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Category Archives: Poems

Three Word Sentences. Ten Long Years.

Assignment for class. Principles of Performance. Several years ago. “Last ten years.” Three word sentences.

Decided to publish. (Second time around.) Hope you enjoy.

September the 11th. Moment of silence. Tim walks out. “It’s not fair. Terror is everywhere. Now the US. What’s the difference?”

Americans in Belgium. Wars are starting. Who’s to blame?

Drama at School. Play: No Exit. Crush is Estelle. Liked her once. (“Stop watching me!”) Sentenced to Hell. I’m the Devil. Revenge is sweet.

School Trip: Greece. In a mood. Like the scenery. Not my classmates. Friends not here. All in Tenerife. (Alternate school trip). First time drinking. Make-up, strip-tease, camera. Pictures at school. Teachers all smiling. “That’s not me! Don’t need alcohol!”

Prom after graduation. Then left Belgium. Scant hours later.

Got into University. Sarah Lawrence College. Co-ed since ’68. Still mostly girls. “We black-clad lesbians!” 40,000 a year. Need Financial Aid. Stupid Belgian Taxes! Too late applying. “My parents’ fault!”

Summer in Montreat. Family friends come. Bring their daughter. She likes me. Our parents approve. My first kiss. It’s wonderful, but… It’s all wrong. “She’s too young!” My mother: “And?” “She lives abroad. Paris is far. Won’t work out.” Her heart breaks. Mine does, too.

Minding the Gap-year. Getting a job. Cleaning hotel rooms. Then the Carmike. (A movie theatre.) Only till Christmas. My parents return. I’m for Houston.

Living with Vandi. My big sister. And her son. Craig is twelve. Also, her husband. (Not Craig’s dad.) I’m making bagels. Waking at four. Not having fun. Not saving money. Houston’s a bust. Left after March. Back to Brussels!

Via New York. Visiting Sarah Lawrence. “You’ll get money. You’re already in!”

Months in Brussels. Then back again. Summer in Montreat. No cleaning rooms. (Not Christian enough.) Back to Carmike. Waiting for money.

College won’t pay. Parents “too rich”. But… Belgian taxes?!? “Standard of living”. Fuck Sarah Lawrence! Bitches not worthy! Made Daddy-ji cry.

Went to UNCA. (Deferred acceptance there. Thank the heavens!)

Lauren likes me. John likes her. Sara likes girls. But also me? Orientation is bizarre.

Classes are easy. Also, Ballroom dancing. Dancing at Work. (The Waltzing Belgian!) Going to compete? Audition for theatre. “The Frankenstein Project”. Playing God “Eshu”. Need Thursdays off. For dancing, right? Doesn’t work out. Gave up dancing. Better on stage.

Working all summer. (Also taking classes.) Met Tadd working. I like fairies. Taught me astrology. Other stuff, too. Not saying more.

Car breaks down. I’m walking again. Five miles plus. Gotta make money.

Sophomore year starts. My siren appears. My delicate Ariel. She’s team Jacob. We were roommates. Sophomore slum hits. Then Hurricane Frances. Flood becomes drought. Water is infected. Classes are cancelled. Most students leave. Next week: Ivan. The Hurricane Hits. I’m still working. Trudging through rain. Still suffering terribly. Still punishing myself.

She’s so friendly. “Let’s be friends. Watch a play.” Jacob dumped her. Still doesn’t bite. Still sings, though. Wants me swimming. “Let’s be friends.” “I want you.” Not single now. “Still good friends?”

Vetoed this semester.

Montford Park Players. Conspiracy to recruit. (Ariel and Erinn.) Comedy of Errors. First Romantic Lead. Also, Henry V. Falling for someone… Nope, not interested. Then Sonia arrives.

She’s too young. “NC is weird. Laws are different.” (That’s a lie.) Her parents approved. Still awkward, though. High school girls. Not graduating, either.  Are you serious? Not going anywhere. Stopping this now.

No other prospects.

Play for KCACTF. Had a reading. Very last minute. During Exam Week. Reviews were mixed. Advisor hated it. (Didn’t read it? Could’ve prevented this!) Didn’t go anywhere.

Fragments of Sappho. Senior Project Play. An unparalleled disaster. “More girls,” they. But those girls? Not at auditions. Not finding them. People drop out. “April the 20th? Gotta get high. So terribly sorry!”

