in a flash

i saw the lights flashing behind my eyes
sharp pain flowing through eyes and ears into my brain

and then darkness fell into hours and into days
the darkness of a disease that hunts me, hounds me, dogs me

to wake up days later in a strange room in backwards clothes
not sure who i was nor able to speak

juice in boxes with tiny straws on white plastic trays
nurses with flower patterns on their scrubs like wallpaper

part of my tongue missing, purple lips, bruised face
more tubes than my tenth grade chemistry class

beautiful frightened eyes in the room smiling now over at me
she could have married a real man, a whole man, a functioning man

i’m ashamed to look at her looking at me so lovingly
body aching like every muscle had been tasered

and I deserve it

[september, 1999]

the distant lake

o love, you knew, and i did not.
the weather changed, the tension grew,
and all i hoped i though i knew
went crumbling away, like dust
that blows out windows towards
the distant lake.

o heart, you held on to the truth:
that seasons tell us what is real,
that what we do shows what we feel;
that words we don’t say must
like rising waters one day
overflow.

  a whole that lives in parts,
  continuation, layered bits of starts,
  a heart that knows its own, its blood,
  and love that thrives, even upon the flood —

there is no other way, no happy way.
the sun went down on fading day
where once again, you chose to stay
while i some far horizon sought,
not knowing what i loved the most
was close at hand, but could be never

bought

The Creative Type

I always wanted to be the creative type,
Although I can’t say why now, looking back —
You think of it as building sort of worlds,
Instead of filling in some void, or lack —

But what is it but random muscle play,
Or telling jokes in giant empty halls,
Recounting stories no one thinks of twice,
Or crying to the ceiling or the walls?

And yet, when I was six years old, I drew,
And added in the colors: green, red, blue –
And though there was no crowd, no audience,
I knew, at least, that that one page

Made sense

Shoals

A very vivid memory.

I remember one November
(I was in my early twenties, and
My father was still alive)
I met my parents out on the beach
At a Holiday Inn
For Thanksgiving Dinner

It was very cold:
Twelve degrees Fahrenheit
In Florida, standing next to
The Gulf of Mexico

12 degrees, sans “windchill”, mind you
Although the wind was blowing occasionally

I arrived about an hour early;
Enjoying having miles of coastline
Completely to myself,
As no one in their right mind
Would be out on the beach on
A day that cold

I had left my “right mind” at home

And I remember
Looking out at the shoals,
Or “The Sandbar” as we called it

Wondering how, on a day so freezing,
Anything could look so tropical

But also struggling to understand
Why I had no girlfriend

Why “everyone” seemed to be spending
Thanksgiving Day with families they had forged
As well as ones they had been born into –
Except me

But I loved that day
I loved how cold I felt
(It was painfully cold)

And I guess we begin
To truly understand
What it is to be thankful

When we’re even grateful

For the pain

Institutional Dreams

I used to dream I’d gone back to
The mental institution
I lived in for six months when I
Was in my darkest days

The halls, I still remember, but
The rooms fade into memory;
As I would shuffle up and down
Its limited pathways

Me being me, I spent my time
Falling in love with nurses,
And counselors and social workers
Who all tried their best

To help me get someplace where I
Would want to go on living;
Instead of where I’d been, which was
The middle of depressed

I’m grateful to those people, though
I doubt they much remember
Some patient who would play piano
Hours of the day

And yet, I’ve never thought
That there’s no way I could go back there:
I am the same guy underneath
Constructed the same way

And so I don’t look back within
Some privileged position:
The many things that make us fragile –
These are always here

But I view with compassion
All the many who are struggling
To push away the emptiness
They can’t make disappear

And ask, if you are one of those,
Remember, just remember,
That every loving thing is born
Within
A world
Of fear

The Dark Side of the Bay

On the dark side of the bay,
I was raised, then moved away;
Long ago, another life,
Now, I visit with my wife.
Days are full and thoughts are ranging:
Years go by, the world keeps changing —
We lose people, or lose track:
Some go on and some go back.

I was wounded once, and broken.
Here, in memories unspoken
I see I was raw and wild,
Scarcely more of man than child,
Full of loneliness and rage
I could neither keep, nor gauge.
Wanting more, but oft despairing
Of real purpose, or real caring.

Now amid the lights and glamor,
Near the traffic and the clamor,
I wish only I had known
What ensuant years have shown:
There’d be yet a better day,
Once I’d left the dark side of
The bay

a flight poem

traveling

  across a span of years and miles, seamlessly,
  bent on knowing
  what these feelings are that I must feel —

heavily

  believing in the moments and the words to come,
  barely showing
  cognizance of what the signs reveal —

    there, among the crowds and clouds,
    a kind of picture growing,
    of why it is the wind will burn
    and why it must keep blowing —

paradox —

  emotions essence, shadows of a summer day
  that tarries
  after all the light has has gone —

serenaded

  by a song whose singer breaks the span of time
  and carries
  with it dreams of all those yesterdays