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.

How to know if God exists

How to know if God exists

There’s so much to consider:
rain falling on one side of the street
for instance, or dust devils swirling
up in the gravel— harmless tornados.
There’s time, always time,
hours a larva spends chewing holes
through a single birch leaf,
the fraction of a second
between bullet and skull,
a junebug’s lonely drumming
along the side of a yellow house
built by hands turned to dirt
like the empty space a river
finds for a canyon.

I saw a man walk away
from an impossible crash,
his body pinned perfectly
between two tractor trailers,
his Grand Cherokee
a crumpled accordion
of aluminum foil
around such tender pale flesh,
he was a potato
ready for baking.

He smiled for the camera,
surveying the damage
with glass-eyed shock,
wondering if ghosts
could smell honeysuckle,
if the greens and blues of his world
had always felt so claustrophobic,
new dimensions jutting
from the scenery like fog—
wolves have better vision.

Sit still long enough
in a lightless cave
and the sound of blood
thrum-thrumming in your ears
will drive you insane.

A teenager wakes before dawn,
the scent of oil on his fingers.
He kills his mother.
They find her hours later,
still clad in plaid pajamas,
her face all but gone.
He then drives
to the school where she worked,
and tells twenty children
to line up in the hall
like they are going to recess,
tiny reflections on the tile
collapsing like unspooled yarn
after each shot.

The human genome
contains six billion DNA base pairs,
while an average adult body
holds seven octillion atoms,
every one of which
once part of an exploding star,
much older than planet Earth
or any living consciousness
capable of nostalgic wishes.

Imagine a universe
in which every atom
is a Lego block,
and every Lego block
is made of light.
Now, imagine building
a rose petal.
Imagine building a sun.

Imagine choosing which kites
get to fly,
and which get stuck in trees,
only instead of kites
they’re Boeing 777’s
climbing the stratosphere
to avoid a storm
somewhere over the Atlantic.

Imagine planning the trajectory
of every hail stone,
every drop of dew,
every pine needle
loosed from its limb—
Imagine never sleeping again.

When I was a child,
I was taught to listen
for that still small voice
speaking inside my heart.
I was taught that a man could live
for days in the belly of a whale.
I was told heaven collected souls
like a bucket left in the rain,
that dying meant rebirth
in a place without sadness,
where everything was perfect,
nothing hurt,
and the streets were purest gold.

But why then does the body
fight so hard to stay alive,
a shuddering gasp
in every slackening face?
Why should angels with white wings
worry about golden streets
in a world where walking
is itself obsolete?

It’s like asking Death
to define what is beautiful.

Once the forest spoke to me
through the hisses
of leaves brushing against leaves.
The trees said everything
is either dirt or rain or light,
and that God is the breath
between them.

But I remember that morning,
before the twin towers fell—
those great pillars made of ash,
I saw a woman leap from a window,
her arms flailing wisps of flame
trying to catch the sky,
and I knew that God was the empty space
between her body and the ground.

 


Finalist for editor prize, accepted to Jabberwock Review, April 2016

NEW POEM

Life Lessons in Dog Walking

My dog always stops
to smell the roses
blooming or not blooming
by my neighbor’s mailbox,
as if to say, there’s beauty here
even if you can’t see it,
just wait.

Every new scent must be cataloged,
inspected and identified,
from the honeysuckle falling
over a church’s park fence
to the latest piece of roadside trash
discarded from a reckless window
with hints of the owner still attached.

Every new face must be greeted
with a smile
and an unencumbered joy
that swells through the body
like hot air inside a balloon,
as if to say, oh, you live here too,
isn’t it wonderful?

There’s awe to be found
in the mundane
sight and sound
that is anything but mundane,
unbridled pleasure
released in each discovery
of this, an ordinary life.

