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Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
The first thing to do is forget everything you've lost
Second, zip up your jacket, just to ward off all the frost
Best case scenario, you're alone, but sometimes you are not
Find anything to make you smile, bring a song, or bring some ***,
Sing along with the monotony, to get closer in the cold
Third step is to try to remember every part of your soul that you sold
Sketch out a poem, lose a friend, give the bitter pill a try,
Put the sweet one on a shelf, keep it there until you die
The fourth step is to take a crowbar directly to the glass
Leave it burning, phase existences, break choruses en masse,
Fifth step in the protocol is to never speak its name,
Check back on it in forty years to find it still the same
Then photograph it, crop it to a flattering degree,
Frame it like a work of art but hope they never see
And sixth in line, if you are bold, and still have a bone to pick
Then -- then you can finally break into the '84 Buick.
Jan 2014 · 695
You Interrupted My Sonnet
Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
You interrupted my sonnet
Somewhere between lines four and five
As I sat on your steps and absorbed the sunshine on it.

My quatrain became split in two
The upbeat unwritten. Ending on a low
Note, I dropped my sonnet to follow you.

I can't go back to it now
Because something in your nature defies
Meter or form. Even if you would allow

Me to finish it, before my head starts to pound
You'd appreciate more this broken sound.
Jan 2014 · 817
My Middle Name is Sleep
Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
Long hours forgotten in sheets of paper,
A better bottle, more for nothing:
Lost saints and false idols,
Iconoclastic Oddfellows -- strange masters bellow
Shows of blue smoke and mirrors, a dream
At Bradbury's 2 am, shared nightmares
Ending all the same way, with no
Connection to be known except the lack of sleep.

Making the long drive, ending in your arms,
No direction except for tiredness, no
Autumn except for slotted time,
No finished books, only started stories,
Just a taste of dry leaves, dryheaves, and delerious summer eves.

My middle name is sleep, and I will dream
In wakeness as easily as with my eyes closed.
But sometimes the best answers lie
On the backs of your eyelids.
Read carefully.
Jan 2014 · 1.1k
Pop Mythology
Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
If much of taste is olfactory
And smell my strongest sense
Then I am only remembering the bad taste in my mouth
Whenever I smell your cologne.
Or were those pheromones?
Which someone once told me were a pop science myth
As far as humans are concerned.
But from what I've learned, there's a reason
I remember when your birthday rolls around,
Curse the fact that your phone number's still memorized,
Wonder how we all grew out of our awkwardness but somehow
We never stopped being weird kids who dream about taking over the world without
Wanting anything to do with it,
Convinced somehow we wouldn't know what to do but
Planning every step of development
Developing bad habits to have something to break later
Breaking up frustration with a long handled axe
Asking questions of the ceiling and being ambidextrous
Dexterously clumsy, bursting from cicada skins
Skinning cats and giving catty answers cause we can
Canning ideas, blasting truths, getting reaction shots
Shooting *** and pounding drums and whatever ***** comes along
A long , long way from home.

If there's a method to my madness then my sanity is rhymeless
And sleep gives no more stability than sadness.
Awareness is a legendary goal, but
I'd rather be blind than forgetful, rather
Anxious than regretful, never
Seek salvage from judgment, shelter from justice,
Which someone once told me was a pop culture myth.
And if it's mythology then please, call yourself the hero.
You deserve it after all, you deserve the fall,
To stall till last call, shoot to brawl
It takes all strands of our silk, when you consider it.
Done are the days of self righteous *******,
Gone are the messages you seek,
Long are the nights and low is the sun now
Sunning like lizards in the light from a flare gun
Gunning for a desert road that exists only in memory
Memorizing lines and making them glide smooth like glaciers
Glacial glances but loving deeply every pulse felt or heard
Herding the sheep you count before your childhood sweethearts close their eyes
Eyeing the dreams that glow in a summer sky like faraway missile tests
Testing cold waters, and debunking theological fallacies,
******* fantasies or secrets, slowly losing steam for longing
A long, long way from home.
Jan 2014 · 2.7k
Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
The first burnt burst of roasting beans brings sorrow
All at once memories of yesterday outweigh residual wonderment at tomorrow
The troubles of people who may be countries away slink over individual concerns.

