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Feb 2020 · 838
agonal
Jack Feb 2020
I would gladly die a whisper
on the tip of your tongue.
Feb 2020 · 113
Inside Out
Jack Feb 2020
Inside our starless little secret, the
darkness we embraced,
As we shiver in the shadow of the
carrot that we chased.

Worn-out welcome homesick, your
well-concealed black eye,
The accomplice and the victim of one
more long con goodbye.

It was just a symptom of a symbol, a
whisper wrapped in shame,
My hands forgot their purpose as my
tongue forgot your name.

The weight of all our fears became an
anchor, holding tight.
I told you that I loved you, just not here,
and not tonight.

Outside the sun is shining, but I can
feel it getting colder,
And they say the world is ending, but
I’m only getting older.
Feb 2020 · 164
2084
Jack Feb 2020
Remember this madness,
The fault in our fears,
The scars in our stories,
The taste of our tears,

Remember those roses,
The color of rage,
The cost of tomorrow,
The broken birdcage,

Remember your story,
The taste of fall rain,
The glory of failure,
The beauty in pain,

Remember this longing,
The price of despair,
The touch of true love,
The dream we all share.
Feb 2020 · 72
Skyline
Jack Feb 2020
Bloodthirsty fangs, the skyline gleams,
Promise thick upon its haunting breath,
It feeds on screams and drifter’s dreams,
Scarred with the stains of love and death,

Come sunrise, we offer daily sacrifice,
Wrapped up in glass, put on display,
Fearful of both the payment and the price,
As the beast digests its willing prey,

And by night, we practice our disease,
Inside this lonely place where all belong,
Grey veins pump street-lit symphonies,
As the monster gently hums along.
Feb 2020 · 125
Covalence
Jack Feb 2020
Somewhere safe inside the silence
where I let my heartache roam,

Or the treetops where I hid when
I was scared to go back home,

I awake to find the nightmare,
demons perched upon the shelf,

And the truth I tried to tell you,
but hadn’t learned yet for myself.
Feb 2020 · 121
Seasons
Jack Feb 2020
A tradewind transgression,
Cold dusk and despair,
Your cigarette slowdance,
Spring rain in your hair,

Fireflies in the moonlight,
Our parking lot kiss,
Still lost in that moment,
Sweet summertime bliss,

Found a home in my head,
And stars in your eyes,
We dreamed happy endings,
Fall leaves and goodbyes,

As the distance outgrew us,
Time froze us in place,
Snow fell come December,
And covered all trace.
Feb 2020 · 101
Whipstrong
Jack Feb 2020
I was lost in found forgiveness, in
the blood of autumn’s bite,
And the songs that couldn’t save me
as I drove off in the night,

In search of self-indulgent sacrifice,
and reasons not to pray,
Or just someone to understand all
that my silence tried to say.
Feb 2020 · 69
Striations
Jack Feb 2020
Inhale that symptomatic silence,
with a martyr’s monstrous thirst,
Conducting symphonies of violence,
wish me well and do your worst.

Another monstrous machination,
summon me with dark decrees,
Flaunt your roadmap to salvation,
but I won’t walk there on my knees.

Seeking that softly-searing static,
sanitize stains that made us pure,
Hide from that demon in the attic,
hoping this pill conceals the cure.

Trapped atop this ****** tower,
Where our darlings fight and die,
I wish I had just one more hour,
I wish I could have said goodbye.
Jun 2019 · 160
Graceful Goodbyes
Jack Jun 2019
Merciful madness,
Beautiful blaze,
Stowaway starlight,
Gravity’s gaze,

Enduring embers,
Coffin cocoon,
Absolving ashes,
Mystical moon.
Apr 2019 · 331
Antifragile
Jack Apr 2019
Cautious creators,
Captivating with care,
Surviving safety,
But going nowhere.
Apr 2019 · 109
Four Days Dead
Jack Apr 2019
Not sure which left us more broken,
The first kiss, or the last words spoken,
Both stung our hearts, a phantom pain,
The stench of ghosts in morning rain,
Trapped in a game we didn’t choose,
That neither of us knew how to lose,
So we loaded dice to tip the scales,
Fought with fumes and fingernails,
As strain built up in small degrees,
And finally brought us to our knees.

They say time can heal, but rarely does,
Lost sight of who I thought I was,
A sea of hope left me marooned,
And sunrise only salts the wound,
Now counting walls as vision narrows,
Fighting sleep with slings and arrows,
Held hostage by a fraying thread,
That exists only inside my head,
I left it all to smoke and smolder,
Woke up alone and so much older.

