in-out (20170205)

it’s getting crowded in here again
not the people
not the obligations
but all that breathing
that sucking up the air
how will there be enough
for all of us
and by us i mean
me and the cat
who sleeps curled in my lap
making my thighs sweat
with black and white heat

the tension in my shoulders
in my neck
a block of iron
i won’t need a supplement
for that but
maybe they make little air pills
oxygen bars used to be
a mockable thing

christ, whatever modern music
they’re playing on the radio
sounds like a cross between
west side story
and a kabuki play
and it’s squeezing my lungs
like a manic accordion player

i will plug my ears
and open the window
i will share the air
sharing is caring
or so the dinosaurs said
and who am i to disagree
with the former rulers
of the earth?

the art of breathing deeply (20170111)

you take a deep breath
outside after the rain
realize how much better off
you are
not breathing that
recirculated air
from your colleagues
with their
i-swear-i’m-not-contagious
phlegmy brachial spasms

but out here
the closest people
are a couple of high school girls
a football field away
that smell like candy
when they pass
and they could give a shit
about the wheels turning
in your head

so the thought settles in
we are all stardust
not in a magical
we’re-all-special-snowflakes way
or even a
my-god-we’re-so-insignificant way
but just this just this
just
this
you could be breathing
in an atom of air
once breathed out
by abraham lincoln
hammurabi or adolph hitler

even the heavy panting of
some prehistoric saber-toothed cat
looking to make a meal out of the
hominids

we are all complicit in that
decay and triumph and violence
who needs little crackers
and plastic shot glasses
of grape juice to claim communion
we are all breathing it in
good and bad
but jesus
what are we adding to the atmosphere

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


Poem 20151217

the secret to breathing properly

is to imagine the lungs
expanding beyond capacity
as they fill with air

as they fill with the air
breathed out
by people you know–
the ones you work with
the ones you live with
the ones you love
the ones you hate

and those you don’t know–
the dead who breathed these same atoms
years-decades-centuries-millennia ago

fill your lungs with the air
that the dinosaurs sucked in
when the comet hurtled toward them
they all breathed out at once
a world-wide gasp

fill your lungs
and don’t let it out
let it stay inside of you
and become like smoke
in your alveoli
and only let it seep out
through your pores