Ghosts and Onionskins

You held out your hand
your lips took to tremble
a sea of unknown
in the soul of a thimble

I leant you my breath
against your every inch
to hear yours explode
at the split of each stitch

the small of your back
the all of the earth
the purest of fashion
the summit of worth

and my hands attending
and my tongue employed
to the wholeness of passion
to the infinite void

A beggar, a lover
a poet, a poem
A night here together
A night not alone

You grew amidst the factories
where the proud unschooled entrenched
a weed that you would call a rose
from out of the cement

And you left the one-horse-town to dust
for strippers, shrimp, and steel
just deep enough to hide your lust
enough to say it’s real

You swam the technicolour sea
of pain, and pills, and dust
and drank the rest to buy the black
with green, and gold, and rust

Now the newspaper’s a paperback
where the bad guy gets his way
But the mayor shook a veteran’s hand
and the editor is gay

So you hang on to the victories
and they offer you some sleep
A please-don’t-hurt-me symphony
to sing your kids to sleep

And you hunger for the one-horse
in you’ll-never-sleep suspense
where the rose bloomed instead of wilting
when your importance made sense

Remember my words?
How they fell from the young,
singing like worlds would die
at the end of my tongue?

Remember my hope
that was buried within?
Not a treasure unlocked.
Not a taste on my skin.

This was the magic
I stole from the past:
all the genius before
funnel-filled every lack

And here I am spent
after years of decay
with the loyal unraveled
while the rhymes fade away

This is a gravestone
that reads like regret
while the mourners held hats
for the unwritten yet

A Train Ride


Last night I took a train ride to spend the weekend with my family. The following was penned in shortly over an hour. A slice of my mind:

A night train ride makes me a special kind of sick
8 shades of green so whole
that I worry the woman sitting across from me
in the green turtleneck
is a spy
The cabin reminds me of my first art class
on sight lines-
these ones point nowhere
or rather somewhere we keep leaving
My teacher was my basketball coach
-small town-
and he made us wear green
like they’re all in on it
while oak brown me
the stump holding up the lot
sits sadly reminiscent
of the days that I had roots


The secret to life
I have discovered
is keeping sharp things away from your heart
and if things near you are about to explode
go away
The rest, I’m afraid, is nonsense


To have your cake and eat it too
is the inalienable right of the cake owner
but when have and eat are two separate things
you’re probably a weirdo


Some listless hours, I suppose
that I should wallpaper my coffin
and stick a lamp in there
so that- should I rise-
it might take weeks before I realize
I’m not in my living room


You cannot walk a path not tread
but borrow maps from memories dead


If I wasn’t this hollow
then I wouldn’t swallow
the medicine or magic pill
that might overnight
make this madness alright
and soothe me with chemical spill

But it’s new and I’m scared
and they never prepared
me for emptiness, rather they said
that each dream in mind
would be out there to find
jumping into the world from my head

So I took it as truth
and I bought with my youth
not but 10 thousand trips round the earth
and found not a soul
who had filled that same hole
nor a heart that felt dreams without worth


8 tall whiskeys
and you are looking fine
when I’m sure you’re not a coat rack
I’m gonna make you mine


I write this and keep it on the bedside table
so that when you’ve had your fill
and leave me as a lark
I can show you
I knew all along
(what you were)
but only wrote it secretly
hoping my fifteen minutes
might last twenty


If you propose
that less is more
I more or less
think less of you
or think of you no more


If god is in the details
then the devil’s in the dark
so I stacked some detailed kindling
and then smiling, lit a spark


Wine in the night
is a party done right
Wine in the day
means that night’s on its way
Wine in the morning
well, that’s just a warning
to sleep, wine detained
so the sheets don’t get stained


I wonder when a wealthy man
walks by with younger girl
if she might fuck an oyster
for the chance to get a pearl


She asked me why she couldn’t sleep
so I told her to stop killing ants
or burn her copy of Jack and the Beanstalk


She said evolution killed the magic
and yet here is humanity
holding a rabbit
we all lose our breath over
and call “a kiss”


"Sure, Everest is high" he said
“but my grandfather climbed the 8 flights of stairs, 15 times a day each shift he worked cleaning that office building, and nobody cares about him”
“No, they don’t” I admitted
“nor do they Hillary. They care only that a man saw the top of the world and lived.
So they in their comfy chairs can think
we could if we wanted to”

My love
you kneel
and pray
and feel?

the life
to us:
the soft
the sweet
the late
the just.

