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Feb 4 · 958
the moon is blue-green
James Rives Feb 4
she sometimes views herself a burden
but in reality she is part of my ever-evolving serenity.

imagery of the sun invokes heat, brightness,
positivity-- the moon is cast aside.
but in her blue-green eyes, I see the tides pulled by sincerity and pride in tandem.
bella luna pequeña.

coffee mugs, chocolate milk, Bob's Burgers, black cat, canned soup, Civilization, peace.
her rhythm matches mine and blesses me.
we aren't perfect, but who gives a ****?
i will be the sun.
Jan 20 · 589
bloodletting go
James Rives Jan 20
poetry is bloodletting
for my aching hands,
brain, heart, soul, whatever.
in maroon, I see a *****,
disconnected features, details,
themes, emotion.
all useless without the right vessel.
the pages may get stained
but the Rorschach means nothing
without rhythm and image and heat
and light.
i deserved it
Jan 1 · 431
first kiss
James Rives Jan 1
lips crisped cold, anticipation
building above and below
any seen surface.
months of waiting culminate
in an awkward embrace,
and two pairs of lips
branding one another
with tenderness and lust.
James Rives Dec 2023
seamless seamoss green and blue,
tundra indifferent and speckled.
cascading across my heart, mind, soul;
the entirety of my reality.
essence coiled tightly in preparation,
I flinch. it is filled with an energy
that I am not intimate with but the two
that wield it teach me separately.
how to see and be seen, how to love
and be loved, how to listen and be heard.
to **** and be beckoned back to where you began, love in-hand, heart appeased,
and content.
Dec 2023 · 73
James Rives Dec 2023
our hearts were full and spilled
onto each other and then this page,
radiance in tandem with love and fear.

if i am the sun, you are mi bella luna pequeña--
you reflect the brightest parts of me,
and our darkness is the same.

you are the automaton at the center
of my youth and health and life.
Nov 2023 · 197
if only
James Rives Nov 2023
in an r&b slow jam that's stuck under my skin, there's an ocean filled with love, lust,
and peaceful eyes between green and blue and me.
Nov 2023 · 129
when i say i love you
James Rives Nov 2023
I'm making a choice: you.

when i say i love you,
it's a promise that my heart is yours
in as many or as few pieces as you need.

when i say i love you,
i mean that words don't capture
the nuance of feeling peace in your smile,
charmed by your eyes, and lusting to contain
your entire wonder in a hug.

when i say i love you,
i want the answer to be, "no ****,"
because i want the world to recognize
your value.

when i say i love you,
i want you and mean it.

i love you.
Nov 2023 · 1.3k
James Rives Nov 2023
i'm a very hot & cold, all-or-nothing person, and i hate feeling stifled and like i'm not being heard, so i type my insecurities into this ****** little digital void and sometimes call it poetry
Nov 2023 · 636
moonlight whispers
James Rives Nov 2023
in moonlight whispers love fills my heart
and glass with wine, and magnifies
my soul to tenderness.

the biting, scraping, lustful pining
for distant and abhorrent truth
is solace in place of reality.

a reality where we address the trauma
of unkind childhoods, bloodied knees,
and chipped teeth.

misunderstandings that follow the gap
in a shortness of breath before an apology.
that remind you that your thoughts
can only love if you do.

and years later you will have some drunken
outpour that darkens the moonlight
and comfort, but makes way
to some otherworldly dawn beyond
the you that reads this now.
Nov 2023 · 460
love as a sonata
James Rives Nov 2023
complex in its twisting, winding way,
where and when sound escapes,
intentionally beautiful in an ugly sense.
Oct 2023 · 526
James Rives Oct 2023
she solidified the mist around my heart,
froze its vapors, shattered it, freed me. her quiet
green eyes speak loudly the volumes
that her voice feared.

there is deep longing in that greenness, and when i see it, i return it tenfold-- in praise,
lust, our conjoined humors.

