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4.8k · Aug 2012
Timmy O'Brien
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
When I was thirteen, I had a running coach.
He was short, lean, and muscular.
An Italian man
with a whistle hanging around his neck,
farmer's tan, and below his black widow's peak
sat silver aviators, propped upon his shiny beak.
I ran miles and miles a day, but,
no matter how much I'd run
he never followed. He always trusted me to
stride my roads and lift my knees high
during the kick at the end of the races
against myself.

"If you want to run
you gotta drop that baggage," he'd laugh
between sips from his water bottle
as he towered over little me,
panting and red. We both stood
tall under the blazing sun.
I couldn't comprehend exactly what he meant,
I mean, I told him,
"I have ultra-light, top-of-the-line shoes,
compression shorts and athletic toes,
a hairless chest for maximum speed,
sweat running rivers down my spine,
legs that never exhaust, and,
above all, Coach,
a spirit that can move mountains." His response,
silence and a smirk.
Who was he to teach me about running?

"You're weighing yourself down boy,
you gotta drop that baggage."
It was his motto for me
every time my time would increase,
because, you see, when running,
increase is bad. Except for hills.
I can still hear his voice in my head,
"Uphill, increase exertion."
He never ran with me, he just told me to go.
He showed me the route and I did as expected,
six days a week, sometimes three miles, sometimes ten,
day after day, again and again,
shoulders hunched and me out of breath,
"runners high," they called it.

I hated running, I hated my coach,
I didn't understand why
anyone would want run to anywhere.
Not now. Now, I love it.
It has become my hobby, a specialty
for when one grows up,
your body is built for it, and your mind
has been ready to run since junior high.
It starts as a seedling, when you're barely able to walk,
and by the time your cardiovascular system
has been assaulted by packs of tobacco
and rolled marijuana, it blooms green.
That's when you realize:
Running is easy.

And coaching?
Don't even get me started on how easy that is.
3.4k · Dec 2012
Pray for the Lake
Joseph Valle Dec 2012
There was a Truth
in murk-settled water.
I'll sit at the surface
and remember past wrongs.

Stirred lake was below us,
the eels and a catfish,
but towered above
the sun shone down warm.

A dead masquerade,
you kicked for the surface.
Your body, it rippled
a silhouetted sky.

Dead hum underwater
our eyelids were liquid.
My jellyfish back
absorbed the tanned rays.

Ingest your diffraction,
a hunger astray.
A dry-land discov'ry:
it was my legs aflame.

The murk was in you.
The murk was in you.
Dear God, I was clean.
Dear God, I was clean.

A seat at the table
to pray for the lake.
But what does it matter?
Wash my hands to eat.
2.7k · Aug 2012
Leaving Eyes
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
you cried
it hurts
to write
that tears
they fell
from leaving eyes
waving once
more tears
on stairs
that creaked,

Your word
a sword
my throat
my legs
went out
fell down
and you
were gone
you left
me there
with darkened stares
that night
no more
would stars
streak skies.
2.5k · Aug 2012
Strawberry Tobacco
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
A fine mixture of smoke and breath escapes my lungs
as this letter flows from my pen this evening.
"This evening:" What does that even mean?
A moment in darkness, shadowed is the life-giver
high above us,
Strawberry tobacco smothers my face from hookah pipe,
eyes fixed on the lines before me,
and I have nothing to say.
We have nothing to speak, I assume.
I am wordless but maybe in the moment,
this evening, you have a tongue of prose
and no pen to mouth emotion back,
no way of knowing that your time is time is now,
and it's my turn to listen.
Wait, no no, not emotion.
Just "being,"
ways of being, strewn out like a fortune teller's
knucklebones. A lie, the truth, the way that
your eyes wander to the door as you lie
on the pinstriped couch across living room
from me.
I see you glancing, I feel your yearning
for skies where wings can spread against
a star-sun-lit moon and clouds of pink and red,
a longing to dive toward god-given green earth,
near to here, but so so far.
Needing clouds to dream-slumber in, as beads of water
mask your body in my mind, mixed with
thoughts of pure love and pining for your growth,
as dew drops form around my long blond-brown-blue eyelashes.

It's all I see, I've seen,
that's all I write to you this evening.
2.5k · Nov 2012
On Creating Spiderwebs
Joseph Valle Nov 2012
Lines of coal take form, again and again, on this coldbound evening
as blackened fingers and wear reveal prints typically unseen.
Beautiful and unique and hurricane lightning tattooed yellowed paper.
It was untouched, like the charcoal, for ages as it sat in the corner
underneath the easel gathering dust and cobwebs.
It seems that the spiders have had a plentiful harvest this autumn,
what a shame to rid them of their feast this month.
It'll be winter soon and they're going to need it.
What creation is permissible by destruction? Any?

Can I make up for it, I promise:
I'll draw them a web and weave you into it.
You and I and They: we'll all feast.
We on Art and they on flesh.
They'll never miss those material pleasures ever again.
They'll never need to build or wait or **** or eat.
We'll never need to either, not after this,
this momentous occasion of focus and dedication
when my arms and lamplit desk burn from satisfaction
and our faces grimace at the completion
of something so wonderful, on paper.
2.3k · Aug 2012
The Nighttime Scarecrow
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
A man poses at a dimly lit table,
a light hangs directly overhead
with a cobweb ribbon-wrapped around
the steel wire escaping the ceiling.
An inverted roulette table,
a man betting against the house:
It is always this way.
Light flickers, flipped on,
and off, and on,
without a switch
with which to assert control.
He is alone in the squeaking chair,
sipping tea and dipping his crumb-covered
hands into the napkin-covered basket
of water crackers and salted peanuts.

Sitting, he poses for practice, but for now,
he practices for no one.
The house is empty.
In the back of his mind, there is no worry
of what one will find upon entering
the kitchen: A scarecrow at a table,
full of straw and teeth dulled down
from night grinding,
sitting in, what could be mistaken
as, a pensive position.

The scavenger hand makes him look wanting.
It's partner is propped on chin,
accompanied by his half-sculpted smile
and the dark-light contrast of his hair and eyes
with yellow shining off of his two front teeth.
The color is not the fault of stumbling home
too late to care for the mouth, but of the old
incandescent staring him down
and the obsessively clean, marble surface
at which he puckers his face.