Without being able to help it the world is suddenly covered with shadow
Dark oily patches blocking out early morning sunshine
The reasonable you scoffs, the sensitive you sighs.

The carton of eggs isn't the right combination of
free range organic fed lies, the toast is enriched and bleached
And you're eating it anyway.

Even the soy milk you pour into your coffee
because the right kind of milk isn't cruelty free
Caused deforestation somewhere miles across a sea.

You don't even want to think about the morality of the crispy bacon
And suddenly your morning is a dilemma of humanity.
But ****, all you wanted was a simple cup of coffee.
Jan 2014 · 2.5k
The Holly Tree
Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
Mild day in winter, week before Christmas
Turns out the tree in your front yard has been
A holly tree all along, finally showing true colors
As a taxi driver leaves the driveway and
A neighbor in a red shirt crosses the concrete
Sidewalk. The succulents to my side reach like alien
Synapses, your white car looks at me cross-
eyed, cinnabar brick damp with Peninsula fog.
The morning’s cup of coffee still lingers on my
Tongue, my body aches with last night’s indulgences
And repressions. Warmth is relative, hangovers
Are absolute. A pagan zodiac spins inside a
Haze of long-lost memories, a gauntlet of trees.
A gentler repercussion, a less insightful song,
For I am only human, stains on my sleeve,
Sleeping in when I should be producing anything.
I forget what I am, except a shivering flesh vessel.
I cannot remember what I was supposed
To be.
Jan 2014 · 958
Adjust Your Feelers
Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
An ant on the edge of a glass clings with microscopic acrobatics,
A thematic blood-curdling scream breaks my concentration. A dream’s
Manifestation, a masturbatory second-glance, a fiftieth
Chance exhaled out a window, instead of words. I heard
Every one of yours, believe me.
Let me retrieve my dignity, your amnesia only temporary
And your memory selective, my detective skills more useful
For playing CSI in the mornings. The bruises are telling,
The losers uncertain, the wine stains on the curtain
Permanent, the bloodstains invisible, the headache miserable,
The reasons obvious. Be more devious, and less serious.
The lipstick marks I leave on your blanket make it
Impossible to forsake it, but better to forget it, forget the words --
“That jacket would look better on you with some bullet holes.”
*******, let me explain:
I don’t want you feeling pain, don’t want you driving home drunk,
I didn’t want you to get into this funk, can’t keep
Protecting you from the truth, I hoped my honesty
Might help you see a little, even help you sleep.
Keep your assessments quiet till noon, adjust your feelers,
Sniff the air, there, there, little ant, it’ll all be over soon.
Jan 2014 · 844
Just Married
Kelly O'Connor Jan 2014
On a yellow-lighted main street we pause on a corner
For a moment, our companions lagging behind.
You set down the twelve-pack of beer by a lamp post.
I zip up my jacket. We both grumble, impatient.
I'm cold, you want to get drunker, we both
Shiver. You stand against a stone wall, we face
Each other across the sidewalk. Your hair
Flies into your eyes as you toss your head --
"Come the **** on!" -- at those half a block back.

A couple passes by us, the man in a dark tuxedo,
The woman in a white wedding gown and heels,
Hair in disarray. They stop their post-nuptial trudging, and she
Leans against the building for support to remove
Her shoes. His hand rests protectively on
Her back; none of us make eye contact. And then
Her shoes are off, bare feet padding lightly down
The November-chilled San Francisco sidewalk.

"Hurry up, you *******," I heckle backwards at our three
stragglers. "Newlyweds are moving faster than you."
We glance at each other again, you
Light a cigarette and shake your head. It hits
Me with a chuckle. "Man, those people
Just got married and here they are, walking
Down a street in the city at 2 in the morning."

