it will not do for you to be happy
it cannot dull the cacophony of silence
nor ease the weight of empty space
and it will never dim into distance the
what-once-was of proximity
your proxy cannot pardon me
nor alleviate the hatred for
the gloss-eyed green girl
who once whispered in modesty
"if you are happy, i am happy."
Three seventy-five. At my current muscle weight, that’s the amount of force, in pounds, with which my fist smashes into my opponent’s face. Flesh molds against my knuckles, vessels rupture under the impact; I am that unstoppable object, that destruction you can only watch. I am that confused, hurt, angry child. I channel it through my arms, conduct it through my knuckles, watch it spark and jump from fist to cheekbone. This is the therapy I so wantonly crave, so needed. The only place I can vent the full wrath of my frustration upon the world; or…at least, a single member of it….
Jump back three days.
Why can’t I see you more? I text her. Because I don’t want a relationship. She says. I don’t need a relationship. I just want to see more of you. I tell her. I’m afraid I’ll invest too much. She says. I don’t understand. Is that a bad thing? Seven years of friendship, two of off-on dates and rendezvous. How could you get more invested? What else can you spill after your hearts in a pool at my feet?
I drank a lot that night.
Jump back four days.
I’m coming out that way. What are you doing tonight? I always initiate…everything. Always the first question, the first proposal, the first, the first, the first. Am I that threatening? Going out with friends. Homework and going out is all this woman seems to do. Maybe one less night with friends, one more with me wouldn’t hurt? Cool. Celebrating a birthday with friends, we’ll be out and about. Maybe we should meet up? If I’m here, she’s got no reason to refuse me…right? I thought distance was our only problem. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. I don’t want you to see me stupid drunk. What a stupid excuse. I actually want to see you stupid drunk. I will at some point if we keep things up.
Long story short, a guy she sometimes fucks is going to be wherever it is they’re going, and she doesn’t want to have two guys she’s seeing in the same vicinity. What does that make me? I’m getting frustrated with all this confusion and sideways talking. My group incidentally ends up at the same place they are. I don’t even talk to her face-to-face. I’m such a sporting guy. She goes home...alone, to my relief. I get stupid drunk with friends. But never forget to message her back and act like everything’s cool.
Jump ahead a week.
More conversations to clear up why I fill only one void in her life lead to more confusion. I’m frothing with it. It’ll be in my mouth soon. Wait…I taste it already.
“Let’s drink and pick fights,” I say to a couple buds. Two hours out, we’re sloshed and trading licks in a back alley. The guy that had taunted and jostled me in the bar follows us out and picks a fight. Says I’m too drunk. Not worth it. I hide a smile, raise my arms, “Let’s see.”
Shirts are off. Left hook to my ribs, I pivot an elbow, deflect with forearm. This leaves his side open. I duck his wild right-hand and drive a straight hit into his open spleen. He hits the alley wall. “Still want to take a drunk?” I taunt from my knee. He comes back, still sure of himself. I’ll show you what confidence does to us, my friend. He puts up a boxer’s guard and comes back, more cautious. Friends and enemies cheer and joan around me. I don’t hear a thing. There are thoughts. Dark, confused, smashed together, waiting to be dealt with. I focus on all of it. I focus on his face. I listen to the conversations that leave me more hurt and alone than they should. I lean into a false waltz stance, he doesn’t notice the feet. I notice his. He’s more drunk, on less, than I. Every time you breathe, I hope you think of me. The mass in my mind flows through my arms and legs. I charge and he punches straight where my head should go. I dodge right, grab his wrist, snap in and pull out, stringing him in an invisible flaying bed; my left elbow crosses his solar plexus, throwing him to the ground. Knees pin his arms. The hate, and anger, and confusion, and helplessness dissolve between fist and flesh, arc across the pain in my heart and the bruises and blood flowing freely from a fool....
Never entice a man with a need to portray his problems upon a heedless world.
