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On Not Being Hit by LightningAccording to the National Weather Bureau, the average person
has a one in ten thousand chance of being hit by lightning.
It is storming, and I go for a walk.
The rain is light and irregular,
flickering on my face, sparking off puddles.
The night sky shatters white with lightning like a china saucer
dropped on a black floor.
The thunder hums in my sternum.
The thunder is lions, bass drums in a canyon, empty barrels
bouncing down staircases.
The thunder is nothing in my mouth it hasn't been
in the pens of a thousand poets.
I am barefoot in the rain puddles.
The grit and gravel on the sidewalk
bite at my soles, but that's all right, it's part of it,
It makes the puddles feel cooler and sweeter.
The dark, rich scent of grass and mulch and the fish
of far-off lakes is spiced with ozone, like cayenne in chocolate.
I stand and watch the flashes reflect off the dome of grey cloud,
And speak poetry into the wet air, spooling it out
like kite string. None of it is very memorable.
None of it stic
The Lonely and Dangerous BullyI Am the Lonely and Dangerous Bully
I am the lonely and dangerous bully.
I will not be tamed, or redeemed, or purified.
I will not repent.
I have no need of repentance;
I am the villain, I am ungrudgingly the villain,
But if I am wicked, my only wickedness
Is that I am selfish, is that I am hungry,
As all men are, men and animals both.
And whatever I want, whatever I need,
I will pursue, and capture, and have.
I will fell temples and spill blood for what I want.
What man does differently?
I will fell temples and spill blood for you.
I do not know how it came to be this way.
I do not long for the unattainable, for the light of virtue,
(Would I still want you
If you were willing, if you were wicked? Yes)
But for you. You symbolize nothing.
It could never have been anyone else.
I long for your eyes, your voice, your smell,
And the need for you is like the need for water.
I have never been content. I would not recognize peace.
It is hard enough to chase and battle all my many demons
HomesickThis is it, thenthe moment when you find
You're homesick for a place where you didn't grow up,
Where nobody shares your last name.
It's no turning point.
You knew the turning point when you saw it,
When you swept out the corners of the closet
And put your hand on the lightswitch and oh, oh,
How was it that a room could be that empty.
It's no turning point,
But a point just past,
Just ahead of the blindness of the corner,
Where you can still see what was behind you.
The road home goes in opposite directions
And ends at two different addresses.
Your front door is two different colors.
Your desk, your dresser, your bed in its battered quilt
Could just as easily exist in two different places
At once, and if you took either part of the road
And opened either door you could find them there,
Find your life waiting in one of two equally plausible states.
At three in the morning,
As you anaesthetize your cotton-muffled mind
Against the solitude with lack of sleep,
You notice the usual pro
Tact and TactilityThe world, without meaning to, can be so cold.
Tree, flower, earth, stone are beautiful, but with
A heatless beauty, warmed secondhand if at all.
Sun that warms them, fire that warms them,
Cannot be held, cannot be touched.
I find myself in a world full of people
Who dislike being touched.
I accept this.
I stand three paces off, hands behind my back.
I accept, but I do not comprehend. How would it be,
I wonder, to dislike light? To dislike warmth?
People talk to me of personal space,
But the language I speak says "You are dear to me,
You are my friend, let me share with you
The gift of my heat, of my nearness.
Let me hug you, touch your arm,
Sit close to you so that our elbows jostle.
We are all of us adrift in outer personal space,
And it is so cold and empty,
but I am here. Let me show you that I am here,
Let me tether you to Earth. Tether me too,
Keep me from floating away."
But all around me are bubbles which it is impolite to burst,
So I refrain. Or I try to.
Forgive me if I brush
Family UnionOne of these days we're all going to meet
The way we say we will--
Someday, years from now, when respective national holidays
Converge on one warm three-day weekend.
Some will book plane tickets,
Tweeting from the runways, logging on from the terminals
To post about delays and layovers.
