VERBALLISTICS:

Showing all posts tagged as poetry:



I remember...

roof wrangling, gripping the cargo rack - wind shuffling my sagewild hair
the feel of hot metal on bare skin
posing, lotus-style zen in my denim cutoffs
howling coyote at sunset
Kristi swearing and grinding gears, singing "Semi-Charmed Life" at top volume, the Pioneer cranked to eleven
rubber squeal and gravel tailspray
the SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY of blaring of summer radio
convincing our parents that we were post-church pious
barefoot stomping the dust while we snorted methamphetamines
my thirteenth birthday
the slight sunburn prickling above my nostrils
my brother-in-law's smug face when he tossed us the keys, saying "oh, you think you can go it alone, huh? Good luck, kid! Have fun."

while teaching my son to shift, he asks how I learned to drive stick. I let a laugh slip -
resist the easy lie "Carefully". Instead, say "It took some practice."
I don't tell him I do not remember.

Triathlon of I'm Possible

40 feels like a hard halfway tickertape.
I am riding a bicycle in the tiniest of bikinis
I am surrounded by sea creatures, and I am the walrus.
My tongue salty. My head full
of wet jabber. My hips slick undulation - black and blue
from all this mishandling. All this exorcise
slimming me down. Svelte scent of nightfall and rosebuds
pricking my hopeful skin. Toes dragging dual pedals -
my eyes curled to cradle their fill of beauty - it pools and drips
prominent cheekbones.

Yaasika Quist says "There are only two types of people -
those who choose Love, and those who choose Fear."
When we break down
for the third time in Oxnard, California
I give up completely. Cry my eyes out in the Walmart parking lot.
I wonder which one I am.
I am still wondering.

I have never worn a bikini.

I have only lived naked,
or wrapped
in the thickest of woolen overcoats. I do not want to be cold
but sometimes I am. My thin epidermis, torn
between shiver and itch.
If there are only two sides to choose from
how does the coin maintain its edge? Outline its boundaries?
I like my rims janky. Lopsided and rickety -
periphery edging towards the undefined,

unknown

like the side-of-the-road rainbow deadending in a ditch.
I swear - you’ll never see life properly from behind the windshield,
but it flashes before your eyes, right when you fly through it.

That’s the easy way out.

The Bulgarians say there are two types of people -
those who piss on the floor
and those who lie.
The sodden mezzanine of love incontrovertible proof
of truth - and I am a parched puddle
I am evaporating outward
I am brow sweat times distance traveled -
the Verbal Kensington of flight risks - of cycling
of road divided by yellowbelly lines - and there are no pitstops in sight,
so I will choose love. I will decide
to become one with everything - a cloud swelling and sobbing
into the ocean. An eager tsunami - somersaulting to embrace the shore

The full force of Love
is a barrelling walrus. Moist blubber and bellyflop -
full leap and faith splash.
No peripheral nervous system. No theatrical pause.
Cercas claras hacen bien vecinos.
I am clearing the fences. I am jumping hurdles. My walls
graffitti themselves into welcome signs -
they tear their overcoats off, and run for the finish line
flailing for the red tape.
Every breakthrough stands shivering in a light breeze.

Look -
you can see right through me.


Slam

More impressive
than the revival
is the brotherhood.
Lost boys
who unhurl
sticks and stones
splintering
broken bones
with careful words -
plaster casts mixed
with palm spit and promises
road trips and flapjacks
and isn’t that
really
poetry?

I wouldn't call it a vacation.


(5)
It might help
to explain
we were never a family,
exactly

We were my father’s
first
Ponzi scheme -
my mother’s
cursed
wish
for more wishes

A narcissistic genie
believes
in his own magic -
keeps the hex bottled
up right til it bursts -


  • (4)
I digress.


  • (3)
Imagine
a lemonade stand -
juice fresh, squeezed
solely
from stolen lemons
sans vessel
saccharine in lieu of sweetness
and zero change.

Realize
a bake sale
without cupcakes
is just a street hustle -
a well-crafted sign
and a frosted smile. Try
to franchise a lack
of sustenance.

What then?


  • (2)
I'll try again.


  • (1)
Once
when the refridgerator
gaped empty
we filled the seats
of an ’82 Buick
Regal
our hungry mouths turned
ninety miles
into marathon -
the backseat
a tired chorus
of heated want.

My father’s mania
fuel
for the trip.
Soft blue pills
fastened my mother’s lips.
A roadside tourist trap
was the only thing open -
WELCOME
a good sign -
packed parking lot
wrapped
in scenic views.

See
my father's
lip curl
at the stiff price, still
hold up
five fingers - burgers
well-done
one index extended
to silence
all protest.

See us
wide-eyed
desert hares
under the hawk’s gaze
praying
for the cover of plates.

My delicate brother
breaks
first - cries
at the sight of an avocado -
soft green barrier
to fulfilled needs
and thus,
we are actors
in a play,
calculated
leaving
hot food congealing
under cool stares of strangers

See
my father's indignance -
his scene closing
on downtrodden, marching children
on an empty checkbook
on the stricken face
of the teenage waiter

one steak fry,
my stolen memento -
sole souvenir
for
a bumpy ride
home.


(0)

Nothing
in those years
made
sense.


Road trip

On the side
of a dried riverbed
we sweat off
the tires
back-breaking twist
over hot asphalt
all that laughter -
mirage
in the distance.


Tears, weary
perspiration or
perseverance - no
matter
the rivulets
all mix
with dust
indiscriminately.


Thirsty ground
doesn’t question
where
moisture comes from -
just
accepts it
gratefully
heaves
a dry sigh of relief


when the tow
truck growls
over the highway’s
laryngeal prominence
I swear
the horizon swallows,
scoffing
our good intentions, or
effortless
progress.

