Answers

No answers here and truly, none shall be here anymore
And still, I’m drinking oceans for the shells along the shore
A cheap metal detector looking for a golden score
My fingers on the residue I wish I could ignore
But at the bottom, only two versions of two and two are four

I race along the apertures I made to leave behind
Where vis-a-vis and que sera sera are intertwined
Like words that gave an answer that I hoped you wouldn’t find
And eyelids try to close so that, to truth, I could be blind
Because I spoke a million words, but never really spoke my mind

The answers fail as surely as the bottle where I sought
New answers for a problem old I never should have bought
And looking, starry-eyed, at every lesson that was taught
While hoping that in silence I could share my every thought
As if the precedence of proof was like a key I needed not

I fell beneath the light where all the amber fell to gray
Where questions I beheld, but not a word I chose to say
To eyes I never wished, for even once, to look away
But knew my every breath was always destined to betray
And so I waited til the moment past then asked if it could stay

But answers, so I see, and always have, are like a wing
Upon a fragile bird that never really learned to sing
And still, I try to pull and place the world upon a string
While knowing that the end result will obviously sting
Just know the only promise I can really make is not to promise anything

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Interpretation

Perhaps the poems I write for you are what my fingers trace
While following the scars upon a heart I can’t erase
The Morse code of the tapping tears that travel down your face
And so do I decipher them like sad binary code made from the burns of cigarettes and tattered lace

Perhaps the poems I write for you are raindrops in the wind
A book of lightning letters in the veins upon your skin
The prayer I wouldn’t say because for you I would’ve sinned
And so I search for you in all the words already written and inaccurately write them all again

Perhaps the poems I write for you or pressed upon your cheek
A record that my fingers play forever on repeat
The lines upon your lips that, when you’re silent, seem to speak
And so I deconstruct them into sentences and phrases like a secret that my heart could never keep

Perhaps the poems I write for you are what I choose to see
The memory of photographs that never came to be
The parts of you that led me to the better parts of me
And so I seek to paint them as a portrait of tommorow in the shades of every lost apology

Ania

There I saw her dancing once
As soft, and calm as autumn dust
My angel in this world of ashes raining from an empty sky

Listening to distant rain
Like songs that never sound the same
As those she heard before when she could smile and her eyes were dry

There she was, with folded wings
Her words and heart a coiled spring
Where joy was like a cigarette, and life a flame, and hope a sigh

There I saw her, looking down
Her tears, they never made a sound
Where rain was all around her, and my arms could never keep her dry

Wondering how I can see
A dance where surely none could be
An answer where she sees forever what? and who? and how? and why?

There she is, as if the moon
Her darkest day is bright as noon
For I, who saw her dancing once, with folded wings, and tears within her eyes

Reticence

I carried water to the stream
And gave it back
And maybe that’s
The best that I could do, or so it seems

I sang a song to ivory keys
That didn’t play
With naught to say
And lacking joy and odes I offered pleas

I gave a sigh unto the wind
And let it go
To…I don’t know
With nothing else to give, I chose to lend

I carried time to yesterday
And held it close
I miss it most
Like all the words I chose to never say

Sleep

I stand at the counter, pouring cheap coffee into an equally cheap cup.

“Hey, man,”

“Hey,” I say without looking up. I know who it is. That’s how life gets when you work at the same place this long. You don’t even say names anymore. Everyone is “hey” and “so” and “oy”.

I put the coffee back on the warmer. It smells like it’s been there too long already. I’m not drinking it for the taste.

“Shiiit, man,” Brian says, “you look rough.”

“Bad hair day,” I deflect.

“That what you call that?”

“Just tired is all.” And I am. My eyelids are lead curtains. I probably have bags under my eyes. I dunno. I didn’t look too hard this morning.

I take a sip of coffee and let the silence spread its legs. I don’t know Brian like that. We’re associates. We work together. We don’t go out for beers after work.

“So, man,” he says, his body partially leaning. That way that people do when they say, ‘You know I’m not racist, right?’ but they’re clearly about to say something racist, so they need to feel like they’re in the right battle stance for saying something that they shouldn’t.

Anyway…

“You hear about Krista?”

“She sick or something?” I ask. It’s a genuine question even if it lacks genuine concern.

“What? No,” he says, with a look like he’s confused or offended…or both. “I heard she broke up with uh…oh…what’s that guy’s name?”

I know he knows that guys name. That’s what guys do when they want to act like they’re not smitten. They play it down. They do it poorly. I’ve done it, too. Guilty as charged.

“Uh…” I say. I draw it out because I seriously can’t remember. I seriously don’t care.

“Anyway,” he says, seeing that I’m either not taking the bait or just not that kind of fish, “I hear they broke up.”

“She okay?” I ask. It’s a disingenuous question.

“I, uh…” he stammers – this isn’t how he thought this conversation was going to go, “I, uh…yeah, I mean. I guess. I don’t really know. I was just,” he goes over to the coffee maker and pours a cup. Using simple actions as a momentary respite from feeling awkward. “You work with her more than me, and I just…” he pauses and takes a drink. I already know the coffee is shit, but I didn’t care. His face reacts before he realizes he’s done it.

“Hook a brother up, right?” I say for him.

“I mean…you know, if it’s not a big deal,” he says. It’s a dishonest statement. He doesn’t care if it’s a big deal. “I mean,” he says with one hand up, “I’m not saying like, ‘Hey, bro, if you could ask her if she likes me,’ or anything. I mean…you know…we’re not like, passing notes in school ‘Do you like me?’ with a yes and no checkbox.”

