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Jan 9 · 461
leaves - haiku
remnants of autumn
prepare to be swept away --
godspeed little ones
haiku leaves autumn swept godspeed
Jan 9 · 241
Savannah
Your sweet magnolia scent
mingles with the heat of my skin,
crushed petals clinging to wet hands.

“Let go. Let go,” I repeat,
a single iris flooded with tears,
memories trapped between pursed lips.

Stretched out on Georgia sands
where clay meets saltwater,
I finally whisper your name.
savannah georgia sand clay saltwater whisper magnolia skin memories
Jan 9 · 43
Ivy
Ivy
Ivy appears without warning,
carried by unsuspecting wings,
silently stealing nutrients, choking out air,
thriving in stagnation, sheltering vermin;

life strangling life.

Science has labeled her an invasive species,
emerald-flecked majesty gone wrong,
destroying all who dare stand in her path.
She reminds me of my mother.

I think she is beautiful.
Jan 9 · 56
erasure
“thus, art is subjective, as human beings
are not inherently objective creatures…”

the instructor says, and I nod,
drawing a caricature of her
in my notebook alongside
scribbles about the Willow Tea Room
and twentieth century Scottish architecture.

I pull the eraser out
of my mechanical pencil,
roll it between my fingertips,
feel the rubber heat up.
It is active, warm, useful—
everything that I am currently not.
I want to rub it on my skin,
obliterate myself from the day.

Instead, I erase the crude drawing,
replace it with notes on Neuschwanstein castle
and daydream of throwing myself from a turret.
art architecture drawing castle
Jan 6 · 387
San Francisco, 1992
Curling tendrils of tobacco haze
engulf the tiny space, hang like
ringlets over shots of whiskey
and mugs of warm beer. A solitary
dancer moves, bracelets janglin’
and eyes heavy with kohl, captures
old men in mid drink as her hips
sway to Nina Simone. Her bronze skin
glistens with the hot stares of the
audience; she soaks it in, twirls on
bare feet in perfect time as the
high priestess of soul bewitches
us with heavy grooves. I close
my eyes, tap fingers against glass,
whisper Nina’s words into the smoke
and breathe them back in again.
This is jazz, I think out loud,
this is pure unadulterated heat.
Jan 6 · 133
Playing with Jung
in dream-like states where
thoughts emerge from unconscious
whim, we carve stone sculptures
on opposite garden ends –

mine is a goat with webbed feet,
Carl’s is a duck with horns;
this is a meaningful coincidence

later, we play in the sand
with our wise inner figures;
he dances while I draw hearts
Jan 6 · 65
bridges
It used to be there, that magical place
where you and I sat and dangled poles into
frigid waters below; dreams of trout the
size of our heads perched precariously
in the form of worms on hooks. We laughed
and sang stupid songs while drinking soda
pop stolen from the five-and-dime. Life was
good when we looked down on the river
from that rickety old bridge. But we burned
that cliché down years ago, and now I fish alone.
Jan 6 · 294
daffodil
A jade shoot
springs forth from
clumps of soil,
braves the morning chill,
waits for Mother to cover her
with a little yellow rain hat.

Cradled by the sun,
she leans forward in a regal bow.
I poke around the old wine barrel,
tickle her brothers and sisters.

Wake, little ones. It is time.
Jan 6 · 39
regret
In dreams
I always do the right thing,
tell her who I really am
before I place the ring
on a delicate finger.
Jan 6 · 120
1972
In 1972,
Nixon shook hands with Mao
and the world turned its back on Taiwan.

In 1972,
Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka,
Okinawa returned to Japan,
and Jane Fonda became Hanoi Jane.

In 1972,
twin Olympics were held,
hungry tigers on wooden skis dashing
down the white slopes of Sapporo,
while the streets of Munich ran red
with the blood of slain Israelis.

In 1972,
Elvis was still the king,
Elton wasn’t quite the queen
and Prince was still a quiet teen.

