Only then

Thinking about strength

What will it take

To change out the crumpled suit

You’ve worn almost to death

Though not yet

It isn’t death you should fear

But not living

Being incapsulated

In redundant urge

Truth is waiting 

Like a small round shouldered girl

Watching herself reflect in cold river

If she jumps she may drown

But staying still is often worse

Easy to ignore when new to the dance

Easy to neglect when all is going well

We learn in adversity

We become more of our stalagmite

Or something transformed

It’s the decisions keeping us from knowledge

A rare moment, often painful, offers the shove

Over a cliff, out of comfort

On our knees begging for Mercy

But she is no God

We carve identity and battle from our own leather

Skinned of illusions

We stand dripping and terrified without defense

Only when it’s all stripped down, pared to the thinnest slice

Believing we cannot survive

That moment

We learn again

To truly fly

For Rick.

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What was lost, is not

il_fullxfull.328869000what was lost, is not

you were meant to die

you were not meant to die

we were both so alive

even though, without modern means

your poor head, my aching conscience

may have felt the drop of earth

far earlier

the stars so alight, over our premature sleep

we did not think we could lose

and still

life shows us in picture cards

‘having a wonderful time, wish you were here!’

how tender the road without direction

how still the clock in hospital room

counting down, looking up

explanations for frailty

pistacho shells growing in number

blood coursing through our stride

the winding path and sudden start of deer

their black eyes, wells of ink

reproaching

if I had to do the same again I wouldn’t change anything

but maybe, plant better roots

for sickness can shake the most stalwart

where everything is thrown around and

stooping to bend fallen moments

can seem like it will never

rebuild what was lost

life can

be a small flame, hardly visible

it may appear to flicker

out

and still you endure

the absurdity of surviving

we laugh at photos of catheters

because it is the only way to clamber over

the horror still lying beneath everything

after all

who expects to reach out and find

the dissolve of certainty?

after all

who believes the boogie man under the bed

will actually show himself?

in the gowns of harried doctors

who poke and prod and pronounce

without

mercy

after all

our world is in short supply of tenderness

and when we implore God

or the toilet bowl

for strength and a little succor

how do we imagine the rescue?

after all

it may be a stranger who

reaches out

a loved one who

turns away

such is the carnival

and round lights grow hot

on your restlessness

after all

it is not easy to be

cast in uncertainty

adrift we only know

the tug of another’s flounder

we are strong in

searching each other

for direction

embracing imperfection

as if it were

the most beautiful moment

from horror comes

straight-backed on her tired horse

the unspooling of

hope

for as sure as you are still

racing by my side

what was lost

is not

 

Radiance

Do not become bitter

When friend you thought is none

When calamity strikes her skin drum

And those you relied upon do not come

The world

Is a magical place of nonsense

What you know is often undone

By the whim of mercury and emotion

Little stays as you may have assumed

But in the hour of your isolation

Witness miracles

From the trees they unfurl

Familiar in compassion

A true heart rarely demonstrative

A kindness never published

Those with mercy on their tongue

Seek no recompense

Silently they stand at your side

Holding you when others did not show

Too busy in flamboyance

For the meak shall inherit trust

It is they who need make no false promise

Sincerity is not shouted from rooftop

Actions are louder than fancy words

Seek not the grandiose, who say they love

Take instead the slowness of certainty

You know when you fall 

By the tenderness of unexpected visitor

By gentle compassion and

The companion who you never knew you could

Rely upon 

Such is the mystery of things born in hard times

And the redemption of hope

Blooming

Blocking out disappointment with her

Soft and steady radiance

This poem is for those who selflessly were there in a supportive letter or word during the hardest part of my life. Please know it was you who got me through and my gratitude cannot be expressed enough but to say your kindness was everything to me. Thank you so very much. I have learned that true goodness comes often from the least expected corners just as those who pretend to care are often just hot air. 

Cinder

I hope when we leave this lapsing category of malaise
It is to move toward; “All better now” and “well”

And never look back ….

At those rags that became us

Chained to a monstrous reality

Foisted like gravity

An unnatural disaster, scattering months

As what you took for granted can mock

Even the most stalwert

**

Before we were thrown together 

You were sane and I was whole

Not the vomiting wretch you met

In the dim hallway of limbo

We held onto each other

As broken pieces seek comfort

In the sharp edges of others

Not misery loving company, as pleated savagry

Misunderstood by that exterior world named;

“Those who are well, as we are no longer”

**

It was always night and always day

No difference

No discernment

To starve on the circumfrance 

You understood

The sudden loss of everything

We wrote, as violet penned lovers

On pieces of ourselves

Every tear, every unfurnished gap

Showing where parts of our whole had

Turned to ashen facsimile

**

In our former world

We may never have

Shared a long drawn breath

And here, in a room without clocks

We assemble words like kindling

Speaking of forbidden things

The rest of the world seeks succor from

Sickness you see, is a social pariah

People flee, even family

And the world could have burnt down outside this hospital

With you and I clad in backless gowns

The ribboned IV, a sharp needle with scratched song

Our wet faces seeing only the glue of disease

Dancing like embers at the edge of pinkening day

Rolling into months, as illness will smother whatever you were before

You lost the bet ….

