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Feb 2019 · 118
This Howling, Monster Will
featherfingers Feb 2019
This howling monster will eat
me alive; that is no question.
My bones will grind between
its teeth, white powder in a void
black maw. I can feel its breath
on my neck, wet and hungry
like a teenage boy in the dark.
This howling monster will not be
satisfied with surrender; only sunder
will fill its canyon belly. It can
rest no moment until it is fed.
Those eyes are too full of souls.

This howling, monster will cannot go
quietly,
              growling I EXIST
                                              until its throat burns.
I feel like this is my first poem in years. I think it probably is.
Jun 2016 · 1.3k
The Milk Man Died Last Week
featherfingers Jun 2016
The milk man died last week.  I didn't
know him well, just enough to know his favorite
chew and how much he hated Fritos.

I knew his lover and her worn-out
windbreaker, her frizzled hair as gold
as her Marlboros.  I sold her a pack of silvers

once and she nearly snapped my neck.
They take (took?) their tobacco dead
seriously.  She hasn't come back

to work yet, though her five allotted
days of grief are over.  The empty
milk crates just aren't empty anymore.
Rick, you really ****** me up man.  Even if you were kind of an ***.
May 2016 · 1.0k
Priestess of the Night Shift
featherfingers May 2016
I am two:thirty heat lightning.
Inconquerable flashes of my elemental fury
leap from grumbling cloud to dewy earth,
dancing naked under a smoky moon. I am a burning
offering to the sodium lamp sentinels looming golden
over black tar; there is tobacco sown
into my every pore.  I am the underestimated
weight of fog rolling off the meadow's swollen calf
river, the heavy lowing of labor pains, the thick
croak of the year's last bullfrog. I am the first
crunch of dying light, the gray tinge of wood smoke
on chlorophyll burned red. The sting of my icy breath
creeps into sleeping eyelids, through every crack
in waterlogged armor.  My frosty four o'clock
is no place for strangers.  The frozen silence
does not know my strength.  I will bend the world
with feet of glass.  In time, the weight will break
my own limbs, expose their green, soft meat.

I am the green shoots of daffodils sharp,
triumphantly cleaving the rested dirt.  There is yellow
warpaint across my forehead, a crown of blistering elegance
glazed by wings of stubborn three:thirty ice. I am resilient
and eternal—perennial—blooming to a cold, white moon.
you will never break my spirit, world.
May 2016 · 1.5k
Anglerfish
featherfingers May 2016
I never liked beets; too soft, too red
too round, too bulbous,
too much like a bloodmoon.

I cannot live in these shaman
sleeves. They're heavy as rocks beneath
the waves, soaked to the bone
by a salty, sunless sea.  Too much
blue is bleeding into billowing wool, red as beet.

There's never an anglerfish
when you need a light, no beetbulb of flame
for that last rush of smoke before the black
undercurrent squeezes the air too thin.
Dec 2014 · 878
Cats in Heat (1)
featherfingers Dec 2014
My hair smells like you--
Old Spice and popcorn smudged
lips.  Hold the butter.
I want grease dripping
from your palms, a salt
sea of foamy yellow.  We
reject kernels bob along
unpopped, burnt, steamed to bursting
refused the right to blossom.

The neighbors have a noisy truck
spitting exhaust onto my rear
window. Gray. Hazy. Ugly
as the reason you're covered
in glitter.  You taste like gin
and ginger, orange tea and cold
chai latte, notebook paper
in a dark coffeehouse.
The elves are holding hands
but your hand is on my *** and
this movie's boring--wood
pannelling in a split-level apartment
above your father's bathtub.

Your mother wouldn't like me.
She's a ***** anyway.  You tell me
she can't cook because she can't
subtract.  But you're no good
at math either, lovely boy. Double
your handprints on my ***.
Curl your toes to the three-four swirl of my hips.
that last line is weird. it bothers me.
Sep 2014 · 1.1k
Open Your Eyes, Saul
featherfingers Sep 2014
I am exhausted
with the weight of my
bones, with the weight
of your bones
in my arms.