On September 21, 1972,
Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos
placed my grandmother’s homeland under martial law.
I was born that day
while my grandmother wept.
Jan 6 · 165
missing
He lifts the needle
from the old 5th Dimension record

(a person can only listen
to One Less Bell to Answer
so many times)

crawls into their bed
closes his eyes

and for the first time in many many nights,
he allows himself to dream.
Jan 6 · 182
sanctuary
Candles flicker
with begged forgiveness,

each tender wick
a glowing reminder,

each drop of wax
a tear sliding down
the father’s cheek.

Having lit them all,
I wait for him to come.
Jan 6 · 328
after the flood
There was nowhere
left for her to turn,
after the rains
came and washed him away.

So she lay down
upon the softened meadow,
lost in a stream
of consciousness.

She tucked herself in
between the sheets of Ulysses
and dreamt with both eyes open,
eating lotus fruit and flowers
as the river widened its mouth.
Jan 6 · 237
insomnia
My eyes flick over the textured ceiling,
connecting dots and making patterns
like some kind of giant Rorschach test.

I surrender to cliché and tell myself that
if I can just get through the night
that tomorrow will be different,
that everything will be fine in the morning,
but the dawn rarely brings salvation.

I close my eyes instead and listen
to the sounds of owls awakening,
asking questions that have no answers.
I am acutely aware of my Adam’s apple,
its bobbing motion mirroring
that of my chest and stomach as I gasp for air,
submerged in the hot waters of the soaker tub.

I lean forward to turn the heat higher
and I can’t help but notice how old I’ve become.
My tough hands have become soft gloves,
my strong legs are weak little pins,
and my back is eager to loose its burden.

I see every discoloration, every errant spot,
every crooked joint, every scar or remnant of pain.
I lean back, sink further into the water,
hoping the mist will thicken even more
and hide my eyes from my own body.
Jan 6 · 313
Once
I remember
the two of us lying
under dogwood trees,
pink blossoms falling like snow
onto what I thought was love.

The sun was in my eyes
that day and every day after.

There is no need
to look back now,
I have no desire to wallow
in tears or pink snow.

I only wanted to say goodbye to you
once.
Jan 6 · 77
dreams of Monterey
Steinbeck’s restless ghost whispers to me
as I tiptoe along a stone seawall.
He steers me away from the bay
back to the old sandstone churches
built by native hands,

back to music festivals and artisan fairs
full of mild, white cheeses
and would-be novelists arguing
about Henry Miller’s tropics.

But I’ve grown tired of his whispering
and no longer wish to dream of these things.
I would rather descend into a watery haven.
I will wave goodbye to John
and I will run down sandy paths
that lead to the sea.

I wade into the depths and sink
into a canyon where kelp shivers
in underwater breezes,
and the only stars I see will be
suction-cupped to the rocks below.
Jan 6 · 19
always August
It was August, when the heat rose
as the sun stretched out its fingers
and you scrambled up the apple tree,
chasing after those last rays of summer.

I never followed, afraid of falling,
always tethered to the ground.
You teased me from your perch,
hanging upside down, your mouth
open with laughter

and oh how I wanted to touch you,
to tell you things, to kiss you.

We carved our initials
in that old gnarled tree;
“friends forever,” you said,
and we smeared blood from pricked fingers
over the living wood, sealing the pact
with a handshake and two lopsided grins

and oh how I wanted to touch you again,
to tell you things, to kiss you.

But it was August, always August,
when the fruit fell from the trees
and smoke lingered over scorched hills.
Your initials remain, carved
upon my secret heart,
though you would never chase me
like you chased after that blistering sun.
Jan 6 · 36
winter, 1981
shattered snow globes
leak scenery
onto checkered linoleum

Mother comes in with the broom.
I hide behind the sofa with Cat.
Jan 6 · 19
Five
–the press of your hand
on the small of my back

the taste of your sweat
mingled with cheap beer

the smell of Old Spice
on freshly shaved skin

the delicious crack of my skull
against our old headboard

the sight of your toes flexing
and curling in pleasure–

I hold onto these things
as you are letting go.
Jan 6 · 159
morning glory
Gossamer draperies swell
with heat, eastern winds
push daylight
over tangled bodies.