Some will drive all day and through the night,
Staring at the windshield
As they are used to staring at computer screens,
As the GPS ticks through the hours.
And some will walk down the street to the park
And will have already spread the checked cloths on the picnic tables
When the rest of us arrive, bleary-eyed but grinning.
The webcammers will recognize each other first,
And at least one person will marvel
At the high resolution and phenomenal connection speed of reality,
And they will all laugh because it's only half a joke.
Those who have exchanged phone numbers
Will be next, turning around suddenly
When they hear a familiar voice.
The rest of us will have to rely on our memory
Of overcropped profil
Electric and Fully AutomatedIt isn't as though the house
is dustier than it has been.
The quality of the laundering has not suffered.
Conditions, she thinks over the rim of her wine glass,
are largely unchanged, except for
a sly smirk when her husband thinks she isn't looking,
and what may be an answering wink
or may be their maid's left optical LED on the fritz.
She doesn't see the appeal, really,
of coy black rubber wheels at the ends of
long chrome legs, of pert metal cones on its chest
like pylons, molded aluminum hairstyle,
sassy chips of color at the ends of articulated steel fingers.
Of course if she didsee the appeal, that is
this would all be an entirely different issue,
It comes around and offers them both
more wine, and he accepts with a cheeky grin.
He probably has no idea his tie is on backward;
it has been since this afternoon,
when he took the maid into the garage to fix
"that sticking right wheel that's been giving her trouble."
She supposes she should be more upset.
PostcardI often find myself wondering
what my family would think if they ran into me now,
the differences that would stand out to them
from the last time they saw me, a year ago.
I usually stop at the obvious:
purple hair, eyeliner, thirty extra pounds.
I used to hope they'd stumble across me
sometime when I was at my most lost and lonely,
a selfish snapshot wished on them at my lowest.
That would show them, make them understand.
But now, today, I wish they could drive by
right this instant, and see me on the sidewalk,
loaded down with grocery bags
full of fresh fruit and sweet tea,
cradling an armful of giant sunflowers,
in love with June, and laughing
just because I don't have room for all this happiness
inside of me.
A postcard sent home.
Greetings from sunny My Life. Having fun.
Have mostly given up
Wishing you were here.
The End of the First YearI say that winter is my favorite season
Because I like the feel of heavy blankets over me at night.
But now summer is back again, and the warm, thick air
wraps around me with a comforting, palpable weight.
The warm weather
brings out a certain smell in the apartment stairwell
Not unpleasant. Just sweet and dim and a little musty,
A smell the same smudgy off-white color
Of the light from the wall fixtures.
I might not have noticed it at all if it hadn't been for
The sense memories that flood me
Every time I lock the apartment door behind me on a hot day.
I inhale that heavy, off-white atmosphere
And for a moment I have fallen through a hole into
The heavy, off-white atmosphere of this corridor last summer,
In my first months away from home,
When I was still a stranger here and noticed things like
The smell of the stairwell, or the color of the light.
A year ago today.
A year ago today I left my home, left my family,
Found a home, found a family,
Climbed this stairwell,
Piled my bo
DowsingOnce, when you gave in to tears,
(Loud, messy tears with the door closed)
As the first step of the collapse you'd finally stopped fighting,
You discovered, once you'd caught your breath,
That the collapse was no longer necessary.
That kind of sorrow,
Those deep, sodden pits,
The savage, clawing misery that requires all your attention,
Is in many ways easier than the lesser kinds
The weight between your shoulders
That seems like very little until you've carried it for miles,
The subtle chill that you can take as long as it's in shifts,
The unobtrusive little creature that sits calmly in your gut
But bites you now and then
To make sure you know it's still there.
Because you remember the tears.
You remember how they helped, how relief felt.
You are thirsty for tears, so you play sad songs
And dredge up sad memories,
Looking for the soft place,
Searching for the wellspring.
But it does no more good than a forked stick in the desert.
All you get for your trouble is a headache, and sno
The Weary Traveler and the Girl Who Fell.A study in grief and unity.
