Smirking Dragon

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Photo by robbertdb on Unsplash

Smirking Dragon

As the sun settled into soft angles

just above igniting western skies,

 

it spotlights a cumulus cloud curiously

shaped like a coiled, smirking dragon

lazily floating eastbound, her neck and

 

grinning head preening north by northwest,

drawing your attention toward Orcas Island

 

and one of the most perfect moments of

your life, when you were inexplicably

comfortable in your own skin while both

 

alone and in unfamiliar company

at a destination wedding you attended

 

against your will, watching two outliers

pledge their lives to each other as you’d done

twice over, with the second time inexplicably

 

working out much better than the first,

which compelled you to make that journey

 

in the first place to that unfamiliar island

surrounded by unacquainted people

to witness an unfamiliar couple

 

pledge their lives to one another in a

series of moments the smirking dragon

 

reminds you that can only be described as perfect.

As the dragon cranes her neck northwestward,

it evaporates into the ether,

 

leaving only her fluffy scaly body and

a disembodied smirking head, which also

 

slowly vanished from misty existence

leaving you wondering why your second

attempt at sharing your world with a woman

 

worked wonders while your first effort failed

spectacularly, or why your second trip to

 

Orcas Island was fun, but not nearly as

magical as that first one, or why that beautiful

smiling couple of strangers beginning their lives

 

together ultimately could not fulfil

their pledge to one another even after

 

committing to create another beautiful,

smiling, giggling, spunky stranger together, but

then it hits you as the headless dragon corpse

 

became just another cloud fading away from

the settling sun, which ignites the western sky

 

as eastern clouds are devoured by earth’s shadow.

We often chase perfect destinations

seeking to relive perfect moments, as

 

if we were living ghosts who for fleeting

moments have forgotten how to live. But

 

we have far more in common with misting

smirking cumulus dragons that we see

than the ghosts we chase in familiar places.

***

 

Shared at imaginary garden with real toads.

Hope is a Ghost

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Hope is a Ghost

Her august leaf blushed first

among a sea of green.

 

Flitting about shrinking margins,

Hope craved seasonal embraces

that won’t come.

 

In her rosy bliss,

buffeted by autumn winds,

she was but the first to fall.

 

She’ll never know

her lover has moved on.

** *

Written for dVerse’s Quadrille #42, a poem of hope, hosted by De Jackson (Whimsy Gizmo). Other’s have contributed more hopeful poems here. Sadly, I’m pretty depressed, so it’s difficult to keep hope alive these days.

 

 

The Lucky Ones

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Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

The Lucky Ones

Tina says we do it to one another, every day,

Knowing and not knowing. When it is love,

What happens feels like dumb luck. When it’s not,

We’re riddled with bullets, shot through like ducks.

 

Every day. To ourselves and one another. And what

If what it is, and what sends it, has nothing to do

With what we can’t see? Nothing whatsoever

To do with a power other than muscle, will, sheer fright?  

Tracy K. Smith, an excerpt from Life on Mars, Pulitzer Prize winning poetry collection.

 

1.

What is the nature of a single soul?

How can one measure its worth?

Do we weigh it by the hearts it formed in life,

or perhaps the void it leaves behind?

Terri Ann whispers, but I can’t quite hear.

Dad just smirks. He knows, but won’t tell.

 

2.

Put throngs of souls through hardships,

deny them dignity,

basic human comforts,

heap tragedy upon disaster

upon blight upon humiliation

upon their collective shoulders,

and I promise the plural response

won’t remind you of anything from

the Book of Job.

 

Oh, there will be outliers

of philosophers and saints

embracing quiet intangible dignity,

but the mass majority will go looking

for someone to blame.

 

Often those very same fringe

philosophers and saints

resigned to their fates

become targets.

 

Wanton cannibalism is an outrage

in civil societies,

and yet… and yet…

 

3.

After the Great Kantō earthquake

and before cyclone winds

begat fire-tornadoes,

a helpful policeman took charge

guiding four-thousand survivors

to what he thought was safety

but what inevitably became

mass immolation.

 

There was no way he could know

and nothing he could do,

their fate

inexorably twisted

among tails of fire dragons,

but in the policeman’s eyes,

he led the masses to their fate

the sum of his heroic intentions

now ashes.

 

Despondent

unable to bear the shame,

the officer committed seppuku,

increasing the countless body-count

by one soul.

 

4.

Is there something after this realm?

I can’t find the answer in math, science,

not in faith, not even in poetry.

 

If I contemplate for too long, the voids

of my departed soul-hearts cause

my body to ache like overused knee-joints

that signal pending monsoons.

 

Dad knows, but won’t tell. He always

insisted that I find things out for myself.

Terri Ann crossed over once, came back,

when her heart stopped, she just saw black.

 

That’s what she said, anyway. I suspect

that she just wasn’t paying attention then.

I’m sure she knows the answer now,

but I can’t quite hear her anymore.

 

5.

Danielle said it was too bad about

that rock-n-roll guy who died.

