THIRTY FREE WRITES FOR

NAT'L POETRY MONTH 2018

I: UNTITLED

 

it's 2006 and we're not so alive,

we're not so taught as to

trip/skip, catching breadth and balance

 

catching, she says death is catching,

like unlit tombs and useless light switches,

yellow years for scratching carpet,

blue for a total fucking abyss of the mind,

my mind rocks back and forth,

 

doldrumming along, we conundrum too

tocking the ticks and fucking it all up,

 

I kollaps in a pile of fake nails,

come to in a pile of realer ones.

 

it's not like I can talk about it

without some deep sense of shame jumping

across lanes of traffic in a warped record,

 

onto another overpass

we look, I look, overtake

an arrhythmic sense of

how bridges fucked up

my requisite isolation,

 

it's not fair that I'm this close to bayview

but it's not like I'm on coney island,

or any other fallible prison of the mind.

 

we're all undone

it's so undone

to kollaps, kollaps, kollaps

II: YOURS/MINE/HOURS

 

tell me
if I am youth enough
for you and yours
enough to love,

some hearts 
have changed hands
too few times 
to play into the
gentlest ebbs, workflows

for the premeditated, 
intense, and immediately crass 
sway of idle wonts. 

III: BOYZ JUST WANNA HAVE ACCESS TO DECENT MENTAL HEALTHCARE

 

baby boy’s heart muscles

are too warped and strapped

for this world, hurrying their

decay for a chance

at the hardened and

so-much-very-valid chance

at life as a well-respected bone

V: CRADLING THE BREADTH OF TIME BY SLICING OUT THE IN BETWEEN-- A BISECTED REVERIE

 

we meet

with all the fervor of two strangers

swimming laps around a pale kitchen,

 

we meet

like this soft cocoon is hope/fear enough

to stave off mutually undesirable lives,

 

we meet

beholding the tragedy of memory

and everything else that came undone,


 

we meet

contention hangs like a cool cigarette,

our bodies slumped and miserable.

 

 

we met

as if oceans held space for reverence

or campy choirs for gracenotes,

 

we met

transfiguring shambles and left behinds

for luxes and gold, for strife and swine,

 

we met

and I finally saw what a sewer looked like

undressed, terribly supine, and beguiled,

 

we met

so let me sing some selected reveries

of noxious gas and regretful lovers-- I left.

VIII: “DID YOU REALLY JUST SAY THAT YOU HATE YOUR BAND'S MUSIC?” (OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT)

of all the days

to realize that

my love of hate

is, apparently,

all abrasive

and a bit wrong,

 

misguided, or

too full of its

own passion.

 

said that I have

fancier words for

really shit things

and that I like

to hate stuff.

 

don't mind me,

cursing away at

rivers and homes,

I just don't like

trees or woods

or plains or grass

or certain places.

 

but I like these

feet on concrete,

the portal to a

city's soul is vast

and so capable,

it's vexing and so

sustaining, shared

across rust belt

sensibilities, trading

acres for decades,

 

histories in home,

waxing dangerously

towards love, I do.

 

it's more space

than it is place,

to be wary and so

cautiously brimming.

 

my sentience is

stagnant and maybe

I don't leave enough,

but I'll always be

coming home.

XII: NOTES ON NOPE

 

try to kill it with wine

and will it go quietly,

will it take a shape--

a slump--in the unsightly

sight of neighborhood

views. is it a moon

for sketching twin

irises under, is it a lip

or softer way to say

stop that isn't silent,

 

is it a conical way of

poeticizing pain, to

ask if this is enough

trauma for me to stress

about later, says it'll

take a lot of work in post

to get this bourgeois

lens flare just right,

 

and as I stretch into

words I don't really like,

all these thirty days

in this thirty day month

get tired and trite.

I lose steam in editing

and preening, choose

to say a lot without

saying a damn thing.

