Ghosts among the Living

Raised by the South to smile and nod

when strangers pass

but in this scene

the twenty-something blonde in business slacks stares past my ear and crosses

to the other side.

Can’t be too safe I guess

or maybe it’s a game I didn’t know that we were playing

and these concrete squares of sidewalk

are just lava she can’t step on.

And I want to tell her that she’s safe…

as if she were in on the joke.

And most days…

I just wish my neighbors knew I lived here.

Too many days I feel their eyes

asking what I’m up to,

why I’m parked here,

who I’m staying with and if they realize just how much I’ve made myself at home

because

I am.

And I’ve shouted my good mornings from my doorstep

but it only reached the screen doors

slamming shut behind them

but I guess that’s how it is to be a ghost among the living

and I don’t know when I died,

only that I was born….

black.

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Rare Glimpses

Never the poet when it counts…

Today the sky was like…an event I got to witness

but my words just weren’t worthy of it.

Like having the perfect shot and no more bullets left to fire,

this afternoon crescendo of red and purple light

that felt like staring at the threads where night and day are sewn together.

and when the light was spent we few on benches became silhouettes among

leftover shadows.

Walking back I felt like God had wasted front row seats

to the rarest glimpse of heaven.

Eulogy for a City Not Yet Dead

 

There is an Art whose pulse can still be felt
Along Main Street headed East,
And I get it…
how you could view the chaos of this intersection as something                                              to be despised.
Old candy wrappers mix with leaves along the curb-sides,
The broken shards of Heinekens glaring green light from the gutters,
The daily choreography of crossing streets avoiding eye contact,
Terrified of small talk in the elevator down.
And I make no excuses for the silent tacky war of bumper sticker politics,
of SUV’s and outspoken sedans missing hubcaps like front teeth,
exchanging their “cease fire” stares just as the lanes begin to merge.
But every day this city is the canvas and we                                                                                Are all just colors mixing onto it                                                                                              Never really knowing how the whole thing looks..                                                                    The stories of acrylic                                                                                                                              As complicated as colors get.

The light I wait for

There is this color that I wait for

when the time of day is right

Gold…just isn’t deep enough and honey is too dark I think

it is a kind of game the light plays, a sort of smile that every building shares whenever

it’s that time

Like a girl I see in town who’s name I have to know

and every time a tired sun surrenders

there she is

like the first time

people gathered in their lawn chairs

women walked onto the grass, high heels in hand

a songless band of faces looking up and waiting for the moon to block the sun

and me, in love with sunsets unimpressed

ordinary lies

Dreams are the lovers I have lied to

many times

with promises

“one day I’ll make you all come true-

just need a little time to do..

the things that I’m supposed to

then you’ll see I will be back for you.”

Oh, how I entertained them in those days…

with poetry and sentiments

Beautiful arson,

The world burned for a hundred years

from words I lit like matches,

setting fires to whatever souls were ready to ignite

and we made love

recklessly enough with our hearts open

while their eyes stayed closed

I lived

an ordinary life behind their backs,

disappearing days on end to live my ordinary lies

where each day was no different than the last

pretending not to notice

when my dreams would pass me by.

 

 

 

 

Strange Circumstances

 

On this cold Sunday morning every blade of grass was a kaleidoscope of light

as if the tiny drops of dew they held could steal the dawn before it burned

into an angry sun.

sitting with my coffee,

trying way too hard to be that person who can sit and read a book outside.

Work always in my rear view

like a ghost I keep around just for the company.

Just once I want to breath in deep without the aftertaste of “what now?”

and even on this hallowed ground of lawn chairs and magnolia shade

the vanity slips in, checking just to see if any one has noticed that I’m listening to

the BBC.

I think I am a good man..legitimate, and strong

perhaps it’s time I go inside and chase the squirrel that came in through my roof last night

out of my apartment.

I know that I’m a good man but all men have their secrets

and no one has to know

why I’m drinking coffee in the cold with just one slipper on.

 

 

 

 

an honest season

Some mornings it seems

I come back to my senses

when the hot water runs out,

whispering to God against the vinyl, shower wall.

I’d gladly lose this language of years called 35

and never measure Life in arbitrary seasons

or the forgotten dynasties of Spring.

Every strand of gray is just another winter that I didn’t crack like porcelin

or one more month’s rent barely paid.

And all my “crazy college friends”

are drowning me in baby showers

as I find wedding invitations

underneath the Geico bills.

Now I look tired every day

and it really isn’t like me..

or at least it wasn’t always,

evaluating my reflection in one-sided mirror conversations

already in my head before the toast has had a chance to brown.

or maybe this is where my stress goes now,

staring into space at stop lights,

drifting in my mind into the trees along I-64

as if they’d lead me to some wilderness where

all my calls would go to voicemail.

and the irony…

that growing up has been

the  most I’ve ever daydreamed

Perhaps it would be better to be lonely

than to always want to be alone

because “no man is an island”

we’re all just stranded here together

as..paradox as human

but nothing is more useless than a puzzle that’s been solved

maybe all my flaws

just form the edges where I fit in.

 

 

 

Theory of Time

Today the sunset was like watching watercolors mixing

and I wondered why the sun would give a shit about our city,

but if the skyscrapers on East side all had faces

that’s the most I’ve seen them smile.

Some rides home do that, playback memories like indie films

and I had this moment where

it hit me that I can’t go back to visit images inside my head,

flashing past the corners of my eye like billboards, selling me a life that was.

it’s all just neon light now, here and gone between the spaces of my wiper blades

as I drive 60 in a 45.

Time is like a meal you eat today and taste tomorrow

I don’t know if I’ll ever know what Now is

but something tells me that I’ve tasted it before.

Magnolia memoirs

There are no eulogies for trees.

Stubborn old magnolia sent her roots into the plumbing…end of story.

Trees get chopped for lesser sins and I never stopped to learn their names

But I knew this tree…

because her leaves sounded like the shore whenever storm winds passed through them

and the sound gave something back to me.

because, looking up, each branch was a kaleidoscope of green against the sun

as if those shades of emerald were a kind of dialect light spoke with

and I was just a kid listening in on grown-up conversations

but she always let me stay.

Tattered old magnolia, tall and unapologetic like an aging woman proud to tell her story

hums her gospel through the soil now

so that every clump of grass and sidewalk dandelion lives the legacy of something ancient and magnificent.

I raise my beer in silent eulogy,  the shadow of a tree stump

Sitting on my porch, watching hipsters on the sidewalk pass our barren lot of soil

as if there were a Wal-mart being built there

never knowing that the sawdust on my gym shorts are the ashes of a queen.

the sound that wakes you

You could say a city is a place where noise and silence are two rivers mixing
but even through this shitty view of alleyways and hour parking you can see the whispered glow of office windows in the distance,

piercing through the charcoal silhouette of skyscrapers

Perhaps, these are the stars we look for now
a million iridescent points converging in a galaxy of sighs
where stray winds make newspapers dance along the sidewalks

only to find themselves trapped between the buildings

like birds beating their wings against the window panes

thin sheets of glass the sunlight speaks through resonating in uneven heartbeats

and somewhere in the pauses we look up

it’s funny how the silence wakes you

when you don’t recognize the sound