It took a village to raze the child,
Maybe it takes a wolf to tame the wild,
Or a shark to truly know the sea,
So where then does that all leave me?
There is no peace in cheap perfumes,
And no full hearts in empty rooms,
Only dust and unforgiving shade,
Sweet blue lights to dull the blade,
Held hostage in this house of glass,
I tell myself, this too must pass.

Eyes wide open, seared with wonder,
Hold me close to pull me under,
And walk it off with head held high,
A clenched fist cannot wave goodbye,
Sic transit sunlight, pirouette,
Embrace all that you can’t forget,
That fading ember, tarnished gold,
The remnants of the soul you sold,
Shall rise from under ash and boot,
Unclean, less pure, but resolute.
Apr 2019 · 83
The Road
Jack Apr 2019
On the road to forgiveness,
With rocks in my shoes,
That same song in my head,
Those battered old blues.

And it’s true what you said,
We become what we choose,
I knew how this ended,
I knew that I’d lose.

Still I tuned out the chorus,
That choir of boos,
Such well-practiced anger,
Real blood from fake news.

But I was never your martyr,
Merely paying my dues,
Embracing each failure,
And earning each bruise.

There will always be hardships,
Some ghost to accuse,
But it’s your road to wander,
Carry on or refuse.
Dec 2018 · 123
Cntrl+Alt+Delete
Jack Dec 2018
We raise hell where mighty buildings fell,
Steal their bricks to build new walls,
As the silence that we heard so well,
Hangs with pride in empty halls,

Like photographs of those now lost,
We faded with the touch of time,
Arms outstretched with fingers crossed,
The only victims of this crime,

In the cool shade of complacency,
Where only distance grew,
Disaster came and went so patiently,
I’m just glad that it was you,

Now twilight toasts to yet another year,
That we’ll regret before it’s gone,
As the glory with which we disappear,
Become the price of moving on.
Nov 2018 · 81
Cardiac Suppressed
Jack Nov 2018
Flies in the ashtray, karmic demands,
Hope in your eyes and blood on your hands,
Lips taught as bowstrings, fingers sharpened to hooks,
So far from the heroes you read in your books,
Daydream dereliction, sweet spinning wheel sting,
A straw dog sunrise and stained-glass wedding ring,
That heretic’s halo, your sandcastle throne,
A superficial wound that cuts to the bone,
Such pretty perdition, a fresh-paved descent,
Perfectly cast for the role of satisfied malcontent,
Inhale those excuses, wear victimhood like a crown,
Place blame on the ocean for letting you drown,
Adrift on a tightrope, breathe twilight’s dull hue,
Expecting those same roads to lead someplace new,
Await the whispers of morning, awake and a wreck,
The first breath of spring on the back of your neck,
Search for sincerity’s semblance, some echo of truth,
A fragment of hope in the splinters of youth,
But you found only fractures, sins never confessed,
As some tiny voice claws deep inside of your chest,
Heard but unanswered, it calls out just to say,
That this place is your home. You built it this way.
Oct 2018 · 141
Vasa
Jack Oct 2018
The temptation that the Siren sings,
A slow wave back from shore,
The sorrow that tomorrow brings,
A hundred days, a thousand more,

Casting lines of smoke and steam,
In search of great white whale,
The tragedy with which we dream,
The grace with which we fail,

A map carved upon a liar’s tongue,
Teach us to speak, but never say,
White knuckled on bottom rung,
From which we swing and sway,

As laughter consumes the setting sun,
Those echoes keep us company,
The first regret tells us we’ve just begun,
The last reminds us we’re still free,

