Category: Poetry

You can’t hide from the wind

The countryside scares me
at night, when all I do is wait
for the crack of a twig,
or spasm of leaves,
or single cry in bleak air,
not to wake me
(for I am never asleep in the countryside),
but to jab me again with that white-hot awakeness.

So I moved to the city, instead.
At night, I’d leave the window ajar,
no matter the time of year,
so the sirens, and laughter, and trains, and shouts,
and smashes of glass, and loud songs from cars,
and helicopters circling, and doors slamming too hard,
and nightclubs emptying, and garbage trucks reversing,
could sing promises to me, from just-far-enough away;
you are not alone, they say.
We are here, with you.

But one afternoon, collecting my mail with others in the lobby,
a gust SLAMMED its face against the glass,
shouting something aggressive and unintelligible;
smeared as it left,
leaving us with that unsettling feeling
that we hadn’t seen the last of them.
And, as if word got out, the streets began thinning of souls,
dwindling of errand-runners, happy hours, and dinner-guests.
An unspoken quarantine befell the city;
devoid of people, traffic, and noise.

In our apartment block, we wait, as night rises from the tarmac.
That stillness I’d long-feared, and sought escape from,
holds us hostage like a small settlement lying in wait
of bandits, spotted tearing through nearby towns;
indiscriminate in their chaos,

And now
they were here…

ready to expand within our pregnant emptiness,
and force themselves, screaming, from any crack left unclosed.
It begins with a
TAP,
a CLICK
in the window-frame,
a whistle through the bars.
It teases.
Its menacing subtleties come fast
then slow,
come hard, then soft;
it creeps,
creaks,
and stalks you from the
TALL
BLACK
GRASS.
By the time we see the trees moving,
it is already done…

SLEDGHAMMERS pound their rubber heads on the walls,
on the windows, and bellow their bloody murder
through and under our buckling doors,
sucking all the air out the room
and throwing up all over you.
YOU.
The one cowering in the storm.
The one whose scent is on its tongue.
YOU.
The countryside has come for you.

Indoors

I don’t hate the way it obscures the view,
how I open the blinds only to be blinded still,
because I wake up high in a low-down cloud,
shivering on the balcony,
peering over the edge, I’ve less fear than usual,
as if the sky had brought the ground to meet me,
promising a soft landing
all the while filling my lungs with crisp, wet air,
as I breathe out soft little clouds of my own in the chill.

I don’t begrudge how it makes us hide our skin,
bundled up beneath layers of cotton and down,
because your gorgeous smile still peaks above the zipper,
eyes unhidden and softly aglow,
reminding me of what you harbor
close and warm under your gaze.

I don’t long for the end of foggy winters,
the washed comparison and cooler tones
that clears my windows of dust, bugs, glare and streaks,
leaving me to survey, whimsically, with tea in hand,
curled up with my summer, indoors.

A trap

Clouds form behind doors,
deep-set in hills, like eyes in brows.
Hums leak from edges,
cause ripples of air, like heat on roads.
I’m drawn to it.
Blood pressure infused with gravity,
it weighs on me
heavy silence, like thick-laid snow.
Words wait there, I’m sure;
snared and bear-trapped, deathly glow,
laced with poison,
rigged to blow.

He leaves a mark

I wish one time you’d scratched me,
and left a mark I could look back on.
But you never scratched, did you?
Your mommy kept your nails short
so that even when you greeted us at the door –
both paws stretching up onto our thighs –
or when you clambered onto my shoulders –
tail swishing, always purring at your efforts;
that funny little parrot-dog you were –
the only marks you left were on my heart,
and in your tiny trails of mischief;
knocking greeting cards to the floor so you could put them under your feet
and skate about.
What cat does that?
What cat trusts so wholeheartedly,
stretches full-length, draped across his mama’s belly and chest,
arms raised,
‘asking a question’,
his own belly exposed,
toes pointed,
and falls asleep in that position
as the rubbery hums take him?

But they took you too hard this time, buddy.
Too soon.
They took you deeper than any of my pleading rubs, nudges, or words could rouse.
I promise you we tried, Apollo.
You knew – and inspired – the truest love.
Sweet prince,
my buddy,
you marked me good.


Dedicated to our sweet boy cat, Apollo, who passed so suddenly and unexpectedly at 3am this morning; a cruel theft of half the time we should have had to love and be loved by this beautiful little dude.

It’s been only 14 hours since we lost you, but I have never missed anything more in my entire life.

Sweet dreams, buddy. I am so thankful for every moment we had together.

– 23 November 2019, 5pm

Slow at Jo’s

My streets
are damp and puddled from overnight rain,
lined with trees and coffee shops
glowing from the dark corners of morning,
decorated with yellow and blue lightbulbs
hung like a tiny county fair,
green, wood frames holding the glass in place,
a home amidst the high-rises,
bigger on the inside than seems possible from out,
coffee refills,
egg sandwiches,
and time.
How does it do that?
Hours emerge from minutes
like stripping back a Russian doll.

Time slows down for Jo’s,
and I, for one, could use some slow.

I chose to go down

I wake outside of myself
slipping from my body as easily the sheets;
I cannot tell if I’m naked,
or if that makes sense at all.
I’m form-less,
but I am me.

A courtesy glance at the still-asleep,
I feel no dread or sadness,
though it may be the last time I see them.

Sinking through the floors and walls,
I pass diagonally to the city streets,
overshooting a little,
my chin resting on the tarmac
like an infinity pool,
watching the rigid concrete of my old existence
spill over the edges,
the hills,
the horizon.

What does it say about me,
that as soon as I were free of form,
able to soar or launch through space,
that instead I chose to go
down,
and down?

I allow myself to draw ever-further
to the fiery core of this earth;
the closest thing to home.
The fire is all I know.

Impart

I hope that one day I’ll be wise,
walk slowly through the trees,
and listen to the breeze
as it bustles leaves upon the path,
clearing way for another truth
that took a lifetime to muster.

It hits me, with simple, clear conviction,
putting a stutter in my stride,
but nothing more dramatic than that;
a wry smile,
and a small shake of the head.
“Where have you been?” I say,
aloud.

I must get home. I’m burning up!
I am a man who holds a great secret;
for that is what truth is before freed,
before having the chance to pass it on.
I’m desperate to,
and I’m terrified of my death finding out
before I’ve even had the chance
to write it down.

Suddenly, I feel so mortal –
eating spaghetti in an expensive shirt,
red sauce and chinos;
I’m fixated on the threatening stains,
making them ever more likely,
of course,
like swerving into the headlights
of oncoming traffic,
like becoming weak-kneed or unstable
as you peer over a sheer cliff.

I faced death many times on the way.
I greeted them each, politely,
with a tip of my hat,
never slowing down
or holding their gaze,
for fear they’d engage me in conversation;
that’s how they get you. I’m sure of it.
“Haven’t you had enough yet?” they say,
an outstretched hand beckons.
“Come; it’s time.”

It waits for you in the quiet

Quite the realization;
that it cannot fill the void,
provide endless inspiration,
or fix what you have broken.

Do you notice how quiet it is,
how still,
when you put away your phone,
when the weekends come around?

The motion-blur deceived you,
for all-the-while you were sitting still,
waiting, still,
hoping, still,
that something else,
someone else
would direct your next position.