Sunday, July 12, 2009

WGM. European.

Okay, we'll admit it. All so many
mouths and moussed-up hairs, tight
and tighter jeans sprouting out of
pink handkerchief ancestry into tanning
beds and Lady Gaga. You're absolutely
right, from the ohgodwhatwereyouthinking?
to the mygodhowbigwashe?
with mouthfuls of French and Spanish wines -
We all fall in line, just as you say,
one behind the other, behind the other;
Descendants of all of Europe's catty bitches,
we're queens of our country, inadvertently
owning the scene "with liberty and justice
for all," we say, even when we know it isn't yet, really.
And this one's ex-lover, now best
friend, is this one's best friend's new lover,
and star-struck, and love-crossed, our
bonds of brotherhood are made easier
because we're who we are - right again -
though you should know, since you know us so well,
we never really chose to be this way, did we?


Out of the Closets, and Into the Streets!

I had no coming-out story -
for me it was a slow and gentle slide
rather than a leap - a hiding still,
a cautious peek around sharp corners
of the inner rooms of "every fiber of
my being." We shouldn't be coming-out
anymore, anyway - we should just be, just
be out in the streets; remembering,
of course, the places from which
we came, but focused now only on
ourselves, and the dance, like summer
childhood, when the fire hydrant breaks
and everyone, young and old,
celebrates amidst the falling water and
rainbows of the cloudless skies of future -
and all of it outdoors, where we are seen.
All of it movement. All of it


The Train

"a swift carriage, of a dark night, rattling with four horses over roads that one can't see - that's my idea of happiness"
- Portrait of a Lady

I have to admit there's a certain beauty in Oklahoma.
The sun setting over the bush-tree hills that crest the creeks
and red-dirt gullies remind me so much of my childhood visits
to this state. The train takes us through wilderness, and I
feel closer to nature this way, as if the hills and trees had just
only moments ago parted expressly to let us wedge ourselves
through, only to close again once we have passed. Cows dot the fields,
still green under the golden sky as the sun sinks lower and warms the horizon
like buttered toast. The train's whistle blows, a sign that we're passing
civilization, and all heads look out at tiny towns, and suburbs,
gone as quickly as they there in the frame of each window.
The sun seems to warm the moisture in the air, and the fields
in the distance appear to steam like a Roman bath, reminding me
of the Smoky mountains behind a home my grandparents used to live.
Rolls of hay and grass stand like statues on the checkerboards of
shaved landscape. A car. A tractor. And rows of these round,
yellow sentinels - sometimes the surrounding fields look like
a green carpet, with hardly any texture of grass.
The train jostles us along, and my pen is often unsteady,
adding to the timeless feeling of grinding through the wilderness
for the first time, ignoring the signs of established life, and
the technology beneath and before me, to think myself a pioneer
out to investigate new lands and frontiers, to capture that horizon
and chase that glowing orb across the other end of those fields,
behind those trees. I fancy we might stop, and all of us
get out into some open field, and dance together under lamplight,
picnicing in the cooling, wet grass, amidst the orange and black
shadows of twilight. I wave at the setting sun's last goodbyes, and
wave at the tiny people as we pass.
I adore the train.


you came out as my mother died

You came out as my mother died -
two separate experiences exhaled
individually into the air that now
equals our lives together.
Maybe it wasn't the same hour,
month, or year, but what we call the past
is not made of separate days, or years,
but exists as a cloud gathering
collectively behind us as we move forward,
a fog touched only by our eyes when we
are dreaming. My mother freed herself
from the chains that bound her as you
escaped into the liberation of adulthood
and fearless identity - I watched her
leave and felt the ache as I grew away but
slowly toward the idea of what
you would become. Perhaps part of
myself was released when she died, the
part that parallels the freedom you
found before I'd even hoped for it.
She left, and maybe in some distant fog
she met your secret self, and nudged
you down your path toward me.
And she felt freedom in the
end of time just as you were plotting
your time's beginning, opening yourself
into a world where soon I would join you,
both of us feeling the pain of separation
and the cleaving, and the gnawing, with
the clouds of our past mingling, colliding,
into the turbulent, passionate storms
and driving rains of our present, that feed
the beautiful nature of our future.

