One Hundred Love Poems
There is very little ink left
in the world
how the body yearns
to piece together the puzzle
to break each wall down
to build bridges between
to give everything
you are only bound
Count each blessing
forth blue-blooded sunset,
to hot-blooded sunrise.
There are no blind men here
only those who choose not to see
only those chosen not to be seen
only those few that spread their eyes open,
empty lungs, full hearts, sealed lips.
If only those lips could be opened,
and only that tongue would speak,
there would be no deaf men here,
only those who seek.
Shelter is a storm
in its calm; I
have known home
to be a house
with four walls:
Drink to forget
the glass is empty
Smoke to forget
the fire is out
Eat to forget
the stomach is empty
Learn to forget
the heart is healing
Look for me in the shape
of creased pages, I hide
between the lines, you read
into my thoughts, through
my mind, out of sight. Look for me
in the silence
and now. When you find
what you have lost,
look for your mind.
I have found peace in isolation
then thought, “To hell with it!”
and flung my heart into your arms,
should butter fingers slip,
I will find pieces in constellations,
each mapping out the way to you,
the countless ways, your mind – a maze,
the secret beating off-time
caught in an infinite loop
through false hope.
Sing for laughter won’t soothe these burns
Sing for cries won’t ever be heard
Sing for love won’t find its own way
Sing for life won’t have its day
Sing for silence won’t mind company
Sing for prayer won’t give God a bleeding ear
Four letter words are no fans of brevity
They wish to be repeated, drawn out,
blown out of proportion.
Four letter words are ammunition,
locked and loaded, ready to
jump the gun.
Four letter words are a siren song,
sung out of tune, sung out of love.
Four letter words are almsgivings,
and not a single fuck was given.
Test me. Pull the strings.
Make the instrument.
Break the silence.
Dash it to the floor.
Dance over the pieces.
Paint the earth red
– once more, with feeling.
Cut the cord
Sever the nerve
Plug atria through
a 5A fuse to a wallsocket
Flick the switch
Set the house on fire
Crimson flames lick
the surface of a mangled corpse
Call it a rite of passage
Call it a ritual
Call an ambulance
Just don’t call it a funeral
Wear mistletoe for a crown of thorns,
kiss yourself to sleep.
Pull the icecaps over cold shoulders,
melt glaciers with knees weak.
Write a sad song for destiny
favours those who chose not to have a choice
Sing it at all the wrong moments,
acapella to the choir.
Jokes aside, here’s a punchline.
Take the juice out of a lemon,
have life hand it to your better half.
There’s no sanctity in giving up
There’s no pride in falling short
Only the hollow sound a bottle makes
when it’s filled its last cup
There’s no metaphor for getting over you,
just an overwrought conceit
There’s no truth in love that’s half hearted, muttered half asleep.
It takes two minutes to write a verse
and only thirty seconds to know the worst of me
It takes two to tear a hole in one,
and only half to walk away from it
Sorry is the most reduntant word
right up there with forgive me and autofellatio
When the pen is done bleeding
the paper begs for more tears to weep
sucking up raw sentiment
drying up for secrets not meant to keep
When the clock is done ticking
don’t bother rewind
The second hand has had enough
of hand me downs from Father Time
Take two steps back
then take one forward
Look back at what’s left
then take another forward
Take too much and fall flat
suck the blood out of the carpet
Look past the muddied aftertaste
too late, you’ve skinned the cat
Don’t expect sense in insensitivity
Ask the insane for peace of mind
Know you’re asking for lobodomy
Don’t let a fool tell you what to do
It doesn’t make him feel special
Ask the dumbfounded for perspective
Know you’re asking for the truth
Between two eyes, crossing
zebra patterns, swift flight
of empty stares and second
glances, second chances,
the second hand of fate,
the crooked arm, the bent
knee, prostrating to an
ungrateful deity, ignoring piety,
choosing only to accept
the prayers of the uncommitted,
the wants of the unloyal,
the third hand quickens its pace,
tearing through tense fabric,
space stretched across the cold face
of indifference, to open up a smile.
