It’s been ten years or more since last I smoked
And yet inside my lungs the air remains
Of lovers past refuted; I am choked
By tar-like love for I cannot abstain
From chasing down their mem’ries in a dream.
Addicted to the substance of their loss
Like fumes that always tend to drift upstream,
Upon the waves of chaos I am tossed
And spit back, coughing, on a newer shore
Where I don’t have to work so hard to breathe.
And yet, I still anticipate a war
Of furies: unsheathed weapons, clenchéd teeth.
You flick the flint wheel quick and set a flame
As if incineration is your aim.
You cannot touch me, innocence aside,
For touch ignites a million visions’ flames.
And, laying by propriety and pride,
I tell you that my lips caress your name.
When I am resting quietly in bed
Or drifting through the motions of a day
I replay all the words that you have said
Imagine all the ones you’ve yet to say
For courting danger quickens up the blood
And you are risk personified in form
A flower does put forth its frailest bud
To feel the sting of hail from in the storm
So no more parting clasps, drawn chest to chest
Lest rare emotion bloom and be confessed.
Am I recalling yesterday’s embrace?
Did I enfold your fingers in my hand
Within the last few moons? Or was the place
In which we met again the first time sand
Soft slipping through a fissure in my brain?
I find the fixéd elements a blur
The fluid aspects somehow still remain
Reminders: who we are and who we were
Your scent a tattooed image on my skin
Your mouth a scattered photograph for days
The heart, a castaway whose wrists are pinned,
Is begging for release from love’s malaise
I can no more forget than cease to lie.
And fabrications, uttered, satisfy.
As silence from your lips does drip again
I cannot even rage, as I have been
In this same state before (a time or ten)
Awaiting that your mouth my ear might bend
For who am I to rail against this fate
Which binds me to each action, false or true
Whose bands of wood I could no more negate
Than my own name, whose scar I can’t eschew
If masochism is my stock-in-trade
Then you must be that ailment’s greatest prize
I hand you up the hilt of sorrow’s blade
You pay me with aversions of your eyes
Apprenticed to the master of disdain
These words, these lines, this course is preordained
has flown a single hour or countless days?
the truth exists between these two extremes.
our shadows pace down recollected ways
and passing time dissects the inmost dreams
did I first reach for you? or you for me?
or did we reach a silent compromise?
complicit anti-angels, we were free
from morals but not free from mortal lies.
the knife that cuts the deepest is too dull
for drawing lines between a whispered no
and shouted yes. and eyes, so over full
with tears they could not see, did tears forgo.
Thus passed some hours a year ago or ten.
Someday perhaps forget the why or when
No heroes in our shared mythology.
Few rights, much wrong, the gods have cursed this song
and yet, we sing it anyway. A plea:
atoning sins with volume ever strong.
Regrets weigh heavy, clinging vines of doubt
As kudzu, joining fear to fear to fear
‘Til all despairs are one – a mass without
A name or number, formless, vague, unclear.
We push against the weight; we watch for light,
and anthems, cool as water, soothe and calm.
In darkness, they are balm against the night.
We pause, and listen; yield, and yet- push on.
Solutions there are not to this our fate.
Abide, reside in solitude – and wait.