the seeds, the trees

"But once in a while there's a great dynamite-burst of flying glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, 'I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.'" – Richard Bach

Tag: poetry

A Riddle

I am older than the sea.

You hardly see me but I can bury you alive.

I can destroy everything you build. I defeat water and air.

Some will never touch me.

Others, I am inside their most treasured memories.

I have held lovers in my arms;

I have stripped flesh from bones;

I have erased all trace of you anywhere.

I have listened to you question the meaning of your life.

I have caressed your babies’ feet. They delight in me.

I have been sold across the world.

I have been cursed for being places I shouldn’t.

I am everywhere.

I am easily forgotten.

I am not given enough credit.

What am I?

 

All of my lives

Today I have lived 900 lives. Thousands and thousands of days since the sun came up.

This morning, I awoke in the middle of a dream, full of regret. I had cut out my eyes. Everything the colors of bruises.

Tonight, I end my 900th life with a thought of you. A thought that I might never forget you. A thought that you might forget me.

I hope to see you when I fall asleep.

When we meet, you will give back everything I gave you, kiss my bloody eyelids and tell me you will always love me first.

When I awake tomorrow, I will be whole, ready to hurt for another lifetime, again and again and again.

 

Because

I never want to feel like I’ve lost something again, so now I don’t keep anything. You want me to ask you to stay, to ask if I can keep you, but can’t you tell? I’ve already let you go.broken home

I steal because

I steal because people have taken things from me since I can remember, and no one will give any of them back.

Like when I was 10 and asked my father to watch as I sung “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and – in a detached bluntness I can only compare to that of a college advisor who suggests for you to stop setting your sights on Harvard or whatever “dream school” you’ve chosen – told me to stick to what I was good at.

All the times they said they were there for me. I could read their messages but where were their faces and hands?

Like when my mother – who told me she loved me so many times I stopped listening – left but was returned to us, not wanting to be returned, and took away everything I knew about her.

And when you, you clever man, found my heart where I had hidden it and carried it away in your hands, blood dripping down your wrists, leaving a blackened pink patch, a phantom feeling of being whole that screamed, How had you not seen this coming?

I steal because I can.

Because I float powerless through the avenues of my days, shuttled along roads and over bridges I don’t understand how are built, always looking at a screen that tells me what to think, down or straight ahead or sometimes up when I sit too close in the movie theaters.

I don’t know where anything I say or do goes. Into those black holes past the sky? Into the Internet? Into an ear and out of a head?

I steal because I think too little in this world is given.

When I tell the story, I am Robin Hood. Instead of taking gold from a rich man’s pocket, I take lip balm and underwear from all those who have forgotten the lesser part of the world and I give all the spoils to myself.

I deserve them. I deserve all of these things.

Oh, and it’s free. Free. That may be the beating heart of my sticky palms. Nothing, I promise you, feels as good as something that is free. Stealing is like spitting in the faces of everyone who told me and tells themselves that money can buy everything.

It is like leaving a tiny bruise.

If you can’t relate to this, I’m sorry for you, really. You have played by the rules while everyone else was cheating. You have never had the pleasure of saying fuck you to everyone who said you couldn’t.

There is this

There are cloves of garlic, peeled, on the cutting board next to an onion and a cabbage. Ready to be transformed. They have waited all day as I smoke outside and sip whiskey from the bottle on the window ledge in the kitchen. I am working from home. I put them back.

It’s time to stop now, says the small, sensible part of my brain. The only part that cares about me.

I can’t, says the oversized brute who thinks only of itself.

I like this, it says. This feels good for now.

Drunks and drug addicts don’t get enough credit, you know. Do you want to know what it feels like to live in the moment? Every moment.

What I need right now is this. Not for tomorrow and not for yesterday.

It is what my brain needs to stop existing in the past and in the future and to be here, with me.

It is the only way to stop seeing black holes.

Monsters

Monsters are simply beings that are unknown and large. We grow obsessions with them. We don’t mind small things we don’t understand. We can live with those. The mysterious virus that laid us in our beds for a day. The thousands of species of insects we will never find. The tiny community of people far up the mountains of Switzerland who speak a language no one else understands.

But the great, gaping chasms of the Earth – we will not rest until we have measured the depth of every ocean; we will not sleep until we have named every star in the sky; we will not stop until we have caught every monster in the sea and cut them into pieces; we will not say enough until we have hung the heads of every great beast on our walls and ground their bones into powder; we will not dream peacefully until we know what dreams are; we will not die until we know why we came; we will not leave until we know what is next.

We will illuminate every darkness and predict every storm and we fear it all. We will not cry out success! until everything has been proven. We intrepidly and blindly seek so many answers we forget to ask questions and become angry when no one replies. We refuse to believe our flesh and our bones are that of animals but we believe in gods we have never seen or heard or touched. We deny ourselves the joy found in the inevitability of death but believe in the joys of a tomorrow that might not come.

Only in death do we feel the emptiness we have carried with us all of our lives. Only then – between our very last single breath and a complete stillness we have never known – do we realize our mistake. Amidst everything we have discovered and gathered and kept, we stand undeniably alone in our cold homes. And in this tiny moment, we awaken before the deepest sleep. By then, it is too late to tell the others. They will find out in their own time. The curse beneath the blessing of a self-aware life.

Things

I am better than them and not good enough for you

I have made boys love me

taken their insides out, put them back in wrong again and again.

I will not eat food in packages or with more than five ingredients

but I inhale cigarettes like air.

I practice yoga and

the light in me recognizes and honors the light in you when I fall down drunk.

My mother cut the veins along her arms

destroying them like enemies

while her blood still runs through them

I miss her when she’s around.

I took the bus for two hours alone in a state thousands of miles away

to get rid of another baby

and to stand

holding the hands of a man with a tiny Bible

who promised me because of Jesus everything would be OK.

I smoked meth and ate molly and dropped acid until

all the trees grew diamonds

and still I could not find beauty.

I am all of these things.

They multiply on the surface of my skin

and wait for me with mouths open

but they cannot have me yet.

Mermaids

I fell off a boat and my body turned to water.

I felt heavy and light and all of the mermaids

I always knew were there put their silver-skinned arms around me,

and I didn’t drown.

Instead they gave me time to think, an hour or so or a thousand words.

So I thought about my mother and the plants she cared for like children when I left

and the soup ladles hanging above the stove and I thought about

bricks and sugar and cold,

and I thought maybe I could stay here and never say good-bye

like my father who said good-bye to his first daughter too late.

The mermaids listened with their eyes like my mother’s rainbow lullaby.

I wanted them to ask me to stay.

I wanted to tell them I wasn’t afraid, but I knew they would know I was lying.

And I decided then in between the stillness and hug of the water,

hard and gentle like the pulling of a weed,

that I wouldn’t be afraid, and I truly believed I was good.

How life feels to the humans

What does life feel like to the humans?

Like hundreds of hearts beating and a tree growing really fast.

Like no trees.

Life feels like…it will never begin and it’s already at the end.

What does life feel like?

Running clouds and golden moons.

Life feels like our mothers,

who love us so much they strip us bare.

We see them in our heads

in so many pictures and sounds and tiny pieces,

in the only way we can see someone who has known us longer than we’ve known ourselves.

What does life feel like? They ask.

Some humans are confused and wary, hurry away,

white-knuckled, holding grocery bags.

Some smile and smile again, or cry, say nothing.

Some are angry because there’s no money or water

or hands holding their hands.

Some say, Life is like nothing anyone has ever had,

nod their heads, good day.