An Echo [Poem]

Loneliness is a deep canyon
that gives no echo.

So that no matter how loudly
you try to resound

the words catch
at the corners
of your lips

and you swallow
then back down
like half-chewed seeds

hoping that they
might grow roots
deep inside of you

and sprout daisies
from your chest cavity
like longed-for weeds

So that you can build a garden,
that does not grow

but can weather every day
that the sun’s face does not show.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Whenever the Wind Blows… [Poem]

If the winds of fate blow heavy,
let them not blow me far from you
or bring me to some lonesome levee
before my days have passed their due.

If the winds of fate blow softly,
as those cold winds so often do,
I will hold by your side staunchly
in moments bold or moments blue.

This may not be how it will be
but I believe it will be so.
Fate’s cold winds will blow by harshly,
but you’ll be with me even so.

My love, whatever fate may be,
Whenever the wind blows, think of me.

Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

The House Crumbles [Short Story]

There is a long wooden table at the center of the room. On the wall behind the head of the table is the portrait of a man who looks much like me. To either side of that portrait, there are hidden doors, where servants can enter and exist the room silently. Unheard. Unseen.

As I walk along the table, I try to see if I am alone in this room, but I cannot turn my head away from that portrait. The closer I get to it, the more warped it becomes, until I can see nothing of myself in it. Still, the plaque below it bears my name, which was my father’s name and his father’s name.

I reach out to touch the painting, my hand brushing along the navy jacket of the man in the portrait.

The navy and red lights are flashing outside of my building when I turn the corner down my block. They do not register to me until I am almost to the door and even then, the sight of them barely affects me. 

As I put my hand on the door, I suddenly see that two policemen have dragged a young boy off of his bike and are yelling at him, waving their batons at him like they might use them. I see one of them raise his baton, his sleeve cutting the sky with a flash of navy blue. As he swings the baton towards the boy, his head turns and I almost think that I recognize the lines of his face.

The portrait began to crumble under my fingertips. I pull my hand back quickly, surprised to see the damage I have done. Around and around I turn, looking for someone to clean up the mess, to make the portrait whole once again. Someone who could rebrush the lines of that fine navy jacket, who could return this man who bears my name to his former glory.

There is no one around me to heed my cry for help, which is made silently, to no one but myself. I am alone, and on some level, I already know this. 

I try the doors next to the portrait, the ones that lead to the servant’s quarters, but find that they did not open from the outside. Wherever their latches are, they have been concealed from me too well. The men who built this house had not wanted me here and now they refused to let me see behind the curtain. 

I sit back down at the table. At least I can eat, since there is nothing else to be done. Pulling my plate over to me, I lift the cover from the plate. Steam rises from the food, but I find that it is all rotten. It is so funny. I never noticed the smell before. This looks exactly like the food I ate yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. Carefully, I push the plate away from me, placing the cover back over it. 

Standing, I turn to look down the table towards the dark corners of the other end of the room. 

There are long shadows in the hallway that leads to the elevators. One light has gone out and the other flickers in a mellow, rhythmic pattern. I stop at the front desk on the way to the elevator to complain about the flickering light one more time.

The woman at the desk nods, but she is glancing out the window at the red and blue lights. I notice that she is recording the interaction on her phone and with her other hand, she is holding the desk phone to her ear, speaking in hushed tones.

She notes my complaints quickly and shoos me away. It irritates me to be dismissed like that, but I am tired, so I walk along that flickering hallway to the elevator.

When I got to the apartment, the door was ajar. As I pushed through the door, tossing my keys on the countertop, I cursed myself for being so absentminded. This was the third or fourth time this week that I had left the apartment completely unlocked, the door swinging open loosely on its hinges.

Yesterday, someone had left me some snacks on the counter along with a note that said “I shut your door for you. Don’t forget to lock up!” with a little heart underneath. I didn’t know who had left the message, but I thought it was the little old lady across the hall. I kicked the door absently closed behind me and took off my shoes in the entryway, setting them off to the side.

I walked over to the windows and looked down at the street below. It was still flashing red and blue. The cops were still standing over the kid, who was now covered in blood and crying.

