NaPoWriMo Poem 4: Small Town Hope

Death in a small town

Past the river, past the bridge
past the flaking green paint
pockmarked with rust,
past the sign that says
JESUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS,
JESUS IS COMING AGAIN,
past the graffitied overpass
spray painted with names
and illegible gangbanger tags,
past smokestacks billowing
pillars of dissipating gray vapor dust,
past the homeless hitchhiker,
his shouldered bag of all that he owns,
his dirt-streaked thumb a prayer
to a weather vane, to a long-necked bottle,
to a cushion between his body
and the concrete beneath his body,
past the used car lot selling years
scrawled in white chalk
across windshields
like promises of life-expectancy
to a world occupied by ghosts,
past the lines of railway cars
loaded with wood pulp and tar,
past the flowering trees of white and pink,
past the skeleton hands of petrified bark,
past the dog park empty of dogs
and the flickering light
of the fast food marquees,
past the boarded windows
of the last remaining video store,
past the woman alone in the street
with a rainbow umbrella
and a stainless steel cane,
past the potholed side roads
and the dim alleyways caked with grit,
past the parking lots crowded
with loose paper and decrepit RV’s
and black birds hopping fearless
between sets of shuffling feet,
see, they’re still lamps buzzing to life
in the bluing calm of dusk,
still light amongst the shadows
not swallowed up, still estranged companions
finding comfort
in the simplicity of a hug.

Half a life NaPoWriMo #2

On turning 40

Half my life spent in a retail box,
the other half searching for a way out.

Half my life spent praying to nothing,
the other half disbelieving myself.

I carry this collection of failures
like a Fibonacci snail shell,

a haunted home for past voices
most of them my own,

a drowning whisper of ocean
in this isolation chamber mind.

So much time spent rebuilding
that which doesn’t exist,

this idea of the human heart
like a fragile tinderbox

where the secrets are kept.
What am I but I leaking vessel?

What is this but an education
without end? It’s never in sight

though I convince myself otherwise,
feel the pendulum shift

as I step over the fulcrum
of this metaphysical seesaw.

I’m moving easier now,
picking up speed,

with this weight on my shoulders
carrying me faster forward.

Someday I’ll love Jay Sizemore

Someday I will love Jay Sizemore

Forty years goes by before you are ready
and then you’re married with two cats and a dog,
a mortgage and two car payments
and two spare bedrooms to park the boxes
and the books and the guitars and the poster tubes
filled with old drawings from those days
before arthritis and an elbow like a rusty trap.

Your mother spent the night in the ER
coughing up blood
and didn’t tell you until later in the week
like a birthday card filled with
someone else’s handwriting
arriving a month late, because it went to
the wrong address in another state,
as if to say, these will never reach you in time
where you are going, and while you are away
the people you love will become
doppelgangers of the people you loved.

But isn’t this the age of video chat
and the era of the private prison
where our lives have become slaves
to the technology of interconnectivity?
Isn’t this the right time to live stream
your every emotional breakdown?
It’s like reinventing something
as sacrosanct as the rain.

For as long as I can remember
I’ve been in some kind of pain,
painting pictures with words
about the reasons a person can never
feel whole and wholly themselves,
a scent of decay creeping into
every new thing, and did you know
old books collect tiny insects
to create that odor you love so much?

I’m finding my way like a duckling
dropped down a drain
must discover that instinctual drive
to navigate north until it hears the cries
of those lost and familiar voices
that have been calling him home
since before he knew
what the voices of his family
sounded like on the wind.