futile devices.


words can't explain what happened.
but words are all I got.

some folk might see a waste of time in 'em.
they don't look past the surface of things,
too busy with the What to find the What For.

power.
there's great power in words.
don't need no dragon blood to know that.
the shapes a mouth makes can lay a body low
or set a flame to a kindled fire, even on the coldest of nights.
they can call down salvation and glory
or lash a heart like a cat o' nine.

yeah. words got power.
but they got no say in the matter.
can't help what they are, words, or what they do.
ain't but futile devices, noises and nothings.

unless they got a voice.

blinded by light.


and sometimes
it's enough
to eat a sandwich
to take the night off
to listen to your ghost
to plot a course for fiji
and to know that someone cares.

season finale.


This is how I broke your heart.

-----------------------------------------

I wrote about you once before, almost exactly two years ago. You remind me of autumn, of red leaves and frost and lingering, lengthening evenings. (Your smile says more of summer, of brightness and warmth and daylight. But I never knew you then. I never will.)

So I wrote about forgetting. And I did my part. I just didn't account for yours.

-----------------------------------------

It was your eyes, mostly. You never looked at me, because you knew what it would do. But I held you close that night, your golden curls woven through my fingers and your lashes on my cheek. And I kissed you, and I looked.

And you didn't look away.

Here's the part you don't know about: My heart broke first.

I couldn't bear it. Because I saw beauty there, and kindness, and the shaping of a helpless joy. Like a dying man in reverse, I saw the rest of my life flash before our eyes.

And I knew it didn't belong to me.

-----------------------------------------

So my heart broke. It grabbed my tongue and wrested words from it, words that even now I cannot comprehend. I will not. They are too painful to consider.

They did the trick.

-----------------------------------------

You have a new heart now. You need one, of course, to shine as brightly as you do. And as your helpless joy is shaped by another, you must be brighter than ever.

I broke your heart to save mine.

I just didn't expect you to break it again.

robin van persie and the evening news.


if you want to know what it's like
then don't go to bed
learn how to cook
watch the red and the blue
and share your joy with the dawn alone

sleep in the sunlight
and travel at twilight

speak to all you read and never see
give your words away
and take them from those who know you least

see your love before you
and name its beauty
and never hold it again

close your eyes
and listen to the light
listen to the warmth and the cold
and the pain and the impossible
and clench, and cry, and burn, and shine
because you don't know how to stop.

it's like that.

polka dots and moonbeams.


I went to the theatre alone.

I kept the ticket in my pocket. I didn't know what else to do with it. I had bought it on faith, and that didn't seem to be enough, but I clung to it anyway, if only to prove to myself that I tried.

I went to the theatre alone, but I met myself there.

I had stood above the entrance, looking down at the bright-lit tree and the bright-faced people and the wintering city outside. I wore black and wine and I sang. I was good.

I entered the theatre alone, but I met others there.

I took my seat on the wrong side, examined my ticket, and sheepishly moved down the row. I stood to allow the young couple passage. His hair spilled over the tops of his ears, and her shoulders glowed with beauty. The ticket's empty seat sat between us, a barrier separating life from life.

I sat in the theatre alone, but I met the drummer there.

He hammered out beats with stick and brush and hand and wrist. I could see him better now than then; the days of a decade lay in the grey of his hair and the size of my waist and the eyes of us both. But we traveled, he and I. We were younger and we were older and the music was the same, ageless.

I closed my eyes in the theatre alone, but I met her there.

I was a fool. I was out of my depth, and she well knew it. I just wanted her close, and I didn't know how to tell her. I was bumbling, honest, desperate, fierce, shy, strong, loving. And she leaned her head on my shoulder and the scent of her entered me, filled me, warmed me.

I opened my eyes in the theatre alone, but I met the song there.

I have forgotten the music. It used to fill me like her scent, but they both belong to others now, and I can only look on, absent, as they live on. But I saw the name of the song, and for a moment, I remembered. And I held the brass, deep and vibrant, in my hands again. And I expelled breath, and polka dots appeared, and I moved my fingers, and moonbeams shone. And I sighed, and was glad.

I left the theatre alone, but the song goes with me. I hope it never leaves.

tonight the sky.


