VERBALLISTICS:

Sonata to Solitude in Isolation Minor

1. I am sitting in a breakfast cafe, alone, as I am always alone, when sitting in cafes. The sun is shining on my back, etching the beach on my shoulders and you'd think that this is the setting to the perfect morning, but it's already one pm, and I am feeling ungrateful. My cup holds the slight taste of dirt, or salt, or something more sinister in it's brown depths, and I can't get over it - still keep on sipping. Chewing over and over on the fact that there is no apple pie today, that it is the anniversary of something dark, suffering immensely over my own minor indecisions, or moments that could be let go easily if I would only loosen my grip. Like the moment when someone simply pauses, draws breath, hesitates over whether to blow the fluff from a dandelion - to be loved, or loved not.

2. All of the best poems happen in the shower. Maybe I'm singing along to some old blues song, or getting high on the iridescent foam, but something strange spreads, like steam over my own obscured reflection, something in my stoppered ears triggers a waterfall of words, and I am repeating the title phrases, pressing the names of these poem zygotes into my palms, and trying to memorize them until I can press a pencil to my forehead. An open reply to the wrong lover's letter. An missive from a spurned suitor of Oedipus. I'll remember the first line, and the last - never the whole the thing. The phone always rings when I'm standing in a towel, scribbling in marker on the frosted mirror.

3. The last act is always the hardest. Curtain call on a lover's affections. She can always feel it coming - he is always merely the harbinger of stories, chapter book of her own sorrows read out loud and backwards. He will help her sound out all her most egregious mispronunciations, but it will always be too late - the sentence altered by the context, and she knows that honesty has always been her heart's undoing. All the bruise inside her, still too slow to pull the punches - she is just a fraction of a second off, these days.

4. All the best ideas are stillborn. They merely sail on the seas of romantic summer notions - brush by our world, never touching the shores with both feet. Their toes are always bare. The sand is always sucked right from beneath them, becoming the water again. Here, they shed tears for us, backsliding towards fear. They dissolve into salt.

noble lies

PART ONE

Charles says
When you’re single beyond thirty,
all of the rules change.

Dating is no longer
about finding forever.
You have already met your soulmate
and lost them;
stared down the road to forever
and chosen
a different path -

realized that all paths,
eventually
lead back to your own heart,
in which lies the small dream
of a comfortable death.

Truly,
we are all alone,
says Alan.
And, every person we meet
simply exists
as a reflection of our inner selves -
so it’s best just to improve
your own insides, first.

So, I’ve spent the better half
of a decade
chasing my own flighty truth, dowsing
the watery sky for stars
while swallowing
feathery platitudes, when


Sofia says,
Once you’ve reached a certain age,
you realize that real love
is always enduring.

What she leaves out
is, eternity shifts
just as we do.

Forever’s face ages
alongside our own dubious features,
evolving to greet the undivinable
climate of human nature,
as if it had always
intended to do so.

So when he asks me
How do you love?

I tell him
Momentously.
Wholly.
With all that I am -
always.

Which is to say, truly -
Without ever needing
to believe
you will stay.

But I leave that part spare
to preserve his smile -
hoping
that I will have left him
in fairer weather
for holding him kindly,
because a wise meteorologist
once said,
We never know what might happen
next.


PART TWO

The next page
I turned to
raised the words

Love is easy
when you let it perch lightly,
like a wild winged thing
which could take flight
at any moment.

Tame your heart, poet
for this life is swift and fleeting.
Tell the truth, simply
commit yourself
only to leaving
each person you touch
better
for having held
your hand.

Picture Perfect

I can tell, immediately
by the photos of your friends.
They are all straight
proud smiles
and good bones -
clear
unlined brows
and smooth skin
and not a wrinkle
among them.

Not a single
blemished nose
or fatty - and
they have been smiling
for the camera
since birth;
bellies full
of good cheese
and organic beef - they

are red-blooded Americans,
born to wide horizons and sunshine
all amber waves and good breeding
all tanned legs and cheerleading.
There is nothing blue or bruised
about them.

I would never fit in.

Sure, I could slip
into the midst of them -
slide on my cigarette pants and
canvas slippers,
bind my wrists with thick bangles
and cut my hair in a proper angle
but I will still be
just a pretender.

I’ll still walk
everywhere. The way I move
will give me away.
I’ll still wear
the shifting slump
of a prisoner - even
on the other side of the wall.

You know,
you just can’t fake
that kind of upright.
It comes from a life
lived
with no weight.


Ironically

To reduce my suffering,
you will place finger and thumb carefully, lay
the strong crook of your hand
in the vulnerable valley below my windpipe
applying the same pressure
you would to the neck
of a champagne bottle - releasing
the stuck cork of my fear gracefully
a tiny flourish
in your final thrust,
before we both spill over, frothing
in sweet dissolution.

To reduce your anxiety,
I will cradle thick fingers between slender ones
guide your hand gently to the bottle -
because you don’t drink
anymore - but we both know that
you want to.
We both know
all the reasons why -
even if we do not speak of them.
We repeat our lines as often as needs be
memorizing roles, while slipping
into character; we don the costumes
of our past selves.