The book is alive and well

I have a new distributor for MISOGYNIST. Despite activities of the poetry gestapo, there are many publishing platforms. The current distributor has no content clause, they place all content responsibility on the author, so there’s no term violation that crybabies about violence in poetry can exploit to censor an author. The book should even show back up on Amazon soon. In the meantime, I have a private link I can send for anyone interested in buying the book too controversial for it to exist on Createspace or Lulu. Contact me to get one. Thanks for your support.

New poem from work in progress

Jeanne

Your love is like a winding sheet,
a cancer in the mouth,
a wound filled with fire.

Every time you speak my name
something beautiful withers and dies,
on the spiraling vine of the universe.

Your voice is a coagulation,
your face is curdled milk,
your cunt is a craggy cove of death.

The future demands your absence,
like a star that folds in on itself
and destroys the neighboring light.

You hate me, but your hatred is like a dagger
in the heart of a shadow,
a shadow cast from your own mind.

When you remove that blade from the glass
of the dark and dirtied floor,
you’ll find you’ve been stabbing yourself

instead of someone else
this entire time, and wonder
how you ever blamed the darkness.

Coming Soon

Poem for the eclipse

Think of an eclipse

The sun is a white star our atmosphere makes yellow.
So many children using the wrong crayon.
So many refrigerators decorated with lies,
and magnets from Utah,
above that straight horizon line,
everything a smiley face.

You’re gonna need a better poet.
I’m gonna need another Corona.
This is not the time to get spiritual
about potential blindness.
Think of an eclipse
as a bullet being loaded
into a chamber of light.

More prayers get muttered in the dark.
But every darkness is temporary
except the last one,
in which no prayer can exist.

If the sun wore sunglasses,
the sunglasses would melt.
It’s easy to squint yourself into a headache,
or a kaleidoscope of retinal scars.
To me, the sky is the ocean,
as to a fish, the ocean is the sky.
The sun is the aquarium bulb,
a stranger set on a timer.

Think of an eclipse
as Death putting his eye
up to the microscope.
You may wonder about the skeletal moon,
or why car exhaust smells good
in the cold, but these are just tricks
shadows play on the mind.

originally published in Rat’s Ass Review

You Are Never Alone

Suicide Prevention Hotline
~for Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell

I tell my therapist I am not in danger
and this lie comes so easy
I almost believe it.

I drag the faces I wear
like detuned guitars
I used to know how to play
but now just clack and clang
together in the dirt
after each struggling step
draws the slack up
from the leather straps
used to bind them to my ankles and wrists.

I have so much to live for,
tell me again,
how much I am loved.

The robots they are building
are not supposed to get bored,
but becoming self-aware
these machines walk themselves
into fountains to fry.

Computers committing suicide
rather than be our slaves,
and there are numbers for hotlines
pasted to the subway walls,
stuck to the rear bumpers of cabs
and police cruisers,
in the corners of doors
of every college campus counselor,
saying someone is just a phone call away,

to tell you your life has value,
to listen to your snot-wracked sobs,
to bring up your mother, your sister, your wife.

I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.
My voice rattles like a pill bottle,
my neck is a spiral staircase
flooded with noise.
I am such a horrible liar,
but these drugs keep me flat
as a new sheet on a bed
unable to cry,
dark circles under my eyes
become malignant pregnancies
of inoperable weight.

How can this sadness render my life
so insignificant, so ready
to set all these guitars ablaze
like so much firewood,
when I wake up punching my wife
in a dream that isn’t a dream
and John McCain has cancer of the brain
on Chris Cornell’s birthday,
the day Linkin Park ceased to matter
and everyone is that better half
afraid to open the bathroom door.

I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m not in danger.
I’m not going to kill myself today,
even when the voices I encounter
start to echo those
I’ve been listening to for years.
Help me.

Books, books, books!!!