A tapping in the hall stirs his bones
and his body darts up.
A crow, it seems, with small grey beak
has wandered in from the overgrown fields,
the fields that haven't been tended to
since this boy began taking himself too seriously.
The both of them with stilts for legs
and no breeze of running feet
from scream to sway the pair of pairs.
Their eyes connect and neither moves.
Who should place the first bet,
black or red,
and who will set the ball in motion?

The light goes off.
Denoument is a bad time
for a bulb to die.
As calm as a hand
with razorblade against skin,
the scarecrow sits down once again
and poses.
The bird observes his motion,
calls, and waits,
but the man moves no more,
overjoyed with an invisible audience,
a full stomach.
2.3k · Aug 2012
An Ember-Filled Fireplace
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Family is
not the humorous, "ha-ha" funny.
It more resembles the "ah-hmm,"
intriguing, pensive sort of funny.
It's the only unconditional love
you're nearly promised to receive.
It comes and goes with every
passing situation
surrounding an ember-filled fireplace
of an eve gone by,
blindly staring at the lights
as they flicker across faces
so worn from storied conversation.
An occasional outburst ends in laughter
if one tries to contain it,
it subsides in subdued breathing
from under-breath mutterings,
and upper teeth, cheek-strained smiles.

Maybe we're to love
only in this way,
only in the way of trusted, known,
unabandonable looks, for you,
only for you,
and those whom you love.
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Night beckons to strange people.
Actually, if you can accept this premise,
then the mind makes everyone strange.
And still yet, there is something specific about darkness,
I cannot put my finger on it,
that sends odd sparks of real life
on a mission to city street corners.

I hide in my car after leaving the café
with the hope of seeing, "The Pigtailed Man."
This isn't his name.
However, I need say no more to any stranger
for him to envision my character.
We objectify him and his image becomes clear
even when spotted in narrowed alleyway darkness.

He has a beautiful wife
with locks past her shoulder
of auburn and lillies,
and two wonderfully bright children
who sit on his knee when listening
to nighty-night, bedtime stories.
Their ringing laughter illuminates
the darkest corners of their happy home.
They'll never know why he needs
to go bye-bye at dangerous evening hours,
hunting sour scowls from passers-by.

He's unkempt: legs unshaven, chin covered
by midnight shadow, beer belly hanging over his
plaid picnic-basket red schoolgirl skirt,
and his face sags as if a topical novocaine
was applied generously to his chubby, rosy cheeks.
Upon seeing his aimless strut
and dead-to-self eyes, I wonder: Where does he dress?
Does he put his outfit on from plastic grocery bag
around the block from the lamp-lit looks of
the neighbors' friendly daytime greetings?
More importantly, if I were friend
and was to catch him in the act,
would I say anything?

Darkness calls out the most intriguing creatures.
We're afraid to call them "human beings,"
because being human most certainly
does not look like this.
Or, does it not look like this?
Shadows claw walls around all
because not one body projects light.
There are some who know, and some who appease.
The pigtails hang to his knees as he stares
at the mannequins of pretty women
in the window of the closed department store.
2.0k · Oct 2012
Hawks and Rabbits
Joseph Valle Oct 2012
My compliments are currency
on nights so filled with lunacy
and my billfold's not empty
for this made-up prostitution ring.

So what's the going rate tonight
for such a vivid beauty
'cause I'll haggle like, "You're just so right,"
with million dollar poetry.

What consciousness is it they have
when dressing and perfuming:
Is it I who play a simple game
or they who do the choosing?

And I who lack the self-control
of ending empty mornings
while sleep just turns their heavy dreams
to laughter at my mourning.

So when you see those male-eyed hawks
and pity prey they're chasing,
just know their death is coming swift:
the rabbit's hole chokes innards whole.
2.0k · Nov 2012
Drifted Away
Joseph Valle Nov 2012
Memory comes quickly and goes faster still.
Childhood blurs and bends from the action
to nostalgia to nothing to a surprise visit
and ultimately, back to nothing.
It's never formal, opting out of knocking
before entering with muddy sneakers
and corn-butter-dribbled chin.
The hues of a late, summer afternoon
filled with fireflies and barbecue smell
connect the doorbell circuit
and make itself at home
before ears or legs can bid welcome.
Smile and greet one another breathless
only to depart at a moment's notice
as if the nomad suddenly realized
that no crop or solace remains.

So distinctly different
than that of a severed relationship,
which typically takes its bitter, sweet time.
For months, that fracture can stay and continue asking
for another Earl Grey and bowlful of discontent,
adding in spurts of lonely self-conversation
every several, silence-ridden hours.
Eventually, ever so carefully and quietly,
it tip-toes away with lip-marked cup and peacoat
at the moment when you've unwillingly returned
from the kitchen to fill pained guest's requests
but the only thing that remains
are indents in the leather armrests
and moisture gone cold.

Flashed across mind's eye and on its way.
The hollow fills itself endlessly with present
and distantly connects with past to find
that neither can be here while the other exists.
Start again and re-ember remembering,
drifted away on a silent plane
of glazed eyes and wide smile.
2.0k · Aug 2012
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Generous coasting of the west coast
leaves me tangled in roots from roads
intersecting with waves surfed by
long blond-haired beach bums and
babes who pant at a muscular man
that pushups on the boardwalk
next to towels drying on the
handlebars of my bicycle.

I ride and ride and ride
through weather thought to be
unrideable by most cyclists
even if million-dollar-prize
tempted them at the finish line
and a set-for-life sponsorship
was promised to any and all
who could fight through the storms
of what I stoically battle.

No gear or goggles,
just legs of toned steel from
nights spent heating them over
a log-lit fireplace on spit
while keeping intense conversation
with lover across my gaze
until she escapes unexpectedly
into dreams, unaccompanied by me.

My legs are on fire,
no rain can extinguish them
and no slick roads
will stop my going.
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
I know why he laughs
everyday, every single day.
Telephone poles line the streets,
a young man giving message to loved ones
reminding them of his travels south,
to stay, to visit,
birds fly through air
upon hearing gunshots in alleyways
escaping to freedom, to cold winds,
away from dark figures in the night.
The postman drops off mail by foot,
in the golden flap-slot
at 312 Baker Street,
while waving hello to the little boy in the window,
the one who will surely die
at the age of 20,
driving drunk, open casket,
bloated face. Mother blotchy from tears
and stress
for eyes that will never see another day.

