I might be
a little bit drunk, but the fact remains
that he never was.
It never was.
I left this behind
the same way you leave behind
a pile of trash, bits of paper
Once upon a time it meant something and now
why the fuck you held on to it in the first place.
Did you need it for a return?
Proof that this thing existed?
Waiting on you, I know
you'll keep me warm
There's something about a rough edge
one that hasn't been dulled by the constant gaze
of an imaginary spotlight
Not sharp enough to hurt
just sharp enough
What are you looking for?
I don't think you'll find it there.
There's a mannequin in the window, watching you. What's it thinking?
Not anything. Mannequins don't think. They just stare.
Remember the one thing you said, did you mean it?
Of course I did. I never will. I never have. Did you?
One day they'll drop the bomb on us. I hope you're here with me.
There was never a point, was there? All the pencils, dulled with use and whittled down to eraser stubs, the pink dregs of mistakes huddled in the bent metal grip like refugees, bits of foil in your gums, chewed up by anxiety --
And the papers, long forgotten, formulas and spelling rules burnt up in time's incinerator
(I didn't coin that phrase; look it up)
And there goes my mind, spiraling back again
To the safety of lost album covers and songs they never played on the radio till they were oldies
And the speakers at the gas pumps tear my ears away
from my battered scalp
The exhaust fumes make big holes inside my eyes
What were you looking for? Did you ever find it?
No. I wasn't looking.
You were blind.
I was blind.
The lights were keeping score, tabulating risk
Halogen predictors of the future.
Why are you so quiet?
Go to hell.
In this one small act
-- miniscule, undetected by almost
there is the end of the world
A heartbeat steady and sure, stopped
by an unseen hand
the silence echoing through
a suddenly empty skull
I wish that I could hear what some might say should pass
for reasons why.
In this, there is no vast beyond, no other side;
the existence thereof is inconsequential
when one is there
and one is here
In the night sounds, I sit waiting
to hear the low thud of a string plucked,
Just the high-pitched sounds of ignorant, lucky things
We are reduced in this to nothing more than the first thing that we knew
I am three years old and watching
my father melt into my mother
the universe closed in around them
I could feel it then, the nothing
the curtain coming down, closing off the reality
the shape of letting go.
I killed my aloe.
Everyone says you can't do that;
That aloe is impossible to kill.
I can kill damn near anything.
Pert near, my grandma Fox used to say:
"Supper's pert near ready."
She was the softest person I've ever known
And probably the toughest
I remember the apple tree in her yard.
I wonder how she walked and talked and breathed when her little ones were gone.
I want to make apple butter,
sit in the kitchen and watch it cook down to thick, brown
Feel the autumn forcing its brittle way into the heat.
I want to reconstruct the farmhouse
Stack it plank by plank, haphazard
Crawl back up into its lap, settle deep into the sawdust and woodsmoke and the crumbling edges
Of the floorboards
and the softened stairs, sagging in the center
Find the places where the ghosts are huddled
Whispering to me that the aloe can live
pert near anywhere.
Find a place
Cover your ears with thoughts
of escape plans
and tiny spiders crawling
up your arms
Cover your mind with things that used to work but now
only make you real.
Find a place and know
it isn't yours
sit down in the grass
Cover your eyes with
indifference and giant shades
Cover the holes in your mind with bandages made of memories
And lyrics from the songs you used to sing your kids
Find a place to hide and don't come out
In case you missed it, here’s my coverage of FloydFest 21 for Glide Magazine; it’s essentially my highlights reel. Spoiler alert: Billy Strings and the Avett Bros aren’t here, man.
It’s not like I thought you didn’t
fit in here, or whatever
Not that you seemed out of place, exactly
Although it’s the universal lament, isn’t it?
“I don’t belong here,” although Thom Yorke
(to his credit) sings like
he invented the idea
It was more like you were the only native and all the rest of us
(by which I mean me) some sort of
invasive creeping shrub you allowed and cultivated
for the flowers
and the scent
And at night I start these thoughts, and travel off along some strange tangential road and midway through
a sentence, you step away
“Hang on a second, there’s a thing…
I’m still listening”
But by then, my thoughts have settled in
Cozy in a den of softly played forgetfulness and by the time you turn
your face around, again
they’re fast asleep
And we go through the motions
of our day.
In the darkest part of the night, restless from your footsteps and your weight
against the mattress, I begin
“But like, that’s not all he was, Thom Yorke”
And you walk with me along the winding path of thought
The resident leading the visitor
the alien following blind.
They flatten themselves against
the walls, as I walk past
trying to make themselves
holding the breath
they never had
to remain unheard and I
flex my fingers
feel the cracks in my knuckles and my
as I breathe for them.
They are not shrinking back in fear
but in relief
heads bowed, ghosts
in awe of the living
hiding from the light.
It never comes
and still they stand there, waiting
flattened paper sculptures
where the spectres used to hide.
Every crack was a stolen breath
every smile an act of defiance, every
act of rage, every fast, illicit
a testament to life
where the ghosts were meant to be.
Every smile now
a fair exchange
every slow, deep breath at night
a token like the precious
bits of treasure taken from a child’s
A smooth stone, a penny, a tattered wing from a broken moth
their worth unknown except to those
who picked them up
The ghosts are watching from behind their paper eyes and I am
staring back with matches
set to light.
You don’t have to be gentle
You don’t owe it to the boot that stomps your face to smile
through broken teeth.
You don’t have to prove yourself again and again
worthy of the praise of those who aim
to crush your larynx closed; you don’t
stanch your rage to be accepted in
Manners are for tea time
and waiting in line for the sink.
You don’t have to look away avert your eyes pretend that you don’t see
Just because you can
Just because you get to.
You don’t have to be the one to plug the flowers into
the mouths of the guns while the bullets fly
and the bodies fly
and the flags fly
and the buzzards fly and wait
to pluck your eyes out
as they melt into the ground.
You don’t have to be gentle, but you are
because it’s counter what they’re doing
and so you’re not like them, but understand
You are the teeth
Or you’re the boot
Or you’re the laces
tied up tight.