gone fretting, be back after lunch

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

an idea,

a straight line

chin up

eye contact.

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

goose-stepping feet,

sans-serif

11 p.t.

Calibri

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

ready

aim

fire.

on outliving the cold

a snowflake

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 perfect.

a snowflake

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

and know

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 poem is just

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.

 

You Need to Stop Telling Me

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.