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Aug 2020 · 229
Lifeboats
Kyle Kulseth Aug 2020
Flashing grasp of an idea
Before our youths were ever cashed in.
Held onto our chips, played close to the vest
                    in snow.
You were never enough sleeping,
And I guess I was just dreaming
                    of passing
                        ships
                    in the night
            and your signal lights
                        aglow.

                  ...in the foam...

Adventure was calling a heart slow to age,
the same as it had back in our young Old Days.
               So, some things don't change.

I remember, in the Winter,
Trudging quick to campus coffee shop.
Your wet hair frozen, and my breath in that
                    moment...

Springtime flash of our confessions
Just as our youths were getting cashed in.
Released all our chips we'd held close to our chests.
                    Let go.
We were lovers for a season
'til a sudden Summer leaving
                    a passing
                     of boats
                      in heat
             put our oars down
                and we rowed.

That feeling was calling my heart--"Time to age!"
Still falling, like it had in our young Old Days.
                         I guess some things don't change.

Along the way,
You must have fossilized inside me.
Lightning on waves--
Metastasized my bad dreams.
And, over time, see that I was a distraction
                                   No traction,
                                   No chance,
and no time for empty grief...
                         ...it's only brief, love,
                                still I did sink
.
Jun 2020 · 456
A Chorus of Cracks
Kyle Kulseth Jun 2020
The last rays of sunlight were purple
on the day the last fat cat died.
     From the street corners
     we saw them chasing
               their tails,
                        bailing water
          that was rising high.

                    It could never
                      last forever,
               whatever they said--
        --Could we ever have prepared
                     for that Fall?
                Call the Springtime.
          No Rewind of Our Discontent.
                  Meant to seize this
          while their machines stalled.

Look alive. Stay with me...

I wanna be there
          when the missiles drop.
Wanna be there when the pavement cracks
and scoop up the last embers of this city
          while you hold my hand.
I wanna be there
          when illusions fail.
Wanna be there when their smirks turn sour.
When the last of all the fat cats starves.
When they see the passing of their hour.

Look alive. Stay with me...

The last rays of sunlight were splitting
off Their glass towers' cracking panes.
     From the bus stops we
     saw them--their faces
               went grey,
                        flailing Dollars
          could not pad their pains.

                     It could never
                      hold forever,
               this Center they bought.
             But they never did prepare
                        for the end.
                Call the Springtime.
          No Rewind of Our Discontent.
                  Meant to shout it
               but the message sent.

Look alive. Stay with me...

I wanna be there
          when the pavement cracks.
Wanna be there when logistics fail.
And two-step on the cinders of this **** heap
           while the masters wail.
I wanna be there
           when their money burns.
Wanna be there when their neckties squeeze.
When the last of all their bonds will merge
When the fat cats die upon their knees.

Wanna be there when the missiles drop
And scoop up the last embers of this city
               while you hold my hand.

                         Look alive...
Not TOO bad, I don't think for a first piece in a LONG ol' time.
Jan 2019 · 368
Nailgun
Kyle Kulseth Jan 2019
Cold nights
               It's always Winter here.
It seems this season's stretching on all year.
               The beers are gone
               so let's get walking.
                           Grab
    your coat and let's do some talking.
Loud, through the night.
Know our strides will crunch through old snow
beneath old street signs.

                                              Best
      ­                                   bets aside,
                                    did you gamble
                                       on my days?
                               Did I waste your time?

Days come early,
nailguns out.
Walls go up and ambitions drown.
4 blocks down the street, you're screaming,
"**** the cold and this town. I'm leaving."
                     Sheetrock walls
               and paycheck borders
                     keep us pinned,
                in line, on short order.
                              Cook
                    our­ melting brains.
                        Froze in place
and broke your heart, rinsed me down the drain.

Cold nights
               It's always Winter here.
This frigid season's stretching on all year.
               The beers are gone
               so let's get walking.
                           Grab
    your coat 'cuz them ghosts been talking.
Howling each day.
Haunting all our snowbound steps and
rattling their chains.


                                          Alarms and cars
                                        and pulsing hearts.
                                               Cheapest
                                        prices paid to make
                                                our wage.

                                         The clocks in bars
                                       count tarnished stars.
                                                 Cheapest
                                         prices paid to pave
                                                 our ways.


                                              Best
      ­                                   bets aside,
                                    did you gamble
                                       on my days?
                               Did I waste your time?


Days come early,
nailguns out.
Walls go up and ambitions drown.
2 blocks down the Ave., I'm shouting,
"**** the wind and the snow that's pounding."
                     Rent check walls
               and sheetrock borders
                     keep us pinned,
                in line, on short order.
                              Cook
                    our­ melting brains.
                        Froze in place
and broke my will, rinsed you down the drain.

                                            And I'll move

                                                4 blocks

                                              next Spring...
Dec 2018 · 378
Collector's Issue
Kyle Kulseth Dec 2018
Dive past the splash page,
let's melt with the inkstains.
It's Autumn, the heat fades.
               The tale
          is unfolding fast

Now turn past the last page
of last time. We'll retrace
the panels, their contents
               you cried.
          But was it canon?

               Play this night here
                         as it lays.
               Place bets on you--
          we've both debts unpaid.
       Wasted time to redeem today
                       And I'd say...
               We're onto something.

                         Knock-
                                    -ing
                 ­         Rust
                             off iron hearts
                         to rewrite our days.

                      
I've got a feeling--
Let hopes ride; no sure thing.
The voices from downtown,
               they blend--
          a thousand songs sung.

The wind and the trees whisper,
"Encapsulate this
moment. It's flawless."
               It's art.
          And I'm past falling.

               Play this night here
                         as it lays.
                  My bet's on you--
          we've both debts unpaid.
       Wasted time to redeem today
                       And I'd say...
               We're onto something.

                 Read the writings
                       on the page.
                 The story's drawn
                and the panels laid.
       Waste no ink on departed shades,
                       as they say.
               We're onto something.

                           Knock-
                                    -ing
                 ­         Rust
                             off iron hearts
                         to rewrite our days.
Commemorating 9/20/2017
Jun 2018 · 7.1k
Canadian Slang
Kyle Kulseth Jun 2018
I thought I heard
               Canadian slang
from the opposite bed-side
Like it's 2009, rub some lines off my face.
Inner space bleeding outward,
deep red, a nosebleed,
angled points on white of The Maple Jack.
               A Nip at the Sal's on Esplanade-Riel.

Grab your runners and toque,
               it's warm, but not forever
and these legs are sore. Polar bears
on the sweater you wore in the Fall--
Churchill, Manitoba, the streets are full of teeth and claws.
Awoke and wanted warmth lacking.
I thought I heard Canadian slang.

I thought I heard "it'll be okay"
from the voices of feathers fletching arrows falling.
     they whisper and screams sink deep behind
                                     eyelids
                                     closing.
A sentence unfinished,
                sinking in flesh
                              in time
                sinking
                              in snow and ice
                sinking
                              in water in Summer
                sinking
                              in memory.

I thought I heard
               plans being made
and shy laughter.
I heard it 5 times. Didn't I?
Days fade, ears dull*
Walking on streets, in the cold
towards her home
I thought I heard laughter--
                                   heard something
                        like laughter--
I thought I heard rain, as the Lodgepoles drank water.

I thought I heard laughter.

I thought I heard wax melt.
I thought I smelled fairness.
I thought you wanting more time
to bleed and blur tenses.
I thought I heard rivers rushing and roaring
                                                 their battle cries--
--asserting their presence.
I thought I heard cars pass and sounds of the daytime
                    and late March walk along bridges.

I could swear I heard something
     Like Canadian slang,
                 sweet
                     water
                  light
                      laughter.
Som­ething.
Jun 2018 · 299
No Free Drinks in HECK!
Kyle Kulseth Jun 2018
Wanna drink in the park,
But the ******* mosquitos...
Eaten alive and I can't stand the heat
                        so
I turn down the bed
and I wait for December.
Shaking head
                   aching neck.
I'll thank you to remember
              I've always been one
              for walking in snow,
          ******* clenching this jaw
     while I'm chomping down crow--
--Don't wanna drink in the park
              'til it's really ******* cold.

And you...
          got no reasons to lie
          or axes for grinding.
           Just summery eyes,
          blind to punchlines
                  but finding
                      me out,

       With my rank Autumn breath,
                        I'll try...
       try to settle on Spring one time.

