Exhale

part of me yet seeks to be

still.

exhale

without soulclawing for air

in a pain-murmuring body

holding itself hostage.

daily, i hunt armistice,

for tenuous relief

from this sisyphean shell,

forever roiling with

ebbs + echoes

of bonerooted pain-

newly validated

by nodding white coats.

the nightmare breathes inside my skin

i feel it

before my eyelids even flutter open

it whispers me awake

an agony anthem

gleefully unraveling

the sandman’s lullaby

in its midnight playground

disease has burned its brand on me

its spiderweb suffering

deepwoven into fickle DNA

seeking mastery with a conqueror’s fist

yet i

like many others

am so much more than the pain i carry

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Friend

where there is darkness, you seek hope

where there is division, you spark unity

where there is pain, you share strength

you may be an inspiration to others

but that doesn’t neon blaze from your forehead

it’s not a badge you can flash merrily

or a “get out of jail free” card to chase away demons

sometimes you can’t look your reflection in the eyes

sometimes you despair of ever being a whole self,

of ever being more than a fragmented series of shatter shard moments

sometimes, it feels like you’re drowning in a riot of unsteady emotions

so when you forget

when you’ve lost sight of

your many splendored shades + shadows

radiating through with each blink

i will walk alongside

and remind you

Charlottesville 

Image credit goes to Jim Bourg at Reuters

when the light dims

and hate from the shadows

explodes into rancor headlines

man reveals beast 

our true colors, warped 

painting promises of a dark Prometheus 

they seek rabid rapture in oppression

hollow edged fists bear torches

obscuring our triumph, our passion, our poignancy

illuminating our savagery, our inhumanity, our bloodlust

the racism coiling sinuous leather lies in the name of progress

emboldened by leaders 

hungering for divides and distractions 

they march proudly 

into their sham conqueror’s high

old flags expose ancient hates in new masks

and pointing fingers meet screaming eyes

 

It is not enough to witness

It is not enough to condemn

It is not enough to disavow

Now, we must love

And act and hope and hurt and sob

Unite and fight and thrive and reach 

Revel in every single flavor of humanity

Live beyond our labels

And together, rise

 

Exile


unfamiliar Deja vu 

reverbs like a wraith boomerang

surfacing from untapped depths 

i haven’t been here before

this time 

this place

this person

so why does recognition lurk

hesitantly by blurred borders?

why do i feel 

i have made this choice 

before? 

exiled within my own skin 

i exist like an 

unstrung Rumpelstiltskin

cursed with memory loss

certain there is something

i must recognize

to reclaim my essence

Linger

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Morning dangles from my fingertips

as I wake still half-submerged

in my dream’s disruptive cocoon.

Though the sun

weaves a path through the clouds,

i can still taste the unfurled potency

of Morpheus’s playground

etching jagged pockmarks

into the dream-stained day.

The golden haze of first blush

beckons, radiating reassurance

but i, unassured

still blink reverie shards

from troubled lashes.

Seed sharp roots murmur of elsewhere,

ruthlessly teasing my mind’s edges

as they sketch

illegible writings on the wall,

twilight harnessed

in a gambler’s glimpse

of the space between worlds.

Potential

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Prospects stir within me

peeking through the murk

of disarming doubts

and missed opportunities

to eye tomorrow speculatively

They venture forward

brushing aside

clinging fragments of fear

trailing shreds of futures

from restless dreams

shedding past selves

and stowing their baggage

in the corner

My possibilities

jockey for position

as they thrum restlessly

at the starting line of my soul

waiting to gallop off

and be chosen

as the one

who could change everything

Beautiful

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He told me i was ugly

so I knew myself beautiful

i wish that applied to only one man in my life

used to think the only way

to ever be whole again

was to set fire to their legacy

burn to charred crust

their tiny, petty cruelties

their thoughts tattooed inside my eyelids

their grimaces of approval

& sharpened malice vowels 

it has taken me far too many 

heartless heartbeats

to realize

i can only erase their fingerprints

inside my pores

if i don’t give them the power

to define me

10 Seconds

For Lucy & Cory

Lucy & Cors Wedding 2

I met you in a strange land

Full of fireworks, bing long and awed faces

Thrown together, our sanctuary grew

An island of foreigners in a sea of locals

We could easily have become friends

Conveniently losing touch when we returned

To our western reality

Instead, we chose to become family

Playing Phase 10 on your porch

— Not at all competitively, of course —

While peeking through laundry to people watch

Singing 1950s ballads with befriended gangsters

Crying, laughing, cheering, hurting, hoping

Occasionally choking on the smell of stinky tofu

I remember sitting on your bed

One lazy afternoon

Watching you sort through your collection

Of definitely-legal DVDs

While also sweeping the floor

You exchanged glances briefly

Then went back to your respective duties

You weren’t even near each other

But the love expressed in that 10 seconds

Was more palpable,

More potent

Than anything from legend or the silver screen

In such a quiet moment

I witnessed soulmates

Letters

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lines drip bald-faced

down a seemingly empty page

after a daring jailbreak

from an unfiltered unconscious

angels & angles

demons & dreams

crisscrossing

while memories insidiously

waltz their way

around the edges

masquerading as mothballs

dipping & clinging

to paper particles

how can an incurious vowel

here

a crooning consonant curve

there

possibly hope to convey the bottomless

endless spectacles everywhere unfurling

/a riot of humanity throughout history/

what scribe or scholar

could tame the beast

with the sideline stroke of a pen?

not i, said the fly.

still,

what better way

to grasp for the moon?

Speak

To my friends, for always listening & freeing me a little more each day

I don’t often speak about being mentally abused, but this is about more than just me. For all those who have suffered in skin or in spirit, no matter what shape your scars take: you are a survivor, I am touched every day by all that you are, and you are never, ever alone.

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consonants cause traffic jams

in the rush

for release

from

their white ridged confines

elbowing aside luckless scowling vowels

& artificially flavored filters

while whispering syllables

hatch an escape plan

over by bitter and sweet

i feel them tumbling around my tongue

an emotional recipe for uncertainty

mixed with the heady brew

of pain/trust/fear

uncaged

trailing meteor tail memories

the words spill out into the

suddenly frozen air

and i find myself

free

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