I know why he laughs
day after day after day.
The ribbons tied around presents under a tree,
lights infiltrating closed eyelids
giving off colors never seen before,
never to be seen
friends, family, arms interlocked
whispering thanks, warm nothings
with nothing to be seen,
except deals behind closed doors
an uncle over a nephew,
unheard tears and gasping for breath
lost behind muffles of laughter and shouts of play,
just play.

I know why he laughs
all day, it never ends.
The work, the money, the vacations
the form of form itself,
the fact that form is, and that one
abides by it,
can even touch it, poke it,
poke fun at it, and yet live by it,
live their lives by it without question
whether it be above or under
grounds so cold, full of bodies,
bodies no more, just run-down homes.
Paint peeling and insects swarming,
devouring all that was, bringing life anew
for their comrades, rocks crumble
tears of granite, marble,
not tears,
just erosion of the face.

I know why he laughs
every single ******* day,
because with time like this,
times like these,
and everything in existence,
beauty is an open eyelid.
There’s no room for crying,
none will hear it.
Heads without ears,
and eyes
without lights.
1.8k · Aug 2012
A Teacup-Weathered Table
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
I don't know if it's the caffeine
or imagining your stoic ****** expression,
but something's got me shaking, violently.
Not with anger, but with fear,
do I drink this *** of tea
shouldered with an innocence
in love without possession.
Part of me has died a very lonesome death,
and yet, with every passing
comes promise of a wailing newborn.
A sense of solitude is born again
and in that, I am
am born again.

I don't know with what blanket
to cover my silver, Saint-Christopher-shivers
from the cold, elated stare
that your eyes possessed.
Yes, it was the cold, elated stare
of your eyes
that chilled my spine.
A newborn you are,
a world inexperienced,
a longing fulfilled.
An empty me,
a teacup without the shakes
of spilling over brim,
and a table sacrificed
from experience.

Sated is the wood
from a lackluster lacquer
and spot-drops on the knots
that will never be noticed.
1.7k · Aug 2012
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Why does this mutt whimper
while lying on the table
before his euthanasia?
Does he not know of
the lush, oak-covered fields
and meat-mounded hills  
that await him just past the horizon?
Or is it because
his owners do not realize,
a pup inside,
he still has the will to run?

His kicking legs ache as his heart cries, "Why?"
1.7k · Feb 2013
A Father-Son Talk
Joseph Valle Feb 2013
It was January of 1994
when he told me, "Son, true love,
well, it's hard to come around."
Or maybe he said, "come by."
I can't remember exactly.
Memory is foggy, age, you know.
I never thought I'd ever say that.

I've had a pet since I was born.
Not the same one, they always end
up dying. I haven't gone a year
without one close by me.
Before bed, I pucker my lips
and pretend to kiss twice
behind both ears while whispering
to them, "Goodnight." Then,
I lightly scratch their sanctum,
be it cage or kennel, so they know
I am no ghost; I am truly there.
Dog, cat, rat, it doesn't matter really;
they all just blankly stare back
and continue with their nightly business.

"If you love something, it can
never leave. Only hate can
drive others away, and that,
that's called, 'self-hate.'"
Then he laughed,
he laughed out with stretched
cheeks and gold-capped teeth
and that "eyeglasses-off" look
as if the world was deaf,
blind, and dumb. His
white collar crisp, stiff
with starch. That morning was ours.
Within earshot, the cat was mewing,
awaiting our kitchen entry where,
in the white-walled corner, sat his bowl,
staring at the ceiling, brown, dry, stale.

That morning always comes back to me
like a child returning from school.
Homework on the table and a snack
to eat just before rushing out to
meet up with the neighborhood kids for
a game of football down the road.
They've surely had talks like ours, Dad.
They've rubbed noses and brushed
pink cheeks of late lovers, flashed back
to mother and wrestling with brother.
Those important conversations
that only return with age,
we all remember them.
1.7k · Mar 2013
Hypotheses are for Dreamers
Joseph Valle Mar 2013
"I can tell you that Dada was a leftist,
anti-bourgeois, non-Art birthed from WWI
and not some aleatory root to postmodernism
off-shot from a lurid acid rain.
I know that diffraction can be seen
on horizons in the early morning hours
of summer along smooth or dentate curvatures
and that it can have hues of blue, purple and
a soft-handed massage of orange that gingerly
applies pressure to your retinas with sugar-water.
If only eyes had lips that opened and closed.

"It is said that action is the birth of Manyness
and that non-action brings one's soul back to the Sage Mind,
the universe of Oneness, the cup longing to be fulfilled and how
upon brim overflow it longs to be empty once again
because of the relationship between Yin and Yang
and how one cannot Be without the other
and why perspective can change "full" to "empty"
so that the vicious cycle can never truly, truly end.
The difference between French Vanilla ice cream
and plain Vanilla is the degree of creaminess.
Fill up a bathtub and let it soak into my skin.

"There is no way for me to avoid being prolix about the things
I speak about in normal, day-to-day conversation. Science and reason
have accursed me to traverse this reality with the utmost care and precision
of language and society has forced pseudo-logic down my throat like
a bird screeching as it is forced past my pharynx and larynx.
Its sounds are amplified, beak-blared from my nostrils, and its wings are violent,
stretched against my neck skin, creating a pale-skinned, ship anchor image from my shoulders up.
I'll try to sing for you when you reach my trapdoor, I don't wish to eat you.

"I do not believe in anything because with everything comes a something,
a reason for its being. They are, 'from reason,' 'in reason,' and/or, 'for reason.'
There is no escaping this thought.
There is no escaping criticism.
I will find the Truth, mathematically calculated to infinity
from knowable circumstance and perception.
I will know everything and I will believe nothing."
1.6k · Aug 2012
Brazen On The Hill
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Two wandered brazenly up the hill
and trip-tumbled down
faster, faster still,
while sheet lightning licked
at its manicured toes.

Once at rest
one woke up,
the other not yet,
waiting for a signal
of safety, safely he sleeps.

She waited on him
noon and night
as raindrop breezes blew by
from short summer showers
and cream daffodil skies.

