Questions for the Weak-Worded and Strong-Livered

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At what point to we love something,
and how do we know we’ve found it?
Do I love writing
because I go through spurts
where I scribble something everyday,
or am I a faker
because those spurts are separated
by endless spanses (sp)
as dry as the desert?
Do I love whiskey
because I think about it
when I’m sober,
or am I misplacing love for addiction
or worse, addiction for thirst?
Where’s the line in the sand
between love and addiction?
Is one just a stepping stone
to the other?
Am I addicted to writing
because it gives me a rush,
unique and short-lived,
but quickly spirals into a depression,
or do I just enjoy the idea of writing
more than my execution?
Am I addicted to whiskey
because every night of the week,
if I have the choice,
I reach atop the refridgerator (sp)
to my motley collection of poisons
and wrap my fist around the neck
of that sweet Kentucky snake oil,
or am I just a scholar,
a wannabe connoisseur
who wishes to perfect my knowledge
by drinking my lessons?
Do I love these things
because I wish to be perfect?
Am I addicted
because I’m not?
Can perfection even exist
within these realms,
or in any realm at all?
So many questions,
and every answer is another.

On Cyanide and Holy Water

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text:

Coffee is painfully average,
drinking coffee in the morning,
coffee black, coffee with cream,
with sugar and sugar and sugar.
Coffee is as average as pants,
as common and as necessary,
mundane to the point of boredom,
past boredom to insanity
then past insanity to nirvana.
It’s always been coffee,
coffee mornings for revival,
coffee afternoons for survival,
sliding into coffee nights of denial,
of unquenchable thirst,
of bitter acid burning
every smooth spiral of esophagus.
Coffee mornings are just coffee nights
plus time
plus rotton (sp) REM breaths
that suck the life from you
like precision sponges,
bloodless muscles and bloodless brain,
eyes of nettles
and bones of balsa wood.
Coffee is a heaping dose of life,
part gasoline, part vasoline (sp)
with streaks of glue and poison.
Poison? Ah, yes,
that which saves us shall kill us twice,
and we’re paying it forward
and taking favors
and mortgaging our souls
to King Coffee,
tall, dark, handsome,
and anxious.
We’ll take him any way we can
and any time we can
and anywhere we may be,
asking him, pleading,
playing to his sympathies,
convincing him to stab us
with his caffeine excalibur (sp).
We want the morning stab,
the evening stab,
the convenient stab on the go
and the bored stab at home,
the stab that shows us life
the way we wish to see it,
and the stab that shows us how it is.
Heal around the blade,
we want to become one with it,
to be intimitely (sp) connected with royalty,
the only royalty we can all agree on.
We admire him,
we believe in him,
and we trust him
though we know he holds all the cards,
and whenever enough time has passed
since we last paid our respects,
he shows no mercy
and pulls the blade out slowly
so we can feal (sp) every single inch.

drinking in the morning

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text:

I’m awfully sick of thinking
I think I’ll take to drinking
In the mornings, lying in bed
Once I’ve stomped the alarm clock
killed it dead
The world is still fuzzy from sleep
and so silent
until my head starts to spin
with clear thoughts of day
I should keep a bottle of gin
an arms reach away
or whiskey
or anything potent and toxic
to quiet my mind of anything dangerous,
risky,

A Connecticut Spring

for Lauren Rousseau, who lives on in our hearts

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text:

Spring comes to Connecticut
as it always does,
languidly and without affair,
damply crawling over branches
sparking buds.
The equinox is long past
and daylight savings has come and gone
and just now,
as I sail along the highway
with my windows cracked
and my fingers poking through,
I can feel the warm settling among the trees,
gaining a stronghold,
preparing to pull us mercilessly
into a Connecticut summer,
sticky and sultry and dead.
And as the trees are regaining their life
after a dormant winter
so, too, are we
recovering from the cold
and from the cold side of humanity.
I’m passing exits
for Newtown and Sandy Hook
and on this first Sunday of spring
it feels more like hallowed ground
than ever.
On the side of the road
there’s an American flag
stretched between stakes and branches
and lit by a single spotlight.
I passed it coming home
days ago, in the dark,
and though I’m not one for unrelenting nationalism
it hit me like a brick,
like a shell to the stomach
and it took all my energy
not to pull to the curb
and sob.
Sob for Lauren,
sob for her classroom of angels
sob for all humans
and those among us who are capable
of looking the Devil in the eye
and doing him one better.
this is my home, will always be,
yet I’m only here fleetingly
like the spring,
always late, always vaporous.
When I looked in the eyes
of the one’s (sp) who’ve stayed,
the ones who saw evil in their own backyard,
I can see their pain.
But I can also see their wounds
fading to scars
and I know they will be okay,
I know they’ve made a promise to themselves
to recognize evil next time
and kill it
with love.
The spring air is fresh
on my drive south from Hartford
and as I pass the exit for the school
I realize I’m driving Lauren’s last commute,
the one she was robbed of
that cold Friday morning.
My instinct is to cry,
to shirk all driving responsibility
and swerve to the side of the road
to let myself melt
into a hapless puddle
of tears and snot.
Helpless because we are helpless,
we cannot change the past,
we cannot make fair what is not.
But I look around at the other drivers
and the[y] press on, stay in their lanes,
somber, but hopeful for a brighter future,
for a spring to breathe life back into us.
I pass the flag proclaiming solidarity,
now lit by the bright sun instead of a spotlight,
and in the dark I must have missed
twenty-six small flags
stuck in the ground before it.
They look so peaceful
compared to the cars that whiz by.
They’re nicely shaded
by a hulking tree
who’s (sp) green fingers are growing
and reaching for the road.
The memorial was assembled in the winter,
and as I pass it,
sailing farther and farther from home,
I notice the grasses growing among the flags,
dandelions and wildflowers
and soon, I think,
it will need to be tended.

