(#30) On endlessness.

Prompt: write a poem, flip it on its head. Thank you for reading.

consider and execute
consider the ones we love
consider our next move
before we gaze into the dizzying skies and
we have a 24h holding period
on imaginary mergers
on shaky firmaments
we have the right structure
nomadic wandering,
we were never meant to cease
but we are a transitory breed,
in one direction
before chaos erupted and you ran
you were standing in a pastoral field
do not forget the time
and the voices that tell us not to go.
listen to the man who tastes sounds
we will justify,
we will bargain for the safety of the weinsteins,
we want to believe the fox has made a sandwich,
root to achieve
like infants we harbor a deep-seated
than the meaning we put to them
the dreams we hold feel less powerful
hauled at the end of an era
scraped
in a dusty file cabinet dented and
stored on a database
that we are all two-dimensional information
that the universe is a hologram,
open the door,
do not be afraid
do not be a stranger
open the door.

-C.

(#28) On a pretty damned bad night.

Prompt: there is no prompt, only man. I’m going through prescription pill withdrawal. It’s serious business.

It is a prisoner’s dilemma.
I did not want to die- much less
alone and from a dependency
to prescription pills
and online shopping.
Extinguished by the heaving of my own lungs.

The club- I mean, hotel,
I mean, facility,
Where suicides coexisted
with Truman Capote’s morning
vodka and orange juice
was tempting.
A respite from the world,
Giving back the remote control
to better hands with more refined
palates
and cuticles.
I thought about learning tennis,
briefly, again.

I cannot take another pill
but if I don’t take another,
The world threatens to get
bigger or smaller,
smaller and smaller,
Until I dissolve back into
its molecules, my own bloodstream.

I am soothed
by my purchase
of a German stuffed snake
with extreme anxiety
and a fixation on a maraca,
that stands in for a pill bottle,
that metastasizes as a rattle.

I am wracked
by the thought
that it will arrive long after
I have jumped off the train
the 3am subway rocking back to Brooklyn
where everyone is quiet
and nobody says a word.

I did not want to live- much less
live in a world
where the pills controlled me,
I did not want to thrive
Without their gift.
They did not want me without
them, I slammed the door
I awoke with a bang to the sound,
morning.

I am strumming the SSRI ballad,
The ones that keep me awake enough to function.
The ones that made me fall asleep
in the middle of a brisket sandwich
on rye,
I am wailing the benzodiazepine blues,
I tell the cat, ‘we’re not well,’
as she circles around my endless spirals,
I whisper the tune of narcotic
alt-rock trance haze into sleep,
the ones that abandon me halfway
between a dream and a hard place,

Mother, do you feel safe?
I am not worried about hurting my body,
I am paralyzed with fear
that my body will hurt me,
Surrounded in the box 11.5 inches tall
there are faces, they are smiling,
there are admissions of guilt
and Yelp reviews of hospitals,
there is a world- there is a world.

Half a pill is all it takes,
I feel it go straight to the heart,
I can visualize its journey through veins, through
the liver, in the bloodstream,
settling into my brain,
My father tells me to stay loose,
He is surprised I cannot
pull my shit together,
as one says.
He is tapering off
the less I yell,
I am titrating
the conversation.

I don’t know about you,
but I intend to write
a strongly worded letter
to the White Star Line
about all of this.

My ship is sinking,
I’ll either tough it out
or breathe heavily on the phone
or

-C.

(#26) On companionship.

Prompt: write a poem in someone else’s voice- in this case, from another perspective, an ode to my cat.

i refuse to pathologize–
for one, i am not certified,
for another, i do not diagnose
the undiagnosable,
the chairs in my living room,
the tap-tap in my engine,
or the animals- but this cat,
this cat has asperger’s syndrome.
this cat squalls for the world at her feet.

would that i could i would make her the sashimi
of her dreams- but i lack confidence
knife skills, interest,
tuna.

my girl is afraid of croutons- they are
too loud, peanut butter
too sticky,
she settles into small spaces with the utmost of ease
and broadcasts her needs as they are desired
social acceptance be damned.
hardly a silent companion.

in her large blue eyes i see fear, damnation, and a precise focus-
be it lampshade
or lamp
duvet or dinette, she wants what she gets and she gets what she needs,
by herself, at her own pace.

she was novel in my teens,
she is settling, like i am, into my twenties,
i look forward to thirty,
when we will enter our golden years,
when we will discuss exits and entrances over late nights,
when we will curl up again
for the first time until the dash,
they say that asperger’s renders the soul cold-
this is a myth, it distills objectivity,
she will eliminate my tears methodically,
she soothes without judgment.

with enough luck, my ex said,
handing me the crate as she fizzled and cried the whole ride home
(the cat, that is)
she will live another fifteen or twenty years
if you’re good
and careful.

i am not good– i am flawed in my cohabitation,
i pet other cats, i flub our dinner,
but i am careful,
and we have what we need.