6/15 (edited 7/12)


When we're young, we're made of impressions
pressed into our pages like flowers.
Mine a lavender, a stargazer,
You a hibiscus, a dandelion, or sunflower.


In another time, my mother was a child,
and in pictures she still smiles at me
with the childlike ignorance
of her painful death.

My Connecting Flight from Houston to Oklahoma City

The flight attendant asked the little girl in front of me if she was from "here," as we descended into Oklahoma. The little girl said "no," that she was from Oklahoma - of course, that's what the flight attendant meant, who smiled sweetly at what she thought to be childlike naivete, but it was amazing to me that the little girl had brought Houston on the plane with her. And isn't it true? That we're still a part of where we left only until we reach where we are going?



It's hard to write against fate,
when the act of writing seals it in.
To be surrounded by books and swallowed
by words is to be swallowed by you
and your face, freshly stamped under
my eyelids - only to find your body
in this body of words, this stack of
letters, these texts and written
sentiments of love.
I was written and raised for you.
My stock comes well-bred: A taste
fit for your mouth, a word for you
to chew, a long sentence on which
you can suck for intense aesthetic
pleasure. Your texts, like arms,
have hemmed me in, and I plant
myself in your texts, your thoughts,
your heart, spilling my words
like seeds across your chest,
and giving in to the very idea of
fate that I have fought so long
and hard against.


my mother's voice

To battle the identity I for so long associated with the path my mother laid for me, I had to battle my mother.
"How dare you."
And so I did.
"This isn't how I raised you."
There, on the floor of the master bathroom of the condo my wife and I had bought with the money my mother had to die to give me, I pulled at my very skin, inherited from her.
"Think of what God wants."
Layer by layer, I peeled away at my own existence - my clothes, my hair, my eyes, my words - I pulled at each in turn, my arms and eyes empty-handed except for the tears and fists they had become.
"I'm ashamed of you."
I kept hearing her voice, and I had to silence it. I became a man, there on the bathroom floor, wrestling the sacred memory of my mother, the voice that haunted me after her death, the ghost of the woman who bore me, whom I felt watching me. Judging me.
"I'm disappointed."
I exorcised her. Because it wasn't her voice. The only voice that harbored fear and shame had been my own.
And then, from the last birthday card she ever sent, I could hear her voice again. Clearer, this time:
"Love you forever,
Your Mother"

4/17 (edited 7/12)

in dreams

I told him I felt the urge to write creeping over
my silent horizon like a storm sure to sweep
around me by nightfall. But then a real storm broke.
And then I thought perhaps the only world is the one
our minds and dreams create.

In dreams she dies twice - or at least he knew he'd
seen her die before, exactly this way. Or maybe she
hadn't died yet, she couldn't tell, everything being
so familiar. And if she had already died, then why
was she here, and who was dreaming her dream for her,
calling her back? He told her that we all dream other
people into existence when we need them, and he was
tired of dreaming of locked doors and hallways and
ghosts asking him "which way?" who looked too much
like himself. Needing her and calling her again.
But perhaps it was her dreaming them both after all,
even after death - perhaps it is death that creates
us, in their dreaming, and all such tenuous spaces.
Our worlds, our dreams, voluntary minds against
involuntary bodies.

In dreams she dies again. She cries this time, or
writes a letter - a letter she meant to write,
she tells me, which I'll never get to read.
If I stayed long enough with her, I'd ask her
to read it out loud, instead, wondering how it
would sound to hear her voice again.

Perhaps it sounds like the storm breaking outside
my apartment - the pelting of the rain on my roof
typing a message to his soul, my journal, the existence inside
death inside of dreams. perhaps I'll transcribe it,
word for word, or perhaps I'll ascribe it some
higher meaning only because it makes my words
that much bolder - words taking images and
thunderstorms and dying dreams
and fixing them to pages, like a madman,
seeing them as reflections in a mirror,
through clouded lenses - my creation.

Looking at these words is like
looking at my mother's face as I see her
in dreams, dying over and over
and over again.