dreaming of what could be:
a night at a lake-- mostly still, stirred only by chirps, ribbits, and croaks in dangerous proximity to our heat.
there is a picnic there, under a tree-- evergreen, stable, firm.
food, wine, ****, peace.

her beauty and kindness are now light
to me, for me, through me.
Oct 2023 · 208
beautiful earthen sound
James Rives Oct 2023
i once believed my soul was black,
painted by insecurity, mistrust, and lust.
until moonlight crept in, branches swaying
in beautiful music,
like and unlike any earthen sound.
Oct 2023 · 489
James Rives Oct 2023
writing a poem is hard when your soul contradicts the rest of you.
i say i love this woman and mean it,
and fear grips me, puts its finger on my lips,
and shushes me. tells me that neither of us
is ready, that i don’t know my own thoughts,
hopes, dreams, wants, needs, and their reflection
in the mirror of her stark blue eyes and soul.
that it’s all an imagining beyond my own soul
and comprehension, that i’m projecting
a long lost sense of helplessness and courage
onto her without consent because i seek
acceptances and intimacies beyond my worth.
and still, knuckle-deep in this hard, scathing noise is a truth i refuse to ignore.
i am hers in my entirety and only want to know
that she is mine— my soul contradicts
the rest of me but i faithfully **** it
and aim for the future i’ve hoped lives
in both of us.
Oct 2023 · 942
love, in essence, is blind
James Rives Oct 2023
love, in essence, is blind,
and knows more than it can convey.
the simple sound of your cough
amongst a crowd of weekend shoppers,
red onion in hand for your next soup.
the scent of lemongrass, patchouli,
home away from home.

love, in essence, is blind,
and can see beyond itself.
it touches the ether and knows
your kind soul, your hurt heart,
the deepness of your hugs,
the tickle in your lungs,
the curl of curses on your lips,
and the warmth in your bright blue eyes.
to the one I couldn’t help but love
James Rives Sep 2023
i hope the poem that rests on your tongue,
vibrant and lovely, speaks your truth.
and that this truth is all your own and knows
your love in its wholeness; anxiety, fright,
happiness included.

that the object of your desire, human
and beautiful, meets you where you rest,
and loves you with the same heat
and kindness that you deserve.

and that you grow from the experience
of wanting beyond your selfish heart,
into something that only wants the best
for another, for no reason
other than their happiness with
or without you.
she makes me so happy that I hope I never spend another day without her.
Sep 2023 · 836
James Rives Sep 2023
the heat of her breath on my arm
as she sleeps is my world, personified.
my sun, and moon, and stars rapidly
expanding beyond the limits
of any love I'd ever believed was mine.
she's sleeping next to me while i write this and her cat is nestled around my ankles. i feel like i finally made it home.
James Rives Sep 2023
what is the benchmark or minimum
for telling someone, "i love you,"?
how many i miss yous
and i wish you were heres are enough,
even minutes after parting?

whatever the number is, **** it.
because my heart remembers to beat
and even attempts to soar with you
to heights new, unfound, unseen.

where the chittering of nearby birds
is both foreign and kind comfort
in our hands;
where oranges and strawberries grow
in tandem, vine over vine, root over root,
and fall into us, sweet and kind and lovely.

if i were to say it too soon, i'm afraid
i'd lose you, your wit, your smile,
dumb jokes and blazing blue eyes.
and by withholding, i risk combustion,
and an end to it all the same.

i love you.
I have never felt a love like this. It's unique and pure but I worry that I'm stupid and easily tricked.
Jul 2023 · 1.0k
moonlight whispers
James Rives Jul 2023
in moonlight whispers love fills my heart
and glass with wine, and magnifies
my soul to tenderness.

the biting, scraping, lustful pining
for distant and abhorrent truth
is solace in place of reality.

a reality where we address the trauma
of unkind childhoods, bloodied knees,
and chipped teeth.

