YGGDRASIL

I never let the microwave hit zero. I always stop it with two seconds left,

denial of a minute Ragnarok,

hero of a war waged against us all.

 

I am champion of the instant,

graceful messenger in service of webbed

leylines running from D.C. Ethiopian restaurants to 

Bay dim sum shops.

 

I need new shoes at least once a week,

soles thinned by souls found,

I am glue.

 

At the right angle,

those chains that bind us to each other glisten

like sunbeams.

RUAKH

I discovered my death for the first time two years ago.

Cries floated from Pittsburgh to Wooster, Ohio—

I stayed in bed, the Tree of Life strangling me with its roots.

The second time, I sat in a coffee shop, still as foam cooled on my lips.

The third, at temple, gunshots echoing through Akron halls and cracking the ark.

I heard New Jersey machetes at a Florida wedding, fourth,

fifth, knives out in the Dohány Street Synagogue.

 

I don't count anymore.

The pogroms won't stop, 

genocidal possession of the American dream.

I feel the stones suffocating me,

the crushing weight of burial mitzvah.

She'ol isn't just near, it's here,

there is no packaged Jewish hell worse than life on earth.

A NEURAL MOON LANDING

Sometimes when it snows I become a conspiracy theorist,

each falling flake a meteor, their

seismic embrace of the earth world-breaking

in a million unique ways.

 

I don't trust anything inanimate and

I don't subscribe to object permanence,

daily breaking myself of the constructs that smother us,

re-imagining the world like a valentine on February 15th. 

 

Lately I've been having trouble starting sentences.

Some words just don't look right,

my own neuroses force me to

find not just words but words that sooth—

sharp letters feel like lemon juice in a cut but

round ones are aloe.

punctuation is okay, most of the time;

capitalization rarely is. 

 

I am lost among the well-lit streets of intellect,

wandering without wallet, phone, or keys,

entering some rooms without knocking even as 

I kick other doors in until

I find the sound-stage responsible for the

molecularly echoed loop I am trapped in.

A PRAGMATIST'S GUIDE TO STAYING ALIVE

Our existence is not miraculous.

Our existence is not defiant.

Survival through millennia justifies us nothing,

obscene luck awards us no birthright,

the conceptual probability of persistence is not minimal—

it's one hundred percent;

we're all here, aren't we?

 

Our existence is not unique and

isn't that comforting? To recognize

just how unburdened we are?

 

Our existence is not miraculous.

Our existence is not defiant.

Consciousness exists not in a circle but

in straight, parallel, identical lines;

you are no different from me than

I am different from my enemies.

 

This is not a welcoming environment.

This is not a hostile environment.

This is water and it's indifferent and that's wonderful.

This colonized rock cares nothing for our hardship,

our ancestors fought for nothing but their immediate selves,

this planet will linger long after we are gone.

SANDMAN

I double-check my dreamcatcher every night before falling asleep.

Not because I'm worried about nightmares but because I'm worried about fantasies— 

Sometimes I dream so strongly I send stupid texts when I wake up, 

wishing good mornings to those who don't deserve it or 

scrolling endlessly through social media profiles I used to be so intimate with, centered in.

 

Icarus should have been fine, warning that he is, and that's the truth.

Cool air at height, wind freezes but

it doesn't flame.

Maybe that's why I rise with the moon,

nightly soaring under starscapes Van Gogh would give a remaining ear to capture,

cutting through the quiet like a whistle.

 

If I'm not flying then I am grounded.

I live looped moments, memories,

performing to crowds of faces embedded deep in decades past— 

It's the terrestrial dreams that worry me,

that force me into wearing uncomfortable, ill-fitting truths.

 

I pray with closed eyes and restless mind,

in a temple of down.

I don't expect answer.

Hopes spilling from illusionary castles in the air,

chimera guarding the gates,

sleeping reincarnation is a curse.

 

I inspect my dreamcatcher each morning when I wake up,

anxious to see what's been snared,

hoping to curtail emotional fallout before it becomes toxic.

I remind myself that this is not Delphi, I am not the Oracle,

my dreams will not—my dreams should not—come true.

WRITER'S LAMENT

When my lips dry out I pretend I've been sealed, caulked.

Imagining forced entombment frees me from expressive expectation,

I do not need to perform. I am quiet,

finally, in release.

 

I occasionally wish I could lose my voice,

privileged as I am, in some perverse and twisted Grimm story,

forever excused from the act that is animation.

 

When my girlfriend thinks I'm mad at her she tries to kiss me.

If I am mad, I pull away, but

even when I'm not I am reluctant.

How can you hope to touch me through my skin?

How can I ever possibly explain myself in tactile hieroglyph?

I am—we are—so much more,

soul entrapped by body.

 

I am comfortable inside my thick skin,

inking fresh drafts of old stories on pages replaced every month,

listening to calm sea quiet my rocking boat—

I am dry and still drowning.

 

I am sheltered from the storm,

remain untouched even as I cover the ground around me with buckets.

I struggle for air even as windows are opened,

blindly reaching out with my breath in Sistine perversion.

IN MEMORIAM

I am sorry it had to end this way,

but lately I have forsaken complicity in that which

I do not agree. I know

you consider yourself Agamemnon, but

you are Midas,

and everything you touch hardens before you.

 

I will not let you martyr yourself

on a cross of self-righteous paranoia;

you are not special for knowingly

accepting the world without Atlas' strength.

 

Artemis' aptitude is the crossroads of

equanimity and empathy,

an icy coolness you simply cannot harness,

and I will not steep myself in your broiling frustration.

 

I am sorry it had to end this way—

I am sorry you are so stuckfast you would rather

channel Ares than Athena— 

but I will not pull your sword out from under you or

break your fall onto it.

 

I recognize your tempestuous self-imprisonment

as I recognize my old self in a mirror, just as

Narcissus recognized himself reflected below him,

and I do not envy you the struggles ahead.

© 2020 Carte Blanche