface
Until I’m all the way under
You never came up again
I think it is my fault
I think ridiculous thoughts
I think you are a star
I think we are all stars
They are the death of generations
Because where else can we put them?
And at night
Who is I?
This person is not acquainted with such a skinny figure
Maybe I should change my consciousness
And it will come to me
My song Read more »
The room smelled old, like the way dust settles. With graying shelves and fogged windows, it sat, a place of sleepy retirement. Clocks chimed at arbitrary intervals—it made the idea of time seem almost absurd. And books—there will always be books, unread and discarded, those silent reminders of a league of dreams. It was the typewriter the girl wanted, though. The T key was missing its cap, but it was alright, because she had long since given up on stories that began Once upon a time.
The typewriter already belonged to her, the way fingertips belong at the end of a hand. Pennies collected from sidewalks had not been enough, Sunday morning lemonade stands had not been enough, a search of the underside of every couch cushion and welcome mat had not been enough . But one day they would be. She had a collecting jar sitting on a sunlight counter at home waiting to buy her the typewriter.
The woman who owned the shop kept a clock set to the time in London, and a picture of a boy she had loved on the mantle behind the counter.
“You’re a writer?”
The keys felt grainy with dust, the ribbon was most certainly dry. The girl didn’t look up at the woman’s soft voice.
“What have you written recently?”
This question caught her like a hook in the chest. Blue irises met brown. She looked away. “I’ve been writing in my head,” she whispered.
The woman laughed gently. “Ah, yes. We are all writing in our heads. What are you writing?” Read more »
“Shit,” he says as he fumbles with a cigarette. It is 10 degrees out and snowing, and we are sitting on a metal park bench and I am freezing. I blow into my hands and look over at him.
“That’ll kill you, you know,” I say, shivering. He does not know me, and my forward comment offends him. He shivers back with an angry stare and struggles with the lighter. I take it and light it quickly.
“Thanks,” he mumbles, taking a drag. He looks over at me from behind his eyebrows. “I thought smoking kills?”
“Assisted suicide,” I shrug.
A bus comes and neither of us gets on. We are silent strangers on a bench. I catch snowflakes on my tongue, even though it does not help me get any warmer. He is watching me over his cigarette and I see him soften out of the corner of my eye.
“Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.” Read more »
I still hear the train passing sometimes
And I know that there is a metaphor in there somewhere
I knew it once, when I was drunk with discontent and hung over on the promise of happiness
I still feel it in my feet—
The possibility of being someone new
But I don’t let it get to my head anymore
To the brakeman in the last car I say this:
Leave before you are running from the whistle.
The last bird of the season was outside my window today
And I watched her spread her wings and flit from branch to branch
And how very like each other we are
How very like the wind
On an capricious path
Pushed by life and choice and weather
To the next resting place, only for a while
In search of food and sunlight and bits of the sticks and string we put together and call home
And it was as though she was calling to me
When she spread her winds and took flight
To follow, follow away
From this winter and this snow covered house
In flight on the winds of life
To the next branch, on the next tree, outside the next window.
Big feet on my rug
Kiss me quickly
Headlights up the driveway
Fading into rain clouds
Ice cream and Sinatra
Is this the regular walk?
Unlocked house with
Sleeping boy inside
Is this a feeling?
Are we empty?
Have our hearts dripped dry?
*A full stop is the British term for a period. This piece only has one. It is also empty of commas. It's an experiment with stream of consciousness type writing. I hope you like it.
Autumn is asking me to taste its apples
Inviting me to hear its cricket symphonize
Wrapping me up in its winds
My soles are pointed in a new direction
Into the woods, over roots and mouse holes
My feet still ache with the memory
Of other autumn days in woods like these,
Rough and red, tangled and torn
And I am cautious to leave the trail
For fear this time the woods will take me
Lose me in itself
And make an animal of me.
Tobacco flavored kisses
I watched a plane do its leaving thing from your porch-deck
Fading, fading, serenading
Peepers in the pond
My thoughts a little cloudy
Then the rain came on
We made our own finger -tipped constellations
The leaving leave their mark
It never seemed so light
As after it was dark
You wish for another time and it sounds like singing
Needles, needless, heads are heedless
Bullets, fear and art
I’ll give you everything
Except my bloodied heart
Piano keys and ukulele strings
The summer days are going about it much too quickly.
Faire vite, fast feet
The train retreats
Our pennies left untouched
But summer’s great adventure
Remains written in the dust.
Facing away, onward,
Do a fragile balancing act
The trees speak of their own sorrows
The river answers, the wind listens
And the tracks are silent in the twilight
Are accompanied by rocks
And little else but loneliness
Fading train cars
Lined toward home
Diverging at the cross roads
Now meeting the horizon
While the rocks ask the discarded steel
If they would like to stay
And together they answer, “Yes, very much.”