misunderstandings that follow the gap
in a shortness of breath before an apology.
that remind you that your thoughts
can only love if you do.

and years later you will have some drunken
outpour that darkens the moonlight
and comfort, but makes way
to some otherworldly dawn beyond
the you that reads this now.
Jul 2023 · 2.0k
prime to burst and cry
James Rives Jul 2023
I break my own heart with hope
that it mends stronger,
and that others reach out to help.

i cling to false independence,
and bitterly bite back blood and anger,
sadness and complacence.

i create a fortress in my mind,
constructed, brick by brick,
to shield me and complain
when no one finds their way inside.

i'm not sure what i hate more-- everyone else?
or me.
Jul 2023 · 1.0k
a woman i admire
James Rives Jul 2023
her words snap me back to reality,
away from supposition and hypotheticals,
into her arms where I feel safe.

blue eyes that pierce whatever darkness
i thought i had and lied to myself about,
eyes that see me for a who I am and who I want to be.

imagine walking down a darkened path,
content in the streetlights that guided
you home, and spotting something small
and kind. whatever it is you imagine,
it beckons you to hold it and when you do,
you smile, truly and impulsively.

that essence is a woman, and one i admire.
someone beatiful, kind, and funny,
including her incessant snoring on
already sleepless nights because a cat is begging for food but you feeling comfort
in their REM cycle. too little space
to be your own, but enough heart to bridge the gap.

imagine, then, that someone places
your hand on their lap when you drive,
but are equally willing to do the same,
in what feels like an equivalent exchange
of heart and sheer goofiness.

and tell yourself it doesn't feel right
that you were able to find home in them,
effortlessly and happily. you won't
and can't, and neither can i.

words can't express that she has been
friend, confidant, and a visual marvel,
and someone i envision as a pillar
of my bright existence.
James Rives Jun 2023
imagine reaching deep into yourself,
past any sense of doubt or regret,
and reliving what made you -you-.

saturday mornings when your dad
cut grass and expected help he didn't ask for while bacon and eggs waited
in the kitchen,

or sundays where evening cartoons robbed you, so you wished
for extra sleep before sermons
and trips to CVS.

or holidays alone because jobs
are demanding, and it won't happen
again next year, where stillness forms into repression,
fueled by discomforts, angsts,

and it isn't until much later
that the light of your own existence
takes root, petals up toward the sun,
and chooses to flourish.
James Rives Jun 2023
in the stillness where critical thinking dies,
and your heart wins over, what silence
do you **** to make room for love?

is it the white noise of a nap
that leaves you groggy, pillow wettened
and intimately familiar with
your cheekbones?

is it the satisfaction of a fast food order
that exceeds your want for grease
with deliciousness and clean hands?

is it the feeling
of a project completed,
a pat on the back,
and the firm touch
of another capable human being?

i say it's everything
and nothing,
all that is below
and remains beneath
reach and understanding.

pervasive kindness is rare
yet attainable,
and i aim for it,
not just in pursuit of romance,
but to be happy and free.
Apr 2023 · 3.0k
James Rives Apr 2023
I imagine sitting on a porch somewhere humid and calm,
a tall tree, full of hand fruits, providing shade to foot traffic.
In this imagining, the lemonade is almost too sweet but doesn't stick to the table when it dries, and the mesh lining of the patio denies mosquitos all entry.
Their buzzing is drowned by the sound of ice being crushed three or four times with margarita mix and my favorite sin. Here, life has halted so dearly in a way I've always wanted, and in this, there is peace.
My parents would have kept a container of peanuts nearby to have with their Pepsis for days like this--
days where sound and warmth and humidity mingle, and fanning yourself with an old church pamphlet was better than being
bored, comfortable, and air-conditioned.
Apr 2023 · 310
when I ask "what if?"
James Rives Apr 2023
i find it fun to imagine oblivions
and what they mean to different mes.
one hugged too often;
one much less, and bitter for it.
i find it fun to imagine that one thing,
one word, can have its meaning
abstracted beyond my control,
and spiral into an infinite number
of "what-ifs."

