Thursday, April 30, 2015

Good Things

The mountains—specific,
named: Brandywine, Lions,
Garibaldi and Seymour.

Raven’s barrel rolls, leg’s
gentle burn, meandering
conversations and blue

burning glaciers still
hidden on top ice-aged
shoulders. Unspoiled.

Remember the beer,
cheeseburgers after—
keep them for warm days

in January; when hope
recedes and apathy swells:
hold fast to what is good.

Pretty Pictures and the Virtue of Graffiti

Let them paint pretty pictures:
unicorns and wealth deserved,
hard work and wise investments,

sidewalk slovens
blanketed in cardboard,
stuffed with balled newsprint,

addiction and body odor,
unfortunate poverty earned,
anchors sinking cities.

Let them paint pretty pictures,
grind your teeth and clinch
your fist, and don’t forget

the old stories: mangers,
pharaohs, gifts undeserved,
good news for the poor,

grace. Don’t forget
the spray can in your hand:
abhor what is evil.

Pep Talks to Myself in the Imperative

(This is the first in a series of poems I wrote as a way of reflecting on Roman's 12, with the scripture as the last line. It's an experiment, so bare with me.)

Finish the thought,
lean-in and listen.

Scrunch your eyes
chew your lip.

Drink your coffee.
Risk the straight word,

yourself: angry or sad,
laugh and ignore

the heavy brow
disapproving eavesdroppers.

Reflect and return
with penance or prayer.

Be honest. Think long.
Be careful, when you can.

Let your love
be genuine.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bad Poetry

I want to write bad poetry
about you: recycled tropes,
archaic language—let me
count the ways, desperate,
predictable, exhaustive eye similes—
like grains of sand or stars…

I want to write poetry so bad
you become unrecognizable,
not trace of a person: imagined
ideals, undigested inheritance
of solipsist romantic, rose colored
glasses already beginning to crack.

I want to write heartbreak:
shattered and splintered,
preemptive and total, tempting
nihilist conversion, life vacant
and meaningless, alternating
use of lonesome and lonely.           

I want to write fiction: every twist
planned, crafted story-arches,
familiar epilogue, formula
followed like liturgy; rather
than write one transparent and
simple line: humdrum

menu debates, half-smiles,
forced laugh generosity, sipping
coffee in an empty shop
scrawling thoughts, blank stare,
the vacant chair across the table,
wishing you were coming.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Last Tantrum

I lost it on the field.
The little shit hit me
in the back, between numbers
and after the whistle.

I got up in tantrum
tears, snot and curse words,
voice cracking, feet stamping.
Teammates pulled me off field,

where I sat in wet grass,
glared till I was tired.
Then came wave after wave
hopeless embarrassment,

that unsightly naked
feeling. Shame like nausea.
The crowd: parents and worst—
friends and girls, all watching

with a cringe. I promised
to keep these things secret,
hidden from view. To take
refuge behind blank face. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

God and Google

I asked God and Google for guidance.
The secret to grief. 2-year-old articles
in men’s magazines lined with ads for
dating sites and ED meds. And Job’s answer:

were you there?

Pieces of a puzzle half-lost—scattered
amongst junked vacuums, couch crevices,
and partially-digested dried-out piles of dog shit.
Mangled survivors paint vague impressions of the whole:

Barry Sanders retired healthy at 30.
Bonheoffer hung days before Allies arrived.
Jesus wept. Otis Redding, Karl Barth,
and Ken Griffey Jr.

Lodge-pole pines and the 1988 Yellowstone fire.
And your 60 years of intermittent tumult—
estrangement and depression—ended
peaceful sleep in a rocking chair.

Parts enough—not a full picture,
no real answer or address,
but a question and a neighborhood,
a feeling and mood, direction and guide.

The Last We Spoke

The last we spoke, I apologized
for mixing-up the date of his dinner.
He understood, mentioned next time:
a platitude, a half-believed article of faith.

I was a day late. It would have been the last I saw him.
A dinner party olive-branch—a tentative start,
first gesture to begin to mend the relationship;
more than monthly texts about sports and fishing.

But then his heart quit. The roommate found him
in the morning, hands folded in his rocking chair.
I was left with a collection: disorganized
regrets, his knap-sack, and fishing hat.

Codes and memories to be deciphered and filed.
Impossible task, trimming and adjusting a thread:
a baby with square block and circular hole;
furrowed frustration, piecing together cluttered details—

a story to carry  travel-sized meaning.
But the story is unfinished. My dad died
alone in the chair he lulled me in
when I was an infant.

My dad died in that chair, believing
I was ashamed. Now I’m left

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dating and Dentistry

The dentist took a second look,
x-rays are difficult reads. But I knew
the Frosted Flakes and Slurpees
I just kind of hoped to get away with

those few moments—an easy sigh and slouch,
foot tucked under the crook of my knee.
Unclenched and relaxed, savoring
hopeful thoughts on quiet car rides.

But her eyes dropped, digging
a bunker in the sidewalk. I knew
the drill’s grinding falsetto. Still,
the in-between was sweet.