true people true people

Category: The Canon (page 1 of 2)

The numbered pages of my poetry

every plant a poem

Every plant a poem.
Every poem a plant.

In sifted soil,
a seed will grow,
The spindle uncoils
past the reeds.

At long last,
a ray of sun
is what it needs
to cast away
its embryo;
to flee the past
into the day.

As time does flow,
its roots dig deep;
its stalk breathes
long and slow.

It does not know
why it was sewn
or why the wind
does blow.

One day a whisper,
the next a shout,
until one day,
the plant’s ripped out,
from the earth,
its mortal clay,
its place of birth,
its final resting place.

A life is as long
as a life is lived;
A gift that cannot
be ungived.

Given all of this,
what’s the difference
between my breath
and the wind?

Where does a poem end?
Where does a plant begin?

A Letter to my Closest Friend

A letter to my closest friend.

I never knew how important you would become in my life. As with all things when you are young, it started out so small.

Remembering our origin is like remembering innocence. Where every experience felt like a potential beginning to something new and amazing and exciting.

I sometimes long for those days, when fantasies about the future came to me as swiftly as songs to a swallow.

I’ve been thinking about your friendship a lot lately…Mostly because of how much you’ve become a crutch, maybe. It honestly sucks to think that sometimes even your friends can hurt you in the long run by just being too darn helpful.

I have been seeing you regularly for over a dozen years and I got this new piano so we could be closer together. I’m learning how to play using only the black keys. On those days, I can get away with pretending that I have escaped my high school, that social purgatory where I would listen to you for hours on end planning my escape into adulthood.

I remember that time I wrote down a phrase I heard from you which said “Do the hot-dog dance!” and how that gave ammunition to my bullies and how it ostracized me from my peers. As if sharing a special part of our fragile yet blossoming friendship was effeminate or “kinda gay”. To this day, I struggle to introduce you to less involved friends. And I still wince every time I hear the word “faggot”.

It’s been a lonely day and so I want you to sing with me late into the evening once more. Let’s sing some wild tune, maybe a sad ballad, or that one bossa nova piece in Portuguese we know.

Do this for me and I will take care of the piano, the guitars, the bass, and the drums. I will take care of the didgeridoo, the harmonicas, and the electric violin. I will treat my voice with rich olive oil and keep all our instruments in tune.

I will do all this because I care for you. I care for you because you have been there when no one else ever was. You have been there to show me beauty and grace and forgiveness and rage whenever this world has pressed its cruelty and indifference upon me.

If I had to be stuck with anyone in this world, I am glad it’s with you.

Thank you Music for always being there for me.

Questionable Questions

As the youngest of four, I was raised on questions.
You see, I was always last to understand, and so, I inevitably asked a lot of questions.

Like: what do you mean I shouldn’t lie?
or Why am I in trouble?
or Why don’t you want me to tell the truth?
or Why are you crying?
Who’s that? and what does that letter mean…for us..for you…for me?

But despite my insistent, wondering nature, there are many things I still do not know about my family.
Why my brother seems so much like my father, his face striving to cut those same sharp cheeks; to furrow a similar brow. I wonder how his mind must have captured and sealed away stark, signpost, still-life reliefs of my father’s way of being angry, a man who, for me, remains shrouded still in the penumbra of my secondhand memory. Did my brother need my father’s love to fill his heart so much that he mimed out angry outbursts as if they were no different from other words of kindness? When we were children, I must remember: my brother was also just a child. He knew not what he was doing.

Other questions nag still.
Why did my grandmother stay with her corpulent, boorish abuse for a husband when we blocked them in the parking lot of the assisted-living apartments with our vehicle – a slapdash intervention to prevent their surprise reunion. How did she resist the entreaties of her family as we contentiously pursued a condescending intolerance the like of which was unfamiliar to my quaking voice, in a winter not yet frigid enough to have me shaking like some last leaf of autumn. Weeks later, my grandma foisted up an answer. She said she stayed because of loneliness. All that time. In a house across the street from the graveyard. What is loneliness?

