Winning While Losing

With so much living left to do
How do you deal with this kind of news?

Take a deep breath and close your eyes
Nod and agree to the terms of this life

Expiration dates are in the contract
Sign it, date it, and prepare for the attack

Diagnosis terminal written on the sheet
But my body told me far before I could see it

We wake each day and try to forget
That this all has to come to an end

Take it for granted
Be wild
Be crazy
Live in this world
Until the memories are fading

So now I drink from my leaking cup
God help the poor bastard charged with cleaning me up


Hang On

we drove uptown
in your beat up chevy
with your right headlight
hanging from its socket

you turned to me
to say with a grin
that this life
had made you crazy

‘we’re in this together,’ I said,
‘and we’re going to die
holding each other’s hand
even if they’re separated from our bodies.’

your eyes suddenly lit up with glee
you cupped my cheek with your palm
before slapping the shit out of me

as we crashed through
the department store  window
I reached for your hand
to find you’d tucked and rolled from the car

The blood poured from my head
as I lit my last cigarette
and waited for the police

you were long gone
with no bodily harm
when they pried me
from the passenger seat

men in blue uniforms
cast looks of concern
watching me squirm on
bloody concrete with a smile

I could barely open my eyes
but it was your name that I cried
though I cannot even
remember it now

the I.V. was uncomfortable and
the doctors were quite unconvinced
that my stay on this Earth
would take up much of their time

you didn’t bring flowers
when you finally showed your face
offering no apology or excuse
you messed up my hair and just left

though I remember little of you now
to this day, I can’t bring myself
to ever trust a stranger again

re-learning to walk
my hands were sweaty on the rails
as my hospital gown
started to catch fire

the orderlies exclaimed
carrying me from the flames
‘dear God just give me a break!’

through the front entrance
they carried me to you
you reeked of gasoline
with a slight hint of sulfur

‘I came to rescue you,’
you cooed to me
‘they were killing you in there!’

running your fingers
through my singed hair
you placed me in the passenger seat
of your new automobile

before driving away
you walked to the front of the car
dislodged your right headlight
and peeled out of the parking lot

gripping my hand tightly
as we drive off to die together


Self-Esteemed Princess

No full body coverage
She takes it all in stride
Clothed in technicolour
All the others black and white

She’s dressed to kill
And kill she will
While the roars of the crowd
Are becoming shrill

Step and pivot
Show the people what you’ve got
Stop and turn
The bar is your catwalk

Affection is your drug tonight
Mixed with cocktails and beer
Scan the crowd to see
Who takes you home from here

Yet, slumped in your chair
Heavy breath rising in cold air
The attention will fade
And they’ll just leave you there


Shifting Light

the late night clouds
are making faces at me.
I retort
with clouds of my own.

billowing smoke
rising upward
from an open mouth
that is sure
to join them
soon.

the stars attempt
to make me smile
yet they
will leave me, too.

the sunrise
will pick up
their task
but,
eventually,
give up
and burn
my skin.

isn’t it a shame?

with so much
beautiful scenery
all I can do
is stare
at my feet.

at least
the grass
is green
on this side.

right?


Dream Journal Entry I: The Mountain Lion House

All names have been changed and descriptions omitted to protect those involved, and my feelings toward them, in the account relayed hereafter.

I arrived at the conference early. The walkway to the ominous front door was shaded by a canopy of ivy, strategically growing around a wire arrangement. I used the large golden door knocker, making a cannon-like boom resound from within the house. I found, however, that using the knocker was not necessary for its contact against the wood swung the door open. I walked inside to find that I appeared to be the first to arrive.

I had underestimated the gargantuan quality of this house.

