Select Poems (2020)

Light on Swann Street

 

Resting on the omnipotent orange

I met my oppressor on Swann Street

my thumb against his

 

a milky erasure on sunset 

a sanguine juror lapping away 

the spaces — at once I could

glances became white or empty

and emerged this incomplete 

landscape 

 

indolence, a barking boy

a goblet of green chartreuse 

those arcane lines 

feverishly bled to nighttime

Bayse, November 27

 

Shenandoah smile

tree bark mouthfeel

at 6pm

 

monkeys on the curtain wall

the time-laspe un-spinning 

said she was both fiery and emotive 

 

quantum or unending 

succulent sheets on two twin beds

enough space to leave  

a theory about free love 

behind me

 

endlessly the room expanded

into a silent symphony

negative space swept unto 

fallow acres of Virginia

 

emerged into quarry-stone 

a storybook in finite languor 

A refined and delicate lightness of the body

 

Obsessiveness — catered bells

eloquence, nuanced breath 

hampering aliveness

neatness

sugary zest and zealous

fiery Madonna

“Pangea’s Box”

crowning, lively brushstrokes

pleather: ripping, dampening

imminently habitual robotic

life control minding others

pass or fail 

ergonomic adventurous awakening

turquoise of the universe

coal in the rough, lack of 

bolting contradiction

illusion cup, halved

emptiness and overflowing 

bottled air

transparency mission longevity 

in my journey going and coming

undulating teeth vultures

spirited or frightened

before but underneath

sensory overwhelm

The bluebird chimed in again

 

Stupor at an enviable dawn

the lonely cowardess ate

from a honeysuckle leaf

 

the vapid dew

awake and sweaty still 

my cowardess in a coiled pot

 

God’s palm

an unstretched and usurped organ

like a blistery peashoot

 

bone marrow

teeth jargon at midnight

an empty can at a dive metal

cowboys and thrust

 

my absent mirage

lifeforcesucking drink

In our minds lies a portal of awakening

Liberation is a mindset unknown to many because our minds are constrained by a variety of external circumstances and situations. Everyday we are awakened and renewed with choice. In our ability to choose, free from memory and habit, lies our utmost and unconditional liberation. We feel limited in personal choice and freedom because we cannot grasp that our present lives are those we have chosen for ourselves. But we have chosen everything including the suffering we endure; within this suffering we must choose to see the universal lessons it offers. Suffering is not a random occurrence, bad luck, nor the work of an angry god. In our suffering, we learn the universal nature of loss and impermanence. On the path of liberation we must accept suffering without conditions or clauses. It exists and gives us a mirror from which we can recognize beauty, compassion, joy, bliss, and eventually enlightenment. Therein lies a portal to our personal freedom and liberation. We don’t often reflect on the idea of what personal freedom means to us and how we explicitly define it. Each life needs a different set of criteria for freedom; and most of us think this personal freedom is unattainable — but more deeply problematic is that we don’t think we deserve it: it’s selfish; it’s lofty; it’s childish; it’s imaginary. Stir the seed inside of you: what does it say? What primal yearnings do you seek? What is missing? My freedom would be the ability to listen to music everywhere I go, to keep the boundaries I set within myself, the resources to keep my mind and body healthy, the ability to travel unlimitedly. My freedom may evolve and change as my mind does. I don’t need to be attached to what I once needed and desired — that takes us away from the path to ultimate liberation and the portal from which we become our freedom. 

Am I?

Have I become

more like a line of prose

than a novel?

Excerpts:

A Place Nicknamed Should Be (2015)

IV. STARS

 

A Boy Whose Name Means Light took us for a long drive one night, and I saw the stars. We made friends with the lonely dogs on the way to Nicosia. They cried out to us, “Stop! Take us with you!” But the car spun out of control and we hit an ice cream truck on a winding country road. Its only advertisements were for a nameless brand of vanilla soft-serve and a sign that said ATTENTION CHILDREN

 

We were looking for someone who was already dead, but decided to knock on his door anyway. He wasn’t home. People stared at us as if they’d never seen an angel walk the earth beside a human, or maybe it was because we were strangers here. On the way back we stopped at a gas station. It was pitch black, except for where the car lights hit, and the stars, and an illuminated banner in the corner that read:

 

YOU’LL NEVER MOVE

IF YOU CAN’T STAND STILL.

 

I asked the Boy Whose Name Means Light, “have you ever seen the stars?” He replied, “yes, because I am from the earth, I am not made of fire.” We drove to Should Be, as I held the baby angel in my arms, and her skin was so soft it made me imagine we were not fire, but candle wax melting slowly onto a kitchen table. 

VII. THE WAITING ROOM

 

The baby angel’s mother decided she wanted to see. As in, really notice things, for the first time. “There’s gotta be more to life than this,” she said. We went to the hospital, but they were renting one of the emergency rooms out to a circus, and we got stuck behind a parade of monkeys in little cages and smiley-face balloons. Acrobats carried lifeless patients from one hospital bed to the next, using only the force from their pinky fingers and some prayers from God. We had to guess what number a magician was holding behind his back to know how many hours we’d wait to see a doctor. Two. Thank God we were right.

 

Finally, we found the waiting room. I sat in between someone with a bald spot and a chronic nose bleed, and someone else who had sprained his ankle while practicing to become the ping-pong champion of the world. Everyone was looking for something. There was a plastic flower pot with plastic yellow daffodils and a book of fiction on the table. I opened the book of fiction and read the following passage:

 

When you stop seeing everything as a series of sheer coincidences, you begin to see the complex patterns that are your lived experiences. Start paying careful attention to the consequences of your actions.

 

We met Dr. Good Morning, who was a hundred and ten years old and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. He wore a purple robe garnished with jewels and told us he was royalty. “I’m going to live forever,” he said. 

 

All of the sudden, his heart exploded and he died, instantly. The man with the bald spot and the chronic nose bleed started spewing blood from all of his orifices. The man who wanted to become the ping-pong champion of the world slipped in the pool of blood and sprained his other ankle. The mother’s only good eye dried up, and she couldn’t see a damn thing. It became too much to handle, so I pulled a cigarette out of my bag and started to smoke it, right there in the middle of it all. The baby angel looked at me from across the room and asked, “what is it like to be in a perpetual daydream?”

IX. MATH CLASS

 

I dreamt about a teacher I once had, dressed in drag, sitting on the bleachers — he was the head cheerleader. “Go! Go! Go!” he yelled, as the star of the football team tripped and scored a touchdown for the opposing team. I woke up and realized I was running late to school. 

 

I took the bus and sat next to a ghost. What’s the difference between a ghost and an angel? All ghosts were at one point angels who got so hungry they had no choice but to swallow their own halos. They sit eternally in the guts of their stomachs in between the gallbladder and the small intestine. You might think this helps them radiate from within; however, a swallowed halo is, in fact, utterly useless. 

 

The ghost followed me to math class. We discussed the political fallacies of the Circle’s ancient empire, and argued over the reasons why the Trapezoids and Squares haven’t spoken to each other since 1652. I always despised the skepticism involved with the study of mathematics. I just wanted to know something, anything, was certain. 

 

As I was sitting, trying to pay attention, a fly started buzzing around my head and wouldn’t go away, so I left the room. I saw someone I hate scribbling graffiti on a locker door. It said:

 

LIVE AND LET LIVE. 

 

What an idiot.

Another interesting fact about ghosts: they are not shapeless and they do not dress in white like the archetypal vision we have of them. The ghost I met had a blue streak in her hair and wore lime green paisley print pants.