well, she's a pretty scene
but the characters keep passing out from lack of sleep
and the understudies don't kiss the way she's used to.
a cardboard backdrop of exaggerated proportions
with its painstakingly painted mural of smiles
couldn't hold up to the critic's deep scrutiny
(he later bashed it in a local newspaper review that no one would read)
packing my father's vinyl collection in each ear, i left you.
or you left me; i can't be sure,
but i vaguely remember us stepping out the fourth-floor window at the same time.
you run like a stain through an oxford shirt
handing out your unemployed business cards (blank on both sides)
but once i grabbed a handful of pushpins and tacked you to my door.
i have this laugh-out-loud feeling that says you won't be coming 'round anymore.
it has been a long while since i felt comfort in this place.
for a short while there was only resentment and fear.
differing fingers, gently laced with clasped palms, say i missed you,
even if our whispered voices don't.
the sun rises with my chest at every inhalation.
your room is glowing with an aura, yellow-white and pure.
insomnia releases its hold on us.
there are no dreams here that can be described in words.
and as i drift on a lingering stream of consciousness,
i hum softly through my barely-smiling lips.
i could never think of myself as heartless as a siren—
my voice alone is not enough to sink a vessel
and somehow you're simply too handsome to shipwreck.
i am being aimlessly guided by a decrepit side street.
the smell of who-knows-what hangs in the still like an occupied noose
as i strain to ignore the unpleasant moisture on my brow,
the imperceptible perspiration of emotional exertion.
my heels can decipher the coded cracks in the concrete
and converse with muffled clackings that echo from alleyway walls.
they say, "our coordinates are flawless; this is the path to freedom."
i think, to reach it alone would be more bitter than any confinement.
‘cause i left some love in an empty room miles from here—
it’s collecting cobwebs instead of affections
while the idol of unrequited passion burns
and its ashes are faxed to four far corners of a hardhearted world.
i reach a dead end and feel the breath catch in my throat.
there is nothing here but the empty cocoons of the homeless
who have hopefully lifted themselves on dusty wings to a better place
leaving me searching for signs of life in the litter they've left behind.
there is a poster haphazardly taped to the bricks;
no lettering, no information, just the face of a man.
he stares blankly at me from his paper veranda
as if i were a television set, some mundane form of entertainment.
then, unexpectedly, a hole rips through the flyer
to compensate for the boot-clad leg freeing itself from dried pulp
and stepping heavily onto the pavement below.
i stumble back in mixed horror and disbelief as appendages creep lividly from the wall
until the man with the advertised face stands before me.
he pulls a pack of parliaments from his trenchcoat pocket
and wordlessly offers me one as his lighter births infant flame.
soon, the nicotine fog hangs like an opaque grey curtain between us.
then the silence is shattered, with shards of stillness breaking against the asphalt.
"i hope you weren't attempting to be stealthy. i could hear you for miles."
the voice emitted is raspy, the sound of a dull razorblade on the neck of a convict.
i shiver fiercely in response with a zero-kelvin cold.
a frankenstein hand fights through the smoke to grasp my ashen face.
his finger to my lips is a canker sore forming.
"a pretty lil' thing like you shouldn't be caught dead in this mess."
his forked tongue forms the words of nothing i don't already know.
i push him away. "just cut to the chase. we don't need to drag this out.
you know what i came here for, so let's get it over with."
my heart spasms in protest, but i suppress it with clenched fists.
as it dejectedly thuds in my chest, i can taste the bile rising in my throat.
he raises an eyebrow, then sniggers, showing off a yellow shark-toothed grin.
"the princess has a temper! well, you've come a long way for this, sweet cheeks."
he reaches into his coat, pulls out his leather gauntlets blackened with singe.
"say exactly what you need, doll, and your old pal lucifer will handle the rest."
my lungs deflate, punctured by pins and needles of stale air
and the blood dries in my veins like cruel sun blistering the desert.
half of me begs for lockjaw. the other half manipulates the corners of my mouth.
