Some of the poems included here I wrote while developing a manuscript in which the protagonist feels a great deal of angst. Some I wrote because I felt angst. I hope you enjoy them. If the occasional one seems a bit dark, don’t worry: there’s underlying humor in most — or at least in me from the perspective of now. This first one was published in Infuze, an online arts magazine and chosen as one of the Best of 2006. The photos are ones we’ve taken along the way.
A Self-less Life
The hairshirt prickles,
Scratching worry lines
Between my tears
Because I turned things
Inside out and lost the altruist.
Somewhere along the way to here
I went from looking out to in.
And there along the path to now,
I may have killed the innocent.
Perhaps if I could mourn her,
My fingers would touch satin.
Grist for the Mill
Yesterday I sat on the pencil point,
Stuck with my days pressing against lead.
I thought I’d choke.
Today I’m scribbled between blue lines.
The yellow background matches my skin,
And you can’t even see my reddened eyes.
I feel skinny this way,
My self drawn with a newly sharpened point
And twenty-six letters.
Even my fifty years of wrinkles are alphabetized.
But see? The squiggles tell the truth.
Off the point, on paper, my self is defined.
Part-time mother, husbandless wife, no one’s lover.
The lead pushes, draws a pattern on the page.
Is my pain for this?
The pencil jumps. I hear laughter.
Perhaps because I’ve guessed?
But twenty-six are too few to catch me.
Black night’s emptiness,
The bed reeks of nothing,
Cuckoo sings the melody,
But no one hears.
Dark caverns hunger
For what the thief has taken,
Stealing what I thought was mine,
Stealing what I dreamt we had.
Dances in the moonlight,
Ripples on the pond,
Things that welcome fairies,
Hopes that kindle dreams,
These are things
He took with him
Or things I once imagined,
Pretending toward the normal,
Pretending to be me.
Pilings chafe and barnacles rip
At a body tossed on a word of truth.
Floating on currents and riding the swells,
It had tanned in the sun and smiled at the waves.
Experiencing a love that came out of beyond,
It had thought itself one with the seasons and tides,
It had thought itself safe from the serpent’s reward.
And if tightening lines hadn’t caused it to shift
Out of the channel and onto a bar,
It might never have known of the price to be paid
For sailing by day over somebody’s grave.
One’s a Crowd
Lonely isn’t lonely
If one looks from outside in.
It’s just the inside out
That makes a person feel so thin.
Peering on the inside
One can see a host friends,
All caring, sorting, building, coping,
Sharing life with him.