But we awake to find familiar coasts,
Ships still bottled on their shelves,
And we realize we’re all just ghosts,
That don’t believe in themselves.
Oct 2018 · 139
En Passant
Jack Oct 2018
As you faded out of focus in my eye, twisted and caught,
We watched our lives become an end to a means we both forgot,
It was a refracted reflection of a memory suppressed,
An imperfect imperfection, half-thought and second-guessed,
And so I focused on commotion, let the years pass me by,
I said that love was all I needed right before I said goodbye,
Now I know the dark side of desire like the back of my hand,
And you know the terror of a life that went exactly as planned,
Complacently counting down the hours till the days do us in,
We tiptoe through the flowers as the flames flicker and spin,
It slipped right through my fingers, ****** knuckles black and blue,
My life flashed past my eyes and all I thought about was you,
And the way we fit together in the shards of shattered dreams,
With souls lighter than feathers, yet still gnawing at our seams,
Desperately clinging to beliefs so we have something left to lose,
But I know we can’t call it fate if this is something that we choose,
So I stand here with no answers, only more unoffered prayers,
And a wound forever burning that no amount of time repairs.
Oct 2018 · 125
Nero
Jack Oct 2018
Behind the shelter that you built so you could justify the storm,
You reinforce the walls, and burn your books to keep it warm,
Stacking manufactured facts so you can barricade the door,
Safe inside that padded room where they can’t hurt you anymore,
Without a war, our will to fight will set its sights upon a brother,
In the absence of opposition, it seems we’ll settle for each other,
It was an addiction to the motion that helped to justify the spin,
But maybe the world will come together as the walls cave in,
Just know that when you win you win, but you learn only in loss,
You could help shoulder the burden if you just put down that cross.
Sep 2018 · 129
This little light of mine
Jack Sep 2018
This little light of mine has lost its shine,
Turned grey and rotted on the vine,
And left no spark to light my way,
Just the sweet reward of slow decay,
And a coldness that I can’t embrace,
In this harsh and unforgiving place,
Where poets fight in search of cause,
And angels go to dull their claws,
Now shake and shiver, dance and spin,
On the grave of all the may have been,
As I seek new substance to console,
The absence of what made me whole,
With fingers warmed by sweet hindsight,
Clinging to memories still bathed in light,
Maybe I was too busy chopping firewood,
To see the fields where forests stood,
And so focused on stoking that blaze,
I lost tomorrow through the smoky haze,
Now left with only cautionary tales,
And ash beneath my fingernails,
I finally realize what I should have known,
That fire fights for itself alone.
Jun 2018 · 191
Ex nihlio
Jack Jun 2018
A picture of Paris, that white wedding gown,
We lit one more candle and burned it all down,

Tangled in tightropes, deceived by our scars,
Serving our sentence behind faded bars,

A penchant for poison, a toast to good health,
And the voice that I hear when I talk to myself,

A dance with delusion, still playing our role,
Carving some shape out of that empty hole,

A lonely motel room, a twice-broken heart,
I was who you were back when you fell apart,

The sweet taste of surrender, a casket you built,
A road paved with ashes and blood-colored silt,

Of time and the river, a Manhattan sunset,
I write to remember what she drinks to forget,

Count on cold fingers, whittled down to the bone,
All the noise that I made to not feel so alone.
Dec 2017 · 349
The Basics of Letting Go
Jack Dec 2017
Another night spent drowning, downing fuel for apathy,
Trying to forget all the great things we planned to be,
She was listing off my scars, stacking them up like cords of wood,
But it was the loneliness that burned me more than any fire could,
She said that she was homesick, I told her I was sick of home,
Sifting through these ashes of cigarettes and Styrofoam,
So this is where we stand, stranded here amongst the weeds,
Fighting for the place everyone seeks but no one needs,
I was choking on fresh air, collecting wrongs to put things right,
Drinking in despair under some desperate shade of light,
And maybe I took it on the nose, but baby I took it all to heart,
She said “tell me how it ends,” and I said “tell me where to start,”
I’ve been climbing up the walls, so tired of sleeping on the floor,
Still dependent on addictions that don’t need me anymore,
So come on let’s make a change, come on it’s time to move,
We’ve got a thousand dollars and a million prayers to prove,
And I know it’s never easy to see the battle through the war,
They’ll never build us statues, but we’re still worth fighting for,
In time, we may miss the safety of our backs against the wall,
But if we don’t run right now, we might never move at all.
Nov 2017 · 295
4th and Long
Jack Nov 2017
Another round, another story,
Sunset bleeding through the walls,

Still trying to be the hero,
No one needs and no one calls,

I was sleeping with the sirens,
And flashing lights that I call friends,

A decade living On the Road,
And I know how that story ends,

But tonight, we laugh like children,
Her eyes tell me I could belong,

Still I have soles left on my shoes,
A tank of gas that says she’s wrong,

All of these stars still burn so bright,
And I know I should have known,

If you’re the one that got away,
That just means you’re all alone.
Nov 2017 · 242
A Pound of Cure
Jack Nov 2017
Wounded dog, scratch and bite,
I felt the toe of your shoe,

Saw it stand, saw it fall,
Before I believed it was true,

Marionette, trapeze wires,
I couldn’t live through your phone,

Times changed, changing time,
And progress left me alone,

Catching on, catching fire,
Won’t catch me on your hook,

Marching blind, toothless words,
A hero burning their book,

Wounded jaw, sharpened tongue,
Spinning those Ferris wheel lies,

Running through, running from,
Cling to that look in her eyes,

Lost souls, sold at cost,
Find safety under the dome,

Painted floors, picture frames,
Can’t turn walls into a home,

Turning back, turning on,
The road bled into the sea,

Salted earth, scattered ash,
Turn that book back to a tree,

Counting down, countless stars
And no more tigers to tame,

Can’t move on, can’t change,
Still nothing’s ever the same.
Nov 2017 · 606
An Ounce of Prevention
Jack Nov 2017
Until you’re here, until I’m gone,
Please forgive me if I carry on,

