I’ve imagined all this,
one reality as real as any other.
I’ve been strolling in the mind’s bestiary,
thoughtfulness sawing its green lumber.
I’m on a newly discovered planet.
I’m a simile or silly allegory.
A gargoyle in a cathedral.
A fist through a pane of tinted glass.
Already I’ve died a thousand nights
and have crowned myself king of the gnats.
In my mind is a creamer of magical water.
I’ve put myself before all others.
Why write of the real world,
its stems and stoves and fishes?
When I can live on the sun instead
and carry cities in my bloodstream.
I can paint the invisible.
Invent new numbers.
Marry the cutest little Neanderthal.
Or better yet, I could start life over,
taking a step back from myself
as one would when returning to Earth
after light-years of interstellar wandering.
I could make the same mistakes again
and not come to regret them.
The Bee's Knees
It’s only suddenly dawned on me,
how I’m nothing more than sand in a shoe.
That I’m a puppet in a seaside skit.
A minor character in a beach novel.
How I resemble most a reflection
in a carnival’s trick mirror.
And here I thought I was the pig’s wings,
the caterpillar’s kimono, the gnat’s elbows.
Instead of this tongue-tied parrot I’ve become,
the one spouting self-righteous epithets in order
that he might confirm his paltry existence.
And not this monkey on a string.
Not this breeze over the city dump I am.
This creaking wheel. This lousy haircut.
Admiring the Stars
To the one once full of promise
each day is a protracted insult to the soul.
Sunrises have lost their allure, sunsets their luster.
Former lovers can only look through you.
No longer do your shirts fit properly.
The one once full of promise,
whose potential was once spoken of with reverence,
hushed tones becoming whispered slights,
even the busboy disappointed by the lack of progress.
Now you’re met with awkward silences.
A tragic figure, the gods have abandoned you,
a furtive star returned to the restless earth.
Earthy vowels and knotty syllables.
The child born tongue-tied
till they snipped its wires.
The language inside of language,
that no one speaks or should ever need to.
The mother tongue of the fatherland,
with different words for love and god,
but a shared meaning,
every word in fact a metaphor,
language evolving in the mind’s Galapagos,
this babble of confusion devolving
into emoticons and universal signage,
so you catch the drift of it,
whole volumes composed of silences
and preferred noise.
The deaf blessed. The dumb gifted.
A List of Shadows
“The shadow of your sorrow
hath destroy’d the shadow of your face.”
The shadow of a wheel
coming back around on itself.
The shadow turned inside-out,
then back-to-front, then upside-down.
The shadow in league with cupidity,
grown stout and cat-lazy.
The one where you can hear rain falling
and angels mewling and doubting voices.
Shadows comprised of nothing but frost.
The moon’s shadow, walking across the Earth,
Sol’s silent partner in intrigue.
The shadow as dangling black fruit
and whomsoever eats of it forever corrupted.
Shadow-puppets, their dioramas in flames.
The hand-shadow, now a stork,
now a silhouette of a timberwolf’s jaw.
The sun, with its cast of shadows.
Mobs darkening by the hour.
Whole navies driven under a black water.
And finally, the shadow of the Self,
life’s ghost a shade rummaging in the roses.
The other you nobody talks about.
Not worth a mention.
A doll’s house on the street of my mind,
its tiny curtains drawn, the rooms dark and dusty,
the finger-sized furniture tipped over
after what appears to have been a drunken rage.
And with no sign of its glassine-eyed occupants,
the little back door kicked in, or nudged by a mouse,
the fourth wall missing in this theatre-of-play,
revealing a family’s unspeakable secrets.
And in its homey plastic kitchen, a wisp of smoke.
A fire coming. A cleansing fire.