ashes ashes (20170917)

was everything you felt for me
a trick of the light?
some magician’s smoke
fanned to achieve

the appropriate density?
how many parts per million
were enough to make my
eyes water?

was the fire a reflection
in a mirror
without heat,
without the power to consume?

see my ashes for what they are
no trickery here
just crematory soot
bones to grind into flour

brick by brick (20160913)

i will build a pyramid
i will use bricks made
from the ashes of the dead
and blood from those who
delivered them into the cold
mother’s embrace

the mortar–ah the mortar
every word uttered
from mouths darkened
by the pitch of hate

it will rise above clouds
survivors will be forced
to climb its steep steps
in spite of the thinning

comes at a price
and the damned and the dead
have an infinite number
of fingers to point
at the living

wings of ash (20160607)

everything moves in a circle
what i have breathed in
i will breathe out

my spine pushes its way out
through the back of my neck
hot skin, dry eyes
no pain, just pressure
like when the doctor says
you may feel a little discomfort

everything moves in a circle
what i have breathed out
i must breathe in

heavy, dark wings
emerge from my back
black snake fireworks
intumescent ash and billowing smoke
rings of fire carving new bones
where my shoulder blades once were

these wings beat
throw dust into the air
create tornadoes of choking, blinding sand
but they cannot lift me
and my arms hang now useless and free

everything moves in a circle
what i will breathe in
i have already breathed out

smoke break (20160524)

across the street
two men share a habit
real paper-wrapped tobacco
in front of an aerospace building
where they probably work
skin rendered waxy by computer screens
and fluorescent lights

the tall lanky one wears a red shirt
the other, shorter and fatter than me
(finally, someone fatter than me)
in a blue polo
and it looks like they’re in the middle
of their smoke break

a third man emerges
from the intersection i’m walking toward
on my side of the road
he begins crossing the street
heavier than the guy in the polo
(and heavier than me by extension)
he wears a grubby green t-shirt
and jogs the way all men my age
and older jog when you don’t have
the will to run anymore
daring the cars

i wonder if he’s going to join the
the other smoking men
red, green, and blue together again
the three musketeers or stooges or whatever

he watches for traffic and i get distracted
by a pair of women on the other side of the road
walking through the parking lot
dressed like they’re going for drinks
at a friend’s house
work casual tight black pants
blouses with metallic prints
and from they way they almost fall with each step

i wonder if they smoke, too
or are they just getting to work
(kind of late for that)
or are they taking a break
and walking
like i am?
only they went out in pairs
and my god what kind of place
do they work where they have
to walk in pairs
and then i remember how i was
staring at their asses
and i know exactly what kind of place
the world is

i look back, but i’ve lost track of
the grubby green shirt guy
and the smokers are gone
much like their smoke
like their ashes

i wish i were smoke drifting away
smoke carries with it all memory
forgotten like the act of smoking
ash scattered, blown by the wind
particles of myself falling, separating
like dusty snowflakes
but not until after i’ve done
all the damage i can do

Poem 20151110

this is the real thing, this life
an absence of the not thing
a scarcity of the not life

your skin burns away
in the heat

your skin dries up
in the cold

we are mummies and ashes and ice

let it all crack and crackle
let it split us open
hollow us out before
we step into the dry heat

–at least it’s a dry heat,
they say, as if that makes it
a better heat–

we will be put back together
maybe kinstuki
glittering and showing our flaws
but whole