Late summer sun, a kiss goodbye,
I blinked, and half my life went by,

Another state, a rootless tree,
I drew your face from memory,

One last last chance, a slow decay,
I may not have another day,

And so I fight, swing from my knees,
I won’t succumb to this disease,

Ticker-tape parade, Tinkertoy heart,
Please forgive me if I fall apart.
Oct 2017 · 293
The Boxer
Jack Oct 2017
With brick dust on my back,
And my chin in the air,

I had the sun in my eyes,
And you weren’t fighting fair,

It was a war of attrition,
12 years or 12 rounds,

The battle already lost,
But the bell never sounds,

So I stay on my toes,
Keep sharp, stick and move,

Feel that chip on my shoulder
I have something to prove,

The sweet taste of copper,
Blood dried out like rust,

Only me in my corner,
The only person I trust,

So I swing for the fences,
But prepare for the fall,

For you truly earn nothing,
Without risking it all.
Oct 2017 · 272
Dance until the music comes
Jack Oct 2017
Wipe the mirror on the bathroom door,
So it’s clearer that you lost the war,
A longing look, a stubborn stare,
The pills you took to make them care,
And a stranger’s name that you call home,
In shoes you couldn’t make your own,
As you tiptoed through that cautious crime,
In a cold room where you sold your time,
Until those four walls became a maze,
Where you got lost for days and days,
Hoping footprints might leave uncovered,
A world to pretend that you discovered,
As everything you took for granted,
Became the place your flag was planted,
Still you long for all that isn’t there,
And seek purpose in the midnight air,
Hoping someday someone will recognize,
The scream behind your hollow eyes,
And realize that you are so much more,
Than the reflection on that bathroom door,
But for now, just hold your head up high,
Say you’re sorry, swear you’ll try,
Expect a feast, but be content with crumbs,
And dance until the music comes.
Sep 2017 · 663
The Floor is Lava
Jack Sep 2017
It never felt at all peculiar,
The things I left upon the shelf,
Busy becoming something familiar,
The worst version of myself,

Faded and frayed at the seams,
She told me love never waits,
So I’m left chasing new dreams,
with longer expiration dates,

You were the sunset in June,
I was the tip of your spear,
The first sweet taste of the moon,
Burning so cold and austere,

And she asks me to breathe,
Would that be such a crime?
Maybe I deserve the reprieve,
I swear I can quite anytime,

Just one more night on the chin,
Ashamed of the blue in your eyes,
Frail fingers, cold skin,
Too late to say your goodbyes,

Another disillusion shattered,
Sunrise was calling our bluff,
She said I was there when it mattered,
I can only pray that’s enough.
Sep 2017 · 319
Vesuvius
Jack Sep 2017
Beneath the surface, boiling blood,
A calloused, hardened soul,
Fragile hands of sticks and mud,
Still fighting for control,

On more hour, up in flames,
Another runaway train of thought,
Burn the pictures, sell the frames,
Pretend that I forgot,

Ashes, ashes, falling stars,
A prayer for reverie,
Concealed bruises, hidden scars,
Faded from skin, not memory.
Jul 2017 · 376
Pillow Fort
Jack Jul 2017
Fighting demons in the darkness, under blankets where we cower,
The lightness of eternity, the crushing weight of one more hour,
Where were you when failure faded, where I was I when roads decayed?
In the static haze you waited, as the current bent and swayed,
Tiptoeing sleepless starless silence, knowing I would never be,
The longing on your fingertips, or anyone else but me,
Still I spend all night grasping, gasping for some thread of air,
Chewing holes in scenery so you might realize I’m there,
Spend every day running in circles, yet I can’t escape this maze,
So I’ll pretend a plan by steady hand, to justify this hopeless gaze.
Jan 2017 · 573
There from here
Jack Jan 2017
Dressed in dripping shadows, an angel with no wings,
She was dangling from the ceiling, a puppet with no strings,
Eyes heavy with ambition, a soul you couldn’t mend,
Handfuls of good intentions you never found a way to spend,
Now from across the table, we dissect our better times,
Like foggy silhouettes trying to color inside our lines,

Remembering that winding road that got us here,
And the one goodbye that taught us fear,
We took apart a future that we couldn’t face alone,
And built another house that we would never make a home,
I told you about a destination that I felt but couldn’t see,
And how all of that nothing still means everything to me,

