what I will do, what I would do

Spin the bottle

When the bottle points in your direction
I will lick my lips
anticipation pricking my hips and thighs
quiet reminder of hasty handprints
and you will rise to your feet,
unsteady and eager
sweaty palms a dead giveaway
virgin nervousness.
We meet in the middle -
nose to nose,
toe the line
and the dream stops.

I wake to view the body
of a middle-aged man
who snores with abandonment -
who drinks the same way.
And I fuck like he drinks
but I don't ever feel terrible
in the morning.
I'll leave
before he joins the living.

He won't remember me.

You are the only one
who does.
When you ask why
I don't come
I refuse -
I will not point to you,
but this is the truth:

The bottle always points
in your direction. I lock my lips
when I realize
I love you too much
to rub two addictions together
just to see what sparks.
I know
what smolders in me already.
You are a molotov cocktail,
doused and unlit - glass still intact
but just barely.
My thighs and these flames,
left unstoked
will burn down to quiet
by morning.

When the bottle tips -
I will not sip. I'll settle
for smoking coals.

You'll wake
to view good intentions
snoring beside you. Trust, crumpled
and tossed to the floor.
You'll rise
unsteady and blinking and eager
to pass on the crown of blame,
your throbbing head, waypoint
to last night's transgression -
and I'll remain woke.

I will regret everything
you can't remember
handful of ashes, sifting for treasure -
wait for the story's spin -
one more cycle
to this revolution.

Just meet me
in the middle, please
next time.


It starts
with snapping the bone
into the right position.
Abrupt reintroduction
of blunt breakage
and sinew.
Soft tissue
reknitting itself, now
to swaddle the vulnerable -
calcium and phosphorus
to bring reinforcements,
the breach points.
New layers
of fossilized mineral -
sifting sediment shifting
to ossein form,
skeletal plaster
which hardens
in time
to supportive frame -
old injuries become
something new,
stronger than ever

The TSA line

We queue for the next opportunity
to sacrifice
pay alms to the small gods
of false security
offering benefaction of pocket knives
and lithium batteries -
travel-sized spray cans
of dry shampoo
and bottled rage
laying our laptops and rights down, neatly
zakat for the widow's mite of security
endless oblation on the rumbling conveyor belt
of the American dream,
of freedom and fortune,
and all this
to protect us from harm
from the trauma of extremism
and/or the burden of differing perspectives
from the shock of being blown into the unknown
or lying,
in a new time zone
if all this sublimation
is worth it.


habitation at high altitude
lofty ambition of flocking birds
home of raptor,
abode to wise bird of prey
breezy shelter, crafted of kindling
twig, paperwhite feather
drifting down -
subtle pinnacle of this homecoming
rising aria
of flight.

Aer, she said
the Latin root, meaning
Of the air
when what she meant
your love.

Orange You Glad

You can take the time
to peel the rind from it, but
underneath is still
the same damn fruit -
sweet or bitter
ripe or sour
segmented center,
firm or foul
cannot be fathomed
til you bite -
so open wide
and taste
the pithy insight.

The Performer

They told her she could be a real hit
hard hitter
in the scene
strut the stage
like she means business

The Benjamins
would unfold themselves
to find her
be with her
burrow their way into her pockets

and she could have everything
if she agreed
donned the meat dress
built the persona
put on a good show

Misunderstanding the novelty
of this
missing the whole point, actually
that she has been playing a role
all her life

that’s how she got good at it
in the first place
became shining star against dark backdrop
became anything necessary
to survive

and now she spends all her time
backstage of fluttering lashes
unbecoming perfection
ripping costume seams
and removing makeup

Stripping poise and promise
to stand naked and writhing
with purpose
to withstand empty scrutiny
something more rare than stardom

something human
you can see yourself in
you can see right through

a month away

John Taylor’s Month Away from Frames of Reference on Vimeo.

I love to look
Out at the sea
From the swing park here
At Roome Bay Beach

Today John Taylor
Starts his month away
On a boat, one ten miles east
Of Aberdeen

A dozen men, thirty days
With twenty-four hours in each
Of shattered boyhood dreams
And not much sleep

I'd much rather be me
For once I'd much rather be me
A month at sea
And then they'll surely sleep

With their heads
Still stuck on land
A month on land
And then they'll surely dream

Of girls they can afford
But cannot have
And in a drunken haze
They're on the rolling wave

Once again I'd much rather be me
I'd rather be me
Once again I'd much rather be me

For once
I'd much rather be me

Songwriters: Jon Hopkins / Kenny Anderson
John Taylor's Month Away lyrics © Domino Publishing Company


No matter the words spoken,
this is just another California commitment -
another casual "let's do coffee"
tossed over one shoulder.
Your smile, sunshine on pristine sand -
still, the eyes tell the tale - scudding clouds
always searching the next horizon,
never resting
on the shore of now and then.
Presence eludes you.
Circumspect authenticity
your preferred oxymoron - a conundrum
to those seeking true connection.
are an insincere stranger
at an endless cocktail party,
faking eye contact and sipping mimosas
while the sun sets on the Western world,
always staring beyond,
chattering aimlessly about changing the future
whilst gazing over the naked shoulder
of that which stands plainly before you.
You'll hold out, endlessly
for something better than this reality -
sweltering honesty laid on heaving dune,
unfeigned sweat of brow
over beckoning palms.

In quiet reflection.

I would like most to remember
his hands - palm pressed to calm cheekbone
a cool touch, collected
and capable of anything.

I have seen these hands
prayer-stitched and penitent
folded neatly into one another.
They have been both church and steeple - prayer and pulpit.
They have known the weight of praise, and the light of Saturday nights
spent in quiet reflection.

I have seen these hands at peace,
a symphony of purpose - harmonic
and charged with their own music -
a metronome precision of movement,
no note wasted.

I have seen them, also - uncertain
constant as clockwork
twitching and shifting agitation,
a steady, endless ticking...
Fondling cigarette casualties
casually, with fixed attention;
flicking ash into air
into cup
into upturned palms -
lighting one off the knuckle of the other,
smothering the unsteadiness of time
in the constancy of ritual.

And also,

his tentative grip - slow and timid
shufflestitch of fingers,
seeking shelter between my own.

Still, I would like most to remember this -
calm palm pressed to cheekbone.
His cool touch, collected
and capable of anything.