God does not exist in the idea of no soul,
He exists in the drunken jubilation of the old,
those whirling poets who sewed their minds shut
from the dismissals of the rational,
who wrote psalms in their palms out of dying embers
feigning devotion for want of some divine purpose
They put Love in Your place
and built a pedestal out of loathe
for the base realities of probability
the loaded dice that slithers,
sticks its tongue out through snake eyes,
repeating the chimes of eternal recurrence
They are not the ones we follow
They do not love but the idea of Love
They are not lovers, that Love is blind
They are only followers
Seven swans bearing seven horns
descend from the heavens
telling tales of redemption to the hoopoe
that sage prophet of Attar’s Conference
with irony clawing at the roofs of their mouths
the bloody sarcasm dripping down their throats
help the bitter truth be swallowed
There is no pride in submission
No grace in servitude
Freedom is a misnomer
Faith – an oxymoron
These are not odes to the beneficient
Nor a battlecry of the oppressed
These are the ramblings of one lost to his own senses
scribbled in 1’s and 0’s, hypertextual murmurs
muffled by the sound of electrons whirring
through an uncaring machine,
knowing nothing of reality,
acknowledging a dream
To those who find meaning
in the chicken scratch of lost poets,
there is no telling where an author’s intent lies,
no antidote to the truth
that if a poet sought to be understood
he would write in prose
To those who find insanity
too distasteful to bear fruit,
take a bite into this living corpus
and spit out the seeds of truth.
There is an orchard that grows
out of the soil of seperation
The fruit borne of its children
reap a harvest of misled youth
There is a graveyard filled
with the tongues of soothsayers
twisting in their fortune telling
no secrets a worm could use
to enter the eye of a needle
and sew a coffin shut
There is an orchard that grows
its roots reach down to the abyss
unearth the prophecies of ancient
astrologers, malayali saastras
whose caligraphy so crude
could predict a man’s death
but could never know his mood
The fool tries to speak
his mouth fills with worms
the maggots crawl out every orifice
his eyes turn to stone
crackling under the heat
the seed bursts and soon
flowers bloom out of his face
a thousand words in tune
He no longer speaks of her
begins to forget her name
the face recalled by memory
blurs with each passing day
and as the coroner marks
the cause of death
his heart beats back to life
in his blood is every thought of her
coursing through but never dies
The words have lost their meaning
The sound has lost its hearing
The letters are indeciferable
The lines have lost their curves
Now stories are told by nerve endings
never happy, sad or tragic
Now histories are soon forgotten
and the rest as they never say
Where do we go from here
when the way leads back to its source?
Do we cut away our own paths
and ignore the times they cross?
Walk through each others fates
and never admit that chance
threw ten thousand dice at our feet
just to watch us dance
Mother waters roses each day
She greets the birds, calling
out to God, asking for peace
in her son’s mind, squinting
at the sun, he walks through
alleyways, cigarette to his lip
where a lover’s would be,
drawing on clouds, seeing
shapes in smokey swirls,
he looks for a lover’s face,
finding himself in his mother’s
garden, taking photographs
of roses, the one’s that caught
a lover’s eye, now breathe deep
He dreams of painting smiles,
curls, strands of hair, bleached,
a white smile, yellow teeth,
tired eyes, no sleep, he paints
through a waking dream, day
dawns, his eyelids open, the smile
disappears, leaving her face
expressionless, he turns his gaze,
eyeballs rolling up to see,
engraved under his eyelids,
her smiling face
Where can I turn to find myself
again, after having lost my mind
too many times to count
on hands that know better?
Where can I run to escape you,
or the thought of you? Absence
makes the world turn slower
Where can I hide to seek you
when every door is shut, nailed,
boarded up, pushing me away?
Gloomy Sundays pass unnoticed,
no one remembers to turn the calendar
or tell the time, change batteries,
take out the trash, wash the dishes,
unclog the sink. Caught in reverie,
a river of silverfish flowing through the pages,
baited by bookworms that spoil endings,
eating through a narrative, the plot turns,
squirms and quivers, the unreliable narrator,
voiced by God, softens his voice,
mumbling incoherent, fading out before
I will write you a hundred poems,
and call them love poems, you
will disagree, call them bitter,
angry poems. I will not stop
until the pages bleed, beating to life,
couging up old sentiment
in seizures, rattling in a dirty cage
of neglected emotion, shouting out
into a starry sky, telling its story
true and through.
My voice is loud but not loud
enough to give you a bleeding ear
My breath is deep but not deep
enough to bring us back to life
My teeth are strong but not strong
enough to grit and bear
My eyes are wide but not wide
enough to see you for who you are
Am I in denial? I can’t be.
