those great cleansing cries











































prologue
























Back before Kitaro,
back before time flashbacks at Flashbacks.
even back before croissant lunches,
                                I was.
That's all,
      just was.
I ran from the day then.

I sat in the cold
waiting on familiar trains,
        shivering in the dark,
  until that headlight lit the field like day;
The quiet stomped down
      by the thunder
    of tons of steel riding on steel;
My breath escaped
  until the roar and echo died
and gave way
      to the green caboose light.

I lived train to train.

  For a time, trains meant leaving.
    After a time,
they lost romance,
        and I lost them.
But I ran from the day,
              and still do.

Back before Tracey Thorn,
back before penniless shopping sprees,
even back before all night discussions
                    on enemas and rape,
                              I lived.

I believe I did.
I have no proof,
  never having kept evidence of foreign alleys,
                or stranger's shoulders;
    not realizing that someday
I'd have a need to prove that I exist.

Those times are in my mind filed away,
escaping only after being released by an old song,
                            or a pastel sunset.

Back before Sinatra and German wine,
back before breadsticks and brie,
even back before barefoot walks in Oquirrh streams,
                                        I dreamed.

I've always wanted to meet someone like you—
someone who wanted to walk with me,
someone confident enough to be a woman,
and gentle enough to act out as one.

I've always needed to meet someone
          who talked with me,
                    not at me.

Someone who saw their own hue of blue, but wouldn't argue it wasn't a sky;
Someone who swears there is no god, then prays that it's not true.

I've always dreamt I'd be with someone who cared for me as me.
Someone who woke up with me on their mind.
Someone who wondered if I ran into a cloud, eyes closed,
                and breathed easier when I didn't.

I've always wished for someone
who'd see past my infirmities.
Someone who'd smile as I grew excited.
Someone who'd applaud the celluloid heroes,
  or listened closed-eyed to a bass line,
and conjure up images from just lyric excerpts.

That was before you
            and brie and breadsticks.

You are so many things to me now.
You are all I've waited,
                    prayed,
                        dreamt,
                          and wished for—
I just wanted to tell you that.

Back before conversational jazz,
back before finger spelling,
even back before midnight maple bars,
                            I became me.

I lived sunday to sunday then,
peaking at different hours in a day,
wearing painted facades for all my guises.

I left them laughing,
      I left them crying,
          I left them thinking...
but in the end,
                  I always left them.

Then, sleeping alone,
naked in a rented bed,
I dreamt myself awake,
remembering everything I said
and what was said to me,
storing every detail
 from each moment of day,
  writing when motivated.
          I lived alone.

Back before pomegranate projectiles,
back before last minute waltzes,
even back before sugarless espresso,
                            I was.
That's all,
            just was.
Back then,
my poetry were questions,
and my paintings
              simply noise.
You gave order to my creations.

In your lunch letter file
I had to have reason,
and when you read my thoughts,
                      I did.

Back before exchanged Shakespeare quotes,
back before dead grass peace signs on the capitol lawn,
even back before a single red rose,
                          I cared.

I would pain when children cried,
I would sulk when misunderstood,
I would listen when a smile was all that was needed.
I smiled at strangers
     and paid for friends.
I thought caring was necessary...
                          and real.

Then I met you.

I came as close to crying as I can
when you trusted me with a secret hurt.
I stood shocked and chilled
on realizing you survived
a saturday night collision
            without me.
I came to see
how easily you could leave me
              without reason.
I thought that the death of you would be the death of me.
I prayed to an empty ceiling that the next time
I stand in your place to cheat the hooded angel.
I would, you know,
I'd bear your cross.
I'd leap over or crawl under barb wire
to save you from a paper cut.

I know you sometimes need to cry,
but I never want to see you cry alone.
You could never accept a blanket,
but you could curl up under a comforter,
      one made just for you,
  one that knows your shape,
              and bends,
          and fears.

Back before short story reruns,
back before Jesus, The Early Years,
even back before thrift hopping,
                          I passed time.

You took great aim to catch me in lies,
  protecting you more than my truths
Not knowing me any other way.
I swallowed great pain establishing truths
taking hours to explain where before lies had taken seconds.
Hoping you'd see me as I am
        deep beneath the characters I've created.
I told you what I fear
  hoping you'd judge me as my shadow would.
I told you some secret hurt knowing you'd never use it against me.
I trusted you—
        absolute.
I needed you to know me—
              absolutely.

