Mariana

Seven miles deep, this trench, at its deepest.
Cold and black and dark.
All pressure and nothingness.
Without time.

The lack of atmosphere must be
some kind of dizzy relief,
like falling,
or feeling the emptiness
when it’s full. So full.

Imagine that deep current,
pushing against nothing
except rock and bottom earth.
The heavy water of our lives—
our miserable raindrops—mean nothing

against this huge blanket of compression.
Where there is no light, and so few sounds—
delivered over the murky echo of another world.
Where even the breath of molecules is changed.
Where nothing is ever remembered.

Even as I think about it, there is no concern
from this trench of dark weight.
She cares not if this poem does justice,
cares not for taxes or debt or the penal system.
Cares not, even, for the age of our planet,

spinning around its endless corner.
Mariana is free in her timeless prison,
at the bottom of the ocean, ageless.
While we pass years on the surface.
While we pass years on the surface.

Homeless Man

taking in the sun,
with your head on the suitcase
that contains your life, sleeping
before the police decide to
shoe you off:

I know a measure of your pain.

Resting in whatever position
you can comfortably attain,
ears always half-open
to sound of approachment,
resigned and thankful for

these few moments of peace.

Moments when you don’t have to
circle your cell of publicity,
walking always to keep authority
away from you. Reading every eye
for the malignant or benign.

Composing

It’s been a long time since I’ve used this plastic, black contraption to tickle
words onto the page. Even though I’m a damn good typist.

These days it’s been the long-hated longhand, yellow
pads of paper with blue lines like veins,

and my scratching handwriting, sometimes worthy
but most times not—scrawling stanzas and flipping the page.

I’ve gotten quite good at it, to the point that now this feels like returning
to an old lover I never quite appreciated, or

perhaps I’ve been cheating, and am returning to my partner,
long overdue. And together we can make familiar music

in the way we used to.

No More Bologna

Dear C.O., these
sandwiches are horrors,
of salty pink shit,
and mysterious crunching
bones from the factory.
They are almost useless, except
as pillows
which is why many of us
eagerly line up to receive
your dreaded, salty communion:
so that we can pad our heads against
the ridiculous hardness
of our situations.

Unkind Spaces

When you’re in an unkind space
it’s hard to remember the kind ones—
in the middle of coldness,
in the middle of pain.

It’s the animal side of us, I think, cringing against
the existence we endure, unsure of its safety.
It makes us tense against each other,
forget how to smile or laugh—forgetting memory.

Forgetting, even, the places we’ve sat
which are warm and soft, and
those we’ve met who’ve marked us with kindness—
the friendships of space and place and people.

The best of us look and by looking let it slip in:
laughter in the cold places, a moment’s relaxation
with humanity. Sometimes eye contact, sometimes
a smiling nod. Better, still, a story told to a friend

whom you may have just met
in your darkest place, and with whom you decide
to share a little bit of your humanity.
Warmth and camaraderie as we travel to the grave.

Or the simple act of looking, seeing,
paying attention, we recognize our fellow animals,
move next to each other in the cold places,
become friends for a few minutes or hours,

nod and smile as if forever bound.
This is why the coldness never wins.
This is the remarkable warmth of connection—
the kindness of humanity in the unkind spaces.

A power too many of us forget but some of us
never lose.

Hard Needle

paths crossed
and his hope,
with the strength of gravity,
takes hold
and the axis of the planet
tilts toward permanence—
a solstice of union
eyes locking
as if true north,
and every magnet
on this rocky globe
swings hard needle
to her power

Exhaling

Letting go is as hard as it sounds—
like forgoing oxygen,
or choosing to fall backwards
into the arms of your classmates,
at summer camp,
before your sixth grade year.

Pausing to exhale into the cloudless sky
and trusting not to look—
except at the vapor trail
left by a far-flung plane.

The catch is as beautiful
as those interlaced arms, somehow
so much stronger than you’d imagined.

And what amazement waits
when you give yourself over—

forgetting, even, the greed of breath.

Gravity Hope

Gravity
 
Butterflies of hope feather their wings against my stomach,
and I am somehow twelve years old again,
thinking of the girl with long hair and eyes like a doe’s,
who sits in my home room class.

Long hours are wrapped up in love:
long hours flying fast, together,
before long hours apart—
when the moons of our existence
orbit in opposition

and the immovable mass of this planet
holds us from one another.
Long hours of nervous anticipation which
I seem far too old to still encounter.

The miracle of this hope is that
it has come to me again.
Like a schoolboy I am powerless
in its presence, only shaking

my head in wonder,
swinging in this orbit,
incredulous that the path of my life
might splash into yours.

Hoping.
 
 
 

Photograph thanks to Simona T., 6eternity9

Flight

A lone bird perched
atop a tree,
blue sky and melting snow.

His whole world the view.
Nothing but promise and purchase.
There must be something more.

Geese pick at ground—
paths tread by people
to and from their business.

Not heaven, but they make it
close, the pair of them.
Trying not to miss

what they cannot see:
The exchange of breath,
soft lips so close

it’s as if souls
share the same body,
and together set winged upon the air.

I fly to you.

Birthdays

Yours just came
and mine comes tomorrow.

Oh the love we bear
and which is borne for us—

friends, parents, lovers,
daughters and sons.

38 years of life
teach the black and white

of pain and love—
hands extended,

despite the loneliness.
Determination against

the terrible bleakness.
I love you

more than all the stars
in this night sky.