Fingers travel up
and down your naked torso,
my hand caught suddenly
in yours as you stir,
a sleepy god awakened
by the warmth of morning.

Your body, a sundial,
keeps perfect time with mine;
two lovers cached in silken strands,
our sacred place now fully lit
with the hunger of summer.

The solstice lingers past its prime,
drifting over equator
and into southern skies
as autumn patiently waits
outside the bedroom door.
Jan 6 · 312
June
She steps
in tune
with night,
with moon,
to trace
the runes
of power.

July,
too soon,
will come—
she’ll swoon,
her lands
festooned
with flowers.
Jan 6 · 606
master/piece
She moves him ‘round the chess board,
dodging bishops, pawns and rooks.
She coaxes him from square to square
without a second look.

The white knight cannot catch him.
Piece by piece, the foe now yields.
Her king is safe; the game is done.
The queen controls the field.
Jan 6 · 140
Him
Him
I am small like a child,
wet face pressed
against a massive chest.

His arms crush me gently,
wrap me in a shroud
of sinew and bone

as the smell of bourbon
and musk fills my nostrils.
His breath feathers lightly

across the top of my head;
reassuring whispers
tickle my spine

and tell me
I am not wicked,
I am not a useless, hopeless thing.

I am perfect and flawed.
I am loved.
It is enough.
Jan 6 · 299
There is No December
The cold hands of January
grasp at February’s promise,
the warmth of March
always just out of reach.

You rub my shoulders,
kiss away the ache
as April continues her rain
over gentle, submissive May.

We sing the song of the whippoorwill,
its haunting anthem spilling
out across the valley floor
when June gives in to July

and August crowns the summer sky.
September will leave
when the colors bleed,
October betrayed by the coming frost.

What will you do
when November comes,
when ice and pain
move in to claim my breath?

Comfort me.
Smile with me.
Lie to me.
Tell me there is no December.
robin’s-egg blue walls
contain two empty shells—
one lamp on, one lamp off
four eyes open
both minds closed
Jan 6 · 106
May to December
Two lovebirds snuggle
in the shade of a weeping willow,
oblivious to chastising honks
of Canadian geese.

Blushing buds begin to bloom,
swollen with anticipation
as the solstice draws near
and blood boils beneath the skin.

Weathered voyeurs train watchful eyes
on the short-lived marriage of the flesh,
scoffing at the consummation of seasons,
knowing the fickle nature of the sun.

When the geese fly south, so will he.
Jan 6 · 237
cherry blossoms
pink snowflakes
litter my front lawn

they will melt away
under the watchful eye
of a summer sun

leaving only a stone
surrounded by fruit
Jan 6 · 211
When I Was 18
I impatiently waited tables
trying to earn enough money
to keep my apartment
filled with cheap beer
and expensive drugs.

There wasn’t much else to do
in that stuffy little town
with one intersection.
The air was fine
as long as you didn’t breathe.

I watched my friends and neighbors
watch me from a close distance,
separated by a parking lot
and an eternity of sins
that no one wanted to talk about.

When I was 18,
I kissed a boy
and told him we were going
to get married some day.
He laughed at me.

I picked out a tux anyway.
It was white. I wanted to wear white.
Jan 6 · 204
Calliope
I cast the muse into the sea
to wake her from a peaceful sleep.
This poet’s quill is void of ink;
it needs her words to strike the page.

She’ll fight the waves Poseidon sends
til Sirens drive her back to shore
to sip an oleander brew
and hoist the cup of Socrates.

Bring wolfsbane and a death morel!
Bring nightshade and curare too!
We’ll fatten her with woe and pain!
We’ll ready her for war and hate!

She’ll writhe and quiver, seethe and foam
until she spews her putrid verse
upon the blackened sands of time
from which men’s darkest dreams are built.

And when the gods are satisfied,
when Ares’ sword has slashed and burned,
this poisoned pen will rest at last.
Calliope shall sleep once more.
Jan 6 · 178
redux
It ended before it began.

