An Unfinished Poem

Gone are the mornings of mullioned light
shifting languidly over her bare skin,
carrying dust that dances and swirls
before settling indifferently over the room.

Gone, the nights of our gait unsteadied
by drinks shared along moonlit streets,
the scent of wine faint on her breath
as she twirls and falls into my embrace.

Gone is the love, dismantled and reduced
to fleeting dreams and remembrances,
weightless as morning light shifting
over the empty side of the bed.

The Chance

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For Anna

I have been chewed up
and spit out by life,
defeated, defiled,
haunted by specters,
plagued with poor luck.

But I don’t stand in pride
for having emerged
with my spirit unbroken.

I bow in gratitude
for having been given
the chance to struggle
for something I love.

The Lonesome Theater

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Every seat but yours coated with dust.
On the screen, the film flickers silently
between grainy images of her dancing,
stretching and yawning by the window.

The usher tires of this nightly routine
of wordless dismissals at your shoulder.
It’s up to you now to turn your back
and shuffle lonesome toward the exits.

Let your slow stride cast a silhouette
that stretches over the screen as you go.
Let the brightness of the dawning day
blind you as you push open the doors.

Lions of Night

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Easier to hold the silence
than to risk laying bare
your porcelain fragility,

And easier, easier too
to smile in feigned content
as days drift by implacably

Like snowfall on the sea;
for when lions of night
pursue you inexorably,

It will be easy, too easy
to greet them unflurried
in your seasoned docility.

Wishes

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,

Wishes that go unspoken
sink no pennies to well-bottoms
nor dreams to darkened depths,
raise no spirits of spurned lovers
nor sails of shoreline fleets…

The spaces they occupy
are dark and austere;
their owners keep them locked in
with shame, bemusement and fear,
swallowing the key anew each night…

How lonely it must be
for the unbroken among them,
gazing at the light from the peephole,
rapping meekly at the door
while their keeper turns away…

Knowing, with a sad conviction
that keeps them pacing through the dark
how, if unshackled, they would raise
the downed sails of their keepers,
the spirits sunken with fear…

Veil

Shadow cast by a casket:
soon, you too will be buried,
leaving your lonesome friend—

shadow of a gravestone—
to grapple with the coming night.
Shadow shrouding the visage

of the mother of the deceased:
soon, you will recede
as she pulls away her veil,

leaving the light to reveal
eyes newly darkened
by shadows cast from within.

A thousand paper cranes

An ancient Japanese legend held that a wish would be granted to anyone who folded a thousand paper cranes. A young girl named Sadako Sasaki, stricken with leukemia from the bombing of Hiroshima, spent hours on her deathbed folding paper cranes.

One by one they fall
like little bent feathers
from the tips of her fingers,

gathering like snowfall
till her bed is lined
by a flightless white flock.

With two tiny mirages
of gauzy wings flapping
burnt onto her irises,

she waits in quiet resolve
for the cranes to lift her
in a chorus across the sky.

Igloo

It would all come to be routine:
the drips that fell on our eyelids
jarring us awake at daybreak,
the handfuls of ice we’d gather
for patching our sun-scathed walls.

Even the murky breaths we’d touch
with our frostbitten fingertips,
the bedside stories we’d whisper
against our cold, moonlit walls.

Still, the ice on your eyelashes,
your voice like waxed violin strings,
your smile that curls like a wick:
I needed them. You knew this.

You knew this so you stayed with me.
You stayed when I tipped our lantern,
when drips fell in our open eyes.
You stayed while our igloo gave way.