Now

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The water builds at the faucet’s mouth

Building until gravity claims the drop

You’re birthday just passed

You’re deathday about a week away

Two years gone in the blink of an eye

An eye blinking away the welling tears

Random stomach pains

Thoughts of a friend’s cancer battle

My son’s food allergy diagnosis

His life constrained

I’m gonna watch the sequel

To the first movie you took me to

I think you’ll be there

Not some ghost on the loveseat

But genetic memory and eternalism

When I was a kid my mom said I sit like you

Before I even had memories of you

A ray with a single point labeled ABC

A = past, B = present, C = future

The ray is the illusion of moving forward

Through time

So you’ll watch the movie too

At the same time you cry at birth

Clutch at your chest in the bathroom

I feel a weird pain in my stomach

My son scratches his food allergy eczema

I pour your ashes at your favorite park

My son looks like you/me

He does something that reminds me of you

From memories in his marrow

The water droplet hits the sink’s drain

Walk away

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Maybe he was conditioned to walk away

Perhaps he sensed its coming

Lowering himself into the blocks

When she said it was over

That was the starter pistol’s report

Off he went

 

Maybe he witnessed the maternal bond

Who was he to try and fuck with that?

As much as he could give

He felt he’d be a little short

It was something he couldn’t deny us

Arms limp at his sides, he walked away

 

I like to imagine that he argued

That he cried in attempts to stay whole

That he held us in his arms

Tears streaking down his face

The look of a broken man

His face a setting sun melting into the ocean

 

I like to imagine that he called constantly

Trying to make amends to bridge the distance

That we were at the forefront of his mind

That he showed up uninvited

Diapers under one arm

A teddy bear under the other

 

I have a half-sister I’ve never met

That he walked away from first

Maybe she was the hardest

When my mom pointed at the door

It was like Pavlov ringing a bell

Without thought he found himself alone

 

I was left with a gaping hole in my chest

A severed, invisible umbilical

Trailing out behind me

The weight of a logging chain

Leaving a trail of black bile

For most of my life

 

My father reentered my life a few years later

Reaffirming a bond I always knew I needed

A puzzle piece fitting my chest hole perfectly

I no longer dragged that logging chain

Though I no longer envied other children

I had gained a friend in him more than a father

 

I think he felt that he gave up that right

That it would be a waste of time anyway

When so much joy was had just being friends

And when life was a storm he was a safe port

Two years ago a storm washed away that port

I’m often come undone at the thought of this

 

Looking at my two-year-old son

I imagine the hole in his chest

That I can only fill with stories

Of his quirky, loving grandfather

That he’ll have no memory of

And have to trust my recollection of him

 

At the same time I long for that lost period

The early years I didn’t have my father

I look at my son

And I couldn’t imagine walking away

I would level a city, sell my soul to the devil

To be by his side

 

As a child, brought up catholic

I believed in a heaven and hell

I’ve since stepped away from faith

And I put my belief in Socratic method

Which relies on student-teacher dialogue

I’ve lost my teacher but gained a student

 

Thinking of the loss of my father

My fading youth

My son’s long journey ahead

I hope I’m wrong about heaven

I hope I’m wrong

When I have no choice but to…walk away

“V”

