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dreaming of prehistoryIn a better time for mental illness,
I would be prophet: hallucinations
of some grand design, my delusions
taken as gospel. Perhaps painting caves
deep in the belly of the hollow earth.
Dip brushes in oxide, draw wild horses,
lit by seal fat and the viscous shining
of psychosis-fever eyes.
Instead I am on unspoken suicide watch,
concerned members of the community tracking
the time of the latch on my door. Gently
knocking when they worry that I have plunged
too deep in cerebrum, broiling in dark thoughts.
I am dosed, diagnosed, therapeutically coaxed
like a bonsai tree: obedient shell, mute
and mutable, former self annihilated
for the sake of fitting in.
At Catalhoyuk, deformed bodies were held sacred,
given special rites. The curve of my spine
is only illness, they tell me clinically.
I dream of gilded shrouds, thick red ochre
dusted across my stiff-board body. Demigod
of disability, shaman of silent sickness:
forehead too high, my mind too corrupted
to seek Neolithic splendor.
It is called unspeaking. Using the voice of hands
and of moans and fingertips against lips.
The screaming keening of bashing one's head
against the console, of breaking one's hand
slamming it in a door. This is unspeaking.
This is what language becomes
when words black out, when no speech lives,
when there is nothing in the brain but dust and color.
The bright gashes of crimson, the spring damp of blood
on boxers because words have failed emotion.
The shout of no voice, the whine of air
against reluctant vocal cords that do not speak
that perhaps will never speak again,
unused organ pipes in a padlocked cathedral.
Silence that becomes invisibility.
That begets forgetting that I am a person, that I exist.
Loquor ergo sum; sed cogito, cogito, cogito.
My thoughts as loud as forever, my hands roaring
but no one listens. Whispers without wind.
There are languages that slide under the surface,
subtextual dialects that we do not consider.
The tilt of an eyebrow or the curve of a cheek.
ApoplepsyI dream rat poison tea
[soothe my sick throat],
and the slip-slip-whack of falling body
thwarted by the thrust of gravity.
Sick child, invalid, red-carded out of life
apologetically excused out of existence,
left to rot in bedroom bunker.
Escorted to the end by memories.
Tremble-sick and haunted.
Phantom pain, poltergeist muscles.
Tremble-sick and dead.
PhotographsYou remind me of my father's father,
the one I never claimed as mine;
empty accent drained of location,
filling stiff silences with requests
for lemonade. Bland hands overworked
in the insides of machines, etiquette
that overwhelms any intimate connection.
[I want always to be touched, reminded
that I am human and existent, scouring
hands searching breasts and thighs
for scant evidence of perfection.
(Don't bother, you won't find any.)
I am a commodity, to be enjoyed
and destroyed at will. Use me
or lose me.]
Perhaps it is my tendency to seek
old faces in new eyes, comparing
each new acquaintance against
the vile biters that came before.
My type is the annihilator,
inoculating me against feeling.
The ones that push my sore spots
until I no longer sense the pain.
I need to stop searching for Jake
in you, and simply close my eyes.
Graventhe horror of existence -
take your medication -
all that compressed matter
the leaden weight of people
burrowed into the earth
at the end at the end
at the end of their timecard -
punch the clock, eat your tea -
and I hear only murmurs
of the whistle of the scythe -
Parka PersonEvery day is cold now.
Once there were tropics in me;
blinding sun, warm humidity
nourishing ferns, orchids.
A parrot sang my praises
and I fell asleep enveloped
in the nocturne hymn of flowers.
But yet I am wan, drained of color,
ice shards spiking my brain, sludgy
and slow to think, words slurred,
uncomfortable to look at,
more uncomfortable to be.
Somewhere along the way
I tilted my latitude,
heart packed up in plastic
for the journey, and dove
straight into arctic love.
I am not enoughThe hero vanquished:
sea glass scooped up,
tornado ripe for my killing -
When in doubt, there is always
something topical to say. Tilt
your head and murmur affirmatives
until the voices stop - the silence
swoops in again. Suck cock, think not
of diseases. There are no consequences
for self-contained failings.
A body not ravaged by psychic guilt,
mind fresh and unwinded by metaphorical
thought. There is not enough perfection
to keep interests affixed. I sink, gnash teeth,
create chaos to cull quiet. Inculcating hatred
from everyone I meet. Leave now - read poetry
I wrote for other people. Know soon enough
it will be about you.
Defeated, bite down, walk the stairs,
I forget my name. Not enough, not enough,
skulk away, hide in miasma, ectoplasmosis,
PolarisTrue North always points to you.
In your eyes the immortal daggers
that flame me, that burn my embers
to ash, turn me to phoenix Fawkes,
numb me to the hangman,
jumping from the scaffold
to your waiting arms.
You are my epiphany,
the swirling of a whisky glass,
a smooth explosion soothing my throat.
I will always drag my tailbone home
no matter how deep the bleeding.
True North always points to you.
Mammoth Cave Souvenir KnifeFor my birthday
I threw a last piece of you into the lake.
This was meant to be a peace offering.
Waves crushing creatures at my feet,
making caves for daze-eyed angels
many millions of ages from now.
Someone will find your souvenir
destined never to weigh your palm,
and ponder tiny anachronisms.