I started to walk around and inspect to see if there were any other folks around. After all, I only came because I was invited and I’d have sooner skipped it. Not that I wasn’t flattered for the invitation, but because I had a later engagement with a lady-friend that I still planned on attending. The house resembled that of a mall with household furniture. There were many large windows and the walls were white with indistinguishable artwork hung in numerous places. The ground floor had an abundant array of plant life from tiny palm trees to kudzu. Abruptly, I heard numerous footsteps upstairs. Of course, ‘upstairs’ was quite a vague concept in this house, as I was to find out. There were two sets of black marble staircases with signs detailing which floor they, respectively, led to. I came to find that there were not two, nor three, but seven floors in this monstrous piece of architecture. The stairs on my left were for gaining access to floors 2-4 and on the right were 5-7.

I found the footsteps to be coming from the fourth floor as I wheezed up the stairs. Firmly planting my foot upon the floor, I heard a deep growl followed by a second one to join. To my right was an open double-doorway and within were two great felines. One was perched atop a piano, spotted like a leopard with magical green eyes. The other lay on the floor beneath the piano and was solid tan with eyes black and beady. They both glared at me and opened their jaws wide to let out a terrible roar. I was frightened beyond description. I couldn’t gauge just how quickly the beasts could move but I was assured that it was a great deal quicker than I.

I tried not to make any sudden movements as I slowly backed away from their lair. Keeping my eyes on them, I backed myself into a cold steel wall and felt a sudden sense of hopelessness. I was certain that I would meet my end. Just then, the wall I was leaning on split in two and I fell backwards into a soft and fragrant mess of hair. I scrambled off of the floor to find I was in an elevator with my dear friend Francine. She laughed and asked me why I looked so pale. I pointed a shaky finger toward the, still open, elevator doors at the out of place mountain lions in the adjacent room. Her eyes widened and she frantically pressed the button for the ground floor.

As the elevator doors glided open, we were greeted on the ground floor by the host and owner of the establishment: Lester. He welcomed me and expressed his gratitude for my presence and his appreciation for my writing. I graciously thanked him the best that I could, given my current state of terror. Francine placed her hand on his shoulder and nervously began to speak:

“You know the…um…’mountain lion’ problem you’ve been having? Well…now there are two.”

Lester, nonchalantly, shook his head and mentioned that the initial feline must have found himself a girlfriend. I tilted my head and could not help but be in awe at how well he was taking this news. Eventually, people began filing in: friends and acquaintances from this life and past ones. I made my way to the closest of the three kitchens on the floor and poured myself a drink. I kept, firmly, mentioning to Lester that I could not stay for very long and that the preceding would be best if hurried. Lester kept reassuring me with a “Soon.”

An old band mate and brother of mine, Jacob, caught my eye and we greeted each other with a warm hello. We had not seen each other in quite some time and I was honoured that he would brave the journey to make an appearance at the conference. Sitting on one of the lavish couches, we talked nonsense for a while. During a break in the conversation, I pulled a cell phone from my pocket to check the time. My date was scheduled at seven and it was getting close to five thirty, already. The device in my hand confused me, however. There were no buttons, but merely an LCD screen. Seeing my puzzled look, Jacob pulled out a similar device and removed a magnetic pen from a slot on the side of the phone. He began writing his text message with the pen. I began to understand and searched for the same feature on mine, yet it was absent. Jacob laughed and handed me a number two pencil. I began writing a text message to Helen, the lady I was scheduled to take out in less than an hour and a half, with the intent of letting her know where I was so she could come to my rescue.

I touched the pencil led to the phone and the LCD screen began to crack. As fluid poured from the phone onto my lap, I let out a heavy moan of despair as Jacob began to laugh hysterically. The phone was destroyed and so were my hopes of contacting her. I felt beyond defeated, for this was no ordinary lady that I was to be meeting with. Very few people can exhilarate me with just their presence, but she did. She does and I had, seemingly, missed the opportunity that she was finally willing to give me. I could feel my heart drop and the sadness swell in my chest. A part of me wanted to cry and the rest of me remembered that I had not the ability. So I did my best to stuff down and suppress the emotion as I hurled the phone and took another gulp from my glass, the contents of which I had no idea. Lester strolled into the room and announced that, before the readings would begin, everyone was to be ushered into the food court for dinner. I was absolutely astonished. I remember thinking to myself: “This place has a sodding food court?!?!”