Are you
         dwelling today
                   on concepts
of verbal grenades or clever plays. Lost this bet.
           Cut off my sleeves, no ace.
Call me in the morning, or could play it safe.
     Summer's gold, but will you freeze
                        if I don't stay?

               I'll curse my sweating
                       shakes away.

Wanna sit in the dark,
hash it out with my ego...
Barely awake, I can no longer speak
                        so
I'm glued to my bed.
I can't wait for December.
Pounding skull,
                 crane my neck--
Try once more to remember
              I've always been one
               for sleeping alone,
          turning, tossing in sheets,
          spitting crow back at cold.
--Just wanna drink in the dark
           'til I'm really ******* old.


    Were there...
          really stories to tell?
     or just axes for grinding?
           Or summery eyes,
          sneering punchlines
                  frowns sliding
                    cleats first?    

    
        With brittle Winter hopes,
                        I'll try...
     try to settle on Spring--No dice.

And I'm
         dwelling today
                   on concepts
   of phantom pains and severance pay. Taking bets?
               I'm finna lose both legs.
Take two in the morning, stay awake all day.
     You stay gold. I guess I'll stay
                     the **** away.
Kyle Kulseth Jun 2018
The rats and the snakes
     creep in and crawl through your brains.
     Those veins are pumpin' sky blue blood.
Don't wanna circle the drain, but cycles spin 'round and 'round
     and then they **** ya down in thick, black mud.

It sticks in your craw,
          the way they're flappin' their gobs;
their dollars buyin' graveside seats.
Cheaters glom onto prayers the way you clutch at your chest,
                    and slobber in the putrid heat.

               When they come for ya, baby,
                      maybe run with me.
                Chase the dyin' light to San Jose.

               No point in cryin' or laughin',
               fightin', fussin' or clappin'--
       Cap or Crown, it's only goin' one way.


                              They bought.
                                 You sold,
                                missed rent.
                              It's getting cold.
                              November Rain.
                           It soaks you through.
               But that Song, girl, it ain't nothin' new.


So punch your ticket and scoff
while we all bend and cough.
Catch the last flight, and I'll stand by.

But don't lie to yourself--
          silver linings on brass,
they can't break through the gold-clad sky.

                          Yeah, ya silly ******...
Apr 2018 · 405
Orange Street Views
Kyle Kulseth Apr 2018
Buzzing drinks, this purple sky
shrink around the orange street lights.
You told me once, it might be nice
          to know what the look
          of a winning hand looked like.

Cliched sighs were my reply.
Kept me from at least two lies.
Lines of Alaise, I'm swinging blind.
I'll play your best cue as it lies.

               Sing something sweet to me
               Raise your brown eyes to meet our city.
               My blue ones always sink;
               when the chorus kicks in
                    you look so pretty.

               I know you're not right for me.
               And, baby, I'm no good for anybody.
               But at least we share some needs
and the midnight view from the bridge on Orange Steet.

Stumbling steps and shaky laughs
and creasing lines in clasping hands.
I told you once I'd take a chance
          to see the sly curve
          of your wine-soaked shy glance

Buzzing signs, citrus street lights
Let's fall in love with urban blight.
Our voices loud, we're walking blind.
So here's my best play, one last time.

               Sing something sweet to me.
               Close my blue eyes--I love this city.
               Your brown eyes sing to me.
               We're the chorus now, babe--
                    you're bright, but I'm witty.

               Know it's been a ******* week.
               And I know I'm no good for anybody.
               But let's still our shaking knees
    and kiss a new year on the bridge on Orange Street.
Dec 2017 · 444
The Last Weekend
Kyle Kulseth Dec 2017
Take my hand,
we'll fuse our last
                    few folding dollars together,
and we'll walk our snowbound streets
               and try to fend off the cold.
Find a place that's too familiar,
shivering hands on the door.
               Halfway laughing.
                   Half a cough
     as we protest we're still not old.

Break the skin,
I'll break the silence.
               Sigh
and watch our breaths ascend
          the frigid night.
Tell me, "Show me something beautiful
                    or let me leave the light."

Now, fill me up. Just sing that tune.
Two songs of piling rust.
                    I love
          the way you croon.
I'm just a walking ghost.
But what does that make you?
           Red-faced or blue?
           Two-faced or true?
               Do you stay?
             Or cry, "Adieu!"?

Strike the band,
they'll play the last
                    few notes of that "Civil Twilight."
and we'll speak our foolproof plans
               and try to forget the cold.
'Til you say, "That's too familiar."
Make your way to the door.
               Half a laugh.
             caught in throat
    I hope they'll draw out that last note.

Break the skin,
you **** the silence,
                    laugh-
-ing with descending face
               and frozen eyes,
saying, "Show me something beautiful
                  and let me leave the light."
I'm really happy how this one turned out.
Nov 2017 · 293
September 25
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2017
Was Monday when some somebody said
someone else had some trouble
               sticking out their neck.
You had a thing to get off of your chest
sent home walking alone, just as I suspected.

Had ears full of the tallest tales.
Sails deflated, drunk and jaded
               spitting coffin nails.
From my seat on this dusty city bus
I can see a whole kingdom made of ash and rust.

               ...everything the ******* touches...

Was Springtime when some somebody claimed
that they loved a certain someone--
               "didn't wanna leave."
4 months later, you were taking your leave.
"We'll stay friends on social media--
                         I didn't delete you."

My gut's full of tales like this one.
Drunk and fading, still just wading
               through the deepest ones.
Take my seat on this city bus,
Let this heart burn out and smolder down to ash and dust.

               ...All the things your friendship touches...

***** basements, then sidewalks under stars.
Zip these footfalls up to closure
     Closing down the bars.
Outta lies? You're outta time.
               And, so far,
that's all you gave and I'm the fish
               who swallows that hard hook.

In the end, I guess that we'll be fine.
finding distance, finding form among the solid lines.
End-of-day, the only way out is time.
               Guess you've got yours.
                    And I've got mine.

You've got yours.
And I've got mine.
Originally written on--you guessed it--September 25th, 2017. Lion King reference, hey what?
Nov 2017 · 282
Wind Chill
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2017
Celsius to Fahrenheit
they took each other's measure.
While you walked half the distance,
I got lost along the way.
I succumbed to ******* frostbite--
it was not a point of pleasure.
Meet me at minus 40
if you've got a thing to say.

Hang icicles from buildings.
Hang a frown on one long face.
Hung my hat on losing hands
                                            we'll
hang up halfway through this call
and I'll directly start to hate this place.
Heap reasons on these question marks.
Hot coffee, honey cruller.
Split the check, we'll split the difference--
               Celsius to Fahrenheit
       I fought through the conversion

Then I fought my way into a much worse place.
Originally written March 18th, 2017. This one feels like it could've come directly out of mid 2015. But that's okay...I kinda dig it.
Nov 2017 · 289
Ecclesiast
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2017
I think I'm fine with
          kickin' over church pews
desperate to find where my rituals hide.
Ghost stories never taught me nothin' but runnin'
               and hidin'--
          Tonight they'll be exorcised.

By the end of this year,
I hope they won't recognize me;
all free and clear
from old, sour misfires.
Tired of sad sermons I been tellin' myself
so I'll shelve 'em and try to let myself debride.

I think I'm fine with
          forgetting the words
to this tired parable I've spent too much time with.
Ghost stories never teach ya nothin' but runnin'
               and hidin'--
          from yourself and your best lived life.
Originally written February 2nd, 2017. Wasn't sure about it then, not sure about it now. But here it is.
Nov 2017 · 391
Ghoulish Nostalgia
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2017
Blue screen
behind a snowy blur
          Blizzard outside
        cold silence in here.
Forgot
the weight of syllables
          On channel 2,
  I'm disconnected and numb.

               With all the eloquence
               of a bitter, frozen smile,
          Let me draw a map
                          with mismatched memories
               With all the subtlety
             of a fumbled operation.
          Let me trace the tale
                     down unstitched avenues.

This year
I'll try for something like real feeling.
Ghoulish nostalgia's only eating me alive.
And if I could only take my lumps and leave 'em...

...leave 'em far behind,
I might start moving on.
               Onto something
                       current,
               something warmer
                 that's enduring.

Let me try to trace my tale
down these unstitched avenues.

