Category Archives: Free Form

Opening Lines To Try At That Generic Irish Bar In Mid-Town Manhattan. Seriously, go for it.

Show your way to me
And I’ll squeeze you
Teach you
To be free
You’ll be confined to the infinite wonder we share
Bound by the limits of our biological needs
The weeds
Ensnaring our aging skins in wonder of What is right? What do I need, really?

Sister,
Screech your screed
You woo-woo girl
Screech your screed
Spit your poetry
Spit it
Spit it babe
You’re a babe
A ripe fruit barely there but by a thread
So insidious to all my prayers
My value statements composed in the analyst’s chair
Under the consultant’s glare
Their behest
I guess

I guess
Anyone’s guess, my guest
My quest to remove you from the crest of this earth and float you to the infinite
Subsume with you
Subsume
In this lonely, oily room
Too soon

Too soon for the truth of what this late night decision may mean

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Offsite

I’m staring this executive in the eye
He’s providing me the gift of constructive feedback
I’m listening and reflecting
Dancing the triangle of effective communication
And all that’s on my mind
Is you

We’re digging deep into this leadership development exercise
We’re learning to delegate and speak with command
Providing context and clear objectives
Standards for success
And all I’m dreaming of is your mouth
On mine

The noise around me is warm and supportive and an investment in my future
And I’m grateful and more engaged than ever
Motivated to perform, baby!
And consumed by the thoughts of my nose near your neck
The warmth and aroma of you just millimeters from me
Nearing the moment we lose ourselves and dissolve

We’re sharing our stories with brave vulnerability in this sterilized setting
Shining a light on our blind spots
Bathing in this pre-programmed artificial light
And I swear I hear your low purr in my ear
As we maneuver naked in the dark
Swimming the gentle currents of these naked sheets

I’m staring this executive in the eye
And your body is sliding on mine
Sliding, our eyes align and shine
As we disappear in the culmination
The orgasm that must not manifest
In this present environment of tolerance and mutual respect.

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Asterisk

For my next poem I thought I’d employ an allusion to the anthems of love, grace, and forgiveness by the rock band U2
But I hesitated
Fearing that 100 years from now
Or thereabouts
The text would require
An asterisk

To explain the band

As if.

As if I won’t be the one crying for that asterisk: clawing out the entrails of my competition, hoping against reasonable hope that I prevail and share a footer with Larry Mullen, Junior.

As if.

As if we’d ever occupy – much less use – the same bathroom
As if my summit won’t be the gutter-swamp of some marginalia
The pinnacle of my legacy some overeager grad student’s hard fought effort to illuminate the “forgotten history of early 21st Century American Verse”

My therapist says I’m too hard on myself

As if.

As if this irrelevance against the vast sweep of a universe I don’t understand isn’t real
As if my turbulence this quiet New Year’s Day isn’t somehow encouraged by the throbbing drumbeat of “New Year’s Day”*
seeping through the thin walls of this ghastly apartment

*a 1983 song by an Irish band called U2, who were once considered quite popular

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On Language and Parenthood (AKA We Speak Our Words Mostly Without Forethought But They Often Land Like The Most Sophisticated War Plans Of Our Species’ Most Strategically Brilliant Military Minds)

Okay let’s pay attention for a moment
Let’s consider how context can rapidly evolve something said simply from plain and perfunctory to pure puncturing pain
Listen!
And let’s take a quick look in degrees
Let’s say three
Three degrees of context
(skipping over some nuances, sure, but goddammit we only have so much time and space here):

“Okay, bye!”

That phrase.
Two words.
Not much to unpack , right?
Wrong!
Dead wrong.
You couldn’t be more wrong.

Let’s try it again, goddammit:

“Okay, bye!”

  • hurts little and actually feels efficient when a work colleague says so at the natural conclusion of a yet another content-filled conference call
  • humiliates and generates instantaneous cheek-flushing when a woman says so to the young man enamored of her and in the immediate aftermath of his incoherent stumbling to find the words that will finally reveal his intrinsic handsomeness and star quality
  • h-bombs the father’s aging but still child-like heart when the son says so, gathered among his friends, after the dad joke is made, ham-handedly sure, but actually quite funny to the now faltering father walking away wounded in his withering heart, head hung, stunned

Life is context
And adjusting to it.
Can you stay true and you in each new scene?
Can you, maggot?
(I’m not a drill sergeant but goddammit I dreamed I would be!
But I can’t be
I just can’t
These kids are so darn cute!)

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I See You’re Speaking At (Insert Name Of Conference Here). May I Introduce Myself After Your Talk?

When I encounter you in this moment you’ve imagined but are surprisingly unprepared for, the moment your remarks are done, when you’re now eye to eye with me and those who scheduled this time to edify ourselves, you are now genuinely trying to hear my gentle inquiry and probing of your generally sane yet safely anodyne advice, I’m aware I am seeing signs of sorrow in the crease around your eyes as they squint to quell the mounting pressure of the sadness in your soul, the endless years enduring your parents’ neglect and disapproval and disappointment.