A strong late summer breeze met his face as he opened the door. It passed between branches and shook leaves with a firm but gentle force, and he welcomed its embrace as he walked down the path, avoiding the fallen, shriveled plums that littered it.

He didn't know where he was going -- only that he felt like driving. Most nights that was enough, especially when it was by choice instead of by necessity. He had read somewhere that, if you stood at the South Pole and faced away from it, every direction was north. This was like that.

He plugged in the device as he settled into the driver's seat, turning the volume up. An electric guitar melody, rhythmic and thrumming, began to spill from the vehicle's speakers. He rolled down the window and sat for a moment, enjoying the feel of the wind. He turned the key. The engine quietly roared to life.

He'd have preferred some company. He thought about the friends and acquaintances he had allowed himself to lose as he drove. He thought about the times when he could have asked any number of companions to join him on a quick run to the fast-food joint or the gas station or the 24-hour grocery store. He now made these sojourns by himself, and sometimes that was okay but sometimes it wasn't. He wasn't sure which kind this was, but he allowed as how it might be a third option: he felt lonely but enjoyed feeling it, like stretching out a muscle hours after a long run. The soreness was sharp but pleasurable.

He turned the volume up louder.

"Tonight bright stars
Are shining for you.
Oceans and big clouds,
Deep midnight blue."

He pressed the accelerator and thought of the day when he would sing that for her.

involuntary.


He cradled the boy in his arms, feeling the softness of his cheeks as they listened to the band rehearse. Any son of mine, he thought, had better learn to appreciate jazz. And bluegrass. And Chopin. And good music in general. He turned the boy around to face him a moment, their noses touching as he regarded his father seriously. Who cares what he likes.

He deposited the boy in his grandfather's lap and walked across to the ladder where she was hanging decorations. She smiled down at him as he climbed up each step until they were face-to-face. Her arms snaked around his neck as her eyes, green as an ocean, locked onto his.

"I love you," she said.



He opened his eyes a squint. It had gotten dark. He fumbled for his phone on the nightstand next to him to check the time, then rolled over and closed his eyes again. But hers were gone.

waiting for my real life to begin.


He once heard it said that every plan was a tiny prayer to Father Time.

Maybe that's why he didn't make plans. He and Father Time were not really on speaking terms. He preferred to think of the future only as much as the present required him to. It made the connections he didn't form, the friends he allowed himself to lose, the life he saw others living but that he could not find himself, all seem easier to bear. If he made no grand design for the next month or year or decade, then no matter what happened, he would always be surprised. Pleased. Content.

The truth was, he had no concept of the future. Perhaps he lacked the mental acuity to envision it. He could not conceive of any existence other than the one in which he presently found himself. To pretend otherwise was silly, fruitless, puerile.

His possessions, however, told another story. Stacks upon stacks of comic books, their covers creased and worn with repeated use and travel. Novels of brave deeds and biographies of braver ones, of heroes and villains and those that refused to join either camp. Stories of far away lands and dangers both real and imagined. They draped the walls of his room in wonder.

Yet as he read, he never pictured himself in the places of the characters. He had no part in such adventures; he was an observer, not a participant, not even in imagination. The journey of his life, he posited, must surely be better than the ones of which he read. Because it would belong to him.

And any minute now, his ship was coming in.

this is all yours for the taking.


you once wrote about how you use crutches.

Not, like, metal things
that help you walk.
I'm talking about

flaws
excuses

the things you point to when things go badly.
or even when they don't.

you have this idea
that you could fix everything
if you wanted to
which makes it easy not to bother.

you cling to that
you wrap yourself in your shortcomings
so that if you fail
you know why
and how.

it makes you feel like
you can control something
even if it's something bad.

but I've got news for you.

you can't fix everything.

you will fall.

you will not be better than everyone else.




but you gotta try.

razor.


i just saw
a picture of your face
an image i once envisioned
every time i closed my eyes
it left me gasping for breath
drowning in the memory i made

and i remember your scent
and how it lingered on my clothes for days
and i remember the songs i wrote but never played
and the thoughts i thought but never spoke
and the life i never told you i wanted

and i flail in the flood of you

the you that i dreamed

the you that did not exist

the you i will always love.