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I don’t know where to start. She was the first girl to really make out with me and she was really good at it. Us, just a couple freshmen in the inner city. She took me from zero to 90 in four-point-three-seconds. Just when we were rounding the final turn she pumped the brakes. I was breathless. Confused. So unbelievably grateful that she chose me, but devastated that she’d brought me to heaven’s door, and said she just wanted to be held. I figured she was making sure I was the right guy, so I held her until she said she had to go home. I walked her home, holding hands, and I finally felt like I had worth. She had seen something in me, something even I couldn’t see. The next time we hung out my childhood friend was over and she was different. She looked at me like a flavor of ice cream she had enough of…too much butter pecan and in desperate need of a palate cleanse. And just like that…she moved on. Lying in bed I could hear the familiar wet smacking sounds of her, working her magic. This was the beginning of my Pink Floyd, The Wall, stage…everyday, all day on auto-reverse. To this day, The Wall can transport me back to the frailty of my teenage years and I feel an unnameable loss, a hole, that remains. I quickly learned that she pumped the brakes with my friend, as well. Somehow that made me feel better. It became a theme, though. Her showing up at gatherings of me my friends. Choosing her next victim. It got so, those of us she used, would put up two fingers, almost a peace sign, but with the back of the hand. It was a sign of camaraderie, like soldiers who’d fought in the same war and came out the other side, but far from unscathed. It was, also, the first letter of her name…V. Somehow Mikey, the best looking of our group, got to walk her home more than once. He had that all American look, with feathered hair and a shit-eating-grin. He had somehow found the magic key, but as long as they were together he never made it across the finish line. I moved away, while they were still an item. Years later, after they had long gone their separate ways, he told me during a phone conversation, that she had been such a great make-out-artist, because she had been taught, for years…by her father. Her older sister had got engaged and was making her escape, but V had worried that their father might turn to her younger sister to fill the void, and none of them wanted that. Like THAT was where they wanted to draw the line. The girls’ aunt cornered Mikey, at one point, and made him swear to never say a word. He carries…we all carry, that shit with us. The thought of this monster and his three daughters. I tried finding them. Facebook. Classmates. It’s like they simply disappeared. I no longer feel bad about how our time went, but can only hope that she felt safe and maybe normal, if such a thing exists, for that little while, when I was just holding her.

The lease of my worries

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You’re rent has come due

A yearly reminder

It’s not much money but

The weight is immeasurable

I’m crushed beneath it

(Un)luckily the cost of your rent

Is shared by her and I

Now I know that we don’t visit

Even if we did you’d never know

Your cold, dark prison

You’re lucky

The cold keeps you young

The dark keeps you ignorant

What came first?

Me…the chicken?

You…the egg?

I’m a gunslinger with hoplophobia

Chambers filled with blanks

I shove splinters under my nails

For every missed opportunity

For unrealized potentials

You are potentiality incarnate

We tried to give you a Home

We thought of taking you in

But your brother broke her

She…the strongest woman I know

Broken and torn

I can’t even bring myself to ask

As I witnessed her succumbing

They said we could donate you

For research (the fuck does that even mean?)

I’m too afraid to ask

If only there were a half dozen of you

Then we could allow anonymous adoption

One isn’t enough

One is everything

The day is coming

When I will sign my name

On your release

I fear that as you thaw

Having finally escaped your cryogenic tomb

That I’ll turn forever cold

Fortunately I have your brother

Now three

To keep me warm

But a frostbite fingerprint will remain

On my heart

Although I’m pro choice

I feel like an amateur

$100 dollars to add another semicolon

Delaying the inevitable

Dryad

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I’m thinking of trees

The rough on the fingertips

The cool darkness beneath

The others that look like winter

Looking at me

Pointing at their flat rock

Scratching, scratching, scratching

Pointing their driftwood fingers

To their snow white scratches

Their mouths open

The sounds that come out

The crunch and snap of the forest floor

The growl and yip yip of wild dogs

It affronts the ears until the cooing begins

Then it’s all sad eyes and cooing

I miss the smell of decay

The feel of wet moss underfoot

I try to tell them, the winter people

Let me go home

Let me go home

I rustle, I chirp, I warble, I ribbit, I buzz

The stupid winter people do not understand

I begin squealing, shrieking and screeching

Until my voice cuts out

I cough a small drip drop

Of inside water, the color of dying trees

Into the palm of my hand

I curl up on the floor

Running my fingers across dead wood

Imagining the softness of grass and moss

A parallel me

On another earth

Critical period hypothesis

Missed window for language acquisition

I am a dryad

An anomaly

I am closer to the truth

Than the winter people will ever be

Inured

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Remember when coffee felt like it was boiled in the depths of hell. When a broken promise brought real physical pain. When vegetables raised bile to the back of your throat and you made yourself sick, just to get out of having to eat more. The taste of artificial sweeteners…what fucking devilry IS this?!? Spicy food. Shots at the doctor’s. Using a public restroom. When the sound of adults arguing made me hide under the bed and I cried myself to sleep. The way a loved one’s look of disappointment hurt your heart. Asthma taught me, as a little boy, that even drowning on dry land will pass. Jesus, even with asthma, I hacked my fucking brains out on the first few cigarettes, only to become a pack-a-day smoker. The steady weight gain of middle age, until you find yourself buying shoes that slip on easily. The boss’ condescending tone, from a guy you wouldn’t even bother holding a decent conversation with. Watching my little boy in the window, as I drive off to my 9 to 5. Some of the deepest transgressions end up changing us but become just phantasms we try not to remember. I’ve been here before, so just rip the goddamn bandage off. No I don’t need to look the other way…just try and get it in the vein the first time around. I have become inured. But, but…sometimes I wish I felt every bit of it. Because I’m starting to wonder if I’m putting up with more bullshit than I should, and, most of all, I think I should still be crying everyday from your passing. I miss you, our conversations, and my biggest fan. This world/growing old/time has made me numb, has made me a monster, and I’m not even sure if I feel bad about it.

Happy New Year

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I shed my scaly skin

Cheese grater scrubbing

The crust must go

Air must reach the fresh

Pink skin beneath

A freshly plucked fowl

My need to howl out in pain

Is attenuated by your indifference

This patina of malaise

An antibiotic resistant bacteria

Caught from stagnant, aimless days

Dallying in the doldrums

A broad spectrum tincture

The deepest, loneliest blues

To the brightest, livid reds

Mustn’t bring your old broom

To your new house

Now lemon juice and salt

Need to shine

Like a bright, new penny

I’m a new car…not brand new, just new to me

My reflexive modulation of inflection

Is inflicted by reflecting on my reflection

Goodbye to the old fear

Mourn loss with a single tear

Now is the time to be freer

Ring in the new year

Aakriti Kuntal: This is the end. This poem at Sudden Denouement makes you almost long for heartache.

We want to reach out. But baby here, now, this is the end. We know, we know ‘ the end ’. We’ve lived inside it. Slept. Slept. Inhaled. Creatures of absence. Your eye is an alien being. It alone sings. A rotating rim. Continuously revolving in the hemisphere’s strange music. I look down. My feet […]

via This is the End — A Global Divergent Literary Collective

Half-life

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We’re all in a state of continual decay

Casting off neutrinos, alphas and betas

Dander and forgotten moments of yesterday

Fluttering to the floor is what their fate is

These motes of us become tomorrow’s dust

These particles dance in shafts of light

Thanks to wanderlust everyone breathes in us

Adrift on thermals we finally take flight

Look around now at all that you’ve collected

Owned and used by you or simply meddled

You are what you hold AND what’s rejected

A feather duster to clean on what you settled

Truncated

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I travel this world widdershins

My head cocked to the side

Forty-five-degrees-askew

A confused mongrel

Trying to make sense of it all

Fingertips grazing all within reach

Like a blind man

Feeling for the inherent

A sign from the universe

The velvet rope of an exclusive club

The rust-pocked surface of a mailbox

The wispy hair of a newborn

The roughhewn marble of a tombstone

The shingled roof of a vacant doghouse

The smooth, sloped hood of a camaro

Dust covered, satin ribbons of pointe shoes

The latched, leather bound, diary cover

Just when I’d given up on divining verity

I run my fingertips across my stubbled cheeks

Tracing the trail of tears

I blow the sawdust off

This sequoia stump

With my damp fingers

I place my thumb

On the ring of your birth

Stretching my pinky out

To the ring of your passing

Lifting my hand I see two dark circles

Two simple dark circles

That hold within the span of your existence

I place my thumb on my birth ring

Lie down on the enormous stump

My pinky hanging out into the nilspace

I straighten my head the forty-five-degrees

And close my eyes…