I was holographic-tongue tied.
It was easy to notice
with my foil atmosphere,
my crescendo heart beating chrome.
I was reflecting on something;
The way you spin distance like gold,
trying to build for me a flak jacket
to protect me from your ricochets,
but it wears me out, the mile marks.
Weighed down by all of your somedays.
I won’t pretend I’m prescient but when I see you,
it’s clear to me
that as beautiful as you are now, as decades pass,
you still will be.
I was made for midnight.
The emptiness in nightfall,
the kiss of cold.
Would rather be sleepless under stars
than restless under sheets.
I confess, I gave it up for a paycheck.
I confess, I’d rather be broke sometimes.
To spend my time like a street light
shining on the dark side of the earth.
Those nights were like a silent film
playing out behind a sleeping orchestra.
The sun just doesn’t speak the same language.
It just wants to show you how loud everything is.
The night is way more clever.
Wants you to walk out of the light for a moment
and color everything in yourself.
But even though I burn with pavement now,
and I enjoy the kind of job security that,
I can’t complain about-
I was made for midnight.
The Morgans were friends with my parents.
They had a trampoline and a boy our age
to keep me and my siblings occupied.
That was, of course, when I was a child.
I used to have an action figure of Peter Parker.
It was my favorite.
I brought it over to the Morgan’s one time
and played on the trampoline with it.
I would jump as high as I could
then toss it in the air
to see if I could jump up again to catch it
before it came back down.
There was also a tree next to the trampoline.
We would always lose shit in that tree.
My parents spent a lot of their time in that house,
but the Morgans didn’t come over to our house.
I never wondered why;
they had a Playstation 2,
and a Dreamcast,
and I was allowed to drink coffee.
The place was way more fun than our house,
if only just a little more shoddy.
I think nails sticking out in places.
I think rust stains in the sink.
At some point, I think there was literally a hole in the wall.
My parents, and the Morgans, would stay awake for days
the place would never get fixed.
Spending the night there was like camping indoors.
We were master architects of the bed-sheet-fort.
But unless we called on them, our parents stayed in the master room,
and I would never wonder why.
One day, my parents promised to take us to Disneyland.
We were all really excited to go, my siblings and me.
We stopped off at the Morgan’s first
and they disappeared into the master room.
Hours passed, and we waited.
Hours went by and we grew anxious.
By the time 4pm came around, it was pretty obvious
we weren’t going anywhere.
We were disappointed,
but it wasn’t the first time.
I have still never been to Disneyland.
And I never did find my Peter Parker toy.
chest-slamming my ribcage, rhythmic and wild.
It keeps all my words lumped in my throat.
Turns my road-veins warm.
I sleep like a fault line, shifting in the sheets.
Much like the sky; when the sun goes down
I space out.
I would change back into stars
if they had not all died to become my bones.
Sometimes I dream I’m still burning.
I woke up so pathetically alive,
shaking cold from my goosebumps,
cracked the stardust in my spine.
I whispered “amen.”
It was the only word to escape
I watched her shivering beneath her blankets while she slept. The hairs on the nape of her neck stood like midnight on a clock face. Each breath she let out was a short-lived handful of fog, disappearing just as quickly as it had appeared. A single tear rolled down her precious face, marking her pillow like a calendar of lost days. We were both so lost. I looked to the side of the bed where I used to sleep, thinking that if it had been her, I would have left her side empty as well. I wanted to go back to that spot, if only to keep her warm, but my body was of no such use anymore.
I felt myself fading as the sun rose. I was always afraid that she would sense me somehow, and wake up unable to move. It has happened before. She laid there; sweat laminating her forehead, choking for breath. She looked right at me, her terrified eyes unable to recognize me as I was, until at last, I depart, allowing myself to be inhaled into the night. The last thing I hear is her breathing in, and then nothing. I become starlight.
Within this ethereal state, I can hear her speaking to my grave like an echo in my entire non-body. She tells me about my family. How my father is doing his best to keep my mother from falling apart, but he won’t let her see his fractures from my absence. She tells me about work, how kind everyone is. All the love and support from her friends and relatives keeping her afloat. When she talks about her days, she tells me about things she knows I would have liked. Sometimes she laughs, and I almost feel alive again. It’s when she talks about being at home, though, that I feel like breaking apart. She says she has trouble sleeping, and that sometimes she wakes up in the morning, tears in her eyes, shaking, and it’s all she can do to get herself back up.
I want so desperately to tell her, I never meant to haunt you. I don’t mean for the both of us to be restless. I’m just afraid without you. I’m afraid of the emptiness.
She is always crying before she leaves my grave. The twinkling in the stars is just my quivering.
