“Fragile”

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They traipse around their glass

And crystal, mimicking the dance

Of duels fought long ago

Their stance is the same, meant

To inspire fear, but neither

Remembers that with fear comes

A certain price. It manifests

Itself in the imported furniture,

On the chairs they never sit in

And the tables gleaming with the

Jagged reality of their reflections

It is in the potted plants

And the gentle swinging of

Their chandeliers. The pristine

Whiteness of their sins surrounds

Them as they dance forever around

Each other, never once daring

To meet in the middle. Around them

The white-washed walls feed on the

Remnants of their fragile hearts

And in their cold-blooded lust for

The glamorous, they forget they are

Only flesh

I Guess That Makes Me Honest, Then

“I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar—if he is financially fortunate.”

From John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

“Sunsets”

sunset

If I were a sunset, I would

Rest myself on the bed that is

The world’s anger

I would offer myself as a

Soothing presence, letting the

Glow of my heartfelt emotions

Calm the waters that have been shed

From the eyes of all mankind

I would descend from the highest sky

To carry their burdens, to take away

The toils of their day

I would come down not to watch my reflection

But to color the faces of those who realize

That time is cyclical, and that their

Tears are shed for naught

And as the oranges and yellows and rosy

Amethyst hues begin to turn them

Into shadows of who they once were, I will know

That they have experienced looking

Into the waters, that they understand

Every day begins and ends the same

And they can witness the dusk

Just as they have come to expect the dawn

“The Things They Carried”

“For the most part they carried themselves with poise, a kind of dignity. Now and then, however, there were times of panic, when they squealed and wanted to squeal but couldn’t, when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said Dear Jesus and flopped around on the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and sobbed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and to God and to their mothers and fathers, hoping not to die…afterward, when the firing ended, they would blink and peek up. They would touch their bodies, feeling shame, then quickly hiding it. They would force themselves to stand…frame by frame, the world would take on the old logic—absolute silence, then the wind, then sunlight, then voices. It was the burden of being alive.”

From Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried

“The Practice of Civility”

I am Referee
Standing at a stance
Arms splayed open
To accommodate for the
Distance left between
The two of you
My tiger stripes stand for courage
To help me make the call

I am Peacekeeper
Consoling you while
I comfort her
Reassuring words pour forth
Time and again, recycled
Churning in my belly before
Spewing out to tell you that
“You’re right. Yes, of course. I know it’s not fair”

I am Healer
Holding on to the
Shredded love between
You, watching as it
Melts in strips through
Warm fingertips and you
Cling to my shoulder, shedding your
Troubles and your crocodile tears

I am Mediator
Once again between you while
She tugs and you shove
Neither to be outdone, eager
To have justice on your sides
But justice takes to the sidelines—
Vertigo and gravity make
For a better team

I am Counselor
Having to explain
The difference between
Being listened to
And being heard, yet still
You refuse to free yourself
Of the leash that Pride
Holds doggedly against you

I am Caught in the Middle
Ensnared in the back-and-forth
That is your life’s work
Praying silently for your silence
I close my eyes and wait
For one of you to lose interest
Who am I to stop you
When you’re at your best?

“At the Kitchen Table”

They sit and recount

Petty details

Stainless steel scraping across

White porcelain

Tearing apart a single day

Like they tear at the flightless bird

That is dinner

Their false laughter bubbles on the edge

Of something else, something

Waiting on the periphery

Hungry for a single word to ignite

Its anger

They sit with the pretense

Of being normal

But they are only fooling themselves

I should know

I am the one

That carries their scraps

And their weighted silences