Even super heroes succumb to weather.

At 165 miles per hour, I closed my eyes
Relaxed my belly against your backbone, took a deep breath
Thighs pressed taut against your hipbones,
Felt the tight curl of my fingers against your ribcage, loosen
unfurling in your jacket pockets
Released it all to trust -
Surrendered.

When I opened my eyes next, I saw the ground sideways
Asphalt black and slick with mist, slipping past
Inches from my lowered lashes
But it held no fear for me -
All was peaceful.

This memory resurfaces, years later
On the slow descent from his funeral service
When the turbulence takes me.
My sweat-crowded brow battling the surge of nausea
I close my eyes, and relax into it
Swallow bitter fear and pain with the stale tang of coffee
Surrendering to something greater than myself.

These are the moments
I've learned
to let go.

Fair to Middling



When you are forty
you will smile graciously
on another first date
you will have good posture
and impeccable table manners
nibble arugula like a well-nourished rabbit
and measure each bite.


You will still eat roast chicken
at one am, hunched over
the kitchen sink like a wild beast
feasting
stripping the meat from the bone
with your carnivore teeth
inner scavenger, slipping.


You will learn to walk gracefully
you will wear high heels
to the board room, or
special occasions
only
dance barefoot
solo
in the living room
in front of the silent, judgmental ficus
your tree pose, reflective
and effortless.


You'll choose public words
wisely
still spout irreverent poetry,
occasionally
at inappropriate times
unsolicited
in the midst of a party, perhaps


where attendees
will simply assume
you are drunk.
You will let them.
You are not drunk -
but sometimes
you’ll wish you were.


When walking home alone
you'll often recite
your favorite song lyrics
out loud
and passersby will believe
you have lost your mind, entirely
you’ll think it’s funny


And, maybe that’s crazy -
or maybe
it’s strategic forcefield
deflecting
unwanted eye contact
and West Oakland’s frequent muggings.


It’s probably both.


You might still imagine yourself
a rockstar - but
you'll only sing in the shower.
You'll look at your line-less face
in the foggy mirror
swear you'll start using sunscreen
tomorrow -
forget.


Your home will be perfectly organized
you’ll still lose your voice
for no reason.
Your bones will ache
even in milder seasons.
In winter, you’ll consider a cat
for company, instead
fall for a warm fur coat.


Your best friends
will have babies.
You'll daydream
of giving them candy
and kisses -
handing them back, all hopped up
to go home
and watch Netflix documentaries
for once,
you'll sleep peacefully.


You'll find yourself
lying, often
prone on a pristine beach
weathering waves of dysphasia.
Your face an unsettled seascape
of honest dimple, confused brow

the tide of contentment
always turning.
Each day,
your mind will waver.


You'll tell yourself
to give up
on writing.
You’ll hear yourself
refuse.


You'll think back nostalgically
to days of waiting tables,
remembering the hard ache of shinbones
less than the trim waist, or the tips
or the ease


At this age,
still unsure
if your life
is courageous anthem
to living one’s dream
or merely an endless catcall
to unheeding sacrifice


the answer -
more gray hair
and contrast.
Your perspective
will never be
black or white


Welcome to the soft plight
of middle age.

le coeur veut ce que le coeur veut


The heart wants what the heart wants
and tonight, it is coyote howling the moon
all bared teeth and bloodlust
and taking no prisoners -
howling hollow on glass claws
chewing doorframes
to splinters;

The heart wants what the heart wants,
cannot be sated -
growling belly prowling
veins twitching for a fix
that cannot be needled
any
more.

The heart wants what the heart wants
but cannot find it,
so it crawls the barren night
lonely nose to broken cobblestone,
searching for a wafting scent -
a counterfeit whiff
of nostalgic familiar.

The heart wants what the heart wants -
palms down
and ain’t taking any shit from anyone
tonight - just
pumping bloody reckless
all hard thump and feckless
and just what the fuck
do you think you’re looking at,
punkass?

The heart wants what the heart wants
has no problem taking it
still
doesn’t want to

The heart
wants
what
the heart
wants
what
the heart
wants
is
you.





Love poem for the Moon

We have been staring
across this night sky
for so long

I am unsure
if I have imagined this light
creeping
across your face
rising reflection of my own
fierce, bright horizon

I am no longer
convinced it matters
so long
as our gazes turn
to each other

I believe
this blossoming
gravitational pull
will
hold our hearts
in close orbit.

Spin the bottle

When the bottle points in your direction
I lick my lips
anticipation pricking hips and thighs
quiet reprise to hasty handprints
and you rise
to your feet, eager
and unsteady
sweaty palms, dead giveaway
to virgin nervousness.
And we meet
nose to nose
and toe the line
before 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 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
why
I refuse
to leave with you
why
I will not sleep beside you
why
I will not point
to you.

This is the truth:

the bottle always spins
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
already.

You
are a molotov cocktail,
doused and lit - glass
just barely intact -
moments from impact.

My thighs
are drought-licked limbs
still
thirsty tinder
left unstoked
will burn to quiet
by sunrise.

When the bottle tips -
I will not sip. I'll settle
like smoke over coals
on the trim shoals
of friendship.

You'll wake
to view good intentions
snoozing beside you.
Her trust, crumpled
and tossed to the floor.

You'll rise
unsteady, blinking and eager
to recrown the blame,
throbbing head, waypoint
to last night's transgression -

while I remain woke
in the bed I made
solo
and always alone
this threadbare integrity
thin consolation.

I will regret everything
you can't remember -
grip this handful of ashes
and sift it for treasure.
I'll wait for the story's spin -
one more revolution.

Just meet me
in the middle,
please -
sometime.