Did my grandma’s bullheadedness have anything to do with why my mother and sister were butting heads, or why my mom told me to tail my sister who was running out of doors to slam? She should have known I couldn’t keep up with her. Lacey was so much more my senior, colossal, with great strides and the rebellious brilliance of a teenager enthralled by her own presumptive independence. There was a question I remember asking myself repeatedly, after I was spotted by her and I failed my mission. I remember asking, “Why couldn’t I have been a better ninja?”, even though I returned home unnoticed by my mother.

Now, it seems to me the worst poems are written with unanswerable questions so I will try my best to rationalize some mystery.

I say, In all these lurid vignettes poorly lit by memory’s shadow, there was true filial love when we could remember to forget the faults of our family. Where pride, arrogance, and envy all dissolved in the acid of our jokes, the umami of thanksgiving dinners, and in the ambrosia of songs whose words we all knew like secular scripture. Yet, taken together, these questions remind me, in my youth as in my adulthood, I know nothing about my family.

Can I Tell You a Secret?

We all love to keep hidden, secret things.
I don’t know why but I know that we must.
Maybe it’s a matter of truth or trust,
or a violent urge to make our dreams sing.

We peek beneath peat, wear curious masks,
read between lines, and bury notes in caskets.
We ask tragic questions. Did I mention
keeping secrets is a chosen profession?

But secrets all bear a revealing tell,
like a sonnet ended by its couplet
which conceals its own breast like a doublet
to cloak the sly spot where the heart does swell.

I do find myself best down a deep, dark well,

where I can hear my breath, and my being,
and hide myself from the prying sunlight.
Alone, to think, to dream of what’s right, and
open my eyes to what I’m not seeing.

It’s almost as if I am awake but dreaming.

Without this lone pillar of privacy,
I could not be me. I’d cease to exist
as a freethinker. I seek to enlist
you in my defense of strange secrecy

which, let’s be real here, is not a given.
So many people love lords and masters,
who want naught more than rank-and-file living,
and absolution from sinful pastors.

They suffer from missing peace in their heart
which means they fear what they cannot control,
like the great, mysterious works of art,
whose miracles I do hereby extol.

And I hope that you share in this delight,
for rotten swamps are brewing up monsters,
and we’ll need every voice in this next fight,
when we will confront the state-side mobsters

who know the secret to power is all
in the present control of the past;
when the story of our future does fall
into their hands, then the die has been cast.

When I spoke naught for the first, they came for me last.


Happy Birthday, Mom!

In my poems, you’re the titan Atlas,

enduring, “holding the roof o’er our heads”;

I’ve seen you master your torrid feelings

but know that you cry at night in your bed;

the same way everyone does.

I hope you can find a wellspring of hope,

the way a tied rope finds itself more rope –

beauty and love and joy suddenly spring,

just because.

Over/Under You

I feel like I need you all the time. Like you illuminate my world.

And that it makes me weak and dependant to say such a thing.

I feel like you’re giving me breadcrumbs when I need hot loaves.

I feel stupid and depressed. Like no one knows or understands what I am sad about. And that itll last forever.

Im frustrated that ive gone to pieces. Mostly, im surprised you left me as soon as you could leave me. I remember asking asking if you had already left before leaving.

I can’t survive on just texts. And planning feels so prescribed, impersonal.

I don’t know how to repair my heart after being rejected by one of the truest friends Ive ever known. I cant stop hearing you say that you dont find me attractive anymore or that you need to go live alone.  And you seem so surprised when I tell you this as if those words wouldnt resonate and echo within any body, repeating themselves.

And I feel like you lied without lying. Like having an open secret or keeping mum. Did you just say comforting halftruths to escape my distraught in the moment? Were you just buying time until you left?

I wonder when I started to think of your displays of comfort so cynically and I am dismayed that I cant place the origin to these doubts. And how unfair Im being.

Was this year so bad? So different from all the rest? Did you grow so much that you grew to prefer other soil?

Richer soil? I ask myself. The grass is always greener over there so why wouldnt the soil be richer than mine. What is greater proof of loss than disinterest?

Its been too long since writing helped me through a hard time. Maybe ive been in denial about how hard its been. Or maybe I got soft. Or ive been crying too long about you or not enough. I could never tell. The answer depends on who you ask.

