Sorrowfully, I Saw You

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I saw you on the train the other day,

Crying out under the burden

Of someone else’s sorrows,

Or at least I imagined that it was you,

And that you were crying,

And that the sorrows were not your own.

 

I saw you down the hall as well,

Standing in perfect stillness,

Knees bent under the weight

Of our caprice,

Head bowed as if in prayer,

Or at least I pretended it was you,

And maybe even said a prayer of my own

To the Old Gods we used to howl to,

When the moon was full of joy,

And so were we.

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I Wanted to Write You Into a Love Poem

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I wanted to write you into a love poem,

But all I can conjure

Is a picture of a girl crying off her mascara

On a stoop in the south of Chicago,

Smeared burgundy lips wrapped around

One

Thin cigarette,

And the man she used to love

Entering the scene upon his exit

From the doorway with it’s crumbling yellow paint,

Pale, now, in the rising moonlight,

Faded from

Two

Decades of wind and rain,

And the gun he’s hiding behind his back –

“Come in,” he says to her –

Voice shaking in the cold December night,

And she says

Three

Words in return,

Breath rising like a halo around her lips,

But it’s lost to the wicked wind,

And he raises his hand and puts

Four

Slim, flattening bullets

Into her, and the

Five

Children they had together

Come running

Just as the church bells ring,

Announcing the arrival of the hour

Six.

Starlight

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Every mirror

Reflects the ghost of you,

Staring back at me through narrowed eyes,

Beseeching me to follow you down –

Wide is the road, or so it has been said –

Down into Hell,

Down into oblivion and abandon,

Down into the darkest depths

Of my heart and my soul,

Upon which the sun

Is always setting

And whose waters

I am forever failing to tread.

 

The glassy surface of the lake

Shows a different side of you, though,

Wide-eyed and radiant –

Exactly as you were,

When the world was young,

And so were we.

 

I will drown, either way;

Tis a fitting end,

Says that part of me

That burnt up, and was burnt down,

By the starlight

I found, shining, in the blinding brightness

That didn’t strike me

Until after I’d gazed into your eyes

For the last time

In a lifetime.

Communion

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Poetry is a bit like photography

In that the lighting needs to be just so,

And the moment – it passes all too quickly,

Far too swiftly to be recorded at its purest,

And the reader, the viewer,

The person in communion with the art,

Will never see your world

With the same exactitude;

Yes, their world rivals yours

In clarity and complexity,

And perhaps even the twain do meet,

Somewhere at a crossroads

In Idaho,

One car turning slightly

To give the right of way to the other;

The encounter is brief,

And is quickly forgotten

In the midst of the other infinitude of moments

Stacked together in your memory

Like the pages of a book.

Summer Love

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Summer love –

It’s song

Too sweet to bear,

Berries weighing heavily on the bough,

Overripe and golden for the taking;

Behold its forbidden fruit

And you will be helpless but to surrender

To the subtle call of the serpent,

Summersweet

In the heat of the moment,

Savage and bitter

In the fallout.

Pressed Flowers

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I can still see you,

Pressed paper-thin

Between the pages of my life,

Faded and half-forgotten,

Flowers spared the frost

Only to spend the rest of eternity

Fragile and fitting imperfectly

Within the leaves of a former forest.

 

I can still see you,

Softly lit and spirit-like,

Spiraling through the city of my memory,

A brightness dancing across those dim and dismal years,

Skirts lifting as you spin,

The veil of the years that has risen between us

Casting the whole scene in a magic light,

Not quite poetry,

Nor quite perfection,

But something approaching

The one, or the other.