-C.

(#25) On winding down.

Prompt: a Clarihew (but I have bowed out)

this is for the tunisian daughter of an engineer,
who wore avocado green
(pantsuit, eyeshadow, open-toed sandals)
in paris, fall of 1983.
and was summarily dumped just as the leaves started to change.
he spent new year’s of 1982 at her country house,
he found her bourgeoise.

this is quiet, a stealthy change,
no violent coup or unexpected twist
more a silent storm
than decapitation by party bus.
i murmur to myself one morning, ‘i am doing well,
eliminating myself from all social matters entirely,’
as the crown moves to my head.

this is for the heir to the Air France fortune
who had the misfortune of dinner last december
and over coq au vin
parsnips
and beaujolais in sardinia rubbed elbows
and perhaps fell a little,
if not crashed.
he says, she was unfathomably unattractive,
i dare him to prove me wrong,
and he shrugs in coronation.
jovial coronation!

he tells me he will not give me bus fare
but finds a boar’s bristle
satinwood brush from jermyn street
in the back of his closet
and tells me the secret to taxes
and the way to his safety deposit box.

this is for the dog- he seeks only apricity
and knows a few tricks on the side, always.
i ask, when he is tired,
and can no longer explain the world or the worry
across his grizzled muzzle,
when the crown will be lighter on my head,
laughter rings
from the belly.

-C.

(#23/34) On fragments.

Prompt: take playing cards and use them as inspiration/make a satire out of a famous poem. Satirizing the original satire, Casey at the Bat.

I have no playing cards here, I have nothing fun,
The room is rife of wonder, of avuncular puns,
My bedroom sits in quiet like the silence of the night,
The city sleeps restlessly, a dreamer in flight.

There’s a card from Robert on my shelf, though,
Three years before our strife and woe,
December 27th, 2007,
Three years before an ascent to heaven,

And, in succession, other losses as well,
My virginity to a woman to two years in hell,
My sense of academic superiority,
Our seniority, a short-lived horror to me,

Tragically of all,
The worst of my thoughts,
The man never knew that I could bend the law,
In such a fine contortion, defying all flaw.

It killed me the more I slept, deeper still,
To think anything less was as if I had killed,
Vice President and General Counsel now entombed,
Time had frozen while I had suddenly bloomed.

He says, go to Willamette, go to Oregon,
I said, I’ve been to Europe, I’ve already gone,
He says, walk into the Pacific, I’ve dipped only a toe,
Were it up to me I’d stand back and watch myself go.

“You are a very special person-“,
No- I am a very anonymous verse in
a poem we have read 100 years at a time,
There is nothing to it but calculated rhyme,

And in this section I play merely the fool,
Cast into a role that others have knew,
And played, and played out, quippy cards,
All that is left is the changing of the guard.

He left me a stone,
It grounds me to home,
To a planet,
Where we roam and we scan it,

The stone is worn flat from years on the water,
It rests in my palm, relaxed from the slaughter.
From reach to reach and town to town,
The laughter is abundant, the smiles wear no frowns,

The heads are clear and empty,
They mask no bitter sympathy,
I walk until my mind is clear,
For my world is dark and murky.

-C.

(#22) On momentary homes.

Prompt: look out the window, write about the world.

reedy rapacious voices
they’re always shouting next door.
my pyrrhic victory led me here,
to this amorphic city in a city
of cities, a blip on the radar
of an anonymously tilting god.

my mistakes have dragged me this far,
i suppose,
my failure to rise has chained me to:
a charming one-bedroom,
(momentary home.)
no dogs, fifth floor.
washer/dryer in the basement.
$900/mo, eagerly snapped up.

here, that is a sign of something.
somewhere else, it means jack shit.

hastily shoved patterned cloth
marks the windows of the building
next to mine.
i don’t know if it’s curtains
or an attempt to keep the smoke in,
but they come billowing out on windy sundays
with great rushes of energy

my elderly neighbor keeps the police on speed dial
my retired neighbor rushes up and down the stairs,
tamping a community
forgetting we all have to leave.

-C.