what's also fun is autumn
in its richness and volume,
skylines dyed shades of cinnamon, pear, and apple. supple warmth
and deep comfort.

both bring foreboding if you let them, so the answer is to never.
Apr 2023 · 444
time, as it speaks to me
James Rives Apr 2023
time: ceaseless, rapid,
rippling, uncertain, kind.

it hoists me up, meeting
its mouth to my ear and speaks,
but does not elaborate.

it is a tidal fever, borne of crash
and rage.

a vagrant rush of purpose,
hope, and malcontent.

i listen intently
before it finally puts me down.
Apr 2022 · 194
James Rives Apr 2022
i am so deeply unsatisfied in my life
and too mired in my failings
to appreciate imagery and sound.
something reached deep in me,
scooped color from my innards,
and left me to rot.
living for spite is dreadfully boring.
Dec 2021 · 99
and we wonder
James Rives Dec 2021
why artists wrestle with a million thoughts
that aren’t original,
that still still seem fresh,
when this life is universal.
when we aren’t honest with ourselves
and the introspection kills us more
and more each time.
some stupid innate desire to do
and be better,
hindered by the rest of who we are.
even this is a cheap imitation of others
who’ve felt the same.
and the anger and lack of clarity consumes me.
i was always taught to show, not tell,
but words elude me when emotions don’t.
i may be a bad writer, but never say
I’m not passionate.
James Rives Dec 2021
in return
metallic again
Nov 2021 · 548
James Rives Nov 2021
reaching what you feel is unlimited potential,
trusting that you’re the main character of
your story—
you’re disavowed by actuality.

there is more in believing, trying, doing—
you are love and light and concise metaphor.
sometimes salt-soaked irreverence
in the face of reality. Scraping,
laughing, yearning.
All that you’ve accomplished with a smile
and full heart is yours.
You are inadequate and whole.
Sep 2021 · 536
diamond reality
James Rives Sep 2021
when a deep love grips you, you don’t mind—

you savor it and say thank you.

it takes you by surprise and suffocates you, hand on throat— callous, stern, kind.

at first it scares you, then comfort envelopes. possibility emerges.

you cough, your lacquer-coated, oak-like lungs tapped dry and somehow full, heart still deep, and thoroughly unsure which way leads home.

you’re still whole and never won’t be, but something tells you there’s another piece out there.

the hand on the throat; the shrapnel in your lungs; the serenity behind a contented chuckle at some half-assed joke.

all the same, it’s real. and you know it. and it won’t leave you, even if things don’t end the way you want.

it’s been said that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I want to say it’s true.

cough as much as you need, ask for a drink, and speak deeply and honestly without losing yourself.
Not sure where this came from but it’s about time I wrote something different
Sep 2021 · 97
Enamored in memoriam
James Rives Sep 2021
Too many poems have rough starts to grip you but lack the heart to keep you. Each is a piece of someone’s soul. The cliché holds steady and you’ll contemplate it, but who gives a ****?

What we gather from them can’t quantify the sacrifice of being honest to strangers who’ll focus too heavily on your syntax, your line breaks, your cadence.

All the same, it matters. We choose to struggle, share, overcome, and it’s deeply un-unique— yet we always find a way to make it ours.

I want this medium to reflect what I’ve always been: present, flexible, deeply sad.