You fell to your knees
in the dust of the road,
gathered dirt in tiny whirlwinds
around you and begged

to know why your robes were filthy.
The brightest streaks you had left
were where our tears dripped
into the handsewn folds.
You cried for your blindness,
I cried for your tears.

We sobbed to the moon—
to Diana, Elatha—
the only gods we atheists could stand;
their crescents smiled on us.
You covered your head while I
danced in the tear-stained
dirt, sandals tickling the edge
of the high road, sending
little rocks over and down
onto the sandy heads of camels

below. I laughed while
you wailed and when I knelt
to pull your hands into mine
you shrank
into your whirlwinds of mud,
crying, “Wicked!”,
hissing, “Harlot!”
the official version has indents but I'm too lazy to deal with them in these idiot editors that won't take a ******* tab input.
Sep 2014 · 1.3k
Bonesaw
featherfingers Sep 2014
You are hollow and sharp--
        not exactly hollow, but full of holes
        where your guts should be.

You are rust and cruelty,
all ancient bloodstains and missing
hunks of steel.

You are afraid of your angles
        the wicked serrations of your tongue.

You lick your own wounds
to taste blood wondering if
it really tastes like you at all
or more like the leftover bits of flesh
still stuck between your crooked teeth.

        But you don't frighten me, Bonesaw;
               your razor blade arms are nothing but home.
Jun 2014 · 769
Ren Faire Shakespeare
featherfingers Jun 2014
Photograph by Michael J. Sullivan, 2010*

Listen up, you little *****, and let me
teach you a thing or two.  See this skull here,
poised and serene?  How do you know it’s poised?
It’s dead, for Christ’s sake! The only thing it’s
poised on in the edge of this stump—“ye olde
dead tree” holding “ye old dead head.”  He had
a name, you know—Yorick—I didn’t make
that up. I knew him; good friend of my mum’s.
     This sword here could have been what ran him through,
you know.  Coulda got him straight through the gut,
and you’re all sittin’ here admiring its
craftwork.  It’s the fancy hilt, isn’t it,
the bright metal chasing its own tail in
golden loops.  Warm yellow over cold steel,
that’s what you people like—spectacle, shine—
not dust and history, like Yorick over here.
     You don’t mind if I smoke, do you?  Only
thing these candles are good for, really.  They’re
tallow—stinking, smoky fat made by Jen
on her weekends off.  She doesn’t know much
about candles, but her *****’s Special
Draft is the best mead made for this dung heap.
     Anyway, I gotta ****.  Leave Yorick
with your tips, and remember: what glitters
here isn’t gold, just paint over old age.
Ekphrastic poem, written in blank verse.
May 2014 · 1.2k
Of Dogs and Hares
featherfingers May 2014
I have never needed you
more than right now, in this very
moment, covered in blood and ticks
and grass.  You must hear me thumping,
beating my need on dead stumps that smell
of your **** and gunpowder.
I need you. I have always needed you.
Your teeth slit my fur and I need you
still. Your mouth is my everything,
the warm safe of heat dragged straight
from your lungs with a rattling wheeze.
I don't know I just have a lot of feelings tonight. Inspired by Rebecca Hazelton's poem series on Fox and Rabbit in a way
May 2014 · 356
Days of 1999
featherfingers May 2014
You are standing in the rain, humming
nonsense.  They won’t let you
carry a Walkman to the bus stop yet,
knowing you’d be stupid enough to throw
it away accidentally with your lunch.
Your mother packed a spoon for your soup
last week. It is still in your pocket,
or did you throw that out too?

Why can’t you remember things like that?
You’d forget your little pig-tailed head
if it weren’t sewn on to your neck
and held there with itchy turtleneck
collars. Your mother markers your address
into everything, in hopes that someone
might send back the things you’ve lost.

You’re busy finding other things, I guess—
like the loose corner to the grated storm
drain where you wait for the bus every morning,
almost loose enough to crawl under.
Or the miniature floods when the snow melts
and you can feel the rush of fast water
over the cheap “leather” boots on your feet
while you stand there, on a storm drain,
humming in the rain and stomping in cold, wet socks.