I think that’s how the saying goes.
It was for the best, I’m sure.
I’d have broken my own heart
and not let you pick up any of the pieces.

But before I hug you, wish you the best,
and tell you to stay in touch
as we part amid a myriad of clichés,
I have one grain of truth to share:

You made me feel beautiful again.
Jan 6 · 293
Heaven
If Heaven does exist,
I wonder if a sun shines there.

It seems an awfully cold place to me,
locked away behind those pearly gates,
supported by clouds.

I wonder if so much whiteness is good
for the soul, for the eyes, for the mind—

surely, there is some sort of fire up above
to balance that below.

I wonder if I would know the difference
between the heat of His love
and the heat of what He has created.

If Heaven does indeed exist,
I hope it is orange and yellow and red.
I hope it is warm.
Jan 6 · 148
a song, at midnight
His whistling rises with the moon;
softened trills and murmurings
grow louder in the dusking sky,

drift across my ceiling, down
into my waiting ears.

A halo of satisfaction rings his face,
sweat drying on his chest
as he leans back upon my balcony.

I gather his things
and place them by the door.
I know this tune is not meant for me.

But I listen to it, still,
and dream of my hands
tangled in his soft feathers.

Who will sing me to sleep
when the nightingale is paired?
Jan 6 · 247
beachcombing
At high tide, the sea ejects
foam and glass fishing floats.

We wait for the waters to recede,
tiptoe around anemones and *****;
I spot a small green globe.

She says it belongs to a Japanese goddess,
her eyes plucked out by a vengeful lover
and cast into the deep.

I see only an old sake bottle
crafted into a sphere,
etched with sand and netting patterns.

Tomorrow, I will look for agates
while she searches for the goddess’s other eye.
Jan 6 · 240
down the rabbit hole
She told me over dinner one evening
that I should switch to white wine—
less tannins and calories, she claimed.

I smiled and shook my head,
a vintage cabernet stubbornly clinging
to my bleached white teeth.

The next day I found a couple bottles
of chardonnay chilled in the fridge,
a note tethered to one’s neck:
Drink Me!

I did not.
Four months later,
we signed divorce papers;
she packed her things and left.

I drank the chardonnay that last night,
dizzied by the herringbone pattern
of the old parquet floor, and wondered
what would happen if I ate our frozen cake top.
Jan 6 · 72
Samhain
The veil thins;
I light a candle and wait
for you to come home.
Jan 6 · 91
haiku #1
beneath the rowan
a red kite
broken
Jan 6 · 91
moonrise
Cicadas gather on the grapevine,
a mass of wings and vibrating abdomens.
Males call out to females
but it is the grey squirrels who answer,
chattering loudly as they feast on insect flesh.

I sip cold wine and tap my fingers
on thin glass, watching and waiting.
My phone buzzes next to me;
you, calling, again.
I ignore it and turn my gaze back to the feast.
Jan 6 · 302
the mourning dove
At first light, I turn my head
towards an open window
and listen to the dove’s lament.
I know his pain. I know his cry.

He weeps in such a way
that makes me wish
I could answer,
but only God or another dove
can heed that call.

I turn my head away from the window,
pull warm covers back over my ears
and wait for him to fly away.
Jan 6 · 78
like me
I can hear the fir trees cracking and breaking
in the night, their tired limbs laden
with ice and the weight of a new year.

I know that if I look out the window I will see
needles scattered over frozen ground
like lost little children,

like me.
Jan 6 · 53
Columbia
Daydreams drift into vivid memories,
shadowed thoughts of "remember when"
grow bright with a gasp
as I dip my feet into the icy river.

The new road used to be old riverfront
and the only travelers were ducks and geese.
We skipped school and skipped rocks,
chased each other with lightsabers
made of twigs and fishing twine.

I flex wrinkled toes and dig further
into the cold sand, feel the pulse
of the river mingle with my own.
A toy boat flounders on the shore,

its torn sail flapping in the breeze.
I rescue it from the rocks,
patch it up with twig and twine
and set it free.

— The End —