dangling frays

I listened to some poets today, and the Mexican poet read a poem about prejudice against his people, and the black poet read a poem about oppression against his people, and one white poet read a poem about depression, and another hated most people, so he proclaimed, while one fellow read a poem about being black–when he wasn’t, and they all wore proud, colorful flags until ragged tatters and dangling frays, and they shouted veiny, red-faced spittle, thrusting young fists into the compliant, fluorescent emptiness, as I watched wondering– who my people might be– feeling rather gray.

Artist

It was in a prior life, before the bustling din, and the empty ring of tin, before the restless rustle of concession’s sin. I’d been pure, or more so than after time’s cowardly compromise; I’d been the limitless possibility told of in faith’s fable. I was a sculptor. Gypsy tramps, and theater-mask molesters spoke to me, words which a narcissistic world couldn’t hear, each pair of eyes confiding in me their secrets. I’d seen things, stories drifting in whispers, and inscrutable emotions which bard’s scratching quill hadn’t yet exhumed, I’d been privy to that which lay sobbing deep within the shadows’ keep of the gnarled sidewalk hobblers and the salt-eyed ragged children of the street. I was an artist.

I’d written then, though I hadn’t thought myself a writer. Two decades drowned in conformity’s shallow millpond, I now write again, and I wonder, as I begin to return to who I have always been beneath sanity’s guise, if writing itself is not art. Is this not who I am? Do these palaces built of words not need artist’s eyes to gain entry?

What my hands may craft with paper and clay is simple mechanics, an experienced hand’s tool-turn, easily– a counterfeiter’s street market mockery. What I may see, what I may feel, and pass on, what I may question, turning on its reluctant end to shake out its severed-head truth, would that not be where art resides?

I’ve a recalcitrant avarice to feel my eyes slashed open again by the jagged-glass monocle of those years. I’ve ravenous need to return to who I’d been, to see once more– things as they are. Life then, was honest. The foul immigrants swearing, breaking things upstairs, the bare-knuckle fights in the street outside my window, the shuffling hostility of the trains jostling down the tracks which ran behind my dark apartment, pushing deep through evening’s screaming virginity– it was all authentic, every one of us an exposed nerve, though we hadn’t enough paupers to assemble in revolution. Still, I wish only feel– as the artist I am beneath all this. Though, I shall never call myself a poet.

balls

The person in the mirror, made-up, polished, primped, and preened, is a fraud. That person doesn’t even exist.

We are the mud beneath our fingernails, we are the grave from which we’ve crawled in defiance, we are what we have fought, clawing, to achieve.

We are the blood on our split knuckles, we are the battles we’ve survived, we are the principles we dare defend, we are the people for whom we would die fighting; we are the sum of the love we have given.

That person in the mirror, the imposter, the pretender, hasn’t the balls for this sort of thing.

the laughter of children quieted

Driving, the horse corpse in the passenger seat, stilled, tho its woeful eyes opened, I’d passed a small park in town, with rolling hills, too smooth and round for a heathen to set foot upon, and another where she and I had planned to meet, its wide lawn, flat and closely cropped, the laughter of children quieted under summer’s heavy heat.

All of us are categorized as good or as bad, I’d thought, labeled as useful, or as not– for those Machiavellian, or in both ways of thinking, and in another way of speaking, tho we’d give it different names, all are sorted– our bodies piled– as forgiven, or as unforgiven, and the horse agreed, and silence greeted early evening’s blush.

to go unnoticed

“To go unnoticed is by no means easy.” ~ Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guittari

A quote, a thought outside of its context, displaced, a dark shadow frozen within the transparent water-wall of our tilting ocean of individual perspective, becomes a wave that shall never fall, never laying its weighty truths upon us, staying upright, defiantly, as shoulder-strap tourists snap flash-photos of its petrified impossibility, grinning with fool’s confusion, this– a fleeting tryst with that which does not even exist.

Is there any majesty remaining of a notion without its flanking guards, those thoughts to its left and to its trusted right, those stone-tower sentries to the north and to the south? And if a single thought is cleaved in dimension by its missing relativity, then what of us, merely human– not deities such as thoughts might be– Might we exist without others? And might our thoughts themselves exist without us, transcending and surviving our sullen earthliness, left as shining swords of valor embedded in stones and awaiting a worthy suitor?

Tho to consider the subtler notion, that of going unnoticed– ‘tis only a question of motive. If wished, one might easily slide into the nothingness, stepping only within those shadows cast by others’ gleaming vanity, tho never stalking, hopping from one blurry umbrage to the next, leaving the haughty to their mumbles during their frequent moments of braggadocios distraction, hopscotching through the towns and cities until night brings its tall ruin to the day.

Such might be a poet– with no name, and such is a poem, a divine thought shared, a moment’s essence spared our haste and airs, a thing– which may survive the brevity, spurning the echo-clamor of fame.

Never Told

We were told we could be anything, and look at how we’ve turned out. They never told us that we’d understand why people rob banks, steal, cheat, kill, and lie. They never told us that we’d understand criminality, while we riot with the sanctimonious incredulity expected of us— that we’d often quietly empathize. They never told us that justice was merely anger’s petulant retribution.

They never told us we weren’t truly free, and that even the masters of us are slaves to the lacquered-finish nothing which we all pretend to be something. They never told us that we’d die in small rooms, with whatever malignant thoughts remain, our minds having departed before our flesh capitulated, left our bodies as hollowed, sagging, and broken shells.

They never told us we’d long for a lifetime, for something unnamed, and that we’d never find it. They never told us that once the paint had dried on youth’s rebellious graffiti-wall dreams, they’d be forgotten, or abandoned, lost to convention, lost— to time’s defeated apathy, the wired-jaw silence of beaten men, that they’d be pissed on by cackling-laughter winos, shit on by the pigeons waiting on ledges, stripped by winters’ malicious torrents of wind and rain.

They never told us that none of the promises made to us would ever be kept, or that even the geniuses among us, the seemingly accomplished, would never feel fulfilled.

They never told us that we’d hear our names whispered on autumn’s brisk winds, a foretelling, whilst a cold sun’s judgment glares angrily at us, and as its warm amber seduces the next; they never told us that all we’d really have is each other, lovers, that all else is glistening sunlit dust, and we shan’t tell those who follow us.