As the feeling of abandonment slowly sinks in.
I have a new favorite place in the world.
It’s the stream by my house where the water flows over rocks and you can’t fish there.
Moss grows in all the little cracks and the rocks make the water bubble and sing and it’s beautiful. There are so many choices in the stream—the water is pushed one way or another, but it all meets up again, unless it gets lost in a crevasse to the side.
It’s our stream but there are other people’s things here—broken glass jammed tightly in the rocks by the bank, corn cobs, more than one rusting pot and hidden broken bottle necks. I wonder if they belonged to the person who lived here before us, or if they are a product of some younger side of my parents I’ve never seen. They make the hillside leading down to the stream glitter, and my bad eyesight prevents me from lamenting too much.
I now have a fear for my bare feet to keep me on the other side of the stream, near the woods, and that’s fine. Pine needles are softer than stone, anyway.
There are big little fish up to my knees in my favorite place. The rocks aren’t too slippery but I’m still cautious. If I fall here no one will come for me.
The way the light hits the water makes me think it will go on forever and I can submerge myself. I’ve lost sight of where I came from.
I pick up a bottle I think might not be quite broken and I am disappointed. There are box springs now beside me on the hill and I am convinced this wreckage is from another time. A squirrel watches me. Read more »
I heard a funeral today
Standing room only
The wooden floors creaked
As we strained to see familiar faces
And loosen our ties
The woman across from me cried
In the too-hot upstairs of that old church
While stories of a man
Drifted up with the heat
Our feet hurt from standing
So we crept down the stairs
As the floorboards gave us away
And we sat on the windowpane
Hard of hearing, nowhere near seeing
We were left with pictures painted
By people who knew best
All the moments
That led up to an ending.
I take pictures of trash. Things I stumble across on walks—an abandoned mattress, a dumped stove, old tires and carelessly disposed beer bottles. I’ve found cans that must have been rusting as long as I’ve been alive, clothes left to mold, old cellar holes filled with soggy cardboard boxes and plastic bags and even the front of a red 50’s era truck deserted deep in the woods. There’s something sad, exciting, and almost haunting about these abandoned things. How did the truck get to be so far away from reality? What caused the owner of that mattress to leave it by the side of the road?
I don’t clean up most of the trash I find. Some things I don’t want to touch, some things I can’t carry, but mostly I find, when seen through the lens of a camera, there’s a disgusting beauty in thrown out things. They dot the woody roadside near my house and creep just a little ways into the woods, a throw’s length away from the real world.
Where I live used to be more developed than it is now—there are stone walls that have been taken over by lichen and ferns, and the cellar holes have become vernal pools for frogs and salamanders. In the summers I have my own little part of the world to explore, with enough bug spray and sun block. It’s on my explorations I discover just how much unnoticed trash is all around us. Read more »
I want it
And that’s why.
It feels good
And that’s why.
I’m rebellious, simplistic, needy, young, and stupid, that’s why.
He’s got a nice face
And that’s why.
He wants it too
And that’s why.
I’m impatient, rash, mature for my age and sheltered, that’s why.
I’m not even in love,
And all the risk—
I’m selfish, childish, restrained and slipping, and that’s why.
I’m tired of waiting
And that’s why.
It doesn’t even matter—
I’m instinctual, near-sighted, untried and willing, that’s why.
Everybody’s doing it,
Written on a track bus. Found in a binder.
Warm air collects
in the stairwells
lingering with all it's passions.
It still smells sticky sweet
as the anticipation in the leaving heat
The calm before the storm seeped
into pores and grew into worry,
remaining in stairwells,
crawling slowly back under skin;
reminders of yesterday's passions.
Immunity has left me
and I am alive with the anticipation
of a blown-over storm
The equivocal scars
Bruising this new found beauty
Cigarette behind ear,
James Dean in a well lit kitchen
A self-fulfilling standard
Viewed from a smoky lens,
The third wheel softens the road
With a fear of ghosts (we enjoy.)
And these paths might not lead to metaphors
But tired and blistered feet
Are all in the name of new adventures,
Let’s drive, darling, in search of time
Or that cliff pondered with a fear of falling
And a want for the fade of boundaries
The blue light looks like poetry
Reflected in knowing eyes
Downed with the burn of another man’s name
A wish against the curse of love
And life's necessity for cages
I saw someone like you on the street today
Someone like who you’d be stripped to the bone
Bare of flesh and blood and sinew and skin
I hoped our paths would merge
In a collapse of familiarity and known secrets
But the light turned green and you were still a stranger
The face that could have been yours melted
Into the mediocrity of conformity
But that’s all you ever were—
A cover of flesh and blood and sinew and skin
A passerby waiting for the green light
The car lights wink at me
And I take it as a sign
It is spring, I might get stuck
In more than literal ruts
But I feel the sigh of relief one knows
When the thing they’ve so long been waiting for arrives.
