Tag: Poetry

Father-

Your days weigh more than the family around your neck.
Nine months and nine pounds without your voice or hand,
my mother called, and you said: “Give Him My Name, Noel.”
And she abided, faithfully, by the promises made
that warm May night. But years proved these words,
like so many other parts of you,
were broken, and so I am yours
in name only.

I haven’t your dark eyes, fair skin or welcome wiles.
That cooing air of arrogance
in your smile, or the graceful way your beard
rises and settles into a dignified chin.
Your daughters are your spitting image,
shorter and effeminate, but telling tales
of their ancestry by the nines
of their soft and thoughtfully thin
eyes, a wild nose above cupid bow lips.

I am not like them;
every camera and mirror whispers,
how my genes have aborted you.
And yet strangers say the strangest things-
like that I am most your son when I look most annoyed.
Something in the nothing of demeanor
makes me summon your image to men and women
that have known you. The passive opening and closing of a fist.
In a folded leg, an unconsciously tapping foot,
staring into the distance with a cigarette dangling from my lip.
All of these acts I thought my self are borrowed,
are not my own, are ghostly references to a man
this man
who grew up growing you
says are bestowed;
are reflections of the seed
being strong.

But…how?

My first razor was from the deli man,
his eyes lost when I asked him how to do it,
until he could understand that I was young and
that I needed. My first day of school was Johanna
ironing clothes, running me over with a lint brush,
combing my hair and reminding me
no girl likes a boy who sucks his thumbs.
Sex came from a box, a secret, a word of mouth
passed along the boys and bus rides.
Shared and studied in the dim blue tint of monitors
and television screens when nobody could see us
in our vile innocence. YouTube learned me
with tutorials, my first suit from my first check
a baggy thing. Green shirt, black tie, but
from your few visits I’d already known
how to make a knot
having been left in one.

Yet I am most your son when I look most annoyed.
The passive opening and closing of a fist. A folded leg.
An unconsciously tapping foot. Staring into the distance
with a cigarette dangling from my lip.

And I wonder, can character carry in a vein?
Have I shed and denied your look but not your scowl?
Am I as doomed as you are, to the rum on my breath
and vagabonding with the boys on Tuesday night’s
rather than with my family home? Father,
our days are numbered like the calendar
and when I’m fugitive to a feeling;
waxing gibbons and poetics at the moon,
I’m tempted to think my temperament is nothing
more than an heirloom. Is a remnant of you
in the recesses of my blood,
and I’m tempted to take a razor and gut you out.

But there is no salvation in suffering your self;
it’s best to leave that to the masochist.

Instead I’ll wear your name proudly,
but like a cautionary tale.
Instead I’ll learn to love
better than how you’ve taught me.

Well.

Doctors Recommend Soma (Side Effects Include Cotton Mouth, Drowsiness, and A Vague Doubt In The Use Of Living)

These pills are small and delicate, helpless little orphans,
and my body is a temple. Ain’t nobody got it like
this little bottle of mine- white little capillaries
pills of death that pulse and keep me (from)
breathing.

One every four hours, do not exceed six.
I’m sixty nined from bars and dimes every minute so
I dose in doubles, puffing silver linings
on a rummy cloud. I am The Great Pretender,
forgetful historian, a series of bullet points
on what it means
to be listless. I am the vague biographer,
caustic chronicler of the categorically insignficant.

But it’s not so bad. These woes
whoa me no more and dreams feel more real
when I’m awake; I call it lucid living. I still
envy the bravery of the corner vagrant
shouting from his crack-ed lungs at pigeons
and public in the park, but at least
he doesn’t linger in my mind
and ruin me any more.
My heart no longer brags like Plath-
no more I am I am I am’s- it sighs.
But twice every four hours
my smile comes easier, and
I can see the faults in our starlight eyes
and badly thatched hearts.

Stale highs eventually go violently low
and I have to stop myself from smashing something
delicate. The closest thing being a bottle, or myself,
and I would, if only I could get a grip. But
when the night grows teeth and digs into the heart
and memories, what do you do?

Set the alarm and
try again tomorrow.

Sigh. Lent.

Today is not a day for words:
they evaporated when the sun rose, violet pink and red,
this rose sun, melting the day before.
They’ve lost all meaning, these words,
these words I loved the day before,
beating page thumping at my fingertips,
pulsing hymns of hims and hers and theys
and souls and images.
But now all I see are shapes, hollowed,
carved out silhouettes of what they meant
empty as a shadow. Meaningless-pointless-shallow
shapes. I’d rather sit outside bare in the cold
chilled bones from sitting too long on steppes
of stones, feeling drops of rain dampen my cigarettes,
than sit at home writhing in papercuts,
hemorrhaging feelings.
The day before words were so much more,
but not today, because
today is not a day for words.

Do You Like Me? □ Yes ☑ No (aka The Art of Keeping Up With Innocence)

Sixth grade roaming an empty elementary school
hungry, but we didn’t know
for what. One day left, then, Summer-
and the heat goes up like teacher shrugs
for homework and nobody cared.

Justin was cool- backwards cap, and young,
and pretty, and a boyish face.
Jessica was tall like high school, and I
heard she got expelled for smoking weed
in the girls bathroom.
Tamara was black and bored and blue all over:
anything anyone ever said she made pretty,
mean faces at.
Tanya had shiny hair
down to her shoulders,
a simple but bright smile,
her brother or dads oversized overalls.

I liked Tanya, but Tanya only liked to hit me.
“Two for flinching bitch,” she would say.
Punch, punch, and sore arms.
We played spin the bottle, because Justin.
Second turn I spin, and it lands on Tanya.
She looks at me and laughs, loud. “Nope, no way.”
Nobody minds. They shrug and we keep playing.
Even I understand, because reasons.
Spin the bottle turns to spin the Justin.
Tanya kisses him and her face shines Christmas,
like what she always wanted. Jessica pretends
to enjoy it and Tamara gives him a peck on the cheek and
blushes.

The girls smoke in the girl’s bathroom, the boy’s don’t.
Justin looked bored because we didn’t have much to talk
about, but we weren’t old enough to know that,
or have phones
to pretend to stare at
awkwardly.
He said he’ll be right back, but then he wasn’t,
and Tamara walked away like I wasn’t even there.
Then Jessica left.
Then Tanya left.
No one is in the hall and I’m going to go see Michael
because everyone else is gone
and social embarrassment hasn’t dawned on me.

I’m about to leave but an arm grabs from behind
and shoves me into the stairs. I’m scared and I see
it’s Tanya. She liked to hit me. I’m more scared so
I closed my eyes and I braced for punches and sore arms
but nothing is happening. I opened my eyes and
she was standing close enough that I can count
the denim strips on her overalls. She leans in,
she kisses me? Is this a kiss? I’m confused and
we stay like that for a while. I stop, to breathe.
She leans back and I’m confused
but happy? Because she saw it on my face and laughs
again,
loudly.

“Tell anyone I’ll kill you,” she had said.
“And two for flinching, bitch”
Punch, punch, and sore arms.