Back before the C7-9 chord,
Back before the spotted plant at work,
even back before the Big Red One,
                      I missed you.

I took advantage of our days—
stretching the last few minutes longer;
Speeding up dialogue
when your cul-de-sac came into view;
days we left with the noon sun
and came back under the friendly eye of Orion;
The step down in your walkway,
  the moment of goodbye,
                the smile, and the walk back to the car.

Back before Lynn's brakes,
back before that little German Deli,
    even back before brutally honest.
                      I saw you.

Remember the REM show,
and the girl I followed through three sets?
Remember you almost fell?
Did you know I was positioned to catch you?
Walking arms out in case you needed
              my chest to rest on.
I wanted to catch you.
I wanted to hold you.
I wanted to help you.

Back before the Housemartins,
back before bagels, cream cheese, and strawberry jelly,
even back before McKuen poems,
                    I needed you.

I see the end of your days;
    the smile you save for strangers. 

Back before simple presents,
back before Roland Gift and FYC,
even back before The Mod Squad,
                          I was.

I'll miss you when you go.
I miss you when you're gone.
If you had only one more sunrise to sunset
                        to give me,
I'd live each minute and give moment reason.
I'd stand up straight and try to hold your hand,
and risk rejection
              if only I could try.

Back before Blasters,
back before Tish and Gomez,
even back before that little Datsun,
                          I knew.
You did too.
You wouldn't admit it,
              but you knew.
I could see it in your apprehension,
the way you sat and walked away. 
                                   You knew.

Back before Oquirrh Landings,
back before the first Lunch Letter,
even back before you,
            I missed something.

I lived long before you came around.
I was hurt by friends and used by strangers;
I shared nights with friendly backs
              and left the next morning alone.
I thought everything would have a purpose—
                            an end.
Then I met you, and all my stories had reasons. 
All those little sorrows were traded in for Tender Mercies.

Back before yogurt tuesdays,
back before darkened-roomed dialogue,
even back before a back-lit charcoal print,
                              I lived.

The last few days have been difficult,
        trying to ignore the end,
              watching you walk a quicker pace. 
You knew it though.
You had too.
I never told you,
but I should have.

Back before Kitaro,
back before flashbacks at Flashbacks,
even back before croissant lunches,
                          I was.

Now,
        I am.
I'll keep your memory forever. 
And you know me well enough to know that I mean that.
You saw me through a time that I needed you.
You showed me
that I could,
        even if at times
          and at a price,
                    be happy.
And I was with you.
You made me happy,
      and for that,
  all the lunch letters I stayed up late to write,
    losing only the hour,
was all worth the time.

(as coda)
Thank you for smiling at me.
Your smiles became a reward for living.
      from "Things I Should Have Said"
                  I love you.


























from the white light

























It was summer
  the night I died.

Stinging heat;
   hot air blowing the thin, white portiere
 up like a ghost;
light sleep
allowing only transparent dreams;
I died when I most hated life.

It took a long time to die.
Dying takes time.
I didn't know that.
Even after the breath has gone
and the heart relaxes,
dying continues.

Death sucks...
    but in that moment after...
  it is good.

The excitement of new love,
or winning free throws,
or watching first baby steps,
is constructed...
mostly a drugged reaction.
So is melancholy or boredom.
Some moments in life are just right...
not high or low.

Afterlife is good.
That is it...just good.
Ok, there is a bright white light.
There was for me.
But it was a complete enveloping good.

So. I came back.
I don't know why.
I had the choice,
  and I came back.

Now,
      I have to put up with summer
        and winter
    and times when things suck
  or are great,
so I can one day die again
and get back to good.


























liquid gravity























1

I thought I knew about dying.
I thought that the thirty-some-odd Falls
and then,
    consequently,
              Winters
  showed me that even earth
stops to grieve.
But I had no idea summer could be so colourful.
And that warm nights
made warmer by the swell of your flesh
could be as close
as man could come
               to heaven.


I miss you.
I miss the heat of love-making, and the cool of silent, content, sighs.
I hope I have enough Summer to help me through this Winter.
Now I understand why Winter is like dying.
Because with you—this Summer—
          I was alive.






