Sweet Sixteen

I have loved and I have lost but I have never lost my name.
I have fought the losing fight but it has never been in vain.
I have risen from the pyre and I will never be the same.
I have seen all that is in you and I’ll never look again,
For I have burnt the bridge behind me and filled in that noisome grave.

I have run with wolves and lions but have never caught the deer.
I have conquered Hell through fury but I still can taste my fear.
I have battled to draw near you but have never been drawn near.
I have walked into exile but I refuse to disappear,
For I have loved and I have lost you and I won’t fall to despair.

I have ever been a servant but have never bowed my knee.
I have always been a drunkard but have never tasted mead.
I have studied since my birth but I have never studied Bede.
I have let you pierce my heart but I do not have blood to bleed,
For I have renounced foolish love and on this day I turn Sixteen.

Hourglass Eyes

As my glassy eyes reflected polished ash,
I realized that I never understood
Why the living mourn the dead.
These hypocrites who never cared
For Jones-most never knew his name-
Now standing mute, ranks of inconvenient
awkward office mates.

Mike told me that we all die.
It’s true, I thought, slipping my hand
To the breast of my coat.
The tobacco, held tight in its roll-
Just as we’re held by the sonorous
Supplications of the priest-
Came free. They heard the click of my lighter.
I did not care:
They would be dead someday too.

Thoughts of hypocrites and caskets
Left my head with the first drawn breath,
And it seemed as if all the blood
Drained from this coil to be
Replaced. That incense, holy and pleasing,
Filled me like the fluid that filled Jones,
And I exhaled our obituary,
My eyes reflecting their prison.

Compliment

You don’t want me for
whatever reason.
I don’t mind.
You needn’t justify your personal
desires; your dislike for facial hair
or the way I actually look
into your eyes.
Don’t think I worry that
you do not find me unattractive.
I don’t care.

I do not call you beautiful
because I want you.
I think you pretty
because you are.

Narcissus

When last clouds wept
Their bitter drops,
I was lying,
My chin on hands, cradling
The face I
Saw. A spruce dipped,
As if gazing quietly
Over my shoulder,
Its limbs nestled
By the water of the pond.
The beauty of my cheeks
And eyes, no line drawn
Unkempt. Beauty designed
To show the world
Where dreams lie.
The spruce smeared the glass,
Droplets that fell like ink
Marring my vision,
Like a refraction of purity
As water distorts light.

Uncle

They don’t know what pain I drown.
They don’t, dammit, and I’d like
To see them live my life
And never touch a single drop.
Each drink a brother to the
Needle I hold each day;
Each drop a sister coming to soothe
My mind.
They wouldn’t last without it.

I always said I wouldn’t touch it either.
I didn’t want to be like him, I said.
It was wrong, I said… but what did I
Really know? Not pain, not pain.
I’ll forget. Just one more drink
And maybe it will all pass
Away. Just one more pack
And maybe it’ll hurt no more.
Just one more night and they’ll
All come back.
Just one more.

Scotch on the Rocks

I would cower if I could stop,
But my pursuer haunts my steps.
I would die if I could choose
And escape this existence.
This never ending struggle,
This never ending chase,
I’d end it all, I’d give up life
If I didn’t have to face
My fear.

It’s clutching me inside; what did that wise man say?
That all I feared was fear itself?
Well it has come to stay.
I can’t let go, I can’t escape-
Afraid to even just cry out-
And so I run, for evermore
In this life without a doubt.
Don’t doubt what comes, don’t doubt what’s gone,
I’ve seen it all before.
I’ll run until I can’t go on,
And then I’ll run some more.
This is my choice, this is my fate,
This is my poison picked.
I’ll burn it all to run away,
And drown to just forget.

Fool’s Silence

He saw the man, he saw the camp,
He heard the threat and death.
With twisted lips he walked the heights,
Looking with laboured breath
‘Round the valley cloaked in mist
And thousand stars bright lit.
He held his breath and turned away
And down the hill he wept.

Past sentry’s post and comrade’s tent
He crept in dead of night,
And from the pickets loosed a horse
And fled before first light.
With dawn’s red glow, a tidal wave
Flowing o’er hill and hold
Came death to make that red look light
And coward’s actions bold.

Said not a word as flee the day,
A scarf ‘round head was tied.
No look nor prayer tossed back to men
Whose fate it was to die.
He fled his death, but never could
He flee his memories:
‘Twas he that killed those men, and when
He reached that far-flung sea,
There Death did find him in the depths
Where sought he to be free.

He could have cried, a single call
Would bring aid to his side,
But in silence he killed his friends,
And in silence he died.

The Check

There is something blessedly comforting
In the check that comes at the end of a meal.
True, it is one you must pay; its inevitability
Absolute.

        Yet even so,
        With all its monetary requirements,
        There it still sits.

Never a flutter
        of anger,
Never a cloud
        of concealed hate.

The bill has no soul, much like that
    which satisfies it.

        The check never changes-
                it rarely surprises.

Rather, it waits,
    Peacefully dozing,
                Until settled and one leaves.

Yes, there is a comfort
        In that which never changes,
                Even if it costs.

January

Part of me always wonders why Nose runs
wet and the cold (which should freeze) instead melts;
heat should do that job. Goosebumps pebble in
vain–by bunching up, I feel less covered.
Hair’s huddling at the apex, and the air
is going through to the back of my teeth.
It hurts, but I’m

                                   watching dragon’s breath, grinning to ache
because that pain means life, though only
those who know winter well can understand.
Swinging bare arms with the exuberance
of a ten year old self who feels only
adventure; who would search the snow for white
leopards, the snow cats waiting for my pounce
to play. Part of me forgets in July
and dies, not to be reborn until the
first sign of snowprints in January.