Daffodils and Violets, She Said
For my darling, Susan.
“Give her roses,” they said.
“A man in love gives a dozen red roses,
if he is any sort of man worth loving at all.”
But my love is not a rose.
I am not a botanist, nor gardener,
not even one who owns a garden,
so I may be wholly unequipped to speak
on the subject of red roses–
but if every rose truly does have its thorns,
then what am I to care of red roses?
I could only talk of how it lures,
with cherry ribbon lipstick,
and on its sanguine spiral of petals,
maybe love could be found once,
but never lingers,
as its gloss burns by dawn.
She is not a rose.
I pressed her for a favorite flower.
“Daffodils and violets,” she said;
a pairing that works together
praising the other with congenial contrast,
displaying a color that lies between colors,
undefinable, yet experienced all the same.
Their eloquence in a metaphor for love is almost staggering–
Still, she argued in favor of the romance of roses,
and I suppose a rose or two couldn’t hurt,
for ultimately my love is no flower at all.
It does not prance in pretty petals, nor find friends in fragrance.
No, my love calls from the space before
we open our eyes and say hello,
beats in the rhythm that guides
my fingers to glide down her neck,
and it lingers in the color between colors;
beyond quantifying, but undeniable.
Brave Little Branches
We used to spend summers on my porch,
chucking rocks at the lone silver apple tree,
while Mary tuned her jittered hand radio.
It played the misgivings of the neighbors–
that sweet suburban song that rang
like the clunks of conscripted pebbles
that shook our brave little branches
and brought each foregone apple down
to the home that heralded its return.
“UFOs are real, ya know,” she used to say.
Mary had seen angels. It was no secret.
They marked her for some hushed rapture
when they gave her a silver rose,
that bloomed into a scar
the night they came for her brother.
We sat beneath the apple tree ‘til dawn,
with brave little branches that swayed
as she bled cider
until the draught was empty,
and she kissed me
for some semblance of an irreparable comfort.
“We are pirates of this alabaster sea,” she said,
pouring glasses of her father’s rum,
while I stared at the pearls on her neck.
She rolled the bottom of her blouse to a knot
and folded a paper hat.
"My sword, my good man!" she called,
standing with one leg raised on the sofa,
eyes fixed onward and upward
as our fool’s paradise set sail;
I the ship and she its captain.
Mary wore a rose-head around her wrist
as if to proclaim her silver scar
need be honored
for her to be mine for the night.
My thoughts lingered on her perfume,
scented with the petals of death;
to death and roses;
of death for whatever came before,
and that rose that would surely wilt
on the unfamiliar hotel floor.
“Touch me,” she said–
What was I to do
when the girl cursed by angels,
called to be brought back home?
“Fuck me,” she said.
So I did.
It wasn’t until after
that we found that lone silver apple tree
had quietly crept away,
and of the apples it left behind,
I was left with rotten cores,
degrading husks of a beauty that once was.
One apple was welcomed home a different way,
as a worm infected it,
and without the tree, it would not heal.
There’s no forgiveness for the worm
that heralded as the angels did,
but down to a place where
even angels fear to tread.
That apple, now made citadel,
would only linger as long as a fool’s paradise,
and the tree is never growing back.
Deeper Still, John Went
Breaking earth at first is easy.
John’s shovel chewed and devoured
the crust that was no proper match
for the weight of purpose that bore down on it–
David’s reaping of Goliath.
His shovel grew into a monster
that insatiably ate,
and John amassed a dirt mountain.
The bugs skittered and scattered
as he crunched through their shelter
and his body became heavy,
like wrinkled tissue paper,
with the billboard sweat of satisfaction.
John dug until he was down with those insects,
that crawled around with no ambition for the light.
They were so numerous that he forgot
about them–insignificant and not part of the plan.
The monster feasted as it knew
of nothing else for a monster to do,
warped by what it consumed.
Deeper still, John went, to where the dead remain,
the horizon now completely out of sight.
His conquered home hugged him,
too closely, with no ability to look forward.
John found himself stuck there,
the surface too high to pull himself out,
and his grown monster too unwieldy to slave.
John flung the beast from his hole
and clawed at the earth, bringing his mountain
slowly down around him.
His nails filled with dirt,
and he began to scream and snarl
to be released.
That monster John had fashioned
by playing the freed slave’s gambit
with his unyielding conviction,
as Goliath swallowed him whole.
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.