Why Don’t You Fly?

The other kids would make fun of my wings,
they laughed at the way they shudder
when they get wet and the way
they drop feathers when I run.
They’d point at me and scream,
Why don’t you fly little birdy?
Why don’t you fly?

Mother always told me I was her little angel,
Geryon, my miracle baby from the sky.
She would tell me my father was some good-for-nothing god
who bailed to chase the first nymph that
paid attention to him.

Now that I’m grown I keep my wings tucked
under my tattered jacket.
I stay with the other gods and demigods in town
on the street, begging for tributes to keep us alive
in tents clustered around barrels of fire kept aflame by Hestia.
The musical gods have long lost their flutes and lyres.
They play scuffed and chipping guitars missing strings
and drum on upturned buckets with pvc piping.

My friend Herakles is losing his mind.
Geryon, Geryon, my boy, did I ever tell you
about the time I stole your sheep?
That wasn’t me, Herakles, I wasn’t born yet.
And yes, you’ve told me about a thousand times.
I’m thinking of changing my name
because of how many times you’ve fucking told me.
Don’t do that, Herakles replied.
I used to know a guy with your name.
You should’ve seen his fuckin’ face.
Stole all of his sheep and shot him
right between the eyes.

Herakles laughed. His large frame heaving up and down
reminded me of my smallness.
I wonder where we demigods go when we die.
Since the underworld closed down
most of us hope for some sort of Heaven.
Herakles likes to tell me to look for it.
Geryon, Geryon, why don’t you fly?
See what you can see up there huh, boy?
Why don’t you fly?

A man and woman walk past us and look at
the cardboard sign I’m holding.
Friend has dementia nobody will hire me
Need money for food.
They glance at me sympathetically and hand me
a five dollar bill.
I say God bless you as if I know what that means
and they hurry away.

 

 

 

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I wonder where the past goes and
why the present has to leave so soon.
And why I don’t remember the future
if it’s just going to happen anyway

Philosophy class hurts my head
Intro to Stats relieves the pain.
Statistically speaking, the universe
shouldn’t exist, which is far less
frightening than Plato’s idea that
we’re supposed to exist –
which would mean we’re probably
disappointing Somebody.

I wonder how many people I can be
in how many worlds.
If I’m me here,
who’s to say I’m not me somewhere else?
The odds are almost equally unlikely.

Although, being me isn’t so simple.
I have no Form, Plato.

Am I the same person at church as I am at school?
Or at home as I am at work?
Is my true self some combination of all the above?
Or am I just a million different soulless people
from one day to the next?

And I’m bored here; levels of cadmium
in mushrooms doesn’t interest me, I’ll
teach myself what I need to know to pass
the exam when I get home.
I zone out during lectures,
I’m one of those people.

 

The End of The World

After the world ended, it began again and picked up where it left off. The apocalypse came and went and life went on. It was like waiting for the power to come back on after a storm. We were waiting for the rubble to be cleaned up. For the dead to be burned. The power plants to be repaired. The cities to be rebuilt. The internet servers to be put back online. For our cable boxes to be reinstalled. So we can imitate life from before. As if everyone we loved hadn’t died. As if God hadn’t wanted us dead too.

Hayden

Hayden wasn’t a one-time deal. She was an affair. I’m man enough to admit that. Some days I wonder if I loved her. Other days I dismiss the thought and regard her simply as a mid-life crisis. Whatever it was, it lasted a year and a half before my wife found out and our marriage dissolved and I never saw Hayden again.

Affairs don’t always kill marriages. I think my mom cheated on my father for a time when I was thirteen and my sister was fifteen. There were nights when she didn’t come home. No explanation, no calls. But she would always be downstairs making bacon and eggs or pancakes or something for us the next morning. Their arguments would be like clockwork. Every Friday night, we’d be sent up to our rooms and we could hear them go at it for hours. We were like little kids with bedtimes again. My dad never left her. But Kate and I hadn’t been in love since our second kid was born. This finally gave us an excuse.

Anyway, I met Hayden at wing night at BJ’s downtown. It was a work thing. Kate was uninterested of course. She was afraid Mindy and Alex were spending too much time in daycare with us both working. So she seized every moment she could with them. Which meant she never went out anymore and, because she was a mother before she was a wife, she never had time to fuck me either. We used to have great sex, she was amazing in bed, adventurous. But it’d been nearly a year.

Hayden was drinking alone on the opposite end of the bar. It was the end of the night, the rest of the guys from work had left, so I was drinking alone too. She was sipping some sort of gin and tonic. I ordered her another. She smiled at me and raised her glass when the bartender brought it over. I raised my beer. She went back to drinking and at first I thought that would be all. And to be honest, I wasn’t disappointment. That small amount of attention from a woman, even from across the room could have been enough. But that’s not usually how these things go. I found myself taking off my ring, getting up, and sitting next to her and asking her why she’s drinking alone. I could ask you the same thing, Mr. Suit And Tie, she said with a smirk, referring to my work attire. The next morning I told Kate I drank too much and had to go home with Gary from the office and slept on his couch. She yelled at me for being so irresponsible.

