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Being Heard

We scream our stories out 
as if we’re playing stacking games—

(My hand over
               your hand over
my hand over
               your hand) and we

speak just a little bit louder so our voices might be heard, 
squeeze just a little bit harder so our hand remains on top.

We wear smiles on our lips
to cover the questions in our eyes, 

and the more we try to speak, 
the more we die.

City of Angels and Sidewalks and Rust

Where flew the angels, the guardians of old, 
The princes of peoples and towers of gold?
The places of beauty, the fountains of pride,
The buildings that show off graffiti-less sides?

The lonely cry out to the few who will listen
For spare change, for some change, for pennies, for dimes:
The constant exchange of our race’s starvation, 
The best one can hope for in distrustful times. 

We hide in our music, our clothing, our people, 
We cower in places where everyone goes.
The buildings look out of their painted-on faces
Observing the patterns that everyone knows:

The tides of our traffic, the waves of our waiting, 
The slow in-and-out of the mood of the day, 
The to-and-from-back-and-from-here-and-there-everywhere
Did-they-see-do-they-care-why-can’t-I-

… (inhale)

… (exhale)

… (inhale)

Breathe?

When we remember—in May or December—
The people, the process, the push to be bold, 
The hungry, the needy, the addict, the bleeding, 
The prostitute out in the merciless cold, 

We burrow in words, in emotionless places;
We slowly deprive us of what we can’t bear.
We seek out our refuge in shadows, in traces
Of what-we-want-when-we-want-when-we-can-care.

We say what we teach us, we say what we’re sold, 
We watch what we program and do as we’re told. 
We wrestle with nightmares and talk in our sleep; 
We laugh at the movies and come home to weep. 

We look at the candles and wish for the stars; 
We smoke cigarettes at the seedy old bars.
We finger the matches and hoard what we can, 
Forgetting whatever it meant to be man.

:: Epiphany ::

Sometimes I go all day
Before I realize
The one reason why everything didn’t work.

:: nurture ::

We are small souls
tucked deep into the cavern of our thoughts,
but contrary to popular belief 
it is not cold here.

The winds and waters rumble ‘round—
the cold rushes by—
but we cannot see them. 
Our eyes are full of warmth
in the nook
of the heart
we have found.

in the wide expanse of space
a little warmth fizzles out, 
but in the tiny quarters of two insignificant people 
small flames can become stable heat sources.

With combined efforts—though, unlike the song, 
we will not light the world on fire—
perhaps we will set some molecules moving, 
and they will bump others into motion, 
and eventually…
everything in the universe
will shift a little bit.

:: promises ::

She drops 
two superfluous words 
onto the sizzling surface of the moment; 
in an instant they are done. 
The first bite brings tears to his eyes,  
as the blessed warmth 
singes its way to his stomach. 

:: reflections of a stretched-out-self ::

In this moment all things remind me of my insufficiency;
they speak the fullness of my lack, the space between
my own reach and the infinite span of goodness, 
the heights of humanity’s peaks. 

Is it enough, then, to be a valley in the world of men? 
But valleys are too unique—too hidden, too secret, far too unusual. 
I am no secret garden, no secluded bower, no luxurious retreat.

Is it enough, then, to be a plain in the midst of plains, 
part of the seamless carpet man spreads his cities upon 
and stretches his highways throughout? To lie there, nameless, 
circled by expectations of the shortest distance and the quickest rout. 

Like glass I am stretched and spun, held over the flame to soften before 
yet again I am shaped by the fire. How sad that either I or the hands 
that hold me must be aflame in order for work to be done. 

Yet if I am glass I am shaped by another for another’s ends, 
and if I am a plain I am part of a shape I cannot see, 
and in the end my posturing thoughts don’t matter after all, 
except to me. 

:: forgetfulness ::

What happened to you, 
when the sky no longer mattered
and you had to force yourself 
to remember how to drive?

What happened then, 
that you lost your grip,
your white-knuckled grip, 
and wondered what the dog saw
as he panted out the window?

What made you remember,
the second before the car behind you honked, 
that green meant go and you were first in line?

I hope you know—because I knew it then
and wish I could remember.

:: loneliness: II ::

I hear the wind outside, 
and it makes me glad that I am here, 
where the winds that rip through sweaters and touch
their freezing fingers teasingly to our necks
cannot come in. 

But some nights I miss the trees. 

I hear her voice outside, 
and it makes me glad that I am here, 
where her words that rip through motives and burn
her seething anger cripplingly to our hopes
cannot come in. 

But some nights I miss her warmth.

:: loneliness: III ::

I spent those quiet afternoons not in his study 
but in his workroom, peeking over at the knobs and blips and wires, 
fascinated with the clicks and whirs that translated to words 
that someone else knew how to hear. 
We spoke across the world, and I could hear the mechanical motions 
of a conversation, the technological muscles stretching across 
the interim space, the wonder of a child at a language unlike any  
other she had ever heard before.  

So I asked her how she liked it, 
and she said she didn’t care. 
“It’s his thing”, she told me, 
“and I keep my nose out of it.” 

Years later she complained he didn’t love her, and I wondered 
how she hadn’t noticed before 
the distance his radio could not communicate across. 

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