2

One night,
when motion was all we could achieve,
we lay back on midsummer grass,
  pretending our dry, yellow bed
        was comfortable.

We stared into the moonless sky—
    caught in a paralyzing silence.
We perused the pinpoint darkness
   for our favorite constellations.

How fitting that yours was the hunter
and mine the hunted,
and that there was a whole sky
                      between them.






3

There is danger in expectations.
I've come to see that it is more comfortable to go from cynic to poet.
Now, I am a poet
immersed under waves of reality.

I wish not to return to my previous self (I've grown beyond that).

I wish,
  in its stead,
           to embrace reality as my friend.
And I wish
that every second
of every minute I live
I do so
with you firmly secured
     to my heart.
You make the journeys back a little less dangerous.






4

I wanted to fill your room
with dozens of roses,
or tame a dragon
for your amusement.
I wanted to buy you
every nickel present
that caught your eye.
But love is not like that for me.
So in this gray room
wrapped in your blanket
and trapped in your grasp
I want to remind you
that the least I can give you
is the love Billie Holliday cried for,
and the most I can give is all of my heart.
All you have to do is ask for everything in between.






5

I had a dream
that you were the sky.
Your eyes were the sun,
your breasts the heat,
  and your breath
                    the wind.
I had a dream
I was the ocean
and my heart pounded
like waves on a familiar shore.

I was comfortable
      in my dream.

I had a dream
I was a parched man
under the heat of the sun
needing to swallow the sweat
  off your chest just to survive.

I licked the salt
from your shoulder—
precluding even breath.

I had a dream
we were carried away
in a wicker cradle
down a gentle stream,
my arms around you
like a worn quilt,
my chin to your neck.

I had a dream
I would not let go.

I had a dream
I would forever love you.

I had a dream
I awoke and reached out to you.
You awoke and told me you dreamed of me.






6

Feeling like a thought
          in freefall,
I beg for balance
and liquid gravity.
I need the bearings
of your scented palms
pressing into my cherub cheeks to take the next step forward.
I need your breath on my mouth to attack my weakness.
In short,
I need the sanctuary of your eyes
to act as melted chocolate beacons
    or puppy dog brown north stars.
No,
  I need you.






7

March winds and bleated sunshine
become your gift this Thursday afternoon.
A walk
      and peace
            and time away from the routine
        of spring curtains.
These are your tender mercies.
These become your cadeau.

As you walk,
  as you dream, as you swallow this small life,
      I want you to remember that I love you.
And that the fact that you love me is the greatest gift of all.






8

There is so much I want to give you, so much we should share.
Tomorrow is another day away—
I will spend the day sending you thoughts.
Today,
I wanted to give you
gold-leafed memories.
I wanted you to feel what my heart cries out in the lonely nights for you.
I wanted to lay
mounds and mounds
of smiles at your feet
and walls full of comfort.
Instead
I am hours away,
wishing not to be so.
All I can give you
is what you already have—
my life
  and my love.






9

Quiet warmth
    and liquid dreams and the feel of my kiss on your brow.
I'd give away
the comfort of sanctuary
              to be your shelter right now.
I bravely hold back the flow,
    and like a hero, stand away giving you the space you crave.

But,
   like the coward,
       I ache to rush to your side
and bathe you in the tears
that come from pure concern.

What could I give you now,
Ocean cooled sea shells,
  the wonder of a billion stars, the incessant play of a kitten?
What I could give you,
and what you need the most,
is me—
        my weight pressed to your side,
the warmth of my breathe on your temple.
I could recite from obscure poets
                and safely join you in your fevered dreams.

I need you.
When we have time
I'll ask you if you need me.
And maybe together
we can go collect
ocean cooled sea shells
by the light of a billion stars.






10

We missed the sunrise that morning.
I remember promising you
that we would forever
share the birth of new days.
But that morning we slept
in each other's arms
clinging to the non-space
between our breasts,
drifting into the heaven
  that was us together.
Dawn rushed by
leaving light
and evidence
of love shared.


























the parting of the shroud























eleven

Huddled under electric heat,
my fingers numb under your neck,
I awoke to the glory of your edifice.
We kissed.
Mornings should always be spent in liturgy
     —a ritual of love—
I gave myself to you that morning.
You gave yourself to me.
I love you more than pre-dawn.

