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When they couldn’t tell where you were going, those woods were dark.
The moonlight didn’t make it to your neck, the winds
****** the wet from your eyes and carried it until it was stale.

There were no creatures in those woods, only the incomprehensible whispers
Of men who had been lost there before:
Men with wives and ancestors younger than they.

Those woods were safe, but they had too many questions to answer,
Too many questions to remember or know at all.

Your feet reached a tree trunk that didn’t fall there on its own,
Knees clenched, your stomach caved into your spine.
The moonlight reached your neck just long enough to whisper
The last sentence those woods would remember:

“Go, you aren’t needed here anymore.”

You never realized that moonlight has a taste,
Or that you can spin from it an invisibly thin thread,
That is used to weave paper for the Titans.

Stars hang from around your neck like marbles,
Like so many trophies and answers to the questions you never knew to ask.
The Inky Black rests on your shoulders breathing the deep sighs of the giants
And the Oldest Ones, the ones before us and them.

The skies have left room for you now.

Every seldom moment your daughter reminds you of something you once knew
But forgot to remember, not for lack of trying.
Her questions about the questions, and a memory of a tree trunk.

In the distance, a softly whispered murmur escapes from the confusion,
And the lights around you sputter.
But there will never be, nor has there ever been
A star that remembers when those woods were dark.
There are moments in life when you realize you haven't been true to your dreams. Those moments can be like waking up in a cold sweat, but they can also be beautiful in a "Just the beginning" sort of way. This poem contains one of those moments (a "tree trunk") and everything that comes with it.
When the third tide rolled out the rocks began to wobble.
While the pebbles trickled, stumbled to the water;
While the seashells clenched their posture in the sand;
While the grass before the dunes reached in desperation for the ocean’s hand;
The rocks began to wobble.

The rocks couldn’t remember the last time they’d been loose.
Since both sides of the promise had been kept,
It had been years since they’d wept.
But now, again, they found themselves loose.

The rocks watched as the fourth tide crept to their waistlines,
And remembered to touch all the comforts they’d learned underwater.
To their surprise the comforts hadn’t moved an inch,
And this gave them strength.

When their eyes would open, they’d remember that
Everything looks better when it’s blue.
When their mouths would open, they’d remember that
They have crossed the ocean a thousand times.

In this, their strength, they found a steadiness
That had been there long before they,
And that would surely forget their names.

When the fifth tide rolled out the rocks again felt the loose,
And closed their eyes until they were again underwater.
Her $50 hair carouseled about her head
As she turned to mouth me the answer before walking through the screen door.
Her collarbone showed, shouldering through the 5-year linen blouse
She’d bought from an upscale consignment store the same morning she bought
Her second car for less than her parents spent on shoes.

Before I’d seen the sea, I pictured space;
Stars and Galaxies and Ice and Infinite, bigger than I would be and gold,
Hot orange. And quicksilver and crimson. Too white to know, too bright to see.
I dreamt of eyes, thousands. And voices and outstretched, glittered, sweaty fingers
And swirling, sweeping spirits and sad songs about love.

“Please, I need this.” “I need you, please.”
I pictured golden, heavy hands with wine and French cheeses. And clawed, chalky bathtubs
Of marble veined grey, windows bigger than their walls and shiny cherry wood and leather.
I pictured her lips parting and eyes dewy as I drifted to the door because they needed me
And I couldn’t stay any longer, I’d already stayed too long, and they needed me.

Everyone else had tried so there were none left.
I was the last, so I was the first. The moon and its stars were blinking open their eyes as my fingertips
Left her waist and I backstepped into their world that couldn’t do without me.
I could have been a martyr, clipped my locks after God gave me all he could and all the rest.
I would have been a martyr, but my blood started to burn and the flames licked my legs.

Her gentle push tugged at the nails holding the mesh to the screen door as it creaked
Open to faded wood and gravel and patches of green grass and golden sunset-light.
I hadn’t heard but I’d known the answer as she walked outside. My hands were lighter
Than the grains I’d used to make her dinner, and I found strands of her hair on a 3-year t-shirt
I’d never wanted to throw out after I wore it in my first car, a rental I bought wholesale.