Maybe this kind of talk has no place behind the neon glow,
But you know I never knew how or when to let it go,
So tonight I’ll put my better self back upon the shelf,
And try to count the years since I last felt like myself,
As I stare up at the stars, I can see them oh so clear,
Still I never figured out how to make it there from here.
Jan 2017 · 411
(33.960034, -77.941329)
Jack Jan 2017
It’s true you can’t go home again, no matter what they say,
But the world is out there waiting; who would want to anyway?
There is no glory in the bleached bones of ghosts we leave behind,
So I whistle past the graveyard in that corner of my mind,
Still haunted by the chains that I escaped but couldn’t break,
Before the truth became the only bitter pill I didn’t take,
All it cost me was a life I thought I wanted, another best-laid plan,
And every single thing I ever thought it took to be a man,
Now the path curves to a circle, I come back only to leave,
Progressing towards an ending that I feel but don’t believe,
Maybe someday I’ll learn the difference between loss and letting go,
Ignore signs and highway lines, make footprints in the snow,
But until that day I’ll keep repeating every word I never said,
Only awake inside my dreams, only alive in my own head.
Jack Dec 2016
I was half-awake when last we spoke,
My veins pumping thumbtacks and smoke,
Twelve hours west, a world apart,
A battleship with broken heart,
You were unbound, an empty page,
The spotlight that burned down the stage,
The calm beneath the raging sea,
Your bottled words now floating free,
But the tide brought with it fear and doubt,
Still I waded in to wait it out,
And watched as you went drifting by,
The last star in my fractured sky,
I said “Do your best to picture me,
Before I was who I claimed to be,”
You told not to dwell on old regrets,
Life marches on, the moon forgets,
And so it did, and so we went,
Losing track of all we meant,
To do or fight or be or say,
Before the weight of time got in our way,
Now your sun sets as my day begins,
But don’t tell me how tomorrow ends,
Just leave me with my windshield glare,
And the last lingering taste of moonlit air,
Still searching for some peace of mind,
In the future that you left behind.
Nov 2016 · 599
Skeletons
Jack Nov 2016
I painted a picture in my head of a world embracing,
Now it hangs like a carrot from the tail we’re chasing,
You never made a wave in that pool you drowned in,
Still searching for a reason in the loss we’re found in,
If I became Saint Christopher you were Saint Thomas,
Building stronger walls around a broken promise,
I gave everything to make it, and you called me lucky,
Sleeping in my car somewhere in East Kentucky,
Maybe a fairytale ending wasn’t worth the hassle,
So we handed back the keys to that old kingless castle,
We all try to write a story hoping it might outlive us,
But if we tell all of our secrets then who will forgive us?
Now an angel sings a song atop your faded dresser,
Wings clipped inside a cage so that you can possess her,
And I’m still locked inside a moment that I can’t outlast,
Wondering how these years left me behind so fast,
Now tip one more glass of poison as I toast my health,
You’re still the only voice I hear when I talk to myself,
Like the shadow of an echo of your hand still waving,
A fever-dream reminder of a world worth saving,
Maybe together we can find a way to endure this path,
Fighting the current as we kick against the river’s wrath,
And we’ll never let them tell us how much we can take,
Our muscles scream for mercy, but our bones won’t break.
Nov 2016 · 645
Fall Back
Jack Nov 2016
Drowning in an open bar reception,
You were more beautiful than I remembered.
It had been two years since I saw you for the last time, last time.
Some days, I barely thought about you at all.

Everything was different and nothing had changed.
You watched me from across the room and I pretended not to notice.
You passed me a note like we were in high school,
Do you like me, yes or no?

I told you that you were too good for me,
And hoped you wouldn’t believe it.
I wanted to stare into your eyes forever,
So all I could do was look away.

Without warning, you told me you loved me.
“I’ll find you in L.A.,” you said.
I knew better than to believe you,
But sometimes all we have is our dreams.

You moved like fire on the dance floor,
Forever ruining my favorite song.
You stole a kiss on the cheek,
And I pretended it didn’t break my heart.

We said goodbye for the last time, again.
Lying awake in my motel bed, I watched the clock roll back.
One more sleepless hour,
Still chasing that same old dream.
Sep 2016 · 627
Slingshot
Jack Sep 2016
I felt a shiver of regret as the sun burned down the stars,
In the absence of emptiness, there was nothing to claim as ours,
All I could do was shake the cinders from my weary, bleary brain,
And try to build some beauty from the ashes that remain,

I saw the world in cobwebs through the fingertips of dawn,
The only truth I know: there’s no revenge like moving on,
So I took apart my heart to help me lighten up my load,
And let the pieces point me even further down the road,

Maybe we lived like vampires, never stopping to reflect,
Tearing down the pretty castles we could no longer protect,
Your tightrope tongue painted forever in a promissory note,
As I lost hope in all the barbed wire and sand inside my throat,