And I'll get back to you.
Originally written on January 1st, 2017. Wasn't sure it about it then. Think I kinda like it now!
Aug 2017 · 496
Dumb & Dumber Luck
Kyle Kulseth Aug 2017
You were leaving
     with the first of the Springtime thaw.
I glued my feet and
     now I'm stuck and you know that's all
               we ever found
          we knew how to do--
was just say fake "goodbyes,"
practice "I'll miss you's!"

We can sleep through our dreams
or die standing up
on the paths of same footprints'
           same old sidewalks.
But the equinox came and you went nowhere
                        quick.
Sick of saying, "It's fine here..."
                        Think
                    I'm just sick
'cuz the healthiest ones hated us
       and now they're all gone...

               ...I guess that's just luck.
                           Dumb luck.

I was leaving
     we both knew that I wouldn't get far
before retreating
     to you and to this asphalt
               I've always walked.
               We always knew how
to just fake fake "You're fine's."
Swallow fermented growls.

We'll just sleep through these dreams
of packing our stuff.
Write our hopes on punched tickets--
           can't afford the bus.
When the equinox comes and we're still here--No
                              ****?--
We'll be convinced it's good here.
                         Think
                  we're just sick.
'Cuz the healthiest ones hated us
        and now they're all gone...

               ...I guess that's just luck.
                           Dumb luck.

Stick together, squeeze the time in
with the snow falling down.
Do what we'd never get away with
when the Summer comes around,
       When the cops patrol the streets
              that the city won't plow

               ...I guess that's just luck.
                           Dumb luck.
Apr 2017 · 903
Two Zero One Six
Kyle Kulseth Apr 2017
Got 2 fingers for this night
2 bloodshot eyes on the town's small size.
I'll take this walk on shaky toes,
take 1 more bottle for the icy road.

3 years, 3 months and countless ghosts,
some angry friends, a long walk home.
     I stumble down Wyoming Street
   and ball 2 fists inside my coat.

                      Stunted
I tripped while running in place,
bit my tongue and cut my nose up--
    ****** my pretty, spiteful face.
                   And I'm just
                       punting
and slurring while I beg for pardons.
Forgive my weak and sour heart--
                  didn't mean it
when I said "Goodbye and **** this place."

I'm a werewolf on nights like these--
popping joints and twisting knees,
yellow eyes and dagger teeth;
full moon makes my lungs freeze.

When memories claim my mind,
can't see through greyscaled eyes.
Sorry to waste your time
          but I seem to have misplaced mine.

Hundred questions for myself.
Emptied 15, placed them on my shelf.
0 answers inside each 1.
Shapeshifter's sorry that I killed your fun.

3 years, 3 months. 1 long walk home.
I gambled with these dicey ghosts.
I spilled some drinks and said some things.
Grab my coat and hope you can forgive me.

                      Stunted
I zipped my leaking lips up.
Bit my tongue -- I'd made no progress
     Hung my petty, spiteful face.
                  And I'm just
                      punting,
but could you forget my infractions?
                 didn't mean it
when I said, "Goodbye and **** this place."

I'm a werewolf on nights like these--
Claws bared and licking teeth.
So, please just don't mind me
as I walk out on unsure feet.

Sorry to waste your time,
but I seem to have misplaced mine.
Apr 2017 · 603
Placebos Rebranded
Kyle Kulseth Apr 2017
I've been a feature here for four years now.
You're an armchair or a doormat
Once you've been around
awhile.

I wanted fresh breath and a brand new face.
Maybe a companion just to
take up space beside
my side.

But the "EXIT" light was on too long.
"Eventually, they heed it or they just become
fading notes in a song
that we forgot we sung."

Or at least that's what you told me...

Or at least that's what I'll write here...

And what about you...?

It's a tangling grid of street names I
     keep
tangled on my tongue
3 inches under my eyes
     (They ask directions).

An end result of a series of
     hasty,
maybe-good decisions
I made 4 years ago.
     (Seek validation).

And what about you...?

There's a comfort here we can't escape,
take two for granted
and call to cancel coffee dates.

There's an ease that breeds friendships like ours,
Convenient and seasonal;
Friendships that really aren't.

"Rose Park" names our neighborhood
A few blocks slant, we prob'ly shouldn't
talk today...
Similar coordinates
A useless map. Mistake by any
other name...

Second chances, we won't get them.
And I guess we don't deserve them.

The State's an acci-
     dental sigh.
The town's a too-comfortable lie.
And you, I guess
are just another neighbor of mine.
Mar 2017 · 683
Waning Gibbous
Kyle Kulseth Mar 2017
The night will corrode
Our smiles will erode.
It's been a long time coming down the track I s'pose.
The weather's finally warming
but I'm cold, ya know.
          And I know--
     the season's gonna change.

So peel back
          the streetlit sky of a Sunday night.
Reveals black.
          One empty gut, one clouded mind.
Got a fistful of pocket lining says I'm right.
Wrong way. Left turn. I'll be alright
          without you.
     I know my way home.

One talk at a time,
I finally know.
Out of words. Out of time. A frown growing slow.
The temperatures are turning,
turn my back and go
          'cuz I know
     that you already have.

I've always known
I would walk out alone.
Had to come out swinging for the quick K.O.
I hate the ******* heat;
you're sick of the snow.
          And you know--
     My reasons. Your excuse.

So peel back
          the ******* smiles of a Winter night.
Reveals black.
          Your toothless mouth, this empty fight.
Got a fistful of pocket lining, walk all night.
Wrong way. Left turn. I guess I was right
          about you.
     I know my way home.

          Without you
     I know my way home.
          Without you.
This one was kinda spat and shoved out there. I dunno, I'm not super stoked on it.
Jan 2017 · 651
The Amazing Human Bouey
Kyle Kulseth Jan 2017
Rushing.
Crashing.
Ocean fills my ears.
I'm stranded out here bobbin' with these others
after way too many beers.
Our ship started sinking
after parted ways and too much thinking.
We're all way too salty now
and all too soaked to swim to safety.

I've got
a notion, friend, to lay some blame
drop a few names, retreat again...
You are
a battleship, your big guns blaze
afloat on rage, bristling ardor.
      I'll calm you down, so dry me out
      or sink me now. We've spent enough
      on life.


Coughing.
Laughing.
Protests fill our ears.
It's frigid out here. Walking off these shudders
past the closing bars and jeers.
Boarded. Started singing
all our anthem cries from here to Longstaff.
"Land, **!" we cry sarcastically.
We're still too soaked to swim to safety.

*We've got
some way to walk, cover some ground.
pass a few blocks, we're lost & found.
The night
had shrunken down, contracted fast.
dark purple sky is bristling hoarfrost.
     We've warmed us up, so pull me out
      or sink me now. We've spent enough
      on life.
Dec 2016 · 5.2k
Red Eye
Kyle Kulseth Dec 2016
Rub these eyes.
What a misspent night.
I cast one die, tumbled through to light
               aimed away from
               where I left you
on a corner, towards a ******.
               ...You know...
Hung my hat
on these stupid hopes,
tried to steer us two on an icy road.
               Slid through stop signs,
               you stopped speaking.
Anyway, I'm flying out tomorrow.

Tired as Hell
switch planes in Minneapolis
On the way from Richmond to Montana
This far North,
     the snow is never far away.
               Last one through
                       the gate
               and still sleeping.


Slug this Fall
down in airport bars.
A snowbound move, but I got disarmed.
               so I aim to
         where I came from
Gift myself with what's familiar
               ...You know...
Out here there's
not a lot of noise.
A few pinned dots between the bullet points.
               Here it gets cold,
               just a few miles
from the real Continental Divide.

Head dipped down,
and shoulder leaned windward.
Take two steps, try calling in the morning.
This far North,
     some flights can get grounded.
               Not much
                between
          here and Seattle.


*Heavy coats
and fortified spirits
keep us warm between our vacations.
This far North
     no Saints to preserve us.
               Not much
                between
          here and Seattle.
Dec 2016 · 410
Defroster
Kyle Kulseth Dec 2016
You've been out here in the wind awhile.
Now, I don't mind the snow.
But I'll lick my chapping lips and ask,
     you if you're feeling cold.

It's all been tacks and eggshells
since the Summer hung its hat;
October laughed, we shrugged our shoulders,
                                                      ­  covered miles,
but still we left the biggest thoughts unasked.