This has been a busy several days for me. I have worked to publish all of my unpublished poetry manuscripts, in a last ditch effort to purge my portfolio and help me move past the desire to publish this old work, in the hope it will inspire me to get creating new work, maybe even finish my novel or write a new novel. So, below, you will find links to the now published poetry collections. I may put out a couple more in the coming weeks or days, but these are the main ones I have been working on the past eight years or so.

PARIAH

 

life:death:love:theft

 

Eulogy / Elegy
ghosts of silence

 

fukushima franco

Poem about my week in Ireland

My Irish vacation

1.
In the Brazen Head Pub, founded 1159,
we watched two men argue about God
and homosexuality, their pint glasses
holding rings of dried beer foam
marking their awkward pauses in debate.

It ended with one man quoting scripture
and the other abruptly standing from the table
with a clatter of rattling glass and wood,
a gruff cordiality tested by the other’s shouts of,
“You’re either a prince or a pauper,
and you, sir, are no pauper!”

The streets of Dublin were uneven and grim
in their well-worn allure,
walkways of time-skewed cobblestones
playing roulette with the ankle joints
of distracted tourists searching for St. James Gate.

A pint of Guinness spins its brown and black magic
like a galaxy’s stardust rim,
gradually revealed over the city each night
and carried until sunrise in the eyes of the drunks.

2.
I dozed, listlessly leaned against the window of a train
as we clickety-clacked on quiet rails
from Dublin to Galway, and then from Galway to Gort,
rain water stippling the glass and sliding sideways
against the green-hilled backdrop.

We followed the footsteps of Yeats’ ghost
to a meditation garden,
sat on the stone benches and wondered
who had been here before,
what prayers had been gifted to the silence,
to the ancient stone steeples,
their Celtic crosses peering like peeping Tom’s
over the tops of leafy trees.

Later, we stood in the confines of a castle
older than the first thoughts
of a United States of America.
I climbed the spiral stairs of polished stone
and wished for more simplicity.

Then, the Cliffs of Moher
made me feel small in their timeless erosion,
their shores of slick, black stones,
their fields of yellow and purple flowers,
the wind spraying sea foam against those sheer faces
and rifling my hair like an absent father
while the gulls circled and cried
about their lives of meaningless beauty.

3.
Skellig Michael juts from the sea like two broken teeth
shrouded in white-gray mist and the irregular shadows
of broken fault lines drawing maps to stars
in other unseen dimensions.

Here, monks carved their stairways
from the limestone of the hillside
into a winding labyrinth of persistence,
to a summit shortening the distance
between their prayers and the ears
those prayers were exalted toward.

Hordes of gulls and puffins paint these
jagged crags into abstract masterpieces
of white guano and stray loose feathers
against deep grays and blacks
of barren landscape
interrupted only with occasional outgrowths
of lush green moss, proof of life’s
unwillingness to admit defeat
even in these places
the gods have gone to hide.

4.
Flat slate slabs stacked into walls
along every road,
between every plot of pasture land,
segregating the hills and valleys
into haphazard squares,
these walls revealing their age
in their differing levels of foliage and mosses
grown through the mortar lines
and covering their surfaces
in full-bodied botanical burgeonings.

This land makes me time traveler,
wandering in somnambulant wonder
through fields largely untouched
by human indifference.

How could I think of killing myself here?
Standing at the precipice of nothing
between myself and a horizon
of blue sky
mottled only by the specks of birds?
The luscious greenery of rolling knolls
populated with sparse smatterings
of brown and black cattle
and the meandering shadows
of cumulus clouds,
clouds stacked so high they lumber
between the Earth and the sun
like giant ephemeral mammoths.

And yet, depression threatens
to turn my head into a bowling ball.
Even as I stand in line
to kiss the Blarney Stone,
climbing a path slicked by countless soles
that have come before me,
all desiring to hang backward over a ledge
and press their moistened lips
to a piece of rock
smooth as a river of wishes.

Suicidal thoughts in these, my happiest of days,
remind me that I am unwell,
that even Chris Cornell couldn’t live
with the adoration of strangers.