Opening the door I found the monster I had drawn pictures of in my mind, but he had quite a bigger jaw than I had imagined.
They call this a processa journeyand say that there will be missteps and stumbles along the way, but I feel I might have to claw my way across the ground before I can even hope to have missteps. They don't tell you that there's a good chance you'll fall right out of the starting gate, and the soil in your mouth tastes gritty and bitter. Bruised knees. Bloodied elbows. Breathe the scent of earth and lie there, hoping to God that someone comes back and realizes you're not moving along. It rains. It's cold. Trying, trying to get some strength to pick myself up off the ground, but everything hurts and it's so cold and I want to go home. Home is with you, but you're not here.
And as I lie there, eyes closed and mind tired, I hear cautious footsteps. A gentle hand on my back and the soft whisper of, "It's okay." An understa
Let Me Wipe Your Tearshere sweetie,
let me wipe your tears,
i know the past,
may have held tough years,
they scarred your memory,
built up your fears,
but just think of,
our remaining years,
we'll be meeting at the airport,
kissing and smiling,
sharing our happy thoughts,
happy sort of crying,
we'll be kissing through new year,
cuddling and staring,
grins from cheek to ear,
i want you to know i'm caring,
i know you find it hard,
but i'm always here,
there's nothing you could tell me,
i'm not prepared to hear,
i know you remember disappointment,
but baby i can change that,
we could have our own appointment,
relax... and breathe... and lay back,
let me wipe away those tears,
just remember for me,
that from now on in,
you're life will be bright,
baby let me be you're shining light.
I only wanna help you,
I never wanna hurt you,
my heart pumps your love,
through and through,
one's a lonely number,
so i need you too,
Grave Robber's DowagerThe people of this town were just waiting to die. That was Maggie’s favourite thing about it, there was always business. Her husband used to go out at night and dig up someone who wouldn’t be missed. He’d have the body on the table in the basement before midnight. Maggie would strip the corpse of its clothing and its valuables. The clothes would be washed and resold, the valuables pawned off or kept depending on her mood.
Her husband would clean the body up and just as the very first rays of light were creeping over the horizon, a man with a cart would come by and take them away. It was a good living. Maggie and her husband were comfortable and proud of having such an efficient business.
Normally, the work never got to Maggie, but every so often she would buy a candle or a leather purse and wonder if it was someone she knew. That was silly of course, but every time it happened she couldn’t shake the feeling of ghosts hanging around her for days. Her husband unde
Two sisters sat on the edge of a cliff
and one was old, and one was young
and their mother was not yet born.
They watched the sea below their feet.
The waves chewed at the rocks
as they had built the cliff through ages,
and green weeds flowed with the tide
like the sisters' hair on the wind.
The sisters sat for many hours,
their fingers twined with strands of yellow grass,
their eyes like chips of ocean glass,
fixed on the far horizon.
Without a word, they sang to each other
and rivalled and warred in silence
as siblings do
without a real reason to fight.
And the grass became a violin
beneath the elder's hands.
Her pizzicato challenge lost itself
somewhere between Dover and Calais.
The younger never heard it,
trapped as she was in a book
of her own invention
with half a reality against its spine.
So they stayed, forevers in the hours,
inside an opal fog, so thick they could see everything
except one another,
but no eyes were needed for that.
Two sisters sat on the edge of a
Space DementiaThe total darkness blinks in a shower of sparks from the failing electrical lines and boxes on top of suspicious wooden poles. Suspicious indeed, because one of them falls over and a battle begins.
She is as shaky as the caricature of the shanty town this takes place in, shaky as long-term decisions, and the metal sheets her back is pressed against. Sometimes things catch moonlight and fire, and they glint off the metal. That’s where she sees blood fountain out of throats, bulky human forms falling into dirty water and others stepping over them. (These things can’t last very long.)
