July 19

Featured Poems

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Dying in the Light

The shadows here are tall and mean.

 

A darker version of myself, armed and just

as dirty; stretching out towards home, or

freedom, or forgiveness; only to fall short

of that salvation.

 

A dark angel beside me, who looks like me,

who moves like me, but is able to bend along

these desert walls, hugging to the cover of

concrete and marble, if it wants to;

 

or fearless, poking out into the open streets;

daring poor bastards to fire, to expose their

hidden intentions, to invite in that kind of

death and destruction.

 

My shadow is a cold-blooded warrior;

faceless and stern. But in the heat of a flaring

sun, he still catches me when I fall.

 

**Published by Veterans Writing Project in 0-Dark-Thirty Vol. 4 No. 4

 

 

On Seeing the Ginger from across the Bar and Hoping that She’s Easy

We’ve all done it, those of us without

reserve. The ones hell bent on giving in,

giving up, giving out.

 

I give temptation its due, join the night time

prowlers slumped onto bar stools, packed

into corner booths, watching with glowing eyes,

with eyes for the cat.

Chasers.

 

We run in packs like wild dogs,

salivating at the scent of melon shampoo

and Love Kills Slowly perfume;

 

each one waiting for the herd to thin, for the strong

to drive off to their waiting lovers in waiting beds

with waiting comforters.

 

It’s the wounded that are weak;

the ones with limping hearts.

 

And we pick them off one by one. Buy them

a Lifesaver, an Orgasm, Sex on the Beach; tell them

we want them and then take them home.

 

There we sink our teeth and down our prey by the jugular;

watch them squirm, twitch, shutter, and stain our sheets.

 

By morning, there is nothing left.

 

**Published by Shipwreckt Books in Lost Lake Folk Opera Vol. 4 No. 1

 

 

To be the Westward Sky at Sunset

I want to be

the westward sky

at sunset, when

blues melt and trickle,

drip into fire, burn red

and glow orange;

warming to the eyes,

like wool mittens

in Montana’s winter,

when frost nipped

fingers go numb, tingle,

and turn pale white;

white as the sun streams

that break free from

the covering grey clouds,

when thunderheads build

over prairie-dog plains

and rocket through the sky

a web of busted dreams;

 

like when she twisted

this ring from her finger

and set it down on white paper,

as empty as the six syllables

that filled it:

 

“I have to find myself,” it said.

And just as frankly, off she went

into the west fading sun.

 

**Published by GFT Press in GFT Presents: One in Four Vol. 1 Issue 2

 

 

Of Love and War

 I.

I don’t remember the last time that we got mail,

or which stained cot or shithole that I was in

when I opened it

 

and read about your summer days sun bathing

in your new 4th of July two-piece out at the lake

with Eric and Tori. Or about how softly your

mother cried, lifting and dabbing behind her glasses

with a wadded up tissue, while helping you pick

out new linens for your hour-and-a-half away

dorm room bed.

 

But now I sift through this pile of white and

mixed colored letters, moving my family’s

and friend’s aside, and stacking yours on top by

the date that you carefully wrote on the outside

seal.And, one dirty thumb print after another,

I open them all chapter by chapter.

 

“Jake, I love you.”

 

“Jake, I love you.”

 

“Jake, I love you.”

 

I kiss them all, one by one, fading away into

winter thoughts of us and the last time that

we touched. And still visible splashes of your

perfume reminding me of your neck, when

I would press my tongue and lips against it,

making you bump up with chills, just as

these thoughts of you do to me now.

 

I lie down damp and hope for dreams of us,

like that summer before, on a fuzzy blanket in

the sharp grassed field beside my father’s house,

where romance was slapping mosquitos from

each other’s backs under partially cloudy stars

and stirrings in the woods beside us. We made it

quick, but lasting.

 

II.

“Seventeen days until I see you… until I touch

you, until I kiss you.”

 

My voice quietly hiding the excitement in a

room full of hardened Marines murmuring

trying to hold back tears on phone calls home.

 

But your voice is not as I remember it from a

month ago. Your “I miss you’s and I love you’s”

sound shaky, barren, and empty. I pass it off as

nerves and swallow down a warm meal to fill

the pit in my stomach.

