I felt like god from eighteen stories high
above St. Paul the winter that I died.
I didn’t jump; to jump would be to fly.
But pieces of me fell each night I cried.
And on the nights when I was smooth as glass,
while framed in darkness, focused on one light,
I felt the time, the time that wouldn’t pass,
and watched the sinners from my godly height.
Below me in the park they bought and sold
their chemicals to ease their bodies pain.
Their cloudy breath proclaimed the living cold.
Some nights it snowed, some nights just freezing rain.
Epiphany was all the help I sought;
but death and god was all the help I got.
My chlorine days lay heavy on my skin
As I lay down in sheets that might have been
Engulfed in variations of your sweat
Instead of washed and dried in “just forget.”
Tonight they’ll twist in fits of restless thought
Of creases on the day that they were bought,
In plastic wrap, smooth, flat upon a shelf,
A perfect presentation of their self.
But now we lay on this imperfect bed
Entwined like roots entangled with the dead
As cleanliness begins to make me itch
And wish for all the comforts of the rich
Who sleep like kings and queens in satin sheets
While wide awake the dream I dreamed retreats.
I smelled Fort Bragg in 1984
this morning in my silver Jeep while dressed
in my un-camouflaged blue suit. I swore
I’d never be a businessman. My best
guess was I’d wear the green beret for life.
And yet, as I drove through the slow school zone,
not half a click from where the only knife
I use sits on my desk, beside my phone,
to keep my fingers free of paper cuts
from envelopes, I swear I caught a whiff
of diesel mingled with that canvas must
that used to make me homesick. It’s as if
some static line is still attached to me
and I can’t make the jump to tear it free.
The new nurse fumbled with the ultrasound
device. She pushed it like a cattle prod
against the curved, unmoving flesh, but found
nothing. I held my breath and panic. God
don’t let her die or be already dead.
The sterile room, unholy, and the nurse
pulsed with the nervous tension of the dread
of the unknown. My prayers have gotten worse
since then. My feeble, fetal spirit died
the same day that I didn’t hear her heart.
Predictably, we drove back home and cried,
not for the latent lump of flesh, the start
and end of life. We wept for all the days
ahead when we’d remember this one.
To touch her hand and taste her lips, I’ll fly
I’ll feel my body rise above the ground
She’ll feel my spirit somewhere in the sky
And tell me of her love without a sound
The wind will move the clouds as she moves me
The clouds will gather for the coming rain
A storm bound only by intensity
A passion which the clouds cannot contain
My downward arc is nothing like a fall
It’s guided by her will and by her breath
It traces like an answer to her call
The way that love transcends both life and death
A glimpse of glory tempts me not away
For I am home, and home is where I’ll stay
It’s good to feel your finger on my lips,
a sign to keep me quiet, or a touch
of love inviting me to take you in
and kiss the smallest offering of you.
This token is more delicate than peace,
it moves my doubt, but only side to side.
Unsure, I close my eyes and cast my mind
to words you’ve left as unintended clues.
Un-pressed the moment that I think I know
why simple touches bear a steady pulse,
the taste un-lingered causes me to draw
response as automatic as my love.
They flow from words, desires, visions, dreams,
and mark their time unhesitatingly.
If I could cup my hand behind your neck
and lay you down to rest, curled in my lap.
I’d have no expectation but the feel
of soft hair in my steady hand. You’d sleep;
I’d sing until your eyes were closed, your breath
was deep. My only expectation then
would be to stare my love into your dreams.
You’d go to peaceful places void of all
the expectations in the mundane world.
And once your soul and body found the rest
they need, I’d watch you wake; I’d stroke your hair.
My final expectation then would be
to see the blue I know within your eyes
and touch my lips upon your waking lips.
Are you the one who’s come to take me back
to all the places where I may have been
when I was young, before I felt the lack
of love I longed for time and time again?
And in those places of my former youth
will you be there to soothe me when I cry
while overcome by nothing but the truth,
and hold my hand as days and nights go by?
The truth that life is full of emptiness
will light the night like half a waning moon,
and I will need your simple tenderness
to keep my heart from darkening too soon.
And when I have to face the deep abyss,
I know I won’t return without your kiss.
Assure me once, then reassure my heart;
it’s not that we’ve forgotten how you love.
And oh, my dear, you know when we’re apart
assurances aren’t all I’m thinking of.
Your hair, my dear, is foremost on my mind.
Okay, okay, it isn’t just your hair;
it’s kissing it while we are intertwined.
I know, I know, to say so isn’t fair.
I’m sure your hair will linger like a scent,
and then your lips will take their rightful place,
both first and last in action and intent
as in my mind you turn to face my face.
And then I’ll feel that I’ve been reassured,
although you won’t have said a single word.
The strength of my serenity is weak;
the weakness of my love, a lonely gift.
The voice within my silence needs to speak
the words my heavy heart can’t seem to lift:
intensity is not my lover’s crime;
insanity is not my final cry;
futility is just a waste of time;
serenity must find the strength to try.
And if it fails, the moon has failed as well;
it wanes and disappears from earthly sight,
and yet unseen it casts a steady spell,
and oceans ebb and flow beneath its might.
And though at times I too may be unseen,
I’ll pull you back to me with love serene.