Tag Archives: poetry

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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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

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

Seeps from the seams of your festering soul
Mostly just dripping
Influence 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
not I-D-O-L

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

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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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Fetishes, or: I Am Not A Serial Killer

Your beauty exists in more than your charm;
The moment we strangers meet and lock eyes
Please give unto me your hands and your arms.

Your smile, stunning; your eyes like stars;
A body made for unadulterated delight,
But your beauty exists in more than your charm.

The grasp and dexterity of your muscles are
Chemical elements that ‘twixt us are not finite.
Give unto me your hands and your arms.

Other women with allure you disarm
But my romance goes far deeper than sight:
Your beauty exists in more than your charm

Your brachial power stripped of its harm,
And frozen for my benefit with formaldehyde;
Given unto me your hands and your arms.

Strung from the ceiling or preserved in jars,
Your ruby blood droplets gleam in the light.
Your beauty exists in more than your charm;
Given unto me your hands and your arms.

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Now That You’re Gone

Now that you’re gone I go out less.
I stay inside in the evenings
in my pajamas and eat popcorn
from a bowl while watching
Friends reruns, a luxury i never had
when you were here.
In those days I smiled plainly,
chuckled at your jokes, kissed your cheek;
you kissed mine back as though
a few weeks ago
it hadn’t been
bright red and then purple and black
from the back of your hand.
In those days we went out
with your friends, never mine,
and you squeezed my hand under the table,
threatening me soundlessly
until your knuckles
were white and mine were red
while above the table you drank your
beers and laughed
at your friends’ asinine jokes.
They never knew. I never dared
say a word to anyone,
barely even to myself, although
I knew something was wrong.

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This Is Not A Romantic Poem

This is not a romantic poem.
It’s 11:30 at night
and I desperately
want you to text me back.
I’ve been waiting all day
to hear from you.
Should I text you again?
you’ll respond eventually.
But this waiting game is agony.

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“All my best words are deserters and do not answer the trumpet call, and the remainder are cripples.”
— Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading

If I had a brand new fountain pen
and a fresh bouquet of pencils,
perhaps I could reclaim my words
from my fallen writing utensils.

I might start writing the unknown thing,
now just an infusorial quiver;
it’s hidden just below the surface
rippling in this dammed mental river.

If the paper before me was ivory
and free from stray creases and marks,
perhaps a sudden inspiration would come;
perhaps I could summon some sparks.

Yet to make a word come alive,
to make a whole line iridescent —
’tis the challenge within these words,
to heal this poet convalescent.

This incurable disease in my head —
writer’s block with which I’m afflicted —
allows no room for words; instead, it
keeps my inspiration constricted.

The frustrated scribbling on paper
is all my resistant brain will allow;
forming somewhat coherent rhyme is
a task of not here and not now.

I’ve stared at the words for too long now
for this to be anything but a game.
“Soul ship” — what the hell does it mean?
Thanks for the fucking writing prompt, James.

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Cemetery Portraits

Uncle Ned
went to bed
on a Sunday at a quarter past eight.
Come the new dawn
and he was gone,
well on his way to meet his fate.

Aunt Caroline
in the springtime
took a walk out in the pouring rain.
When they found her
it had drowned her—
she would never see the sun again.

Uncle Herman
delivered a sermon
of fire and brimstone at the people’s church.
He expired
preaching hellfire;
now he’s six feet underneath his perch.

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Sonnet #3

Your fingers press gently against my skin
and brush away the bold color that bleeds
from the scar that you are etching within
my body forever; from the needle
into my skin rushes the viscous ink.
First touch I’ve given my canvas to you;
my skin meets the needle in perfect sync
with the river of black ink pulsing through
the dermis. The figure slowly takes shape
under the artful needle’s steady hum.
With each stroke on this physical landscape
now a further canvas my skin becomes.
A masterpiece, once merely a figment,
becomes eternal in liquid pigment.

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