Something explodes a couple feet beside her - a foot and eight inches, she roughly calculates, she flinches. One ear doesn’t seem to work anymore and a ringing headache settles into the action. She’s not going anywhere (but maybe she’s rethinking).
A funny turn of events mocks her situation and gives her a gun, somewhere in the shadows, and all she has to do is grab it and shoo
Just Have a Good DayBy Marshall Norman McCarthy
Just have a good day. He dragged the razor across his cheek, wincing as it tore instead of cut. Just have a good day. Were his eyes always this sunken; were the bags beneath them always so dark? Just have a good day. How was his wife still able to look at him with that old spark, the one that hadn't guttered out over the years?
'Just have a good day,' he repeated his mantra to his reflection, putting down the razor and checking his work. Free of stubble, yet his face seemed haggard, worn; another day's journey towards the end.
All his life he'd been told that men age gracefully, that they get better, more handsome with age. Thinking on that as he scrutinized the ever unfamiliar man in the mirror, he believed he understood now the word conceit.
'Just have a good day.' Now he was speaking to the cat, who sat on the little table near the front door watching him pull on his coat. How many times had he wished, in childish fashio
AenalemmaI held on to our skin on skin scent
until it became ionized nitrogen,
until it drifted over dystopian summers
and blue-haloed as a cobalt-sulfate atmosphere
—which I followed well above the continental shelf
while coiling in tandem with the world’s rotation.
And only then, in starward dead-reckonings,
I could measure the ghost taction of your body
—far as polar-aurorae shieldings
ebbing away from directional dawn light,
or so I portended distance, a desperate force, desultory;
how I misread it, this mercurial assassin—
intentionally left blank, all hushed decoherence,
all molecular asphyxiation.
The Scar Project: Not Deep EnoughYou see the scars on her legs
Which she has cut so many times.
She tried and tried,
but couldn't cut them off.
If her little sister couldn't walk
then why should she be able to?
She cut and cut,
but not deep enough.
She couldn't cut them off
and her sister still can't walk.
You see the scars on her legs,
but she thinks she didn't try enough
everything I had for
cheap wine, quick sex,
dirty sheets and sleazy secrets.
Those nights we doubled back and met
on the bus out of town
and those mornings I turned my newly oiled latch
to let you out.
There were not enough,
it was not worth the cost.
I sit alone at the very back
of the top deck of the last bus and I think
it's been two years since I last had to try
for a guy and maybe
I forgot how, maybe -
but you do not want me to try,
just to be there when you get bored.
To be fair to you;
you warned me, and said I do not care and
I am a shit and
loads of people hate me there because I treat women
But I was a bad girl and a raging fire
and I treated people badly too and
I was invincible, and no one could touch me until
I was the one left alone.
I know I have earned
every punishment and this is all my fault and would have could have
been avoided if I had only lived a little straighter.
But now it is too late -
and what do I have to lose?
The HeroineYou never really liked villains before,
never much understood the whole
But as you sit across from her
bent over her cheerios, frowning slightly,
bits of white fluff from her bathrobe
caught in her dark hair like seafoam,
you realize your favorite villain would be
any who had to go against
that. She feels your eyes and looks up,
turning the frown on you,
her mouth a delicate knot just off center.
"Stop, stop," you cry, choked with fellow-feeling
for the imagined opponent,
and your words hang startled in the air,
glowing in the yellow morning sunlight
coming in through the window.
ViolinI remember the day
you told me violins
were strung with cat gut
and that is why
you hated music
(who says that to a child?)
I followed you
all that summer.
I watched you
grow away from mother -
your whiskey held better conversations
and all she did was cry.
We'd sit cross-legged on the porch
and count the horseflies
settling on our lunch.
You would drown tadpoles
in a bucket
surprised they could not swim
and I would dream
of cherry popsicles.
And when night would gather
on the sidewalk
I'd hold my breath
until a star appeared.
Don't bother making wishes
you'd tell me -
stars are dead weight in heaven
and God has cloth ears.
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