Tag Archives: poetry

In Medias Res: Episode Three

Nice to see you—how’ve you been?
Haven’t seen you since I was fourteen
Jedi, Clone Wars veteran
Saw you there and I thought
Anakin, I remember you
From back when I fled Naboo
Times have changed; you have too

Started training with Jedi
When they brought you from Tattooine
Eager, nervous, and in time
Beguiled by Palpatine
Watched your power transcend
Your off-the-charts midichlorians
But in love you’re my equal
I can make the bad guys good for a prequel

So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
Contemplate when it’s over
Was the high ground worth the pain?
You defied the Jedi Council
Who warned us you’re insane
Our love is an uphill battle
But it’s not in vain

But we’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar
Got a mess of premonitions
That keep you up at night
Your fate will not kill volition
Don’t give up the fight

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Thresholds

For TDM

When I hear the groan of an old gate open and shut
across one rutted path to another
I like to imagine some boy has jumped over it
and it creaked a few times against the wind
as old gates do. You must have seen them,
the boys running across the farm
in the morning. They tear around
the dusty trails and turn sandy-colored
as the dirt streaks and cracks their skin.
The sun’s warmth rises over the east
elongating the shadows on the dewy grass.
You’d think they’d been waiting for the dawn.
They brace their bodies as their legs leap;
and they seem not to break, though the boys
crash hard; but they right themselves quick.
You may see this gleeful child in your memory
years afterward, hastening toward the gate
like a wild mustang that throws its mane
behind it in the wind as it gallops toward you.

But I was going to say, when the wistfulness broke in
with dreamy longing for the past,
I still yearned to see some boy leap over
the gate as he went in to fetch the cows—
some red-headed boy on his parent’s farm
where the earth smelled fundamentally like home,
summer and winter, morning and night.
One by one he subdued each gate
by hurdling over them again and again
crashing and falling and standing again.
And not one gate left to tame; not one was left
for him to conquer. He learned all there was
to learn about not launching out too soon
and stretching his legs at just the right angle
to clear the ground. He always kept his poise
to the top of the gate, springing carefully
with a gazelle’s rhythmic bound
approaching the gate and over the gate.
Then he leapt upward, pushing with mighty thighs,
clearing the gate and landing on two feet.

And so was the boy a child once, and then he grew,
and now he dreams of going back to be
that same weariless gate-jumper of yore,
when life was a meandering path on a farm
and the only obstacle was a rusty old gate
with a broken chain, and no one judged
the dirt on his elbows or scrapes on his knees.
You’d always jump over the gates,
or as I got older I’d flip over them or hop over them,
and run another lap and begin again.
May no boy be compelled to grow up
and be denied and deprived of what I wish.
The quiet dusty farm is the right place.

I don’t want to give up jumping over gates.
I’d like to go back to walking around the farm
and jumping metal fences with a shameless zeal,
day after summer day, till our legs could bear no more
and we fell, winded, face up on the earth.
It was good, catching the wind and our breaths.
There are worse things than leaping over gates.

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Ode to a Group Project

All your purposefully meted flattery
All your self-righteous philanthropy
All of your charm
Your pledge for harmony
All those vows
All that aplomb

All your blustering pomposity
All your self-aware hypocrisy
All of those tries
Your aims to devise
All your self-aggrandized sophistry

All your ego and your pride
Ambitions unsatisfied
All your pretensions
Your condescensions
All your charity codified

All your superhero hopes
Your knight in shining armor tropes
All your tilts at bookish glory
All your certainty
Your swagger
And your strut

Will never help with anything
If you don’t show up

[Thank you again to Tim Minchin for this poem’s inspiration and structure.]

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Ten Minutes

You see the same strangers
The neighbor rushing down the stairs
trying to put on her other shoe
The grey-haired jogger
puffing breaths of hot air matching her gait
The woman walking her overweight Yorkie
three steps behind her
The woman whose grinning Bernese Mountain Dog
is walking her
The parka-clad college student
walking past you in the crosswalk
The man who taps the steering wheel impatiently
while staring at the never-ending red light
The woman bundled up in her own grey hair
waiting for the bus to come
The school bus driver who looks past you from the window
as he rounds the corner
The cop you make awkward eye contact with
as he drives the opposite direction

One morning
You wake up late
And these strangers
Are gone

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Blood

Now and again we stand in the shower
and watch the tide of blood and water
dripping from between our thighs and down our legs,
spiraling with the water into a helix
down, down until it disappears into the drain.

Day after day, month after month,
from menarche to menopause,
we bleed,
the blood of ourselves
the blood of our sisters,
the blood of the women who came before us;
those who wrote the first words in our herstory: the past, present and future.
Women have it all now;
our diva cups runneth over.

We have it all,
in the same way Seneca Falls feminists were content under house arrest,
the iron-jawed angels enjoyed swallowing a force-fed ideology,
and the suffragettes were merely into light BDSM.

We have it all,
in the same way that a quarter of us have asked for it on college campuses
and we frequented back alleys in red states as a hobby,
and none of our sisters of color ever wanted to have children anyway.

We have it all,
in the same way we were justly honored in manifestos of friend-zoned martyrs,
and our bodies are territories claimed by the zealots of our age,
and non-consent has ruined presidential candidates’ careers.

