My Friend John
I’ve seen the face of John.
Not what we all saw last week
between Super Smash Bros
and the next beer on the turntable,
nor that half-slouch of feigned nonchalant
suave he mustered upon meeting that cute girl
who wouldn’t laugh at any of his jokes.
No, I’ve seen the face of John,
with the little mole on his eyelid
and the whiskers of failed attempts
he’d miss along the sides of his jaw,
vowing he’d try harder when the time came
that it finally mattered.
There were late nights we spent eating pizza,
feet kicked up on the desk with videos playing,
studying strategies to better ourselves at games
no one else really gave a shit about–
and I swear he used to whisper something,
but John’s face never moved he’d say.
I’ve seen that silver curl in his lip
every time the mail didn’t come,
or how he’d taste his bottom teeth
for something curing as we passed
the restaurants by the water he’d never been to.
I saw his brow raise and his eyes lower
as we heard thumping in the walls
on those nights where even the neighbors,
who never passed the thought of a word to us,
grew silken wings and mingled in to the night.
I’ve gotten pretty used to seeing John’s face
every Saturday when he comes over
for some rousing tale of adventure,
playing out in a bold land that never existed.
We got a rug to cover the whiskey stain
that John the Fearless left as a monument
to the day his dice decided his doom.
There was a lingering smell of cider,
spoiled by the air and sunlight,
in each drop of the slanted rain
on the day that John journeyed
to the Absolute Elsewhere.
As the green ice smacked my jaw
I wiped away dewdrops of blood
from the whiskers of my failed attempts,
and I licked the tops of my teeth.
On Saturday nights I greet my mirror
so that at least one of us dawn treaders,
who set course through the golden dark,
will have seen my face.
There was never any John,
nor a time when it finally mattered,
and I know that I know, but still it lingers
because it has to–
like whiskey stains under the rug.
My Chemical Heart
My chemical heart beats
with the force of an atom bomb,
thumping my eyes ‘til the image rattles
and I focus and I wait –
breathe – bend with the wind
until the chemicals go soft,
and the picture comes back into focus
despite my chemical heart that beats
in spite of brothers of fools
who fight the blazing wind and
ignite hardened hearts
that won’t survive the nuclear winter.
“I’m sorry, but the Princess is in another castle.”
Sounds like just another Friday night to me.
I go on to the next one then, little dinosaur,
like a passerby in pursuit of the perfect life
promised by pictures on puzzle pieces
when memory fades.
Fully knowing that promise’s faulty premise,
I set off against monsters yet unmet,
who raided my memory,
and into the portentous lands they call home
having lost all hope for my own and its castles.
It’s a wordless sorrow that I must leave you, again,
but fret not, little dinosaur - there may be others,
who travel the braided path.
Your castle is not my home –
but Princess, before we were even a memory
our paths were interwoven
like the humble, clinging vines upon these walls
or the candlelit treestalk towers that flourish in the dark.
Before we become just a memory
Princess, please, don’t unravel the future
that we haven’t yet explored.
I know not where this journey ends,
but of the few things I know I know, surely
time only stops
when, so too, do I.
Dr. Eisenfaer (mad scientist writing sample)
Dr. Eisenfaer (eye-zen-fayr), a 49 year old “great inventor” stands in his lab showing his latest creation to his employer Veronica, a 31 year old professional and her associate Alexander, a 35 year old muscular sort.
Dr. Eisenfaer: You see, the brilliance here is in the eloquence. Through the wondrous, and often surprisingly misunderstood, power of magnetism I’ve been able to isolate the compound in a state that is highly conducive to-
Veronica: I’m sure all of the various doohickies are rather fascinating Doctor, but what I need to know is will it work?
Dr. Eisenfaer: Of course it will work! I made it.
Alexander: Considering your recent track record I’m not sure that’s much of a statement…
Dr. Eisenfaer: You dare question my greatness? You of all people? I doubt you could even find the yolk in an egg you filthy ape.
Alexander: -clenching a fist- It’s by the good grace of Veronica here that I won’t break your arm for that comment.