XIV: DREAMSCAPE

 

“at the Pfister,

we're purposely protective of

very private people--

one time

we found a cup of blood

in a man's microwave

they didn't let us do anything

about it, just forget it ever

happened”

IV: A MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE THAT I HURT WHEN I TOLD THEM THAT I WAS "TOO TURNT FOR EARTH"

 

Whitman could hold his Specimen Days

in his pocket, carry it ‘cross his heart

as an atonal means of protection and hope,

a little book of skulls for whenever’s clever.

 

so give me my Shithead Days and let me

suffer with its impossible implementation,

let me do this for me and my crayon-eating

human familiar and the animal in all of us.

VI: HORSES IN THE-- FUCK

 

Before I started thinking of all the things I like with post- as the prefix I started thinking of skulls and rock salt, or how every year of my life has been enough of an A Silver Mt Zion album title to give a fuck of because that's what self-love really is, right on, it's harvesting the most devastating interludes between nauseating optimism while you explain to your surroundings why it's okay that you hate the trees/the woods/the sun/the grass because somebody needs to love the overcast/the noise/the concrete/the mildew that becomes oppressive and shatters in the basement I hang my head upside every night and every morning I pry my eyes away from the bastard, loving sun and wonder why so many people are so excited to see beyond the streetlights so I step lightly when they come on and I keep close to corners, always looking for something chilling like skulls or rock salt or an impromptu effigy for post-Sam. 

VII: NOTES ON TALKING

you aren't enough mouth for me

not enough gape or maw or

 

piqued pieces of exposed skeleton

teeth, you aren't enough teeth

 

for me, you're not enough skull or

moon or meat or stars, you're a lot

 

less than more than enough, if

tongues were alms you'd be too few,

 

if I could keep language in my hands

I would, I'd lay mouths to rest, but you

 

already have no lips to offer, no spit

to drip along to, if all tomorrow's

 

textbooks fell dormant I would find the

page about mouths and scratch your

 

name from the record, you don't belong

in a holy archive of tooth sounds,

 

you're not enough mouth for me, you

aren't enough mouth for me, you're not.

IX: HAPPY BIRTHDAY

staying young in a world

that will move on without me--

a harrowing task and a burden.

 

growing old in a world

I'm too sick to function within--

simply a harrowing burden.

X: NIGHTMARE WAVES ON A BROKEN BED, WE'RE SPACEFUL AND IT'S MORNING

 

a dream where I am only running

I am only running, and I am fearful,

I am fearful, ushering breaths from

detached lungs, telling each one to

vacate, make space, because I am

very fearful, but I am running--just

running--to a fault there is no point.

XI: ASSOCIATIONS OF ME, CASE STUDY 2

 

can you take it as a means

to keep time? will a rememory

creep to its key, will it sway?

does the grip of a machine

feel understood, like chemicals

know their purposes from

hard-fought battles against

silvertone mirrors? are they

like us? if they, then us? if no,

then I sway, say yes too much,

say are you so much of a

lullaby, so much of a broken lamb

more than the average salt?

say it's about time, say it's not

enough to be wrong, says so?

in endless question marks I see

too much you, there's too much

spine between the each of our

company, it's a pleasant hurt

but it's not gentle (?) is it.

 

like two machines fucking, it is

an epiphany and a nightmare.

XIII: SINCERELY CHAOTIC

unended sentences and really cool blood,

I keep yr steady hand for a piece of play,

reread your sad sonnets and think twice

 

before bringing you back to bed in another

daydream, our hair looked so much better

twisted, my fists looked so much more at

 

home when clenched and ready, set, spiral,

we're poorly matched but it's fine (it's fine),

I creep towards defeat every goddamn day

 

that I circle your smile, play into your funky

platitudes, you're a hum dummer and it's

our balmy summer, we both hate your shorts

 

as much as I hate your really cool blood, as

much as I hate unended sentences, as much

as I hate you, so callous & sincerely chaotic.

