Poetry

While Reflecting on the Paintings at The Mill

Each canvas

displays a struggle,

a conquest

of human will over physical matter.

 

“I let the cosmos ripen,”

says the painter,

“just long enough for it

to sprout elements,

(not one eon more),

 

“When the metals bloomed

I plucked them,

seeded them,

and crushed the seeds

so small,

they would forget themselves

if introduced to oil

or bound to water.

 

“A child was born.

When I was ready

I crushed that, too.

 

“I smeared

each gooey, bleeding offspring

on the pinboard with its brothers.

Baby Frankensteins

broken,

drowned,

and dried onto canvas

by my loving hand.

Each infant of the universe

frozen in beautiful mutilation.

 

“It won’t last.

 

“Eventually,

Grandmother Entropy

will restore paint, canvas, and painter

all to the former glory of

ash,

like a phoenix in reverse.

 

“But for now my trophies hang.”

Poetry

Genre of Lack

I know from the tension in my gut,

that I just sat up from crouching

for the first time in a while.

 

When my eyes were closed,

I saw a fetus

shivering in the snow.

 

They’re open now,

and the skin around them is stiff.

So I know I’ve been crying.

 

I don’t want to put my glasses on.

I want to keep everyone around me

blurry.

So I don’t see them seeing me.

So I don’t have to wonder

if they see

the frozen embryo.

 

I’ve waited so long

for insufficiency

to disqualify me from existence.

 

But there is never any lightning,

or a mark of “final draft”.

 

I exist

despite

my

lack

of

genre.

Genre

of

lack:

my

spited

existence.

 

So this is what it is

to be born again, and again, and again.

Poetry

The Five-Second Delay

Today life is live

With a five-

second delay.

Second delay

of the day:

The coffee pot beeped at me and I just

Stared back at it

As though I expected it to say

more.

More

of a sludge than a haze,

though there have been days

when a cloud seems to

surround sound.

Surround sound,

vibrations from every direction.

But today sound takes time to arise from noise

And more time still to become words.

For words to gain meaning, more

time still.

Time still,

world keeps spinning, says report just published

today.

Today

life is live with a five-second delay.

When that happens in broadcasts,

it’s so editors can censor nipple slips or

profanity with pixels or a

Beep

Beep

at me again, coffee pot.

It will take me longer today

But beep!

Beep for your servant is listening!

Beep!

Beep you piece of

Beep!

 

 

 

Prose Fiction

A Refined Palette

X: I’m pretty positive I downloaded a virus.

Y: You downloaded a virus?

X: I mean, yeah, not on download-a-virus.com or anything. I don’t go looking for these things.

Y: What were you looking for?

X: The old version of MS Paint.

Y: Why?

X: The new version’s too flashy.

Y: MS Paint? Flashy?

X: I liked the garishness of the old Paint, the kind on Windows XP. The brush strokes didn’t fade or blend.

Y: Um…

X: So you could just make these bold, solid, ugly lines. And as long as you closed your loops correctly, you could fill your wild shapes completely with any color you wanted.

Y: I’m not sure I…

X: If you wanted more nuance, you could always zoom in and edit the shapes with more detail. I used to make crude Paint edits of my friends’ photos for fun. They always looked cartoony, but I enjoyed using the eyedropper and pencil to blend in smaller patches of colors, pixel by pixel sometimes. The clicking got really tedious, but I found myself attracted to it, this idea that, with enough patience, I could theoretically construct the Mona Lisa. It felt like I was interacting with the smallest possible unit of art.

Y: Why were you on Paint so much?

X: I had a computer in middle school, but no internet.

Y: So you spent all your time on Paint?

X: Yeah. I learned all the tricks. See?

Y: Wait, you’re on it right now?!

X: Don’t you like it?

Y: Huh. It’s actually pretty good. But don’t you have a paper to finish tonight?

X: I’m doing research in another window. Waiting for the page to load.

Y: Dang, that’s some slow internet.

X: I think it’s from the virus.

Y: You downloaded a virus?

X: Yeah.

Poetry

Suspended

He slips his long arms into the black sleeves

of his machine-washed, machine-washable

Nike jacket.

 

Alerts household members of his immediate leave,

Keeping eyes down and out,

out and away.

 

A windbreaker…it’s windy, after all.

Turns the knob so the door shuts fully.

 

Once outside,

Walks in strides.

A cadence.

Long legs minimally exposed in the

Rhythmic twin gaps between his jeans

and ankle socks.

Earlier today he heard a song.

 

He looks at the moon,

Near-full.

It’s autumn.

 

The song.

Something pop, he remembers.

 

(“But what does “Panic! At the Disco” even mean?”)

He wonders.

(“Is it a warning

of some ongoing disco panic?

Or a command…

To conserve my panic

for an upcoming disco?

So that above the loud noise,

music and clamor,

And behind the bright lights

overhead and swinging, surrounding,

You can’t see or hear me.

Even, even though you’re near me

As I interlock my fingers up and around my neck

And slowly crouch down in the crowd,

My head tilted toward your leg

Chest heaving, dry eyes weeping,

With all the pain of waking life,

The still of fitful sleeping…”).

 

He stops at the overlook…

Looks over.

 

Coming down the tracks, a locomotive,

Its engine a clamorous roar.

 

And as it whistles off its steam,

He grounds his feet; prepares to scream.

 

discomoon

Poetry

Mingled Down

My grandfather (a forester)

Once bet my grandma (a birdwatcher)

That “mourning dove” wasn’t spelled MORNING like dawn,

But MOURNING like someone had died.

She ended up owing him a workday in the woods.

But when these two lovers gamble,

The house rarely collects.

 

This story makes me smile,

Every time I hear a dove moan.

 

And there is a comfort in it:

That I’m not the first to sunrise or to grief.

They are, as most things, older than myself.

 

So when death’s scent

Wafts up musty from youth’s fabric,

–and I’m wearing

a dead friend’s dead friend’s

coat

to the school dance–

I will hum the dove’s song,

Make it my own as I sway.

As grass bows to the wind,

I will submit to grief only to rise again.

 

The sun will warm me,

as sorrow and love

flow mingled down.