Maybe one day we’ll finish a sentence without pausing first to see who’s listening.
James Rives Feb 2021
night slept when she spoke,
creeping  back into its ceaseless
day paused with envy
at her brightness.
the winds whipped
as she moved, and caressed her.

heart aimed at sunset,
she set herself
to become the beauty
she felt around her.
Nov 2020 · 199
James Rives Nov 2020
you once lived deeply within some passion,
  met it head on, ember-laden,
    and self-assured.

its completion priming a response to share,
  for some ephemeral happiness,
    snared closed to what you'd say was
      "honesty" or "openness."
a truth that even you don't know. but it wasn't that.

winter's edge has dulled those senses,
  mellowed it, twisting into irregular sleep,
    multitude bad habits,
      disdain for the art.

just shy of two turns at half-light--
  theatre has grown stale.

inspiration comes and goes, flickers inconstant,
    and with each passing flame,
      you grow more weary.
Oct 2020 · 363
atypical, not uncommon
James Rives Oct 2020
we tried to find solace
in unknown deepness--
warmth & respite, ignored
in favor of stranger, atypical strides.

the sounds made sense at first,
then didn't.

imagine asking a question you never want answered,
posture straight and ears turned sideways,
cupped in hand,
yet deafened by sadness.

we weren't going to work,
but only time could tell us no
so firmly we stopped denying it.
Sep 2020 · 278
James Rives Sep 2020
inside slovenly crystalline stares,
words flitter, flutter, settle,
nest. resting on pages
that they couldn’t truly claim
as their own, yet still find love in them.
breakneck, fast-paced loving and mayhem,
turn around, find peace, lose it and question.
your process: sputter to a void,
senseless, demanding.
you dry-faced cry and burgeon.
love is in your heart, so claw it out
and be truthful.
admit yourself to yourself.
Aug 2020 · 81
James Rives Aug 2020
there’s solace in syllables,
humming as you write them,
their slight vibrations signal warmth.

fondness gives it life
and, in turn, is mountainous
in splendor.

this might be what love is.
something short and non-descript, just to shake the dust off and maybe inspire something else
Aug 2020 · 190
James Rives Aug 2020
this essence has been boiled down to the nearest nothing
and deep down, it feels familiar—

a bird too grown to only now learn to fly,
its wingtips creased the wrong way,
nearly featherless, and weak.
nowhere to go but down
and even then,
impact doesn't promise

a poem with too few metaphors,
too much “telling”— we get the point
but SHOW us—
as if listless anger and sadness
it's just a clear-cut visual,
crystalline in memory against all odds.

this essence had been boiled down to the nearest nothing
and deep down, it feels misunderstood.
James Rives Jul 2020
pin-pricked, the deep drip
spelled cacophony,
mired in chaos.
the human brand
of serially unkind

and distant.
far too nebulous
to satisfy your craving
after a long day of wanting.
those words silk-spilled
into some odd pile,
creation adjacent to intent,
and skewed from some cliff
hoping for release.
Jun 2020 · 172
James Rives Jun 2020
the truth chained itself and,
grimacing, he followed.
each star he eyed blew past,
one by one, and perched
themselves within him.
he picked, prodded, pleaded,
sleep smudging the night's corpse,
and optimism left him.

bit by bit, he read her heart
and lost it in translation.
her energy was effervescent,
and warm. inconsistent.
her energy was eclectic-- fierce,
and her words: silken, undisturbed
he lost himself in her songs,
the playlists of past hurts, wants, haves-
and happiness. rhapsodic
pain is a telegraph,
a tactile sensation that sounds off,
telling stories of past mistakes.
James Rives Jun 2020
night slept when she spoke,
creeping  back into its ceaseless
void in reverence or awe.
day paused enviously
at her brightness.
the winds fervently whipped
as she moved, and caressed
her in a motherly wrap.
she viewed this beauty
in nature as it viewed it in her.
taking aim at sunset,
she set herself
to become the beauty
she beheld.
Jun 2020 · 171
duality in senselessness
James Rives Jun 2020
night and day— a unison
in serene dawn,
entwined in hope,
lust, fun.

then flecks and flashes of flesh
and light snare souls
with optimism
and choke with reality.