“No,” I say, more an answer to the question of whether or not I like him. “No, we’re not,” I say in response to the whole statement. “I’ll see what’s up.”

“Cool, man. Cool.”

He puts his coffee down and leaves.

I have no intention of finding out.

I don’t care.

Work is a cycle of repetition. It’s worse than normal. The minutes grind like hours. It’s 5 pm in my mind four hours before it’s even lunch.

I sit through a meeting about some new policy that they’re implementing. I feel like I’m talking along with them. Meetings all sound the same after a while. This one’s just worse.

When I get home, I do it with a deep breath. With a hand that opens the door slowly.

Three hours later I’m on my bed. I write in my journal like I’ve done for the past year. I tell myself it helps.

I’m not sure it’s helping.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes.

I can’t use a timer. I found out a long time ago that they don’t work…for obvious reasons. So instead, I tap on my wrist. My timing has gotten pretty good.

I slow my breathing.

I wake up in bed, and the sun is that weird shade of orange-red. Like it’s struggling to get up, eyes bloodshot from a night of heavy drinking.

“I feel your pain,” I whisper.

In the kitchen is a note: “I have that thing with Claire later today. We should eat out. You pick.”

I muscle through the motions at work. I chew the nomenclature and drink down routine verbiage of a professional pencil-pusher.

I get off work. Shower. Change. I send a text. “Mondino’s”

“K,” she texts back.

I get there before she does.

She sits down, her eyes on her phone. “Sorry,” she says as she kisses the side of my face. “Claire was just…uh…” she looks up finally as she’s sitting down with a light press of her finger to turn her screen off. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” I lie. “Just tired.”

“Aww,” she says. “You should try valerian root or…oh…” she scrunches her face up like she always does when she’s thinking, “Shit…” she says with a shake of her head, “right on the tip of my tongue.”

“It’s fine,” I say with an honest smile. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

“It’s gonna bother me.”

“I know it will,” I say. I clench my teeth. I hold back a tear.

“You sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” I lie. “Just tired. Dull day at work. You know. Like driving on an empty highway all day. It’s sadly draining.”

“You should see about that job at Lochlan and Callister,” she says as she clicks into her phone, “Trish told me that…” she’s scrolling, “…yeah…yeah, they have something going on there. They’ll probably be hiring.”

“Yeah,” I say. “I’ll shoot em my resume in the morning,” I lie.

Dinner is nothing fantastic. It’s only saving grace is the company.

I wake up the next morning and she’s still there sleeping. I kiss her on the cheek before I leave the house. I whisper that I love her. I mean it.

The drive to work is the same as ever.

I’m standing at a counter pouring cheap coffee into an equally cheap cup.

“Hey, man.”

“Hey,” I say, without looking up.

I go through the motions. I give all the same answers.

“Hook a brother up, right?”

“I mean…you know, if it’s not a big deal,” he says. It’s a dishonest statement. He doesn’t care if it’s a big deal. “I mean,” he says with one hand up, “I’m not saying like, ‘Hey, bro, if you could ask her if she likes me,’ or anything. I mean…you know…we’re not like, passing notes in school ‘Do you like me?’ with a yes and no checkbox.”

“No,” I say, more an answer to the question of whether or not I like him. “No, we’re not,” I say in response to the whole statement. “I’ll see what’s up.”

“Cool, man. Cool.”

He puts his coffee down and leaves.

I have no intention of finding out.

I don’t care.

I muscle through the day. I feel like Sysiphus. I idly nod during a presentation. I feel myself reciting the words.

I’m standing my front door and I take a deep breath. I open it slowly.

I listen for something.

Anything.

I walk into the kitchen. The bedroom.

I go into the bathroom last.

She’s there. She’s on the floor. Pills scattered on dry tile.

No note.

No last words.

I clench my teeth and close my eyes.

I go over everything that happened. Everything that didn’t.

I sit down and write it all out in my journal. I don’t even know why. I tell myself it’s helping.

I don’t think it’s helping.

I can’t use a timer. I found out they won’t work…for obvious reasons. I close my eyes and tap slowly on my wrist.

I slow my breathing.

I wake up in bed, and the world is still dark. The sun hasn’t even stirred from its slumber yet. A world of deep indigo and charcoal.

Auditory

If I could give apologies for being
For having eyes that saw what they were seeing
And holding on so tightly
To the truths that truly might be
No more than malediction and of grieving

Perhaps I’d stand in line to voice my worries
And see the coming storms are more than flurries
But rather rivers flowing
From a storm of endless snowing
And thunder from a sky of mounting fury

Perhaps if rationale could find a reason
To find a seed of trust beneath the treason
And give it light for seeing
Passages so far and freeing
Would it remain or fade in but a season?

If none were to remember how I faltered
Or how I chose to suffer when I altered
My days to suit the hours
Killing bees to save the flowers
And change the meaning spoken when I’m not heard

Whisper

Sometimes I whisper
And I wait
And hope you hear the echo
But words of vapor
Just evaporate
And then you let go

Sometimes I wonder
If you knew
Or cared how much I tried to
Not pull you under
Deep into the view
That still I pry through

Last night I slept
And dreamt of you
And dreaded ever waking
I rose and wept
And wondered if you knew
My heart was breaking

Today I rose
And swore to cease
But you…you haunt me, clearly
And so I chose
To whisper softly, “Please,
Just whisper back if you can hear me…”