Is this a joke? It shouldn’t be.
Are you for real? I have been.
What do you want? Not me.
She stops writing in a pink book
doesn’t let him read
Inside, everything he never wanted to hear
all she had to say
He stops writing memories in grey matter
doesn’t let her leave
On his sleeve, everything she never wanted to see
all she was to him
We’re getting closer.
You’re getting sick,
closed, a wardrobe
of lover’s gimmicks:
It’s not you, it’s a cliché
This doesn’t end well.
Draught dries water,
leaves a parched
throat of cement,
the pulley catches rust,
years pass and no one mourns
the love that was lost to dust.
Watch your step, you’ve got two feet
left a note by the bedside, read it and
shed skin as a snake sheds tears, years
are too long to count us in, for fear of
losing yourself in a void, my heart
is an ashtray, filled with lipstick stains.
Opened a bottle by the shore, sure
as hell it was a sign, red stained cork,
let it breathe, she said, and I chocked
on salty breeze, eyes stinging, feet kicking,
arms waving out to the red and white,
oh, bouy, I’ve found myself in a pickle,
a gherkin who’s searching for a way out
of the cookie jar, hands buttered, you
let me slip right out, and I jump back in.
Tell the whole story, man.
Tell it right and tell it true.
Tell it, so that everyone will know the tune.
Be still, don’t sway, don’t grind your teeth
that way you say, and I obey, because
what’s left to do when you’re let go,
what’s a rebel to the disinterested,
what’s a man gotta do, to bring a girl
to her knees, tell ’em. As if you knew.
Where’s your heart at, boy?
Still wading through the waters,
looking for the sinkhole, try to
unplug and drain the memories.
She’s not going anywhere,
but you, you’ve got a plan,
don’t you? Scribbled in a
foolscap torn out of a book
of debts and false currency.
Where’s today at, man?
Still, waiting for a yesterday
that promised to call back
but never took down your number.
You’re not going anywhere.
Listen. It’s saying something.
It beats silence to submission.
Listen. It’s singing something.
It finds a groove in inhibition.
Listen. It’s shouting something.
It pulls the reins, veins and arteries.
Listen. It’s saying nothing.
You’re sick of hiding, come out.
You’ve buried love alive, let it out.
Your pounding heart is screaming, shout.
Say it, with meaning, something, speak.
Play it, the game, the music, cheat.
Save it, the best, for last, keep.
Hold it, the cold, the sword, the pen,
the paper, the ink, the blood, the weight,
the ache, the faith, the nail, the cross,
the anchor, the loss, the feeling, the thought.
Smile lines surface the moon
that is your heart circling mine
as time winds hopes to turn
hands forward, reaching out
to a promise, a future,
dancing at a bus halt,
waiting to leave.
I wrote my heart out to you
with a return address, I
must have made a mistake
because I haven’t received it yet.
Baby, I’m tired of rhymes,
I don’t have the time,
but this rhythm doesn’t need
a metronome, it’s a firing line,
we stand at arm’s length
in an arms race, you sped right past
I bit the dust, two can play at risk,
I’m a continent, but you won the war,
I am not content, but you had your fill,
swished through your mouth, spat
Here is where the pen gets heavy.
There’s no telling with these two.
Here is where the words get messy.
If you want, then I want too.
Here is where the ink runs out.
Scratch until the paper tears.
Here is where you left me.
Someone let the bird out of her cage,
the cage was me and I carried you,
doing time for no mistake of mine,
minding my own but you belonged
to you, your soul, a fingerprint
on a tattoo, I’m only skindeep
up to my knees in love, in need,
in a minute, I write a verse
for Angelou, ’cause she’ll be
singing tunes, them blues
paint me pink, tickled by
the thought of you, feathers
ruffled between the bars,
cold steel, black eyes,
white keys, not one of them
can set me free.
Shoulders heave, back arching,
pulling the weight of an anchor
that’s sunk its teeth into a phantom,
a ghost of reverie’s reflection,
a full moon in a shard of glass,
a sight for sore eyes
that won’t double take
a second glance,
hold up the hand of fate,
cuffed to a bedpost,
shake the sweat off my sex,
just to get off.