His friend steps in and plants a well-thought-out fist against my jaw. The one on the ground is down for the count. My friends don’t step in. They know me. I roll off him before his friend’s hit can follow through. Now I have physical pain to channel, too. I grin and my assailant isn’t comforted. This is the release I need. This is my way out. This is what will help. Fuck you, world. Fuck you girl. Damn all of you for your games and your feelings and your mysteries. To hell with why you think you need to hide your heart. Wear it on your goddamn sleeves. Fuck your dishonesty and your insincerity. Fuck your exes. May you all drowned in your lies and guilt and shame. Damn you for assuming I’d ever judge any of you, for not taking my love at face-value, for thinking I had anywhere near the ulterior motives you all harbored. My left hand grabs his left elbow, simultaneously blocking a right jab and flipping his arm out of the way for the full force of my right arm into his ribs. A cacophony of bone and flesh giving way to my wrath meets my ears. He yelps. Never yelp when you’re trying to be strong for a friend. Keep your damned lips closed, asshole. He recovers only slightly before my right meets his face. My arc is perfect: the momentum of muscle as it curves the natural twist of a muscled arm, the darkness of my life gathering on knuckle-tips like obsidian gems glinting in the dirty hallway between worlds of vice and vindication, the cording muscle releasing the pent-up rage of a thousand lives gathered in one body.
Connection shatters worlds. The horror of life bleeds across his broken window to the world. The reflection of my jeweled nirvana wink across his eyes. See the world I live in, failed rescuer. See the hopeless honor I hold in my bosom. Sleep with the knowledge that even when you try, someone will always be there to flash the dark, jaded realities across your eyes…and bring you to my level.
The other friends won’t budge ‘till I’ve stepped past. They part like the Red Sea for me. My ark is empty until I interact with the world tomorrow.
Brief peace is better than none.
I came to you on bend and knee's
Broken spoiled from life's calamities
You took me in between your breasts
Through walls of ribcage into hearts
An amalgamation of lunacy and love
It's almost like redemption with every coveted hug
Snap-Shots of you motion pictures
In my head
We smell of sex & cigarettes, breathless in
Said temporary bed
Euphoria are we in tangled sheets
Soaked in pheromones and sweat
Our hearts both hammering in heat
Our silken skins darkened n' pale caress
As your arms embrace me we whisper contentment
Eyes locked we both see our growing
We've never experienced this type of intensity
This cacophony of Love's Scarlet Hue
You've brought out the best in me
No guttered flames or women now even
Compares to you
So many heart breaks and misery before
We become One (Two)
Preparing the Me I need to be
Before we say "I DO"
- Johnny Raven
the wind abused me today
while i was walking home from work
it screamed at me
to get going, move along
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR
it chucked dust in my eyes
and messed up my hair
it was loud and i began to cry
because my mind was also loud
and before i knew it, they began competing
i couldn't distinguish the difference between them
all i heard was
you're not good enough no one wants you
your mother doesn't love you you're a failure
waste of space waiting always waiting you're going
to spend your whole life waiting
what a pathetic little girl you are keep walking that's right
one foot after the other keep going don't stop
nothing will turn out how you want it to
you don't deserve anything good you never did you never will
and i just wanted to scream but i couldn't
sometimes i feel like if i'm quiet enough
then the physical silence will be like a lullaby
that will slowly lull the internal thunder
to hushed lightning
but that is rarely ever the case
i hate the wind
i hate this city
sometimes living gets so hard that it's a wonder
we all don't get a million dollar reward for living
through the worst hours, minutes, seconds
of our days
when we get so tired of existing but keep existing
how do we do it? how do we keep going like we do?
is it bravery or just necessity or just indifference?
i'm so tired
tired of existing
i just want to put ear muffs on and stay underneath
the covers forever
the hardest thing in the world
is being paralyzed with fear of the unknown
and living through it anyway.
can the cacophony of roaring waves
and the familiar sting of salty wind
my tired-of-fighting soul?
and can the soft light of sunrise (when no one suspects
me to take time to let envelop me) and the
snatch from my hand
these regrets I'm
I'm leaving for the beach Friday, so I'm not sure how much poetry I'll be able to write/post until I return. I may be gone a bit, but I might not! :)
locked away in agony.
a creature, aimless.
a clinking of chains.
bones turned ice.
limp greying skin
black fabricated manes.
lacking creature atony.
eyes white, lifeless.
scampering of mice.
face full of shames.
a hand made vise.
dings turn into a cacophony of squabbling in
letters, messages, calls, and texts, piling high,
unanswered and housing banal pleasantries.