"Right?" you reply, laughing a little. Our eyes meet
As if sharing a joke. And then we look away.
You cross the sidewalk in two long strides,
And bend to pick up your beer, handing me
Your cigarette. Within a block our quick pace
Has left the others behind again.
Dec 2013 · 2.3k
Kelly O'Connor Dec 2013
Burning nails, the beginning of the end and black sails for the death of an invisible friend,
Tragic loss resulting from the magic catapulting from my fingertips.
Read my fiery lips:
Give me shelter from your Neptunian storm,
Split the world with a wedge and keep our bodies warm
Kick the trunk of the oak until it bleeds with the fire you stoke
And coke you need and **** you smoke, and ****** Prometheus,
You are only human. But the fire in your blood leaves their smokestacks fuming
And nothing can save you, enslave yourself
With your strong-willed bravery on a rocky shelf.
Roll your eyes, disregard, spit in faces, **** me off
Because I'm the good sister, just tend the hearth and when I speak I scoff.
My name is Hestia, and I don't often stray from the Pantheon
So just trust me on this:
I'll introduce you to the smoldering truths, induce catharsis
And let your body loose, pick up your liver, tend your wounds
As if they were ash and oil, because we alone know justice.
You alone know how you've toiled.
And I can only start to understand your firebrand,
A passionate command. I tolerate you and adore you for your mortal score.
Prometheus, don't let those raptors gouge you anymore.
Oct 2013 · 506
1 AM
Kelly O'Connor Oct 2013
The moon is at three quarters which means it’s
A quarter since I last saw you and I
Begin one more one a.m. run down
A street that reminds me how close we are
But something about this town makes me think
Of just before dawn when little girls come at me
With their heads half ******* on, and I take
A turn towards the police station ‘cause I’m doing nothing
Wrong, but before I can veer away, your ghost appears
Out of the atmosphere, and drops me to my knees
Under well lit streets, misflown haphazard flags, and gives me
A one-two-three, and then drifts through me to the trees
And leaves me trembling between empty
Carports and P.O. boxes and thick coastal fog
And I know it’s not the ghost of you but the ghost
Of what you did because you had to
And my analog black dog ticks off minutes inside me
And I get to my feet and keep running.
Oct 2013 · 565
What We Must Be
Kelly O'Connor Oct 2013
These are the things we all are, all face,
The neglected children of a single human race.
The things that fuel us differ;
Our bodies always suffer,
They were made to decompose
While our minds keep composing
       No matter what.
We will all become victims of environmental backlash
In large ways, small ways, our lives become ash
Just watch and wait,
We can stop when we want,
We can't stop when we want,
And it's over
         Just like that.
Your children, or my children, will see this world differently,
A place where convenience is king and ****** is free,
Or nearly free, that is --
Human life still has some status,
If only just to count, but not to weigh,
Not to love or kiss goodnight
         Only to give away.
Oct 2013 · 626
Kelly O'Connor Oct 2013
You’re walking because you’ll be drinking,
But only a little whiskey,
Or so you’re thinking, to help you sleep.
Just one, just one, just one.
You remember the apartment from before,
The right set of stairs, the same exact door,
A coffee mug of cigarette butts on the porch.
Once more, once more, once more.

Somewhat like sinking you settle down,
Smile a little at everything
Because with your frown it’s a challenge.
Keep focus, keep focus, keep focus
On what’s on the walls, the ceiling above,
Which you know must be a labor of love,
A chronicle of coexistence.
One more, one more, one more.

And you don’t want to push me, you know
That I’m new here
But I’ll go with the flow, it’s just fun and games.
I’ve got you, I’ve got you, I’ve got you.
Drinks that I recognize and faces I can’t,
I was never looking for a hierophant,
But you’ve been so ******* pleasant.
I see you, I see you, I see you.

How many times have you passed out here?
How many voices live inside your ear?
How many walls do you have to clear?
Just a little more, little just a little more.

Well that’s one use for your school I.D. card,
I’ll bring you your clothes tomorrow,
Let down my guard, and just laugh about it.
No worries, no worries no worries.
Thank you, Lancelot, for handing me the Holy Grail
Someone finally taught me to ******* inhale,
Many tried, and many failed, but
Breathe easy, breathe easy, breathe.

