The Sleep Season
Azure, short fiction

This is the first section of a longer piece I’m working on.

Azure

The cold kitchen tiles made her feet ache.

Ananda got up every morning at four thirty and made coffee, sludgy store brand stuff with a little, ancient percolator. When it was finished, she stood by the window in the kitchen sipping the bitter liquid, watching the leaflets of steam leaking up from the stacks to the east, rising through the pre-dawn harbor light. At five, a brief, droning whistle in the distance; third shift letting out. When the whistle blew, Ananda walked slowly through the kitchen toward the front door of the cottage. She stepped out onto the cold conrete steps. Huddled in her bathrobe, she sipped coffee and stared down Bailey Street, watching for Sam.

Sam worked third shift at the bakery making bagels, muffins, bread, and pies for the following day. Sam went to work at nine every night and came home at five each morning, beleaguered and beat. Sam’s boss had promised him that a promotion was coming; first shift manager, a raise and better hours, home by the time his kids got out of school. That promise had come sometime around Christmas. Ever since, it was like a weight had settled around Sam’s shoulders. It grew heavier all the time; everyday gone by with no word, he walked a little more slowly up Bailey. 

A pair of her dirty sneakers, soles caked with soft soil, lay at the bottom of the steps. Shivering, Ananda hugged herself inside of her bathrobe and held her mug up to her face, breathing in the billowing steam for warmth. 

In sight of the factory district, Tanglewood Estates was a subdivision of squat, square buildings made of brick. They had a couple of rooms each, clotheslines running between them all across communal backyards. Tanglewood was built to house the factories’ workforce. Ananda and Sam, and their two little girls Megan and Chloe, were an exception. Sam baked, though he often said it felt like factory work; Ananda made the most beautiful flower arrangements anyone in River Falls had ever seen. She made them for a woman named Annie, who sold them for a very impressive rate at her shop.  

The morning was blue, deep blue and the grass was heavy with dew. The moon glistened palely on the western horizon, slinking down toward the city skyline. The sun’s light had not yet breached the east, but it lit the globe above Ananda’s head a rich arctic azure. A few stars still blinked in the morning light.

Sam walked slowly up Bailey Street, Ananda could just barely make out his white coveralls, faintly glowing blue like everything else, bobbing in the growing light. He wore white coveralls because they were easy to clean, and cheap. He had flour stains on his face, his steps were slow and measured. He was looking down at the ground as he walked. 

Sam was kicking a rock. Ananda was aware that Sam knew she was there; she’d been there every morning since Groundhog Day, when she first suspected that Sam might be losing hope. It was absolutely silent at the end of Bailey Street that morning; Ananda could hear the rock bouncing on the pavement. No mourning dove hoo-hooing in the pre-dawn light, no trash trucks patrolling for bagged remains. It was, for all Ananda could tell, the closest thing to absolute silence that she had ever experienced in her life. Sam stopped at the end of Bailey street, in front of the flagstone steps that led to their leaning stoop. He looked up at her with tired eyes and shook his head.

"I don’t know why you do this, crazy girl." 

Ananda shrugged.

"It’s cold." he said, "You’ll catch something."

"It’s May." she answered, "Almost summer. If I were going to catch something, I’d have caught it by now. Don’t you think?"

As she spoke, Sam walked slowly up the flagstone walkway, watching Ananda’s eyes. He stopped and stood one step below her on the stoop and put his hands firmly around her waist. Andanda watched his eyes; she felt like he was searching her for something. Probably disappointment. All she felt was an overwhelming sadness at how older he looked, haggard. She knew he was a mirror.

Sam took her mug and knelt briefly, placing it on the rough concrete stoop. 

"Come here." he said, and gathered her in. 

Ananda wrapped her arms around his shoulders and held him in tight. She rested her head against his chest, sighed and closed her eyes. His warmth enveloped her as the strange underwater sheen of pre-dawn began to fade, welcoming crisp morning light. Ananda reached deep inside of herself and pulled his body in closer, somehow trying to hold him tighter still. His breath on the back of her neck mixed with the warmth of new sunlight. She groaned like a child reluctant to leave the covers and sighed, pulling him closer still when she felt his body relax from her embrace. He smelled like flour, and rising bread, and sweat. She inhaled deeply, her head still buried in his chest.