 

 

After All

 

I couldn’t explain these things if I tried
Firing synapses in the brain make little shapes in the mind
Foggy memories tangled in knotty threads
And Alexandria burning by same natural laws as a forest fire

Creation, fruition
And breathing, blossomed petals
Human palms and palm-fronds with skin stretched thin
Over veins carrying blood and mineral-rich water
Glowing pale in the sunlight, signifying-
Signifying something

Braided blonde fingers, interlocked
Shoreline ocean spray in our salt-stiff hair
Pupils dilating within twisting kaleidoscope irises
Psyche only loves Eros because Eros loves her
So maybe Venus had her way after all
But I remember harvest gold in the autumn sunset
And the Big Dipper in the dark winter
Cosmic gravity tugging

Pulling us closer to God
Or what we think is God
Divine intervention rarely breaks the laws of physics
So waiting for the rapture we’ll wait forever
Our ashes and atoms breaking down and passing on
Until we are ourselves again,
Thus Spake Nietzsche

Philosophy, theology, gods, God, love
Hearts pump blood, disregarding the soul
You can’t write these things down
Much less understand them
Cue existential crisis
A month of oversmoking Marlboro Golds
And drinking God knows how many pots of coffee
But I digress

So show me loggers cutting down forests
And sandstorms burying ancient monuments
Built by forgotten peoples to please forgotten gods
In fifty thousand years, Niagara Falls will erode away to bedrock
And biology will evolve into Intel-powered digital organisms where
Sex is a sad spark between shorting circuits and
Faulty biological memories of love, God, death, etc.
Are heavily edited and stored in stunning 4k UHD

 

Taking You Back

I tripped on the old memory
Took a tumble over it then knelt on the sidewalk
Beside the glittering, shimmering thing

It hadn’t lost its shine
But it was scuffed with age
So I picked it up and held it in my hands
And buffed it a few times with the cuff of my sleeve
The people on the street walked around me or
Kicked me, irritated, with their shins and knees

It fit just right in the hewn grooves of my hands
Dense and heavy, like a thick marble
The smell was what captivated me
Warm and sweet honey gold leaves crunching
Releasing their fragrance in the crisp autumn sun
Smells like that have a way of taking you back

Fuel exhaust turning the world wavy behind us
Yeah, now we’re really picking up speed
She stretches out in the passenger seat
Puts her feet up on the dash and
Turns the radio dial until she finds Oasis
I’m glad I bought a convertible
Her hair catches the light like a kaleidoscope in the wind

Coffee-spill stains and cigarette ash streaks on her jeans
She’s curled in the corner of the loveseat under creamy peach lamplight
Reading one of my dad’s mystery thrillers
While my parents are away and smoking his cigarettes
I’m in the kitchen putting on another pot of coffee
And peeking around the corner at the game
The rain is pouring outside, stripping the last leaves from the trees
Later she says, There’s no way in hell I’m driving home in this storm

Fall was turning to winter when I was picking chestnuts
To throw at her window
But she wouldn’t come outside because she said she was sick
A few days later she moved away without saying goodbye and
I picked all the chestnuts I could find in her backyard
And I still have them and still don’t know why

The memory in my hand glows a little brighter and
I smile for a moment then drop it into my pocket and
I go on my way, patting the side of my jacket every so often
To make sure it’s still there

Gritty Details Redux

(7) Her high heels click loudly on the landing as she steps off.
(10) Mutters, We’ll talk outside.
(12) The night air is cold, funneled through the archways.
(13) I offer my jacket, she declines.
(17) She holds up a Bic lighter.
(14) She offers a smoke, I decline.
(19) Spark, spark, catch.
(20) She breathes in deeply and the tip turns to ash.
(39) They like it on my breath.
(15) So what would you like to know, Mr. Journalist Man?
(36) Do you do anything before or after to make it easier?
(37) A mouthful of whiskey before.
(41) Two Ativan in the morning to sleep.
(16) Her voice is muffled behind the paper and filter.
(34) Do you like it? I ask.
(35) It’s a job, I’m not supposed to like it, but I like the money.

(3) The air smells of sweat and fuel exhaust.
(42) When my half hour’s up and my hand is cramping from writing she stops me.
(18) Her long fingernails are red glue on.
(43) She takes my pen, writes her number at the bottom of the page, looks up and says, Just in case you ever find yourself down here again.
(27) You want to know the gritty details.
(38) For them, mostly.

_____________________________________

 

(11) I need a cigarette.

(1) Below Tropicana, under thousands of pounds of slot machines and card tables and three hundred dollar suites is the bus station.
(4) The garish blue carpet is fraying, the bathrooms are sticky and stained, and the soda machines don’t work.
(2) Here the people wait with their backpacks of spare clothes and some leftover chips and bills to go home tonight and come back in the morning.
(5) I spot her coming down the escalator.
(8) I hold up my hand, she walks toward me, then past me
(6) Her brown hair is done up, she’s wearing a tight black dress and long earrings.
(21) A red neon sign flashes brightly in the distance over a strip club.

(26) What the rich high rollers and family beach goers don’t see.

(31) She charges sixty for half an hour.
(29) She rolls her eyes then sticks out her hand.
(9) Pulls out a couple hairpins.
(23) You’re the edgy type.
(24) Pushing the envelope at your magazine.
(40) But also for me.
(28) Hands up, guilty on all counts.

(33) I rummage through my pocket and hand her three twenties, she folds them into her small purse.
(22) Wait don’t tell me.
(37) A mouthful of whiskey before.
(30) Right.
(27) You want to know the gritty details.
(25) Reporting on the scum of Atlantic City.