They're laying in the field
awaiting the arrival
of Eternity:
she sits cross-legged
while caressing his brow.

"It must be fear," says one.
"I'm just comfortable here,"
comes reply.
The truth is,
he wants back up the hill,

wants to descend in butterfly spins
again, 'til spiderwebs and weeds
fill his knotty chocolate head,
and his sweet lover sings
of everlasting green.

She dead-still waits
while golden trees die
and powder begins to fall
on a hill never to be tumbled
the same way again.

She dead-still waits
while he heavy slumber sighs,
ear cupped for the call
on the hill never to be tumbled
by the two of them again.
1.6k · Aug 2012
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Caribbean waters wrench my gut
with an instinct to sail too far
into the blue plunge
of shark-finned waters
and sharp, yellow coral structures.
Those nature beasts rip wetsuit,
my sleek, stone shade wall from internal chill.
I am, feel, like a tanned fish
on these tire-weathered, cement streets.
Towering above are the heavy looks
from windows of sunned glass castles
of plastic and sweat.
They're calling,
pied pipers, to what is steel-stable
and rooted, in unforgiving fashion,
to the death of primal sense.
The urge to rip apart is tied back
around collared neck.

My boat is ashore
as I sea-dream-see of horizons unseen
while clenching an ill-fated
armrest desk of destiny
1.5k · Mar 2013
Eighteen Knots
Joseph Valle Mar 2013
You pace in circles.
I speak in smoke rings,
an occasional finger-snapped heart,
a masted boat if I could.
Away away to ocean
in long-legged strides.
Waves crash against the sides,
left, front, and right,
in ripe blueberries and whitewash.

Come to the cabin,
a tail of breadcrumbs,
keep your socks striped,
pinks and purples.
A David Austin rose, or three.
I'm not cohesive either.
Flaunt the ship's wheel,
solid oak, dark, mesmerizing,
nearly your eyes now.
Let gray skies form clouds,
don't pray for better weather.
The rain grumbles hunger,
veiled moonlight stretches its arms
down to slatted deck,
spraying it in gangtag graffiti.

Stay here, circles more on the floor.
Your hips, footprints up your toes
from a whiskered mouse with dusted nose.
He's escaped and curled up
the nook of your ankle.
Eighteen knots tangle your hair.
Call the winds to come in storms,
they'll surely lead the way.
1.5k · Oct 2012
On Finding Rhythm
Joseph Valle Oct 2012
Have you ever noticed
that tail lights reflect
off tire-worn roads
when sun and all
have gone asleep?
A pair of red glow
just seems to float
through space
like a reverse halo
behind and below vehicle
on its 2am way elsewhere.
And how about the fact
that windshield wiper and turn signal
never truly-precisely-
exactly-rhythmically sync?
One clicks and blinks,
the other dryly whaps,
on that first swipe,
of course,
just when light mist
begins to stick
and the exit approaches
at a slick
Turn down the volume now,
it's time to pay attention.

Candle wax doesn't always
melt directly inward.
Sometimes it does dome
which makes it
all the more fun
to push further.
Other times it just bows out,
as if to say,
"There'll be no addition
to the amount of light
I'll be giving you tonight.
You'll just have to bend me in
and pray for a split-less base,"
as hours, seeming like minutes,
in minutiae,
are spent burning our tobacco
and circling our teacups
and laughing effortlessly,
indenting pillows and rugs
and us keeping so, so quiet
as not to awaken ourselves.

Waxing is always
a chance worth risking
because, worst case,
we can inflame another dancer
while we chat
and hope that,
just this once,
God help us,
we realize
our stars align.
1.4k · Aug 2012
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Make candles dance
they love to, just ask them.
It’s no hard task to make them,
which makes making them,
no longer making them.
They gleefully step on the floor,
hum tune, whistle even,
into the wee hours of morning
performing breathtaking displays
of charisma and elegance
and eventually
their light shines no more.
Wax has wandered
away in search of better form.
They decide,
you, for them, that is,
that extinguishing is the ultimate.

Burn out,
well, burned,
so they
ignite again.
1.4k · Sep 2012
Joseph Valle Sep 2012
Stare at your bedroom wall
and bard me a story about
the creeks of white between
the sun-patches of blue paint,
the faded yellow of the door
where the damp towel was hung
day after day after day.
Tell me about the mark
of a swept paintbrush
that accidentally destroyed
distinction between wall
and radiator.
They're no longer clean,
either of them.
How are the door handle dent marks
from that hurried moment when
you rushed into your room
away from our argument?
What of those stories?
Will you need a new place
to erase the memories from your mind?
The flies and the walls cannot speak
to anyone but you now.

It's all rotten anyway.
The sweet stink of evenings
spent in an intimate supine,
with a cleaver caught upright
in the cutting board bedpost.
We were atop one another
with our faces to the ceiling,
reading passages of poems aloud
after drenching the bed sheets
in varied indentations.
Cut words and minced gazes,
we grayed as shadows
against those weathered walls.
I remember those walls,
moonlight had reflected off the frames
of littered photographs, those stories,
and created a dance floor pattern of crescents
and plank-meeting-plank askew.
Those walls will tell me stories
even if you decide not to anymore.
I'd buy them all up, I would,
as I do the meat hook-hanging
in the butcher shop.
1.4k · Oct 2012
Chains and Apathy
Joseph Valle Oct 2012
A beggar lays chained to concrete,
to skyscraper that stretches past clouds,
breathing aside, neither dead nor alive,
we've given up on his release.
For what purpose does he survive?
When his stomach knots empty,
he curls fetal, hands clench chest,
and sobs escape in pants and whines
and saliva and not an eyelash is batted
toward his cup that silently watches:
It hasn't jangled in days.

Lashes litter the sidewalks
from eyeliner applied while
rushing to an extravagant event
in midtown Manhattan,
lights lips reflections,
where all will will be watching
her every move, her every step.

If he wills himself survive,
we can clean him up
in loving arms of sleep deprived nurses
before we kick him back to the curb,
abandoned again with rip-rotting liver,
while we vultures eye another *****.