               Clutch your coat
                     and walk
          another snow-clad block
                      with me--
              We're almost back.

                          Fight
                  these doldrums
                            off
                       with me,
                          invite
                 the snowflakes in
                 my open doorway
                  closing off night.
                    **** the cold,
                  'cuz we're all in.

                    Leaking away
        'til night gives way to the day.
     Until the Springtime thaw rolls in.

I've been frozen in my tracks so long,
the ice hangs from my chin.
I still dangle on each laughed-out word
      that you toss in the wind.

You say you're sick of shivering--
sick and tired of last year's coat.
"It's all old hat, but it's familiar..."
                                  sketch a smile
across my face, melt snowballs in my throat.

                 Grab my arm
                     and leap
               that final icy step
                      with me--
              We're nearly home.

Maybe we were never
gonna be a thing but cold.
But I still like the way you hold
your shoulders when you laugh.
Maybe we can never grow up,
     just keep getting old...
Stick with me tonight, I swear
we'll warm this place by half.

                          Fight
                  these doldrums
                            off
                       with me,
                          invite
                 the snowflakes in
                 to our bleary eyes
               swelled full of night.
                    Out of reasons,
                      we're all in.

                     Leaking away
        'til night gives way to the day.
     Until the Springtime thaw rolls in.
Dec 2016 · 750
Civic Wins
Kyle Kulseth Dec 2016
A pity that your city couldn't find it in
the budget to prop up another "civic win!"
'Cuz the clinic closed its doors at 6 p.m.
                   for the final time.

When you're wearing out your shoes on their unplowed streets
in the Winter, while they cheer the college football team,
will the ledger sport the error margin for relief?
        Or will your hole-filled coat suffice?
                           Goodnight...

                             It's so hard to say
               if we could script out any other play.
                          The blocking's down.
                           It's so hard to know,
                     when your prescription's low,
                          what you're gonna do--
                    or where you're gonna go now.

The new athletic center on the campus gleams,
a glass-and-money beacon. They slashed faculty.
Rent is climbing ladders with the cost of heat
                   all the ******* time.

Your eye's on midnight pleasure at the liquor store.
That snowy route will wind you by the nice wine bar,
and then past the clinic's closed and boarded doors,
                   under buzzing lights.

You see him through a window sipping fine, dry whites.
His vote to cut off funding drew his party's line.
His lips are sketching praises for the team's O-line.
            That's a city councilman's night.
                          Good times...

                             It's so hard to say
               if we could script out any other play.
                          The blocking's down.
                           Will the curtain fall,
                     when cooler nights turn cold?
                           What you gonna do?--  

                        What you gonna do now?
Nov 2016 · 341
Real Bitter Hours
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2016
The night is cold. November tends to be.
I tend to burn out quick.
Those talks all sound the same to me.
They tend to make me sick.
So I spit up a few fake goodbyes
and glide through doorways, out of sight
               to find
I've got a bag to grip again.

These sips don't go down easily,
like back when we were kids
spending neon nights together
and pretending to shed skins.
               No,
they hit like bitter fists now;
no new memories, just bruised skin.
          Once again--

   it aches after they leave.

And all the ways they always find
to always leave you far behind
will never fade from memory
no matter how far your way winds.
The faces change, but not the times.
               They've gone.

          Again, you circle back.

The walk home's cold like two-thousand-and-twelve,
when I fled from myself--
from ghost of future Christmas me,
past "CLOSED" signs, beneath bells
in the churchyard. Wanna ring my neck?
'Cuz--cuss me, Father--I am wrecked.
               And I
can feel them sneer on the way out.

These sips won't stay down easily,
like when you were a kid.
Tonight, they tasted bitter.
Bitter wind chews wrinkling skin.
                 With
the feeling rising fast now
through your guts: they're not your friends.
               Once again,

      it burns when you exhale.

And all the ways the always found--
deflate, un-name you, pitch you out--
will always chase you doggedly,
however deep you dig you down
into the ******* frozen ground.
               You know...

   And they know that you do.
Oct 2016 · 798
Charms Demystified
Kyle Kulseth Oct 2016
It was only partly cloudy when we showed up to the dance.
Polished, striding slick in all our style.
Lucky buckeyes stashed in pockets,
rabbits' feet clutched in our hands
          we marched up to that fancy fence
                             and asked,
          "When does the fun begin?"

It had only started raining when our escort let us past
the gate and led us on toward the door.
But I tripped on my own shoelace,
fell behind and watched you pass.
          Your smile turned to sour salt
                             and ash.
          You looked back and you laughed.

Count your friends up, count your digits
and your achy, sagging limbs.
Make sure none of them are missing
before you try to go swim.
                         'Cuz the rain is getting thick
                                                                   now
                        and this scene is getting sick.

                               Wretch me up.
               Soak me down right to the quick.

                     Thought somehow it could be saved.
                     Preserved or salvaged from decay.
                     Decidedly unjustified to chance.

                     But I bought these fancy shoes
                     with my last dime, got all these moves.
                     So waltz me off, stage right, with all the
                                             other trash.

The door was swinging inward, blocking your form from my view,
closing to a slant of yellow light.
Windows brightened golden inside;
out here ink night, black and blue.
          I saw you next through window panes
                             as you          
          cavorted with the lords.

The rainwater's slashing downward, raging cold against this face.
Curse escapes through blunted, yellow teeth.
Among finery you are dancing.
Here, I shiver in drenched rags.
          luck charms fell from fingers to
                             the dregs.
           When does the fun begin?

Count your friends up, count your digits
and your achy, sagging limbs.
Make sure none of them are missing
before you try to go swim.
                         'Cuz the rain is getting thick
                                                                   now
                        and this scene is getting sick.

                           Wretch me up.
             Soak me down right to the quick.

We scrawled out this stupid story
'til the pens fell from our hands--
'til exclamation points were
               dented,
              bent and
                  rent;
until we'd asked,
             "What's the final tally, mate?"

                       Now,
this bad and greasy hair
is hanging low over this face.
This ******, used up body droops
and slouches toward its age...

And the rain is like no bitter ex's invectives
ever taste.

               What's the final tally, mate?
Oct 2016 · 838
Means of Egress
Kyle Kulseth Oct 2016
I remember standing 'round
with the houses burning down
                                   around us--
--Shrugs. Not even ducking our heads.

"Well, there goes the neighborhood
and I suppose the timing's good,"
is all I can recall of what you had said.

They never wanted compromise.
And we were not too keen on listening in.
We'd always ignore consequence's size.
Now we're running, trying to mail our checks in.

          We want a means of egress.
          Yeah, just a means of egress.
          It's just a means of egress.
          That's all we really need right now.

They're coming, cracking knuckles now,
intent on cashing debts on our hides.
They'll lift their dividends out of our loot
unless we chase the setting sun to Telluride.

We never wanted compromise
So we put our neighborhood to the match.
Our detractors sporting cross hairs for eyes
are salivating for the thrill of the catch.

          We need a means of egress.
          We seek a means of egress.
          It's just a means of egress.
          That's what we really need right now.

           It's all we really need right now.

          It's the only thing we need right now.

I remember standing 'round
with the houses burning down
                                   around us--
--Shrugs. Not even ducking our heads.
Sep 2016 · 706
Passing Grades
Kyle Kulseth Sep 2016
7 cups of coffee, never been so tired.
7 hours 'til the weekend
          I'm a garbage human.
Crawling on my belly through the ******* bars.
Kick a couple empty cups and join the trashcan stars.

Monday morning, can't believe still at a job like this,
I'm a ******* nematode behind a ******* desk.
Got a mouth full of fangs and a vinegar gut
Got my hands *******
          got an empty wallet.

Empty out my guts on the concrete night,
pour the contents of my chest on the headache morning.
Chisel clear sight out of my crusted eyes
just in time to read a bright orange low fuel warning.

**** these stupid weekends and this ******* space.
**** my empty-heart excuses and my dishpit face.
Clean the plate and wipe the slate clean.
          Leave this place.
Maybe try and settle down.
One more cup of coffee.
Sep 2016 · 780
Sharp Angles
Kyle Kulseth Sep 2016
The noise of Fall is deafening.
Tie your shoes and grab your coat.
You shouted 'til your throat was sore.
I watched the seasons
          change from where I stood
          in piling snow.