XV: LIKE PHOTOSHOP BUT ONLY IF YOU CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT REAL LIFE

 

my wet knees are freaking out

again, about strength under pressure

and if this spring snow will make me

 

real buff, so buff that the knee skin

stretches against boyish and flamboyant

knee muscles, stops the slouchy folds

 

from looking like a dead dolls’ face

when the bones lock into place and the

skin is at rest, hanging around with

 

nothing to do (but move more snow)

XVII: THIRTY DAYS OF GARBAGE POETRY WASN'T A WISE CHOICE

so many bad ideas--

 

a feathered hat made from

yr old lover’s dead bird,

 

a breakfast cheesesteak

for yr sorrows / “yr” at large

as a spelling convention meant

to say that I'm less uptight than my

breakfast cheesesteak implies,

 

poetry as a means of

self-regulation / self-hate

(it's working all too well?),

 

just don't date men with birds,

 

ripping out eyelashes for

dramatic effect / it's not worth it

but it certainly is dramatic,

 

if you must, eat it without jalapeños

since you can't keep your hands

out of yr goddamn eyes (yucky),

 

don't write dirt-tier poems and

post them for yr peers to read

during poetry month (oh boy)

when yr bad ideas are this bad.

XIX: GILT, GUILT, ETC.

I cared a lot about wet meat that summer.

I drowned my head in a consuming couch,

feeling what fretting looked like,

letting it all overwhelm just a few senses.

 

today, the smell of Hamm’s is a

heart attack or a homing missile, is a

memory stirrer and a bad time, feeling sharp

crabgrass and stale wheat at my fingers,

tearing it all apart. I fucked it all up

 

before taboo got the best of me

and I'm sorry, but only in a cool and idle way

that flattens time for no other reason

outside of my blinding and blinded guilt.

XXI: LIKE THE SOUND OF A FEW LEVERS PULLED ALL AT ONCE

a wisp of my soul

tears away whenever I see

a bank of lights shut off

in sequence,

 

overwhelming and final,

there's only one way to find out

if the lights make noise,

and if they do I miss them,

 

but when they're far flung

and I see their shuttering

from just enough away

my mind fills in the cascading

thump of discontinued

circuitry,

 

and I miss what was

never there, I hear

what never happened.

 

so soon and softly

it's dark, my mind is beating,

and we're alone now.

XXIII: I SAW YOU WITH A GRASS HOUSE, I SAW YOU WITH A NEIGHBORLY SCREAM

heart hurts,

ankles scream

darkly

darkly,

 

emergent and cold,

urgency and

a void

like spent winters’

reckoning

 

tailor-made for

sun sweats,

 

how hot can asphalt be after

eleven o'clock

passes by,

throws its weight

around until

 

I'm really out of space

 

darkly

darkly,

 

the sins of naïve hands

become imminent

 

and clear, so

darkly

darkly

 

every totem escapes

and all tombs are free

 

the sun is spent,

so happy to have found

its peace

XXVI: HAUNT

do you ever check up on

people you let go of

however long time ago?

 

I’d like to say that I don’t,

but I’m bad at keeping promises

or telling lies, even to myself.

 

feeling so simple next to

all those pictures of you,

it’s clearer than most

summers but brackish, too.

 

she’s so beautiful and

you’re so lovely, take care.

XXIX: RECONNAISSANCE IV

 

the bastard bastions

of performative poetry

aren't with me no more,

 

tried and tired quills

don't sit so tightly in my

distended abdomen,

in my shithead heart;

 

I feel an awakening pulsing,

in retitled prose and often

misguided semi-sonnets--

 

these ghost buddies

don't sit so well with my

well-weathered eyes,

and I'm a prophet no more.

XXX: LIKE EYELIDS

with dark winds and too much space,

with decaying buildings still in use,

 

with torn up book backs and

with erstwhile harmonies fleeting,

 

within a quiet timeline and

a luxe and just parable,

 

the roses of moons precede you,

and the anger in the water

succeeds your form and self,

 

the trickling hang-ons of human

succession bleed the heart dry

 

and it still pumps something

twice a day, it's clockwork,

 

and it takes its time with tumultuous

and spirited ghosts in silence,

 

silken and very obviously gray,

making a tomb for every tomorrow.

