Campfire Story

A nostalgic old man,

whose whispers adhere

to the flames’ tongue,

tells his one story again.


You are charmed.

So the chains slip

into your veins,

your heart, your lungs.


The air thickens your breath,

until every song you hear

is the only song you hear,

then you can no longer dance.


And the fire burns down,

for nothing’s left to say.

(August 6, 2021)

Metaphor’s Comfort

Flying free

through the blind night,

bats,

with their high lyric cries,

justify

the walls around them.


(July 19, 2021)

then, an ever present now (a reading)

then, an ever present now

The shuttlecock flits nimbly across the loom with a soft clacking beat. “For every time I’ve told this tale, I’ve told it twice again,” she implies with a sigh as she begins. She speaks of patience and home, and slow unsolicited seductions, as time unravels across the floor like red pools of forgetfulness at her feet.

He watches her hands shift the threads as if playing upon a lyre. He thinks, “There are so many ways through the woods; so many rivers and creeks to cross;  so many hollows and caves to wander lost, always different, always the same as the ones crossed before.”

For years and years as he wandered, he watched the waves pulse repetitive hallucinations and horrors towards a horizon he could no longer see. Unearthly monsters churned the waters feeding one upon the other; the past devoured the past with a ceaseless hunger for more. While elsewhere late at night, she walked the halls without a light, leaned against a shuttered door, and listened to the incessant voices muttering their plots and plans for a life she abhorred.

As the story faltered to its close, there was no soft landfall upon the strand, no wreck scattered upon a beach; no violence in their reunion, nor familial embrace. What had grown between them, tangled like olive tree roots upon a cliff, could not be troubled enough to be called love, if it could be called anything at all.

I Move Slowly Toward an Understanding

The mud thickness

on my shoes,

as I plod along

singing.


I bend slowly

into the earth;

my voice swallowed

by the wind.


Except for names

of the dead faces,

I remember most

versions of the past;


the storied details

reassure me

that what I knew,

I know. 


Despite other’s 

revanchist revisions,

I hold to a path

which will lead me home.


(June 8, 2021)

The Whispers Drive the Narrative

The wild mustang grape vines

its way along the fence line,

further obscuring boundaries

between what is said, 

and what is perpetuated.


The past is of no consequence

beyond familiar stories to bolster

today’s latest interpretation,

which momentarily coalesces

to cloak in ambiguity

the Absence as it festers

in vague nostalgic shadows.

(May 30, 2021)

how history begins (136)

maps do not speak 

as vaguely blurred 

vowels along riverbanks 

where second cousins 

two counties removed 

slur to their mates 

nor sift for finer 

details in pap’s 

bourbon tongue 

(April 26, 2021) 

neither knowing nor unknowing (#134)

there in the day

to day constancy


there in the grain

of our tongues


as we speak

each to each


of the most

trivial things


there is where

the how arrives


on soft cat feet

oblivious of the night


there is the story

you said then said


along the seams

between dark and light


the story we heard

the story we tell


stitching our scars

along calloused lines


one strangled knot

woven into another


an embroidery

of nooses


until we’re hardened

to brittle words


which shatter all

we once were


thin crystal slivers

from a broken glass 


scattered like stars

across the floor

(April 19, 2021)

Without the Stories She Must Have Told

700-00041983 © Bryan Reinhart Model Release: No Property Release: No Blurred View of Hellbrunn Alley Salzburg, Austria

All I know of her is, perhaps, this 

three-second, eight-millimeter film clip:


discernibly old, she steps through shadows

next to a tall man, who is also in shadow.


Briefly from the sepia tress, she looks back 

towards the camera— her face a blurred silence.

(February 18, 2021)

adrift (114)

in the dark a red thrum quickens 

the edge of remembrance like light’s 

first glimmer across the sea 


I trace my gnarled fingers along the slick 

interior walls to justify what it is 

that pushes back my intentions 
 

like the egg in childhood’s experiment 

which floats in a glass of salt water 

I drift seemingly unsupported 

 
with vague suppositions and 

innuendo to tangle like seaweed 

trapping my voice below the waves 

 
and what I would if I could speak 

drowns in my first breath 

like a fish mouthing silent words 

(February 3, 2021)

Narrative’s Default

whose story

your story

my story

some other


someone speaks

some listen

some believe

some obey


here the page turns

hear the page turn

slow whispers

form a deaf ear


control’s the word’s

darkest destiny

(August 13, 2020)