the keyboard paralyses my fingers,
uniform letters stare me down
and dry my tongue of vocabulary from my crenated cranium.
the verbs fear the marching;
the nouns evade the parade
of hollering adjectives scrambling to get behind
a straight line
my touch drifts over the keyboard
hovering like a cat’s gaze on soapy water
and the promises of “wash you clean” and “healthy coping”
all drown in
my sentiment surprises them
they count “one-two, she-lies!” about “anything goes”
so i load empty phrases into my soft palate and hope
that the impact knocks them down onto the page,
toy soldiers at a shooting gallery
promises a world
where everyone is allowed
to be different,
even outside the safety
of a lab refrigerator for first graders.
somewhere out in the open,
decorating the tips of pine needles
and glistening like stars in the solid state:
a crystallised picture of where everything
is a soul latching onto bodies so small like specks of dust,
freezing over and learning from water to differentiate
one insignificant mote from the other,
so they may recognise each other in the blur of a blizzard
to wave hello;
to place themselves in nature’s design,
on the confluence of silk threads in a spider’s web
upon which they cling,
until the turbulence of winter tires and frees its frozen seat
and they too are freed
to nourish the earth
with that life-giving fluid.
a collection of pickled phrases,
each preserved on a different sunset,
in a different summer;
in a different school or a different love
and we make them go together,
your sentiment and my ire
cook up a steaming dish to draw out
every deep desire:
one for frigid, bitter wit
to validate the pain,
one for tangy-sweet nostalgia,
a squeeze of sprinkled sepia–
oh, these we bind together
with some unifying element
like weaving sprigs of ferns
through an autumn-splashed bouquet,
and a poem is just taste,
like red wine or hot chocolate;
the tongue discriminates
meaning from the empty air.
That I must flow like ichor, spreading honey on my thighs,
become a doily-laced utensil, flank the butter knives.
For I am dry and arid, bearing nothing you can sell,
with stone inside my heart and only salt mines in my eyes.
I will not liquefy my face for your cosmetic lie,
or else transcribe myself into three states of matter.
This native tongue says what your photographs will never tell.
Enjoy the gilded freedom; with a blindfold, you can try.
The thought that I must nourish vegetation with my life
and let your poisons seep through me: universal solvent
is madness; do remember I was here before you fell,
unlike the glacial ice, I will remain after you die.