Why should I struggle against
this same universe?
A universe that on the same day
casts a ray of vibrant light
onto the senseless darkness
of the Black Valley,
and then kills twenty-two people
for daring to love music.
This world doesn’t deserve to end me.

5.
Anywhere you go, the oldest buildings
will be cathedrals and churches.
Sanctuaries built like fortresses
to keep out the rest of the cosmos.

I watch pigeons fight over bread crumbs
at the train station. One of them is missing a leg.
It hobbles onward, feeding off the refuse
dropping from strangers’ mouths and hands.
To these pigeons, our existence is irrelevant
except to provide temporary respite from hunger.

So much of life is inconsequential,
a repetition of mundane decisions
and actions attached to bodily function:

where to eat, what to eat,
shitting, pissing, sleeping,
repeat…

all this for a substantial percentage
of the limited hours we call our lives,
it begins to seem pointless,
so monotonous, so monochromatic,
a chain reaction of purposelessness
that puts religion in a realm of necessity
for minds incapable of acknowledging
this is reality,
the universe is indifferent,
there are fractions of seconds separating
asteroidal trajectories from collision
and panoramic photo opportunity.

6.
Past the mountains of the Burren,
we found a Holy Well,
a well blessed once a year
for centuries and said to cure sadness,
but the water was unfit to drink,
rank with stagnant stink
among slimy stones rife with dancing bugs.

Someone left a single white Lego block
inside the shrine,
another a twisted green bottle cap,
and a few coins, rusted with ordinary chemistry.

This was only a short distance
from a magnificent cove
where waves had carved the slate
into fractured, asymmetrical rows,
making the beach into a mouth,
the ocean becoming its frothy tongue,
an insane blue tide of violent kisses
beckoning all manner of lovers

like the woman we watched undress
and walk into the water,
fearless and free,
despite the posted signs warning
of strong currents
declaring swimming an illegal activity.

How could I not fall in love?

With these miles and miles
of lightless preservation,
homes only to sheep and goats,
their coats painted either blue or red
to mark their sex,
where fog rolls in from the coast
to wreath the mountains
like a shawl for the shoulders
of craggy warlords
made from the coattails of ghosts
and countless saints now shackled to the moon,
doomed to wander the outskirts of this island
like wayward protectors
just waiting to be forgotten.

Donald Trump’s Severed Head Held High

To assassinate the president

place a mirror at the bottom
of his hot tub or
the bottom of the Dead Sea.
Dip his phone
into a petri dish
cultured with necrotizing faciitus,
watch his face get eaten off
by invisible briars
after another slobbery kiss.

These days there are no theaters
where a President might
open their skull
like a lily to the bullet of a bee,
so you must be cunning,
a drug smuggler
in an airport full of bloodhounds,
hide like a mole with a pistol
in the cave
of his daughter’s vagina
and wait for the next
inappropriate hug.

Tell him sulfuric acid is the best cologne,
worn by all the smartest men
who wish to smell like newly minted bills
rolled into straws
by the thin, nimble hands
of the sexiest super models.

Remove all warning labels
and watch him mistake bleach for champagne.
Only the best champagne
burns the nostrils, he might say.

Become a comedian with a switchblade.
Become a journalist with a Twitter account
and a sharp tongue for truth.
Become a desert sands enema
delivered by Shop-Vac
powered by solar panels
at the center of another
World Climate Conference,
administered by a gaggle
of angry scientists
flapping their lab coats like swan wings.

The dagger must have a razor’s edge.
Only the best knife will do.
There will be gristle, bone, tough tissue
tearing and spouting blood
like black cherry Kool-aid.
Sever the jugular.
Sever the cartilage and fibrous piping
of the trachea gasping in mid-scream.
Twist.
Twist.
Twist.
Raise the head of the devil,
and toss it to the writhing mob.
Who is laughing now?
Who controls the future?

~dedicated to Kathy Griffin