The End of Recess (111 Columbia St.)

There’s always that one kid who doesn’t die when he gets shot in a schoolyard game of war. Some other child soldier aims down his airy scope and slows his breathing so that no movement of his chest changes the trajectory of his shot. He feels a ghostly recoil as he pulls an imaginary trigger. The invisible, intangible, silent but certainly deadly bullet hits its target. However the target remains upright. You’ll try to confront the walking deadman, who might have spontaneously turned into a zombie. That happens sometimes. But if that’s the case, he would walk with his arms in front of him and one leg dragging behind. This kid doesn’t know he’s been gravely wounded. “Hey! I shot you!” you yell.

“Nuh-uh! I had super speed so I dodged it.” He says, leaping side to side to showoff his subpar super speed. It looks pretty slow but deep down you know he’s right. Now you’re there, looking stupid because you forgot he had super speed. How could you be so ignorant? Next time you’ll make sure to have heat seeking bullets to follow him no matter how fast he moves. No way he has super speed and defensive flares.

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Passing Wood (Somewhere in Ithaca, NY)

Somewhere in these woods, there is a glade
full of rusty retired cars. The paths are too narrow,
kept hostage by sky reaching cedars and short shrubs
so I know these cars weren’t driven there. The forest
grew around those relics. Not a tree bumps a bumper
and no grass grows taller than the rims. The forest
is kept at bay by those watchful headlights, dim
but not dumb. The woods will never encroach.
No branch will reach in through the window
and tune the radio with its cold arms.
Nor will the thorny bushes poke its fingers
around the backseat searching for keys.
And the old matches will stay unmoved.
The still wet and useless but undisturbed.
And the engine will rot but never be replaced.

Cars are called she. I don’t know why.
I know that she is lost. But she is okay,
content with calling the grove home,
as long as it respects her. As long as
it does not seek to uproot her.
She will be happy and grow older here.
And she will greet every lost boy who finds
her just the same way. He will see those headlights
and swear by all things good that they shined.

Finding x

The funny thing about x
is that one moment it’s found
only to go missing the next time around.

Part I

My grandmother found x in a man
who puffed and puffed and shook her bones
with his voice. He grabbed her by the ribs
and said he was taking back what God had stole.
She saw the equation solved and complicated again
every time he said he loved her.
She could never tell who he was saying it to.

Part II

My mother found x in her children.
The x comes in infrequent, but savory scraps
of mothers-day cards and kisses goodnight.
But when our x is so faithless, I think she goes
looking in the Christian radio station.

Part IV
My sister found x in herself when she said
she’d never let another man touch her.
My grandmother laughed and cried that night.
She knows that x in our hands and hearts is like
finding x in candles that will always need to be
replaced and relit.

Part V

I found x in a Sunday service.
It was at the alter where I cried
and didn’t know who I was mourning.
It was underneath the pews.
It was in the stained-glass portrait
of a man who could’ve been my friend
if only he was around more often.
The funny thing about God is that I thought I found Him,
only for him to go missing from His tomb.

Watching the News

Two lungs to swell in the moment
Two hands to ball up or raise
depending how I feel.
Two feet to carry me to the front lines.
Two eyes to witness interesting times.
Two ears to listen for a battle cry
or the storm that’ll carry us all to sea.
Ten fingers to count transgressions.
One heart that pumps.
It’s pumping.

Two watering eyes.
Two ears tuned to the right channel.
Two nostrils flaring like a bull.
One drummer boys heart.
Lips, open! Open up!
It’s me! Do something!
Silence and my heart
slows to a deadly march.

Between First Avenue and Bedford

I’ve been riding this train
for a very long time now,
much longer than the woman
who just got on. While all stand clear,
the doors close, and we
are locked in this silver eel together.
It is two minutes beneath the East
River until the next stop and I feel
the pressure pounding, my ears popping,
and her eyes perusing the train
as if it is her first time. She has goldfish eyes.
They are wide and forgetful eyes. 
Dark and beautifully unforgettable eyes.
This journey will always be new for her.
I think of talking to her, ask her what
book she’s reading. But all my thought
drift upward like hot air, and seep through
the cement and cement to drown, unheard,
in the East River.

As the train arrives at Bedford Avenue,
I am tired and the train lulls me to sleep.
My eye close like a camera lens,
but no photo for memory is saved.
When I wake up, she is gone. But,
I know tomorrow she’ll be back with those
glassy refreshing eyes. God’s most beautiful
anointment, those youthful Goldfish eyes.

Narration From Hell

When the oceans and skies cease
to hypnotize you, I hope this
will find you well:

First, notice Apollyon at the head
of your table. How long has he sat there?
Feasting, well fed, on your bread and meats.
Not once did you sense his foulness in the air.
How could you ever have known his presence?
It is not palpable unless you are awake.
You have slept and felt safe, ignorant.
Unaware he watched for your soul to take.

Now, see the criminals in your nation.
They walk so free and light of chains.
Yet alone sits a man whose unlucky fate
may not be changed nor his innocence be regained.
Did you see this injustice in your cruel sea
or is the harbinger of all sadness and truth solely me?
The day is gone, my friend, where truth is right,
and a man can rightly be free.

Do not look at the murderers around this globe,
whose hot smoke masks what they do.
Like we watched the night create day,
we will watch these ones suffer soon.

I like cadavers know these truths.
Wake up, brother, so you may know them too.
But in anger, do not begin to effuse.
Knowledge is it’s own devil, will little to lose.