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Bryan Dahl Jan 2013
When we were children
Were we given
A pile of wooden blocks?
To help us count
Add up, take away,
Spell our name and scream it out.
To build and balance
As tall as possible a tower.
And when it fell over
Rebuild and rebalance.
But so many of us just
Threw the blocks at each other
And cried when one hit us
In the eye

When we were given the oceans and sky,
It wasn't long before we had
Ruined more than we had learned-
A continent of gnarled, congealed plastic
Floating in our graying heaven's reflection.
And given the forests,
We build either twelve-room-summer homes or else
So many million disposable chopsticks.
We grew up unlearning and grow old crying while
Our children ask us
Why? Why? Why?
Were you so selfish for so long?
Children, blocks,
don't come with instructions.
Bryan Dahl Oct 2019
If in your lifetime, you don’t
want to see the world deteriorate
You have the right to abstain.

If you are with anything left to lose
In your lifetime, you can’t
Believe the government isn’t to blame.

If an artist,
see for the sake of art,
If an artist and partner,
See for the art of growing,
If an artist and seeker
Of truth and shelter grow weary,
If an artist and liar
Sit long by the fire outside the growing
Thunder, listening, lightning, hissing
Booing down from the balcony
Onto the stage,
Rising from the artist grave,
If you’re still watching,

Many delicate things have you
Smashed without noticing.
My clumsy hands give
Everything to hold some one thing
If trembling,
Shaking, Dropping,
Casting brutish shadows they offended,
Smashed aloof and nought is mended,
.........What the ******* liar call
Me sometime, so long, after all.
If you’ve not clumsy hands, my friends,
Please, stay on hold for ohms, amens.
Many more delicate things will smash.
No one noticing.

What’s the most beautiful thing in the world?
All such things, in this beautiful world,
Might remain very subjective.
But if I could code an experience into a thing,
Tchaikovsky’s siren with her strings,
In a sea beside the shore,
His loud 1812 overture,
The canon blasting overhead
Bellini’s casta diva’s secret
Roman love,
Sung colors of Cecelia lofted above
Sevilla and St. Petersburg,
And many more to be seen and heard,
But my love, the truth in this
Most beautiful loud world,
The sure subjective silent bliss,
This moment, present,
Sunset, holding your beautiful hand, our kiss.
Bryan Dahl May 2018
Street performers.

Busking. Panhandling. Begging.

An artist’s most submissive position.

Music’s all-powerful mystery beholden to pocket change.

Until a blind man, guitar in hand,

On the Blue Line platform,

Plucks from an unsuspecting heart

An unmistakable theme-

“What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?”

One bill and some coins in his collection basket,

A mysterious, gentle reminder-

Dynamics come wholly undone.

I drop in my all-powerful dollar,

All aboard the train.

Down here, I will

Write for the first time in nearly three years.
Bryan Dahl Jan 2015
Called Religion before Romanticism:
Darling Radha’s swing,
Pressing softly to her blue
Beloved Trickster’s skin.

Called dharma, grace, and savoir-faire
Confounding fated will,
Called freedom then for putting off
The destiny we fear.

From her swing I can believe
In good romantic faith-
While makers of a moment’s
Beauty, steal a tear away.

When I laid,
Bathing in the roaring spray
At the feet of the lower falls,
And wandered through soft blue
Volcanos guarding Atitlan.

When I watched,
Clouds burst from his fingertips
Cold war to choral glory,
Seid um schlungen Millionen!
An die Freiheit! An die Freude!

When I found,
A girl whose smile couldn’t hide her pain
Singing her song’s last echo,
At once the world was not the same, but...
How could I ever know.

How could I ever know...

After the West was won with lies
One man said, "God is dead."
I mute the TV from her swing,
Smile, and bow my head.
Bryan Dahl Sep 2015
Her singing reached a level deeper-
Nature's unspoken parameters sung.
The waves foamed and crashed
Their soulless masses on the shore,
But suddenly in rhythm with
Her song- did something more.

We could see then, the sea
Having nothing to hide, neither did she.
She simply sang.
But the sea would have nothing to say
Or so it seemed, until her song
Made poetry from its spray.

For it was her voice telling
Truth and story that given day.
Her music, more than the sea
Was how Mother Nature
We recognized, unmistakably.
Every time she sang.

