Rachael

You were there, first of all,
For the ninth grade debacle:
The bible-bearing days
Of crooked faux hawks
And crowded crowds,
In search of sense,
Like sails want for wind
To leave the shores.

I remember missing
More than mere sums
Of unlived life,
And confidence.
If I’d known, like Nemerov,
The point of all our style,
Little could have changed
My younger mind.

And words I write
Struggle now to clothe my bones
The way your skin
Once did with you,
Changing, awkwardly
Like contours of a body
Informing faint attraction
From afar.

Maybe I have dreamt
Or dressed this idea
In memories I’ve misconstrued.
But the way our conversations
Never truly start or end,
Nor need intention,
Says enough.

Now storms of luck
Are rushing to converge
Upon your looks,
And the hooks
Of older doubt must sink,
To hang in wait
On lines I cast in ink.

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Trees

We don’t need
Any greed
In the shade
Of a branch,
Or the bed
Of an arm
That I lend.

We can shrug
Under moons
And wave
In the wind
While the roots
Of our love
Learn to bend.

And as these
Planted trees
Are as ports
To the seas
Of the sky
Where the stars
Hide a home,

We can lay
Lightly there
As the world
Falls apart.
Let the leaves
Overbear
Every bone.

Ode to those

Folks who lick fingers
Before turning pages.
Strangers who long to converse or confess
In supermarket isles,
Or on silent streets.
Those unafraid to sit
By a beautiful girl.
Men who know whiskey
Is better after swirling drops
Of water in the glass.
Those who hark to better days
In golden rays
Of sunlit parks,
And we who send them
Smoke ring kisses by night.
Families who stand
Through two hour sermons
Hungover and half asleep:
The hell-bent on heaven.
The ones who say,
“Certainly”
As I pardon my way
Through crowds,
And the quiet children
Learning courtesy.

Bennie Goodman foot-tappers,
End of movie-credit clappers.
Letter writers.
Grammar Nazis.
Streetwise city slickers
Pounding coffin nails,
Turning church keys.
Women who wear hats.
Men who can compliment.
Nouveaux riche with the sense
To unbutton suits while seated,
And stand when ladies leave.
Lighterless lads
For whom I’ve lit a match,
And gals who get their man
A drink for free.
The brainiacs
Maniacs
Insomniacs
Amnesiacs…

I know it’s strange,
But so it’s true.
Heaven watches what we do.
Laughs at what it never knew.

Stairway

From her gazes,
All the ire
Falls away
Along the spire.
Heaven-bound,
I am on fire,
Far from where I came.

From this high,
The air is thin.
It is hard
When I begin
To breath your heat
And live again,
For nothing feels the same.

So much higher
Than we got
From all the smoke
We ever sought,
Every notion
Sold and bought,
Sitting on a shelf.

Please don’t tire
Of my mind.
Not before
The maze unwinds.
Erase my lines,
Cut through vines,
And free me from myself.

Love

The bridge I walk
From days to dreams
Only bears the air between,
Nothing real on which to lean.

She is all
That keeps me high,
Hung upon her heavy sigh,
Swelling in the summer sky.

Her storm will flood
The hollow rift.
Hope will follow tides and lift
As, drawn to other lands, we drift.

Inspiration

I blink my eyes
And wake to the world,
Pulled to hope
By the anxious hand
Of a thousand unknown places.
From deep in the soul
Of the heart in my head,
I was wrung to a wreck
By the fingers of fate,
Cold on a writer’s wrist.

This place on the shore
Where dreams are shed
Is warm from the heat
Of my unspent love,
My shuffling feet,
Fidgeting digits,
Deep asleep,
Sweating passion,
Sacked like a man
Who deserves his rest.

In my slumber I speak
With the Angel of Words,
And God knows he is livid.
His voice shook the bones
Of my lazy legs
So hard that I dropped to my knees
And coughed,
As a stream of imperatives
Poured like oil
Over my skin:

“Never forget
What the heart will know.
Dreamwalk always
Through the rows
In the place where the love you found
Still grows.”

“To the footstep’s beat,
The echo weak,
Out from the dream
Your hand must reach
Past the past
And into the deep,
Looking for the place it goes.”

Pray

Pray for poetry.
Cling to the pen
Until fingers freeze
And you cannot let it go.

Fast from the world
And do not drink;
Sit in waterfalls of ink
And sink.

If you feel too light,
Like all it might
Pass on through,
Pray for poetry in you.

Watch how Proverbs
Build you up,
And rhythm
Overruns your cup.

And when you pray
Asking for balladry,
God gives symmetry.
Letters, geometry.

Don’t avoid that void
Which expands your heart,
Nor condense into danger
All this art.
Feel what’s dire pull apart,
And smile
The whole while through.

Pray in the peace
Of the valley green
That words give shape
To the great unseen,
And firmly stand
That I might lean,
In darkness,
On what’s true.

Late last night
He burned the sky
With every “why”
Ever cried
Fading fast away.