But that girl?
She better not trip over Prometheus
or we might just chain her next.
Joseph Valle Feb 2013
Daylight to look out a window
and midnight to see into one.
Say some name three times
at a candlelit face, a flashback
to fear at such a young age.
These were stories that were told
to us by older brothers and sisters
during our weekend sleepovers.
We're mirror images of them
no matter how old we grow.
Children playing in the snow
in the coldest of northern winters,
making a snowman, giving a name,
topping him with a black-ribboned hat
and an added lit cigarette to allow
easy passing of a lampless evening
faced an overbearing, light-speckled sky.

The image passes away in the day,
everything melted to bring spring
anew to the streets and city pools.
Clean them out, remove their stories
from the past year for the new ones
to come. Crop your face to bring light
back in and to tabula rasa our crevices.
Spiderwebs and crows feet.
Let your frame pass into the attic
to lean on your dusty, keylocked journals
and that 19th century armoire
that has no place in your place anymore.
Tell me those stories, tell me your stories.
Tell me your stories, and I'll tell you mine.
1.3k · Aug 2012
Granted Love
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
That I ran into you
pure luck
you stayed
with colors aflame
my pride, ours
is mine,
was ours,
this cold, winter evening.

Leaves fall
from my arms,
floating to earth
from hearth
of what happenstance
granted us,
rooted in heavy
snow-covered hills.

Orange kindling for the flame
that never negates
the darkness
that is
knowing my knots.

But the warmth!
Oh, my heart,
the trunk, it creaks.

Pure chance, others may call it.
Pure luck, it was.
It stays ablaze always,
but us?
Us never.
1.3k · Oct 2012
Ghosted on Scotch
Joseph Valle Oct 2012
I sip on scotch and sit here
and secretly, I hope you'll appear.
At first, you'll glance through the crack in the door frame,
I'll look like the intellectual you were missing all this time.
You'll wonder why you ever left and how it was that you thought
you could do without me.
I'll feel the burning of one eye upon me,
so as to keep your furtiveness, your surprise,
but then a second reveals itself, and then your cosmic third.
The desk lamp will shadow your outline
when I slowly, intuitively, glance over my shoulder
somewhat unexpectedly, to you.
My eyes will pry, if only rhetorically, "Who's there?"
and you'll slowly, almost shyly,
though we were never shy with one another,
creak the door open to unveil your then-lit body.
Your radiant figure will send vibrations
through the wooden floor slats into my feet
and I'll begin to feverishly dance,
right then and there,
as if bitten by the largest of tarantulas.
I'll stare in disbelief
thinking that maybe it's the alcohol
which has created this image of you,
or maybe, in fact, I'm devastatingly sleep-ridden,
and so against my heart's common sense
I'll rub my eyes to clear the vision.

You, who haven't shown up night after night,
through all of my writing and pondering
and talking-to-self and drinking
and questioning and driving
and aimlessly-staring and searching
and forgetting and trying-to-understand
and resenting and hating
and loving and forgiving
and grinding and howling
and loving and missing,
but this one night,
this blue moon event,
I guess you could call it that
though it's already passed,
after consuming too much,
you'll appear.

Then I realize,
I am here
and you are nowhere.
Always I think I hear sounds
similar to returning footsteps
barely audible over the taps on my keyboard,
but it's never you.
And so, I continue on,
peeking over shoulder,
awaiting my cliché,
as I sit here and sip scotch after scotch.
1.3k · Feb 2013
And So I Went Blind
Joseph Valle Feb 2013
A bag of bricks
hammered my knees
and I fell back
into my seat.
It could've been
the lack of sleep
that surely caused
my eyes to cross.
And before I knew
up what happened
my ****** reaction
sent mind spinning.

Red and spots
across my vision,
fireworks on
my students' faces
and words I mixed,
I wasn't there,
phrases for parks
with wine eyed glances
and starry looks
and cold, blue irises
with lime diamond leaves
and cream spring breezes
blown on by
the longing hidden
on a picnic blanket,
spread out, limbs numb
on a picnic blanket.

But this time
it was wide.
This time I tried,
I did, I spoke
myself out.
I talked it all
through to me,
for me to hear.
I needed a,
"Why not?"
and of course
I had had it
stock-piled up
in storage.
Boxes upon boxes
of, "Because."

Nearly convincing,
nearly enough
to keep me,
keep me silent,
but my voice
soars above
and I lie
staring at
dancing around
in straight-lined,
patterned flames.
their feet,
eating themselves
again, devouring
and smiling,
inviting me to feast.
Joseph Valle Sep 2012
My limbs've caught fire.
Senseless, I no longer know pain
from passion from energy
from subconscious,
all are smoldering in my chest,
and my mind has vacancies
and that burning blackened lightness
flows as heaviness
through my fevered arms
and into my hands
and one of which,
palm up and hand cupped,
stretches out with fingertips starred
for the faucet in the bathtub.

Grasp, twist,
return-turn wrist.
Grasp, twist.

Toes bargained with Feet
and, upon agreement, conspired with Legs
for, what I can only hope was, a hefty price
to absently stumble and stew this body,
raw, in a basin too small for my meat,
and the cast-iron bathtub
will soon boil like a tea kettle
without a screaming spout
and I will steep my mate
without metal mesh and bombilla.
Too hot, for too long, with too little,
but I'll sip it, silently, as it bubbles.
Not a wince,
even if blood spills out my sockets
I won't close these eyes.
Watch them drink of life
as flesh drips down my lips
and reddened cave lights
emerge from the depths
and fill my eyes.

My movements were never aimless:
a body took advantage of my absentmindedness.
1.3k · Jun 2013
Joseph Valle Jun 2013
Stranger, I'm sorry.
I haven't met
You yet,
but when I do,
I'm afraid that all I'll feel
is warm limbs
and dusted lips.

Again, I'm sorry,
but not wholeheartedly.
Too much at stake.
I've too much time
that cannot be spared.
And these flames,
they won't dissipate.

I can't have it happen
because when it does
these feet will be doused
and my heart will explode
from not running about.

You'll become them,
my passions,
and, needless to say,
they're jealous of me.
They cannot share.
I am so loved.
I am so loved.

I'll shut it out,
You, for now, because
I'm afraid it may come too soon.
I pray you know that
I can't amble yet.
I've still too much to do.
1.2k · Oct 2012
In Late October
Joseph Valle Oct 2012
We spark
the kindling in ritual
as souls dance around us;
our bonfire keeps them at bay.
They never stray,
hoping to hold us, hug us,
whisper missings and tidings of comfort
to steady our bones for passage.