Listen, friend: I've got a few bucks
and some reasons in one fist.
In the other, got some memories
          and the lining
of my pocket in a grip.

Do you wanna fight the cold off
               with me
          and a couple drinks?
I'm thinking one good weekend
and a friendly face could save this.
Blame this time that's piled between us,
               blame the
     deep snow as we sink.
Call me up and maybe we could
scan the skyline, eyes unblinking.

And I know it's been a long time.
Bills tied hands, time clocks grabbed throats.
You've floated, changing hue on wind
gusting. I'm a name
             you half forgot
          ****** in the snow.

And I'll be gone come Spring time,
with my lowbrow jokes; my crude reminders
of the sharp angles
          of the letters I use
          to spell my name.
Sep 2016 · 449
Block Programming
Kyle Kulseth Sep 2016
You just left on a jet plane,
now the boys are back in town.
I've come down with a sickness,
but they still want me around.
          I don't wanna leave my couch
          and I don't wanna go downtown.
'Cuz without your face, this place is just overplayed.
Just wanna turn the volume all the way down.

I've been wandering old streets,
seeing all the oldest faces
in the places where we'd meet.
When they ask about you, I can't face them.

Now I've looped around this town
about a million ******* times.
Old group's predictable. Those clowns
still have the time of their life.

You're off to better things.
Hope Sacramento's ******* awesome.
Your absence here still stings,
and the radio here's still just awful.

I'm still hooked on old feelings
I was born to not outrun.
I wish I could stop believing
that the past was just more fun.
          I don't Journey off my couch.
         And I'm a Foreigner downtown.
Now I'm broadcasting doubt and my town is played out.
          I wanna drown the volume out.

I've been haunting same old bars,
seeing all the same old comrades,
between same sidewalks and same stars.
They never left and that makes me feel bad.

Now you've been gone 6 months,
and you might never come back.
If I hear "Sweet Home Alabama"
one more time, I'll ******* crack.

You're off to better things.
Hope Sacramento's ******* awesome.
Your absence here still stings.
And the radio's still ******* awful.
I call this one, "Spot All the ****** Song References!"
Aug 2016 · 499
Turnstile Gates
Kyle Kulseth Aug 2016
The nuts
and the bolts
of your automatic habits
programmed scowls and slowing reflexes
               keep you
     matching wits with no one
               every night.
             And you keep
slipping
     back into your 6-month rut
     with your cold sneer,
      hands in pockets,
      your shrinking bank account
           and swelling gut...

The Mountain Lines meander,
you're just killing time and brain cells.
Ashy days are tasting bland.
Bus routes circle back on themselves
          like your footsteps every ******* night,
          this town will raise its hand,
          you'll retreat into familiar flight.

                                                      Cr­inge
                                       'cuz it's so easy.
                                                       Cringe
                     at what you have become.
     Come back on your loop repeating.
                                 Potential's mocked.
       You're numb and deaf and dumb.

And you've never surrendered.
But that's not the same as winning.
Pinning hopes on snapping out
of it and sleeping hearts on sleeves.
          Heavy footsteps every ******* night,
          a walking metronome
          passing cross-streets just to pass the time.

Your dull,
aching eyes
that you peer through every sunset--
programmed scowls squinting through preset acts--
               keep your
       dulling wits all silent
              every night.
           And you'll keep
walking through days like turnstile gates
and send each night on down the line.

Send each night on down the line.
Aug 2016 · 1.1k
Photographic Evidence
Kyle Kulseth Aug 2016
The date is printed orange
in the bottom right hand corner
of my very favorite picture.
     It's from two-thousand and eight

And, as my cramping legs keep ambling
every gavel foot falls faster than
the one that fell before.
     I'm wondering
where the Hell the years have gone.

You were all brown eyes and wide white smiles.
I was all youthful bravado.
As your laughter swelled to confidence,
I was sinking straight down to the bottom.

And the water rolled on past us,
          Goose Creek
swelled with the Summer run-off...
Tell me where did all this time run off to?

The moon is looming large
in the hazing, ashed-out corner
of my wine-enchanted eyeball
     on this too-typical night.

And every hyphen lends some extra space
to staggered breaths as I recall your face.
Now I'm spelling out
     my own verdict:
defendant's moving to convict.

I don't know the final cost.
     But I got enough memories
to say what future I still have,
     well it sure ain't coming free.

I got enough memories now
     that I don't know where I will be
when a year is just a yawn and a sigh,
     and you're still lodged
     deep down inside of me.

You were brown eyes' living confidence,
I was yellow, fading cowardice.
I know you were the better one,
and I've always been scraping the bottom.

And the water stalled beside us,
          Red Riv-
-er choked with Winter ice blocks.
Don't know why I was so dumb and frozen.

But thanks
     for believing
          all those years.
I basically only ever write about the same one thing. Sorry 'bout that, folks
Jul 2016 · 847
Departure Times
Kyle Kulseth Jul 2016
On Ohio nights, you've got fireflies.
     Out West, we like our rifles.
Never pull your days out from the roots
     'til the nights have all been ripened.

City lights are purpling blackened streets
and we can see our way to habits through
          these neighborhoods...

Our sentences are carbines.
Order up a few more rounds.
I guess it's almost automatic
when the late reports all sound
          like we've got
          rain all week.
        It's rain all week.
And you're so sick of parades.

You say you want a Summer.
One that never ends.
One that takes you back to Ashland,
          brings you
sense of time and feelings for old friends.

I think the party's over.
No streamers on the wall.
Pack your bags, punch a ticket,
          bring a
jacket and I'll see you in the Fall.

          I'll see you in the Fall.

On Ohio nights, you've got fireflies.
     Out here, we've got some mountains?
Never load your words into your clip
     'til the shells have all been counted.
City lights rain gold on midnight streets
and we can feel our way familiar through
          these neighborhoods.

Our paragraphs are Kevlar.
Knocking down another round.
When the night sky tries to swallow
you, the late reports all sound
          like we've got
          rain all week.
       It's rain all week.
I was so tired of parades.

I'm looking towards the Winter.
Know how that one ends.
It'll take me back to Sheridan,
          bring
sense of time and memories of old friends.

I think the party's over.
No streamers on the wall.
Pack your bags, punch a ticket
          bring a
jacket and I'll see you in the Fall.

       I'll see you in the Fall.
Jun 2016 · 744
Song of a City
Kyle Kulseth Jun 2016
They should still be singing stories, babe
about the fun we had.
Yeah, from the top of The Leg'--
throw an arm around your Golden Boy
dance them feet across the copper.
If those songs could take us back, I swear that I
               would live out my days
               inside of those strains
               I'd keep my word this time.
                              and I
would arc across that place with you--
off The Leg' through Osborne Village,
through boutiques and record stores and maybe they
  would hear us laughing at The Toad in the Hole.
Or we'd speed north, past Kildonan Park
'til they could hear us out in Lockport.
Hear us shout at Dubuc & Des Meurons
               while they're waiting on their bus
     to cut the frosty dusk with condensed exhaust
               we could laugh right in their face.
                      I'd live inside those strains.

If they were singing about us from the top of The Leg'
we'd stream across St. Boniface Cathedral
and some young someones
running through hip deep snow in the cold
would pause and hear us.
We'd stir their soupy breath in the night,
sifting through our history.

If they forgot the words, it wouldn't matter.
Our verses: soft breathing, our choruses: laughter.
the sound of us moving through Exchange District taverns.

I want for them to start singing us songs
and I want a pint with you at The Yellow Dog.
No more 4 years of regrets and no more sad talk.
Just you and just me and maybe a walk through the city.
Kyle Kulseth Jun 2016
Bills are scheming with a lightweight check
               again.
Swear to God they must by
         best of friends.
And now I'm sitting solo on my couch
               again
with these 4 walls.
They've become parenthetic.

It's the same everywhere,
               I know.
Same for my friends.
'Cuz the loan checks that we're writing won't
          pay dividends.
We majored in Assumptions,
tossed our caps and
               then
we found new meanings
for what's copasetic.

Now it's easy...
too **** easy...
So easy...
It's too easy.

To wander these same neighborhoods
and stay in tiny, ****** apartments
when the loose ends of your 20s tangle
and you're tied to where you've always been.

And I'll never ask for
          FOR ANYONE'S HELP.
But I still can't take
          CARE OF MYSELF.
So I'll
          COOK MY DINNERS
     ON THESE BURNING BILLS
and laugh my way to the bank
so they can repossess my smile.

