smoke gets in your eyes (20170616)

douse me in accelerants
use a word as effective
as a zippo shielded from the wind
to ignite me

shall we count, then?

see how fast i burn
almost as if I were made
of dry, bundled grasses
whispering, shushing

what number did you reach
before there was nothing left of me?
i hope you were not distracted
by all that smoke

wet sidewalks (20170118)

in the rain a cyclist passes
unprepared for the sudden showers
an orange ember glowing
at the end of his cigarette

petrichor and marlboro lights
and i am ten
and the streets are wet
and black except for the
sodium cyclops eyes of streetlamps
home has that familiar smell
and nicotine-stained curtains

eye of the devil (20160723)

the sun hangs angry and red
two hands above the horizon
like a sleepy devil’s eye
burning through smokey clouds

though soft and orange
i am punished for looking
it scars the inside eyelids
i see its echo when i close my eyes

i will see its echo
when i sleep
and dream blind


The Daily Post
Daily Prompt: Punishment

sunset and messages (20160722)

we saw no angels only
the aftermath of their
swords cutting the air

orange sunset through
clouds of distant smoke
and somewhere a single

dog barking
__________i hope someone
threw that loud bastard
a bone to calm him down

as for the angels–well
they can carve up heaven
as they see fit

there aren’t enough
actual souls down here
to complain about it

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

smoke (Poem 20160501)

someday soon i am going to catch on fire

not through any action of my own

not by smoking in bed
i’m too cheap to buy cigarettes

not by standing too close to an open flame
while wearing non-flame-retardant pajamas

not by standing beneath a giant magnifying glass
on a sunny day like some ant cooked by a bully

not even from some smoldering look you
carelessly toss my way
though that would be my preferred method

i think spontaneous combustion is nature’s way
of cleaning up its weeds
turning us into carbon-rich ash for a new
generation of green things without nettles

so i tell myself i won’t mind so much
when i finally smell the smoke

Poem 20160220

when i was a kid i could buy
at the magic shop
or sometimes the drug store
magic smoke
dab between my thumb and forefinger
press together and spread apart
long strands would magically form
shiny waving gossamer
a gauzy arc between fingertips
a good trick
if you had dexterity enough
you made smoke appear from your hands

i found later
when i got into building models
that airplane glue
which smelled so good
and left me light-headed
did the same thing

the human soul stretches out
between us too
incredibly thin and almost
invisible but not quite
strongest when we are pressed together
thinner but still strong
still connecting
when we are apart