We wait
on rotting logs, gazing toward dawn,
entranced by flames and huddled together,
closely, with wet-iced eyelashes.
Our silent breathing scuttles away
on paths of pale white and moist,
out and sifted through our watchers' chests.
Their voices go unheard.
Who would hear conversation
from depths during an eve of fright?

We watch
the orange-red idol wane in the wind.
Odd, no? Shouldn't it be growing?
They're breaking though to us
so we embrace more closely,
latching, heartbeats bumping one another
keeping rhythm, keeping our stillness,
and fevered hands massage our shoulders,
erasing tensity, stiff limbs, lightness.

Smoke escapes our eye sockets
and they smile at our blankened faces.
Who are these people celebrating?
1.2k · Aug 2012
Love Letter Returned
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Lines of light
form our forms,
as shapes glance shyly
at spot-dotted stars.
They shape you, you know?
Framing your eyes
with lashes so dark,
against a backdrop of lime
clear, wide, citrus,
for me, the slicing sting
in open wound screams.
But for you?
My arms wide
to gaily catch green gaze

My gaze,
a lens sans focus,
light bends and blurs
to bokeh.
It’s lost.
It returns.
The sudden impact
of complete regression,
dynamically hastened exhales
in symphonies of near silence.

Faith in finding
new seedlings buried
below cold spring surface,
or, if-luck-might-root-hold,
flowering perennials
of Love without Lust
claw up through dirt.
Worn out and in,
like rugged denim blue,
spanning one lifetime,
yours and mine.
Endless desire,
for wear,
for comfort without fear,
each year, new tears,

Again, again,
sun me with your stare.
1.2k · Aug 2012
A Blind Child
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
A blind woman stared at me
no, that’s impossible
without eyes one can’t stare
maybe gaze,
graze my soul
feel me
know who I am,
without I even knowing, known
sitting alone in a corner
playing with pen and paper
she can hear me, she can see me
so she sits and stares in my direction
mouth closed, lips form smile.
At what does she smile?

The mad woman, rocking back and forth
to and fro, as if to music
as if she’s seen notes on paper
writings about her, her defects
deflections, that’s all they are
she cannot see that I stare at her
lovingly watch, hopefully she knows
I swear she knows it.
Why else would she smile?

Glasses block her eyes,
thick, black as night,
blacker probably,
but who am I to compare?
I’ve never seen like her, never not seen
like her
she draws in my being, I can’t look away
I can’t, must feel her
touch her face,
tell her, “It’s going to be alright,”
let her know I love her,
that I need her.
Her smile never leaves,
she sees something I never will.

she will walk over, strut
magnificently, majestically,
unperturbed by my probing eyes
feeling her way across aisles
on moving train,
she will hold me in her arms,
her untouched arms
soft, yet weathered
begging to be held,
to hold
and tell me,
just tell me,
“Don’t worry, child,
it’ll be alright.”
1.2k · Aug 2012
Driver And Knave
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
With frosty breath and empty-shell shoes,
I await the steady driver who returns for me,
to hurdle our car down cliff into sea
with cracked headlights and bowtie come undone,
what more could Night or Water honestly have won?

Moon painted gleam masterfully upon my eye
from falling trees and ivy-shined leaves,
whispered in their ears from knoll-bound knaves,
"The sun gone over, never to return for you."
They watch for pleasure, sent-to-ground from dew.

I ramble on and on along rocky coast line
over iron guard rails with trusty companion,
head-tilt weighed a stone above water,
gone plunging in toward black surface below,
face-first and tongue-tied with heart so hollow.

Up, up, awake. All but a dream.
Soaked tie above bedframe,
slept in mustard blood sheets.
1.1k · Oct 2012
A Caramel Double
Joseph Valle Oct 2012
"I like my fire white hot
and my skin ice cold."
She talked at me crookedly
as she red-marked the rim
of the scotch glass.
The smokey haze almost masked
what she didn't want hidden.
"I like extremes, polarities, you know...
moving towards them,
pushing too far in a direction
to remove the possibility of return."
*** oozed out in crescent-circles,
"I like you."

Her eyes were bloodshot brown,
all that caramel whiskey sweetness.
She had it in her:
all that passion, that lust,
that cruelty to never call again.
Her marked stiletto against my thigh
under that lonely spilled table
spoke volumes more
than her sideways looks.

Although I said nothing,
I had it in me too.
We'd connected.
I liked that
she lived
like that.
1.1k · Aug 2012
Hunting Sidewalks
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
I taste like rolled cigarettes and chocolate.
My fingertips are torched
a bittersweet burnt that comes
from a night of music and
thought-plagued action.
Oil and acne plot my hairline
as I stare through the orange
of the streetlamps to the
stars barely visible above,
tapping my feet to
the tune weaving in-and-out
of our arms and toes
as we cool on the autumned stoop.

Black putouts mark the sidewalk
where we wish to tread like
animal trackers, hunting the next
place for us to eat, to belong,
nomads of the land without true bearings.
Clear sight of the skymap eludes our
grasp, with our hands reaching out
against the never-ending heavens,
searching for real, and its contrast
against real.

And then it hits me:
What a ******* fraud I am.
So much so, that I become
vehemently sick to my stomach.
I ***** the remains of our ****
on the concrete table, and watch
as the deer circle us to applaud
our next musical movement
as we dance to their ancient
hove-stomped rhythm.
1.1k · Aug 2012
Tao-Filled Vessels
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
These two things I remember:
the lights dimmed slowly
and then went dark,
and my mouth was filled
over the teeth, to the lips,
with dirt-ripened maggots.

Those little mongrels had grown inside me,
my saliva was their nourishment,
my cheeks, their protection.
They nestled so deeply into my gums,
in the crevices where cavities were to grow
on the walls of their ebony buildings.
We were beautiful
but none would call it symbiotic.

Illumination ran away,
far off, bounded for the infinite fields.
The light lightness left me.
I don't know who was in charge
of sending the charge
through my electric chair.
I grew to embrace the seat,
that splintered piece of wood,
the pain in my sweating palms,
and the metal clasps which restricted my arms.
It gave security to impending doom,
the promise of finite end.
The wooden back
gave rest to my love-ridden bones
so I tongued my friends
straggling about my chops
in comfort and pleasure.
That chair, those lights,
they were empty vessels.
Built for, but never meant to,
fulfill their purposes.