I'm sorry we missed the sunrise.
I was hoping we could try again
              tomorrow morning.






twelve

Given the disadvantage of dialogue—     
     words misused,
      those not spoken—
I thank my God
for your communion.

I would have loved you as a mute.
But when you speak . . .
    new words appear.






thirteen

One day morning will not come.
Man will spend time
staring at the dark spot
  that was the sun.
In time even stars will burn out.
But on that non-morning,
and on that non-morning after,
  I will love you.
That will never die.






fourteen

You, wrapped in a lamé belt,
  me, wrapped in your arms,
'round and 'round we spin
until the rest of the world was in our orbit.

Then, I dreamed the music stopped,
        and we still danced.







fifteen

Pressing into the saddle
  of Oquirrh peaks,
the early March sun
  dropped all its weight into the darkening earth.

Dressed in an orange robe and sleeping in a purple bed
the sun rescued the evening—It brought night.






sixteen

Your light hair,
     like rivulets of August rain
  on midnight bedroom windows,
fell across my black pillow
        with a silent wisp surrounding your head like a halo.
You fell back
out of my arms
back to my bed
my hands holding your head
like a cautious mother
holding her baby
    over a baptismal font.

In my black and white
boudoir motif,
I was overwhelmed
  by the colours in that bed
                  that evening.
With your arms
pulled back over your head,
with your throat
stretched up toward my teeth,
    and your eyes closed,
I bit on your chin and rested in front of you.
I could feel
your belly tighten
as we raced toward the coloured lights.

I knew that at that very instant,
that instant
    when we both stopped breathing;
that instant when our hearts beat as one;
that instant when we were one;
     I could happily die
  with the picture of us in love
and the image of your hair raining off my black pillow.






seventeen

Tucked somewhere safely back
                in my memory,
back when summer meant vacation
            and snow meant sleds,
I recall a certain May morning.
Just before morning died
and became the day,
with the dampness of a spring shower
      clinging to blades of grass like sweaters at fall picnics,
I paused to witness the parting of the shroud.
The gray sky fell close to earth
and gave rain
like a mother gives
kisses to a sleeping child.
I was witness.

Today,
I felt the wet,
and the gray,
and the kiss,
      and the parting of the shroud.

As you came to me,
in the rush of morning,
the clouds parted
and revealed the blessing of spring.

I held you like dew
and stood back
and memorized the secrets of your eyes.






eighteen

I've always felt like a stone.
But watching you survive,
  a witness to your solidity,
—grace under pressure—
I'm beginning to feel like clay.






nineteen

I wanted to tell you,
and it simply can't wait,
is that I need you in my life.
I am so in love with you—
        the whole of you.
I know that I would love you
if I were a blind man,
    a deaf man,
or a mute man.
I would encircle you like the warmth of the sun
and feel lucky to just be around you.
When I look at you,
  so beautiful,
        so young,
so alive,
I recall my own youth






twenty

As we know it,
stars never die.
The sun we know
burns on without thought,
I smile solely because of you.
And we three
are lost in the heaven






twenty-one

You came to me,
        the faint taste of Vodka in your sweat,
   pulling at the air around you.
I wretched the flesh above your hip with my twisting of my teeth.

That moment
the music inside our heads
were metered by the groans
that escaped our lungs inbetween passionate gasps.
I am so alive making love to you.
At times
I feel we are
the very blood
inside my arteries






twenty-two

Sometimes I feel like a stone
being skipped off a pond
by a fresh faced boy
pretending in his head
to be a champion pond skipper.

Sometimes I feel like rain
in the darkest of forests,
alone but useful.

But after making love to you,
I feel like new eyes for the blind.






twenty-three

I remember twenty—
    it wasn't that long ago.
I remember the long cold of the nights
and passion and heat of the days. 
I devoured twenty.

I was given confidence,
    and a daring,
  and a wicked smirk.
I owned twenty.

But I remember the moonless midnights,
and the rainy weekends,
and the faint smell
of the future
keeping me close to earth.

I ran through twenty
looking for what you give me now—
              a sense of my destiny.
I hope you attack this year.
I hope you devour twenty.
And I hope you use me
the way I will use you
in my not-so-twenties—
as a tether,
    or guide, or companion through the rough.
I love you.
There is nothing more to say.






twenty-four

Summer said good-bye with a lazy sigh.
Days of burning freon
    and sucking popsicles
have now given way
to electric blankets
and wool socks.