"What time do you have to be at the shop?" Sam asked, still holding her to his body, rubbing the small of her back with the palm of his hand.

She didn’t answer right away. Sam raised his eyebrow and held her at arm’s length, looking down. 

"Seven." she sighed.

"Better get a move on." Sam said, kissing the top of her head. "You go take a shower, I’ll make the girls’ lunches."

Ananda held on a moment longer and then she turned to pick up her mug; the morning chill was invasive after Sam’s warmth, she jogged up the steps to the front door to get away from the breeze. 

The Road and Evergreens - a short story

This is fiction. It was inspired by a trip I took up north recently. It’s pretty long, but it didn’t start that way. I wanted it to be a 2-3 pager, but the characters really took on a lot of life. 

The Road and Evergreens

The Kancamagus runs along Swift River. People sometimes go to a particular spot on the river to slide down its smooth, rocky banks in the summertime; they call it a natural waterslide. Ed recalled countless trips down the Kancamagus with his father as he stared out the window of Anthony’s car, the road and evergreens sliding past. They always left very early in the morning, before his mother even got out of bed, a six pack of tall ones tucked away in the little Coleman cooler stashed beneath the passenger seat. Breakfast on the way at the same beat diner at dawn, sandwiches wrapped in tin foil for lunch, and then they’d pull off the highway for a short hike out to the river bank. Ed would play most of the afternoon, sliding over the cold, slick rocks. His father never did; he sat off in the shade of the evergreens and drank beer, shouting at Ed to go faster. They drove home in the fading daylight, his father smoking a pipe to hide the smell of beer on his breath. This happened maybe three or four times every summer. It was always a surprise. 

Ed scanned the trees for the little dirt parking lot where they used to leave the car. Most of the Kancamagus is sheltered by towering evergreens. Anthony was driving them north, Ed in the passenger seat. In the back seat, Alice gazed sleepily out the window, behind Ed. Anthony and Alice talked sporadically, Anthony glancing back into the rearview mirror to watch Alice as she spoke. Ed wasn’t listening to their conversation. He’d been distracted by trying to find the trail that led to the natural waterslide. As Ed waited patiently for the next break in the trees, where he could see the valley spread out at the feet of the mountains, get his bearings, he thought about the smell of his father’s pipe tobacco. Through the white noise of the highway, Anthony mentioned something about Toronto. The hairs on the back of Ed’s neck stood up. Ed’s father smoked a pipe the very last time he saw him.

The previous day Anthony, Ed, and Alice stopped to hike a trail to Arethusa Falls. Six inches of snow had fallen the night before and was followed by twenty-four hours of arctic cold with big, whipping winds. The falls were stunning, frozen nearly solid, surrounded by fresh crisp snow. There was only one spot where yellowish water still poured out through a hole in the thick ice, running down over the uneven surface and collecting in a little green pool at the base. It was much warmer by the falls, the interior of the forest, they were sheltered from the wind. An ice climber left his heavy parka at the base and the three watched him climb all the way up the frozen face of Arethusa Falls with spiked boots and a pick. 

Anthony and Ed knelt in the snow by the river and dipped their water bottles into a break in the ice. They all drank fresh mountain water. 

On their way back, the wind came down in bursts that nipped at Ed’s face, causing frost to collect in his beard. There was a wind above that wind, too, a the great big wind that pummeled the peaks with a moaning that made Ed’s heart beat quick. Ed felt like the atmosphere opened up above his head when that big wind came in from the the north. It was so huge, it could have blown them all right off the face of the earth, right off into space. 