I nodded grimly, but said nothing more.

 

The soul of that rock-n-roll guy left us

for God knows where, assuming He does exist

and not just as some embodiment

of a salve for aching joints.

 

The rock-n-roll guy left a void for his wife,

children, family, and close friends to

contemplate, celebrate, or mourn,

depending on where they fall

on the afterlife belief spectrum.

 

Rock-n-roll guy bequeathed

to millions of us musical fans

a soundtrack cipher, unlocking

precious memories,

possibly including moments when other souls

left voids for us to contemplate,

celebrate, or mourn.

 

I hope there’s something after this for him,

and for us as well. I hope the blackness Mom

claims she saw was nothing more than a cosmic

practical joke that Dad is already in on.

 

6.

I watched it on accident.

Wincing, I looked away,

but I could still hear it

the lone automatic weapon.

 

I listened to folks in the aftermath

yelling that this shouldn’t happen

in civilized society. I also heard myself

joining this chorus,

yelling into the void.

 

I listened to opposition shush us,

as this is not the time to discuss

people dying needlessly because

those people just died needlessly.

 

So I shut up and listened

as others failed

to listen to each other,

instead they turned and

devoured each other’s message

like we did when this happened before

like they’ll do again.

 

Wanton cannibalism is an outrage

in civil societies,

and yet… and yet…

 

7.

The leader of the free world

Said we were lucky

For only fifty-nine deaths

 

It could’ve been much much worse

Rejoice in our good fortune

 

My soul hurts

***

***

Information on how to help the Las Vegas shooting victims.

Information on how to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

Go here to donate to Tim Duncan’s island storm relief fund.

Go here and here to help hurricane Harvey victims

Go here and here to find out how to help hurricane Irma victims.

Shared at dVerse’s Open Link Night # 205. Go here to read other poet’s contributions. 

 

 

Smoke Break Outside a Hip-Hop Nightclub in Australia

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Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

Smoke Break Outside a Hip-Hop Nightclub in Australia

Displaced from the throbbing, blustering melody,

we sat outside as you finished your cigarette.

 

Or perhaps we stood. Or stooped. I don’t remember.

It was dark, except for your spark. I, the moth.

 

Or perhaps I, the flame. It’s all relative and subjective.

Our vibe, the only objective syncopated groove.

 

The crisp midnight air contrasted with the

heat generated by our dance-grind inside.

 

That’s actually a lie, or perhaps a half-truth; I

don’t recall if the outdoor air was cool or not, my

 

Fahrenheit or your Celsius. Too many or too few

degrees, synching with you put me 180-out.

 

Time-shifting was never my strength, much

like socializing, or adhering to social norms.

 

Both loner and lonely, even among family and

shipmates, but alone here with you, I’m content.

 

Time well-spent sizing each other up, taking measure

within melodic measures in timeless movements.

 

Our conversation flowed easily and deliberate;

each pause with purpose, each query also an invite.

 

We rode beats and straddled bars, improvising, learning,

changing tempo on the fly, milking fleeting moments.

 

A riffing jazz duet, bubbled by kindred hearts, momentarily

forgetting the raw sting of overcrowded loneliness.

 

I pretended not to be bothered by the smoke as you

pretended not to notice, shooing it from our session.

 

I casually took the butt from your lips, pressed it to

mine and inhaled your toxins with unforeseen confidence.

 

My urgent thirst to share your poison shocked us

for a moment. You smirked as I tried to suppress a cough.

 

“So, do you have someone waiting for you back

on the other side of the world?” I think you knew.

 

“I do,” I answered honestly, casually, returning your

cig. You casually discarded it. “That’s nice,”

 

you offered, unconvincingly. “Are you both happy

together?” you asked, eyes questing for deception.

 

“We are,” I lied, probably unconvincingly, to

both you and me. You didn’t press. “That’s good.”

 

I guess we must’ve been stooping, because I now

recall that you stood after that, and I after you.

 

You smiled warmly and I braced for you popping our

harmonic bubble with a conciliatory parting handshake.

 

“It’s good to find someone who makes you happy,”

you said, as if that’s a thing no one else knew.

 

“I just have one more question for you, sailor-boy.”

You squared-up to me, smile slowly fading.

 

“Oh? And what is that?” I think my tone was

still flirty-neutral, but I half expected you to

 

chew me out for teasing you or leading you on.

But I was still milking our moment for all I could.

 

When lonely folks like us find kindred spirits, it is

difficult to not find ourselves trapped in their orbits.

 

I knew it was socially inappropriate to indulge in

you, but with you I felt free to be me authentically.

 

I wasn’t teasing; I was connecting. Nothing would

come of this, but it felt real. I hoped you’d felt it too.

 

“I was just wondering if you would mind if I kissed you,”

you asked, closing the distance. “I hope you

 

don’t mind.” But you didn’t let me answer.

I think you already knew you didn’t need to.

** *

Edited to share at Real Toad’s Tuesday Platform, hosted by Magaly Guerrero