More often than not, I write to music. That in mind, give a reading of this piece while listening to the song that inspired it (credit for the recently unbridled single to Zara Larsson). Some may find it distracting; perhaps I would, too, on a differently-mooded day. Honestly, I have no idea if playing it will have an impact on the way you read what I’ve written in the way the song moved me to write it; but the poem at least leans hard on—if it wasn’t wholly inspired by—this song’s context (which isn’t as approachable as one might, on the surface, presume). Poetry, for the author, is immortally, almost always, personal—even as it is personalized, often quite differently, by the reader. Poets live, and do not die, by what they’ve dared to expose from within the borders of their bared-honest, risk-fearless, yearning-internal wheel-works. Yet, even in the face of being misunderstood by the self-understanding another might discover in what we’ve written, we write anyway. Why? I laugh at myself for even pretending to have an idea. Maybe it’s because we’re aware, on some unspoken, universally taken-for-granted level, that it’s one of those rarest places where selfishness and selflessness can coexist. Like love itself, a poem is one of the fewest places freedom is real. While a poem can be an active, blood-strewn battleground, it can simultaneously be an epitaph-on-stone in a quiet, shaded, floral-bladed glade. It’s such a miraculously rare intersection of all things, all experiences, all people, past, present and future. The immensity of life is literally beyond the words of any who would step up to describe it. And, yet, the poet dares to do exactly that, for whatever worth it would chase. I’d gamble it’s an always-worth-it endeavor: we should all want for more honesty, more mind-bending philosophy, more beauty. Those apologetics put forward, I believe it’s always a mistake to blindly judge a poem or the poet who wrote it; experiences-before-exhibits is anything we might stumble upon. This is, I admit, a preface to why I’ve done in this poem something I very deliberately usually avoid: invoke profanity. I do not entertain curse words liberally (though, honestly, they ruffle me none whatsoever); however, they uniquely communicate in language a range of emotions that are difficult to succinctly hang on strings of far subtler words. I’d argue this is, of course, why they exist at all. They are part and parcel in both the song and the piece below. Click away from here should that warning persuade you. Otherwise, give it an open-minded read; however, I’d wish for more than that. Writers always do. Enjoy your week.
Silence encircles us,
For three slow grins now.
Voiceless words flit ‘round.
Coffee cools, our hands abating its heat.
Wait, where are my heart-tools?
You steal and cheat ‘em away.
I couldn’t set a shingle of shit with ‘em anyway,
Except my someday eyes on you;
I’m wide-eyed-bound to every star-like thing,
Yet you astound.
Too many, I’ll just up-and-say it.
Anxiety’ll weigh it as way too much.
I’ve got a clutch of so-green beans,
None for the roast of one more fill,
From another over-harvested hill of hope.
So I’ll work with my hands;
I can cope with a grain,
Nevermind a grip of such sands,
Of all I’ve ever owned; trust me, I can and have.
So, loosen that calm-faking, near-shaking look
And uncurl your palm:
I’ve a secret sleeve to unfurl there.
Taking your wrist in a gentle ring,
I unfold it flat and drop
Fingertip-alms into it,
Drawing that touch until it sings
Along the pulse in your skin.
Oh, I know my way to the crook
Of your arm—
You couldn’t stoop a fool
With that tinfoil frown.
I’ll find again what you took
And then some.
In being long-lost untogether, are we sudden-found?
Is that a soundly feathered wing,
A flightful-enough dream?
You scheme me,
And my don’t-give-a-damn abounds.
Tear it all down,
From beneath your unnecessary gown.
Cleanse my face, unclown me;
But snuff your vigil-candle,
I’m no charity.
I love selfishly, starvedly.
Take my hammer-handle, my stolen measure,
My too-dull chisel and tip-chip
My treasure of nothing.
Carve your name.
Make dust of my shame;
We all rust the same,
I just trust you with mine.
Straighten my stone-shy tine;
Annoy my aloneness.
Out-shout my tone-deafness.
Bitch about my dishes,
Scrub my sullied wishes,
Jack with the thermostat.
Have a spat with my undelicious
Pantry of scantness.
Take apart my intactness,
Scribble madness through my exactness.
Wind up sideways in my bed,
Drive a kiss into my head,
Leave me glad I’m not dead
Make my dumbass miss
All I’d given up on.
Laugh me the loser in my bet
That odds favored my
Death in debt
To less than your charm
Running wide-and-far with my breath.
Trip up my sturdy step,
Tilt my dirty table,
Be the schism in my
Carefully calibrated prism of bullshit.
Be my spoke-wrench;
My beautiful, neurotic, stupefying strife;
My back mauled with imperially imperfect lines;
My anti-platonic cathartic—
I beg and dare you, babe,
To straightaway ruin my sardonic life.
Music: Letting Go