There is a little black raven
that lives inside my chest
and he does what scavengers
are known for doing best;
he sits perched behind my ribs
eating my held-in words
picking over wormy carcasses
of sentences I wish you heard.
I know I should not feed him
getting quieter as he gets stronger
and he is getting restless
he won’t stay still much longer.
I’m afraid of my own silence
of the words that once were mine
lest the raven burst from my flesh
trailing bloody syllables and intestine.
And should the raven fly away
and I lay in the shadow of death
I will regret the words left unsaid
down to my last breath.
I can’t pull my hand from the flame
no matter how badly I get burned
and I should have known better since
I heard that you were the goddamn
Prometheus of breaking hearts
but I hope someday I’ll learn that
where there’s smoke there’s fire
and any love worth possibly having
won’t make you sift your heart from the ashes.
Leave me at the precipice
between what has been and
what will yet come to pass-
behind me only tombstones
and before me only air.
I don’t know where to go
only that this cliff is steep and
rocky in its sharp descent;
my only hope is to climb down
slowly and oh so carefully
and hope my ghosts die in the fall.
We lived and we died
in the space of a moment
and the universe laughed
at our inflated sense of
indulged importance and
the monuments we erected
to remind the future
who it was that ruled the past.
It wept when we loved as if the
world depended on our racing hearts
to keep spinning on its axis
but when all is said and done
I would prefer to have blazed
and illuminated rather than to
have smoldered in the embers.
Live once and live well-
the universe does not own your time.
The only way that I can describe
a woman like her is to say
that she reminded me of a
ballerina dancing in a minefield
her performance was a manipulation.
I watch her slip into her pointe shoes
(not comfortable but they accentuate
her legs to a particular advantage)
and she wipes make up across her face
until she is perfectly in character.
She dances without looking at her feet
her chin up and every movement is specific
solely executed to get something that she wants
and most of the time she does not realize
how close she is to detonating the mines.
I wonder if it is all worth it;
the practice and commitment to her character
when I know she could find actual love without
having to create a façade she thinks the
audience wants instead.
I watch from balcony seats and the spotlight
focuses on her as she leaps and she spins
and the ticketholders in their finery lean forward-
gasping as the ballerina loses track of steps and music
we know that the finale is always an explosion.
(image courtesy of https://capstonerealty.wordpress.com)
Sitting by the window while it rains
listening to Edith Piaf
(just barely audible so I can still
hear the rain and the thunder)
writing in my notebook that smells of
the lavender we pressed between the pages.
Perhaps ‘perfection’ is a paradigm of
time and space when you can feel
completely and unconditionally yourself
pushing a pen across lines of paper
while the lightning strikes outside
(and Non Rien De Rien plays inside)
is where I most truly exist.
I was walking alone along a path on the waterfront of Catania. I stopped at the kiosks and sifted through rows of fresh fruit and pails of snails for escargot until I was distracted by a lone man on a bench by the sea. I wandered over to him with a forgotten peach in the palm of my hand, drawn by the way he looked sketching the scenic panorama before him.
I sat next to him and watched him execute perfect strokes of lead across the page, envious of the way he could perfectly transcribe what he saw. We performed the traveller’s handshake of telling each other who we were and where we were from, and he showed me his book of sketches. Some of the drawings I recognized from the sights that lay before me but deeper into the book was a visual guide to his home in England. I gazed at expertly composed pages of streams and cottages and felt truly transported to the countryside.
He asked me what Canada was like and I, lacking his artistic skills, instead described the way that pine trees look dusted with snow, and the mountains that cradle crystal lakes between them. I detailed how my city looks split down the middle with a twisting river and deep valleys of green juxtaposed against the cold concrete of the city sky line.
He closed his eyes and said, “Ah yes, I can see it.”
There were two things that I realized in that moment:
The first being how well you can truly appreciate the beauty of home when you are miles and miles away from it. The seemingly mundane things that you would not notice in the day-to-day become features you feel compelled to describe perfectly to do the scene justice to a stranger.
The second was that everyone creates in different ways and being jealous of another’s ability to construct reality is like (as a dear friend would say) counting others’ blessings when you should be counting your own.