songs that don’t
make me feel better
make me feel calm
all the time now.
i shadowbox under Glass Mountain Trust
and wrap my knuckles in rope to Sound The Bells
i cannot Be Calm
because Be Calm
tries too hard to
do what it wants me to.
what i want
is to have peace for myself
but there’s a war waging
outside my head
so my heart is uptempo and
in common time
so i must fight back
and after survival will
come peace. i’ll
sip tea with lovely people
when the gunpowder settles,
when the world is done with its whirlwind spinning
and leaves with all its vertigo with it,
but so long as a wardrum beats
where i can hear it
i am either fighting
and i don’t know what happens to me when i die
so i’ll fight for a while
with this tune behind me.
it does not make me feel better.
but silence doesn’t either.
songs that don’t
Know that you
know that you’re thinking
or else she will think you
think you know
and that will make you first hounds’-meat
at the end of that night’s hunt.
Learn all the things your colleagues
have said that turn red
before her, study them all,
never utter them. Bare your neck
to her when you speak, don’t
swallow hard, don’t hesitate,
don’t sigh. Don’t say that
their rage is fiction, don’t say
that their boiling makes them
wicked. They have poured all their
tears and all the wounds of their
mothers and their young into this,
they have bottled all their god and glory here
to make the fire-bomb that turns
the gears that have ground them into ash
Don’t make light of her power. Her voice can
to reveal the traps laid for the feet of her futures,
the edges of her words have
kissed grindstones to sparking til
they could pass through walls to kill,
the hammer in her hand is well-read.
Don’t reach for your pencils
or your keyboards. Don’t make any sudden
arguments. Bare your neck
before her. Join her in
building the altar, or join
her adversaries in the flames.
Find her books, expose
yourself to what keeps her warm
and fed now, the books whose
spines sharpen her arrowheads.
Exposing a will to learn
slowly to her upon approach is a basic sign
of peacefulness; wait for
her reply before proceeding. Bare your neck
before her. Do not take your
prejudices with you, for
she will break them with a stone.
we delivered an image.
it was a husk of shape,
the silhouette of flesh, and
it was accepted.
we’re fond, after all, of
things that uphold our ideals,
scraps of scruples stitched soundly
til no one could tell it was
once just black and
formless. it’s like us,
it thinks what we think,
it holds up the baton for our likes
and we are proud, so
we’ll send it out into the world
to be a prophet for our gods
and we’ll nod and hope you
learn to fall in line like it,
wear its clothes,
put on like us and grin.
but it’s nothing.
we’ll go forever saying it’s a body
but it’s not.
it barely has meat
on or in it,
it’s gotten by on blood
and sorrow and misplaced hope.
why should we have it
subsist on more?
would you rather we gave it
then we’d have to spare one
for everyone else here,
and we don’t even have an extra one
Is it fair to
want to break yourself
on purpose for a show?
To want to find
a trigger and attach
one of your greatest pains to it,
to staple your hurt
on one face of a die
and roll it on stage
over and over
til it comes up sixes
and you can’t feel your eyes any more?
I’m singing a
song I don’t want to know
the words to over and over
because when I say the lyrics
out loud and slowly to loved ones
they don’t have the time for it.
"I don’t feel comfortable,"
"Let’s talk about something else,
In two nights,
they say “talk to me,”
give you a grocery list of
provisions that prescriptions can’t procure
and ask you where you can get them,
have you ever had any of these?,
I’ve been trying to get my
hands on one of these for a while,
help me out, wouldja?
I’m singing a
song I don’t want to know
the words to over and over
in the hopes that I
can find an arresting feeling and
tear down all my skin
and show you how broken I am on the inside
so you can’t say nothing about it any more,
probably make you feel just a little bit guilty
that your friend has
been in shambles.
Maybe I was a friend.
Maybe I was in shambles
a while ago and we
both needed something sturdier for
each other when we
turn to dust, so that’s why between
us there’s this wall of snow crash and
water and songs we don’t want to know
the words to.
Maybe I’ll be calm
Maybe I’ll find a nice soft place
to land tomorrow.
Or the day after -
I’m peeling off my forearm’s flesh tomorrow,
and gluing it to the wall of
my favourite place
and writing this song on the
bloody side in something bold
Is it fair
for me to show you what shape
my innards have took?
To write it down on one part of me,
to leave the other part exposed,
for you to only see torture?
I’ve been thinking
I’d flagellate myself in a poem
if you’re interested,
it’ll be a riot, believe me,
it won’t make me feel any better
about the things that make me feel so much worse
but since no one wants to hear it
I may as well tell it to people
who paid to be here.
