poem

Ventura

It’s you and me, on ventura highway, in a big ole station wagon with long wooden panels on the sides. There are a couple of surfboards strapped to the roof: a light yellow one, and a dark blue one with a bunch of wear on the bottom. It’s 1964.

The blue one was your dad’s. He has lived in a lot of places, in a lot of military bases. Stations with the Navy. He picked up surfing as a way to pass the time while he waited to get back home to you.

The route just opened up a few years ago and we’re driving along the summer asphalt. Our dog, a smiling golden with real long hair, has his muzzle out the car window. He’s eating up the breeze that’s tinged with the scent of orange trees. We’re going somewhere nice. The sun is out and we decided to take a vacation somewhere. Somewhere nice.

Advertisements
Standard
blog, poem

Bedroom

I want to stand in awe of you.

I want to point my lens and linger over the shutter with a boyish hesitation that leads only to a grin. The snow is heavy and falling in a gentle way. Like snow in a book. A blinking skyscraper radio antenna sets the cadence of the night outside. It is dreary cold, but we are warm and tangled.

Behind your bed, the wall collapses into a nook that runs the length of your body.  Cuddled into it, your body silhouettes, and I want to snap the shutter. Click.  The chilly air is humming against the window pane behind you, and beneath your feet falls twenty stories suspended by sand and steel. It is quiet. The city is still as the flakes gather on the dampened cement below. Down below, a taxi cab slides across the icy tar like a stick of butter on warm porcelain.

The red light blinks through the foggy glass. Blink. Blink. Like a toddler gazing upon a zoo-kept python, you press your nose against the pane and peer into the night. You are in awe, and me too. I want to tame your lion hair. It is a mane neglected, a worn trophy of the love made, a lazy fluff. Blink. The red light spreads opaque through the dewy cloud gathered on the glass.

In your bed I stretch my sleepy legs. They are sore from the run. In your bed I roll onto the heavy quilt and stare into the ceiling, like Galileo, like a child on an empty hill beneath the sky. Your bedroom is mine. You are mine. You are mine for now, and for ever, as a jumbled blotch of words and colors. The photos burned onto the frame are lesser than the ones in my head, the ones I want to form into words, into pages in a book. The snow falls like a story, and through the powdered haze, a distant red light flashes. Like shipwreck.

You are nestled in your window island, terribly far away. Terribly far away.

Standard
blog, poem

August

I’m writing this in the back of a caravan as it scuttles across the empty plains of West Texas. August comes around and always feels like a Sunday. Three years ago, I was hungover and in love and drinking iced coffee from the garden level of a north Denver apartment. Now, after spending another week back home in Colorado, I feel the same: pining for love, hungover from a lazy summer in the sun, sipping from a mug.

I know my writing always reads something romantic. Truthfully, though, it’s rare anymore that I feel any sort of desire to pursue romance. I’ve become too self-serving over the years, too busy pursuing a myriad of goals that benefit only me, too interested in spending time alone. I enjoy my quiet time. I know many folks my age that have also given up on the cinderella story, on the boomer lifestyle of 1950’s jello adverts.

Sometimes, though, the heart will flutter and seek flight. Now is one of those times.

I was back home this week with a group of running friends on a road trip. We hiked up mountains and slept on the floor and cooked and cleaned together. A week straight with these folks and it only felt like family, like symbiosis. Guiding them through my old haunts brought back an expected nostalgia, certainly, but it also helped me see these spots anew. I ordered different meals, different drinks, walked into new buildings, snapped out of the plastic shape of old routines.

On my mind throughout the week were the relationships I left here. Understanding that I took that love for granted while it was abundant and present leaves me feeling foolish. Walking along the same avenues where first kisses were planted on unassuming heads opens a monologue with your younger self, one that ends without resolve. I can’t rewind time, even though the junctures still look so familiar, as if it never passed. Standing at one of these, a corner near a science building on campus, I feel the pulse of old heartbreak. I also feel a sort of heightened awareness to recognize the love when it’s around. The type of cognizance that comes with learning a very physically painful lesson.

And so this affirms this lingering thought I’ve had in my mind for a while, one that has been absent for half a decade, one that I’ve feared and barricaded and ignored in favor of nurturing the self: that I am ready to give it away. I would like it real and good and poetic and pure, and it feels something like escaping a cocoon.

It must be immaterial and private and between only us. I hope to leave it unnoticed and mute; my favorite relationships are those that I know least about. Keep it secret and intimate. Sex is as good as the sum of its parts, but making love is transcendent. Making love feels like leaving earth. It feels like one of the only few ways we have left of being entirely present. The muse of art and war is born in the dark sheets between two bodies unraveling into one another. I want this. I want the mundane and the annoyance and the discomfort of merging two lives together, and I also want to make love.

I’m tall and lanky and funnily shaped and have a childish face. I don’t wear great clothes and make little money. I’m shy around the girls that smitten me. I observe more than I participate. I think too much. My confidence is fickle and often frustrated. I assumed, by now, I would have ironed out these insecurities, but they tend to solidify when I’m most lonely. And that feeling waxes and wanes with the moon. But these things go away when I have someone to call.

