No weight

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Give no weight to these words

They are the mumblings of a madman 

I scribbled them on the padded walls of my mind

Ink drawn from the heart’s-well with pointy nail clippings 

Instead, lay your faith in that first sip of morning’s coffee

In the peals of young children’s laughter 

In how your fingertips feel at home in the small of your lover’s back

Find your home with outstretched arms digging fingers in three knuckles deep

So a hurricane couldn’t shake you loose 

I’ll be tossed about by the whimsy of your smile and faded memories 

Smirk at my chaos if it makes you feel better 

Find truth in your realism and folly in my Impressionism 

You can Rockwell while I melt into Dali-ance

Find comfort in repetition 

Find comfort in repetition 

Find comfort in repetition 

I’ll ride the adrenaline roller coaster of fractal chaos

You’ll never really feel quite as alive 

As when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from

The food tastes better and your kisses sweeter 

When each time felt as though it could’ve been the last

But here we are

You in your well worn path

My mind a wandering nomad…a vagabond 

Things seem so much simpler to you

So give no weight…to these words

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Like me

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Are you like me?

Never really sure just how others take you

Do they really like you or just tolerate you?

When they laugh at your jokes

Are they being courteous or sincere?

Are you like me?

Giving those you meet the benefit of the doubt 

Assigning a whole backstory to why they did what they did

Justification for treating you shabbily 

Are you like me?

You dutifully take in the sorrows of others

Everyone’s therapist they can vent on

But can’t open up yourself

Either for fear the floodgate will never close 

Or being thought of as weak

Or facing your own frailty 

Are you like me?

Do you come undone?

At the thought of the pain and sorrow 

That is being endured in the world

At any given moment

Are you like me?

Despite your emotional connection to the world

You’d rather stay home and read or watch a good movie

Despite your interest in the human condition

You’re trying desperately to be a zen master 

Finally shutting up that interior monologue 

Am I like you?

Do you like you?

Do I like me?

Are you like me?

Fragments

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At the intersection

Of memory and dream

Of actual and fabricated 

I remember being very young

In my childhood home 

The wind whipping outside

The storm door slamming

The glass cracking 

Another moment I’m walking

Down the alleyway and slipping around 

I don’t know if I was told of the incident 

Before or after the memory’s birth

So at some level I doubt it’s authenticity 

My grandfather had beaten up my uncle 

Leaving blood on the ground

That my little feet lost traction in

I remember the old variety shows 

That inspired me to tap dance

In my grandpas work boots 

On the wood floor of the back hallway 

Or was that fashioned from stories?

I remember being on a car ride 

Going up north to the reservation 

The driver let go of the wheel

Enough play the wheel wobbled to and fro 

In my young mind it spun untethered 

My little world spinning with it

This blurring 

These dark waters

They take on the shape of their containers 

But are impossible to see through 

They are still a part of my sum

And they affect me in ways

Both that I’m aware and unaware of

But I am a survivor 

I build castles out of these sands

That so readily slip through my fingers

Unless wetted with tears of silent knowing

While I know some of these memories

Are fashioned to erode at my foundations 

There are others that give support

I’m sure there’s a long forgotten song

Whose lyrics have faded into pasts’ patina 

But the outlines of the sound wave 

Of the singer’s guttural scream

The lamentation that speaks of my sorrow 

That props me up

To take on another trying moment

Thank you Joplin, Holiday, Morissette

Thank you grandma, mother, aunts 

Thank you my lovely wife

Thank you for your songs

I stand another day because of you 

Symbiosis

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She strips me bare

My soft belly exposed 

Vulnerable 

This is where trust grows

From bud to bloom

Venerable

She straddles me

Maintaining deepest eye contact 

Inseparable 

She howls with her mother’s tongue 

I am immersed in matrilineal sorrow 

Utterable 

Crimson nails dance along my sternum

With speed and precision I’m splayed 

Sufferable

The cracking of ribs reverberates

Parts never meant to see light, exposed 

Discoverable 

And now she is inside of me

Her hands cradling my beating heart 

Containable 

She whispers in my ear her pain’s origin

Darkest demons vomited from soul’s well

Considerable 

I am drowning in her depths

The deeper, the colder, until heart freezes

Irrecoverable 

I begin to ebb beneath her…diminishing 

Her hands suddenly massaging my heart

Incomparable 

Resurrected by her touch

The fragility of my life in her hands

Amissible 

Speak your truth and purge your pain

I’m here as long as you hold my heart

Paradisiacal 

The grass

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I have been to the battlefield

And I am forever altered

I’ve witnessed boys trying desperately 

To prove themselves as men

The war-cries of youth long died out

In the early morning stillness 

I’ve stepped among the bodies

Lying in twisted heaps

The landscape a horrific tableau 

The marginalized finally finding comfort

Here, this band of misfits, this motley crew

They knew without doubt

They had each other’s backs

Where life had taught them 

They couldn’t count on anyone 

That they’d never get a fair shake 

That they’d always be sized up

Lumped in with the stereotypes

A two dimensional symbol

Less than human

I was four, going on forty

And even then I sensed the sadness

That seeped from their pores

Along with last night’s alcohol

These purebred warriors

With perpetually tanned skin

And arrow straight, jet black hair

And me, a halfbreed

Fair skin and curly, brown hair

I wanted to be them

But I only inherited their sense of sadness 

And of not truly belonging anywhere

An outlier amongst the marginalized 

If I wasn’t stuck up on this fence 

I’d show you the grass is the same 

On both sides…

Bloodstained

The Elephant

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     Try to think of something else

     Easier said

     Spiral slide at hand

The sun! The glorious sun!

