“The Words to Speak at Night”
I fear it’s now a common blight
To hide our face behind our words
And to the world be only known
By everything we haven’t shown
We laugh at how few seeds we’ve sown
For surely we are always right
As we are all the mockingbirds
Who denigrate those flocking herds
But some of us, I hope, are spurred
To leave that bitter trend alone
To leave the laughter for the light
But find the words to speak at night
I hear it now, with guiled ears
The calling of my darkest fears
Setting now, December sun
When all was said, and nothing done
I feel it now, in weary bones
My reckless ways, the Earth condones
What will still be said of me
When I am gone for Innisfree?
I see it now, with opened eyes
The bitter wind and darkened skies
The final path, the final bow
And nothing left beyond the prow
I know it now, in dauntless mind
Until this moment, I was blind
It will not matter what we’re worth
For soon we’ll sleep in languid earth
I found my body in a field of celandine.
It was the darkest time of night, and above me the black sky swelled and breathed in conversation with the damp earth on which I lay unmoving .
In all directions past my fingertips the spindling colorless flowers seemed to stretch past to the end of everything,
a broken record scene of a million grey-black shadows to the edge of the existence.
Twisting my aching body to the left I noticed the wild flowers parted like two seas by a narrow gravel road that extends past my line of sight.
A Siren’s voice met my consciousness. The hum moved not beside the wind, but within it. My bare feet grazed the heavy star and I stood parallel to the unmoving trail from which it came from.
I was vaguely aware of the wind forcing the flowers around my ankles to bend and contort their fragile bodies to the tune of the quiet song that floated across the stones, and wanting to join them.
Before I could begin to expect it, a battered Chevy blurred my vision
and in the headlights
I could see you standing on the other side,
the color of some strange collection of moonlight and cheap fluorescent.
Your hair came alive around your face in illuminated wisps, caressing your freckles and kissing your skin with the fragility and urgency of the night.
And in that fraction of a second, part of me felt sorry for the city. And yes, I knew that was cliché but you invented cliches, didn’t you?
You were the prettiest thing the world’s never seen.
I wanted more than anything to paint the stories in your eyes
but if a picture is only worth a thousand words,
killing the novels that are written in the shiny part of your irides would be a crime.
The stranger left in a rush of sound and dust and left us again
to exist alone in the uneasy peace.
I tried to push my body across the gravel, trudging every step
but I could not grasp even your aura.
There was glass and grey tape and a matrix of walls surrounding you
and this gravel was a judge, as unfeeling as you.
I hurled my shaking bones at the void between us, throwing one last glance at the silent observing moon above us as my consciousness moved on without me.
I found myself gripping my bed sheets.
She scrolled through google results full of bullshit and babies
Google Result 1:
Sign # 8
“Can’t zip up those skinny jeans?”
It’s okay, skinny jeans were last season.
The measuring tape around your waist rates our ability to make love stay. It is on a 1 to 10 inch scale.
I will learn how to cook.
Google Result 2:
Am I pregnant? quiz
“How’s your mood?”
You brood over multiple choice’s, looking for one that says “a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”
The voices of Joyce’s are not an option.
You click “I bawled my eyes out while watching something more like How I Met Your Mother than Titanic”.
When I met you, soon to be mother, I was fully aware that babies were a result of romantics.
And I know you hate when I’m overly pedantic,
But I touched your stomach last night when you slept, and it made me dream about violently throwing men overboard to make sure you and whatever is in (there) have a comfortable place on the life boat. With a warm blanket, hot chocolate, and a soft kiss goodbye.
I watched myself smile as I went down with the ship.
It was beautiful.
I woke up,
You quickly learned to stop trusting sad moms on google and found a book on a local library shelf:
What to Expect When You’re Accepting (the fact that you are no longer a little girl. You are having one.)
“Pregnancy Shopping Checklist”
Glider or rocker- You will read Berenstain books in this chair until your lungs give out, because didactic bears in the dark think it’s important to go to the dentist, have picnics, watch less TV, spend more time in trees, and so do you.
Feeding Supplies- You will pump life into her. Give knowledge to her. Speak kindly to her. You feed mouths, brains and confidence, you are the fuel that feeds wishes, it is important to know this.