Days keep blurring through to nightlight gleams,
               I know
time is racing past but
      thoughts are slowed.
And I'll be sitting pretty on my couch
               alone
inside 4 walls
because habits are a home.

It's the same everywhere,
               I know.
Same for us all.
Late nights and lame jokes we're making
          push back walls.
We majored in Assumptions,
tossed our caps and
               all
we found were new ways
to be pathetic.

But it's easy...
just too easy...
So easy...
It's too easy.

To stay in soured relationships,
stay still in tiny, ****** apartments
when the low points of your paychecks dangle
while you're trying to climb as high as rent.

And we couldn't be in
          ANY WORSE HEALTH.
And we couldn't be less
          FAIR TO OURSELVES
but we'll keep on keeping
like it's copasetic

And we'll never ask for
          ANYONE'S HELP.
Though we still can't take
          CARE OF OURSELVES.
So we'll
          COOK PLATES OF CROW
          ON OUR BURNING BILLS
and laugh our way downtown
where we can reassess our smiles.
May 2016 · 635
Origin Stories
Kyle Kulseth May 2016
You keep shaking at the branches
just like money grows on trees.
I been dealing in these cheap clichés
just like they'll help me leave someday.
And--easy! Easy! Easy.--
We can't let 'em hear us scheming
at the bottom of their hill
while their victories are streaming.

I can still remember days
when sane folks always laid bets on us.
With our mortarboards tilted all smart
and God left sorting filters,
we tilted, tipped all windmills
and we smoked through all opponents.

You'll tell me I once loved you.
I'll reply that, once, I could.
And we'll keep on telling stories
'til our voices clear the woods
and drift on up their hill
and through their windows
to their ears.

I'll tell you you were beautiful.
You were! I ******* swear!
So tell me I was beautiful
and that we can repair
this broken clumsy story
that ****** us all up and brought us here.

Up there atop their hill,
those thieving ******* sip their wine,
while below them, our white facepaint runs.
We plan ahead for better times.

I keep shaking at the branches
as if friendship grows on trees.
Just as though they might accept me,
when the dollars fall with Autumn leaves.
And you been dealing hard in hollow hopes
and flimsy dreams.

But I still think you're beautiful.
So tell me that I'm beautiful.
And then let's clip their flimsy wings.

Those ******* 'crost the town
are eating **** and grinning.
               Cackling,
               orgasming,
while counting out their winnings.

But their music plays too loud
and soon their eardrums will be bleeding.
If they can't hear us breathing, babe,
they'll never hear us scheming.
I'm trying to do a LOT with a LITTLE as far as pacing and meter go, and I think, maybe, I get a little hung up or tripped in a couple places. All in all, though, I think it turned out pretty good. I kinda like it.
May 2016 · 502
Pretty Cannibals
Kyle Kulseth May 2016
Goodnight, pretty cannibal!
It's been fun, I guess.
Beats being alone.
It's gotten late and I suppose
     I'll talk to you in the morning.

I mashed up every sad complaint,
playback on loop;
a bad mixtape.
You fell for it, but can't complain
     'cuz we've settled on each other.

Throw me out a lifeline,
               find
a bracket--you could tie it off.
And, maybe once in my dumb life,
I can pull myself to the shore.

I keep pinning all my hopes
on losing
bets
but I won't bother
giving you the benefit
when I doubt my own luck.

I have wasted time on wasted lies
but you don't care.
And we've not wasted tonight
               so let's just say...

You'll talk to me in the morning.

We're two pretty cannibals.
We had our fill
then spit out bones.
The day is here and now I know
     you probably should be leaving.

We played through every easy stage.
Continues gone,
so that's the game.
You're over it; I won't complain
     'cuz we knew that this would happen.

But throw me out a lifeline,
               find
a bracket--you could tie it off.
And, maybe once in my dumb life,
I can pull myself to the shore...

You keep rolling up snake eyes
on losers,
jerks
and creeps like me.
But still you saw some benefit--
thought why not try our luck?

I am wasted time, you're wasting minutes,
but who cares?
And we didn't waste tonight
               so let's just say...

I'll talk to you in the morning...

When I know you should be leaving...
Giving this one a second chance, I guess. I still think it turned out kinda dumb.
Apr 2016 · 801
July in Missoula
Kyle Kulseth Apr 2016
A searing night. A price
tallied out and settled up.
I'm sipping down the size
of the smaller plights of times like these
in towns with bloodshot eyes.

Your coyote grin,
the gravel in
my creosote laughter were paving
the longest paths to saving graces
and filling up deaf ears.

I'm spilling every ounce
of all my guts
on your ears in the alley where I threw
               up last year
when I disappeared from your birthday.

Your coyote grin,
eyes glistenin',
you laughed kinda quiet while walking.
Familiar paths. We're talking crazy
through bitter whiskey sneers.

But I think, this hot night,
               I'm ready to believe...

Between the asphalt and the stars

Between the almost-fights
               and rushing cars

Between the blurring downtown bars...

We'll find some common ground.
The town's lit up, we'll trickle down
to a point of least resistance
where we can bid farewell to arms.

Or I'll find my way back home
to 1130 Longstaff
where my walls can close me in.
Apr 2016 · 559
Intro to Esperanto
Kyle Kulseth Apr 2016
Lines drawn.
               Erasers
kept tucked in back pockets.
I'm circled. I'm shaded.
Smudged out,
separated.
You'll redraw the floorplan
schematics are changing
and I've
               got the handbook.
     regulations tossed out windward.
               Wearing out
all the reasons for more sensible feelings.
The seasons change fast here,
I'm sure you'll be leaving again.

               And you'll go
any place
that the latest squall takes you,
expecting I'm waiting.
But I've got blueprints of my own.

"Go anywhere you choose.
I won't care about the news."
The headline that I'm writing
and I wish that it were true.

So roll me up with the rest
of the shabby, used up trash.
Emptied cups and smoked-out butts.
All that's good has been unwrapped.
               I'm cellophane.

Life spans.
               Placeholders.
Not even a memory.
It's notched up. It's useless.
Refused
and ablated.
I'll toss out these blueprints.
**** all these schematics.
And you
               wrote the last word
     scrawled out in constructed language.
               Wearing out
every patience for these senseless intentions.
I'm fenced off. You flatter
yourself and you're leaving again.

               And I'll go
right back home
to my tiny apartment
where four walls await me.
But I still don't want you to leave...

...'cuz it's easy to believe
that you're beautiful beneath
these buzzy, dimming bar lights,
squinting through this hazy scene.

I've seen
               this one before.

I know the script
like the way to my front door.

But, with constructed language,
our meaning will languish.
And I'll fade back to static.
                                   Again.
Mar 2016 · 454
Weather Vane
Kyle Kulseth Mar 2016
These punchlines unraveled on an Autumn morning.
My breath and my tension devoured the edges
of yellowed and dog-eared, trusted old pages.
This map's projections embracing me now.
Holding so tight. Pinned me down to the ground
described on the pages regurgitated.
                    Pin me tight to this town.
A flightless bird--I'm a rooster
                     bolted to your roofing;
follow each wind, but I'm never moving.
My phone woke me up on a cold Winter morning.
My uncle had died and they cancelled my flight.
It was only just me that missed out on his funeral.
And it's only just me singing "Midsummer Classic"
alone in this quiet and darkened apartment
                    "...Blue & Gold /
                    our city casts its shadow...
" (Sundowner)
No albatross I, but a bird without flight all the same.
A small excerpt is sampled from the lyrics of the song "Midsummer Classic" by Chris "Sundowner" McCaughan.

Sundowner. "Midsummer Classic." Four One Five Two. Red Scare, 2007. Various Formats.
Mar 2016 · 491
Episode 19: The Result!
Kyle Kulseth Mar 2016
Ticking off the time
while the ticks and the flies
creep and crawl across my face,
burrow into my eyes.
And I think my swarming friends
               are feeling hungry tonight.
So I guess it's only etiquette
for me to oblige.

When the fiddler's tune
starts to slow down and waver,
I cling tightly to youth.
But I ain't getting no braver.
And the steps to this dance
still feel foreign to me,
even if I know the words like a fish does
               the stream.