Friends, family, acquaintances, oh my!
Tugging at my ears, begging for words,
always always always always always
asking asking asking asking asking
"how?" "how?" "how?" "how?"
"how?" "how?" "how?" "how?"
always always always always always
asking asking asking asking asking
I push a finger to my lips, hushing them, reverently
then I steeple my fingers with the grace and dignity,
deserving of my hands, the church. "Quiet, please."
Solitude is bliss, and isn't. Incessant whispers rising,
chirps turn to caws, claws to screams from murders,
for attention. Clucking at the hour, every single one,
ATTENTION. ATTENTION. NOW.
I will return, again, when my energy is regained
and I can sleep, and I can even dream of things!
then I will have food, be rested, get my strength,
a little flush in my cheeks, red marrow in bones,
and then prepare for a flood of fronted devotion
I dream in...
past hopes and future mistakes,
religious reveries and gilded heartaches.
I wake in...
a time I forgot and never learned
with muscles aching for what was yearned.
I shower in...
mana dropped from heaven
filled with visions, unleavened.
I clothe myself in...
fabrics of noir dyed in mystery
of what there is or what one might see.
I inspect myself in...
hopes of finding the hidden child
or seeing the old man going wild.
I meditate in...
the stillness between the sounds
feeling the earth and Her mounds.
I gather myself in...
the long journey to marbled halls
to bathe in the waters of Conceptus Falls.
I walk on in...
silent bliss amongst the cacophony
as my mind turns inward to utter sympathy.
I return in...
defiance of my captured soul
as it strains to escape from this tethered Shoal.
And close my eyes, once more, in...
tandem with the beats of this heart
as it slows itself into a peaceful restart.
A gray winter morning,
Cold and silent;
Shrouded in the gray mist,
Even the birds are sleeping.
I think of the great silences:
Lonely winding roads after dusk,
The quiet, leather-bound libraries,
The forever unsaid words…
From the lips of the newly dead;
And then, somehow, I think of you
Drifting somewhere in this wide world;
We are separated by a million hearts,
In the cacophony of voices,
Just two voiceless strangers,
With so much left to say.
I am a star, among the countless stars,
Frozen in a dark universe,
Utterly silent, oblivious
To the babble of the planets.
walking down park
or columbus do you ever stop
to think what it looked like
before it was an avenue
did you ever stop to think
what you walked
before you rode
subways to the stock
exchange (we can’t be on
the stock exchange
we are the stock
did you ever maybe wonder
what grass was like before
they rolled it
into a ball and called
it central park
where syphilitic dogs
and their two-legged tubercular
the corners and side-walks
ever want to know what would happen
if your life could be fertilized
by a love thought
from a loved one
who loves you
ever look south
on a clear day and not see
time’s squares but see
tall Birch trees with sycamores
and see gazelles running playfully
after the lions
ever hear the antelope bark
from the third floor apartment
ever, did you ever, sit down
and wonder about what freedom’s freedom
it’s so easy to be free
you start by loving yourself
then those who look like you
all else will come
ever wonder why
so much asphalt was laid
in so little space
probably so we would forget
the Iroquois, Algonquin
and Mohicans who could caress
ever think what Harlem would be
like if our herbs and roots and elephant ears
a cacophony of sound to us
the parrot parroting black is beautiful black is beautiful
owls sending out whooooo’s making love ...
and me and you just sitting in the sun trying
to find a way to get a banana tree from one of the monkeys
koala bears in the trees laughing at our listlessness
ever think its possible
for us to be
Nikki Giovanni, “Walking Down Park” from The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni. Copyright © 1996 by Nikki Giovanni.