Seated alone in the massive cafeteria setting, too depressed to eat, I picked at my food. I looked at the enormous overhead clock and whimpered. Seven fifteen. My head dropped as if it had been suddenly burdened with the weight assigned to every woe in the world. I looked up and she appeared from, what seemed like, thin air.

Helen was seated a good ten yards in front of me conversing with, what looked like, the captain of a college wrestling team. We caught each others eye and I smiled, as I thought that she had some intention of finding me and taking me away from this place. Helen excused herself from the table and hurried over to mine. The quick manner in which she spoke did nothing to ease my mind as her words would shatter my expectations:

“Just wanted to come over and say hello. So…hello.” she said with a grim and serious face.

Helen had almost turned around and began walking away as the last word of her sentence left her mouth. She returned to her table to sit across from the burly gentleman and her expression immediately changed into a glowing smile. I felt completely alone. I pondered the idea of rushing over to explain myself but decided against it. Helen had made up her mind. Pushing out my chair, I stood up and began my exodus. I didn’t care about the reading, these people, the mountain lions, or this ridiculous mansion. I was leaving. I made my way out of the food court into a quaint little kitchen. I passed through this room into a study with a full bar. The next room was a den with a fireplace and that led to yet another kitchen. My frustration was growing fierce as I began to think that I would never find my way out of this place. Yet, I could only keep walking until I finally found myself in the sitting room where I had broken my phone.

Suddenly, I heard Francine’s voice from behind. She informed me that I was due on stage and asked me what I was doing. I turned only my head and told her I was going home. She shook her head and approached me. She could see that I wasn’t happy, even if she didn’t know why. I didn’t even turn around to face her as she embraced me. I could only stand there, limp. The smell of her hair made me feel better. It reminded me of what people would refer to as love. I had always felt this for her but knew it was a futile sentiment. All the same, I moved my hand on top of hers and grasped it tight. It was then that I heard the purring. The lions were to our left, laying in a loving embrace. I felt the swelling in my chest once more as Francine squeezed tight and assured me that she would always take care of me.

It was then that I awoke.


Song and Dance

just you and I
dancing under
a bare bulb.
we had no radio,
so I sang to you
as we swayed
to the rhythm
of my voice

the lack
of furniture made
for a perfect
dance space.
clutter
was never
our thing.

your nose
brushed against
my neck and
you smiled

you never
smile anymore.

my song hummed
against your eardrum
your breath
tickled my senses

now
I sing
the same song
under the same bulb,
but
my dance
is with this
bottle.

you’re out
dancing, too,
with someone
who cannot sing
nearly
as well
as I can.


Aviary

love is
a bird.
it floats
in the
sky
so gracefully.
you want,
so badly,
for it to
perch on your
shoulder.

love is
many birds
soaring and circling
high above your
head.
without a care
they fly,
or so
it would appear
by the look
of their dance.

some
you will
never
know.
some,
from time
to time,
will rest
on your
finger.

a great many
will perch
upon your
waiting shoulder
with tired wings,
fascinated
by its comfort,
but
you make
a sudden move
to gently
stroke its head
and it will
frantically
flutter away.

yet,
there are a few
who will
make you feel
as though you’ve
captured
beauty.
nestled with you,
they will coo
and
tell you
they will
never
fly away.

it will come
as a sudden
shock
when you feel
the stab
of its beak
digging
through your neck.
it is
your heart
it wants.
not for cherishing,
but
devouring.

so
you must
push it
away,
even when
the thought
of life
without it
kills
you.
but life with it
will kill you
faster.

your hand
shoves it
away
and you
return your gaze
to the sky,
hoping
for a bird
that is
a vegetarian.


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