So what now? Got my degree. Couple of plays. Summer of Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Henry the Sixth. Cyrano de Bergerac. (That’s honorary Shakespeare) And Much Ado. All Bad Guys. Guess that’s me. Roped into “Romance”. (David Mamet play. 2nd favorite part!) Staying till Christmas. Then Brussels bound. “Need Christmas Carol! Know any Directors?” “Got a degree.” “You want it?” “I write, too.” Loved my proposal. Conflicted with “Romance”. “Not this year.”

Back to Brussels. And Ericka returned. Winter Solstice, Kaiserslautern. She’s a lesbian? I’m oddly proud. “Still want you.” “Not right now”. (Who said which?)

A year, writing. Vyxen in Faeryland. Siren and Banshee. Couple Short Stories. Learned Spanish, pequeno. And some plays.

Christmas Carol 2008? “You haven’t directed?” “I have, some.” “Nothing full-length, though?” “Not as such.” Nothing to show.

Returned October 2008. Looking for jobs. “Haven’t been working?” “Been in Brussels. Wrote all year.” “Don’t need slackers.” Hired at Target. Ringing up products.

Cast in shows. Oedipus for Kids. Into the Woods. Amateur Film Project. (Featured my ex. Much older Sonia.) And Titus Andronicus.

Only scheduled evenings. Schedule conflicts suck. Not leaving shows. Cut back working. Still too stressful. Made a mistake… Quit day job. Really bad idea.

Trained at Block. Did some taxes. Taxes oddly fun. Kind of mathy. But only part-time.

Jobless by mid-April. Assistant Directing Cymbeline. Argh! Not talking…

Back to Brussels. Belgian Master’s Program? Easy to register! Just walk in! (Except foreign diplomas. Those take months.) No one knew? Smacked around some. Kicked off campus. (Hair too long? Coat too long?) “No student card.” Fucking Belgians, anyway!

Another year wasted. Wrote some screenplays. Went to Conferences. Learned to Pitch. Had a job. Managing a database. Didn’t kill me.

Fuck it: LA! Gotta go sometime! Got some cash. Do some pitching. Write some more. Maybe make it? Still no jobs. Still no prospects. Getting awfully lonely.

Accepted for Masters! Catholic University, Leuven! (The Dutch one). Call it Q-Lovin. (Left my car. Bitch-face crashed it. Blamed me, though. Whole other story.)

Western Lit Masters. Yeah, I rock. Did a play. Lanoye’s Mamma Medea. Acting in Dutch. After nine years. Made some friends. Fell in love? Maybe a little. Tried not to. I can’t stay. Brussels is home. But I need… I need this. Applied for more. Got into SCAD. Flew to LA. Retrieved the car.  Crossed the Country. Listening to Audiobooks. Singing out loud. Always moving forward.

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The Fall of Autumn

Autumn fell onto me out of nowhere.
She just tripped, I guess; she fell all over me.
It had been so hot out, I didn’t have a coat to give her.

I couldn’t give her my coat, so instead
I wrapped my arms around her.
There’s a comfort in being with Autumn.
She may not have the fire that I’ve had in the past,
But there’s a temperate beauty at work.
It gets dark when it’s supposed to
and she asks me to bed
and she doesn’t get upset when the roaster crows.

The earth outside is covered in a blanket of leaves.
The trees shed those clothes to feed the earth with mulch.
This is how the past gets buried.
Raking the leaves off the driveway every morning,
I peel back the layers of Autumn.
As she sheds her leaves, leaving herself naked before me,
I shiver.

I know what is coming.
One day, Autumn will leave me.
She knows that I won’t need her anymore.
I suppose, though, that this is only fair,
since she never really needed me.


Lines Written a Few Light-Years above Tintern Abbey

(with apologies to William Wordsworth)

Five years have past, here on this ship; but back on Earth,
It’s more like fifty. Traveling so swiftly, so close to light-speed,
Time itself bends and tarries. And still I rise and still I plummet
Into the desperate Void, and again I hear the engines hum,
Their soft purr the only sound in the quiet of the sky, beyond
These breaths I take of recycling air, the only wind there is
For me to feel.

The dawn has come, according to the chronometer,
And it is day at Tintern Abbey. For one fleeting moment,
She is turned to me, and with telescopic imagination, may see—
But I am past the sun and she will not see me today,
Nor will her children’s children, that might have been mine,
Had I stayed.

And I again repose, inside my Hermit’s cave,
My backward-facing terrace, to watch my home recede,
My only comfort now these bulk-heads, hardly bulkheads anymore,
But the very skin protecting my organs and my mind
From the harsh, cold nothing Outside.
And now, with blinks
Of half-dreaming consciousness, with a somewhat lonely understanding
And relief that in this moment, there is life and food for future years,
I dare to hope, as long as the compilers don’t give out.