When I have the love, I’m nicer to my mother. My grandpa stops worrying. I have perspective and a reason to stop in the gift shop. I write more, I sleep well, I learn new tricks. I see new places and shake new hands and live a life more spontaneous. I begin to share. And that’s the kicker, really: I want to share. We are calmer when we can split the bread.

It’s now quite dark in East Texas. The clouds have become a silky sheet of deep purple in the sky above. Soon this life will become overwhelmingly busy with the duties of a career in progress and I will return to having very little time to myself. I will doubt and dismiss the idea of pursuing a partner. But for this moment, out in the middle of nowhere, on the tail end of another setting summer, I will imagine myself in love, quietly, and rest my head to the thought. The rolling fields of windmills swim by, and I think about her.

She lets quartz hang from her ears. She buys things from old women. She drinks cucumber water. She makes love on top. She leaves a thunderous wake, a pinkish swirl, a scent. She wants me around.

IMG_3526.JPG

Standard
blog, poem

Lovely

Folks get upset about the wind; but you gotta sweat it out once in a while, and then the wind is lovely.

Girls have that way of turning your day around. Backwards. Upside down. Just because they wore a dress, or they said your name right.

Eat it up, it’s good for you.

Love is just a measure of how quick you will forgive ’em. She could run her truck through your bedroom walls and you’d still hold her tight. She does no wrong, and you kinda like the way she pisses you off. She knows when to piss you off, and how to do it, and just how much, so that she’s still held tight.

No matter what you say, you’ll fall in love again. It isn’t up to you.

I think pancakes are always better when someone else orders them. I think people should walk on sidewalks as if they were driving on a road. Slow to the right, please. I gotta get somewhere.

I think it’s sublime that I was once a child. I think it’s sublime that I no longer look like one.

This beer has a metal lick to it, like a pipe, like the one you move around a Clue board.

I think the folks we despise have something we secretly want. I think some folks hate the president because he has influence. I think some folks hate themselves because they’re afraid of wanting that thing they want. I don’t have the fix, but I guess it starts with owning your faults.

Eating dead things will make you feel dead. Sometimes it’s that simple.

Sex used to be the drive, and now it’s maybe top 10. Same goes for keeping up with fashion, facebook, and all the rest of it. The world is too loud. There’s no room for the piano.

A piano in a hallway, stuck between two bedroom doors. Chopin’s Nocturne 55, number 1. Four chords, a melody, a lazy afternoon, and dust in the lightbeams.

This is lovely. All of it.

A striped shirt, a snowy blue behind her, light hair in a loose knot on top the skull, a slight smirk, aware of the lens, aware of her elegance, bathing in it, cheekbones, a nose. A virgin neck, a naked collarbone, loose ends falling from behind the ear. She is lovely.

Power grids and a nightmare that fucks you up for a while. Ice cream “dates” that are only dates in retrospect. A general sense of dread. Entwined ankles and exotic kissing between unreal gasps, gusts of wind through the open window. A summer of erotica.

The quiet Tuesday night that brings it all back.

 

Standard
blog, poem

Radiogirl

You are rad.

Rad like a palindrome, rad like frayed scarves.

Like a Wilhelm scream ripping through the hollow undertow.

Rad like the loudest symphony, like the first chair violin.

You got a goddamn good name and I like saying it in the tub. You got a schedule of shit to do. You got a paycheck coming in.

You are rad and lovely and firm, in that order, like a cabin in the woods.

Lovely like buttermilk, firm like Arnie’s bicep. A butt tucked into gray sweats tapered at the ankle. Black nikes, a little scuff.

A couple of middle fingers up, for your insecurities, for the ticket stuffed into your passenger side door.

A hazy voice floating through the atmosphere, falling on a microphone, into the radio waves, onto my canned headphone eardrums, like silky smoke from a tan candle.

Let me kiss your lip like butter, my goodness, let me show you off to momma. Let me show you to the thirsty desert, to a linoleum grocery store. Let me grab your hand and pinch your hip and piss you off just right.

“It comes with cheese?” a quick chuckle from your chest, “a little cheese on top,” and the waiter nods and grins.

You don’t interrupt.

You swing a red leather bag and glide through the snowy city streets. You tip three quarters at the deli and hug the owner Jim who gives me a hard time. I play along. You seem to own the room, everywhere you go, you take the whole place over. The boring couple in the booth stops to stare. Their spoons hovering over tomato soup and cornbread, spilling a little, splashing onto their napkin bibs.

I follow in your breezy wake.

You spin the key, the deadbolt pops. You throw your coat onto the couch and put an album on.  Something funky from the 80’s. I kick my shoes off and tumble into your living room. We drank too much, I think. Your cheeks smudge my glasses. It’s midnight.

“Where should I write to you?”

“Here. The mailman comes on Thursdays.”

“Do you check your mail?”

“Sometimes.”