As the wind howled, he watched Anthony and Alice plodding through the ankle deep snow ahead. Anthony was leading, walking quickly, and talking excitedly to Alice without looking back. They had met at a party six months earlier; she was from Manhattan, visiting a friend in Portland. After she met Anthony, she never went home. Her parents called the parents of her friend, but they hadn’t seen Alice since the party. Anthony’s voice was barely audible over the wind, but Alice was nodding excitedly. Ed could tell that he was up to something. Snippets of phrases made their was back to Ed, carried by the lighter breezes and cut short by abrupt bursts of pummeling, arctic winds. Ed was sure he’d heard something about Toronto then, too. 

He felt anxious all night after that, wanting to bring up with Anthony what he’d overheard. He thought about asking Alice, too, but he didn’t know her that well. Over and over he thought back to the trip he’d taken down south Anthony just four years prior, when Anthony left him with no money in a shit town in Kentucky. Ed got money wired in from his parents to take a train home. Anthony went to Mexico; it had taken him a long time to forgive Anthony for that. 

"We should stop at one of these scenic pull-offs." Alice said, from the back seat as they passed a rest area parking lot, speckled with a few dust covered cars. 

"Yeah, yeah. Definitely." 

Whatever Anthony had said about Toronto, Alice chose not to reply.

"Maybe some place where we can walk around a little bit." 

They had been in the car for most of the last four days. They drove down from Portland the day after Christmas. There was still some debate about how far they were actually going. Ed agreed to go to New York, to bring Alice home, Anthony wasn’t satisfied with simply driving to New York and back. For the time being, they were wandering. First, they zig-zagged through Maine, stopping in on a few friends, sticking around long enough to get free meals before taking off again. Then there was a kid in Wakefield who owed Anthony some money. Anthony and Ed collected that money while Alice waited with a glass of chardonnay at a pub in the center of town. Anthony told her that he had to visit his grandmother in a nursing home, they only let family in. She asked which nursing home and he made up some bullshit like “Shady Heights”. Alice didn’t know the difference anyway and as far as she knew, Ed was Anthony’s cousin. The barman gave Anthony a funny look when he ordered one glass of wine. He had to go to the cellar to get it. They picked Alice up three hours later and Anthony turned the car north.

"Let’s at least enjoy ourselves while we figure out what we’re going to do." he said, coasting onto the interstate, "We’ll go to the White Mountains."

Ed shrugged and Alice agreed enthusiastically. That’s when they started toward Conway, and Arethusa. A strange dread coated Ed’s stomach; what Anthony suggested was completely contrary to their entire purpose for leaving in the first place. They were supposed to go south.

They stopped for gas somewhere just over the New Hampshire-Massachusetts state line. Alice went into the store to get them snacks and cigarettes for Anthony. When she was gone, Ed pulled Anthony aside. 

"You really think this is a good idea?" Ed said.

Anthony was confused.

"Do I think what is a good idea, Ed?" he said.

Ed hesitated.

"Turning north."

Ed gazed steadily at Anthony. The bell on the pump rang, his tank was full. 

"Look, it’ll be fine. We need to unwind a little, anyway."

A heavy moment of silence hung in the steely December air. The back windshield of the car was covered in a film of white, sandy dust. Anthony started to move away, and then stopped, turning back to Ed. 

"I gotta get that." he said, stuttering slightly.

"I’m not going to Canada." Ed said loudly as Anthony walked away.

Anthony’s head shot around; he glared at Ed momentarily. 

"Who said anything about Canada?" 

Ed held his ground, but didn’t say anything. Anthony rushed at the pump, dripped several stray droplets of gasoline onto his pant leg and swore as he rattled the pump and pulled it out, jamming it back onto its cradle. When he came back toward Ed, he was walking with short, stiff steps.

"I’m not, Anthony." Ed repeated, before Anthony could say anything. "I told you that back at home."

Anthony didn’t speak, he shook his head and turned around, walking with the same stiff, quick steps back to the driver’s seat. He started the engine hard, as if to say, “Get in, or don’t.” Ed sighed, looking out at the cars rushing past on 93. The first flakes were just beginning to fall in front of the floodlights that towered over the rest area. Ed walked slowly back to the passenger seat as Alice made her way across the parking lot. Ed waved. He and Alice had met just a few nights before they all left. Alice waved back. Ed didn’t know what to tell her, he wanted to run and pick her up and keep running, hold her tight over his shoulder and outrun every car on 93, all the way back to her home, where ever that might be.