A crib and mattress- Also known as: Imagination fortress. Surround it with pictures of princesses. Above it, pin up a wishlist. Every time you see her smile while she sleeps write “I wish I never had to miss this”. On her cheek plant a soft kiss. Make a mental note of her miniature wrists.
They will one day grow to hold a watch that counts away your minutes.
Before you turn out the light,
above her crib,
“I wish I had more time with you”.
Last but not least: high chair and car seat- You long for the day that both of your eyes meet. You yearn for cheerios in food trays and chocolate covered laughter in a dirty kitchen. You obsess about cleaning the back windows of your car,
because whenever you buckle her in she gets to see world for the first time.
In case you were wondering. I am guilty as well.
I too have told secrets to my iphone.
Result 5 (I’m not kidding)
In response to this, I created an electronic event on my calendar. Set nine months from now.
A loud alarm that will wake me from sleep and the screen will read,
Cross out wish list above crib.
Turn it into to do list:
Build time machine.
Travel back 10 months back from today.
Give her a hug that makes her feel like it is going to be more than okay.
Touch her stomach.
Whisper in her right ear
“You will never have to google alone”.
I clicked Alt-left (back), still looking for answers
Result pages full of babies and bullshit.
Click page 26.
“What to Accept When You’re Expecting”
Scroll down to the last few lines because poetry is boring.
“Accept that your world is about to change.
Instead of living in it, you will give this blue planet to a beautiful baby and a woman you love.
You are now the dusty book cover of Atlas Shrugged.
Expect to panic and cry.
It gets hard sometimes.
But also expect smiles.”
Expect smiles when she reads aloud to you on that rocker, about those bears and bike lessons. Or when she runs outside on 2 different Christmases,
ten years apart,
with a fire in her eyes and wheels of freedom in the driveway.
Siri: Show me the image of a father.
International symbol of father.
A Man smiling.
Socket wrench hoisted victoriously in the air
on the day his little girl understands
that she no longer needs training wheels
to explore the world that he gave to her.
I will squint in the bright sun as it damages my corneas and strains the bright blue seas, locked away for eternity in my undying blink.
I will develop lines in the shades of “Ass white” and “Forearm brown” in uneven blotches across my skin and you will tell me I am ugly but I know,
I am not.
I am just an artist’s pallet of gold, and cream. And I will kiss every damned freckle left on my shoulders, by the gaseous goddess of the sky.
My emotions will stretch and pull at my skin’ until it can no longer hold itself up under the gravity of the universe.
And society will punish me for every smile I endured when I grow older, because I will have lines from the corners of my mouth to my nose.
The sun strikes once again with the feet of crows as they claw at my eyes leaving scars of bad days and bright skies.
Sores stitched deep from when I was young; when a drop to my knees, everlastingly stung.
The scrapes on my thighs from when I was older, left by something with a less innocent closure.
When you see them you will not ask if I’m okay, and if you did I would not tell you any way. Because I WILL NOT speak a single word to the already damned.
When you, you were the boy who caused half of them to expand.
And when you are older, you will shrivel and die.
You’ll probably forget me, as you lay there and cry.
But the pain you left on the girl with the holes in her jeans,
and her dreams
and everything else you did to her
But isn’t it a shame how the world is to blame?
And the girls of society broke your fragile frame.
I’m sorry boy, for the ones who called you fat.
I saw every single mark they clawed into your back;
And the images that are permanently written in ink, under OUR undying blink.
Boy, don’t you ever think?
I saw how you used me for closure.
And I saw how you were afraid of exposure.
And for sure; I saw that look of fear in your eyes when you taunted me with foul words and demise.
No boy… it wasn’t a surprise that you hated society.
But under your drunken sobriety of pain and anxiety.
I was just the cockroach you stepped on under the sole of your dirty converse shoes.
I was your escape, but in the end
didn’t we both lose?
Dear boy… come enjoy the warmth of the sun.
I saw her yesterday.
Her piercing eyes sent venom through my veins.
Drops of poisoned emotions that rushed through my blood, soon morphed into butterflies.
They got trapped in my stomach and, out of fear, began to flutter
clawing at me from the inside out with blood stained talons.
They eventually made their way into my heart.