But there are few promises to be got, and untold dangers.
The computer chirps, a sound not harsh or grating,
But of ample power to chasten and subdue, and in her voice I catch
The language of the heart I might once have had. On the screen,
She shows me how time has passed and all my aching joys are now
No more, and all her dizzy raptures. Once again do I behold the man
I once was, before I was laid to rest here and this ship
Became a living Soul, how then I was more like a man
Flying from somewhere that he dreads, than one seeking out
Such empty realms as no human soul has seen before.

I cannot paint what then I was and yet I see it still, traces
Like shards of former selves in this AI’s programming.
For I can so inform the mind that is within her
As to approximate a feeling and a love that have no need
Of a remoter charm, by thought supplied with deep impressions
Of pleasures not remembered but felt in the blood and felt along the heart,
And by these means I can say that I am still
A lover of fields and of streams, of forests and towns,
And cars and sports and TV shows and iPod Touches
And intimacy, and of all of you who still behold them on that green Earth.

Therefore let the distant sun shine on you all in your solitary plight
And let the currents of space and time be free to blow against me.
When my lonely pod shall be an Ark for all lovely forms,
Then memory be as a resting place for all sweet sounds and harmonies
Oh! now, if solititude and fear and pain and grief are to be my portion,
Here at least I can look up all my tender joy as healing thoughts
To remember thee through all the years of this my life.

So must we see life into merest things, even out in these barrens,
To lead our fragile, precious minds from joy to joy, yet
While I behold in thee what I once was, my dear, dear Sister,
My daughter, my trusted steed, still I must hold out hope
That out there, somewhere, Nature still abides, the vacuum
Teems with life and though I may well have left behind
All that has ever been known and called “Life”,
That nature and statistics will allow this arrow shot past the sun
To yet somehow find some mark, that some wayward benefactor
Might yet see this flare shot into the night, might catch it, and,
Like the shooting star it so desperately tries to mimic, put me in her pocket.

If this be but a vain belief and the Universe devoid of any
Alien Life, if we are truly as alone in the dark as I, here,
Deprived of the many shapes of joyous daylight,
How oft, in the spirit of longing, may I turn to thee and ask thee
Why?
Thou Dreamer in the Void, thou infinite realm of possibilities,
How often must my Spirit turn to thee!
If I must stay here, where I no more can hear men’s voices,
No more look into women’s eyes, if I must abandon
All the trappings and all the pastimes of the home I once had,
If I should die here on this ship, my home fall into disrepair
And fall into a distant sun a billion miles from Tintern Abbey,
Then at least for now in this precious event in space-time,
I have you, my dearest Friend, my dear, dear Friend,
To help me stare out into space and bring context and meaning
To the Universe.


The Longest Dance

I wanted to dance with you.
Not the impersonal dance-near-you
mirroring of two people
who just happen to share a dance floor.

I wanted to dance with you,
my hands on your hips,
your hands around my neck,
looking at each other,
swaying.

Was it just that I wanted to touch you?
That I wanted to be near you,
as close as I thought you’d let me?
Is that all there is to a dance?

You let me lead.
Was leading what I was doing?
There wasn’t much to it, really,
was there? Rocking back and
forth from one foot to the
other, turning ever so
slightly with each
passing
move
Did you have trouble following?

No one’s ever followed me before.
Was that all I wanted from the dance?
Someone to follow me?
Or less, a simple nearness.

We didn’t speak. I just held out my hand.
Speaking would have made me
uncomfortable.
Might have made you uncomfortable,
too,
the whole thing must have been
uncomfortable for you,
what was I thinking?
Why did I do this?

But now we’re dancing.
That’s just swell, isn’t it?
Looking into each other’s eyes.
Hi. Not high, but… hi?
Maybe it’s for the best that we aren’t talking.

That was the longest song they played all evening.
It was my favorite song.
Well, not before, but…
I want to dance with you again.
I think.
I hope.
I guess.
If you want.
I’ll understand
If you don’t.
Don’t think I’ll understand if
you do.

Anyway.
You’ve probably already forgotten.
Or if you remember… well…
I’m sorry if you remember.
I’m sorry, but thank you.
That was my favorite dance and
I think
I might still be

dancing.


Kalisune

It isn’t cool to do drugs.
This is the first step to wisdom.

It isn’t cool to drink or to smoke.
Drink water. Cleanse yourself.
That is the way to lasting happiness.