Instead, they both got in the car without a word.

"I’ll pull off at the next scenic area thing." 

Anthony was looking back into the rearview mirror as he said this. 

Alice smiled.

The next scenic area was almost twenty minutes away, a long stretch of parking lot with a wooden gazebo in the middle. Only the far section of the lot was plowed. Anthony pulled in slowly, sliding on the icy snow. Sun streamed in through the dusty windows. Ed took a bit longer getting out of the car. He sat for a moment and looked at the stretch of wide open valley spread out before his eyes, the white rolling up and down the craggy hills for miles and miles, dotted with massive evergreens. When he did get out of the car, he had to jog a little to catch up to Anthony and Alice. Snow crunched under his feet as he slipped and slid, almost losing his balance twice.

At the gazebo, they all looked at the plaque that told them which peak was which and how high each one was. They looked at the plaque that showed them all the different kinds of animals that they were likely to find in the forest below. Anthony made an obscene joke about one of them, Ed chuckled and Alice rolled her eyes. Then she wandered off to the far end of the parking lot, holding up a little digital camera in front of her face, squinting at the mountains. Ed picked up a big chunk of snow that he’d pried loose with the heel of his boot and tossed it over the railing into the woods below. 

Anthony was standing behind him on some frozen snow with his feet  together, looking down with his hands in his pockets. Ed turned around to watch him. Every few seconds Anthony would walk to a new spot on the snow and stand, with his feet together, looking down. 

"What are you doing?" Ed called.

Anthony looked up as though he’d forgotten that Ed was there.

"It’s…well, come here."

Alice was walking back from taking pictures of the peaks on the southern side of the parking lot. She overheard Anthony and followed, watching over Ed’s shoulder as Anthony showed them what he was doing. 

"See, I tried to jump, but…"

As he spoke, he bent his knees slowly, kind of squatting but still bent at the waist to look at this two feet placed perfectly side by side. Then Anthony jumped, but he didn’t go anywhere. When he straightened his knees, all the snow beneath his boots gave way. Rather than rising up above the ground, he sank down a couple of inches.

"It’s just not strong enough." he said.

Ed looked at him, quizzical. Alice walked up onto the slick, icy snow.

"You’re doing something. I don’t believe you." she said. "What do you do?"

Anthony demonstrated again. Ed watched with his arms folded across his chest. Wind was picking up through the valley, the afternoon was growing dim and cold. Alice tried the trick and soon enough she and Anthony were walking around in crisscrossing circles, laughing with their heads down, selecting spots where they could try to jump up off of the flimsy ice coated snow, only to be pulled back down closer to the ground below. 

Alice had a spontaneous laugh, like a child’s. Ed thought of the night they’d been driving and she screamed and swore she saw a moose in the woods on the side of the road. And he thought about the smell of his father’s pipe tobacco, thought about his beer soaked voice urging him to go faster, faster through the cutting cold river water.

Ed said goodbye to Anthony and Alice just six days later. They spent New Years in a friend’s condo in Jackson, had to go all the way back down to Lowell to get the key. After a few days at the condo, with little food and too much free time, they made their way out to Burlington, Vermont and stayed over night there at a hotel, their first paid stay. By that time, Anthony and Alice were sharing a bed on a nightly basis. Ed slept in a sleeping bag at the foot of the bed. That night, Ed overheard Anthony talking quietly to Alice about crossing the border. She didn’t ask about Ed. In fact, they’d gotten her a passport before leaving Burlington. Anthony knew Ed hadn’t gotten a passport.

On January 4th, Alice and Anthony dropped Ed off at the train station where he would buy a ticket to Boston, a ticket that would cost most of the rest of the money he had. There would be no wiring his mother, this time. But Ed had an uncle in Boston that he could stay with for a few days to drum up some money, or maybe stay there and find a job. When Anthony parked, they both got out of the car. Anthony left the engine running.