Still I continued to visit her. She looked like an empty tree in the moonlight. She slept like white noise between channels. Each time I saw her, she looked more and more like a photo from a box camera. I knew I had to move on; To let her heal, without me.
At my grave, she tells me how she dreams of me almost every night. She says I always look so very much alive. In the park where we met, I’m playing my guitar, fumbling with the chords for some song I could never quite remember, but I loved playing it anyway. She would call out my name, but I’d keep singing. She said it was a different song each time. She tells me how she knows I must be happy wherever I am. Even if I could help it, I would let her continue to believe that was true. Sometimes stars go out.
The last time I visited her, she was already awake. The bedside lamp was on and she was sitting ragged on the mattress, our engagement rings in her hand. She was gospel with a heartbeat. But as soon as I arrived, she became anxious. Goosebumps vandalized her arms and she shuddered. She began to look around, glancing over at where I was, becoming more unnerved as the moment continued. Even with all the love I am still able to feel, and all the love I knew she had for me, it devastated me to know that my unnatural presence could never be a comfort to her. I was only causing her dread. I was haunting us both.
Eventually, the dread became too much, and she left the room to call someone. After a minute, I heard her car start, and she was gone.
I stood in that room alone for hours. Without her there, it felt cold. All the color was being washed out, and I knew that I didn’t belong in this world anymore. I took one last look at the vacant spot where she slept, and then breathed myself back into the emptiness.
There were hundreds of falling stars that night.
I dreamt of a skeletal landscape
that I once called home.
I could see dead olive clouds,
the last breath of Atlas,
as if the sky was decaying,
the earth itself in rigor mortis.
My lungs breathed heavy in a noose of forsaken air
beneath where once there might have been some kind of God
shaking his head in awe
at what we could accomplish.
Even at the world’s ellipsis
the people around me seemed to continue
as if their life sentence
wasn’t grammatically disastrous.
I awoke from it all
having no disasters left.
Just spaces between words
from which to continue.
Dayna kept the lights on in her dream journal
for fear of relinquished nightmares.
She had every reason to believe
that she was worth her weight in fire
Perhaps, the next time she woke up
standing on the edge of her rooftop
she would be an angel before she hit the ground.
She writes, I am always searching for something.
I am not all the little things that remind you of me.
I was never the vapor.
I was always the heat.
There is an audience of dust, and stone, and landscape
where my shadow waits for you.
It’s alright to take your time.
Bring your breath.
Set the stage with every step.
Your tumbleweed heartbeat
is going to wander
until it reminds you of me.
I was never the dream.
I was always the dreamer.
Dying will be your greatest performance.
Survival will be your masterpiece.
There is always some kind of wound on me…
You refuse to let go of what hurts you most
as though somehow
they validate you.
And such a belief
might make it true.
I wish you could walk with me in my dreams
so you can see
that what I can imagine
is not limited to
what I can produce.
…I am always healing.
I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
Close your eyes and count to courage.
I won’t be gone for long.
I’m coming back as autumn leaves
and impossible colors we cannot see.
I’m coming back as carnivorous galaxies,
star collisions we’ll never know about.
I’m coming back as discord,
as the smell of distant thunder,
and the sensation of sneezing.
I’ll be coming back
A breathing moment of coherency.
It fades seamlessly into a shuffle of thoughts
into a timeless dreamlike vision
into a dulling pulsing unconsciousness…
and then a start again.
My body wanting to sleep.
My mind refusing to let it.
I drift into ellipsis…
Before you walked off into the ocean to play catch with the backrush,
before the months of long comfortable radio silence and stagnant static IPs,
before the summer of Hummingbird and goodbye lessons,
I penned a half written song dedicated to prescience.
The melody was made to look forward.
The lyrics were sung in slow dance.
It goes like this. [Major lift]
I’ve been preparing for a dream I always fall asleep to.
Where distance is closed and gravity is optional.
Where we can stand blazing beneath an ocean
that won’t even whisper to spoil a memory.
You can show me all of its secrets
and I promise not to tell anyone
because it’s hard to talk underwater.
I can just move with you.
When the current becomes now
and you passively change all of the grey areas into lightshows.
You are riptide motion under serenades
laying shatter proof and full of breath.
I make stationary look like a rest between notes
before a cadence that just never seems to happen.
I can’t help it if my hands shake.
I can’t prove that I don’t get scared.
My flaws are buoyant.
I am not immune to the uprush.
I just thought that maybe
if I could spark a light from my spine tower,
with my foghorns bellowing this slow dance,
you might come back from the waves,
for just a moment,
and show me how not to get swept away.