And here
we feel
the grain:
we all
We all

Speak now
to ghosts
to tales
and boasts
the need
the need.

We all
a question
the void.

And land
the sad
can feed
the need
the need.

'Gainst this Pretend, Fraying Childhood

Hold me ‘gainst the story
Nail me ‘gainst the cross
I have an opinion
so I owe against my loss

This is aging virtue
This is your command
This is why the teary-eyed,
salute-to-forehead, stand

Pretend that you remember
Pretend you were alive
before the freedoms bought with bullets
turn ev’ry thousand into five

The sharper seams are fraying
Your love makes its commands
You pretend the world was promised
“gainst the gravel of your hands

And you and me forever
it seems a bit like 90s kitsch
but in the end are we more needy
than a simple childhood wish?

How to be a Civilian

Wait like a chauffeur
Run like a fire
caught your childhood and chased you
to adult desires

Spend like the dying
Consume like a plague
Dance down the hallways and
murder the vague

Love like a car wreck
Drink like rug
Scrub like mad to remove
all the wine stains and blood

Read like a prisoner
Ask like a child
Pretend every day
that you’re other than wild

Words and hope and things you spit
down morning washroom drains
bleed softly like a sunburnt tire
and wander from our brains

whispered into shirt collars
hollered into flasks
pled to leather journals
belted out in porcelain baths

and everything important
that no eardrum might impair
floats fast upon the southern breeze-
is nothing but hot air

You called me t’ward the mount
a siren’s fingers ‘gainst the lyre
as the stars all towered dangerous:
shards of glass reflecting fire

Then we spoke of what you needed
till I guess I liked it too
as there was nothing so intoxicating
as lying next to you

The hope, the fear, the what comes next
but nothing rightly came
then lying there you spoke again
and swore I was to blame

For the dream against reality
the house against the cash
the lie against civility
the demand against the ask

But I thought you promised something
that sounded something close to me
instead of shame against the dollhouse
you could decorate as free

I would laugh and cry and dance and fuck
sing psalms unto desire
I would walk across that broken glass
to sleep beside the fire

I would hunger like a human
I’d bow to lust just like a beast
I would lie to you no longer
so we might suffer the least


This hand-me-down body
This watered down love
This tired appointment
This rhyming thereof

This wrote like a prayer
This read like a cry
This sits like confession
More honest than I

This for all the questions
This to stay my heart
This armours in words
What the mind tears apart

This is my present
This is my pain
This is my love, my love
This will remain

20 year-old
drag the blankets
from my bed
shotgun scotch
exploding through
my head

Memories and
will fight or fuck
or fail
to soft-smother
my uncovered
to drown, to swim
to sail

Goodnight the ghosts
who’ve come and gone
Goodnight my scotch-
bought might
Goodnight the carnage
badly drawn


As the ocean swallows bravery
and forgets each drowning name
you’re complacent to the slavery
and foreign to the blame
for the storm my ship’s enduring
like you’re larger than the sea
more stoic than the curing calm
content with owning me
And you let me sleep beside you but
blue ruin haunts my dreams
every deckhand has my hopeful eyes
each sailor sings my screams
And I think you think I think it’s love
-if of me at all you think-
or am I just another nameless
that you’re drowning in the drink?

I had just finished some reading and committed myself to writing a poem about drowning at sea, when lo and behold, that very moment some lovely soul reblogged this at the behest of my redundancy.