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John Carpentier Jun 2017
There
in the olive branched overhangs
of the never travelled tunnels

Live means of travel never tried

Empty journeys
Sprinkled spots of wanderlust
Never gathered
No bags
Or saddlebags

Just leaves
Years
and
years
of leaves
John Carpentier May 2017
The lavender is sleeping tonight
The lilacs are keening
and the aster is listening—

What is the secret
that only the dewdrops
seem to know?

I stare out the dusty car window
and try to question
the grass blades
so different here than leaves.

I don’t want to be rude
in my gawking
at the chubby bees and busy beetles,
my eyes trying to take my mind over
and learn their teachings
lost to me.

In the gray morning traffic
I wish to be small
infinitely small
to slip through some crack,
out the door,
down the street
and drink the dewdrops.

Sublime rain children
Osmosis knowledge

I would be full
in my miniatureness
of the secrets and songs
of the underfoot
the unseen who are still visible.

I would admire grandeur again,
fear the breeze and the rain,
revel in their power.

I would be unable
to type on a keyboard
to speak by phone,
to turn the steering wheel.

I would tame the franticness
of bumblebees
and duel mosquitoes
with willow twigs

I would smell each tiniest
smell and forget the manufactured.

I would be whole
and dense,
gloriously slow,
moving with beautiful infinitesimalness
in my affair with the Earth.
John Carpentier Feb 2017
it’s humorous in a way
to feel lost in innocuous things,
Sinatra’s mellow tones,
barbequed steaks,
church pews,
stale donuts and ice cream parlors,
things that I will never divest from you, Dad.

and each year when i speak
when i sing
and i hear that voice sounding
frighteningly closer and closer to yours,
i want to go days without speaking
to stop this strange fear and because

exulansis
some obscure sorrow that’s almost a word:
the tendency to give up talking about an experience
because your feelings have fatigued
and you don’t know what place it has in your story

i know its place.
i just don’t know how to say it.
don’t know how to relay
that if i could take a box
and fill it with each and every possession and happy thing in my life
that i would trade every bit of it away
to have just one more day with you

to spend your birthday
throwing a baseball
eating burgers
watching dumb action movies
back on our boat on the bay

and to think about these things
on the day you died,
on your anniversary,
instead of the sound my fist made
banging on your chest
when i shouted “i love you,”
over your suddenly lifeless body,
unwilling to be pulled away
until i received a reply

i want to hear church hymns and old jazz
sung by your smoky baritone
and not the odd echo that haunts my ears

i want to know what place you will have in my story,
if i will ever see you again

sometimes,
sometimes
i think i feel it
on the edge of my mind that doesn’t need analysis
or logic
your smile
the biggest smile that ever was
no matter where i am
and i feel right
and my voice feels right,
my own baritone.
For JRC on his birthday, 2/11/17
John Carpentier Nov 2016
Cedarwood soap
meaning to be mixed with salt air
and hours old bacon scent
like lines on a recipe
the
bullet
points

1 teaspoon of worn out frisbees
1 cup of driftwood signed by old friends
1/4 cup of honeysuckle beside the bathroom window
A pinch of calm

But instead, my kitchen is empty
and it is simply my same deodorant
the honey cereal
the just warmed coffee
then out and into the car
driving the wrong seeming road
reading the wrong cook book

And I entrance myself
inch worming along the interstate

There are no memories without senses
and that is good

But sometimes
when I’ve just turned up the traffic report
and my offramp is on the approach

I wish there were less sense
in the smell of ancient blue ink
the feel of paper worn with my many holdings
the taste of saline kept from falling on the page
the sight of the achingly archaic handwriting
the sound, in a voice I am not sure how well I remember:

I came up to kiss you goodnight, but
you were
asleep—
Good Night.
Good Morning.

‘Love You
       *Pops
John Carpentier Sep 2016
outside the edges of the boxes of marble
they call the skies
the best chess games are played.

cirrus kings and nimbus queens
clash together in soft swipes

echoes of old spirits
castle their towers,
whispers of once-water
precisely carved into the oldest shapes

64 squares
swatches of sunlight and moonbeams
across all hours of all days,
floating,

waiting
for the next pair to whip the winds together
and summon the pieces,

to wipe the dew drops from grey fields
and the ocean air from onyx beaches.
to drip the reclaimed water into the visors of bishops
and the parapets of rooks.

i stare up in the empty hours
when no eyes are following me
and imagine the plays.

the sicilian defense of a spring morning,
the albin countergambits of low rolling fog,
somewhere in the eye of a thunderstorm,
alternating danish and latvian gambits.

i mime the sky
on a small slate board i bought long ago
and imagine my life outside the marble,
watching my own moves through the years,
promoted from pawn to knight to bishop.

i smile at my old fianchettos and en passants,
the sneaking and stumbling of past games
past years


i stare down through imagined clouds
at a little cabin by the coast,
salty, smoky, and quiet,

my own old scotch game,
a beloved antique not quite forgotten,
but full of beauty and history
if even most don’t see it.

and in the winds
there is a chill and a clack,
like the setting of pieces,
the start of a clock.
John Carpentier Sep 2016
When skin rubs raw,
hot and nervous from the pressure and friction
is how it feels
to not know where anger comes from.

Its signs are there –
in red cheeks and white knuckles,
massive pupils,
short sentences.

To hear the echo of pain
in the voice across from you
or far away,
through the phone
and not understand the hurt,
to fear the answers to unspoken questions.

I feel raw then,
in the replies that come,
though I know it is just the pain
given form,
unable, unwilling
to stop its multiplication.

In that place, I am empty.
My inability to help is impossibly heavy:
shades of puce and chartreuse,
suffocating me with nausea
until my stomach starts to swallow itself,
my insides their own singularity.

I do not know how to confront the anger
with no traces.
I am wishing words that I might say,
that we were wolves once,
wild and weary,
tearing down the empty shores of freezing beaches,
alive, unkempt,
crackling with energy,
passing it along through glasses of whiskey,
through fireplaces and chess pieces and salt water taffy.

How do I make clear to you that you are loved,
that each and all of my words and expressions
were never meant with malice?

How can I show that I wish to be led?
To see the traces of these scrapes and burns
inside your brain?

You should know
that while I cannot fix it all for you,
I have spent nights wishing I could,
have tried, despite all obvious impossibilities.

You should know
that pain is not your purpose.

You should know
that I love you in all moments
as a brother, as a sister, as a soul, as yourself,
exactly as you are.

That though we are less wild
and more weary,
the best days are still ahead,
waiting for us to share.
John Carpentier Sep 2016
they say the eyes of the ocean
are made of alabaster,
and every time you pick up a piece of it,
the oceans claim a piece of your soul,
something they will know
that no one else will.

but it was never clear to me who “they” were anyway.
otherwise I would wonder at the consequences
of carving alabaster, or breaking it.
i don’t.

i do.

maybe all great things
leave their eyes elsewhere
no longer in need of them,
but unwilling to destroy them,
still attached to the distractions they provide.

it would be nice to know the ocean had a soul,
that tidal waves
might be rage, or sorrow.
i would find comfort sometimes,
knowing the ocean too must scream.

maybe doldrums would be depression,
and maelstroms; anxiety attacks.
the eye of a storm could easily be bipolar.
there would be great use in codifying each subsection of the DSM-V
through marine events.

of course,
the oceans are greatly governed by the moon,
the most distal of all stimuli.
perhaps this changes things.

no, probably not.
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