Remember when your mother stopped walking you to the bus?
          She does; and she remembers following behind on rainy days with the car,
                    just in case you got too damp.
May 2014 · 551
Ink
featherfingers May 2014
Ink
bleeds through pages, soaking
black and heavy into strings of wood
stretched to breaking, pressed too tight.
Others are scratched into open wounds,
dyeing blood reds magenta
as they crust into scars.  Permanent.
Names painted in defiance

for the greater good.  Thoughts
called into being by blues
and reds, and greens, and
halting greys as they spill
their living guts onto pages lines
with ink.  Printers’ ink, that is—

different from all the other kinds.
Lighter, duller, marking things no one
should cross.  Making boundaries.
Those inks are too cold to bleed,
too stiff and flat to stain a **** thing.
They refuse to sing because

they are broken, full
of tiny gaps and little pores.
May 2014 · 8.5k
Nuclear Puppies
featherfingers May 2014
Based on a painting, "Nuclear Puppies", by Julie Nagel, 2001*

You’re a mutant, you know—
got funny dog babies sprouting
out of your head like they were
ears.  Those copies of your face

look up at a sky of ashy gray,
perked and tense.  Are you listening
to yourself?  What choir
of dog-eared deformities

sings to you?  Maybe they should have
howled louder before we dropped The Bomb.
Maybe the yellow caterwaul of their
melting butter bodies would have stayed our hand.

I doubt it though.  
This is what we do. We burn things.
We tinker, adding and subtracting until
what’s left is blasphemy—until what’s left is

you.  A yellow almost-dog, a sagging
body with melted flesh where there should
be fur. Sad monster; beg your alms
from the atomic Frankensteins who made you.

Your skyward eyes are bright, still happy
anywhere but here.  But your abominable
body lies here staring into gray space with
Alpo still sticky on your nose, wet, brown snow.
featherfingers May 2014
She’s scrubbing dishes too hard in our gutted sink;
the garbage disposal has been coughing up bile,
black coffee grounds still stinking of Jameson.

It was cold last weekend, so I’d made her a treat—
coffee as Irish as her mother’s on Christmas Eve
after all seven children went grumbling to bed.

But I spiked the percolator rather than her cup.
So she’s scouring the coffee ***, scraping
rusted filaments of wire wool over black-stained

Inox Steel, erasing my mess.  I try to kiss her cheek
as I squeeze behind her to toss another can in the trash.
Her hunched and weighted shoulders are cold

and she ignores me. Drenched with the tiredness
of soapsuds and bleach, eyes red and dripping,
hands perfumed with ammonia, her body folds.

I smile a smile of false teeth and true love,
awestruck at the bubbles that cling to her elbows.
She is beautiful, cracked and exhausted.
May 2014 · 511
On Hangnails
featherfingers May 2014
Some fingers have this tendency
to crack, snag, and rip themselves
to shreds.  A flurry of something like daisy
petals cling, infinite single cell threads
waiting for the right he loves me
not to fall apart.

Some fingers shed their tired
ridges in fluttering crescent smiles
peeling from the edges of soft pink nails.
They pull away like feathers ruffled
out of place in a sudden updraft,
bent at too-sharp angles.

Finger skin was always the strongest,
never flaking just because, but for the effort
of work and teeth.  Those hangnails bleed
strength.  They drip patience, hours
of work in restaurant sinks,
needlepoint and dresses.

They bleed music, lullabies.
A chorus of little sopranos sing
to tiny babies in cribs built
by driftwood scratched bone-smooth
and tough as chainmail.
May 2014 · 406
A(nti) Self Portrait
featherfingers May 2014
I am not a sparrow
whose wings flap in perfect form,
whose voice is pure, delicate and soft,
who sings rondeaux to the shining morning.

I’m no nightingale either,
who guides through ink-soaked nights,
who warbles a mourning lay to the shadows,
who beckons with a bone-white feather draped over hollow nerves.

In fact, I cannot fly at all.
There’s always been this crippling
fear of falling, failing, drowning, etc.,
that’s kept me firmly on solid ground.