I just really wish
it would never have had to come to
me building traps for bystanders
beside my little etudes of fear,
that I had someone I could ask
to help me unpack,
that I wasn’t on
all these shifting platforms by myself.
I could just sit here, though,
write something marvelous,
a song people would want to unstick
because it being stuck starts to sting.
It’d be quite a show.
like great art should be -
the kinds of stories
we tell on stages
because people pay for auditoriums
but can’t come to bedrooms or bedside phones
I hear people asking the question,
a shout in the forest of digits, a
note sung high above the pixelated country:
The answer is yes:
our black Bambis run away from
hunters’ eyes, and their parents can’t
shield it all, because their pelt
is just as good on a master’s descendant’s hardwood floor;
our skin is a joke
white men tell
in front of their guns.
i used to wait
for people to love me for a while.
i used to have the
first excuses as to why a warmth
toward me was a mistake,
look at my glasses,
look at my waist,
look at my lips,
listen to my lisp,
look at all the space
my fingers strain to cover
and understand why i draw lines of letters
together to do all the work for
my mind that is closed
and my lips that are closed
and my heart stone shut
waiting for people to love me for a while.
'you should love yourself'
like it’s fucking easy,
like a couple selfies are going to help
not being able to stand yourself,
like a good enough glance at the
mirror won’t end with my
hand in an ice bath and
my feet cut up and
having to sweep little shards of
what-was-once-me off my bedroom floor.
'i think you're handsome'
and i ask them if they’d have
thought that ten months ago
when i was still here and wanted more
than to be told so flippantly.
'no one wants to stick around with you
with that attitude’
and i put on
a season of something i used to watch as a teen
and think to myself ‘that’s fine’.
'good things come to
those who wait’
and i say
waiting’s the problem.
i wrote a card for myself last week,
misplaced it in a pocket of my bag i don’t use,
set an alarm on my phone that said
'clean your knapsack'
and found it.
'you're the loveliest thing on your block
and anyone who didn’t know that the first time
doesn’t even deserve a second of you
so how’s about we sleep in with a good book
and giggle like kids by ourselves
and play solitaire games til it gets dark
and close the evening with a plate of pasta and
a heaping helping of whatever you know there is about you
that you used to wait
for people to notice
because i fucking love you
and the loss of
time or friends’ eyes or
your body at cold night
is my gain if you’ll let me fight
for it, so we’re not getting away from that today.’
taking ink to
carve maps back
black on black
lines are lovely
homely little beacons
of the signals
that our souls
as things cling
to, love, address,
wish to become,
like reminders under
light of what
holds us up.
a little sign.
something holding tight
to our skin
but with hope.
The body cannot shrink
of its own accord. It has to be
told not to be a body. It has
to be cursed or coaxed or
cut at the joints; otherwise it
is just pure expansion,
consuming time and matter
to grow taller
and let the hair go down
and be itself between
itself so it can know what it is
and know what the sun feels like. The body
enjoys spreading out, in its little ways,
like lips God made for every kiss to be a cushion
and hips God made so your hands fall someplace
comfortably when you find rage
and hands that say yes with dancer’s poise
and hands that say no with silent violence.
The body wants to send messages
about itself - where it grew and what
it lived on and what majesty it will grow to be -
without having to make a sound.
We’re all one manner or another
of something reaching out to the sun
from whence cometh our energy, and
this is true struggle.
They say this body’s revolting, and the
truth is this body’s revolting
because all this body has to do is
and it will break down whatever
is between it and the sun
your face is a song,
a lovely one with some sharp
cymbals at the end, one i
can’t have when I wish to sleep
so every evening I disconnect
my eyes from you.
i make little cotton
balls out of late work or television
shows i’ve long since finished
and did not enjoy but pretend to be distracted
by so i could stand a better chance
of getting you out of my head, of
not humming you absent-mindedly
and wondering if it sounds good.
it sounds lovely, and i am not in
any choir about it, despite whatever
the best things the songwriter or the
song said. your face is a song,
a lovely one that isn’t too shrill or
too booming, and at introit
it finds a better soloist with which
its voice can work, and i will
be on a bench outside somewhere
listening to it reach the clouds
and wondering if my thought could do justice
to a song like that. it can’t.
i’ve never had that kind of voice,
i’ve been kicked out of choirs for trying too hard
on notes too low for my old back to lean into,
i’ll never be in a band
that gets lovely music like that,
so i try not to think about
song-faces, and therein i make
some things for me to dance to,
so i guess that’s better for everyone else -
me in my shadowy dancefloor and
you and all your singers on stage
and in the middle, no hope, or
all of the hopes in a line or in a pile
where people can see them and
not really notice what they are.
you look lovely.
that’s none of my business
from outside here.