You don’t get me, and the way you speak
Leaves me forgotten and confused,
My bitter medallions bleak, the chain around my neck
Gets heavier, heavier, heavier.
The lights of the airport through the January fog
Blur my mind like a chalkboard
And the floor’s got a soggy, sticky feeling.
And traps you forever and ever and

If your coronation’s based on an old fixation,
And only a little problem,
Then after this conversation you’ll go.
I promise, I promise, I promise
One more old friend, one more new,
And this will be the shot that drops you,
This is where you’ll forget.
Oct 2013 · 575
Kelly O'Connor Oct 2013
You set the stage, this stage is an overpass
Bleak concrete black sky, and we’re out of gas.
Can’t sleep, can’t breathe, can’t jump can’t
Till you’re pushed off the road and driven down

When love hits it’s a hollowpoint, a strangle-hold pin
Shrapnel cutting like the sand off the dunes in the wind.
You can stay up all night and try to find every
Piece --
Or you can suffer with me

I can’t tell if you saved me or threw me away
When sobriety’s a suicidal Easter day
Your voice sings the machine like it used to in my
For what it’s worth, I don’t know why I’m still around

And these forgotten railways running side by side
Make the iron in your veins my own brackish rising tide
Just lemme drop, don’t cry, don’t stop me
Because I’m finally free.
Oct 2013 · 896
Kelly O'Connor Oct 2013
My palate makes the switch from heavy hops to rooibos, ignoring
The powerlines and harmonies and busy highways.
There’s a chill in my bones upon discovering something beautiful:
Someone who can play the piano,
The disconnectedness from self I learn to love,
The gradual erasure of self
Apart from the occasional clever word and smug smile.
As love spills towards me like a waterfall from the mountain,
I solemnly realize that I have a problem and the bitter-
Sweet voice replies “So do we all.”
I trust and love that voice more than everything:
More than the wallpaper that has guided my trip up the stairs for years,
More than the cigarette-smoke smelling basement,
More than the front yard that tastes like pine sap and motor oil.
I take to the neighborhood the same way
A shark takes to the taste of blood.
I could write for ages about that basement and the spaces of it I never walked
The corners I only gazed at as if they were the darkest depths of the human soul
And never touched --
Because they felt like ghosts upon my skin,
Because the television cast a glow on them that told me to avoid them.
It lives in my sternum, like the pill which sticks in my intestines
And eats away at the tender membranes til they burst.
Jun 2013 · 503
Yard Work
Kelly O'Connor Jun 2013
Designed to have the highest
Concentration of barbs and spikes, you sit
Smug between the lines in the pavement.
More smug than you, I take you on bare-handed,
No weapons of metal, but still, I
Think, able. Poked and prodded, I
Consider giving up, unable
To get to your root, soft, fragile
Skin split open to bleed by
Razor sharp spines.
Then I think, this is why
You've gotten so bad, why you've
Gotten so strong; because
Cut you
So I steel myself for Hell, say well,
******* and your evolutionary process
May 2013 · 1.8k
The Mustard Fields
Kelly O'Connor May 2013
We all thought he would
Stay here forever, like
So many other lethargic
Sons and daughters of the slough
Who may never have learned what the mustard fields were for.
I escaped early, lucky I
Guess, but never quite let
Go of him, and another year
Gone by, like battered ships we return.

Those eyes are intense and
Hazel in the oncoming
Headlights, buzz-cut
Hair black as the ruins of Haystack Landing.
Once you’re told, you remember what the mustard fields were for.
“I’m different, I mean,” he says,
“****, even at dinner with family. I
Freak out, get paranoid, like I’m
Fighting for my life in the Sonoma hills.”

He sighs, “I know you know,
When I come back from
Where I’m going, seeing you is
What I’ll want the most, but--”
I wonder if he knows what the mustard fields were for.
“I’ll probably be real different,
Probably need a lot of help.”
Passing elevated acres of mustard, we
Pause; he says, “Gotta stop for gas.”