And I will try.
I have to.
I want to prepare for a dream,
I always wake up to.
I hope the stars light up enough to read the North between my knuckles
telling me I haven’t hit home yet.
Not even close.
But I’m getting there.
My nostalgia still has a crush on you.
I still haven’t properly learned goodbye.
So until then,
you can find me keeping the coast clear,
slow strum style,
with a half written song dedicated to prescience.
The horizon is shimmering
and you are brilliant.
I’ll be waiting.
On a typical spring day in 6th grade
I sat alone on a cold bench during recess
trying to appear as visibly injured as possible.
I guess I was waiting for sympathy,
though I don’t know what I was expecting.
6th graders suck.
It was my last year at that school.
I wouldn’t say it was a great year
but it wasn’t as awful as I felt at that moment.
6th graders get all the really cool field trips.
But after seven years at that school
I had not a single friend there to show for it.
It’s not like I wasn’t used to playing alone.
There were games that I could have participated in.
The tether-ball courts could always use a willing participant.
Shit, I was so terrible at that game that
it must have been really self-affirming to play against me.
I just didn’t feel like losing at anything again.
I just sat there. I didn’t read, I didn’t write, I didn’t pout.
The school didn’t allow us to play Gameboys.
I just watched.
Trees moved with the wind.
Grass was pressed and torn, all green.
Kick-balls slammed against backstops.
Tennis shoes were stained and wearing.
I’ll admit it now; I didn’t know it back then,
but I was really annoying as a kid.
I wasn’t mean, I wasn’t even clever.
I was just starved for attention.
I wanted to be noticed, laughed with,
invited along, had around,
but I would over-do it.
I just couldn’t calm down.
At that moment, I was calm.
I was sad, confused, and calm.
Earlier that year, I made friends with three other kids in my class while on a field trip.
After a couple of weeks, they told me they couldn’t hang out with me
because it was embarrassing.
I had rivals, which is sort of like having friends
but they’re all assholes.
No, I was pretty set on just sitting there that afternoon.
Off to the side. Stone faced disinterest.
I don’t remember much about 6th grade,
but I remember that day,
because while I was sitting there
someone did approach me.
Her name was Miranda. I remember because,
I had a crush on her that year.
She flanked me with a smile
adorable as fuck
and sat down next to me.
Looking at me thoughtfully,
she asked me why I wasn’t out there playing like the other kids.
The answer was pretty simple to me.
I told her I have no friends,
and she said smiling, “I’m your friend.”
I think that must have embarrassed me.
Like, I should have known all along.
You’re my friend, Miranda.
But it caught me off guard.
I finally got the attention I had been craving for
and suddenly I didn’t know what to do with it.
I must have made some other excuse
because I don’t remember running off with her to play Four-Square or something,
and I don’t remember her continuing to sit with me for the rest of that recess,
and I don’t remember even talking to her again the rest of that school year,
but I remember thinking, as I was walking out of that school for the last time as a 6th grader,
that Miranda had been my only friend when I left.
I was more than alright with that.
I never saw her again after 6th grade.
I looked for her in Junior High.
I even hoped to find her in High School.
Time moved on and all I had was that memory of her.
So I never had the chance to tell her,
when I had grown up enough to appreciate it;
that she was amazing for what she did
and that I am still grateful because of it.
Crickets were chirping somewhere.
I sat alone on top of a lunch table
and waited for the warm of your embrace
to fade into the California night.
The moon was waxing.
I remember that it was almost full
and there were shadows on the azimuth
that were breathing drifts of hope.
The air was still with your fragrance.
It was floating off somewhere
from the ephemeral weightlessness
of some kind of pleasant moment.
You were kind when you let me down.
When you went to your someplace,
I stayed where just a few frames before
this poem could have ended with both of us.
There’s a trembling in my chest tonight.
I feel like letting the air out of my alphabet.
Like the time I was learning how
to associate the letter with the sound
And my teacher got really irritated at me.
I was put on time-out when everyone was learning “T”
(but I thought that letter was really boring anyway.)
Now I mimic high-hats with what I learned.
The drummer in my tongue-flailing
has no idea what it’s doing.
Lose consciousness with me
if we’re staged and wasted.
We’ll steal the show when no one is looking
and make off with the “out” part of “standing”.
And when the stars are buzzing around our heads
and my “T”s and “S”s are clamoring along
with the kick-drum in my face hole,
you’ll know how to shut me up.
Meet me halfway in this lesson of shared rhythm
and I’ll save my breath for last
when my tongue is matching tempo
with the drummer in your rib cage.
You are always there for me.
You’re my only friend.