You have to learn to be happy with yourself, to be happy without the boost that comes from the highs and lows of substances.
If you can learn to be happy with just yourself, happiness will only ever be a thought away.

This is why you shouldn’t seek out love either.
Don’t seek out physical love with other people.
Sex isn’t cool.
Sex is only cool when it comes from a connection that is deep and true.
Love yourself without the boost that comes from physical pleasures.

You don’t need sex.
It is the end-point of desire and desire must be satisfied through outward means.
Isn’t it better, isn’t it more cool to be satisfied with yourself?
Don’t have sex. If you do, you will let sex control you.

Be yourself.
You don’t need drugs, you don’t need sex, you don’t need rich, gluttenous foods.
You don’t need the impermanent pleasures of physical objects—they are not you and so, they will never satisfy your sollipsism.
Be happy with yourself and do not strive to be cool.

Winning the approval of others is like heading East uphill on a unicycle—you will never reach your destination and you’ll have a hard time even staying upright.

Real cool people are cool without trying to be. So don’t try to be cool. Just be yourself and say no to the impermanent pleasures of the flesh.


Cannibal Horizon

I don’t want to eat you.
It isn’t because I don’t think you would taste good.
I don’t know how you would taste. I haven’t tried.
I don’t want to try you for taste.

I don’t want to eat you because I would miss you.
What does it do to a person to be eaten?

I don’t want to eat you, but I am hungry.
Am I hungry enough to eat human flesh?
I don’t know.
I haven’t tried it.
But if I do turn out to be hungry enough to eat a person,
Would I eat someone I know?
Would you eat someone you knew?
Would you eat someone I knew?
I would rather eat myself.

Last night, I burned my finger baking cookies.
After dousing the burn with water, I sucked on the hurt.
I could feel it cooking.
How much cooking would it take for it to taste like chicken? Like pork?
I have been thinking
Since I started working out,
Since I started working with meat again
That the leaner muscles I can feel in my legs
Around the knob of my knees
Look tasty.
I don’t know why I would think that.
I am not that hungry yet.
But as I look at the new bulges in my arms
(is that what a man’s arm is supposed to look like?)
As I marvel at the diminishing flab,
I can’t help but wonder, if only as a wordsmith,
If only as a spinner of yarns,
What would it take?

I don’t want to eat you.
I have heard mixed reviews about the long pork’s taste.
I have heard that vegetarians taste better
And if you were vegan, you wouldn’t be you.
But can I say that I wouldn’t eat you
If the circumstances were just so?
If the circumstances were different,
Can I say that I would feed myself to you?

It is easy to say here, now, in front of everyone,
I would rather eat myself
But I have never been that hungry.


Stitches

I’m here.
At least
I think I am.
But where is here?
And who am I?
And what is the place that is not here?
And where is every other me?

You think you know me.
You think you see who I am.
You think the color of my skin
and my male-ness
and the length of my hair
and my beard and my belly
and my long black coat
and my cowboy hat
Tell you all you need to know about me.

But they don’t.
Because they cannot speak.
They can tell you nothing.
I tell you where I’m from.
The short version.
What does that tell you about me?
Now you have one side of the story.
Good for you!
So you draw your conclusions.
You draw your lines in the sand,
all around me.
Now you’ve made a nice little box for me.
But I am a descendant of Pandora
and I don’t like boxen.

So I tell you where I’m really from.
The long version.
And I hatch.
Now you’ve got a newborn on your hands.
A baby dinosaur.
A velociraptor.
And not the cute kind.
You weren’t expecting that.
Things aren’t looking so good for you now.

But maybe I’ve misjudged you.
I do that sometimes.
No matter where I might be from,
I am only human.
I am not a velociraptor.
I can make mistakes.

Who are you?
Where are you
from?
Are you from here?
Or are you from the other place?
Or are we in the other place?
And are you from here?
So where am I
from
to you?

Are you from somewhere
else?
Maybe this place and the other
don’t seem so different to you
as either place to where you’re from;
The whole dichotomy is false.
I’ve been trounced–you’re an even bigger stitch
across an even bigger schism.
My apologies.
My respect.
My
condolences.

What do I know about you?
Why is it important that I know you?
Why is it important that you know me?
Are you one of us?
Are you one with me?
And why would that be important?

It is important to me.
I mind the gap.
I bridge the schism
and most people don’t even seem to care
that the schism exists
and don’t know
why it needs a bridge.

But the differences between here
and that other place
To us are like an open wound
that needs Stitches.