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Erik Ervin Dec 2012
I heard birds chirping this morning.
I wondered if birds conduct sonnets to other birds in their little bird languages.
Maybe there is a bird tongue considered "French" of bird tongues.
All romance and delight and cheese and devoid of home.
They speak soft when chirping of flights South
and loud of thawing North.

Are they dissatisfied?

Does flight seem like walking?

On the bus I hear chatter.
The workday not over. Wake up
get back to work. If you pause
remember you are a failure.

If you invest, call it working.
Unless it is French, do not pronounce anything that is not English correctly.
Condemn those who make mistakes at what you do not know how to do.
Say it is easy. Say you could do it better.
Don't try.

Fly South for the winter. Eat cheese by the fire. Pay a thousand dollars to hunt pheasants in an enclosure.
Give your son a hundred dollars.
Tell him to take her "somewhere nice."

Kick him out when he takes him "somewhere nice."

Watch people swoon at your feet; hate you; want to be you.
Hate people who want nothing you offer to give them.
Act as if the offer is a debt.
Give gifts and ask for a return on your investment.

Are your hands soft?

Are your wings weak?

Is there anything else you need
Erik Ervin Nov 2012
There is nowhere you would rather be.
You cannot sleep.
Blame the coffee.

Lay there.
Her stomach rises and falls

Close your eyes
remember the waves you first learned to love
how they washed up and down your four year old body.

She rolls to you,
murmurs something you cannot make out,
you ask what was said
it is the same muffled whisper

touch her arm
kiss her shoulder
she comes closer.

You recall this honest twisting of lips
forgot how easily it came

Close your eyes
that first touch of a basketball
the excitement flowing through legs
dribbling your way forward

Open your eyes
find hers gazing upon you

she awoke to snoring
says she’ll be in the next room

Blame the cigarettes

she asks to be awoken when you do

hear her in the hall
in the bathroom
going into the next room

close your eyes
Erik Ervin Oct 2012
A dark hallway at the end a door with light underneath.
Better men say Open it.
Better men, better inside.
Worse men say Wait, but open it.

Inside find axes and crows.
Everything a way to strip bare.
Better men leave them in sight.
Worse place them away.

Morning leaves no light to claim.
Sorrow comes, disappointment after a farewell of arms.
Soldiers lost in a cause reach for weapons not there.
They run, bare-******, unsure if a path of survival.

They chase sorrow into night.
Some come upon forest, become muffled from sight.
Others reach lake, creating in its depths.
Many run into prairie, where all is empty.

Better men say Run before morning.
Safer to flee under dimness of stars.

Worse men say Wait until sunshine.
In dawn's hands strip what remains to nothing.

Worse men feel they are not worse men.
Better men say *I am worse man.
Erik Ervin Oct 2012
For Sam Cook and Michael Lee*

While standing at Marshall and 140th
the lightning over the horizon begs me to come to it
it's like the flickering streetlights, seeming like silent firefights,
simply asking to be looked for.

When I still elementary,
I used to watch the sky as the bolts shocked the earth
and I'd count:
Until I heard the boom and crack of thunder
three miles away, at least, the fourth graders said each second was a mile
it could have been true, it could have not, yet still I watch the light.

The flickering of the fading streetlamp tells me that this moment is not going to last forever
that it will not be heavenly or touchable, but it is there
and it wants you to touch the light as it flickers like a strobe light
like kids playing with the tabs of flashlights
and like the first discovery of light switches

and I'm reaching out so far.
Trying to grab hold of a piece of simplicity,
of normal,
of what I can always find:
Mistakes and wounds
and trying to hold on

Because lately, it seems like the only places we want to flicker are in the clubs.
Standing on a planet where illness and difference are cause enough to torch cities.
We like to light the fires and we like to watch them burn,
but we could care less about what their burning
and it seems like the dark ages came and stayed,
But like tributes to Guy Fawkes say:
A man can be killed and forgotten,
but four hundred years later an idea can still change the world

So I think as I stand at that intersection
watching the streetlights and the night's light bulbs flicker on and off like the light in my head
I can feel my fingertips prickle and I seize that moment to reach for the lamppost and final destination

those kids are flipping tabs faster and faster
my hair is at attention
and I can feel the race.
For a second,
everything slows down.
The streetlight stops flickering as my fingertips come upon it
and the lightning illuminates the sky
I can feel the breeze push my hair to this minutes path
and for a second,
I have something.

I pull my fingers away from the light and it returns to its flicker
the lightning fades away
and the boom comes in.

And here, standing at what once for me was Marshall and 140th
I realize,
that all I have
is all
I'll ever claim to know
Erik Ervin Oct 2012
Wet newspapers strewn in the yard
fire burning in dry season
marshmallows in dirt
glistening starlight reflections in hose-water
glass cut feet
soil gripping hands
soldiers that do not wish to be called soldiers
cigarette butts in grass
Erik Ervin Sep 2012
Your smile says
your load is large.
when alone
Your room feels like a crater
feel ******
Questions regard beer
or cigarettes

No one wants to know
How you are
Just chug and run

This is slow dance
In the darkness of night
I feel how your eyes
wished for naught on an unknown number of stars

When asked if you still believe.
You say:
The only way I sleep
Is knowing I've asked nothing
For something

In the yard
I see they
ask for nothing
we wish for everything
don't expect the granting of anything

Nothing comes of it
Yet, we cast wishes at the sky
Not knowing where to aim

I imagine this is why people pray
Wishes are mobile,
two quarters in my pocket

My sister and I
Throw them off the balcony
Into the grass of campus
We make it our wishing well;
night sky
Neither of our wishes come true
It seems the wish casts back our chances

In the morning
I toss dozens of quarters
Into the grass on my way to school
Nothing will ever last as long as I keep wishing

I remember how you told me
*if the sun cannot make you calm when it has risen before you have
maybe if you rise first
You may be able to catch the dew as it collects on flowers
Maybe this will let you breathe easy
lighten your load
keep you from wishing on
That owe you nothing
Erik Ervin Sep 2012
I don’t like how
this morning is
too easy
open up an old book
it is never the same
this is full and empty
I cannot find the in-between
just darting to and from
gluttonous and starving
I once found the in-between
held it closer than she holds hair
I straddle quest
I straddle settled
the only time we find the answers
is when we empty bottles
empty is just the other side of full
we crack bottles
over tombstones
they shatter
not full
nor empty
I am trying not to mourn destruction
I don’t want to capture
just earn
not full
nor empty
just be
I don’t like how
the last time we kissed
we were not cataclysm
nor inertia
I am trying to get back to her
without asking her to find me
not knowing how full our contents might be later
I know we’re empty,
pretending we are sailboats
filling out linens with as much misery as we can
calling it moving forward
in the corner of this body of water
I feel the breeze run through my hair
her fingers used to run through my hair
When the breeze comes
I tie the jib so I might reach somewhere else.
When I reach somewhere else it is
not different
from what had been left.
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