A crowd had formed around them in a mass of camera lights and yelling. At first, they just watched, enjoying the sudden drama that had been injected into their lives. Things like this happened from time to time and, every time, this same pattern would repeat itself. A crowd would form. The crowd would antagonize the police and record the interaction. Eventually, the crowd would disperse and the police would be left to do what they came to do. It happens all the time.

This time was different, though. This time, the crowd inhaled and exhaled as one, seeming to contract and expand organically around the two officers, who were now brandishing their weapons at the approaching crowd.

No one in the crowd did a thing, they just pushed into the officers until they could not move their bodies. The crowd kept constricting and I saw the two men begin to turn red, clutching at their throats. In seconds, they were both turning purple, their bodies contorting under the pressure of the crowd pressing into them. In one final contraction, the crowd enveloped the two officers entirely. 

Not a single punch was thrown. No gunshot was fired. When the crowd dispersed, the two officers were nowhere to be seen. It was as if they had vanished from the face of the earth. The crowd itself spilled up the street, yelling in one voice and enveloping everything in its path. 

Pedestrians disappeared into the crowd one by one as the crowd grew in size. They were not the only ones taken into the growing mass of energy. Street signs, mailboxes, strollers, cars all were swallowed up by the crowd as it rolled down the center of the street.

I realized to my dismay that the crowd had taken two of my car’s windows, removing them from the car without doing any damage to the rest of the vehicle. The replacements would cost more than I had to spend this month. 

Somewhere in the back of my head, I saw that officer’s face. I thought of how small he had looked from my angle, how insignificant he had looked brandishing his weapon against the crowd.

Suddenly, I shivered. For a moment, his face in my mind became mine. Now he was gone and I was still here, for some reason. Now I had to figure out what I had just seen. Now I had to fix my car windows.

There was something wrong with the walls too. I stood from that long table to make my way over to one of the walls, where there was a small crack forming along the baseboard. Squatting down, I watched the crack spread slowly, spider-webbing its way up the wall with a measured speed. It was in no rush.

I looked around for someone to fix this problem. There was no one. I was totally alone here. 

Looking at the wall, I saw a handprint forming along the end of the crack. It was a large handprint, covered in calluses and the scars of hard labor. One finger was missing – the pinkie finger – and I saw the lines of a lash crisscrossing the palm, where someone must have whipped the hand over and over again. 

I watched the hand close into a fist, pulling at the crack, causing it to widen and lengthen. Now I remembered the hand. Its owner, a man named Jenkins, had been the one who built this home when I was a young boy. He had broken his back putting a house over our shoulders and we had paid him pennies, because he was a former slave and we wanted the work done cheap. 

I don’t think I ever saw him after he finished that job, but I remember the last day when he walked out the front door and turned to mutter something in the threshold. Papa told me it was a curse he left us, but I never believed in all of that because curses and magic are just the invention of the uneducated.

Watching that crack lengthen, I turned to my education for a solution. Somewhere between Socrates and Algebra, there must be a way to rebuild this house. 

I looked down at my hands and found them soft. I lifted them to my eyes to study them, looking for an answer of how to rebuild my home, debating ideas back and forth along the gentle lines of my palms. Unsure what the right path was, and too afraid to take the wrong path to move at all, I found myself frozen. 

I did not look up as the house began to crumble. Because I did not look up, I had no idea I was still standing inside.

Photo by Oleg Stepanov on Unsplash

To Really Listen [Poem]

To speak
is my predisposition,
even in times
when I would be
better served
to pay you more mind.

I know this

and still, to change
is a process
that vexes me.
I do not know
any other way
to be.

I know this,

but there are times
when our discussions
turn to debates
and I hate realizing
how much I hate to lose
far too late.

I know this

and after each
of these times
my head starts to spin,
wishing to learn how
to be wrong
and to really listen.

Photo by Andres Herrera on Unsplash

Let Your Love [Poem]

Let your love be sunshine

pulling down eyelids already heavy with sleep
with the promise of daydreams
and the memory of counting sheep.

Let your love be a spring shower

pooling in the spaces between idle fingertips.
and dripping down sun-soaked shirts
as it overflows thirsty lips.

Let your love be lightning

lingering in the spaces between the rumbling thunder
like a promise or a premonition
at once terrifying and full of wonder.

Let your love be a downpour

falling wherever your clouds overflow,
cascading over mountains and growing flowers
in places flowers shouldn’t be able to grow.