Burdened with my hands of glass and eyes of tourmaline,
Broken by everything I touch, weathered by all I’ve seen,
Perhaps the sun will bring atonement, a secret I can keep,
You’ll build a better birdcage, maybe I’ll look where I leap,

For now, I’ll search for answers in the lines around my eyes,
Inhale the rotting stench of time, taste the miles and compromise,
As I walk the narrow pathway that separates lost from free,
Letting go, still I know, you’re the only road back home for me.
Aug 2016 · 494
Tinfoil Hat
Jack Aug 2016
Inside the cats stretch and purr, lick their fur by the fire,
With practiced indifference to instinct and desire,
Outside the birds rise and sing as the baby birds die,
There were bound to be casualties learning to fly,

Below the sirens ring out, cities burn in the night,
Watchers watching the watchmen with no vision in sight,
Above it all, the airwaves deliver electronic placation,
As recreational outrage replaces conversation,

Before our horses were fastened to the carousel tracks,
We felt the wind, rather than the wall to our backs,
After all, we all got older, tied with time’s rusty chains,
Fingers wedged into ears, souls sedated by stains,

Either we’ll fall to the seduction of safety’s allure,
Clutching at cobwebs and killed by the cure,
Or we’ll rediscover that small voice we tried to ignore,
And remember some battles are still worth the war.
Aug 2016 · 805
A Single Wave
Jack Aug 2016
Woke with the sting of regret, it’s been too long since I fell,
I missed the rush of fresh air, I missed the taste of the smell,
I was in love with the tightrope, the stained glass of her eyes,
Bowed by the weight of surrender, I settled for compromise,
Watching those false idols dance, turning wolves into sheep,
As we played coy with the monsters that sang us to sleep,
I had a million places to go, and so much I’d hoped to say,
But I wasted another tomorrow thinking about yesterday,
And those sticky situations where we all came unglued,
While I daydreamed a sky that wouldn’t mirror my mood,
A slow dance with routine, and every face looks the same,
I was choking to death on the stale taste of my name,
So I started sanding sharp edges, hoping that I might fit in,
I spent a year writing my ending, so I could finally begin,
Dusting off open road acrobatics, I twisted south by the sea,
Searching for the rotting remains of who I thought I should be,
But it was just another battle that I lost to the war,
The same wrecking ball feet with new roads to explore,
Nothing quite felt right, my fingertips became springs,
I’d lost the girl to save the world, and other foolish things,
It was my first last-ditch effort, my best second guess,
I painted myself into a corner of the picture of success,
Fifteen-hundred miles, and still felt so far out of reach,
Until late one night my phone rang as I walked along the beach,
I told my story to the old man as he listened patiently,
When I finished, he calmly asked me to turn and face the sea,
He said, “The ocean is the journey, the sum of all you gave,
Do not lose perspective; this is but a single wave.”
I drove home that night and slept for the first time in half a week,
And when I awoke, the path before me didn’t feel quite so bleak,
I realized there’s no shame in letting someone catch us if we fall,
And that being lost is different than being nowhere at all,
I learned that each story is a lesson, not merely a scar,
And that all we have left is not the same as everything we are.
Jun 2016 · 480
California
Jack Jun 2016
It became so hard to let go once we knew what we know,
We were nothing more than actors bored to death with the show
Taking stars on blind faith, safe here under the dome,
Planting flags in the fire, the lights that we claimed for home,
Still you painted all the walls, planted roots and cheap flowers,
You were checking off years while I was counting down hours,
Until the minutes got too heavy, holding out just to hold on,
With only seconds to let go, you closed your eyes and I was gone,
Leaving behind only the shadow I became while I was here,
And a goodbye letter that I rewrote every night for half a year,
There was so much I tried to tell you, and still so much left unsaid,
The words danced around my stomach and I got lost inside my head,
Searching for some drunken shade of moonlight, a home I never knew,
Or the better day that’s waiting just beyond my field of view,
So I’ll chase another chapter, but I won’t forget you when I’m gone,
We can invent meaning for movement, but motion isn’t moving on.
May 2016 · 326
Too Big to Fail
Jack May 2016
One more minute, one last smile,
Eyes on fire, heart on trial,
On the road and lost at sea,
A slow dance of complacency,
Burning embers, thaw and melt,
Still couldn’t tell you how I felt,
Dressed a mess in borrowed blue,
And all I did was think of you,
Faded flowers, lunar eclipse,
Warning shots from tired lips,
I fell apart, got lost and hid,
I tried. I swear to God I did,
But all in all we all forgot,
Here I come, ready for naught,
Too far to hear, too big to fail,
Let unrequited love prevail,
As I become more lost than gone,
Listening for an unplayed song,
From the only voice I ever heard,
One more second, one last word.
May 2016 · 587
The sorrow before the sun
Jack May 2016
Another redeye, hello Sky Harbor,
I’m home to say more goodbyes,
The sun is colder where I come from,
Or more willing to compromise,

