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3.0k · Apr 2023
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.
2.0k · Jul 2023
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.
1.5k · Apr 2019
We Lined the Sand
James Rives Apr 2019
We, at various points in life,
draw a line
in the sand.
Marking where we've been,
where we stopped
to never venture forward.
Winds bring change no lines
can withstand. And we draw
them again in defiance.
We eke meaning from this sand
that would otherwise
mean nothing to us. Imparting
our own ideologies
onto an unresponsive medium
as a testament
to ourselves. Our independence.
The sand is most susceptible to change,
shifted constantly
by the sea, our feet,
the wind.
Still, we draw our lines anyway.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. :)
1.4k · Nov 2023
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
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.
1.1k · Jul 2023
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.
1.0k · Jul 2023
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.
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.
983 · Feb 4
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.
947 · Oct 2023
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
841 · Sep 2023
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 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.
James Rives May 2019
Night stirs, stars surging
in the hushed & vigorous
That void, ambient
in its design, holds artistry
and grace. Stars burst through veil
and shadow,
highlighting an ebony spire,
whose apex threatens
with beauty beyond
Their juxtaposition, a dance,
of heat and light and dark.
a poem inspired by Van Gogh's A Starry Night
732 · Apr 2019
The Desk
James Rives Apr 2019
A water bottle perched
on a desk, cluttered
with papers. Old writing,
portfolios of work half-forgotten.
A hand grips the bottle,
untwists the cap,
sips. Right now,
her words
are her only friend.
639 · Nov 2023
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.
599 · Jan 20
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
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.
James Rives Jun 2019
the hearth embraces truth,
and ends it.
searing corners, ashen smiles,
traversing time by burning
in the opposite direction.
slowly, at times, yet infinite.
we forget to preserve emotion,
as the rest of us are dead
or nearly there.
566 · May 2019
haiku 1
James Rives May 2019
My sunlight burgeons,
burns, brightens, sears, and sees all.
I'm the son of light.
548 · Nov 2021
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.
536 · Sep 2021
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
530 · Oct 2023
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.
491 · Oct 2023
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.
472 · May 2020
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.
460 · Nov 2023
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.
444 · Apr 2023
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.
James Rives Jun 2019
hiding behind false bravado
and an epoch of shame
twists uncertainty,
anger, and stubbornness.
this wasn't going to be a long
one but it was there to say hello.
432 · Jun 2019
poetry as a whole
James Rives Jun 2019
poems are my escape
into worlds where sense
is measured in meter and rhyme,
and the undercurrent of meaning.
i make regrettable decisions
and excise those
that meant me well
in exchange for a pain
less familiar.
i would apologize,
but pride dictates
i stand my ground
and put pen to paper
431 · Jan 1
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.
418 · Apr 2019
Wednesday Night
James Rives Apr 2019
I pick and poke
and **** for meaning
and find it on shelves,
in the broken dashboard
of my old car,
and in the pain of glaring
directly at the sun.
In doubling up on ramen packs
and drinking Corona past 10pm
because I’m drifting.
In swiping left and right
in search of something
I’m not sure I want or need.
In searching for meaning where, sometimes, there is none.
I pick and poke and ****
to find a reason to care.
I hid this one a long time ago but now I'm comfortable sharing it
365 · Oct 2019
silence in scarcity
James Rives Oct 2019
smoke fills his lungs and clings
to his jacket, mixing scents--
his cologne, wet grass,
the lotion on her hands,
their hearts.
in an uneven dance, riddled
with missteps, miscommunication,
missed opportunity.
they can't bear to be bare,
but there they are.
363 · Oct 2020
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.
354 · May 2020
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
328 · Apr 2019
To Paraphrase Myself
James Rives Apr 2019
I refuse to let my artistry
be ignored,
broken, beaten,
bruised, or forgotten.
These words hold my truth,
deeper than any flagship
can carry.
I must be butter today, cuz I'm on a roll. I hope to continue to find inspiration in the words that surround us all.
322 · Apr 2019
Brevity (Reworked)
James Rives Apr 2019
The clay mug fell, shattering,
the water inside staining
the floor with its murky
paint-infused hues.
Brushes lay, wet and askew.
Blankly, the artist stares,
the sound of his breathing
emphasizing this moment.
There is beauty in small things.
A major rework of an older poem from my high school days. I will also upload the original
316 · Oct 2019
James Rives Oct 2019
the truth, fettered and afraid,
hid behind pain and silence.
the poet, his eyes bagged and blurred,
tapped pen to page with ink-stained fingers.
per steady grip and endless drafting,
truth came out, and cried.
it didn't know why it hid
but teased the poet to try again.
as such, he rubbed his eyes once more,
his other hand caressing bourbon and ice.
I love this
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.
310 · Apr 2023
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.
280 · May 2020
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.
278 · Sep 2020
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.
244 · Nov 2019
choice, in essence
James Rives Nov 2019
i was told that every poem is about death,
***, and love,
never in that order.
that it's our job to organize
the chaos in a way that makes us feel
as though we won't be forgotten
when we're reduced to atoms and scraped,
bit by bit, from every etch
we've ever made
and the earth retakes our homes,
our names,
our loves,
lives, the lost.
but it's just a feeling.
what's important is embracing
every curve, every laugh,
every spat of anger. and learning.
that hurt won't always last unless we let it.
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.
221 · Apr 2019
In Bloom
James Rives Apr 2019
At times I feel lost, like I'm wandering
through lush forestry,
picking the pretty flowers
that probably don't belong here
because they look like they'd make the best
first impression, leaving the ugly, thorny weeds and vines alone.
But they spread,
by some innate instinct to fold,
pressurize, concentrate, & consume.
I take the flowers that I want to boast
and view them again,
hoping with each passing glance
that they'll grow
golden and refined.
Instead, they dim slightly,
petals pursing in rebuttal
of the light they once held.
The weeds and vines have staked their claim amongst this density
and continue their expansion,
yet among them sprout more beautiful flowers--
gleaming despite the pain.
A rushed work, but the first real thing I've written in years. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
219 · Apr 2019
Brevity (original)
James Rives Apr 2019
The canister fell, its contents spilling.
Paint-infused water covered the floor,
permeating the cracks of the tile,
staining it.
Brushes lay wet and askew.
The artist stares blankly,
He picks up the container
and carries it to the sink.
There is little water left,
and what is there, is quickly
He watches it swirl downward,
into the drain. A fleeting
He is finding the beauty in small things.
This is a slightly reworked version of the poem that is much closer to the original in form and content. I couldn't bear to share the fully original version, as I really don't feel like it's aged well at all.
208 · Oct 2023
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.
203 · Oct 2019
James Rives Oct 2019
it was plucked from his eyes, his heart,
and the sheer wonder that left them,

some cacophonous reverie,
a discordant daydream, pure wants and hopes,
and loves and laughs-- all faded.

what eclectic energy there was in them,
some flicker of familiarity and warmth--
led to a slow, burning descent into some place
he might call home soon.
finally wrote another one, not sure how I feel about it.
199 · Nov 2020
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.
197 · Nov 2023
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.
194 · Apr 2022
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.
190 · Aug 2020
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.
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