Now this empty dance hall
is quickly filling up
               with ghosts wearing tap shoes;
guess this jig is up. My cup runneth over
with tired clichés. And I'm knee deep in *******
               but I ain't afraid.
          Not afraid to be alone
          not afraid to be alive.
          Never been scared to die
             or to ignore signs.

But I must be

scared of something...

Sunlight so bright
think I'm halfway blind.
Squinting through the days and
sacrificing all sight.
I'm still hanging with the bugs
               while they scratch and they buzz
before I finally pinpoint just
what I have become.

Lay it down, black it out
while water sinks into ground.
Break it up, break me out
and we'll drive into town,
alright?
Kyle Kulseth Mar 2016
Well you wanna go out dancing.
I don't wanna leave my pad.
I won't loosen up this necktie 'til my head falls in my lap.
               Then you'd be lapping up my words
               that are
                     curdled,
                     soured,
                     absurd,
purchased with inflated currency
and sold off for a herd
               of sappy sentiments
          for worn-out, bought-up malcontents.
Yeah, you're believing anything these days...

And I'm far too good a liar
               selling real estate
          on toxic, poisoned ground.
Filling in all of these forms
and putting dumpster fires out.
               Standardized.
               Attracting flies...

Follow darkened circles down...

To my parlor. Find me cutting up and dealing
               out my cards
and doubling down on all the reasons
I've been feeding you.
               Repeating 'til it's my turn
               to start eating plates of crow.

Now you won't take any chances.
I'm a golem made of ash.
I won't fire up the big band. You won't come sit on my lap.
               I've been dishing out these words
               that are
                    used up
                    barren,
                    burned
far too long. The chafing dishes cooled
and all our vittles turned.
               Buffet line sentiments
          for naïve, hungry malcontents
starving to believe in anything these days.

Well you wanna go out dancing...

I'm not gonna leave my pad...
Mar 2016 · 742
Grinding For XP
Kyle Kulseth Mar 2016
Who has the keys to this Wednesday night?
I wanna ******* drive, I'll take the exit
               off I-90
  and these bloodshot eyes
  they won't slow me down
  or catch up until bar time.

Greyscale cityscape--it's blurred out size
               can dissemble time
and make a smudge out of our plights.

Not asking questions.
I won't need to lie
if I just keep quiet.

               Not gonna slow
                                     me down.
                  Not this time.

Door to the weekend has started creaking
and leaking light.
But my threshold's high
and we're not on foreign ground.

Dim reflection in your shouting eyes
calls for some more time
so it's one more round
and keep running for a place that's high.

Not gonna stop until these blurring lights
               and my X'd out eyes
can make a streak out of my sight.

No further questions.
I don't mean to pry.
So I'll just keep quiet.

               Deal is, you've gotta
                                     hide                  
                           me tonight.

Let's pitch the keys to this Wednesday night
and ditch this beat-up ride. Let's make our exit.
               Torch these bridges,
             flee through rainy night.
              They can't stop us now
             or catch up until bar time.
Feb 2016 · 523
Calendar Year
Kyle Kulseth Feb 2016
I saw your breath race up
to join the smokestacks' sigh.
You'd cried the night before and I
had cursed the coming Summer,
'cuz I've always liked the cold.
You told me, someday, all of this
would be flattened out and bulldozed.
Paved and paved and painted 'til
the grey goes on for miles,
and they'll never know we stood here,
never know we'd sometimes smile--
                                             true or falsely--
in the bitter Winter air.

I don't know about that.
I don't know if you're wrong or right.
All I've got for you are guesses
that all we ever had was time.

So, with the stopwatch spitting seconds
as the calendar frames lives,
realize it looks the same;
it hasn't changed--we never tried.

Sew these moments up.
A patch for one more year.
Won't "cheers" you--all that happened here
was a decade came unraveled,
now I stand by smokestacks, cold.
Told you once I liked the Winter.
It got searing hot and you walked
off and faded to a point.
But the pavement goes on for miles,
and they'd never guess we stood here,
never know the way we'd smile--
                                       true or falsely--
in the bracing midnight air.

Now I don't know about you.
Can't tell if you were wrong or right.
But I will keep on guessing
all we had was a convenient lie.

Fill the hourglass with seconds
as the calendar frames lives.
No. Don't turn it on its head;
the moment's dead: we didn't try.
Quick, simple (and, I hope, catchy) musing on a brief involvement about a year before this posting.
Feb 2016 · 430
Atomic Clock
Kyle Kulseth Feb 2016
It's like coming back to an empty room,
filling blanks with my mind
while I look for you.
It's the half-life
of my memories
that betrays me now as I replay through each scene.

Holding the bag
    of fast fading photos
and stumbling home alone past windows
that could've been ours.
Now I can't remember
my getaway plan.
That year's November
     dropped me into cold;
arrested breaths

               sold me out
     3 years, still scared to death...

...that the time'll prove you right,
that no indictment ever left a man so blind.
I'll sit in the dark, then lie on the floor.
But Justice can see you've gone so
               far on your own way
               and that's just fine.

When this empty room echoes,
that sound is mine.

Trip through the doorway in domestic dark
in this sick span of space
where it echoes stark.
And it sounds wrong
to my puzzled ears.
Nothing fits in this vacant place without you here.

What good's a home
     when it's all ghosts and regrets
and one lonely soul resisting egress?
These fumbling hours
spent searching for landmarks
that used to be here,
can't find them so far.
     dropping into slow
arrested breaths

               Won't go out
     3 years, still scared to death...

...that my memory's decayed
that the best of me invested got mislaid.
I'll sit in this room, in the thick, empty dark.
And, now, I can see you've gone so
               far on your own way
               and that's just fine.

Now the silence here echoes;
I'm losing time.
Jan 2016 · 812
Wyoming
Kyle Kulseth Jan 2016
It aches when I smile.
My State's a disaster.
Coal rollers, burnouts and days full of rapturous
laughter and "Red Face"
down in Lusk in the hot days
of Summer--it's boiling;
Winter winds burn up your face.
I first learned to hate
myself in a snowstorm
on Dow Street in Sheridan.
My best friends are the slow warmth
that spreads through the chest,
lifts a cold heart, grabs popcorn and pints
at the Blacktooth on hundreds of nights.
And 500,000 simple souls are a sight.
Still they're just half a million salty
drops in the ocean--
A quick squall of rain on the Bighorns.
They've opened the floodgates for *******,
morons, bigots and rednecks
and rich, ******* ranchers thinking
          everyone owes them.
And their dollars are deadpan
gallows jokes down in Cheyenne.
But I've seen cheap smiles 4 miles wide
out by Sundance.
And I've got good friends that I still carry with me
like the potent, sweet, earthy afterburn of good whiskey,
or the smell of the lodgepoles in the Spring
up in Story.
And it's still my home
even though it's so empty.
It's still my home
though it sometimes seems ******.
That State's in my bones,
I don't think it'll leave me.
So please understand that some nights
when you find me,
you've stumbled across a small splinter
chipped off of Wyoming.
My relationship with my home state of Wyoming is kinda complicated. There's SO much about Wyoming that really *****. It's sparsely populated, largely rural and hidebound, unquestioningly conservative (the "'Red Face' down in Lusk" is a reference to "Legend of Rawhide..." check THAT one out, cuz **-LY ****); you sometimes run into a lot of really ****** attitudes and ways of thinking. But, at the same time, there's so much jaw dropping beauty there, too, and so many people with open, generous, accepting hearts. I've had tons of really heart wrenching experiences back there, but also tons of really awesome, fulfilling experiences too; plus, some of my very best friends are back there.

Form-wise, I really don't think I like what this poem turned into. But, eh, whatever.
Jan 2016 · 615
Episode 13: The Diagnosis!
Kyle Kulseth Jan 2016
Signed us up. One more round.
Stagger through another year
of attrition, searing heat and self-effacement.
When that black **** bubbles up
                       through every crevice in the ground,
we'll know our heroes finally died
                       down in the basement.

This city's getting small.
I've gotten mean, you're getting old.
But your cold feet won't save you
when you're dancing on those coals.
The verdict's been returned,
it seems they're moving to convict.
And I can't really blame them anymore.

Every Summer it gets hotter
than a crooked priest's Hell.
But we're shaking while we sweat
with too much time that's left to ****,
'cuz it's ****** in the courtroom
when the judge cracks a joke.
But you've heard this ******* punchline before.