Every Day is a First

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text:

I woke up this morning
sprawled across the living room couch,
wrapped in my late grandmother’s afghan.
Every light in my apartment
burned like a stylized mach
and was completely drowned out
by the waves of sunlight
pouring in the windows,
igniting the blanket of dust and dander
covering every surface.
With my eyes open, the world spins,
my brain doing backflips in my skill.
A frantic acrobat gasping for water
because last night I gave it a bottle
of wine instead.
A desperate junky jonesing for a fix
because the wine removed my motor skills
and then my consciousness
before I could take its daily done.
I’m surrounded by the remnants
of bad decisions:
the well-worked glass dressed in fingerprints
and red lip smears,
the dwindling bag of chocolates
and the growing pile of wrappers,
the winking television
acknowledging my poor taste
in Friday night cinema
especially for a young man,
a single man
battling depression
and isolation.
Battling, always battling
whatever life sees fit
to throw his way.
I am a warrior without a shield,
a rifle without a scope,
eyes without contacts,
always straining, head turning,
brain in a blender.
The cat stretches out on the chaise,
hungry and bored.
I should have fed him hours ago,
should have entertained him last night
instead of mindlessly drinking
and scarfing chocolate
and yelling at the documentary
I chose to watch
about how terrible the world is,
about how sick and how depraved
people can be,
as if this were a surprise.
Besides the beast
who sleeps beside me
I am completely alone
for the first time
in what feels like months:
no roommates, no friends, no lovers or conquests,
the house is peacefully vacant.
I’ve tried killing loneliness
by suffocating it with people.
I’ve tried killing boredom
with a million activities
back to back to back.
But it’s me who’s been crushed,
me who’s at a loss for air.
In the dead of morning
with my hangover and my withdrawals
I can finally take a deep breath.
And a strange thing happens when I do:
I smile.
Not a fake smile at a coworker
or a real smile at a friend,
not a smile acknowledging a lame joke
or a smile of teasing innuendo.
This smile is because of no one,
this smile is for me.
The shower begs to rinse my night off,
the toothbrush begs to scrub the stains,
the cat begs for food and attention,
my body begs for ibuprofen,
for seratonin and water,
and though the world seems strung together
by fraying threads who stretch and sign,
today will be beautiful.
The sky is blue,
the coffee is warm,
and I am alone, not lonely.

Virgin Sun

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text:

The December sun
is a cold bulb in the sky
shy as a virgin
and lonelier.
The wind whips needles
at my face, my hands,
through my coat to my core
and I know it’s lonely too.
It hugs me with thin fingers.
It slips through my layers
like water through cracks,
probing and exploring,
and its icy touch on my skin
makes me feel vulnerable
and helplessly fragile.
I’m naked
beneath these pounds of fabric
and the wind is with me.
The trees laugh at my grimace
half-heartedly
because they know the feeling
of being stripped and pulled
and fully engulfed.
They’ve had their ravishing
and stand dead and silent
on the frozen ground
smiling slightly only because
misery needs company,
begs for it.

Poetry in Prison

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text:

“I teach poetry
in a prison,”
that’s how he introduced himself,
the man with patches on his jeans.
He reads poems from behind a manilla folder,
poems about strange women,
intimately personal and remarkably sensual,
like smut thinly veiled in metaphor and pun
about his archive of muses
who’ve refused his advances
angels, every one.
The patches on his jeans are numerous
and shaped as five-pointed stars.
He can’t possibly have that many holes
in that small of space, I figure,
they must be decorative.
They remind me of the field of stars
in the corner of Old Glory,
white islands on a blue sea,
and he is, I notice, a walking Uncle Sam
with his red shirt tucked in,
bright as a punch.
How did I miss it?
It had to be planned, it had to,
but he tells me he never pays for anything,
this hat found,
this back pack, found,
these shoes, this notebook.
His blind trust in strangers makes me shiver
and his entire physical presence
is a motley mash-up
of other people’s garbage.
He can’t control his love life
or his wardrobe,
but he can control his words
and he does, with the strong hand of Stalin.