L, #199

From across the lifeless room
I spot you, am drawn to you,
not in a sexual way,
the imaginative way
I am drawn to everyone.
I am not ensnared by the
almost imperceptible
sway of your body from left
to right, leaned as you peruse
the objects in the aisles,
the way your hips shift when you
walk or the long curving path
of your back, imagining
hands moving up and down it.
No, that’s not it. This is more
of a hometown connection,
one where I am drawn to ask
your name, drawn to uncover
some piece of information
I can latch onto and use
to shimmy into your life,
into your circle of friends.
My first instinct says to go
with sports, or maybe music,

To find something visceral
we all love and we can all
relate to. I want to hang
with you on a Friday night
playing poker and basking
in the warm auburn aura
of you. Perhaps it’s merely
the attraction to all those
other women, the thunder
of their hair that topples me,
leaves me walking home sideways
and the contrast, the deep roots
that stake me to the soil
and pitch me down like a tent
that draws me to you. Oh, yes,
I want to bed you, but not
from the same ugly corner
of my brain. It’s an odd thing,
much deeper and more calming,
like the bass of the lowest
guitar string. This attracts me
to all my lesbian friends.

Could one of you please tell me
what the obsession is. No,
not your attraction to your
brooding girlfriend. That I get.
What’s left is for me to sit
at the table, watch the world
spinning around me, the world
spinning inside me, churning
an amalgam of features
I’d rather not think about,
my lack of guts for going
outside and seeing what’s left,
the ugly collection of
chemicals and interstates
we’ve laid down, what my mother
and father laid down, what face
the first of my female friends
to come out, or not come out
but be too cool to just be
another of the prissy
girls at school laid down. I spend
so much time in the forest
of my mind, swung from trees,
tripping over the dead roots
and branches, rolled in the mud
of my discontent. How nice

To find a well-paved highway,
without the need for downward
staring navigation. I
saw you walking on the road
and stopped to offer a ride,
a place to stay, food to eat,
a life to live and a home.
We never need sex or fights
over who sleeps on what side
of the bed, or who steals
blankets. I will lay the seeds
of our love like a garden
in the backyard, keep the weeds
from growing up and toil,
repairing the infinite
doodads life’s rending apart.
My admiration is just
a condition of the contract.
Let’s agree that a kiss, when
planted in the hand, buried,
lies dormant, but one planted
on the lips, breathed into, lives.

What’s left for me but to sit in
this frigid jail cell,
to live out a life sentence
handed down by a family
of people far more potent,
more powerful and more cruel
than I could once hope to be.
There is no wish of parole
from this prison, from behind
this self-imposed confinement
in a small room meant to keep
the wild ideas away
from the maps of the agents
who search for things to believe,
to vilify, to enter
into and to pilfer out
the nugget of loveliness
at the center of all this.
I’m clinking my steel cup
on the steel bars, begging
for a scrap of forgiveness.
Instead, the profiting of
my success is used to build
more prisons and to hold
more brethren, all because
of my inability

To keep quiet, to keep voices
from playing drums in my head
or the filter running next
to the pool of my verses.
We can sit here and ramble
on all day about what kind
of a kind, cruel world this is,
how it’s been thrust upon us
and only our friends, only
our allies are at all worth
trusting. But, you there, sitting
in the car next to me, you
looking down and stern into
your steering wheel. You could
murder me with the turning
of a wheel, at the drop
of a hat decide to end
my life. So I hurry up
the peddle and the wheels,
hurry up my escaping
the constant and ongoing
negotiations, ad nauseam.

No, your Honor, I wasn’t
the person going over
the speed limit. That person
has been hidden and slaughtered.
From across the lifeless room
I reach out with my seeing,
try to convince you, connect
to you with my mind, explain
what a cool, interesting
challenge I might be, what gold
and silver coins, what rewards
are hidden at the foothold
of this tree. Walk five paces
until we cross, till you come
to the X of our brief lives.
Dig there. Hurry a moment
to delve through the underbrush,
the moss and the fallen leaves,
all the foot deep minutia
we only barely witness.
Dig there into the lukewarm
topsoil, the rich, loamy
history that follows me.
Beneath that is the hard earth,
the stone and gravel, the hard
unforgivable red clay
of the mistakes I have made.
Stop. Don’t dig further unless
you wish to build a homestead,
to lay down a foundation.

The concrete cannot be poured
until the hole has been dug
out, hollowed out, until struts
have been posted to hold back
the crumbling bit of life.
No. Don’t dig there. You are not
ready for the work that needs
to be done just to ready
the place, make it livable.
But yes, there are those rewards,
their upside to this longing.
The treasure chest, the old crate
you’ve mapped out across the floor,
that you take that stepping
hoping against hope exists,
indeed exists. It is stuck,
is embedded just below
the surface, just below my
fears and irrational cuts,
the lines on my arms and legs,
healed over, hollowed out
markings, remnants of my
unpatchable scar tissue.
What split when I was a kid
which can’t be healed by time
or by the stitching over
by cells and vitamin E.



A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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