On the lakebed made to dust,
a world carved up by cemeteries.
We are long made to casket fillers
and this knife long made to rust.
I have breathed within the earth
and hushed along twilight paths
and listened to the stones sighing.
A great moan coming from the gut
Like a body, the cave is thinking.
This is where they will lay me down to die.
Each part seeping deeper with each exhale
of my mother. Fawn Hoof and her sisters
seducing me further into my grave.
outgrowing gillssea-cradled urchin
child has a salty heart yearnin'
for a glimpse of mother moon
tiny spiked wunderkind
punk, studded belt
you know life's answers well
shuffling through the seaweed-less halls
missing the ocean swell
tidal waves foaming at the mouth
everyone is laughing now
at the boy born on a boat one sunny afternoon
cause mama loved the sea like lovers love the sheets
landlocked kid is homesick and
sea sure, he's searching for the sea shore
life's a blur for Davy Jones at his locker
capsized by sea-legs on solid ground, he finds his seizures
and he hates his earth mother
he hates her
for falling for the ocean and
how he's rocked by the moon
how he's mesmerized by her glow
her pull on his sea-conceived cells
he hates her too
for the puking in the stalls
for the ridicule
i miss the girl i almost wasi miss the girl i almost was
she sits lightly on the edge of the bed
at 4am and brushes my hair back from my
face with a touch like spiders' footsteps
her breath is like ice and
her wishes are weightless
she wraps a strand of promises around
her fingers and kisses me goodbye again
with lips like polished crystal
she waits for me at crossroads
she is always cold
and i'll pretend i'm Leosome days i think you wonder
like i do
the way i thumb my earlobe when i hope that you're not looking
the taste behind my teeth. in
gemini circles, i'd think us a malformed constellation;
being dust specks, i exist as naught but to black hole your world
into other closeness
sometimes i think you're wrong. i can write these words, can i?
i can write them 'cause you never look, you are heavy on me, you are pressed to my hip
and you don't know that I'm writing about you
you will miss the point
i think there was a time when you never tried to cover up my voice with other songs.
a box of quartz plucked from the driveway,
i look at it from time to time.
you sway like you're sailing to china
there are things i can't un-touch and things you'll never understand, the
care and feeding of turtles and why i always
burn of fever, the sickness churns my stomach, your sickness burns my
In point, counterpoint. we'll never forget
what day you shot my eardrums out, or the
leavingleaving is a can that you
kick around in the street
because it's been a long day
& it makes you feel better.
some days you kick it
harder, longer than others,
& some days there just
aren't enough cans or streets.
but the thing about leaving
is that when the
street lights come on,
you always end up going home.
astronomerswhen we're together
dusk is containable; the moon in my palms
and the stars on your ceiling.
we lull the city to sleep
with our theories of life; my tongue curling
do you remember,
when Jupiter was a silver wick, lighting its countless moons?
you balanced a cigarette off your lips,
and I watched the vermillion flame burn life
as a newborn sun;
planets moulding and constellations snaked
above our eyes.
what it would be like to be curled
inside the embers creator and destroyer
so close to your lips.
writer's blockstranded on an island scantily
dressed in moonlight, you stare
at roiling water resembling a
horizon of interweaving words
but when you lift your right hand,
spirals of silence shackle
the weightless sounds
nobody ever texts her first.you will tire of her. she will not always
be there to turn sealife to stardust,
or be the receptacle for your anger.
she will become that girl you used to know,
the one with the notebook and no friends.
she's been hanging with unloved kids,
underachievers-- just to remember
the insanity of a smile,
the feeling of being noticed.
already she has forgotten
what it feels like to dodge quick remarks, the thrill
of apprehension in quotation marks & parts of speech.
she sleeps backbone to floorboards
because they're softer than regret.
she wants to bleed through
someone else's wounds.
already she sees the frays
in your interest, the conversations
thinning down to "hello"
Evening Poems9 o'clock and
a nightingale song
from a starling winged night
in perfect mimickry.
The moon and her mandrake
baby screech whites,
peel trees to bone. Blacks
The stars meet
at hush- Deaf but eternal
jury. Atlas, stung by
each daughter: a pinhole
truth, still naively serene
after all they've seen: from dove breath
to flame. All
is a curse to the lampbearers.
The moon holds court.
Great judge, her metals bleed
into radiance, cleave twilight to hill.
She bobs socketless
through aether and flame, &
to her gleaming calm
all shadows die. No illusions survive
but reflection, who steeps wood in
moonwhites, petrifying old life into
holds voice at night's throat -
pulls light through sea's veins
and tightens light's rope,
weaving candle across
the skyline to bless
something older than memory,
more tender than breath.
a will o wisp promise
LossKneel. Lick the salt. Pray.
There is a hole here, I say,
pressing to my breastbone.
No doctor can diagnose it.
There is no test to check
how deep you've been ingrained
in my woodwork, pumping muscles
and spitting valves.
And no scalpel can erase this.
The emptiness of unfriendship.
Cold eyes glinting black
where once they glimmered.
This is a flimsy half-light
coming from my cigarette.
Nothing good will come for years.
Kneel. Lick the salt. Pray.
Keep in Touch!