"You sure you don’t want to come?" Anthony asked, halfheartedly. "We’d wait."

"Nope." Ed was firm.

"Well, okay then."

There was a brief silence broken by the sound of a train grinding to a halt, brakes hissing.

"Well, good luck." Anthony said, sticking out his hand.

Ed nodded gravely, shook Anthony’s hand slowly.

"You too, Ant." he said, "You too."

Anthony and Alice didn’t wait with Ed at the train station. Anthony left the car parked right in front of the station’s main entrance. Alice was sitting in the front passenger seat before Ed could even get his bags from the trunk. As soon as Ed had his tickets, Anthony waved a quick goodbye from across the concourse and hurried out the door, running around the front bumper of his car and sliding in. 

It was snowing, again. The double sliding doors of the station’s main entrance were fogged over. As they slid slowly shut, Ed watched Anthony duck frantically into his car, his whole body leaning toward the border. Alice was in the passenger seat in sunglasses. A lifeless voice called out that his train was on schedule. The next time the doors opened, Anthony’s car was gone. Ed swore he smelled pipe tobacco.

All Right 11/25/09

Every now and then, I go through The Machine and look for favorites. When I find them, I post them here. 

This one took me two hours to write. You can read more about that, here. I’m not going to revise this one at all for Tumblr. Rarely am I pleased enough with something I’ve done to not revise tirelessly. But I like this one. So I hope you do, too.

All Right

Life under big skies
goes on and on. Down
on the ground, like
all the cogs and clock
work, little tumblers
rolling around, and it’s
small and it’s dirty.

Autumn blushing,
summer dust, I don’t
ever mind the sun
shine, and I’m not
bothered by the rain.
I don’t have
a single thought
about
nine numbers
or
the bottomless pools
of great blue sky.

Let it be.
Let it remain.

I want to stretch
my arms out wide, any
way. I want to make
them go
as far as they will
go.

There are bright
eyes and dandelions
down here
in the summer dust,
where time flies
single file and our
breathing turns
to rust.
But I see fireflies
when I close my eyes,
miles and miles
of great big sky,
and I think it’s gonna be
all right.

Ramshackle, 11/1/09

Joe said this one is flawless. While I’m not certainly not in any kind of position to agree with him, that’s the kind of positive reinforcement that I think every writer needs every now again. 
I’m pretty sure that when I first wrote this, it was actually sung. It’s got a lyrical feel to it but, as usual, I can’t remember how it was sung to begin with. It’s funny, if I take a long enough time away from these poems, they sometimes feel like someone else’s when I come back to them. They give a distilled quality to time, too. Like it seems like this was written much longer than a month ago.


Ramshackle
One last time
for the hundredth
time; I’m getting
too old for this.

Beercans and
ramshackle lands
shambling through
my broken hands;
all too familiar.

One more time
for all the last times,
each and every
lovely little sin.

Bellyaches and
sad earthquakes,
silver sunsets falling
from my head. It’s so
familiar, but I can’t
tell it from any other
horizon at a distance.

So perhaps you’d
like to say a few
words, for the deceased.
For the last
time and it’s hundred
lovely little lives, and
all the lies we tell
ourselves just to get by.

And, one last time
for the hundredth
time; I’m way
too old for this.

Silence - a short story

Little bit of fiction I’ve been working on.

Silence

Andrea Simmons never noticed how loud the elevators on the fifth floor hummed until they went completely silent. When they did, her ears rang violently.

"These things are the worst."

Jim was mumbling; she thought it was cute. Several times he mashed the button with his thumb. The elevator had already come up to the fifth floor once. The dull white light of the down button went dark, but the doors never opened and the elevator returned to the first floor, presumably empty.

"I got stuck in this one for ten minutes once."

Jim looked back over his shoulder to where Andrea was sitting on the coarse concrete bench in front of the closed elevator door. Eyebrow raised, half smirking he laughed.

"No," he said "no way."

Andrea felt the skin on the back of her neck getting hot as he turned to face her.