Im tired of having all these feelings alone when we were so happy to share in each others. At least, I felt happy to indulge you in your moods though sometimes I was humbled by your cavernous depths. And here I find myself spelunking alone in my own subterranean labyrinth with just the glowing embers of my crumbled heart to light my way. You’re the only one who knows Im here and how dark it is.

To your credit, you do pop in from above once in a while, flash me a glimpse of the lonely tunnels I must explore and smile invitingly, still from above, and beckon me forward as if I shouldnt be afraid.

And I feel weak for being afraid. And I fear what I’ll find in blindness.


Euterpe! Muse of Melody,

How did I forget
The beauty of these leaves?
Regret I did not see
The forest for the Trees

Please! One more reprise
Of these sad reeds’ pleas.
Sown seeds can mend ravines
Wait. One moment. I have to pee.

See, these fickle trickles of daffodils
Thrill me as they spill upon my sight
As a whirlwind of wonder. Woodsy trills
dally dully like the Doldrums do at night.

Phantasms merge volcanic chasms.
A crescent moon spoons the sky
as I pray through chattering teeth. Spasms
suffocate the susurrus of my sighs.

My muted, morning lullaby
Mingles with the tingling dusk.
My musk reeks of the Bacchanae
‘In Vino Veritas’ I vociferously busk.

I must confess I’m all alone
in this. I’ve kissed macbeth’s skull
And fell into some empty throne
Or forest ditch. This depression is full

Of all the beauty and all the dreams
That gleam like the breath of ghosts.
Nothing is ever as it seems.
Night annihilates nostalgic toasts

To what is passed and forever lost.
Now, dawn’s cold fog stiffens my soul
And I must bear a boring cross
To mend my home and pay the toll

To alcohol. That fiery fiend keeps me in thrall
With bounteous beauty and bedraggled sense
Of sight and smell. How sickly seems its call
In the belligerence of the present tense.

And was it worth it, after all?
What is wisdom that stales with sobriety?
If you leap from a cliff, are you now free to fall?
Was the guilt in my soul planted by society?

How will I recover my self from me
If I have lost my sense of direction
In this lively forest? The pores of every tree
Stick with the sap of seduction.

I could sweat a suit of tears
And find no solace in sadness.
So, I will sing away my fears
In another drunken bout of madness.

PoMo BoBos

I produce avant-garde poetry for a post-Modern populace,
proffering pithy postulations about posteriors and
hypno porno, real port-in-a-storm stories, because
my society has “progressed” past tradition and inhibition,
past superstition, past basic fucking compassion,
into the barren, directionless plane of Post-Truth.

I hear, I write, it’s written: “batten down the hatches!”
while underdeck, we poor Plebeians sit and blither, penned in,
getting toes wet in the rising water. We shiver,
pontificating about this brave, new Pontiff,
not so much anointed in oil as tarred-and-feathered by bitumen and Benjamins,
rubbing his asshole like an erect nipple so we wouldn’t remark at his naked, nuclear-orange body.

The Emperor, denuded; the Clergy, defrocked;
the 5th Estate, diluted; the Middle Class, defrauded;
the Climate, deranged; the Dream, deferred.

What manner of escape of yours is preferred?
Mine is rhyming calamities of the world.
I’m so blasé, I should be a crême brûlée! Ha!

The writer, he employs ellipses,
even complete syntactic collapse
in order to indicate to the reader that,
he too feels anxious about their telepathic response
to his well-woven words because he has heard people say that
when I am read aloud, it sounds so stunningly false, as if I were foisting upon
some haphazard wedding guest or reluctant passers-by a raving Mariner’s tale.

But, this is no Faustian Fuck-You, no fine-print confinement, this is merely how I learn from you.
By setting you to wonder, stepping back and watching the machinery metastasize,
sometimes I get a kick outta watching a belief system capsize.

You see, the sick reality is that ink dosed with the dope of William S. Burroughs
has burrowed and borrowed its way into my temple and I, bewitched,
must quote this insidious agent
for his words speak through me:
“You can find out more about someone by talking than by listening”
and I nodded off to the raspy, broken record of his shattered voice –
better when read aloud,
more magic in spoken Word,
thus spake Zarathustra,
and the first Word of Genesis, transcribed as it is past all recognition,
so say the pariahs and prophets who peddle at the pulpit for personal profit
against friends and family alike by whispering to those ancient, buried fears;
with forked tongue, taste the stone tablet tradition bitter as a potent potion.

