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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 long, dim light of nights spent
poised in still 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,
vortex of steady, endless ticking...
Fondling smoking casualties
casually, lit 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.

Poets are Liars (and Thieves)

Writing a love poem does not make you loving -
just as writing an apology does not make you sorry -
and neither are ever sincere when they’re written
while someone is leaning over your shoulder.
I know -
I once wrote a tongue-in-cheek poem on the crassness
of chewing fried chicken, over an ancestor’s grave.
Went on to pencil another, as if nothing had changed
except next time, my choice was a breakfast burrito.
We all have our patterns.
I still try to curb my own appetites -
throwing the e-brake on skidding behavior
parking my lack of propriety round the corner
so no one can see it when I arrive at the door.
I am always arriving -
showing up late for the party
dressed to the nines as my new, improved self
it’s still a masquerade gown, but I hope it becomes me.
Still, it is possible I’m just another well-heeled Sunday sinner
calling you out on your insincere heart
while I'm endlessly repenting all of my own sad transgressions
shouting out our redemption from this weekly pulpit
call-and-response style.
We all fall back to the default -
baptism by lexicon
immersion in language, instead of communication -
still, every dialect reserves room
to enunciate our hypocrisy.
Don’t think for a moment I can’t see the irony in this.
It is the reinforced I-beam of my reality’s structure.
He says - "Scale back."
He says I take most things too literally.
I say "I take literally everything literally - every time."
Still, you can’t place a timeline on one’s perspective -
it is a constantly shifting thing.
Zoom out -
and we're all gnawing chicken on top of the bones
of our ancestors. All except for the vegetarians,
but they’ve still got their breakfast burritos.
Don’t think I don’t notice the humor in this.
Don’t think I don’t know
your words are still just
kiss and tell.