until night and day, crossed
at the harshest bit of twilight,
are dead.
Jun 2020 · 162
without burden, i burn
James Rives Jun 2020
without the burden of expectation,
i flourish the way i’ve always wanted.
i have planted a seed of loving myself
and doing it so ******* fiercely
that it can’t be denied, and it blooms.
regret, fear, and uncertainty have burned
away and their ashes nurture this new soil.
i will tend this garden in myself
and speak crystal clear and loudly proclaim
that i am worth loving and i do it boldly.
i ******* love myself
May 2020 · 102
hubris tethered to regret
James Rives May 2020
have you ever felt a friendship die,
gasping for its last breath between scattered texts and awkward compliments?
each wincing inhale a deliberate pause
to find the words you force
yourself to want.
you may need each other but the knife
between the ribs didn’t.
time won’t heal what’s already dead
but the memory of it may be beautiful
and kind like ocean air before your lips
are parched, a firm kiss you want to linger (and does), a lightning bolt against the ****** that reminds you of their warmth.
May 2020 · 280
i bare myself
James Rives May 2020
i bare myself in word-song to share
in rhythm and sound,
to release this pressure in crisp,
light notes-- palatable.
to share sordid beauty
that i've yet to understand,
to let you know you're not alone.
to dig to the core of something likely awful,
nasty, and stupid, and reason with it to
kindness and love.
i bare myself to understand
and be understood.
May 2020 · 472
moonlight, once more
James Rives May 2020
moonlight is invoked
as a beacon--
in taut-fingered metaphor
as beauty's parallel.
but its power is in reflection,
in meditation, in echo.

but what value is there
in light stolen and returned
softer, gentler?

maybe understanding
that these radiances exist in balance
and liken their charm
in effigy to ourselves.
May 2020 · 354
orchestral in an open way
James Rives May 2020
a poem never writes itself,
but will guide us.
its sinister intent half-mechanical, as if by formula,
yet imbued with fresh shock
and sound. a word
settles on the bones
and then another--- another.
their emergence rings hollow
before unison and rings
loudly as a whole.
cascading rhythms,
parsed onto pen-pricked page,
gasping for more
and wanting less.
a poem about poetry

this was rushed-- will revisit
Apr 2020 · 139
James Rives Apr 2020
i have resolved
to let these moments stab me,
teach me, by reaching my core
and harming me.
it will carve me into something
daring and emboldened;
perhaps i will be smelted,
still stronger all the same,
especially without you.
rough draft, will revisit
James Rives Mar 2020
i'm tired of being boiled down
to my barest, simplest parts,
and compromised beyond my core.

my facets ignored as if repugnant
or strange--
as if all i can ever be is what portait
painted itself.

to yell into an unyielding void
and be met with a stiff and resounding silence.
to be so resounding unheard despite
sheer and shrieking volume.

to exist in a space where metaphor scarcely follows for fear that truth will dilute it.

what importance did it ever hold?

it was all a cry.

and no one heard.
Mar 2020 · 79
James Rives Mar 2020
you speak like glasswork--
hot, measured, and fragile.
empty promises and murky
depths, opacity that chills
and stuns.

you speak of love
as if you know it,
but you've never let it greet you
at your door.
it knocks and you freeze,
pretend it's a stranger,
though you knew its name before it did.

you've stolen more
than you can ever repay,
and brevity in stillness still stings.

you will do well
without your opaque glass
and brittle words,
but I can't promise the same.
we all write poems to play a game
Jan 2020 · 117
vin et colére
James Rives Jan 2020
none if it was supposed to happen,
no wine spilling
from whosever glass heart
would hold it.
mine shattered, and it poured profusely,
condescension and hatred,
in good measure.

the lies were supposed to rest
on an old, dusty shelf
with books you no longer read,
forlorn, while warmer things
filled your heart.
only now that it's gone,
do you believe yourself the victim,
and pretend to care.
from what remains, no love of any kind
will ever echo for you again.
I hope your hot priest comes along and breaks your heart in the worst ways.
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