Where has the vanguard of this post-modern age fucked off to?

Lost at sea, my eyes reeling with no coast to cling on to,
I rave until white foam covers my lips and the sky
when I suddenly cease, silenced by my impotence.

Sunset Conquests

How much do you know about the world that you live in?

Answering important questions like where do I fit in?
how shall I inherit the merits
of pre-existing systems?

My equipment for sussing out good sense
is the equivalent of rubbing together
two penny cents
in a relentless quest
to test my patience.
And I’ve got none left,
nowadays trying to chase the stray straightaways –
all for sunset conquests –
and learning nothing along the way.

Because when I make a mistake, I like to make it twice.
It must be because I can’t cross the same river twice.

At any cost, I keep my eyes on the ground every single day
’cause something lost can become something found, as old wives say.
Even innocence can be regained by understanding pain,
and while some pray, others reflect,
but in the end, what does it get you all the same?
Le fin, quand même.

What do you know about the world that you live in?

Answering important questions like
where do I fit in?
who will teach me
about the essence of commitment?

Or teach me about the habitat of rhythm
that we’re all living in manifesting one
communal vision which lets you breathe,
sets you free to move between the lines
which bar our lives, our dreams, our mission.

“One of these mornings, you’re gonna rise up singing”
and beauty everlasting will be found while doubled-over,
gasping for breath, fasting perhaps in preparation for death,
under the cover of recovering from a deafening crescendo.

O, those little poetic moments that read gross like prose when you tell
cold shoulders about the most morose sorrow that you felt some time ago.
And though you may have fervently believed in some sotto voce motto,
there came a time when even those words rang out hollow,
and you swallowed your convictions
like satanic benedictions.

As Rumsfeld ruminated:
“[T]there are known knowns, things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns, what we know we don’t know,”
but then, there are,
“unknown unknowns, [where] we don’t know what we don’t know.”

And when I listen to the crackle of the radio
All I hear isshot_2

Coherent Pain

You never get the time you need to say the things you can’t afford to leave unsaid.
It will always take Herculean strength to speak.
It doesn’t make me weak
To concede that I’m in need of remote support,
A beggar’s brigade, even a house-poor cohort.
I’d resort to a children’s crusade
if it meant graduating from this façade I’ve played.

Because I’m more worn-out than a mask at a masquerade and I’m
fresh out of lemons for my life’s acrid lemonade.
So, mark me like Marquis de Sade, I’m glad for a touch of coherent pain
when I’ve gained so little from singing in the rain.

& yet & yet, I tell myself, this too shall pass. Everything I’ve lost I swore I once had.
You’ll slip through my hands like the sands of Xanadu.
Too lax with my use of xanax, I’d do anything to fool you –
even lie about my use of xanax. The proof is I panic when you turn the screws.

The truth is I’m more screwed up than a screwball enthralled by a bottoms-up beer hall putsch
and I fear all put-me-downs ‘cuz the brutes just try to put me down the hatch like toxic hootch.

I want to walk you through this windowless room
you may presume to be my mind. I’ve dressed it up with demure rhymes
sanitized by turpentine.

But I don’t know if I make more sense as a poet or as a musician
but I know a good chunk of my change comes from when I just stop and listen.

Silence can be a powerful force.
John Cage proved that of course with his symphony 4’33”,
an excerpt of which, we all played just this instant.
He showed how incidental music could be
as it courses its way through our fluttering hearts,
as we shift and we sigh, or we grumble and moan,
and we cannot deny that this all makes a tone
that registers as music when we hear all its parts –
the highs and the lows, all joy and remorse,
taken together as one tapestry
woven in secret like a morse code beat
which may seem, on first listen, arbitrary
until you bear witness to the mystical melody of humanity
and watch order dance amid a chaotic drone.

Cross that border, decypher, discover you’re not alone.

For silence can still contain music even when you choose to break it.