This soldier stands in sharpened
Contrast to this rural, liberal
Community, these Victorian
Cathedrals of a quiet isolation.
They will never tell you what the mustard fields were for.
I wonder then if something about our
Air here makes us want to reach out,
Aspire for our names and badges
Across the expanse of war and peace.

Like the murky waters of the turning basin,
History hides a silent violence.
Hatching, we find ourselves inoculated against
Human strains of moral dystrophy.
I went into the world knowing well what the mustard fields were for.
They’re still here, still growing, those
Slender, musky stalks, golden heads
Sweetly pastoral in their floral bloom,
Soft biochemical carpets in a cultivated sprawl.
I know now, I know **** well what the mustard fields were for.
May 2013 · 1.7k
Ode to Dirt
Kelly O'Connor May 2013
I lived a childhood of dirt:
my beginning and end, my friend, my
frontier. Dirt was the reason why
when other kids were always sick, my antibodies
made me a demigoddess, a mud-pie,
sand-cookie, dirt gourmet
crunching lightly-rinsed carrots wiggled
straight from the ground.
It never hurt, never hurt at all.

Warm dirt under my knees and hands,
my nails blackened, feet buried like I
could root myself in the soil -- I was lettuce
with dirt at the center of each lacy skirt.
Horseradish, deep in the ground and bitter,
wanting to become something sweeter, a new
tree or rosebush or better yet a veggie,
like the wild dirt-skinned potatoes
I dug up in the yard.

But tubers don’t have moms who give
***** looks and shake their heads,
examine your hair and your nails.
She sighs at the dark stain of your
feet, and banishes you
to a white tub, where she scrubs
the back of your neck, muttering
“Dirt, dirt, dirt,” as if
she doesn’t know what you are made of.

So give me the dirt, because I know my onions.
Always digging for gossip, flipping up
the neighborhood skirt, curious whispers
the way cornstalks share their childhood
tales before being tilled down,
becoming rich, dark dirt.
Ashes to ashes, I recognize some
for what they are, just fertilizer
for the imaginations and vibrations of others.

I may be half dirt but don’t
treat me like it, full of grit and
covered in sand from my hands to
my elbows. But what I am won’t
put up with your *******. Dirt is
a mother, to feed and flourish, dirt
is a woman much like me, and you
will never know the dirt under my
fingernails the same way I do.
May 2013 · 1.7k
To a Canal Boat
Kelly O'Connor May 2013
Returning son, his daughter at his side,
imagines now the men who once amassed
the limestone locks to straddle the canal,
an obsolete image from an eldritch past.

On a ritual hour of summer dusk,
if you should know precisely where to stand
that ghost of Syracuse can still be seen,
a rotting timber craft trapped deep in sand.

Mosquitos drone their hungry mother song.
The two upon the towpath, side by side,
survey this stagnant waterway where once
their ancestors lived and worked and died.

The silt entombs the boat’s untimely end –
how many years before the blasts of steam
sent veins of iron shooting ‘cross the land
did this canal boat capsize like a dream?
May 2013 · 1.2k
Kelly O'Connor May 2013
Darkened doorways to the outside, bright wide doorways to insides
My insides, spilled on the linoleum over the smell of oleander
I stare into your black cracked eyes with a loving smile
It’s a gaze in the fog where your thin fingers stretch
You are all the hills, all the ditches and fills, the trills
Of nightbirds and coyotes looking for the ****
You are ruthless, ruthless, ruthless…
And I fly every mile like a salamander slides.

And I must, hush, say this in a whisper, whispering cobwebs
My morning glory, sweet sunrise through black curtain.
I could have learned to live a long time ago
With a gaze in the fog you touched and taught me
You are all my fatal fear, your mind is clear, all here
Your legend floating in a perfect tear
It is endless, endless, endless…
Your crystalline flow on the uncertain ebbs.

How many, many eyes do you have? How many sighs
Drift through your rafters like your own vortex of laughter?
I remember falling in love with a light from beyond you
Your gaze in the fog like the fire from your head
Eggshell lead paint, no complaint, breathe in till you faint
With all your soul that of a stenciled saint
Songs so shameless, endless, ruthless,
Cannot fly through this shell until after it dies.

— The End —