The gray clouds given their silver lining,
The sun brought to its setting place and time,
Her sublime independent singing spirit
Personified sea, shore, and sky.
And we knew it every time she sang-
There was no other way or reason for her,
And for those like her, who only feel alone
When the music stops.
Bryan Dahl Dec 2014
Never bring frail, messy thoughts
Into the house,
Especially not into the bedroom.
Leave them outside,
Clean them outside.

Meditate, pray, give thanks, make love
All over the house,
But especially in the bedroom.
Keep them safe inside.
Come inside to their safety.
Bryan Dahl Oct 2018
don't be
anything but that
to which you are
most devoted
Bryan Dahl Feb 2013
Not the trip to Asia,
Not the new car,
Not the Pink Floyd anthology.
I was the last to know which gift
One day would mean the world to me.
I hated it.
Refused and wasted it.
For eight years my gift remained
A most abhorrent ball and chain,
And I’d be ******- a silly boy-
To think a wiser way.
But alone this gift can know
The soft, hidden heart of its most
Ungrateful recipient.

These gifts we give our children,
To help them find their hearts,
Could save the world before our eyes
If we had enough to spread
Around from the start.
I pray more kids could spend
Eight years hating their most precious gift…
Hating the mother's deaf determination,
the teacher's patient smile.
Hating their refusal to stop giving.
Because now, when I sit down
At a piano
Playing with this heart I found,
People slow down,
And listen.
And when I’m done sometimes
They say
That kid’s got a real gift.
Bryan Dahl Dec 2014
Two pointed crosses scabbed over
My Achilles tendons.
Left upright said, LOVE,
Inverted right said, HATE,
That I might never forget
Feeling too much of either
Would undo me.

Eleven years later,
I knew, I would know
Her by how she caressed
Both calloused words,
Like a wolfmate
Licking my wounds.
Bryan Dahl Feb 2014
I’ve always felt it’s a copout
To say there just aren’t words-
The words are never too far away,
But don’t they take their sweet time
Coming home.
If words could talk they’d often say-
Don’t wait up.

I’d like to think I have many friends in words,
But then I remember every time **** went down,
And ****! they skipped town.
I wonder where they are now,
Since my friend,
(insert here your beautiful name)...

I knew him well enough to know
There just aren’t words right now.

He just-
Killed himself.
He did- just **** himself- didn’t he.
Quietly excused himself from this life,
Committed to his side of paradise.

Keep repeating any set of words-
Eventually they’ll mean nothing.

I can’t say, of all the brilliant minds I’ve met,
Any words to do justice to his.
Because my words, whenever they decide to come around,
Will only layer so much saccharine frosting
On the fun fact that he just knew
Everything there was to know about everything.

I can say, I had, a friend
Who was on Jeopardy,
Who always managed to make me realize
How little I knew about everything,
And make me smile the whole time.
What more could you ask for?

Goddamit, you ******* brilliant coward *******.
I’m writing a poem about the fallacy of words
Instead of talking with you.
Because I knew you drank,
I knew you raged and resigned so many nights.
But didn’t I have my head further up my ***
The more I knew you were suffering.

I could never remember a friend
Getting me thrown out of a club in Prague,
Wandering with me through snow-covered Krakow
Searching for Schindler’s factory-
None of it- with more endearment now.

But, right now, I don’t care to remember
Any such endearing moments.
Because you took off and all the good words followed.
So to you, my dear friend, with all my love and regrets-
Here’s a drink, rage, and resignation,
Should you want it that way.
Bryan Dahl Jul 2014
Her name,
passing over your lips
like the cosmonaut's smile
at first sight of the Earth.

Since birth, she has been
swimming the stars, but still
never goes beyond dipping her toes
when the shoreline hisses withdraw.

As her earth gives
my sea his home, I wonder-

Would she let me
take her hand, gently,
walk her out a bit deeper.

Would she hold me, fiercely,
lift up from the wet sand,
her feet, trusting the sea, trusting me.

When earth, sea, and stars all hold each other dearly,
however distant they may be,
Her deepest fears all devoured
by a pack of wild ladybugs.
Bryan Dahl Nov 2018
Pick a song.

The rest will take care of itself.

The sleep will take care of you.

Breathe in deep the first note through every toe.

Lift-as in the space above.

Support- so through the strength below.

Remember the song through everything

And you can,

With your voice,

Weld each word

On the back wall,

Sparks flying with in the shape of the line.

Your interpretation of traditions,

Your rejection-

Don’t forget the words.