XVI: MISHEARSAY

these are all poems based on

the problems of being present,

how memory

and ephemera

 

carry side effects of spirals,

painful cravings, and more

trite, wrought,

and really crabby

 

poetry, leaves you semi-supine

with a leg kicked outwards, arms

clutching pillows (not bodies),

 

dead eyes smiling,

dead friends dancing

across the blackened screen of

wee-hour eyelid insides, it's

 

a sky for feeling pensive under,

an atmosphere for regretfulness,

 

a dream where nobody has hands

so nobody can clap, a dream where

nobody has mouths so nobody

can get on with their life, a dream

 

where silence feels formidable,

feels like grace

and god is a boy

selling cigarettes

by the pound.

XVIII: WELL.

 

who the hell can shriek like me, who the

hell cannot, it's all of you in the skin of

a thousand oranges as if that pulp will

 

protect you, protect your potion and being,

let it juice and drip so effortlessly while a

jet black, black, black coat hangs off the

shoulders so reposed and so fucking gently.

 

I'm a tooth guy, I'm into it and want to talk

about that, I want to talk about how your

fetid smile makes me feel like hot plaque

roasting in a fevering mouth, makes me feel

 

like a small god, like I'm in charge of quiet

but only until after sunset, it's like the veins

of a sundial are falling apart and I am enough

 

of a reason to shut the whole city down, shut

the whole neighborhood down, shut the whole

street down and black out the sky, it's forever.

XX: WROUGHT AND WOBBLING, YOU’RE ALL TIN AND I’M STILL GRIEVING

 

in trying to pay

a compliment--

 

“it’s almost perfect

for finding out

your mom has

cancer, or

something like

that,”

 

and I’m sorry if

I offended you,

but it’s music for

impassioned,

 

if a bit desperate,

 

moments, fracked

and folded, but they

all decay anyway.

XXII: YEARS' SONG

 

I'd rather not quantify grief,

rather not see it weighed by the pound

or spoken for by the pint or quart,

 

as it becomes more malleable and

gloom slips into closer corners,

 

see it scrunched into a ziploc bag,

moving and oozing within the plastic,

 

my skin within it, my heart buried

beneath years of loss and love for

people, places, and things

that just aren't here anymore,

 

until I've said it's fine a thousand times

it's still not enough to assure the

ghosts that it's okay to go, to abandon

 

my mind and memory, leave me

lighter and endlessly more able,

 

nebulous and fraught, decaying

and weary, it's overburdening and hard

to tell how much of me is still in mourning.

 

so I appreciate the ambiguity.

XXIV: LIGHT AND WILD

 

I pray for the fork

in the road, that

its attention stays

divide and vast.

 

its tines are too

short for focus,

sprawling and wry,

pulling peace

from the fracture--

 

a party to the

collapse, it’s fine,

it’s fine, and we’re

here for decay,

 

divvying sins and

sway, separate

slides for all my

peers and their

pressures.

XXV: ON REGRET

 

screaming, a lot

XXVII: REPOSE, REPRISE

as an affront to the hard times

or the miracle of being a fraction,

 

offering up alms in the night to

whoever wants, needs, craves,

 

or says in plain tongue that

they would like this, that, or

 

whatever, if only to be whole.

XXVIII: WAKE FOR LIFE

 

broke body,

broke mind,

broke wallet--

 

testament to a

wild and willful

collapse upon an

infinite stage and

cascading, momentary

 

conclusion, before

my body and blood

becomes christly

and effervescent

 

in morning or

mourning-- I forget

how many mountains

it took to make

something so far

from saintly.

 

I'm a hateful demon

and my body means nothing

right now, it's all rich,

 

and tired,

and broke,

and willful

 

within peace

as it is in death--

amen.