Poems

Smoke

We earned our stripes that night
amid the polka dots and cigarette butts
and other signs of life
clamoring for attention.

Those stripes unfurl in
a smoky ambivalence
leaving tentative finger prints,
another reminder of something

illusory that the wind may dispel
just as easily as fire leaves
an ashy mark on anyone
bold enough to reach.

Buried

We buried our despair in the shade of the pine tree,
holding hands as we turned our backs
on those needling thoughts left in the dark.

The hulking ogre took root, waiting
to spring on us when we tried to take cover
beneath the canopy of stars
stretched too tightly that cool night.

A possum or some other unanticipated visitor
disturbed the tranquility, clawing at the dirt
until the ogre — always lurking as we
were distracted by routine — jumped out

to terrorize us once more
while we scrambled for a shovel
or another plot of land.

Underneath (it abides)

The stone’s back hides shadows
unspotted by sunlight,
a mossy reminder that some memories abide
in the dark for good reason,
threatening to emerge if the river rises
just enough
to knock that weight
just enough
until sunlight dissolves
shadows leaking downstream
at last.

Ought to be

It would be folly to consider myself
where I ought to be, as if ‘ought’
could glow in your hand
like half-eaten candy thawing
memories under open clouds.

What hubris man to divine
import from earth-bound particles
bouncing among people walking
heads down, the center of it all.

Heavenly bodies revolve
around some other lantern
the same as me, sticky fingers
sweeter from the journey.

Lightness

The moonlight sang that song
we can’t remember, invisible wings
cascading through the valiant wind
as the stairs insist
on climbing up.
Up.

Up where time remains an afterthought,
or hangs on the moonlight
nearly in the future. Time always comes,
playing metronome while weightless,
feigning lightness
to ease the ascent.

Rest

The colorless tale revealed
the thunder within the traveler,
lost among thoughts of another drab day
absent the echoing light
normally demanding something
approaching the end.

Rest — or the appearance
of cloudy dreams lifting him
above
the gray skies
underfoot — is and end
itself and to him,
thundering only a little longer.

Clouded future

Time was an afterthought
as the clouds called us to attention,
demanding we acknowledge
through misty eyes
or other fog-soaked facilities
the half-eaten candy of a pastoral dream
where rolling grasses trampled
through an otherwise quiet afternoon.

The half-hidden sun
implored us to come outside,
though we misunderstood
as he went in circles for days,
refusing to get to the point,
so we sat inside, anticipation dawning
with dew-drenched ideas of misadventures
masked by another day’s ascent.

Brilliant arc

That memory we used to share
comes asking for blueberries when I close
my eyes. I see a kaleidoscope.
Purple juice carries more than it thought
when pinched between fingers that just a moment ago
looked white.

You tried to ruin me but I know
tomorrow jumps two ways. A shooting star tells the tale
for only a moment, extinguished on descent,
though its arc burns red against the black
as if the contrast should surprise us.
The fire reveals the fruit.

Sarcastic shoes

Sneezes can be sneaky and
on particularly
warm nights when fireflies dot the horizon
like sarcastic shoes
leaving prints on white carpet,

the clock kills time
as tick (time
obscured in shadow or yellow dust)
tocs (keeping its own time)
slice through secondary thoughts.

Insects feel ephemeral
(though I hope
they feel nothing) as sarcastic shoes
envelop then in shadow,
interrupting time’s deliberate walk.


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