**

Longing to leave this new role with the urgent lust of addicts

Nosing bags of sugar, to reclaim health

Though it were a fabled prize

And maybe it is 

For those shod on soft shoes

Feeling every stone beneath

Something of trauma, acts as language

Only you, only I, understand

We’ll never be the same now

Whether we survived or died

Shifting mystery within, to a new state without

Everything changes, even the taste of day and close of night

A voice

A warning

Unwelcome insight

And you tell me

We are closer for sharing a preview of death

Than friends who laughed together for decades

For fear can make strange bed fellows

**

It is true

My friend found in darkness

Reflection of what we never say outloud

It is my wish we gather everything we have left

Set fire to the pyre

Douse argument

Walk right through

Finding out there is a bridge

Even when you almost gave up

There are hands reaching 

For whatever is left after the fall

Hope

Pitches a tent in the parking lot and waits however long

And it is that 

Or maybe nothing more than will

A will to reclaim

That sets us trying again and again

With the forge of desire

Silver in a cloudless sky

Before their time

They say courage

Is learnable

Sometimes acquired in combat

 Trial by fire

But I have tasted white flames

Walked on coals

Swallowed whole

The seat of Hades

And still

Unable to grasp pole and walk electric tightrope

Never brave

A weathered rock unable to move

Even as sea receeds and escape, presents herself

It is not courage I possess

But by default

Staying power

Sometimes it is easier to be frozen 

Than act or flee

Simpler to tred water than

Drown or swim to distant shore

I am well versed in biding time

Treating days as if they were not precious

Undisciplined in

Owning my error

Avoidance becoming

Personality

They said I was a free spirit

I say

I was a gutless procrastinate

How long will life have waited

For me to act? Before

Sighing in disgust

She throws in her hat

Leaving me to consequence

For surely, what we believe in youth, will not burn

Catches up

Paying back ten fold

The only life is the one you make

To be a spectator in your own existence

Is not even a half measure

There is no reward for cowardice

No fulfillment in hiding

Life is a burning bush lighting darkness

It doesn’t burn nearly long enough

We

Are made of nothing without

Ernest endeavor 

Do not put yourself off

Climb the mountain

Conquer the voice telling you not to bother

For soon we are too feeble

Too near that twilight of the soul

It will be late then to lament

Take care never to postpone

Life

And if you must, do not be harsh 

For those who stumble can continue to try

One day it will all be so worth it

Every ache, every struggle

Mighty is not always the healthy mind

But those who refuse to lay down 

And die before their time

AGAIN


Sadness should never be more familiar than peace

Yet some days it is as if

Snow felted the house with only one emotion

And try as you might, the loneliness of your life envelopes

I have never found a remedy for that blue note

Striving to exorcise an unsettled icing of grief

Telling myself this too will pass

Somehow strikes false

For isolation

Looking out at the great cleave of land

Stretching as far as the eye can make out

One can say does not have to be sad

Yet if the majority of days you wake in silence

Wondering how you missed the full house

What happened to cast your dice alone?

Where from your earliest memory you shared space with emptiness

You may look at others with full lives and wonder how 

But it is a language you never learned

The discipline of togetherness or choice to be apart

Decisions made almost before birth

I carry the blood of reluctant loners

Speak the language of the professionally peripheral

None of us learned the art of heaving dinner tables or celebration

We learned to be alone from before we had known

I tried to break the Fates

Only ending further away

Now I live in a country without kin

A city without familiars

I can see myself, each year a little older 

More pinched than before, a flower dried and pressed

Flattened in her self capture

I want, I long, I desire so much 

To be known, to be among

Yet I end back here behind glass, an exhibit of one

Lost for fix, it seems, fate has her fun 

Childless, empied of possibility I feel like everything came undone

And I rolled like tumbleweed

And I gathered speed

Afraid of my life like 

Being made aware you were mad all along and everything you believed and clung on to

Was false

It is hard to be okay many times

That cold fear claims me, whispers, you are alone

The child within quakes to believe

She is still afraid of monsters

But the adult 

She no longer feels that is the worst outcome

For her, the idea of being alone

The last one

And no one notices those who are invisible

Yet still they live

As empty as a corn field

After they burn away the last dried husks 

A scorched Earth, flat and still

Enduring the ache 

Once, twice and again