Dressed up in shiny new sunglasses,  
And worn out welcome backs,
Adrift in that unceasing river,
That froze us in our tracks,

And there was something in the water,
But no time left in the well,
Just secrets we don’t dare to whisper,
And lies we cannot help but tell,

I never thought I’d live to see forever,
Or that I’d come so far only to lose,
The road was rougher than I realized,
I couldn’t walk it in your shoes,

Maybe I was too far gone to tell you,
Or you were too far away to hear,
The cancer claimed your lungs,
And now that air will never clear,

So I’ll keep retracing every footstep,
Looking for you where I lost me,
In the space between what I became,
And who I always meant to be.
Jack May 2016
Words don’t come so easy these days,
They no longer taste of vintage wine,
Maybe I’m the last gasp of a dying breed,
Or maybe I’m a failure by design,

You ran out of patience for tomorrow,
I ran out of hope and foolish pride,
I had no more answers I could sell you,
No more places in my head to hide,

Last night I was sleeping in an airport,
Maybe I was lost inside your smile,
Come and wake me when I get there,
Call me when I’m back in style,

I won’t apologize again for leaving,
I’m only sorry if I let you down,
But after all the oceans had run dry,
There was nowhere left for me to drown,

I told you a tale of bold surrender,
You heard a story of morose decay,
I didn’t mean to lead to this conclusion,
But I wrote it all to end this way,

The words all came so easy back then,
Burning my lips like old moonshine,
But maybe I’m still the first star you see,
Or maybe I’m the future in decline.
Apr 2016 · 479
Navel-gazing
Jack Apr 2016
There comes a point when you realize that you have only yourself
to blame.
You could have had any life you wanted, and you ended up here.
It was never a mistake.
You fought for this; you sacrificed and bled.
You had to know,
deep down,
how this was always going to end.
Apr 2016 · 405
Dancing Shoes
Jack Apr 2016
Ferris wheel, smoking gun, pillars and posts,
Spent the whole night dancing with the shadows of ghosts,
In that empty coliseum where we slept on the floor,
Dressed only in the skin that we’d grown to abhor,
With twisted tongues describing what we couldn’t deny,
I never met your mother and I never said goodbye,
Tiptoeing worn shoes, station wagon, rolling with stones,
Singing the songs that you’d carved straight into my bones,
With hands ten and two as we sped towards dead ends,
Clinging to salted wounds and the fragments of friends,
Still we can live forever, if only for one night,
As long as we keep dancing, there is no end in sight.
Apr 2016 · 280
Seat 11, Row 24
Jack Apr 2016
Before confetti rained down from the sky,
And after all the days that spell goodbye,
I still wish upon those satellites,
And taste your breath in neon lights,
I swear I wanted to tell you everything,
In a song I never wrote and couldn’t sing,
But instead I became roads and miles,
As you wore fancy shoes and empty smiles,
And found truth between the words of liars,
While I found hope amongst a sea of tires,
But still I wonder, from time to time,
Do I still steal your thoughts in silent crime?
Some days I wish I could live it all again,
Shake a few words from this empty pen,
But I know it’s far too late to pay that cost,
We’ve already become the things we lost,
So tonight I’ll act someone else’s age,
As you find solace on that empty page,
Waiting to discover a love honest and true,
Someone worthy to write it down for you.
Written mostly in my head at the Paul McCartney show last night.
Apr 2016 · 413
Burning Books
Jack Apr 2016
A right of passion or presumptive plea,
Resting a broken head on bended knee,
Seeking a second chance to finish third,
Or some salvation in a prayer misheard,
Atop your graffiti kingdom, shotgun glare,
Choking down that manufactured air,
While men gain strength from all you lack
But grow no taller standing on your back,
And you read them like a burning book,
As home became the stands you took,
Finding shelter beneath the lowest rung,
Or solace on some fool’s gold tongue,
But your compass heart has been misled,
By monsters swirling through your head,
As they tirelessly stoke the fires of doubt,
That weary feet can’t quite stomp out,
But in time, you’ll chase away that blaze,
If you refuse to become your darkest days,
There is always a road from the abyss,
So as I leave you, please remember this:
You are more than what you’ve been,
Embrace each ending, start again.
Jack Apr 2016
I follow rainbow gutter rivers back to my empty downtown apartment.
When I was young, I looked up at these buildings in awe.
Shiny glass towers full of giants,
staring down at me, ant-like and enamored.
You looked beautiful in your wedding dress,
they said.