In flight, to Chicago

He wakes half-asleep, half-dreaming, and
eyes glazed he gazes out unshaded windows
on broken clouds below:
"The plane is making its final descent."
Seatbelt lights flash on, and
he wonders how it would be if this
were the end of their descent -
that, eyes still shut, he would feel
the thud of the wheels hitting
runway, only looking out to see
houses still no bigger than thimbles,
the rivers still tributaries and
rain puddles, their lakes. And the
steps would be lowered and they
could all unfold themselves into
the winter air, setting foot on the
cold, sugar powdered, lilliputive
landscape, raising themselves to full
heights, god-like. Wading in clouds and
heads grazing the atmosphere.
He smiled in his sleep, realizing
that, for a time, their heads
really did graze the atmosphere,
riding above the clouds toward
Chicago - toward anywhere - in those
moments before the announcement,
"We're now beginning our descent,"
And the gods are sent to earth,
humbled by the fleeting proximity
to the literal heavens.



Like our childhood selves,
We climbed down the up escalator
in the hotel lobby, together.
I called it nostalgic; romantic.
You called it existential, seeing
our reflection in the window
as we walked without moving -
like Sisyphus working, traveling
and going no where. But that's
where verisimilitude ended.
After all, they are all wrong
about our lives, aren't they?
The churches, the parents, the friends
no longer friends. We were going
somewhere, and moving - my identity
traveling with you to a certain
hopeful future.
And I turned, there on the
escalator, and held on to you,
giving in to my identity,
giving in to the stars, giving
myself to you and that
moving staircase, taking me
up, up, up, further inside you,
toward my hopeful future, and all
the things I never could, or
let myself, become.


proverbial gods

I feel disembodied at times.
Floating outside of myself,
but only ever on the inside, as
being outside my self I'd have
to prove to more than corporeal
existence. That's the conundrum
and haunting paradox, of feeling
God with me and praying to Him,
to Her, to Them, all while
embracing my humanist self
and denouncing religion.
Whose religion can't I denounce?
Can I say I've seen the light of
spiritual non-existence
and proselytize it?
Spread to those who's spirits are real?
But then - there's more to me than flesh.
There's more to me than "mind"
and "minding" - none of us with answers,
we all the questioning, or should.
We can't see the world unless
we see it critically. We can't
know ourselves unless we see
ourselves critically. And so logos
created the world after all, and we
all bow before the power of logic,
and the proverbial Word.
And if we bow to words, and master them
does that make us all gods, after all?

- 3/6

"even if you cannot hear my voice, I am right beside you"

Your absence is a phantom pain,
in my side, my chest, my arms.
When I close my eyes and my nerves
send signals, like radio frequencies,
bouncing back to me the intimation
that you aren't beside me, no matter
how hard I try to pretend, or in
the pretending, I trick myself under
closed lids into believing you
are actually there, and I open my eyes
to an empty chair, an empty space -
my heart leaps outside my chest,
through my throat, my eyes, my mouth,
stretching its arms into the void
you are supposed to occupy. Failing,
always, to find you where I cannot
see you. This is how it is with death
and separation -
Seeing you out of the corner of my eye,
in a crowd, peering down from a window,
sitting at a table in the library, as I
glance down an aisle of books I
happen to pass. I've felt these
pains before, created by the cleaving and
the residue of memory - our bodies do
such things to us, when we're in love.
Were I never to hold you again, I'd still
see you everywhere, especially under
those same closed eyelids I clench now
when, so very close, I knew if I stretched
out my hand it would find yours. Even
if you were not there when I opened
my eyes.



My ex-wife let mold grow on the roses
I gave her. They were for her birthday,
And she hasn't moved them from the corner
in the dining room of the apartment
we once shared. Living things seem to
waste away here, and though I'm sorry
for her and her wilted flowers, I'm not
sorry I left. She told me not to be sorry.

Today I brought her a smoothie while
she was at the hospital. I took
the stairs back down from the seventh floor,
following a trail of Sour Patch Kids left,
one by one, on the stairs by some young
hansel or gretel showing a way out
for those who might be lost here.

People often get lost in the molds of former
selves. And former apartments, like
labrynths, grow daunting as hospital
stairwells. Leaving the corners of
rooms that I miss should not hold regret,
but the phantom pains that come with
losing a limb - only to find new limbs
growing in their places, following paths
laid down by younger, more innocent minds
to prove that we were never really lost

2/8 (last stanza 7/12)