Stand at the window’s warmth

     There are those that—

     STOP IT

     —are kept in base—

     I SAID STOP

Go for a walk and count the steps

Touch the street signs in passing

Talk about the weather with a stranger

     How many people can’t—

     KNOCK IT OFF

     The flashlight can’t reach the bottom

     The spiral slide is too deep

     IGNORE IT

Do a pencil sketch of a tree

The leaves are backlit stained glass

In mother nature’s cathedral 

There is hope in a child’s laughter

     The color red and purple’s blossom

     Tear trails on dirty faces

     The door is too far for her

     FOCUS ON LIGHT

Roof over head

Food in belly

Decent paying job

Family that loves—

     Not all families love

     Refrigerator box

     Days without a meal

     Dead end jobs

     YOU CAN’T HELP EVERYONE 

Watch a two hour movie

Entertain guests

Read a book

Write a poem…

Penny wise…pound foolish

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Imagine..if you will

A razor sharp melon baller 

Glowing white with heat

And you scoop a perfect little ball

From the inside of your thigh

The wound cauterized instantly

The smell of bacon permeating the air

The admin, at your place of work

Holds the jar’s lid open for you to deposit 

That perfect little ball-of-you

The price you pay for your paycheck 

But you continue on

Filling your tech pocket

With an iPhone X

Wrist covered in a 2nd gen iPhone watch

All so you look less like a golf ball 

And more like, well…everyone else

Now we could certainly discuss

The scoop value of your gaming PC

The loss of blood was so great

Getting that goddamn Lexus 

You had to pay in installments 

But we give of ourselves in many ways 

When your partner drags you out

To the company clambake 

And you’d rather just read a book

The decision to compromise 

Is certainly worth a scoop

Don’t you think?

The day you threw away 

That copy of US News and World Report’s

Ranking of the best colleges 

Your fingers worn smooth

Running across Iowa’s Writers Workshop 

So you could sign mortgage documents 

Sliding five little you-spheres

(The first of many)

Across the mahogany desk

The banker immediately fashions into

One of those kinetic desk sculptures 

He pulls two orbs-o’-you back

They swing, hitting with a soft

Wet

Sound

But the middle ovoid sits still

The fourth and fifth spheroids 

Taking up the trajectory 

You suddenly realize

That all these times

You’d given up

Parts of you

You’d given up

Mass and subsequently 

Force and inertia

Soon there’ll be

No more

Pushing

Back

At

All

Show me

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Make me forget

For even just a second

That I’m going to die alone

Make me want nothing more

Than to wipe away your tears

Forgetting my own

Knowing our sorrow’s tributaries 

Share the same source

Jagged disappointments smoothed

By years of melancholy currents

Our very roots penetrating 

Dense, ancestral, red clay 

Laden with heart’s blood

Distract me

From the need to crawl 

Into some dark, unknown corner

Surrendering myself to the stillness 

Show me that our words

Even the desiccated ones

Are tumbleweeds

Rolling across lost landscapes

Leaving seeds of inspiration 

Show me that today’s atrophy

Is overridden by tomorrow’s triumphs 

That your faith in me

Was warranted

That love

Was not wasted

That stillness

Is irrevocable 

That light can penetrate

The deepest of darknesses

Show me…

Why?

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Scrimshaw your pedantic lessons

On my bones

Repeat yourself until the cilia 

Of my inner ear

Lay flattened like clear cut forests

And I lose the frequency of you

Then teach me how to read lips

Use white chalk to outline

Those of use who question you

These cookie cutter outlines

That cleave away the useless bits

Leaving a homogenized army

Of trained test takers

Who have forgotten to ask why

Who believe our only choice

Is blue versus red and left versus right

But it’s really you versus us

Keep haves having and the nots nodding

I’ll admit I’m a square peg

My corners rounded off over the years

But know that the bits of my soul

I sold at the company store

Were just to fulfill Maslow

So my mind could break through

Your prime time television programming 

Your Monday night football frenzy 

Your rally to condemn the kneelers 

Your lack of televised coverage

Of Dakota Access pipeline 

Of #NeverAgain marches

Of the tear stained faces being deported

My rounded corners belying 

A sharp mind that looks

For shadow-dealers

Behind every choice I’m spoon-fed

That’s covered in KFC breading 

A mind that looks for subtext 

That questions everything

The mind…of a poet 

Hope for the Best

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She went to the store with a hope-filled heart. Each step her optimism grew. She smiled and nodded to people she didn’t know on her way to aisle 12. There she spent the better part of fifteen minutes looking for just the right card. A card for the birthday of a beautiful young lady, the vision of which her minds eye kept from years ago. Only positivity. With the perfect card found, she made her way to the bouquets of flowers. She wanted to remind her of the beauty in the world. The natural, pure, unadulterated world. She sat in her car, after checking out, and penned a note in the card through tear-filled eyes. Still smiling all the same. She drove the few short blocks to her house, knowing nobody would be awake at that early hour and simply propped the card and flowers against the front door. She hopped into the car and drove home. Walking in I could tell that she had been crying, but before I could ask why…she hugged me, stronger and longer than she had in a while. Smiling, she asked how the baby was, and I smiled back and said, “Fine.”  She picked her up and held her tightly in her arms. Her eyes welled but her beautiful smile never wavered. 

“It’s gonna be okay, baby girl,” she whispered. 

[My wife and I have custody of her niece’s 6-month-old daughter, while her niece deals with her demons. On the surface we wish her niece and the father of this beautiful little girl will get their shit together, as this perfect bundle-of-joy deserves to have her family. But, on a much deeper level, we are falling in love with her. I know how much my wife has wanted a little girl, us having two boys, and see the glee with which she dresses her up in cute little girlie outfits. So, I’m afraid, that my fear of losing this little girl, of seeing the loss on my wife’s face, that I’m becoming a wretched person with each passing day…hoping the demons never lose their grip.]