That is,
until a bulge-eyed, masked man
connected the current.
The lights went out
and maggots filled my mouth.
1.1k · Jan 2013
Dreaming of Ukraine
Joseph Valle Jan 2013
It was in a musky instrument shop
that I found myself hungry, so hungry.
I didn't know any Russian.

I told the old cashier,
a small woman with a brown bun-top,
that I'd really like some food.

She cocked her head,
shook off the dust, and jarbled back at me.
"Please," said I, as dough-eyed as one could muster.

She pointed to the door.
My belly grumbled.
I fell away sideways, walking out all lowly-like.

I began through the doorway
and the shopkeeper woman screeched.
I heard a moan come from above me.

There stood a 9-foot-tall, Slavic boy,
plagued with acne, hooked nose, and sallow cheeks,
with a metal clamp around his neck, right next to the door frame.

I thought he was drapes, ragged window drapes,
but he existed there and then with hands the size of cantaloupes.
The shop keeper whined and pointed at the boy.

I looked up at him,
and he, down at me.
She spat into a tissue and then shooed me again.

I grabbed his chain off its hook
and stoically proceeded out the door.
The boy dragged his feet behind me, begging and crying.
1.1k · Nov 2012
A Chest So Unlike Your Own
Joseph Valle Nov 2012
Dodge the sunlight escaped your fingernails
that claw for chests unlike your own.
Full of pep and beating and turquoise
and leaves in strands of hair
standing upward aft your vessel.
What was it exactly that you mentioned
when we were afloat the houred
current of delirious eye-gazing?
Something of abashed lashes
and nervous cheek twitching.
We had never stared for so long.
We had never conversed with the ferocity
of ten men praying to the floor
on hands and knees with closed eyes
on mat and chest;
a chest so unlike your own.

That sunlight radiates.
No, too common, too Not.
Help me with your interpretation:
It inexplicably adjectives
across the scraps of dregs
and scrapes of rope
tied too tightly to beliefs
that would never sway to connect.
A loss of connection of mind
and body and voice and spirit
and Other,
a parlance in the wind without
ears to receive or understand the call,
call him a headless beggar,
which has that chest,
that chest so unlike your own.
1.0k · Mar 2014
Curses, Shoulders
Joseph Valle Mar 2014
The truth is
spring broke open,
I wish it were winter again.
Bodies about, walking
arm in arm and
no matter how much
I practice pacing my steps,
dodging the torn-cornered
slabs of concrete
to avoid breaking my stride,
my confidence, my ankle,
I always seem to stumble
with a hand interwoven in mine.

Dexterity seeps out
through my heels,
but lets be honest,
boots aren't the best attire for
sturdy, balanced walking.
This weight
(I'd guess)
presses down on my shoulder
where the collarbone meets
whatever the other bone is called,
and the person is on a stepstool
(yes, there's a person),
floating next to me as I move
and the his heel of his palm,
the meaty part,
presses where the bones meet
(could be, I'd guess, a very masculine She)
and leaning forward, tiptoed
on the top step and
the weight is coming down hard.

How anyone could walk like that!
Me, the town *******,
the drunk staggering about
trying to keep footing.
Even thinking it, projecting it,
makes it true,
especially when arguing,
no, just receiving a nice, hearty
reprimanding from babushkas
(a group of them)
with their knit hats abloom,
selling cabbage and honey
outside the Belarusian kiosk.

Now, I know what you're thinking,
and yes, the honey is delicious;
but just because they're together
doesn't mean they need to be.
Boiled cabbage and honey
for colds.
And honestly, it's not the weather
to be stopping on the sidewalk
in jeans-shoes-tee-shirt
only to hear curses
(no, not swears — lit. curses)
spat out crooked mouths,
clinging to you
all the season through.
1.0k · Aug 2012
Conversation Art
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
Never been interested in
a conversation, just in
conversation itself.

I talked about the weather with
an acquaintence and a
friend of a friend last night
for forty minutes.
The latter isn't someone that
I really know know,
but you know what I'm saying.

We chatted about the coldness that hovers
over San Francisco and how
the heat in the summertime is actually frosty and how
the winter's warmth is, surprisingly, quite pleasant.
"You will only understand this from living it."

A conversation about weather
isn't supposed to actually play out
and yet, I'm still scratching my head
as to how forty minutes passed
with the two of them
in our Connecticut woods,
covered in striped longsleeves
and sunglasses to protect
our thoughts from a day passed under the sun,
walking around the Bay Area.

An old, sitcom-like joke
come to completion at a party, drowned
in ***** and musical-chatting,
by guitar, drum, and bass,
in the room adjacent
to our tongue-chilled garage.
1.0k · Jun 2014
In the City
Joseph Valle Jun 2014
There are places you exist
in a flowing green dress
that kneads against your body
with every passing breeze
and sand nips at your heels
as you curt by tonned blocks
of cement that smother grass
just off the sidewalk.
They nuzzle киоск stand,
and long to lift self up
to a sea-blue, backdrop dream
that dissolves for years (and years)
and erodes to sewers beneath
with every Charlotte rain
and crumble once again;
a gray-eyed contrast true
of beauty vining through
a city that snuffs roots.

You, and there you go.
996 · Oct 2012
Beyond the Horizon
Joseph Valle Oct 2012
Beyond the horizon lies silence:
empty-handed and empty-torsoed.

Home no longer entangles our motions of gold and twirling,
so quickly so that our spins become perception itself.
Our hair, previously matted, now catches on nothing.
It flows freely against a wind blown inward,
vacuumed through open windows
on opposing sides of the kitchen,
though and carrying the smell
of freshly baked apple pie, crisply crusted,
a thing so sweet and tasty
that tongue and nostrils beg for more
whipped cream and palate warmth.

They open their mouths and plead,
panting on their knees,
on edge of upper lip
fearing not the fall
for something that would just,
for Heavens sake,
give them something,
of indescribable necessity.
"Oh please, just another bite!"
dribbles out of lungs
until even the smallest of morsels
are licked clean from plate,
desperately, empty,
in front of all,
for all to see.