I have witnessed a hundred season changes.
Some have been gifts.
This fall,
I'll kick aside wet dead leaves
left behind in gutters
  and tucked under stubborn snow and think of my summer with you.
I'll survive this winter.
I thought it would be the coldest I've known.
But with you and an electric blanket,
I'll say good night with a comfortable sigh.






twenty-five

In the darkness before there was you,
my eyes stretched open and gathered only shadows.
My vision was only as far
          as my hand could reach.
Then, one late summer morning,
I stumbled upon you
in a flower print dress
and a neat/wild mane.

You smiled and gave light to my world.
I see now through a hue of light blue
as your eyes are the sun.
I thank you for my vision
and more for my sight.

I used to wish for you
in my darkness,
eyes stretched open,
gathering only shadows.

Now I see with incredible focus. 
I see you in light blue and try hard not to squint.






twenty-six

If I had the power,
I would never let the rain
    interrupt your summer.
If I had the strength,
I would stop the snow
from suspending autumn.

I would shade you from the sun and shield you from the wind.
But I remember
how much you love the rain,
  and how the sun warms your always cold skin,
and how the silence of snow is a reward for owing all the colours of fall.

I would still try to end your tears. 
But then again...
                  why would I take away all those great cleansing cries?






twenty-seven

When starting anew with smiles and hopes and prayers,
I'm blessed to have you when I'm looking for dreams to share.






twenty-eight

Toasted trees and roasted rocks
      and rivers made of sand
This summer I saw poetry
 nearly slip right through my hands
The boundaries that I knew as life
were ended like the dawn
You became my life,
  my hope to grow,
      and the light that was my sun.
I think of all you gave to me and what I hope is true.
That in that time of giving me, I gave my life to you.


























one last cry


























Lisa Loeb helped wash
exit 99 with tears.
I didn't know why.

The canyon suicide
some dozen years ago had altered
the word dad for you.

The man that just plummented from the tower
was next in line
 and further altered the definition.

I journeyed to the white light
and returned
  to find you stunned
    and gasping for sense.

In the next rush, on exit 99,
Lisa Loeb said "Stay"
  and you cried
 one of those great cleansing cries
and stayed.


























the black fox
























Feigning sleep in the evening snow,
    the black fox crouched
            near the lair's entrance.
The young explorer walked ahead gingerly,
  careful not to leave tracks
      as evidence of his expedition,
trusting he could find own way out.

The cave seemed cold.
The iced mouth, however, disquised the warmth inside.

etc, etc, ...

He was nourished and bathed in attention.
It was a good night.
The darkness was filled with what was understood,
                      but never said.
      The dusty, scratched 45s
        allowed them to forget the truth
and exist in motown moments.

          The step down into the nest,
        the smell of thick blankets
    the shivering of two warm bodies,
  and Barbara Lewis pleading for both of them,
the night escaped with only two small causalities.

He heard the fox finally died,
but not before so many other stories were told.

It was a time for giving.
The taking, however, seemed to have all the press.
For him,
it was the personal charity that lived the longest.

He remembered the night in the cave,
  how he knew he was only the second one to gain entrance.
He now wishes he had left the tracks,
      and wakened the fox,
and said the things that were only implied.
Like,
  I'm gonn'a kiss you in a special way; make me your baby.
  I'll find a way to please you every day, make me your baby.

But it's always that way with survivors.

Between the please and pleas,
   comes the cry,
  no longer young or exploring
he pants,
  remember me?
  I remember you.




























Languid
























When the amazon queen
    birthed the third princess,
her man-servant sold his boat.
One more time he raised the main sail
and walked the deck.

Rigid back turned away
from a non-existant head wind,
  face slapped by
foamy mist from waves not broken,
he stood toward stern
sailing over terra,
standing still.

With one hand stroking
the mast
  he sailed the brine of memory
remembering every hue of blue
and for a moment
owned that secret
known only to sailors

The amazon queen nursed the princess
and the man-servant
sacrificed a part of his soul.

He took the princess
from the breast,
  pressed her to his cheek,
    and with tears of joy,
he bathed his new sea.