Do You Know?

Do you know Johnny?

How can I answer
that question?
How is that answer
so simple
yet filled with
ambiguity and perplexity?

If you know him,
send him a friend request.

If it was that easy,
I would have done it by now
instead of trolling your site
like an animal laying in wait.
I know you.
Or at least I did,
way back in the mystery
of years gone by
and the memories
fade to nothing.

Do you know this person?

I knew how your eyes shined
when you won a challenge,
how your fingers
clutched your arms
as you slept.
I knew when you would
laugh at a joke
or if you needed a drink
after a bad day.
I learned you quickly,
memorized your love
of mafia movies
and metal music,
your strange obsession
with chicken wings
and Mountain Dew.
I studied your skin
and its scars
and curves
and inky pictures
of pyramids and outlaws.

Do you know Johnny?

Why yes I do.
He used to own my body,
his fingers guiding me,
knowing me,
molding me with his strength. He knew me, loved me,
crawled inside of me,
and never left.
Why does a button
cause so much pain?
A button you won’t push
and you don’t know I can see.

Fractured

Floods
of fractured photographs
cascade
through fumbling fingers,
and I’m afraid
because all of your faces
are sifting,
shifting
through time
and I can’t quite know
your fragile features
like I did
on that bright shore
so long ago.
You are shaded
in grays and sepia
and I wonder
if your chin holds
the same curve
and if your hands
have hardened.
I feel your aftershocks
shaking me,
reminding me
of your flawed beauty,
your asymmetrical eyebrows
and your deep mahogany eyes.
I am washed away
on the flash flood
of your love and leaving
and I can’t find a foothold.
My fingers scrape
and bleed crimson yearning
along the rocks
of the flood path,
my knees knocking
against sticks and stones,
and my bones snap
under the weight of wanting.
Water sucks
the atmosphere
from my lungs
and I’m drowning
in memories
of fractured moments
dissolving in my fingers,
floating
on the waves
of the folly of real love.

Phantoms

image

Photo Credit : writerscafe.org

Shards of a shattered mirror
sit beneath
my bloody feet.
I can see an eye,
a finger,
a slice of skin
reflected in broken pieces
of a crumbling life.
Voices echo
through the surrounding darkness,
screaming
to take another look
at a past turned to dust
and a future made of ghosts.
Each labored breath,
each weary step
reaches out,
grasping for something lost,
something not quite tangible.
Phantom memories
of fingertips
and smiles
and whispered kisses
grip my heart
in a doldrums,
and I am frozen,
at the mercy of words
you cannot say
and lines I can’t help
but pen.

In response to the Weekly Writing Challenge –Poetry

Edge of Chaos

I tried to tell you.
I perched
on the edge
of chaos
and boredom
trying to balance
my ten ton heart
on a pair
of white wicker legs.
We perish
in a moment,
our brief lights
echoing in the
smoke and flame
of the past.

And I tried to tell you.

We were always
spilling over
with destiny
and perfection
etched out
in the dirty
and painful days
we call life.
And “meant to be”
was so cliché
because ours bore
a special mark
of forever,
tattooed on our hearts
and our bodies.
Our scars
parallel our
mirrored agony
and I tried to tell you.

But you didn’t listen
and I didn’t yell
loud enough
for the world
to stop its footsteps
and freeze us
in the moment
where we loved
and the world
disappeared
in the clear blue clouds
of forever.

Four

I have loved others.
I have given my heart
and body
and mind to others.
My days were spent
with men who held my hand
and whispered love
into my ear.
Five men carried my heart
in their fingers,
and I loved each one
with a different piece of myself.

**********************************

One
He was first
and sweet
and younger than me.
His devotion was endless,
his strong thighs were taut
beneath my learning hands.
He played soccer
and he was beautiful.

He said he fell in love
with someone else.
We were in high school.
What did I expect?

***********************************

Two
Friendly conversations
that lead to infatuation,
I was obsessed.
His tall frame towered over me,
making me feel small and beautiful.
I lost myself
in his dark eyes
and I also lost my self-worth.

I told him I loved him
in the back booth
of a Denny’s
and he went and
fucked my friend.