I am not grace,
that ease my mother named me for,
that Princess my dad always assumed she’d meant
that prayer whispered by hungry throats on Christmas Day.

I think I’m closer to an ostrich—
tripping, dancing on legs too spindly
to balance the feathered majesty
above, dashing farcically from lions.

But not quite.
I am not quite Me.
She would be a sledgehammer, indestructible.
She would have a voice that rang like steel falling heavy on iron.

And She would be painted yellow—
like a finch, or a canary.
May 2014 · 1.5k
Peacock Necklace, Hanging
featherfingers May 2014
His brass-plated nickel twists—
a tangled rope looping on itself
         looping around a thumbtack
looping around your throat.

Teardrop gems in brass saucers
fall in jangling rivulets, streams
of crystalline blues. Wrung
from shades of sky, cloudless
summer and midnight indigo,
they shape-shift in shadows
                                    drip—
                         drip—
          dripping from the s-curve
of a bronze body crusted
in blues, blacks, and greens.

A flower is carved under
each jewel, a map of a bird’s nest—
                  a map to a bird’s nest,
           like he might forget in the small,
                  dark hours of the morning where he belongs.

                  Home is not dangling from a bookshelf.
           Through lamplight and sunlight
his stares due west.
May 2014 · 4.1k
Obedience
featherfingers May 2014
Come here girl, you know there’s no point
in skulking.  This is what you deserve.  You know
I’m not responsible.  It’s not my fault
you can’t cook right.  Don’t hate me
for my sense of duty.  
                    You’re so frail;
even that chicken-wire crosshatched skeleton
can’t hold you up.  Get my newspaper.
                    There’s  simply no point in weeping.
May 2014 · 408
Darling, this is Goodbye
featherfingers May 2014
Sometimes, I thought your eyes looked waterlogged,
wet enough to pour floods of biblical
proportion.  I knew you as an ocean;
you slipped through knobby fingers with each pulse.
You growled like waves, and growling, you beat salt
into sunburn with the ferocity
of three thousand hurricanes—no more, no
less.  My palm fronds will always sway for you.

But you never swayed, stayed, or even said
what you meant as your whitecap words washed blind
over coral.  You stung though, full of bone
shards and plastic.  Let’s face it, you’re filthy.
You smell like oil and death. Your rotting weeds
strangle the pilings of flimsy gray docks.
Jan 2014 · 530
Ghosts in the Snow 2.0
featherfingers Jan 2014
Bare skeletons cast their shadows
from your temporary closets, and bruise
your casual grins with their bleached-bone fists.
You left
here this morning with a carry-on
just to find three bags checked in your name.


Someday your luggage will know
continents, leaving trails
of letters, love songs and photographs.
You will not see these places,
these ancient beauties,
like she did, through the dust
of your travels
beaten grey from army green foot lockers.


Little white tags crumble dates
and loneliness into your sheets.
Your smiles come slower; your tendons ache
in their restless sleeps.
The years of calloused fingers
fumbling latches in the dark
leave your nails jagged
and ******.


But you carry her voice in your suitcase always
knowing her weight would sink into your bones.
A redux of "Ghosts in the Snow".  hashtag new year new me
Dec 2013 · 1.1k
Happy X-mas (War is Over)
featherfingers Dec 2013
So this is Christmas
and what have you done?

John purrs the question
through tiny
crackling speakers
begging responsibility
from the irresponsible at best,
begging for peace
and a season of rest.

I lost a war, John;

I tripped on hope and arrogance
and earned forty six new badges
of valor;
I fell from the rafters of a fantasy bridge
to the cold reality beneath
and I broke bones--
ribs and femurs,
radii and hum'rouses.

I have met Marc Antonys and Brutuses,
Pagliachis and Heathcliffs,
and met them in myself.
I have sobbed into futons
ripe with nachos and socks
and I curled in another's arms
wishing they were yours.

I have loved and lost
and saw God in a graveyard;
come down from dopamine dreams
to black widows in my sheets.
I have tried and failed and given up,
found the one mistake
I'll always make
and the one perfume I'll always hate.