Here we go, one more time.
Keep it fluid, keep it light
as you're waltzing through these streets that aren't your friends now.
You've got so much love to give,
                        I won't say what I've done with mine.
But there's no such thing as rest
                        for tired, old clowns.

Light me up, then play me out.
Stumble through another year
of attrition, mounting bills and self-debasement.
When that black **** bubbles up
                        through every crevice in the ground,
we'll know our heroes finally died
                        down in the basement.
Jan 2016 · 681
Teleplay
Kyle Kulseth Jan 2016
Day's last thoughts play
through the creases of my sleepy mind.
Questions pile like the flakes
on the sidewalks outside.
Square of purple light in my white wall,
                               painted night grey,
glimpse of snowfall--a buzzing, fuzzed-out
scrambled teleplay.

Through interference I'll slide
                                      eventually
          ­                                          down into
                                                     dreaming.
and change the program.
For now, the channel remains right here.
The Winter flickers 'cross my face.

And that window's purple
                              square is a small piece
of a tired world just trying to fall asleep;
A single view of a wider picture
that covers miles. Bends lines into a face.

Impulses race through a fading mind.
Snow is piling deeper
on the bike path outside.
Retrace my steps as eye lids close
                                over distance
Still that square glows--a buzzing, fuzzed-out
scrambled episode.

Through interference I'll slide
                                      eventually
          ­                                          down into
                                                     dreaming
behind the credits.
For now the channel remains right here.
Half-smile flickers 'cross my face.
A different place and some different ways
to transmit greetings across this space
and to broadcast all our withheld wishes
                                             would be fine.

                       But tomorrow I'll wake up.

             And these re-runs never stop.

And that window's purple
                              square is a small piece
of a tired world just trying to fall asleep;
A single snowy, interfered picture.
                   A half-formed question:
     Are you watching this same thing?
Dec 2015 · 613
Martyr on the High Seas!
Kyle Kulseth Dec 2015
A swarm of angry gulls
is whirling overhead.
Our breaths both reek of ***.
And there's a fire on the deck.

Baby, grab what you can while the grabbing's good.
We misread all the maps and we misunderstood
the pulling of the currents in our poison blood.
                    So we'll split up
                the spoils in the hold.

     Yeah, then we'll send this ****** below.

I'm laughing in the rain,
drinking in the Crow's Nest.
You're inhaling all the smoke
from the flames down on the deck.

You're crying in the wind.
I'm leaping in the drink.
You're tangled in the rigging ain't ya, babe?
This ship's begun to sink.

You're always ******. I'm sick
            of your ****.
So let's raid this leaky schooner,
then we'll scuttle it.

Baby, grab what you can while the grabbing's up.
We ****** up reading stars and the compass now.
Avowed we'd only drift until the tide went out.
But we're lost and favored winds ain't enough.

Buddy, grab what you can while the grabbing's good.
We misread all the maps and we misunderstood
the torrents and the waves in our raging blood.
                    So let's split up
          all the plunder in the hold.

     And then we'll send this ****** below.
Dec 2015 · 534
Holiday Pay
Kyle Kulseth Dec 2015
There's a crack in the swollen sky today
We're caught
          standing, stuck, underneath it.
Looking bad for the good guys down the home stretch
'cuz that ******* looks to be leaking.

Sad news from front offices
Sales figures are down again.
So bummed to slash your benefits
but what's best for you is none of their business.

With newsprint leaving light ink stains
on tabletops
          and tips of the fingers,
they'll just dust crumbs from sweater vests
and sling their quarters into cold parking meters.

****! Here comes an avalanche!
Stay still. Just snow. We won't flinch.
Pretend that we can stand the stench
of the bodies on another warm Christmas.

Sad news from the offices
Pension plans are expensive
Have to reap your benefits
You should prob'ly look for work on the weekends.

Hope they like their breve drinks
Hope they won't stain fresh-bleached teeth
When the North Pole melts, the stores will sink
and the roofs of malls will stand in for beaches.

There's a crack in your lean wallet today,
It aches,
          it's nothing money can't fix.
Maybe try and reapply after New Year's Day,
'cuz for now the sky is still ******* leaking.
Nov 2015 · 386
Ground
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2015
A blanket
A covered stretch of ground to cross in due time
A blank face
A blank slate
An empty head tonight moves across this white space

I've crunched through snow and Summer
                                                          ­    both.
Fused years, found friends and let dead ones go.
This axe to grind has grown dull, I know--
                    and cumbersome
                on ground yet to cover.
As days splice fibers into 12 month rope,
Hang this warm hat on one thing I know:
                      that I've still got
                   ground left to cover.

Slow breathing
breath steaming off into dioxide cold night
It drifts towards
the moonlight,
ghost of a laugh escapes, leaks into the night sky

A half hour
A half-smile stretching through my creasing face now
I laughed when
you sang me
Chantilly Lace as we walked across that cold town

I've weathered snow and rainstorms
                                                     both.
Fused years, found friends and let dead ones go.
This frown of mine has grown dumb and old
                    and cumbersome
                on ground yet to cover.
As days splice fibers into 12 month rope,
hang memories on one thing I know:
                    that I've still got
                 ground left to cover.

               The rivers,
                               like parks and roads,
          stitch places to times to sew us homes.
  These year-long cords stretch between our doors
            across all this ground yet to cover.
              
               Their names are
                            a cascading brine
        "Red," "Big Goose, "Clark Fork," "Assiniboine."
   The years flow homeward, my pride erodes--
              silt layer on ground left to cover.
Nov 2015 · 1.6k
The Greatest Day of My Year
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2015
Road trip out to the coast
it'd been a long while
and I hadn't seen you.
          So why not
plot a course out westward
and get away a couple days.

I was over being over it all
And you were sick of your ****** boyfriend.
So we packed and got in your new car
and spent the next few days in Portland.

Well, life's a ******' drag
when all you've got are
loan debts and frustration
          At least there's
bad jokes and good scenery
and long drives on I-90 West.

     I wanna drive that road with you again
     I wanna drive that road with you again
     I wanna drive that road with you again
          I wanna drive that road with you.

We spent a day beneath a Bridgetown sky,
walked through the city with Jen and Erin,
got drunk on Pabsts for a dollar-fifty each
at the Star Bar, 'cuz we were talkin'

about
how folks are mostly lame
but can be cool if
they get half a chance to.
          About our
stupid, funny habits--
it was the greatest day of my year.

We were over being over it all;
sorta tired of feeling kinda jaded.
Then the sun set over Oregon
and you and me and Jen and Erin.

We hopped on a city bus and you
were kinda drunk and acting pretty crazy.
As my stomach kicked from laughing hard,
I remember I just kept thinking
                                                 that

     I wanna ride this bus with you all night
     I wanna ride this bus with you all night
     I wanna ride this bus with you all night
          I wanna ride this bus with you.
Nov 2015 · 1.1k
One Great Pity
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2015
Trafficking in recollections
                                       trading
neon nights for bygone days.
From ceiling lights to humming street signs
sealed records come untied.

Another time far from perfection
                                        close enough
for mapping smiles,
covering miles and chasing laughs
               out of throats
        and into corner booths.
Grabbing coats, it's back out into night,
sleeves shining tables the moment we go,
then arms entwining. Voices warmed,
               we sang together

               "...seemed so brief
                 but it wasn't / Now
          I know I had plenty of time..."
(Weakerthans)

When was it we went out walking,
bundled up through Winnipeg?
Easter Break? Or January, drifting,
                      chilled
through wind or meltwash?

Calendars defy me now, though
every night recall the time,
                           the place,
           the lights of Your Great City
           flashing off your coffee eyes
and through the heavy, falling snowflakes
on a Spring or Winter night.

I'm traffic on chilly sidewalks
                                        trading
CO2 for oxygen.
No cars disturb the late night silence,
shallow breaths or slow footsteps.

And, as I walk against the signal,
                                       late October
snow obscures
street signs, dulling laughs from doors
              of the bars
and late night coffee haunts.
Seems so far to my small West Side home.
Heels hitting pavement and face turned to stars,
arms hanging downward, my voice, drowned
               mouths words, half-quiet

               "...dusk comes on
                 and I follow / the exhaust
              from memory up to the end..."
(Weakerthans)
Excerpt(s) Citation:

The Weakerthans. "Civil Twilight." Reunion Tour. Anti-, 2007. Various Formats.
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