Sad songs about love babbled and murmured on the Crosley she found for us during
The Christmas my cousins slept on our couch and floor. The sink poured, dribbled,
Stopped, and the sliding bottle of oil ground across the countertop.  Through the door I could
See Tall Metal Skyscrapers and Helicopters. But before the moon and all its stars
Could take my eyes for their own, she found her voice and used it:

“Did you find a path to the stars?” She asked.
“I never did,” I said. “If I think to, maybe I’ll look again tomorrow.”
As a kid and teenager, my ambition was outrageous. When I couldn't, I dreamed, and I loved it. A pastime was envisioning grandiosity. I got older and saw that concrete, granular joys were worth more than anything I'd been picturing; I saw that I hadn't really been picturing anything.

This poem is mostly about that. It's about my growing older and nailing down my life and its pleasures. It's about sound financial decisions and satisfaction. It's about peace, not inspiration--the peace that comes in heydays like these.
Now is the time when the promises will be made.
Tall words and long phrases,
Small walls and short mazes.
Now is the time when the promises will be made.

After the door shut, I didn’t move at all.
I didn’t swallow, I didn’t breathe, I didn’t blink.
For the first time that year I was a part of the room.
I was exactly who I was, and the rest of it was quiet.

I knew exactly where I was, and from where I had come.
I didn’t know where I was supposed to be,
And eventually thought that maybe there was
No-where I was supposed to be.

Her hair wasn’t in my lap anymore,
Wasn’t in my lap to be played with or touched.
Their voices weren’t in my room anymore,
Weren’t in my room to make my heart rush.

Before the chair could creak it crept through my mind
That I was missing more than I ever could have known.
And before my feet could hit the floor,
I remembered the promises.

Now is the time when the promises will be kept.
Quiet hours and squeaky voices,
Long showers and dreamy thoughts.
Now is the time when the promises will be kept.

Before long time will have what it wanted,
So much more than it wanted. And I will
Have only my hands to look at, only my hands
To remind me of my age and what is left.

In a thousand years I want there to be some part
Of my heart floating in someone else's. In a thousand
Years I want to have done exactly what time
Asked me to: what the omens begged me to.

In a thousand years I want to be full.
Before the ages shift their gaze, I want to be full enough
That I can forget I was ever in their gaze at all.
I want the kind of love everyone needs but no one knows to ask for.

Maybe then I can come back to her,
Maybe then I can come back to them,
And whisper with my voice: “It’s alright.
There’s nothing left for us. We kept our promises.”

Now is the time when the promises have been forgotten.
Endless years and wispy hair.
Seldom tears and skin too fair.
Now is the time when the promises have been forgotten.
Time slipped,
Like the thoughts he forgot to remember.

Other lives might have been golden,
Other men might have had grace.

Other lives of love might not have gone to waste,
Other bodies might not have broken.

The grit and the grime asked his favor,
As they plied in his hands.
In their moments of pause,
They choked his tired eyes.

Never would he know
Anything but what he knew now.
Never would they teach
Anything but what he knew now.

These lives and lovers trembled, buried in the part he could still see.
These hates and have-nots sung to him, desperately, furiously.
These tastes of metal left him hot and lonely.

Time recovers itself, and in that instant,
Like the thoughts he forgot to remember,
He realized there was nothing more for him,
Than what was left in another life.
Yesterday, I could not see the seed in the tree.
Its noise had fainted beneath the hymns and hums of the savannah,
Its color had faded into the hues.

Shouts came out as whispers,
And whispers came out as silence.
The silence overlooked itself, and was overlooked,
And the sun set thousands of times without good-bye.

There was time enough for goodbye.

The flame might never have gone out—
It might have flickered until dusk,
Still patient.
Ever patient.

And one drop might not have become thousands.
It might have fallen thousands of meters, skin tight,
Bracing for an impossible impact,
Still hopeful.
Ever hopeful.

Cubs become lions,
And grass begs to be trod.
Color begs to be colored, and noise begs for its voice.

Today there is nothing but field and jungle.
Today, there is nothing but sand and its many toys.
Today can remember nothing but your last name,
And your last face.

It thinks your last face was beautiful.

Your body will not break, your body cannot break.
Your laugh can only soar, and your eyes can only glint.
On your back will rest a thousand tons,
A thousand tons too few.

Today has time but begs for your haste.

Tomorrow, the lions become cubs.
I wrote this to a kid who is blossoming, a kid who was kind of a shmuck but grew into something truly special. I wanted him to know all I knew about what might have been, and what was always to be. I love him more than I can say.
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