I lost a war
I never had the guts to fight.
So this is Christmas, John,
and I'm still a mess.
Dec 2013 · 767
Hot Tea and Cigarettes
featherfingers Dec 2013
If I had to guess
I'd taste like hot tea and cigarettes--
bittersweet and grey
with a menthol burst.
I'm a coughing fit
at 4am, when you're too cold
to sleep and lonely again.

If I had the guts to guess,
I'm the itch in your solar plexus
just south of your heart
and insignificant,
until the arctic wind sweeps
the breath from lungs
in a hazy puff of body heat.

It sounds terrible,
cancerous , at best,
but if you asked me to guess
(since you'll never let me know)
I'd bet your kiss, too,
tastes like hot tea and cigarettes
in the middle of the night.
This is what happens when I procrastinate during finals week lolololololol
Dec 2013 · 487
Untitled #6
featherfingers Dec 2013
A friend of mine told me
I was in love
with you, of all people--
my jaded romantic,
hopeless and cynical,
fictitiously crafted.

I told her she was wrong
emphatically--
that I didn't fall
(in love or otherwise)
for boys like you,
uncertain and determined
to be anything and everything--
mostly because I refuse
to allow you to be right.
playing with enjambments as a break from my finals.  otherwise, a silly piece.
Nov 2013 · 885
Woody Heather
featherfingers Nov 2013
The evenings cold enough to require a sweater
but still too warm for the biting winter wind,
to cut through our clothing
like hot knives through butter;
these are the not-quite nights,
the dusks of the almost-autumn
and the too-late summer,
with the drizzle dripping requiems
for sunshine longings and July dreams.

These are the nights that I am torn
between walking alone with the chill in my bones,
sedate with the cold but alive,
or begging for a body
to drift alongside,
radiating an unreciprocated warmth;
someone with hands stuffed
into night-bitten pockets,
too cool and stiff to really chatter
but hoping for the shared sympathy
of frozen, rain-speckled skin.

We are gliding across the fallen leaves--
the dying brethren of the trees--
that crackle slow beneath our feet
like summer candy wrappers, drifting.
But we’re still slowly freezing,
shrugging threadbare shoulders
under threadworn sweaters
that still reek of the past.
And we’re still gently waltzing,
disinterested fingers on uninteresting waists
trampling scarlets and golds under
careless heels in three-four beats.

As the twilight fades into ink,
a hollow, whispering breeze reminds
of the clouded distance between us
and the heavy, rain-laden sky.
featherfingers Nov 2013
It is almost five a.m.
With each thump of the echoing bass,
of the synthetic revenge and heartbreak,
angry percussion wraps me closer than your arms ever could--
tremulous and heavy,
more absolute than the sunset fictions
you contentedly let me cling to.
A venomous chorus drips from my lips,
once-swollen eyes now itchy and dry.

This is the still serenity of the predawn slumber,
the yearning of the yetsummer,
the quiet before the birds begin scavenging
through grass, trash, and recycling.
I protest--
tongue, fingers heels teeth and lungs
restless in spite of themselves.

You have chased me out of bed,
across dew-dampened grass,
over uneven pavement as treacherous as your voice.
You follow me.

Sleep is merely a forlorn memory
peering sadly from a forgotten heap of warm cotton thread,
whimpering futilely against the anxious pulsing
of overworked headphones
and overthought peculiarities.

You introduced me to this time of day.
You summoned it once with impatient chords
and a staccato keystroke melody,
casually ignoring the plaintive honesty
I willingly accompanied you with.

But the sunrise casts a strange glow, I guess--
rosy and well-intentioned,
fickle and fleeting, like your grin
or the capricious depth of the summer sky.

No one remembers that wandering blue
the same color as her eyes;
but it seeps through your pores,
curls into the caverns of your chest,
an aching in azure only because you let it.
You have bathed too long in the sun.
As the scarlet sunrise erupts across your shoulders
the sky settles into your lungs.

But don’t trust that sky,
that constant companion.

That sky is a cannibal
and it will eat you alive.
I'm torturing myself tonight with my backlog because why the hell not?
Nov 2013 · 775
Ghosts in the Snow
featherfingers Nov 2013
Waltzing syllables cast shadows from your closet
and slowly bruise your casual smiles.
“Can you still feel my breath
warm on your skin, the weight
of my head on your chest?”
Rebuild your walls in tribute.
Lock her away deep within.

You left here this morning with a carry-on
just to find three bags checked in your name.

Someday, your luggage will know continents,
leaving trails of letters lost,
love songs and photographs,
and the distant echoes of softening tears.
Will you have loved these places
like she did, my pining nestling?
Your feathers molt in the shadows of sorrowful beauty
but waxen wings only melt in the sun.

You drag your suitcases behind you
bogged down in the billows of dust.

Luggage tags with scattered dates crumble loneliness
into your sheets; your smiles come slower;
your tendons ache in their restless sleeps.
The years of compulsive movement,
the calloused fingers fumbling latches in the dark,
have left you chasing unexplainable ghosts.
Nuzzling voices draw close in your agony alone,
whispering from trail-beaten zippers barely
closed and barely clinging to overtired carpet bags.

You have carried her voice in your suitcase always
knowing her weight would seep into your bones.
old, but feeling especially relevant tonight.
featherfingers Nov 2013
We don't fall
like rain
or like snow
or like New Year's Eve confetti
in sweeping graceful arcs;
we fall like atom bombs.

We fall like atom bombs,
ignorantly whistling our way to the ground.
We fall like a firestorm
scorching Dresden to smoldering ruin.
We fall like night--
completely,
unforgivingly,
thickly,
coldly.

We fall like angels
from twelve stories high,
singing love songs to concrete
to drown out the sirens.
We fall like pennies
from the Empire State,
flung from the observation deck--
carelessly,
mercilessly.

*Maybe falling makes us mighty,
but we're falling just the same.
Nov 2013 · 962
hypothermia
featherfingers Nov 2013
I sat outside for hours last night.
I sat outside under the same July stars
twinkling new under an icy, November moon,
shoulders still bare and hair tied back,
looking for the misplaced summer in an anxious fall.

I didn't find it.
I found cigarette ashes clinging to the fur of my boots.
I found crystalline fog glazed cold to my skin.
I drew childish hearts and arrows in the ghost of my breath
and traced glassy teardrops clinging to sweatshirt sleeves.

I sat outside for hours last night
until even my lungs stiffened with the cold.
My clavicles stung with the prickling of snow
and my fingertips ached with the effort of clinging--
to grass, to wood, to paper, to smoke,
to snowflakes falling through liquid-like air,
to memories, to monsters,
to you and to me.

But I couldn't hold us.
We slipped like water through my clutching hands;
we melted like rocks that never even were.
We dripped, trickled, and fell like rain,
and we evaporated in the blaze
of an ending Indian summer.

I sat outside for hours last night
listening for lost crickets hiding sadly under leaves.
They buried themselves too well for me,
better than you ever will, it seems.
You float, always just under the surface of an endless, salty sea
no matter how much concrete
I pour for your shoes.
You never leave.

But I sat outside for hours last night
perfectly alone.
about a boy I need to stop writing about.
Oct 2013 · 1.2k
For Justine.
featherfingers Oct 2013
Breathe.

Inhale deep.
Let the afternoon sink
into your tired lungs
on golden wings of daylight
and ease.

Breathe.

Exhale slow.
Let oxygen, nitrogen,
carbon dioxide and pollution
whisper from your bloodstream
and mingle with the trees.

Purify.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Breathe.

Count to five (for me).

One:
stretch each muscle of your fingertips--
first knuckle,
second knuckle,
third.

Two:
curl your toes inside your shoes;
feel your socks stretch
inch by
inch.

Three:
spell your name until it sticks;
seven letters raindance
just to comfort
you.

Four:
Tell me where you live,
how the squeak-springed couch sinks
under the weight of family
and love.

Five:
close for me your tired eyes;
shifting patterns of stars wrap your dark
in brightness
and calm.

Then breathe.
Inhale deep and exhale slow.
Untie the knots from your shoulders,
and open the cage to your chest.

Breathe.

— The End —