More importantly, Don’t

Forget what they mean.

What they don’t mean.

What they still mean.

If they still mean anything to you,

Finish the song.

Pick another song.
Bryan Dahl Jan 2013
Some holding out their hope
Others giving up their dead,
Some believing miracles,
More prefering risk-free will.
Some expecting disappointment
Find regret instead,
Some wait for Luck's return
In broken pieces, still.
Some in line against the wall
Wait with vacant eyes,
Some with kids who won't shut up
Just look down and sigh,
Far too many end their days
The way we first arrive.
Dead hopes and broken miracles,
Our televisions thrive.
Bryan Dahl Aug 2013
Five senses technically
A common physicality.
Distant sight and sound
Wave never mind themselves for now,
Faintest scent and mildest taste
Remembered anyhow, until
A touch so intimate
Can make all time and space, stand, still.
So the intimate will.

Only after my teacher’s words had touched me,
Did I love, love to write.
At once the masterpieces shook me,
The piano taught my hands to play.
What tastes and fragrances seduced and nourished
Every nerve, but not
Before I learned to feel
Their intimacy deserved.

These senses know your beauty
Knows no common physicality,
I need to know that beauty now
With every sense's hands.
Here, your intricacies rival poetry or piano-

How the color of your lips will
Pair the taste of your skin,
The depth of your sighs
Should I caress your back and feet,
The tone of your laughter
Should I tickle you instead-
Vengeful and defiant, or
A sense of pure joy-
So the intimate will be.
Bryan Dahl Nov 2013
Tonight would not bridge
Two ordinary days.
Her idea would ignite
His imagination and mould
From the raw clay a vision
Through the churning heavens.
The ballet crafting their bodies
Scene through scene,
She whispers,
He listens,
They lay, as spoons often do.
A last glance over
The flowers and the candle,
Out the window through
The rain, wind, and thunder
Lighting their creation’s sight.

Chasing her through the forest,
She lets him, almost catch her.
Dancing themselves into vines
In a canopy hidden from the wind’s
Muffled thunder.
There, in their haven lush,
Ensnaring so deeply, too soon.
And away he turns himself to stone.
Twisting too tight around
The indifferent mountainous statue,
She snaps herself
And by the time he’s felt it,
Soft enough to turn and see-
See another statue’s backside,
Cold clay remolding into stone.
He stretches himself thin to reach,
Her sepulchral touch lays him out.
She sits, straddles, stares him down,
The lightning cracks behind her eyes,
Splitting her stone heart
Clean through flame,
Incinerating their quiet canopy,

Rising into the storm.
Chasing her through the fire,
She lets him, fan the flames.
Two dancers' violent rhythm
Raging with every touch, until
A tear, or two,
Undo the flames,
Dropping with the rain all in everything,
They fall, fall, fall
Flooding down the mountain
Rushing through the cracks
Left behind in the stone,
Flowing together a river
Through the trees, out to sea.
As two make one body their own,
The currents churning through.

A spiral sparks the children’s learning,
The whirlpool to the maelstrom
Surging their liquid body up
The column that would
This time reach the storm.
The lightning cracks behind their smiles-
Their love undoes gravity’s condensation.
Through the clouds,
In each other’s arms,
The ballet crafting their bodies,

They lay, as spoons often do.
Bryan Dahl Jan 2013
It feels ingenuine
I can call myself a
writer, painter, pianist, singer
but when I create something
and want to share it with the world
I have to give it away.
It belongs to You now-
and it's your place to decide
whether or not
you are moved
or not.

And if you are
oh criticus prudentibus
You've made it- art.
Bryan Dahl Sep 2013
You understand what suits you,
Choosing from tailors present or past,
Preferring not the uniform.
Whose robes to **** this trip?
Adding their layers to the shadow below.

Fashion a style, accordingly-
Another fearless, determined Oxford man
In a pink suit.

Style a fashion, apathetically-
A filthy, disheveled coger, trudging
From one unmanageable apartment to another,
Writing music in his mind, never hearing it,
Changing the world forever.

Owning only a pair of each-
Black shoes, tights, and tops,
And seventeen scarves,
Wear your heart on your sleeve.
The most stunningly beautiful
Priceless accessory for spending
Retirement in Somalia
With the children.

Being choosy in dress and shadows,
Remember seasons
None too original, choose fear or love.
Suit yourself.

— The End —