A decade spent selling disposable garbage to the masses,
rereading Ogilvy on Advertising and wearing uncomfortable shoes.
Today I’m one of those giants.
Do you still throw darts at my picture?
Do you ever think about me,
at all?

A thousand miles away, a little girl asks her mother,
to make her a cherry pie for her birthday.
She knows it’s my favorite.
If we have cherry pie, maybe he’ll come to my party,
she says.

Seven drinks later, I told my dad I was miserable.
A hollow shell of anything I’d ever planned to be.
He didn’t believe me.
After all, I had never let him down,
before.

The last time we saw one another, we ate dinner on the floor.
You smelled like you’d been on fire.
A week later, I found a strand of your hair in my bed,
and sighed.

It was nearly sunrise when I arrived,
leaving a trail of clothes all along my floor.
Lying in bed, I thought about how long ago yesterday was.
All those slow summer mornings,
and three-day goodbyes.

I stare down at the streets below,
as innocent wide-eyed dreamers shuffle their feet on cold sidewalks.
Somewhere a young boy leaves home for the first and last time,
and I think about how beautiful you still look,
in photographs.
Apr 2016 · 408
Goodnight, Sarah
Jack Apr 2016
My friend Sarah sits alone at night and scribbles on a page,
Turning each line into a battle, a war that she must wage,
She writes about getting out, fear and doubt, her failure to fit in,
Seeking metaphors for moonlight as she bleeds out through her pen,
But she keeps her poems in an old shoebox so no one ever knows,
Because she gets more like on Instagram by taking off her clothes,
Don’t call it a plea for popularity; she’s establishing a brand,
That’s all that matters when the world fits in the palm of your hand,
As she spends every day surrounded by the people she’ll never please,
She can’t help but look around her and despise the world she sees,
Her parents can’t afford the artificial life for which they strive,
But orange is the new black, and forty is the new twenty-five,
She watches them sacrifice a future that was never theirs to lose,
And walk around all day technically blind, staring at their shoes,
Meanwhile her friends all speak in memes, aspiring only to be seen,
A million tiny little lives lived inside a million tiny little screens,
As corporations burn down everything they cannot steal or sell,
And politicians fabricate the facts to justify the lies they tell,
The television markets manufactured rage, advertising decay,
Meanwhile Sarah fills another page, and tucks it safely away.
Mar 2016 · 645
Tightrope
Jack Mar 2016
The city screamed from far away, carnivorous call,
As those neon lights illuminated nothing at all,
I saw my whole life written on a face with no name,
30 minutes, 30 years; it still feels the same,
On a subway platform, I wore the streets as a cloak,
With murderous indifference, nobody spoke,
Adrift in the hum and shuffle, I circle empty squares,
Swimming in electric fire and unoccupied stares,
As moonlight cut the misty haze, scratching my eye,
I found myself the beginning of another goodbye,
Standing tall among the skyscrapers, drowning in shade,
An encore performance of a mess that I made,
And on the ride home, an old man played the Rising Sun,
Reminding me of the only thing I still can’t outrun.
Mar 2016 · 751
Hyenas
Jack Mar 2016
Lost in the faint, unsettled dust of wonder,
We become the chains that pull us under,
The architects of empty wishing wells,
Or the ghosts that haunt these cheap motels,
And as hope crumbled into ash and rust,
I was left with nobody but myself to trust,
Just the paranoia upon which we all depend,
And the sad songs where we met our end,
Still my heart kept dancing in unsteady code,
As I buried my pride by the side of the road,
Singing black sheep, bedroom, bells of war,
I still remember where you keep the floor,
And as their laughter fell apart like rain,
I was left with nobody but myself to blame,
Just the empty promises that we all pretend,
And the silence where we’ll meet our end.
Jack Mar 2016
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about your old nose,
The one you cut apart and remolded,
So you could feel beautiful.

There used to be that little bump along the bridge,
The tip wiggled slightly when you laughed,
Now it just sits there.

Today your daughter has your old wiggly nose,
And she looks just like you,
Used to.

I hope that she appreciates it more than you did,
And I hope it reminds her every day,
That she’s beautiful
Mar 2016 · 514
Protection Money
Jack Mar 2016
Alleys and ashtrays, flesh and bone,
I woke up next to you and felt alone,
Still searching for everything I’ve lost,
Or some change to show for all the cost,
But I can’t make amends for all I lack,
Can’t hold my breath, can’t turn back,
As that circle meets us where we end,
And destiny breaks us where we bend,
My head was sirens, concrete and snow,
You slept beside me as I let you go.
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