The brightness freckles me—
I am changing for the better
I see it in myself
It has taken me so long to get here
But I do not mind if others miss the shine
I am now myself, soon with muddy feet
And this wish for rain
Is the only remainder of a place I once called home
My hands had turned to cement. I touched pen to paper and I could feel the fingers crack, little pieces of chalk white falling away on to the blank blue-lined page. Walking around, the soles of my feet were grinding into dust. It was all crumbling, and my clouded eyes couldn’t see. The wind picked me up and carried me in a million pieces on a million tangents. No direction, all the little pieces of my crumbled castle, once so sure of where they belonged, cast away to the world. And then they landed, my heart here, my hand there, a scattered mannequin, a shattered stone scarecrow. It was odd to think someone would want to put the pieces-and-parts person I had become back together. The scarecrow was scared, the castle was a ruin, but the landing was a miracle. Out of the woods emerged a town, curious, hands full of hammers and nails and band-aids and all-better kisses. The bad, the broken, were covered up with plaster, and it took so long, but eventually the cracks were all that were left, barely visible in the daylight. The storm that turned my hands to cement had broke a few shards off my heart that were lost in chaos of it all, little missing pieces that still ache when it rains. But the wind that picked me up and set me down knew where my crumbling castle needed to be—it had the eyes and the direction that sent me to the people with the tools to fix a shattered ruin like me.
She looked out the window at the fall. Everything was gold and orange and red and it seemed somehow bittersweet to her. There was a tree, crowding the frame. Slowly, leaves were falling off, being taken by the wind.
“It’s sad,” she said, half to herself.
“Hmm?” he mumbled, not looking up from the papers on the floor.
“The leaves. The tree gets new ones every year, but the leaves—once the drop off they can’t come back. They just fall and fade and crack beneath our feet. Their beauty is impermanent and once they lose it, it's gone. They have sad lives, really. A little adventure on the wind, some new places, but they’ll never be connected to anything the way they were connected to that tree. I guess sometimes things break and you just can’t fix them. You can’t put them back the way they were, not really. You could tape them up, or glue them together, I suppose. Maybe that’s really why the leaves die. They just know that nothing will ever be the same after the tree lets them go, and they just can’t live with that.”
To feel fingers scratching out the tincture of gold
Plain glass opaque with truths
Speckled grey stone cold—pestilence of eternity
Life under life, life through life, life in brown and blue and green
Like time—hand ticking, chasing hand
Embodying swiftness, faces personifying simple moments
Enlightening dirt paths—off roads, beating of hearts syncopated to
Footprints canvassing, crater-ing, creating
Like gentle tongues speaking, “Let’s.”
Stagnation liquefied, where waterfalls steal away
Living in black and white, simplicity is necessity
Persistent drumbeats hitting stronghold doors of a mind
Shrapnel from asteroids long since collided lodged under foreign skin
Give and take coloring memories, in negative relief
I am you and you are me,
All made of the air we breathe in syncopated rhythms.
From her apartment she could see the cars passing down the one-way street. Late at night sometimes she loved to sit on the window seat and watch the headlights zooming away, toward the open, empty road. Out into the world they went, little lights slowly disappearing over the horizon. Read more »
The question he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.
~Robert Frost “The Oven Bird”
Let it fade, let it grow yellow with time and wrinkled with age. Put it in the top drawer of a window-facing writing desk and take it out once a year on a sunny April day just to feel once more what you felt then. Read more »
Park bench. Spilled out soul.
“You’re never philosophical.”
Still unknown truly.
I am porcelain, I am plastic
All that I want to say is trapped inside
Trapped behind painted lips
Encased in a hollow mind
I am a pretender, this is my stage
Ignoring what’s at the front of my thoughts
Pushing panic to the outside
Just remembering to breathe
Taking my moments
Dressing the part
This is my soul,
I can’t let it out
Can’t let it get too far
Keep it bottled up Read more »
"I talk to myself, but only on paper and in empty houses," she whispered to the still white wall.
I just got back from an amazing week in Quebec City, where my orchestra was invited to participate in an international youth music festival. The first and last nights the groups performed at the Palais Montcalm. This is what ran through my head as I sat in the top balcony and listened to the orchestra from Germany blow my mind: