Which War?

Which wear?
Which article claimed my body
which worthwhile phrase
or turn of vision

wrapped me tonight?

Which moment did I ruin?
Which words to take back
which brain pattern to erase

to make it all better?

Can’t work
The healing is the future
the balm in the moving on

the acceptance of what I lost
in addition to the competitions

I’m not looking anymore to win.

Inhalation Revelation

There,
that’s the moment.
The laughter paints across your face
and you reveal yourself
for free.
The candid capture of joy
that looks like a rolling puppy
in your lap
and breathes, like sunlight
and sunflowers

into the room.

Napkin Holder

Partial folds in the napkin you hold
origami that betrays your white smile
tumbling down the ladder you’ve climbed in your mind
beckoning those closer
with sour-scented rind.

Something genuine in your swagger
something happily undefined
your truth escapes in your sleight of hand
those curled edges the source
of your charm.

Popcorn Day

Silent in this coffeeshop
mocha-infused nostrils
smoothing hands on the wooden table
waiting for life to unfold

waiting
for life to make sense again.

Here
the buildings slouch together like siblings on a couch
watching the same television show

Here
the locals shiver in flip-flops and overcoats
smoking their cloves
blowing their words into the air

Here
the children march in school uniforms,
teachers and parents bobbing beside them
brown bags of popcorn bunched in their hands

the children toss their laughter in the air
one kernel at a time
their handfuls of chatter
thrown fast at each other

the adults munch solemnly
some staring ahead
some staring down to observe
to envelop
the chatter decorating their faces
like strings of lights on an evergreen

and I remember what it was like to feel
home
in my hometown.

Purple Balloon

This purple balloon
spit with wet lips
filled with hot air to maximum capacity
bulbous and breathtaking in the space it makes
and takes
without asking.

This purple balloon
tied with a string
straining toward the ceiling
wanting to touch the fluorescent light
just to see what happens.

This purple balloon
breeding more static
into electricity
causing gravity to rebel
in the rubbing hair of passerby
trailing its string from thing to thing
draping its arrogance
into the center of your attention
without thinking.

This papier mache
torn from pieces of infinite care
torn from pieces of wretched think
the fingers sure and staunch with destruction
jagged edges and smooth intermingle
inside the blue bowl soup.

Each slick piece
waxed to the balloon
spread with sticky adhesive
chunks of newsprint slathered like egg whites
onto the surface

Each slick piece born from honest work
painful missteps
creative choices
the words repeated on one strip full of step-by-step instruction
others experienced with time and influx
of crunchy expulsion

The blurring of paper into grey matter
the layering of life
work
missteps
choices
words
time

drying and curling into a new balloon-shaped being
in grateful preparation for the prick

of the needle.

Like Breathing

the push is as important
as the pull

the exhale as vital
as the inhale

i learned today that the incoming tide moves air through the sand
pulling water in, moisturizing
luring, suffocating

and then in an instant, returns it
pushes back with force

exchanges water
with considerate inevitability
washing the sand with enough air
for bubbles

releasing the grip of water-filled lungs

and expelling it as an exhalation

like breathing.

Rain

Suddenly this defeat.
This rain.
The blues gone gray
And the browns gone gray
And yellow
A terrible amber.
In the cold streets
Your warm body.
In whatever room
Your warm body.
Among all the people
Your absence
The people who are always
Not you.

I have been easy with trees
Too long.
Too familiar with mountains.
Joy has been a habit.
Now
Suddenly
This rain.

-Jack Gilbert

Orion straddles the rooftops

The underside of night
and I am throwing away boxes
that held pieces of my old life

and there you are,
as I’m tiptoeing back from the dumpster
careful to hop over the puddles that gather
to the terra cotta steps that lead me to new.

You are straddling the rooftops
bringing to me a punchy light
watching me as I stare up into your vulnerability.

Now you are the action hero
sandwiched between two buildings
risking your life to save the victim

Now you are the kitchen maiden
holding up her skirts as she walks to the privy
squatting over dignity

Now you are the normal
the everyday warrior

toppled from your pedestal stamp on the sky
shoehorned into the sliver I can see.

Now you are again my Orion

a constant backdrop to my altars
a wink to the fathers of my youth

peeking in to check on me
and watching as I stare into my vulnerability.