"Yup. Just took me up and down for ten minutes. And I was too afraid to hit the emergency stop. I didn’t want to get stuck."

For a moment he stood looking at her, his weight shifted onto his left foot, hip stuck out a little. He wore a puzzled kind of questioning look, like he was trying to decide something. He shook his head slightly, barely noticeably; their eyes stayed locked. The glowing number behind his shoulder showed that the elevator was back down on the first floor.

"It’s gonna be a little while." she said. "Sit."

"Ten minutes?" he said.

"Yes," she laughed, "Well it felt like ten minutes. Sit."

As Jim walked toward the bench, Andrea decided that he looked good in jeans. They were dark blue like midnight and she liked the way they hung off his hips. When he sat down next to her, his hands bracing his body on either side, palms flat against the concrete, she looked down at her feet and smiled. He tapped his left foot against the floor; she thought he must not have known he was doing it. She could feel the thumping through the bench, but the muffled sound of sneaker on carpet died immediately, swallowed by the sterile library air, the stale smell of old books. The space around her head was suffused with a weighty pressure. The concrete was cold and hard against her butt, but she felt warm.

Andrea’s stomach growled. The elevator was stopped on the third floor.

"Where do you want to go for dinner?"

Her voice came out quieter than she expected. It was suddenly hard to think of anything to say at all. The warmth of his body next to her made her skin feel tingly. Jim didn’t answer right away.

"There’s a place up the street that has great pizza…"

Andrea nodded without saying a word.

It felt like being in a bubble. An electric thrum coated her skin. There was a skylight above their heads; she gazed up through the hazy plexiglass. It looked like snow, all soft yellows and muted peach colors shrouded by smokey frozen cirrus clouds. Over the loudspeaker, a tin can voice told them that the library would be closing in fifteen minutes. It said something else, too, but she couldn’t focus on the words. Jim’s sweatshirt sleeve brushed her bare arm and a shiver shot up her spine. Awash in a deafening calm, Andrea wondered if he felt it, too.

The elevator arrived on the fifth floor, but the doors didn’t open right away.

"Should we take the stairs?" Jim said. "We might get locked in."

Andrea shook her head, smiling. She wanted to tell him that it might not be so bad, but her voice was caught in her throat. Then an electric ringing. Then the labored sound of the double doors separating.

They stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the open elevator door. Andrea could see the sun setting through the window behind the benches where they had just been; she could feel the heat of his hand next to hers. Jim leaned forward and pressed the button for the first floor. As the doors closed, she took his hand without saying a word. She exhaled, long and slow, and it was suddenly silent.

where has time gone

This poem is comprised entirely of status updates that my Facebook friends have posted in the last 2 or 3 days. Who knows, maybe yours is in there. Check out The Machine for more about how I made this.


where has time gone


Where has time gone? I was right
and I was wrong, too. Fun times
in the St. Elizabeth’s ER and its
a perfect night for a meteor shower.

But delivering babies and geriatric
emergencies keep one awake, allow
you to hear the voices on the other end
of the line. 1 month. be happy and

so far, everything’s looking craptacular.
Take of your clothes, rip off my clothes.
Nothing like starting over, right?

Halleluia, I’m gonna go out and I’m
gonna get myself absolutely rat infested,
because your art, was the prettiest art
of all the art and 12 + 12+ 6 + 12
+ 6 = a shit ton of cupcakes.

Press up, up, down, down, left,
right, left, right, B, A, enter key.
Then right click, then press up
and down. Magic crcles will appear.
Hope I wake up for it.

So, so angry
at technology.
So angry.

Gorgeous pre-winter days spent
wondering how I can prevent
tomorrow from happening;
rediscovering something
called the telephone, fire
drills at 830 in the cold, enjoyed
the meteor shower adventure,
and a phone call from one certain cat.