We meet at this conference and, now the encounter is occurring, you find this is what surprises you, I surmise: the thing you’ve thought about and prepared for for so many dreaming hours is taking its place in history and the sadness is telling you the history is passing you by, the great hope so surprisingly and swiftly squandered, just as mommy and daddy had feared.

I admired the you up on that dais moments ago and I must say I admire the you here now in this moment too for fighting the good fight, the naive and losing fight to put yourself outside of your own humanness and raise yourself even ever so slightly, ever so momentarily above the fray away from the riff raff and the smells – you’re judgemental, sure – but you’re trying to be good – as we stand this same ground and, yes, now you’ve found it, there it is now, you enter the realm of your more prepared remarks and the sorrow signs disappear and we exchange the time honored banalities and we feel certain we have done well, the registration fee worth every labor, and we exchange cards and head separately for the open bar.

This is a highlight moment in our careers one perhaps we’ll write about after fielding countless requests for book-length insights and wisdom, but that fate is yet to be determined, though I clearly imagine that glory-filled future as I awkwardly wave ta-ta from across the crowded lounge clutching the awkward glass of Chardonnay, another day’s work done.

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Aging Actor Agonizing As Again He Faces His Familiar Face In The Glowing Glass Of An Underground Dressing Room Somewhere Out There Tonight

Nightly I face thee to efface me
My most dear
My most somber sober friend

Hear me now
You
Who only live in light

The self is illusion
Mine, an allusion to an imagined self we collude to enjoy and endure for an hour or more
So many allusions
So many selves
So many concocted lifetimes
So many carefully crafted entanglements, each anxiety endlessly examined and fondled and absorbed and displayed
So. Much. Makeup.

It is a tedious life

The best of us are empty:
Tin barrels played upon by expert hands
Begging for meaning
Begging for another goddamned job
Begging pleas: “oh, please
Let me be seen
again and again”

There is worth, mind you, but only briefly in that moment we momentarily share, in the allusion to the unwieldy illusion we unendingly share
There is worth
Then
But soon we bow and the magic swells and breaks and the breakdown begins anew

Again to seek our mark
Find our light
Call our agent
And hope for the unwritten cue

React and repeat
React and repeat
Reacting, repeating

Tedium

Ah, mon dieu, it’s time,
Yes, the time has come
Places, everyone

Inhale
Lights out
Powder and disappear

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Love In The Present Epoch

What’s happening with me?
Maybe it’s you, do you feel it too, what’s happening with you?
Maybe it’s the artisanal wine we’ve sipped, so so good, so
Satisfying inside and so affordable too?
Maybe it’s this rain and the song that Spotify just chose?

I’ve truly never felt this close with someone, it’s like the lines have blurred
Our merging hearts caressing
You and I sitting here, legs folded, facing one another
You leaning in to me
Our foreheads touch softly, just enough so that I encounter the strength and armor of your skull but also the kindness of your mind
And perhaps your soul
Each message you’re sending so soft and clear and unique to you yet classic like memes passed down from the ancients
Our faces aglow

Gosh, it’s amazing to me
I’ve never texted like this before
I pray to some all-knowing all-powerful intelligence to let this moment never end and our batteries never die and our wifi never hiccup and our thumbs never tire

Your texts are so intimate tonight
Oh damn, that emoji really turns me on, I’m typing so fast

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Know Thyself

All I’ve known is the known darkness
The isolation from you
The loneliness of me
I suppose this has been the great tragedy, the one I’ve suspected all along
I just want you to know me

Dearest, I just want to be known
I just want to be known so someone can tell me who I am

And, my love, when you know me, it’s true: I will seek the same quiet shelter alone
Find that unused absence of light
Wallow in the lost library
Unseen, blind in the contradiction
As long suspected
In unplanned dreams
In wild lapses
Vino’s veritas

I swear it pains me, it does, dear, as if, as if it were some epic trauma
As if I had once been some exalted god on high, now fallen
Called to this earthy morass of light and dark
Ecstatic pain and agony joy

And I swear
Oh yes on my dearest breath I vow
I will always, I suspect, always blame you, blameless unknowing
Companion

Know me, dear
Mommy daddy lover offspring lord
Know me and tell me who I am

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Fan Note

Your poetry is quite pedestrian
Like that old lady I saw walking her dog
Along the sidewalk
This morning
Look
My poetry isn’t good either
But that’s not the point
Now is it?
All I’m saying is go back to poem school.
You need it.

A still life observed while enjoying an early evening perfectly warm stroll along the Boardwalk near the sea.

I nearly passed by it
Co-workers on the beach quiet
Lee kissing Lim
Burning skin in intense city dreams
These are the dreams
The dreams life is made of
The dreams it’s so good to be out of

The awe

Fists clenched still
Life presents endless cycles
Endless eruptions of fear elation anxiety
And peace
Even still
In this still, still life

Ah

It’s so good to be out of the office

Neck rolls and shoulder shrugs
Breathe in and close the eyes
Allow the peace to come and call
Leagues below
The depths the soul
The death of the soul

Ah

Fists unclenched
Eyes wide revealing it now
Ah, see them still
Life, why don’t I have this still

Soft sands soft hands
Limber lips
A melting sun

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