**********************************

Three
Mutual benefits ended in love
and died in my first apartment
under a pile of bills
and surrounded by fair-weather friends.
I tried because he loved me
so much
and he wanted to make a life.

I left him for number four.

*********************************

Four
He must be left til the end.

*********************************

Five
We met by accident
and stayed because it was easy.
And then we married
because it was easy
and because my aunt was dying.
And he takes care of me
and comforts me. I
can’t imagine life without him
because he is my best friend.
And here we are so many years later.

And I’m still thinking about Four.

********************************

Four
I love him
with an absoluteness
that consumes the others
and transforms them
into heaps of ashes.
He scorches my skin
with his touch
and I melt
beneath his fingers.
He is not only
my heart
but my soul.

I have loved others
but he is
my permanence,
my absolute,
the love that shadows
all others.

Dry Land

I am adrift
but my feet stand
on solid ground.
The dirt undulates,
rolls in waves
and my stance wavers
on the crest
of crashing water.
My fingers clutch
and scratch
at the floor,
and I know
the tide is coming,
that I will be fallen
by sheets of rain
and snow,
that my ground
will turn to mud
and I will sink
beyond all rescue.
I’m drowning on dry land
and your hands
are my only savior.

More

A face on a screen,
seen for only a moment.
Blonde hair and
a pretty smile and
an unseen message
waiting on her lips.
And I don’t know
if I’m jealous or not.

I should be.

But your face
keeps rising
from the early morning mist
on my drive to work
or in a name of a new acquaintance
or character in a story.
You are my weakness
and I should be jealous.
I should be crying
or asking questions,
but I’m not
because I want your fingers
and he wants hers.

Or maybe he doesn’t,
but he also doesn’t want mine.
His touch doesn’t have passion,
his kisses are
uniform and neutral.
We are broken
and I don’t know
if we can fix it.
I don’t know
if we want to.
But I do know how much
I love him…
and I can’t forget that

I love you more.

Damage

My body is made
of cracks and holes
and absent spaces.
I patch the damage
with work
and friends
and visits
and students
and TV
and books
and food
and music
and distraction,
but mostly
these caverns are filled up
with memories
and regrets
and images of moments
that exist only
in phantom feelings,
like remembering
what it was like
to have hands when you’ve lost them
or setting a plate for someone
who’s gone and will never return.
I am broken
and using the mortar
of fantasy
to repair my shattered pieces.
I feel it in my stomach,
the fluttering
and rolling
that signals some thing is wrong.
So I bury it
with the dirty work
of now
and pretend the cracks
are purposeful
and wanted
instead of brimming
with shame.
I know your hands
could heal my hurt
but I also know
I’ll never feel your fingers
sew my pieces back together.

To Do

The morning air, crisp in my lungs and cool on my cheeks, floats through the open window as I drive to work. The sun is rising and beaming lovely rays of soft pinks and purples through the wispy clouds. The day will be warm. And I think of my classes and my students and I wonder if they will have their presentations ready. Songs drift from the speakers as the day grows nearer. And in a flash, a lightening strike, it hits me.

The image of you driving down that beach road, your hat turned backwards, your steady hands pressed, hard, against the wheel. I feel more than see your smile, hear your voice laughing out of the past. My heart speeds up and I’m choking for air. The cool breeze does nothing to abate the agony your sudden image creates in my chest. My stomach spins, clenches, tightens into a tiny ball of missing. And I can’t breathe or think or drive, but I am because I have to be a teacher today and I must help students after school and direct the spring play and chaperone the dance and pay my taxes and cook dinner.

I don’t have time to miss you. Maybe that’s why it sneaks up on me and threatens to choke my To Do list to death.

Slipping

You walked
when I needed you most
and you did it three times
in a row.
When will I close the door?
Slam the door is more like it.
Last year,
I needed your words
but I blinked
and you were gone.
I cried…and cried.
And you didn’t know
I needed you
because I didn’t say
that my life was slipping
through my clenched hands,
that I needed strength–
the kind only you can give.
Instead,
I told you about the band I heard
and the drinks I drank.
Instead,
you blinked into the ether,
leaving me standing
on the edge of some dark cliff
skating the line between
terror and freedom.
All three times,
I needed you but never said so.
I wonder if it would have mattered?