Snowglobe 11/14/09

So I’ve been doing this one poem every day thing for six months now, and I’ve decided to make some changes in the way I do things. Using two blogs has helped me to think more objectively about my process. I changed the format over there to more accurately reflect how I post them here, because I think it looks better, more balanced. I’m actually considering starting over. Doing a whole new year and doing it better. But then part of me feels like I’ve got to dig in the for the long haul and get ready for two straight years of this. I just want to do it right; if that’s what it takes…

Snowglobe

Wrote a whole poem
a moment ago, it was
full of words. It had
plenty of these; and
(tab) it did this kind of thing,

plus,

it even had that sort
of thing. I also
used one of (these).
It said “snowglobe”.

I spelled that
incorrectly.

This poem is really just some good, frustrated fun. I say a little more about it over at The Machine . A problem with Tumblr’s formatting led to another edit, here.

AM 11/12/09

I didn’t revise this one at all.  I don’t know what I would do to it.  If you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Am


Where I am didn’t exist back when
I was where I was before. And where
I was before, well, I’m pretty sure
that doesn’t exist at all, anymore.

So let’s not pretend that I’m
still who I was back then,
because that’s just not who
I think I ever want to be, again.

I watch the way
the wind plays
in the treetops.
I know the crows
are up on the roof.
I see gray clouds
passing by like a
a sad, sad sigh and
I wonder if they
ever tell the truth.

Now, where I’m at will be all gone
someday; that’s when I’ll be where I’m
getting to. But the weather’s fine and
walking’s alright; I’m gonna take my
time, I think you should take yours, too.

Candy Necklace, 5/13/09

This was the first one. In two days I’ll be six months in. I kind of can’t believe it. Anyway, this has been revised. I think I’ve gotten more intuitive with my line breaks over the last six months. I tried to make this more tactile, more narrative. I think I might have moved it a little closer to coherence.

Candy Necklace

Carnivals’ in town this weekend. Rolled
in around half past three this morning,
ungodly caravan of moving parts. In
the park, they’re setting up the tilt-
o-whrils and the ring toss booth,
checking the colored light bulbs and
greasing the gears on the ferris wheel.

Pink frilly piles of cotton candy 
for the kids with grubby hands.
Fried dough is only three bucks;
it tastes good with powdered sugar,
a paper bag to hide your beer can.

Breeze kicks up a sugary smell.
I cut past, watching coverall men
laze around the zipper, wiping
their foreheads with the backs
of their hands. It’s a sweet smell
that makes me think of the soft,
soft skin of your neck, the little
blonde hairs that stood up when,
with teeth, I picked a single bead
from your candy necklace and
let your ponytail tickle my neck.

A Murder

Sometimes I lose faith in myself as a poet. Sometimes I lose faith in poetry. What usually results is the kind of garbage that I’ve been writing lately. Sometimes it helps to write something really biting about myself to get things going again.

A Murder

Now, this is not to be dramatic,
because it was dramatic to begin with
and that’s what I’m trying to fix.

See.

The machine lumbered to life
on swollen feet, burdened by
its own calculated heart beat.

Through mirror eyes it sought
the sentiment buried beneath the dirt,
the things that squirm and live.

But.

Only more mechanical breathing.
Only a sad and hollow wheezing.
Only one more burnt out vessel

rotting on the roadside.

I got it wrong, I got it wrong,
I got it wrong from the very

start.

The machine’s voice is not mine;
that’s a comfort you can’t understand.
The machine’s sight is not my own;
that’s just a bad cure for dumb blindness.

The machine is a wall.
The machine is a levy.
The machine holds back
the sea’s silent surging.
The machine is horrible,
vain, and phlegmatic;
callous and inane it kills
with no trace or weapon.

So.

I promise, I pledge
more song, less elegy.
More joy-joy-joy-joy!

That having swum the silver
lakes beneath the inky
night sky, the other black
balloons all floating sadly
by, having commanded
the cockpit, pilot of dead
dreaming, and gone
nowhere, to nothing, too

quickly,

that I’ll not lumber another
step
but fall fast-fast-fast.

And most of all,
I mean this,
I promise,
I’ll no-not-never
ever,
I solemnly declare it,
take another life
in vain,
to you I swear it.