History is content to spill our blood in battle with nary a second thought,
but the synchrony of our solidarity is stronger.
Our blood is our flag, but not of surrender;
we are fated to fight.
As long as we are predestined to an end not our own,
our blood will continue to flow,
connecting those women who came before us
with those will come after us,
the women who are not content to watch their pasts be diluted
and their futures washed away.
The cycle will not be broken.

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Night

She.
She has no face and no name.
She says nothing.
When she greets us she brings quiet.
When she is here, we are calm.
With her, we heal our pain.
With her, we heal one another.
They use her to hide.
They use her to stoke fear.
We use her to plan.
We use her to fight.
We use her to listen to one another, to touch one another, to know one another.
She is our guide.
They are afraid of her.
They cower beneath her twilight.
They shield themselves from her depth.
They falsify the sun and moon and boast of their great and powerful light.
Their light flashes and blinds, fractures and burns, makes the false appear true.
Her darkness comforts us.
We embrace her.
Above us, above all, she obscures us.
As we hush her rituals go on slowly: the sound of the airplanes, the smoke of the pipe, the blinking of the fireflies, the stardust of the Milky Way, the steady solitude.
It is the hour of slumber, and she is awake.
She unites all creatures under her protective spell.
She offers us comfort;
She offers us shelter.
They offer us nothing.
An olive branch.
An empty promise.
A pretty corner in the history museums
In a space dark enough to match her color but never her power.
We say no, thank you;
We will return to the shadows on our terms.
We are home.
When she leaves she takes our refuge with her.
Light knocks at early morning’s door,
But we no longer hide under cover —
We know she will return for us.
And when she does she opens her arms wide
To embrace us once more
And inspire our uprising.
She carries with her the winds of change,
Thunder and lightning, united fronts under her watch.
She is our strength, our shield,
Our sanctuary.
We were born of the night.
We live in the night.
We will die in her.

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What’s He Doing In There?

An homage to Tom Waits

What’s he doing in there?
What the hell is he doing in there?
There’s a sign on the gate saying “go away”
But the lights blaze at all hours of the day

He’s up to something, we know
On a hill up that long driveway
And he always keeps the gate shut
To keep in that one mangy mutt

They say he’s a widower and fought in the war
And he wears the same clothes, always grey
When he waters the flowers on his walkway —
At least, he used to before

He only goes out now to check the post —
The only time we catch a glimpse, almost
We can’t see inside; we’re too far away
What’s he doing in there?

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You

Sometimes when I am blessed with fits of courage
I wonder what would happen if I surprised you one day
And I brought you a sheet of paper and gave it to you
You’d probably be surprised and say what’s this
And I’d reply I wrote this about you I want you to have it

You’d probably look at my quizzically
You might read the first few lines or even the whole page
And I’d stand there awkwardly not knowing what to do
And avert my eyes from yours as they oscillated across the page
My heart might start racing and my skin would flush
As I immediately regretted showing you the product of your inspiration
Because I’d remember how strange it is to show appreciation for someone
Especially when it manifests itself in such a raw artistic form
As a poem which reveals colossal vulnerability
And breaks my towering walls down at least a little

And sometimes when I’ve built up an unexpected nerve
I think I should confess that other poem was also about you
And that other one that I wrote last year
And still another one I’ve been composing in my head
And this one too

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The Golden Years

“Truth”
Pours from the pen of one vain columnist
The words that you write
Cut like a knife
Everyone believes you
You think that they do

Youth
Seeps from the seams of your festering soul
Mostly just dripping
Influence slipping
Slipping
Slipping

And if only you knew
If only you had the wisdom
In the moment to ask
If only you had the shoes in which to dance
To take a chance to free yourself
Enough to hear the story
Of us millennials,
Generation idle
I-D-L-E
not I-D-O-L

Scorn
Resides in the core of your trivial mind
Consternating dudgeon
Caustic curmudgeon
Clinging to the past
With weak hope it will last
Mostly just drooling
Barely fooling
Yourself

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The Sea Rose

On the surface appears the first ripple of sound.
Somewhere on stage a drumstick clatters to the floor
and echoes through the empty cavern in which
two thousand people sit on the edge of their seats,
knowing everything is about to change.
But this silence, the silence before the storm
is agonizing — two thousand breaths
are waiting to released with the first downbeat.
Below us the sea is swirling, the voices filling
the air around us as the lightning grows in the distance.
The storm  is awakening. First, the hushed murmur
of violin bow on guitar strings, and soft touches
of fingertips on instruments, with a low hum of a bass note
rumbling below all other sounds.
And then —

A cymbal crash and the music bursts
into a wave full of sound and fury, rushing
through the stadium in powerful bass gales
while the thunder from the drum kit fills the room.
The tempest increases as
we sit on the deck, in the nosebleed seats,
and watch as the storm brews below me
We seafarers are merely trying to survive
this musical maelstrom, in little row boats of expectation,
waiting anxiously for the first rush of water
into the hulls of our ships, but being unprepared
for when the sound-waves crash over the ship into our bodies,
instantly drowning any emotional stability we ever had.
Catharsis through cloudburst.

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