I excel at not making friends. Really, I'm exceptional at it. If you'd like a role-model in not making friends, I'm your man. This null-success is my bread and butter. Self-published instructional pamphlet forthcoming.
Awake. Bladder. Keep the eyes slitted to suggest to brain I’m not awake yet. Think as little as possible. Frankenstein-movement to suggest to brain still very sleepy. Pee. Back under quilt. Duvet because it’s cold now. Sleep.
I said sleep.
Dried and bleached by sleep,
Laid and stacked,
White for writing,
Dropped from a height
An oak looms in the garden,
My effigy of pain,
I’ve not climbed since May’s rain,
When soaked hands slipped, bones broke, skin ripped,
And I ran inside, alone.
Blackbeard in an Armani
His cross-bone skibbies ride over a sharkskin belt
A white-and-red mint hides his Gehenna breath
Clean-shaven scars swath his cheeks and chin
And his sword arm waves against the sky
Do you spy green sprigs on a hill,
Hiding an underworld beneath?
A barrow of whispers?
Lines of letters, milling
I only wanted a dream. Next to my bed, just below its edge and close enough to touch, rested a clear glass globe the size of my head, an aquarium of sorts. The globe encased a stamen-shaped apparatus, metallic and black, from which glowing, sky-blue tendrils writhed, probing the globe’s underside, cascading from bottom to top, like so many searching, electric fingers. If I, the curious observer, touched my own finger to the globe, the swimming tendrils would gather on the spot, forsaking their search and sharing their warmth with me, tingling. Holding an open palm to the top of the globe, I could coax those incandescent, living tentacles into a single, white bolt, bright and hot, connecting me like a conduit to the beastly flower inside. In the darkness, the sphere’s luminescence coated the ceiling and cast floating black ghosts along the walls, like dreaming dancers, spellbound by the alien flower’s soprano hum. And entranced, I too danced in dreams until morning.
This is a poem to Jon, my true friend,
To a vagrant like me, a road on which to end,
A beachfront retreat without fence or police.
Against my gusts and drops and shouting hail,
He stood, anchored, like a bastion, laughing—
Silent, shoulders bobbing, drool slathering his chin;
His stomach, eyes, face, and dignity all puckered.
Cappuccino fights for us. Not acrid drip coffee, like the crow-black sludge manufactured in all-night truck stops. That muck flays your throat with writhing fingernails of hate. Plop, splash, plop it knells, as gummy chunks hit the porous floor of a Styrofoam cup, like sounds best left in the bathroom. Like an invading tyrant, it marches upon you, subduing you behind dark, dripping bars of endless night. But the king fits his guests in fuzzy robes, silken sheets, and popping fires. He speaks, his voice a shining note, as he glides from his steaming nest to rest in a porcelain carriage. He arrays himself in infinite sheets of deep browns and tans, like soft, supple leather. And tipped from his bed, he releases a thousand dancing warriors, adorned with silver swords and helms and shields, to piroutte across the stage of your mouth, fighting back knived goblins and the bloody fangs of wolves, singing all the while, before diving head first into the cave below to do battle against the coldness of wakeful nights. Only a king, not a bully, can keep those nights at bay.
I posted this vignette previously, but after receiving some critiques, I reworked it.
“You scare me,” a previous draft began. But the ghoul of perfection cornered me, and in desperation my task took way too long, with way too much censure. Revealing my unedited self, as opposed to the comfort of studied abstraction, makes my face warm and my hands shake. So the deceitful strength of rotting fingers keeps you and me apart. But like the steps of my pursuer’s persistence, only by means of repeated encounters can our romance succeed.