I squint to see the lights outside. You nudge.

“Leave it on the radio.”

Standard
blog

Ode to the Crush

For it all began with a crush.

It was the little red notebook that she wrote in, leather-bound, filled to the crisp with tanned leaflets. It was the static of her bun stuck to the chair after the film while names spilled across the silver. It was the clumsy haste with which she peanut-buttered her english muffin, which crumbled into like a thousand crumbs all over the damn place, and then the way she cusped her palm and broomed them into a tiny pile, a tiny mountain of muffin crumbs.  It was the way the knife was glued to the saucer on account of all the peanut-buttering.

It was her sweet voice across the coffee shop:

“I called my brother today.”

The crush is ethereal and innocent. It is a buzz between strangers. It is the flickering romance in the nonchalance of the everyday. The crush is transient and mischievous and drunken whimsy. The crush has sane men falling in love with a pair of worn canvas shoes, falling in love with kneecaps peeking through ripped jeans and thin wrists and endearing ways to traverse a crosswalk. The crush has sane men falling in love with coffee drink orders and horn-rimmed glasses, and even sometimes the word ‘horn-rimmed’ because she wears them. Tortoise shell, horn-rimmed: poetry, to him.

And so then it takes its hold.

And we find ourselves hovering thumbs over keyboards, never knowing exactly what to say, or rather, trying our best to cleverly say “I think you’re so lovely,” butin other words. We stumble over nothing-words and drag our feet across the gravel paths that outline the city, a skyscraper shimmering in glassy puddles underfoot. We find ourselves grinning, looking down, bobbling along, juggling the exact moment to kiss the crown of her hair, a gentle nuzzle into her scent, and to keep walking. That that thought alone is enough to galvanize even the deadest of hearts.

The crush is jazz horns, maximum volume, swinging around in the strides of our steps. It is a collision of glances that lock, the gravity of two glances that do not let go of each other, like shark jaws, like tightrope, and you are wondering if they are thinking what you are thinking, essentially: looking into you is a symphony.

It is the seconds of those glances that feel, non-hyperbolically, like supernovae.

To the crush, my eternal muse, I dedicate this little riff. You keep the beat, my heart thump thump.

For all the lovers, I hope today you found the crush in your other, as you should every day. I hope it was some simplicity often overlooked; maybe they sneezed and you fell a little deeper into the love-tank.

And for all the singlets, never be sad. The crush is zooming about, making its rounds, thrice a day. Go play. Find something of smitten in all the strangers that bustle about this little planet.

Happy 14th.

 

Standard
blog

Love Letters (To No.1)

I’ll always fall in love, at least a little bit, with a cutie who’s left handed.

She’s got big ole eyeballs still, just like in the old days, when I was a young kid with a gold heart all ready to break. That same heart is still thumping, I swear it is, right down here inside my ribs. It’s just bronzed over.

I think we all get a little closer to each other when we use our first names, mid-sentence, deep into those talks. Those talks that always happen when it’s dark, when the car is parked somewhere, and we’re both staring forward into a big open night. And the air is thick because we know what we want to say but can’t. And our arms are crossed, and you’re opening all the way up, and you say

Sam, …”

and I feel it. I think our names sound different when our lovers say them.

She’s got a cozy room and a bed with messy blankets. There are postcards in the window and photos strung across a clothesline, photos of brick walls in her hometown, photos of a happy drunk girl whose laugh you can hear when you look at them real close. Sometimes I’ll sit on the floor and listen to her music and she’ll nap, and the sun will break through the blinds and remind me I’m at home, right here, with her wrinkled forehead and lavender fingernails, gnawed off with nervous tendency. She’ll make earl grey when she wakes up.

I think it’s too easy to have sex. I think sex is too easy because it’s at everyone’s fingertips. Lauren said it best: “nowadays, it’s easier to have sex with someone than it is to hold their hand.” I know people who fuck too much and they don’t know it. I think I’ve been there once, and now I know it. I think fucking is like eating junk food. You never feel good afterward, though, and that’s what kills. It’s fun to indulge when the pleasure is approaching, and you’re getting closer to it, like driving into town. But it’s a mirage. And then you put your clothes back on, and ‘one-night stand’ becomes last-night, and you gotta find a highway to clear your head.

She’s got an eye for things. She takes photographs all the time and none of them are of her, and all of them have that enigmatic quality that takes me away to a different place. Some sort of dazzle lives inside her lens, a magical aesthetic that I can’t figure out. She knows what clothes will fit. She talks about the things she loves.

And sometimes I’m sitting down, writing, in the library, in a chair. And her hair falls over into my lap, and her arms wrap me cozy and warm, and my first name is a whisper in the left channel. And all the bronze starts falling off, and all our clothes are still on, and I become a photograph on a clothesline.

And it’s all in my head, right now, these love letters to no.1, the smudge of her left-handed response tucked neatly into a light blue envelope, no return address. But my eyes are wide open for you, for your glossy 8×10’s, for your blankets, for your room, for your world.

Take me there.

 

 

Standard