I could have swore it skipped a beat.
My breathing became rapid, hands, wet palms, shaking,
I clutched at my chest because apparently the butterflies have razor teeth
and they like the taste of my lungs.
But still, I don’t let her see how much her venom gets to me.
She doesn’t know.
She doesn’t notice.
This feeling is a very strange one.
Is it… new
No, just new.
We were singing when it happened.
Completely surrounded, there were hundreds of voices and mine was camouflaged within them.
My face was just one of many.
There’s no way she would notice if I just took a peek every now and then.
The spotlight must have hit just the right way, the song must have hit just the right note, but at that moment it seemed as though angels had come down, claimed her as a goddess, and carved her into pure perfection
Even though she stood as still as stone, her eyes flicked and fluttered. Her hands clenched and relaxed with the rhythm of the song, but she wouldn’t dare let anyone see.
Because when the angels spend so long making you a masterpiece, you try not to disappoint.
Some say her blood is thick and cold and runs black through her veins.
I’m fearfully curious.
There’s no way she would notice if I just took a peek every now and then, right?
Brief but deadly, here comes the venom.
I’m not surprised when my body goes numb, I’ve already been warned a million times.
With pins and needles, she personally sews sweet thoughts and painful feelings into my brain.
I wish she would get that sly smirk off her face, because every time she pulls tighter on the thread she somehow becomes more beautiful.
This is all too new and I want it to go away.
Why do I keep looking?
I saw her again today.
But that’s okay
She didn’t know.
She didn’t notice,
And I didn’t tell her.
I closed the door of that oversized gray mailbox as
saliva slowly seeped out of an envelope flap.
The poor paper inside screamed muffled questions like
“Why is it so dark in here?”
“How does that stamp smile in conditions like these?”
“Where are you taking me?”
Mouth water and oak sap glue congealed my thoughts upon trees cut into dimensions.
I swear I said i would stop killing trees.
But I can’t.
Because if black inkblood does not bleed between blue lines,
than it doesn’t deserve to be read.
The sender and receiver lines were identical.
The handwriting was carefully duplicated with precise strokes.
I wanted to be sure that the letter made it to the right place.
And I wanted to be sure that the person who read it knew it was me,
And I wanted to be sure that the mailman did not confuse the 4’s with the 9’s and the 9’s with the 4’s.
It took me three attempts to get it right.
It takes multiple attempts to get anything right.
Except for love, I hope.
I sent a self addressed letter to myself because lonely thoughts experience wanderlust.
Lost dreams need to stretch their legs.
I thought that if I sent my words on vacation
they would come back different.
Poetry would become prose,
questions would become answers,
and question marks would become periods the size of fists.
When that white driver in that white truck delivers what I know is coming, will my words still hold the same weight?
Not weight as in 11.75 grams, the exact weight of 2 pieces of paper, one folded, one sealed, once strangers, now friends on an unforgettable journey. But weight like the heaviness my heart felt when I saw the airplanes go into those buildings 15 years ago. The weight of my awkward and growing feet dragging across the carpeted aisles of a New England church, 7th row, to say goodbye to my grandfather. The weight of my eyelids the morning after I stayed up all night with the girl who would become my wife, on a sandpaper roof, talking about the future then
which was the present now.
I hope whatever my heart wrote is still beating in its enveloped skin.
The hands that wrote them tremble at the memory of writing it.
The same way my brain trembles when thinking about the idea of metacarpal catharsis.
The three days that passed between sender and receiver felt longer than a meeting of immortals ,gathering around tables of fruit, discussing immortality. Longer than the lifespan of an arctic clam. 507 years. Longer than the week my Fed-ex thought she was pregnant and I spent hours in my head tiptoeing to the precipice that separates boyhood from fatherhood.
(I wouldn’t have had the chance to become a man)
Here I stand three days later awaiting the white chariot coming to deliver my white package written upon white paper.
Waiting for the wings of a punctual bluebird that lets me know I am her priority.
…Even on Sundays.
3:34. Envelope in hand.
Saliva dry. Same address.
and tearing of paper.
Contents containing either happiness or heartbreak.
Two folds and it comes into vision.
A simple quote:
“We’re most of your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out?”