"erase him from my mind. i can't spend my life obsessing."
a glint of guilty pleasure in the devil's red eye seals the deal.
soul extraction's just like getting a tooth pulled, i tell myself regretfully.
it's just another part you don't need, a bland and disposable item.
but it doesn't quell the fear; i'm shaking hard enough to register on a richter scale.
the man in black embraces me, grasping my ribcage in his massive gloved hands.
a flash of doubt sears through me, yet i stand frozen, crucified.
i feel satan's minions pulling at memories like loose strings
and there is chanting in my ears; evolnilr igafognir effuseht eta ivellai sihth tiw.
i come to with dry heaves and a migraine sent from hell itself
to find that i am home in bed with the sheets around my ankles.
i rise and move to the mirror, see the dark circles traced around my eyes,
and dissolve into sobs without knowing why.
you pull the phone from its cradle
(the dial tone wails miserably)
and the glance you throw at me is a mash of expression
the corners of your mouth blending together
bemusement and sorrow
hope and desolation
as you caress the seven numbers
and tell her in broken lies
that you're coming home soon.
after the shy thud of plastic on plastic
and the tumble of ice in a glass poured solely to forget
you stand and turn
so like clockwork
there is a kiss that never meant a blessed thing
and three words said without impact—
swept back out to sea.
i can wish for revolving doors
to keep you running in perfect circles—
a blissful three-sixty—
and lead you back to my cardboard palace
so we could air out the mold between the creases
just for a glimmer of something
but there are reasons why the serpent escapes from god.
he was strong. i could see that much. and bitter, with a black-coffee way of speaking that kindled thoughts of fallen soldiers learning to walk again. holding fast to my blue plastic tray in true freshman fashion, my focus wandered to the red band around his arm, akin to the one encircling mine—always a symbol of the hunter, never the hunted. but i could not pay attention to this small detail for long; a gruff voice was asking me questions and a pair of sea eyes swept me away with the tide.
he was tarnished. i knew from the moment he took his seat, like an elderly man would, holding onto the back of the chair for support before lowering himself down. though it was easy to hide behind an ever-charming veneer, the fine wood was peeling at the corners, revealing the coarse plywood beneath. we talked of the living dead, zombies and zeds, planning attacks like star-ornamented generals as casually as two strangers meeting at a coffee shop. we never touched, and a bridge was building on our crumbled foundations.
he was beautiful. an army assembled under his command. and with myself at his side, we were breathtakingly terrifying. breathers defended the air that had held them thus far like a secondhand cradle, yet we were the vacuum that sucked it directly from their lungs. the ruthlessness of it all stirred up carnal instinct in me that had existed millenia before I was even conceived. and he felt it, too. there was no denying that the hypothetical taste of flesh on our tongues was enough sustenance to keep us from feeling the bite of autumn or the memories of betrayal sulking in our war-punctured hearts. a different war, for certain; but there was still the hunter and the hunted, and we fought with every cell within ourselves to be the former.
physically sick of the party people—
dull as a broken record
with the same disdainful faces
that leave me screaming ALCOHOL
just to taste anything but bland conversation
and sugar-glazed eyes.
i'm used to fishing for compliments
beneath the scum of society's pond
waiting for someone to swim along
and take the bait
but it's the tragedy of the commons, babe-
everybody's doing it
and there aren't enough good fish left over
to keep me
for the few remaining shards of modesty—
'cause yeah, they'll bite into her palms
but the heaviness of a reputation
is pounding her flat.
blood throbs in her veins.
it's the only credible evidence she has
that this isn't some
no, she's not lucky enough to sleep.
the room's a child's diary
left out in the rain
and everything she owns
is soaked in memory
and black spider stains on the pillowcase.
and they build webs in her head
and they whisper feed us!
so she cries a little harder to appease them—
their silk is lashed around her wrists
and it's the only type of contact she has left.
i've taken the dismal descent
of every trap door set for me.
i've sank deeper than the titanic.
i've painted-by-numbers through a thousand mouths.
i've grinned horribly and thumbed my nose at god.
i've killed for men who've murdered me.
i've donned this macabre disguise
far and beyond too many times.
i've lifted the layers of bygone bandages.
i've been fixed
with two lips
and three words.
what's the point of buying a portrait if you are blind?
nothing i would see is worth my precious time—
just more metal, bad skin, and tired, jealous eyes
senseless sensibility is a cold kettle boiling,
nonsense steam fogs up the jaded glass.
draw a picture with your finger,
smile as it fades to apathy,
all that lovely water turned to gas.
i lick my palms to play pretend with illness,
stay in bed with the quilt kicked off-kilter,
crawling with the brood of the six-legged past;
they are eating the nests of the threatened, bitter future
change the cable channels in my brain,
but only stations two and five are clear,
and eight if a wire coat-hanger antenna
is bent at an angle from my dominant ear
so i can sit, content, and watch the weather
sneaking in exhaust from every orifice
gets me passed out stupid every time;
a coping mechanism,
coated shit between the gears,
and only this pollution left behind.
