So Carefully Contained

Lately, I feel fingers scratching at the edges of reality. 

It’s like those moments when you first wake, 

when you slowly come aware, 

when you remember you have a body and a bed in the darkness

when everything downloads itself back into your brain

and then you pick up where you left off. 

There is more to all of this

(there has to be)

meaning behind the madness

not God but… something. Something out there that I can make sense of. 

 

I created these walls around me. I painted them brightly. They protect me. 

When I grew weary of boundaries, of need, of being hurt by others, 

I changed myself. I made it so that I would reduce hurt, 

so I could expect more from myself and less from others

I set my own terms and began dreaming bigger and achieving more. 

And here I am, in the dwelling I desired

Full, ripe, plentiful, rich

So carefully contained in this space

the one I created

and wondering what else is out there to be discovered. 

I love it here, but I’m outgrowing it, I can feel it. 

The old itch is returning, the one that tells me I need to change. 

I need. To change. I need. More. I need. (What is it I need?)

Desire, lust, forgiveness, sanctification, release, horizons, animal passion, to be seen, to be heard, to feel loved, to forgive, to change the world.

I need. 

 

Lately, I feel fingers scratching at the edges of my reality. 

They mean something. Some success, some discovery, something

Right around the corner. 

And it’s going to require me spilling over the edges of this container I’ve built and embracing.

Embracing. Risking. Trying. 

It’s right there. 

(I need.)

 

 

Milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quiet Love

Heart

Going into these types of things

You learn to expect fireworks

And fields of flowers

And big bass drums.

But he doesn’t love like that.

He loves in small gestures,

Carefully, steadily.

A hand on your leg during a film,

An ‘I miss you’ on lonely days.

He doesn’t write poems,

But he listens when you read yours.

He loves with tomato plants,

With homemade risotto with red wine,

And by taking up half the sock drawer.

And so, in those moments

When threatened by the silence

Remember

You fell in love with his sweetness,

His consistency,

With good morning hugs

And your hand resting on his hip as he falls asleep.

Remind yourself

That because he loves differently, quietly,

Doesn’t mean he loves less.

And it’s still okay to need fireworks sometimes.

Carnivorous, a poem

Bones

it wasn’t enough

that he pulled the fish from the water

and watched it suffocate in frozen air

for he bashed its skull 

he tore it open

he spread its life-giving organs in the dirt

where he could step upon them

he plucked out its eyes

took a blade to its skin and scales

he tore free the meat

and left the bones for the scavengers

the devouring things

the ones he felt so far above. 

and as he burnt the flesh

as he chipped away at the morsels

with jagged white teeth

as he rolled the chunks against his tongue

with wet slapping and slurping sounds

as he swallowed the remains

taking the creature’s strength and making it his own

he reasoned

with his superior intellect

that it was his divine right to survive. 

Still hungry, 

he then returned to the sea

and killed 100

to find just one more

he might

consume. 

 

Burned

abinadi

I can see myself up there

High on a mountaintop

(“A banner is unfurled”

the familiar sing-song lyrics autoplay in my head

by rote

and I squelch them swiftly).

From such a vantage

I could view the entire valley

with perspective

and see all the corners and shadows

that have given me life.

In them, I would find my heritage,

equal parts handcart and homophobia.

 

The streets are quiet up here

Full of newly-weds and nearly-deads they say

because history is changing and people with it.

Those who built these sidewalks

are no longer the ones treading upon them.

 

The street signs bear Mormon names.

Zarahemla: fictional capital city,

Cumorah: hill full of secrets,

and Abinadi, a man I once admired

because he allowed himself to be burned to death.

 

My back is to the city now

and all is rustling leaves

and birdsong

and one lone cricket

and sunshine on my skin

and I think of how I was carried here

by pioneer women

and how I almost

let myself burn.

The Silver Sea

Tonight
The sea turned silver
The boiling sun
Took refuge behind a mass of opaque clouds
As yellow light spilled from its edges
In life-giving tendrils

With only a slight shift in vantage
I stood in a scattered crowd of humans
And saw the earth curve
A long arc across the horizon

Unconquerable ocean rolled forth endlessly
Walls of it smashing
Into the ground beneath me
Slowly and incessantly wearing it down

Rushing water drowned all sound
The guitars, the children,
The motors and tinny radios,
The fragile thumping hearts

And the humans stood as one
Facing west
Looking toward the circular world
As pin-prick stars
And spreading shadows
And salt-soaked wind
And whispering water
Held their weight.

img_3430img_3431img_3435img_3438

inversion skies

inversion1

the flying flag flutters

the white of its alternating stripes blending into the

still white polluted sky behind it

the air is thick with the smoke that blankets the city

the exhaust fumes from cars and factories

drift upward

seamless and indistinguishable

raindrops in the smoggy ocean above

stark black telephone wires divide the expanse

small birds dot the rooftops on the horizon

finding no safety in their numbers

and haunting electric lights glow and struggle to be seen

 

I view this through cracked glass

the interior world behind me reflecting back

distorting the sounds and sights of

brewing coffee and blasting heat and lulling piano

into a soft shimmer on the window

 

this atmosphere dwells in my head my heart my gut my lungs

my fingers clutch a pen tightly

and I remember the color blue

and the heat of the sun

and the gulping of fresh clear oxygen

inversion2

absolutely electric

Lightning1.jpg

In my most powerful moments
when lightning flashes outward from my fingers, toes, and eyes
and I float evenly in the center
kept aloft in the night sky
seeing over every horizon
in those moments, I am
limitless
bulletproof
invincible
free
I rise higher, willfully
with clouds at my feet
absolutely electric
in time
I grow chilled
and lonely
and weary of the winds and jets and birds
and I return
to mud, to dirt
to safe holes in familiar glens
to roots and dust
to burrowing aphids
to warm damp subterranean space
and there, safe, I dig my toes into the soil
and I sing into the darkness
hearing the life forms plodding on the ground above me.
they have no idea I’m here
not until I’m ready
again
for the sun and song of the surface.

wind

 

Wind1
i spread my arms to you today
and was met head on with your power
more than breeze
more than gust
sheer wind meets me, unafraid
your coldness, brisk against my skin
shirt tugging against me in an effort to be free
i long for exposure
“thank you” I whisper, as you fill my lungs
and you soften briefly
surprising me with an answer
showing me that tender breath can be more effective
than tornado or hurricane
now you push again, consistent
trees dance wildly against the sky
and i look up at your unseeable wonder
and shout a simple “YES!”
into you, your green and blue
invisible, intangible, ethereal
yet supreme and jagged and precise and unbearable
i only see what you move against
never you
i only feel you when you move,
without me
within me
were you the god i grew up believing in
dwelling within each of us
yet all over the earth
everywhere and nowhere?
you surround me now
“thank you” i whisper again
as i gather you within
to strengthen my strength

We who are left

storm-bird

Electronic numbers in bank accounts

Archived Email folders

Shelves of books and boxes of keepsakes

Your clothes carefully folded in drawers, except that one batch left in the washer to be put in the dryer later

A fridge full of food

Beloved flowers and bulbs sprouting in the garden out back under the spring trees you loved so much

Photos of you with your love, your children, your parents framed on the walls

Unfinished paperwork scattered across the desk at your office, and a calendar full of appointments

 

The world kept turning

The sun kept rising

All the parts of your life are

Still here

Exactly as they were

When you left us.

 

Just a few days ago, I saw you

With that enormous smile, that powerful hug

Later, the light on my phone indicating you had texted me

We bantered, and laughed

Ending with a ‘see you tomorrow’

like we do everyday

 

Your body is ash now

They call them Cremains

A word you and I would have laughed about

“It sounds like something you would serve on a salad” you would have said

“I’ll have the Chicken Walnut with Cremains and Cranberry Viniagrette” I would have quipped back

They will take you and spread the ash far away in a place that you loved

And that warms me

 

You changed me

Showed me so many things about how to live

And believe in myself

And be authentic and kind and straightforward and real and loving and successful

You taught me to look ahead

You taught me to laugh harder

You changed me

And not just me

You changed us all, all who loved you, all who you loved

 

I’ll keep you at my side

That’s what we do, we humans who have lost

We keep you alive next to us, within us

We hear your voices

We feel your presences

We stand you up next to us to remind us of what we were taught

Of who we are, of who you are

 

We will stand together

We who Remain

We who Cremain

And we remember you

the night sky

milky-way-984050_960_720

I recall wishing once to be hard in all my soft places

those supple and diaphanous systems within me

that had searched so valiantly, so militantly, for things that cannot exist without. 

 

Then…

After the one who could have been there and wasn’t, 

And the one whose needs filled the room to bursting, 

And the one who used fists, 

And the one who made unkeepable promises, 

And the one who used up all the natural resources and kept farming for more, 

And the who was there and then wasn’t, 

And the one who could only see himself, 

And the one who could never answer (because he didn’t exist), 

Then…

 

After the sun set, 

I stood under the stars, 

right where I had always been standing,

and I looked up, hard and jagged and careful within, 

reliant more upon that beautiful night sky

than I ever had been upon the clouds.