And, we can replay this scene
as often as needs be -
your hands, violent criminals
my throat, a helpless victim
this body: perpetual crime scene

and savior, both. Always
both. Always
reborn
in our own aftermath.

And, I will pretend death with you
as many times as needs be -
while you still refuse
to kill
the black widow, spinning
over your bed -

you said
she wasn’t hurting
anyone.

Your hands, no longer anvils
smoldering vise grips.
My glass backbone, molten
your blind fingers trailing
through braille history - stippled skin
beneath your calloused palms
while we relive the past
as darlings - ghosts
of all the little deaths which happen
but do not happen fully;
vessels which burst and bruise,
but also heal -

a dry toast
to our own survival.


A Woman Wants What A Woman Wants

The alarm goes off and I wake up
to perform my critically acclaimed
sentience in my morning posture
I seek to achieve the impossible angles of a bird
lying dead in the road - with its head and wings
folded down into the asphalt from the vantage point
of a crane shot.

To make direct eye contact
with the camera is to move the perspective from
the watched to the watcher or to present an emotion
as a publicly observable signifier,
a voyeuristic experience -
The Feel Good Movie of the Year
was my nickname in high school
and as is cinematically compelling,
I brush my teeth for he duration of sand
moving from the top of the blue plastic hourglass
to the bottom. “Look at this existence.
This pathetic, fallible, wonderful body,"
you can say rhetorically, sarcastically, or earnestly
and still achieve death.

Look at me falling in love with fallible bodies.
Look at me performing emotional labor,
my arms are strong enough
to work a tract of land:
The impatient man calls me
a bitch at my place of work
and the upward movement
of my facial muscles causes
my eyes to wrinkle, a smile.
This is a method of intention setting.

I seek a husband
with broad shoulders and a symmetrical face,
a hard worker, whose value is in the width
of his chest. I do not want
men that can teach me. There is nothing
more that I want to know; free of want,
I can’t use men in the same way
that they can use me. “Give up
on art and love," you can say rhetorically,
sarcastically, or earnestly, and still achieve death.
I wouldn’t be a good wife,
but I would be a wife
in a way that was cinematically compelling.

In my dream last night
there was a factory farm
that performed full body castration;
I went there
to lay with the women who wanted
to find a calm somewhere.
I became a body
and my sentience became someone else’s
problem as I awoke thinking,
“Where is my value?" as if I had misplaced
my lipstick again.


(from Gabby Bess, Alone with Other People. Read more here: http://gabbybess.com/selectedwriting)


Paper Face

here
is my unsubtle origami
all scrawled up
with the bent words
of feelings

incapable
of folding inward
a wide-winged, flapping
swan of sentiment

you are an envelope
of secrets
a private letter
inscribed to your own
insides

I am every postcard
ever written
a bold-faced book, left
flung open

my cover
so easily
catches fire


In a Poem About My Father

the image of a horse leaning over the water
may be more than a horse leaning over the water.


One must be aware
of all of the possible connotations


of the word father. A complete knowledge
is impossible but the desire towards it, admirable.


The words "I love you" may be out of place,
the way a backpack left in an airport is also out of place.


A poem about my father may require further reading,
a Biblical scholar, whole cities of interpreters.


It is perhaps better done in a painting
or in the language that a fire speaks.


Certainly the image of a man reading to his son is safe?
Father, mother, brother, and sisó


in a poem about my father,
I have fallen from a horse leaning over the water.

(by David Nielsen)

Towering Babble

unsuited
to quiet thoughts,
my mouth moves
even in sleep

spilling my secrets out,
uprising seawater
licking the sand’s toes
lapping myself like a dog

and, this night
found me
all tail wag and tongue
at the thought of you.

I stuffed my mouth
with a handful of snow,
hoping to ice
all this sweetness

hoping
to thicken my tastebuds
with cold,
but instead

it all melted
spilled
from my pink lips
to hit the cold brick

of your smile,
struck down
with impossible timing.
In retrospect,

I
should have taken
a bite
of your frigid heart -

known
I was foolish
to reach for the stars,
hoping

to pry open
the rapture of God,
wielding only
my own

stumbling
tongue,
my own mythical
etiology

this time,
I swear
I’ll cease sharing
nocturnal linguistics

I'll learn
to stop dreaming
nirvana
so loudly


Just graduate me, for fucksake (a haiku)

I sell poetry.
If that doesn’t demonstrate
business skills, what does?




hyperopic regression

Up close,
your eyebrows are a forest
of slim, graceful trees
and you smell something
like cedar

like the closet
I used to hide in
as a child,
something touched
with wild abandon
dusted with the musk
of adventure
or musty dust mote
floating
in a ray of Sunday,

My god -
how I've missed you
so

I've memorized all
the details
of your absence
each empty click
of the clock's arms
reverberates
to embrace the minutiae
of the day

I still hold you
close,
enclosure of my heart
sequester
of my most beloved self

Still
catch your warm scent
coffee-roasted familiar

Still regard you
with limerance,
limelight lover
bright center of my epic
vision

but
then
again
I have been
so nearsighted
in love