March 19, 2010
Home sticks in clods between the ridges of motorcycle wheels,
But our faithful ride is tired, worn from our escapist fantasies,
We are quiet,
Laying side by side in an abandoned gas station
Under flickering city light,
Gravel digging into our shoulders and our backs and our knees.
We smell like rain and gasoline,
Comforting in it’s simplicity.
You are new to me, yet you are peace to me,
A piece of me, a slice of what if feels like to be warm and safe
If even for a moment.
You are worn leather
Every crack like the creases of a rough, callused hand,
Each telling a story.
So I tell you a story:
How lies and deceit can be triumphed over the smell of coffee in the morning,
The view of snow-tipped velvet mountains can make you feel pure again,
I tell you about our city,
How the lake is a vast, dark ocean, surrounded by the rush of street-life.
How the Ferris Wheel turns like the gears in your head,
even as icicles drape every spoke.
I tell you how similar they are,
Those mountains and this city,
And that when you listen just right,
In that moment before the dawn breaking,
For a second everything is absolutely
So we say a prayer for our faithful ride,
Let the gravel in our skin feel alive.
And, if even for just this day,
The city is ours.
All rights reserved. This is not yours.
March 15, 2010
(Published in All Rights Reserved Literary Magazine, 2007)
Come find me when the sun has set and the stars faintly dust the skies. As the bustle of everyday chaos and the mulling of voices dies down – slowly, to a faint whisper, then disappears, leaving nothing but nature and the simplicity of darkness. I emerge, crouching between the purity of the empty page, waiting eagerly for the drip of ink. I am invincible, invisible, in an inverted world of a white darkness and black stars. With nightfall, I can only exist in this space, accompanied by words and imagination and dreams and memories.
The hours turn slowly; allowing my time to watch, listen to your dreams – mixed thoroughly with your desires and recollections – as you whisper to me. Rain begins to fall on my blank page, slowly at first, black drops splashing and running around me in designs of words and sentences. The rain is more violent now; it pounds my head in the rhythm of my rapid heartbeat. Then onto my shoulders and outstretched arms. No longer black and white, colors emerge from the cloud of ideas above me. Iridescent, they drip from my hair, trickling down my forehead, stinging my eyes, and tracing a shimmering line down my neck to pool in the hollow of my collarbone. Soaking my clothes. Radiant blues and hues of green contrast with the bright yellow of the midmorning sun. The page is transformed into a tranquil ocean. Away from people. See them? They are far off, unimportant to this story. Your story. There you are, in the water now, bathing gracefully in the salty shades of the page. Swimming, swimming, invisible.
Feel the waves on your shoulders. An electrifying sensation that will linger long after the moment has passed. In a fleeting second, you sensed a connection. You became part of the water – part of something larger, deeper than your mind could comprehend. I feel it too, brushing my fingers over another completed page. Knowing when I return again to the chaos of the sun that the satisfaction will follow me. It will fade eventually, when you had to stop and exhale. Your breath shakes the page, remodels words in new forms. Some will disappear, evaporate, chased away by the wind of reason. They’ll try to creep back in at later times, silent and unnoticed. As you drift away again, that charge reemerges. The ritual will repeat itself, as history so often does.
I laugh, exhilarated, careful not to wake you, peaceful and unknowing to my frenzied exuberance in the immersion of words. The sound echoes, reverberating in the empty spaces of the paper, hungry to be filled with more words. It harmonizes with a constant heartbeat, the rise and fall of your chest, and the scrawl of pen on paper. The music is rough, simple, and yet elegant. It compliments the colors in different fashioning of beats. There is no score, no tempo, no refrain. Only pure sound. Beauty. It keeps me from losing my grounding completely, from disappearing into passion and imagination, wrapped snug in a velvet blanket of memories.
I taste the words as they fall. Sour, like a ripe lemon pleading to be plucked from a tree, then chuckling at your naïve confusion as you take a bite. The next drop is sweet, but fait, like a memory of cotton candy at a fair last attended many years passed. You won a contest that year, didn’t you? A youth’s poem – vague, incomplete and unpolished but nonetheless your poem. You don’t even like cotton candy, but on this particular year, it tasted particularly sweet. The scent of pride and victory stuck to your fingers long after the synthetic sugar had disappeared.
I can smell the wet ink as it dries. Like overnight summer rain and the succeeding morning mist that saturates everything, making the grass cool and inviting in the warmth of the rising sun. Soothing as you watch and listen as the world awakens, yawning and shaking and begging for its several more minutes of solitude. But you are well awake, and you study each aspect of the dawn. Like coffee, too hot to drink but tantalizing you with its aroma. Drank in musty, dim-lit coffee shops at midnight, with friends, poetry reading, guitars, and card games. Like the scent of his cologne – all of them you’ve ever known – and dulled into the universal scent of men. Like pine trees, the crunch of twigs and a thin layer of ice under a clear February night. The crackle of a roaring fire that warms beyond aching limb and muscle and bone. Deeper into your core than you ever thought possible. As I write, this is the scent of history.
The sun is beginning to rise, and the clouds begin to dissipate. The last words are hurried, outrunning the impending sunshine that seeps into the windows and under the door. My heart slows and my breathing deepens. And you awaken. Take my place in the world; manage the maze of city streets and watch emotion, politics and destruction. Race against pressure. When you have had your fill, return to me by night. Let passion reign. Watch me sing and dance on a blank page, fulfilled with your memories and dreams and hopes and despair. Watch your history, my history, unfold on the empty page as the process repeats again.