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

Blood Moon [Poem]

Moon as red, as autumn wine,
that on this summer night so fine,
across the sky has slowly bled
like paint, unaccustomed to lines
or to creaking necks and upturned heads
that never before or after saw a moon as red.

There is a quiet quiver in the air,
on this summer night so fair,
when the moon is bled to slivers,
and laced with clouds that do not care
how much they mute the moon’s red river.
In your shoulders that night, though you know not why, there is a quiet quiver.

At DVerse today, we were asked to write a sparrowlet poem.

Photo by Anand Rathod on Unsplash

Edible Artwork [Poem]

Do you feel some strange desire,
when you look at a beautiful painting,
to consume it, to swallow its entrails,
to expose the finer details hidden within
that no eyes can truly see?

I want to sink my teeth into meadows,
gnaw valleys into cliff faces
brushed from water and oil,
and lap up the churning waters
of acryllic oceans and clay rivers.

I want to taste how
the air must have tasted
that spring morning, or fall evening,
or summer dusk, or winter dawning,
the painter so fully contemplated.

Greedy poet that I am,
I want to leave this world and enter another,
where I can open my mouth and ears and hands and nose and eyes
to a reality far more true than this musky museum
I’ve grown to despise.

A Book That Is Not A Book [Poem]

The worst part of any book
is almost always the binding.
This is not to say
there are not beautiful books
hidden between charming covers.

Rather, the binding is a crook,
that steals by confining,
confounding every page
with a thousand stories overlooked
by those ever opposed lovers.

I yearn to read just one book
unbound from its bindings,
that can life’s chaos convey.
A book that is neither a book,
nor governed by cover-sown shutters.

At DVerse, the prompt today is to write a poem that’s loosely based on French ideals and culture OR
to write a poem using the poetic form “Rimas Dissolutas.”

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash



Crash [Short Story]

I was late. It was my own damn fault. Three alarms had gone off right in my ear – three loud, buzzing alarms – but I had turned them all off and kept sleeping. Now I was stumbling out the front door to the sound of screeching steel, and the buzzing and grinding of workmen that had kept me up all through the night. Damn construction. I’d have to talk to the homes association about the noise when I got home. I was so tired, I barely felt alive.

By the time I dragged myself to my car, a steady progression of cars was already making its way down the way, bound for god knows where. I took only a half second to look in despair at the slightly dented front bumper. My wife, or someone else, must have bumped a barricade pulling out of the work parking lot the day before.

I climbed into the car carefully, strapping myself in. I checked the seatbelt twice, adjusted the mirrors, and pressed a few buttons for good measure. Confident I was secure, I melded into the progression of cars, bound for god knows where.

The sky was a thousand fluorescent suns, surrounded by dark clouds. It was strangely beautiful, in an artificial sort of way. I didn’t bother looking up at it, though. I couldn’t have, anyway, since my head was locked forward, my eyes on the progression of cars ahead of me as they melted away from me one at a time, bound for god knows where.

Soon, there was no one in front of me, just the open road. I could almost have smiled, in that moment, if I were not so set on getting to where I needed to be. There was no one in front of me, so it was rather odd that I suddenly heard a screech of metal and a loud thud right next to me.

For some reason, my eyesight ballooned white and something punched me in the mouth. My legs, which had already been dangling limply from my torso, folded all the way up under the steering wheel. Then, I was flying.

I was sure I had checked my seatbelt, so you can imagine my surprise when I found myself hurling forward, into the reinforced glass. It didn’t break, but I did. I didn’t feel a thing, though, which I thought was strange. I must have died right when I hit the window. That was good, I would have hated to have suffered.

“Dammit!”

I heard a voice from outside my window, in the sky made of a thousand flourescent suns. A man appeared in the shattered driver side window. He peered scholarly into the car, not making any move to help me.

Turning over his shoulder, he called out to someone I could not see, “I think we need to fix the seatbelts. These aren’t holding any weight at all.”

He fussed around with the seat belt for a bit, then turned to look me in the eyes. Though he did not seem unkind, there was no empathy in his voice. When he spoke to me, it was as if we had some great inside joke between us that I did not understand: “Sorry buddy, better luck next time.”

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash