Echo’s Lament

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Echo And Narcissus, John William Waterhouse (1903)

Echo’s Lament

I am not yet ready to live

and yield my love to another

 

I have not yet explored

the wonders of choice

having none to choose from

other than my unanswered desire

 

My waning heart cannot see

beyond the beauty by the pond

who will not see me

 

as I diminish with daylight

you won’t see even less

 

I will not waste time

embracing another

 

You are kind and fair

but reflection can never compare

 

So much the better;

had I caught your eye

 

Your gaze reflected

upon my echo

repeated back

into your flawless eyes

reflecting into the echo

chambered within my

unrequited heart

would echo my loss

onto your being

 

reflecting an infinite wound

 

and I adore you too much

to even risk destroying a world

where you can only find love

at the surface of you

 

I’d sooner die than crush

even the façade of you and

 

I’d sooner die than live

without my beloved

 

I’d sooner die and wither

like crystalized narcissus

in a December evening frost

 

I’d sooner die in a winter whisper

heard only by the lonely

and I’d sooner die

sooner still

 

I’d sooner die

and fall

into nothing

but sound

 

I’d sooner die

sooner…

die

** *

Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Narcissus (Vanity/Narcissism), hosted by Susan. I chose to give voice to Echo, the mountain nymph, because of course I did.

Because of course I did.

I did.

 

Left Hand

Left Hand

Melody

she plays with me

in familiar keys of

The song

pulsating with a vibrancy

she glides with me

reliantly

she comes

spiraling from soprano

rafters like a raptor

 

I am captured flat and

sharply raptured back

 

into wry smiles

within her rhythm,

her movement

moves Miles

along

currents swelling

from fingertips,

compressing

 

flowing,

spilling vibrations

sensationally

sonically caressing,

 

undressing her expression,

tingling a taut spine,

into loosening,

expressing what

we want

which is to tap

our foot in time

with her universe

 

increasing rapidly

haphazardly

astoundingly

muttering a curse

 

as the floor is felt no more

as our rapport

goes on unrehearsed

awe is dispersed

and then

what comes

is the melody

she played for me

in invented keys, free

to romp

pulsating with a vibrancy

she glides for me

defiantly

we stomp

diving from soprano

alighting near the altos

capturing counter-tempos

we come

baring nimble fingertips

ruling our rhythmic hips

soaring above mundane grips

we jaunt

and then we thump

to her melodic

microscopic

atomic-smashing

powerplant

it pumps

and then it jumps

tracks,

exchanging tempo

in time with

refined lines

I skip it

with her,

slightly behind,

but shit,

nobody minds,

freely

we balter

her id

leading evocative

moonbeams to traverse,

as planned

 

I skid,

reading provocative

loony dreams,

unrehearsed, and

I miss it

we falter

she has me

right where she wants us

 

at her fingertips,

and her fingers slip-weave

constellations

 

she baits,

but will not wait

for me to map her

destination, so I

play catch up

while she plays

parlor games with my soul

using only her right hand

she kissed it

with her left.

** *

Inspired by dVerse’s Jazz poetry with Amaya, hosted by guest poet, Amaya Engleking. We were encouraged to write some jazz poetry, or jazz-inspired poetry. Go here to read other dVerse poets’ contributions to this prompt.

I guess my whole vibe is that I kind of accidentally already live in this jazzy poetic realm. Still, this challenge reminded me of a recent jazz session.

I had the privilege of taking Wifey out to Jazz Alley for her birthday earlier this month and catching Hiromi Duet featuring Edmar Castaneda. They were amazing together, and Hiromi was especially mesmerizing in her solo piano work. I found a clip of her performing a song that just knocked the stuffing out of me live. It’s called Sicilian Blue. Anyway, my poem isn’t exactly about her, but it is most certainly inspired by her music.

(Also, sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’ve been struggling with depression and some unexpected life-altering changes. No one is in danger or poor health, but there were changes that I’m still struggling to adapt to. I ask for your continued patience and kindness. We’ll survive this. If I don’t see you again by year’s end, I’ll see you on the other side of 2018.)

Ode to Good Senses

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Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

Ode to Good Senses

I have the greatest nose I know

I can detect strawberry,

Spiced cinnamon

And encapsulating earth-tones

Of her presence

 

My ears are tremendous acoustically

Bringing me songs of her laughter

Cocooning me in the

Comforting confines

Of her cooing voice,

Granting warm pathways to her

Innermost ideas

The percussive reassurance of her

Light snoring, like raindrops

Shushing the roof above us

 

These astonishing eyes of mine

Take in the angles of her smile

At angles where gods and goddess

Are perceived, but pale in comparison

To the sight of her in flannel pajamas

Doubled-over, compressed

Tickled, in-spite of herself

By our silly whimsy

 

My body is buoyed by

A buffet of sensation

Of touching and tenderness

Of her connection

We cuddle and exalt

Life with definition

We touch and connect

And flush as cells rush

We infuse and blend

Molecules, use, renew

Our fire, chemically tuned

To our new, sacred element

We touch and forge,

We kiss, and sparks tell

We embrace, and I face the folly

Of oneness within our absurd bliss

 

I taste supernovas

Of past lives

On her lips,

Elemental fire-quenched eclipse

Craving her flavor rewrites code and creed

I drink her in abundance; she is

More than I needed and never enough

 

But there is something more

Within her, beyond perception

Greater than inhaling her presence

More tremendous than her vibrations

Transcending her astonishing spectrum

More buoyant than her touch

Beyond infinity of her taste

 

I cannot smell, hear, see, feel, or taste it

But I know it to be the purest form of her

As great as my fine senses are

I am grateful to find

Something greater in her.

** *

Written for Wifey, on her birthday on November 12.

Shared at Poets United, Poetry Pantry #378.

 

 

The Laundry

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Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

The Laundry

Once upon an evening dreamy, reclined beyond conscience unseemly

Clean-laundry piled shotgun beside me burst forth with Terri Ann’s allure.

Her voice apparent, yet quite untimely, bubbled with laughter, light and finely-

Tuned for my perception, winding her time, which ended years before

A decade before, less or more. Is my mom’s soul now laundry lore?

I’m just baked. I must ignore.

 

We watched cartoons and tripped fantastic, Kush-soaked reflections, quite elastic.

Asked laundry-mother what traumatic lesson her spirit had in store?

Her laughter warmed peripherals, soft linen, looming lavender smells

Her soothing hearth of laughter tells me, unseen, with heart a-pure

Soothing song sang as she gathered with mother’s heart, rang, not demure

Laundry said, “You must endure.”

 

I laughed at her linen reprisal as if she sensed my suicidal,

Un-suspenseful thought-revivals. I asked clean laundry, “Is there more?”

For to suffer life in silence, its smearing rife with leering violence,

Abysmal veering into blindness; is that our fate, and nothing more?

Subliminal closed-mindedness? Should I get baked and just ignore?

Spit at fate, and what’s in-store?

 

My laundry-mother laughed disarming laughs, belying life’s alarming

Nature, nurturing and charming me, unanswered, insecure.

Her non-answers thrust upon me like a thirst quenched by tsunami

Voicing visions far beyond me, unseen, she sings with heart a-pure

She stings my heart, weary, unsure, with momma’s voice ringing a cure

Laundry sang, “You must endure.”

** *

Written for dVerse Poetics’ The voice of the monster, hosted by Björn. I know I’m a day late, but I thought I’d share an actual ghost story that happened to me about a week before Halloween, when my mom visited me during a low point. I’m agnostic, but I believe my mom dropped by to kick my ass, get me to stop feeling for myself and keep grinding for the fam. Perhaps in my case, the monster was my depression? (Who am I kidding? It’s almost always my monster.)

Go here to read other spooky stories.

 

My Ghost, No Longer at This Address

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My doorway.

My Ghost, No Longer at This Address

Upon my untimely death,

a chaotic redundancy

as death is untimely

 

except suicide,

which I don’t currently abide,

but that’s another vibe…

 

I request my epitaph be

“Life was often confusing,

difficult, and demoralizing,

but I laughed a lot,

so maybe it wasn’t all bad.”

 

Verbose, yes; feel free

to edit before placing

on headstone, or urn.

 

I have no preference

on my corpse’s disposal.

If I’m right, it is

only an empty shell anyway,

 

as sturdy abandoned houses

that once hosted countless

Christmas dinners

are no longer homes.

 

The phenomenon

or mechanism of me

is long gone from here.

** *

Written for imaginary garden with real toads FASHION ME YOUR WORDS ~ Lets build houses. Also shared at Poets United’s Poetry Pantry #377.

As we’re close to Halloween – widely regarded as the point where the threshold between the living and the dead is at its weakest – I found myself thinking less of home building, and more of ghosts, including my own, leaving their bodies (their homes for the duration of their lives) for the first time.

 

But Much More Than That

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Photo by frank cordoba on Unsplash

But Much More Than That

Red-shifted light is

moving away from us at

unimaginable speeds.

 

Nature’s senescence

will overtake us before

we could conjure a method

of overcoming physics.

 

Red hue of dim light

surrounds us now, painting your

rosy silhouette kneeling

upon tangled plum bedsheets,

 

facing away from

me, preening your neck to peer

my darkness, closing behind

you, smiling coyly with

 

licentious lips that

I imagine must taste of

bourbon and fizzy ginger,

its bubbles catching a faint

 

gleam in your eyes as

I fall into you, and I’m

overwhelmed by a vision

of blue ocean lapping at

 

your sun-kissed skin as

you serenely swim away

from my anchored boat moored at

the edge of my comfort-zone

 

I page through my book,

pretending not to obsess

over your safety as you

let currents increase distance,

 

peeking over your

shoulder, confirming I’d be

there, right where you left me, no

longer in the red. You are

 

to the left of me

and my teasing left you with

the impression that I had

forgotten your name.

 

You tsk me for it

from behind wine lips and we

collapse in rose-hued laughter.

***

Shared at Poets United Poetry Pantry # 376

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.

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