Dr. Eisenfaer: -muttering- You won’t feel so confident after I turn you into a rodent…
Alexander: What was that?!
Veronica: NOW DOCTOR! I’ll have to ask you to refrain from such comments if we are to continue a working relationship. I’m sure we’ll see just how effective your work is tomorrow at testing. We’ll see you there.
Dr. Eisenfaer: Oh um, right, my apologies m’am. Oh! Uh, you don’t need to leave just yet. I have tea, and I could show you some of my other work… perhaps a biscuit? I’m sure I have something around here…
Veronica: That won’t be necessary Doctor, we’ll see you tomorrow bright and early.
As Veronica and Alexander turn and walk out, Dr. Eisenfaer stands and watches, a bit slouched over. As the door closes, a ferret comes out from behind some machinery and runs over to the doctor, up his leg, and perches on his arm.
Dr. Eisenfaer: -smiling- Well at least you still believe in me Bartlebee. You’re such a loyal friend…
As the doctor reaches to pat his companion on the head, Bartlebee leaps off his arm and scampers into an open vent, disappearing from sight.
Dr. Eisenfaer: Oh… well then…
The Outliers’ Onus
The precious few above the floorboards
are dragged down by the myriad multitude
with spectral hands dripped in longing,
fingers clenching like nails in a coffin.
Ghosts of a thousand gone lay below,
grasping to bring back bitter dissonance
and beguile brash believers of conviction.
Conceding comes easy, allowing ethereal transition,
the ghosts’ call bequeathing their trivial agenda,
spending all hours futzing with meager goals.
But we precious few must not succumb
to fractured flesh forced by forlorn clutches,
that fear the wings we shall stretch
and abandon all anguish wrought
by the followers’ lament into obscurity.
For those that lead must not falter
if we seek the path
beyond grasping hands dripped in failure.
The Burden of Memory
Arrows lay buried deep in my chest
as remnants of those who fired them.
If I pull them, my flesh will bleed,
seeping out uncontrollably to fill the gap.
These arrows are stuck with me,
but even though they are my company,
they are not my friends.
I barely flinch now when I meet another
who shreds my muscles and pierces my bones
branding me, again, as forsaken.
My body will eventually give out
as my feet release their burden, and I lay
peppered with feathered shafts
like daisies in a field.
Six Shots ‘til Love
At one point while she nibbled on my ear
with my hand wrapped firmly around her waist,
between the thoughts of what shot we were on
and how much I wanted to fuck her,
I realized that this sod was in love.
Well, I reasoned that I must have been at least.
With the barriers down and inhibition out the door
this must have been our truest selves on display, right?
Her whispered words worked through my ear,
sending chills chasing down my skin
like ice from the whiskey glass pressed on my arm
dripping and gliding along welcome goose bumps.
I couldn’t make out a word she said, but I bit my lip
drinking in the sensation of her head pressed against mine.
Every part of me tingled as the sweet elixir worked its magic
while her golden hair entranced my dilated eyes.
We thought about ditching the group to find a bed
to consummate this newfound eternal passion,
but first I had to stare into her eyes and tell her
of all my struggles to find the girl just like her
and how in that moment I loved none more than her.
Wait – shit – what’s her name again?
We of Unknowable Nature
I came upon a tree with a ribbon in its branches
wrapped like boys who wear scarves to save their skin
from the pelting of snowballs and fangs of cold wind.
No, it seemed more like a warning
like the red mark on doors of plague houses
warding away more victims, saying that
we, as man, have given up hope for those inside.
The ribbon was too scattered and strangling
to make a proper guard for frivolous fun,
but then who was being left to die?
We, as scribes, leave marks in remembrance
of sacrificial suffering to fill the hole of hope,
depriving the dearly doomed of any grace in passing.
A mark, a wretch, unable to prolong ignorance
of inevitable darkness a moment longer
because we, as Fates, have shown them
their length of string as it frays.
If this ribbon is the same courier
then know that because I think of
and remember you, there is still hope.