The world is everything that is the case.
When it is all eaten up
yummed and stomached fully,
it will be the next green field,
the next orchard on the horizon
with golden apples ripening at sunset
against orange and purple perfect skies
to fulfill that longing for Next.
995 · Sep 2012
River Falls
Joseph Valle Sep 2012
What is my voice
but a flowing river.
Through boulder and stone
and fall after fall, it goes.
Afloat on its surface,
a piece of thorny bramble-
a smoke-seized throat,
brushed up against an overhanging trunk
at a narrow crossing.

Maybe it's caught there,
a blackened ball of death,
a soft lump that cannot be dissected
by even the most astute surgeon.
My voice gives me character,
is a character,
is my character.

My voice runs through hills like a raging river.
994 · Sep 2012
And Still I Sit Here
Joseph Valle Sep 2012
Amid wind and thunder, a coming storm,
a September coat rests silently upon my shoulders.
Leaves descend from the bending giants above me,
and still I sit here.

A flurry of passenger-filled cars sets the park spinning underneath me.
These people, they'll all be arriving somewhere soon, but, for now,
they flood my consciousness with homes decorated in aged photographs,
and still I sit here.

They're going there, those places that fill them whole,
with those people that lovingly adorn their company.
Though I don't accept it, I have people like that too,
and still I sit here.

My mind meanders the gravel path to a duck effortlessly afloat on the pond.
Doesn't she have somewhere to fly to too? To South? To warmth?
Maybe she enjoys the safety of my company, and so she contemplates herself,
and still I sit here.

Her wings involuntarily flutter from the assaulting gusts, until,
finally, she gives in. Her wings spread and beat against the water below her,
she's off toward clearer skies, not a thought on her mind, who could blame her,
and still I sit here.

As the sky opens up, drops and drenching, a chill sets inside me
starting with the ears and the fingers and the toes.
It creeps up my arms and legs, it violently spikes my brain
and still I sit here.

We all know where it finally stabs. Yes, you know it,
you've experienced it before. I howl uncontrollably in chorus with the breeze.
There's not a soul around, just the singing towers rooted around me,
and still I sit here.

At home my dinner awaits, it's steaming hot, it begs to be eaten,
but all this sutured heart can do is think about is that **** bird.
I should be going now, it's time to leave that soaked bench,
and still I sit here.
987 · Aug 2013
Queens Claim Glory
Joseph Valle Aug 2013
The walls drip yellow.
My teacup is ridden
with thoughts driven
from buzzing and Queens.
They claim glory.

A skyscraper tastier
than dew from street sewer
with gray, AM haze
as people jut sides
to climb, slip snidely
atop, cut voices in lies,
rushed by without flicker,
a thought for
ever-blackened drop
of dark roasted, cig-toasted
coffee drowned by a cup.

So, taste it now,
your lips of grounds
in café chair
on dirtied walk
is unaware
of rays in sky
and earth below
and earth below
the pounding thump
that make World go.

Grabbed honey-stuck tips
from a table of glass
and sweet, sutured lips
from ignorance.
958 · Aug 2012
Fire Above And Weight Below
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
With each rap-tap at keyboard,
my shoulders lessen ground-downward.
Every line bears the weight of
three blond hairs lost from
stress-worn crown and temples.
They fall to freedom from pain
and stretch-clenched jaw
of words unsaid.
My mind bears witness to the head
of cold winds blowing north as
my body decays and illumination
seethes inside my being.
The coal-bearer brings warmth
to my lungs, my blackened lung
that cannot express through song
the path on which we travel.
We: Me, Myself, and I.
My pale lung runs against
sideways rains in a summer shower,
crackling lightening,
trumpets of thunder,
and such fear of finally being stuck.

by Gods.
Spiraled electricity
fills my mouth
and my teeth
no more
for lively
of weightlessness.
950 · Feb 2013
Joseph Valle Feb 2013
Pick a length
and focus on it.
It could be somewhere
or on something,
key word here is "on,"
"is," is also poignant,
but focus long enough
and it'll surely blur.
What I mean to seem
is that attention
dissolves and lens
blends retention.

Distance exists more
within hypothetical thought
than in the connection itself.
Contemplate stepping into
a dirt-stirred puddle with
hidden depth and shape
on your daily sidewalk walk.
Never step in it, never;
it'll up past ankle.
Wet shoes and squish,
you're looked at. Rush past
another walker, cold feet, another walker.
It, they, them, out: be limbless.

On the wall, pick a spot.
See a wall be not.
See it tall.
Can you see it?
Is it there?
Make sure it's there,
because it is it is
it is a wall.
Focus. Spot.
Now see you.
"See," is the question.
Can you see you?
See you at me stare.
Let it bend blue
and walk ******* the
ice-covered sidewalks.
Step hard and step fast.
942 · Oct 2013
Joseph Valle Oct 2013
A barren home,
but not of things,
where silence wanders
down the empty halls.
"Who's there?"
She stands to peek
through door ajar
at the dust  ::BOOM::
on the floor.  ::BOOM::

Nothing's stirred
and all's in place
and all is still
but subject’s face:
fieldstone hues
and wrinkles too.
A desol't eve
in fickle blue,
she’s marching dusk
with throated heart.

Purpled cirri
and pinholes white
high above her
stalwart ceiling.
Shunted thought.
Listless thunder.
Turn on heel
to pinioned sleep;
a reeling sanct,
an effete lover.
940 · Aug 2012
Without Endings
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
I don't know why
my mind flies
through space and stars
to hit blinded satelites
in the hope of redirecting
itself to yours.

I don't know how
a homeless old man,
who only knows English,
picks up on the Arabic conversation
of ill will directed toward him
from across the crowded restaurant.
He begins to shake and scream and curse.

I don't know who is at fault for thinking of another
or if it matters at all.
936 · Aug 2012
Sleeping For Dreams
Joseph Valle Aug 2012
My dreams haunt me,
that is to say,
they aren't dreams anymore.
They're wishes
whispered into thin air
for no one to hear
but me
for only I have ears for
these ghouls,
sailboats off to sea
without ports
to return to.

My dreams whisper back
just before my eyes
dive into daylight,
"Are you there?" they ask,
"I miss you," they say.
The voice will forever haunt me
and my voice
won't stop speaking
to someone without ears,
always awakening
to tears,
and longing again
for dreams.
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