 

For the first time since nine months away, I fear

that I don’t know you.

 

III.

I’ve laid restless for hours beside your steady,

easy breathing. And mine is sharp, shallow, and

forced from gritted teeth. Between you and the

ceiling, I can’t stare anywhere else. The hugs

from earlier have worn off, and the kisses

weren’t as warming as I had imagined.

 

You’re bra is still fastened, your levi’s are

buttoned, and the long sleeved shirt I offered

you to wear, is sitting on the chair beside us. You

are wearing what you wore to my brother’s

football game, and I’ve spent hours

trying to figure out why.

 

IV.

Eventually, tomorrow morning will come, though

sleep will not. And you will finally tell me about

Stephen, with a phh, from school.

 

And I will mock him, threaten to kill him, to

gut him with my K-bar knife,

to gouge out his eyeballs and skull fuck his corpse.

 

You will cry; and I will rage.

 

I will scream out in a voice that I thought I buried

just weeks ago, and it will scare me to the core.

 

You will shed believable tears down your flush

cheeks, and I will still want to hold you. I will still

want to love you; though, I can’t.

 

**Published in The Deadly Writers Patrol Issue 12

 

The Pistol on My Nightstand

I wake, fist clenched and damp.

The reflection of headlights, like flares

across my room, catch the fading words

of some lost sentence. Such a strange voice,

scared and mean; I haven’t heard it’s tone

in years.

 

But now, eyes blinking and confused; there is

no sand, no sun, no warm wind stinging at my

cheeks. In the mixed glow of a quarter moon

and red alarm, I search the corners of my room.

But I see no threat, no danger; only a ceiling fan

buzzing low and sheets heavy, binding at my ankles.

 

To my left, mounted to the wall, my gun rack,

made of oak and cherry when I was a boy. The

different calibers make shadows like fingers

reaching out for me.

 

Under my mattress sticks a blade fixed to a

wooden handle. And at times I test its angle,

try its slicing steel; I feel for it before I sleep.

 

But on these nights, when thunder creeps in

from the West and shakes these walls, pulling

me from my past, I reach for the pistol on my

nightstand, feel its weight, its power, its comfort.

 

I pull the slide to the rear, let it go, hear the

clink of metal on brass and chamber a round.

I imagine the cavity in your chest; blood and

flesh burnt; pearl shards of bone; life smoking

from your holes; death; justice.

 

Then, barefoot and shirtless, I walk this house

armed until the morning sun.

 

**Published by Shipwreckt Books in Lost Lake Folk Opera Vol. 4 No. 1

 

 

Tequila by Ten

It’s no surprise that we didn’t

bother getting dressed;

 

we are more alive when we are

uncovered.

And how wild we are drunk dancing

to the rhythm of deep laughter.

 

Your bare breasts tango in the

morning light.

I simply cannot get enough of

the woman that you are.

 

Body shots of a tequila

sunrise;

and in my eyes, you are

everything.

 

 

Shadows in the Lamplight

The night is nothing more than

bad imagery and perspective:

 

Beer bottles loom like tombstones,

marking where dead worries lie.

 

Their shadows lean crooked and

bent by the dim lamplight. A heavy

 

head to a dirty pillow on a dog

haired couch; what cares have I?

 

And if it wasn’t so damned cliché, I’d

admit that she broke my humbled heart.

 

But in this moment of stale air and hatred,

the truth is easier to see; I broke it myself.

 

**Published online by The American Journal of Poetry Vol. 2

 

 

How to Hold Your Head Up

Stop watching where your feet go.

 

Aimless steps into the shadows

of a burnt out hallway light,

too high to reach,

too high to care,

tripping over angled hurdles placed there

by a careless moon; gilded

in the darkness

for the lost to find;

armored, and shinning for your curses

and flying stones.

 

Aim high when you’re desperate.

 

Pot shots at the moon, at the sun,

both too bright for your dark thoughts.

Angry haymakers wild at a wall

that is there

to hold up

the shell that you are.

And now you swing holes into it,

like a lunatic

aiming to break,

you shatter.

 

Cold on the dark floor, you look up for help.

 

**Published by Edify Publications in Edify Fiction Vol. 1 Issue 2

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