frantic antics rewire my brain,
almost as if it were never a brain at all—
circuits and switches and copper thread,
my computerized cerebellum, my inorganic head,
as biology becomes machine.
what powers my body,
this metallic monstrosity?
there is no plug, no battery—
only the cogs and gears of a watchmaker's fever dream
and sheer, dumb luck.
because, while they stood around
and waited idly for my parts to rust,
i was killing time in a vacuum,
ignoring the earnest embraces of air and rain.
and thus, here i rest,
with the sound of my own meek ticking
thrumming against these pink asylum walls
but because i stayed awake to tell the tale,
and to rub their sordid noses in the dirt,
i suppose my isolation was worth it.
i have no more room for these testaments.
their biblical proportions
and strain the seams of my naïveté.
your afterlife glides past
with wings of melting wax
attempting to tempt me with tales
of a hellish heaven
and a heavenly hell
but i prefer a Floydian philosophy
for all i touch
and all i see.
death's crooked fingers reach us all in time
yet had i the faculty
fresh from the womb
i would have feared my birth
over any eventual demise.
you smile, and a person dies.
you smile, and the sun bows a tiny bit lower in the sky.
you smile, and two people are born.
you smile, and a note trills its way to my ear's tympanum.
you smile, and a moth finds its way to the dimming porch light.
you smile, and the incense stick accessorizes with a shawl of smoke.
you smile, and every vein in my cheeks dilates.
you smile, and there is a marvelous lilt to your voice.
you smile, and my clever anecdote is stuck between your teeth.
you smile, and our eyes dare each other to grin even wider.
you smile, and somewhere dawn breaks like a bull in a china shop.
you smile, and life roars.
soul between finger and thumb
grace these parted lips
an exhaled spate of stars
folded paper cranes
existence is wasted
if you cannot enjoy
moist on a tattered cheek
for fear of dissolving
over the brick awning
i watched a black storm
of white doves
poignant and pure
she is innocent
minus her street clothes
a babe in cotton sheets
my eyes stumble
over a rough face
draw me from memory
with permanent marker
this holocaust love
if you can
make it last
the absence of a proper muse
incessantly plagues her
with an illness that can’t be cured
diagnosis: terminally blasé
side effects may include
being consistently reality-addled
and subsequently bitter.
the eraser wears down well before the lead.
words aren’t meeting each other in bars
and taking each other home
for one-night stands and cigarettes.
words are passing each other in hallways
and avoiding eye contact.
as a desperate effort
she’ll make herself write poetry
even though inevitably
she will loathe the result—
a loveless excuse for thought
and a brainchild praying to be aborted.
my poor cones and rods
are victims of a sensual seclusion
when every hue begs to be seen
with cookie-cutter eyes
vacant as atheist heaven
mindless obedience and the train’s track
figure eight with fingers crossed—
we are putting the plea in “please”
tied crudely to the rails
as the engines
swift as rabbits in heat
and how long our last night lasted
i couldn’t say
before your teeth drew iron blood
a vibrant tongue
from the moment we unzipped
i was speechless.
sharp as tacks
watch your feet
every step the green mile
you could hear a pin drop
(or was that a pearl earring?)
the lipstick on her teeth smiles at you.
skin so creamy
it’d feel right at home in a cup o’ joe
free that poor hair from bondage
so the red sea comes tumbling down her shoulders
just ignore the diamond on her finger—
it’s merely a suggestion.
smooth black and form-fitting
follow the zipper towards the small of her back
now emerging from the chrysalis
nice clothing like hers looks better on the carpet.
strapped to the darkest horse
on a hell-bound carousel
here where colors envelop each other
reds devouring greens in a maelstrom of artificial light
time crawls to the beat of a hibernating heart
and she can locate her bearings
strewn amongst the dust of the cottonmouthed ground
and regain them.
into a cloud of mushrooms
as their caps unscrew
and come loose
red-tipped pills scatter like rats
each with a tinny metal voice
shrieking a harsh cacophony
of swallow me
while the roses
with thorns of syringes bristling down their backs
pull out their plungers
she bolts from fright and pressure
into the badly beaten path
into the fender of the massive carriage
into the beams of the heart-shaped headlights
cutting cards through her porcelain flesh
a royal flush
an imperceptible gasp—
a small white rabbit
wide-eyed in the dirt
to the rhythm
of the hands
of his smashed and derelict