39

{ sapiens }

bumper to bumper

in the murky trenches

of a saturated

shopping mall corridor,

where plain faces run together into one

solemn,

disfigured blurr.

think too fast,

talk too much,

especially about meaningless things.

i walk past them slowly

on my way to the guillotine.

so many eyes,

black holes whispering to me,

all the miserable

secrets of

boredom.

stuck in the goop of intersubjectivity,

the slime of myths and epics,

making payments on expensive real estate

in the best area of limbo,

the paradise of fools.

i judge them all

harshly.

that’s when i see it.

an ignominious tail

trailing close behind,

a scrap of toilet paper

on the bottom of my shoe.

that’s always the heel

(so to speak)

with me,

the weakness no mask can veil.

following me,

exposing me.

just as i start to believe i’m

better than the other scum,

there it is

mocking me.

human, all too human.

caught with my pants down

in the garden,

just like everyone else.

maybe,

empathy

is the only thing ever worth having.

Photo: ‘Golconda’, René Magritte

38

{ ariel, lion of god }

subtlest beast of all the field,

flesh of my flesh,

bone of my bone,

child of the Sphinx,

you bring to light all that is hidden in me.

deep inside the womb of nature,

or perhaps her tomb,

rooted in the blood of generations passed,

a tenebrous mixture of all that is ugly and

especially beautiful.

those qualities of myself

which i know either poorly

or not at all,

which have managed to

disguise themselves,

knowing how to hide,

behind nothing at all.

photo: @aykutmaykut

37

{ death of a stoic }

she sits

like a good little girl,

well behaved, which she’s been told is best,

with good posture and a pretty little smile,

like a good little girl.

one day she will be blind

like the rest of us,

trying so hard,

struggling against the tide

in vain—in vain!—

but i do not pity her,

i’m not so vacuitious.

we sit together,

in this whimsical waiting room

with the many other patients

also waiting.

how peculiar

we must look.

so absorbed in it,

so full of it.

how pitiful we must look.

so stuck in it,

sinking,

inch by inch, into the void—

everything beautiful

tangled up in decay,

swallowed up by it.

the finality is overwhelming, and yet,

somehow i’m indifferent,

even bored with it.

a stoic,

sitting quietly by,

as everything mysteriously withers and

i am allowed to keep nothing.

no longer bothered

by the madness.

impervious to it,

grinning while

choking on it,

enjoying myself while

i wait—in vain!—

for what, i’m not sure.

[ photo: “Falling Slowly” by photographer, Brooke Shaden ]

36

{ chiaroscuro }

i recognize them all,

the undesirables,

the windows to my soul.

round and round they go,

somewhere down

in that place—

locked inside a dream

within a dream—

untouched and untouchable.

cloaked in darkness and

by the light of the moon,

shadows,

settle around my heart—

dreadfully gray, diaphanous waves

drifting and swirling

like leisurely cigarette smoke

around my heart,

whispering something

indecipherable.

a thick,

sticky voice,

a redolent voice,

echos forever

in that place, where

space and time are distorted,

where nothing,

not even light, can escape,

where my devil has been long caged.

beautiful, annihilating

darkness there and nothing more—

that’s my madness.

i know there are no honest people,

only better liars,

but a dream never lies,

madness never lies.

[ photo: ‘The Remembrances of the Soul’ by photographer Michael Vincent Manalo ]

35

{ the odyssey }

you’ve been trying hard

to show them the best side of you,

but there’s more inside those blue

eyes that you keep hidden,

until you’re alone in the night,

when all that, in the light, is forbidden

can rise to your lips.

standing at the gates of the garden,

trembling down to the fingertips,

you gather the strength to step

into the dark,

and with only a thread to guide your way back,

you carefully embark

on a journey into the labyrinth

that is your mind,

down the rabbit hole,

hoping to find

some answers from your childhood.

instead, you arrive

at a familiar beach.

stumbling among the driftwood,

you wade into the waves,

and taking a final breath, you dive,

deeper

into the maze.

while swimming swiftly down,

you look behind,

to your chagrin

you find

the thread has snapped.

you hesitate,

panic swelling in your lungs,

you take a moment to debate,

but you’ve come so far,

you must go on.

now swimming faster than before,

it won’t be long till you’re on the floor

of the place where it all started,

where the jaws are opened wide,

and what you seek

is sure to hide.

you see a glimmer,

a small ball of light,

not as cold as it would seem.

suddenly, and with a jolt,

you awaken,

it was only a dream.

[ photo: photo by @_intographics ]

34

you’re gone, and

you took your love with you

on your way

out the door.

you were my last cigarette,

now,

i don’t smoke anymore.

what a shame

it is to be human,

what a burden

is the heart,

love is only

beautiful,

when it’s

portrayed in art.

robbed of my vice,

with nothing

to show,

except a hole in

my chest

where your love used to be,

not long ago.

how easily tender memories

are swept up and away

like smoke, or a cloud

on a windy

winter’s day.

how quickly love is

betrayed by fearful

gluttony—

you left with my last cigarette,

not even the ashes are here

to comfort me.

[ photo: photo by Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison ]

33

always workin’ hard makes

an honest soul tired,

but i can’t get no sleep,

cus’ i’m up all night,

dreamin’ of places

i’d rather be.

gotta’ get outta’ here

fast,

the water’s full to the brim,

but i’m all the way under,

n’ i don’ know how to swim.

i gotta’ shake off these

blues,

but it might be too late—

the change in my pocket

says,

i gotta’ wait.

gotta’ work

to make money,

gotta’ pay what i owe,

no time to waste,

gonna’ reap what i sow.

can’t slow down,

i’ll dream when I’m outta’

the thick,

no rest ‘till then,

gotta’ move quick’.

clear up head,

no time to choke—

were the last words

my honest soul

ever spoke.

the change in my pocket

got a hold on me,

and now,

i got the blues.

[ photo: photo by Kyle Thompson @kylejthompson ]