squinting as a child

there is soft, white, particulate matter hanging in the air,
like snow without gravity.
sometimes it feels as if i've surrounded myself
with so much of it, I am trapped in a perpetual cloud of chalk dust.
as if I've clapped some erasers together
and the world just froze in that moment.
clouds in my eyes that leave me swinging my arms
and grasping for the handrails.
the world unrecognizable to me.

i sometimes think about Christmas time as a child,
in my parent's old house with the brown shag carpet,
and the big windows that made me feel so small.
i remember sitting in the living room alone,
squinting my eyes at the Christmas tree,
forcing the champagne Christmas lights too bloom within my vision.
i remember when i first realized that i could do this,
that i could make lights smear by squinting my eyes.
that i could change the entire world by something as simple as pushing my eyelids together.

but now, here i am as an adult, sitting in all this dust,
wondering how i make the world shift again,
with the simplicity and ease that i once did as a child.
it was so easy then.
to just press my eyes.


dinner in the yard with old friends

an ashy, rickety, wooden table
sitting on the crest of a mound of silt.
an admiral, velvet window curtain
thrown over the tabletop and
seasoned with grape tomatoes,
wine, bread, and pesto.

a frail breeze to push the music.
the sky's veneer, a net of soft Christmas lights.
and then the entire city, in the pinch of a finger,
just sitting there as if we had
something to do with its placement.

a quiet night with old soldiers
gathered around the table.
good friends that have been fighting
the same war for decades,
each through their own glasses,
feeling the world push itself upon them
one at a time,
with an unaplogetic force that
whittles lines near the eyes.

a deep breath into the evening.
into this one quiet night.
it is the way I imagined every night would be
when I was older.
candlelit with friends, wine, music.
simple joy.

and then suddenly I was older.
and mosts night were just nights.
much like how most mail is just mail.
because handwritten letters are rare.
as is this night.

just enough wine to be
glossy and bloom the stars.
just enough breeze to
quiet the neighborhood.
and just enough union to be content
with each other's silence.

simple and quiet.
love and respect,
as subtle as it can be.




the last train engineer

a few miles east,
over the Broadway Extension,
the 3AM train would barrel down.

 it was always on time and
unlike the 7AM,
the 3AM

its thick whistle blew the duration
of its passing

 and i listened to it every night.

i suppose the engineer,
knew his time was limited
for his responsibilities had been diminishing
with the rise of automation.

 and so, sitting in a dark engine,
a lone passenger watching the world smear,
there was probably no sweeter thing
than to crack that hard cable
and stain the night with sound.

 a last desperate cry for the ghost trains. 

another heavy steel toast to the failed spirits
of John Henry and Casey Jones.




The Middle Ground

some poets... well...

they write way over here,
on the right side of the page.
you know, for dramatic effect.
because English text ain't supposed to be
way over on the right side,
all by itself.

it's supposed to be over HERE.
on this side, where
it has room to run across the entire page if it really wants to.


but sometimes it just isn't sure where to be.
so it just sits in the middle,
and pouts.


Adrift my mind, daily steals
the line, the rod, the fish, the reel
though fortune blessed my spirit free
I'm chained to passion drowning me

No salvage for a listless soul
costly comes life's aging toll
a worthy memory, marked to be
strong as the ship that charges me. 

I'll file my nails to the hilt
Rust iron shackles hitched to guilt
Fight hordes of voices, unresigned
to live a life that's undefined.
To live a life that's undefined.