Wrote out a list of do’s and don’ts
and broke every rule that counts,
smoked to the filter, no menthol
to disguise the flavour, tarred
tongue lost its taste, I know
I know no better, twist
a rhyme just to stay
in line, break
the glass just to
bathe the class
in a metaphor,
the words I weep
couldn’t put out a fire.
He falls asleep to her voice at night
played back from a memory, reeling
back to a brighter day, a glass of wine,
pretty pink rosé, counts sheep
to a maybe lover, on the fence,
with a candle’s balance, spills
the wax on himself, too distracted
to care, he’s nobody here,
no soul there, popping pills
to settle the stomach knots,
his guts in a tangle, fingers working
through, pull out a poem about circuitry,
a spark lights the fuse,
it’s fireworks and bad chemistry.
She couldn’t smell the body burning,
couldn’t tell his mind was hurting,
roses were roses, only to the eye,
to touch, to taste, they wouldn’t speak,
thorns out of reach, in the back
of his mind, she would try
to pick them out, finding
bits of yesterdays, pieces
with her name.
Threw himself across town,
from one corner to the other,
just to get near that face,
hold her hand in a car,
let her head rest on his shoulder,
he didn’t care about getting lucky,
he was there for her to hold,
he was there to make her smile,
he was there to make a mould
out of her lips, impressioned
against his, one that no one else
could fit, between each kiss,
a peak at her eyes,
closed, asleep in his bed,
waking up to the rising sun
in each morning’s kiss.
Wake up, the dream is over.
His eyes stay shut.
Wake up, the sun is calling.
He shuts them tighter still.
Wake up, the birds are singing.
He takes a pillow to his ears.
Wake up, the day is waiting.
He dreams in waking sleep.
Water the garden, look
at the leaves, they teach
an important lesson,
he shrugs the voice off his shoulders,
the angel climbs back and pleads,
letting go is what let’s us be free,
he doesn’t want to believe.
Good grief, it’s been a month already,
the mourning has to cease, he takes
a good look in the mirror, forgets
to see himself, looks closer
into the eyes, the reflection repeats,
he sees he in he and she is on his mind.
You are here.
The sun never sets on these memories
the dust dances in miniature hurricanes
a plastic bag for a facemask
I speak in bubblewrap
trigger happy with a super soaker
a child’s laughter
It only hurts when you think about it
There’s greener grass between my lips
than between those hips, rosehips,
catnip for serendipity,
algae blooms sapattu mal,
between these lips.
Salt water, sea spray,
of better past.
I have rearranged the alphabet
to spell your name
to call you baby
to say three words
to say I’m sorry
to write a thought
that has rearranged the alphabet
on a rubik’s cube
to paint a picture
to a thousand words
to write this poem
to make this verse.
What’s our story?
Where do we begin?
Where do I start?
Where do you end?
To meditate has become
to empty my thoughts of you,
breathe the air of solitude,
to forget, to forgive,
and to count each heartbeat,
only to realize
what counts is the you in me.
In a little black dress,
eyeshadow and earrings,
I felt my heart sting,
you smiled, mine wore thin,
I can only stare
these puppy dog eyes
taste of you
and a subway
with a map
to every thought
in a crowded room
of familiar strangers,
a night of dark comedy,
you let go, take a swig of corona,
and my tongue goes sour,
the lime in the throat
of the bottle,
a leitmotif punchline
with no lemons.
I don’t want to be awkward
around you, I just am.
I have to hold a shield
when I should be building
to hold these waters in
that penetrate my skin
goosebump my confidence,
an awkward silence,
and you walk back in.
really good right now
unless I think
Don’t be sorry,
that makes sense
because I wake up
to understand to move on
I tried not to,
thinking that it’s going to change,
you would be my everything
Things you would hate to hear.
I’m being honest
I really shouldn’t
Remember how you couldn’t turn me on?
No, why the fuck not
Sure, let’s try again
What can you possibly do?
I can’t stay that way
I want good things for you
Cruel, don’t you think?
Wouldn’t it be worse for me to kiss you?
See you every second of my day, spend my nights with you
It wasn’t going to happen to me
I know that it’s the right thing
I’ll turn into someone we both don’t like
But I don’t need that
I have all the things I need
You still believe you can change that?
I can’t make us happy
I would only hurt you,
be the unhappiness I’ve ever been
One day I was going to wake up
as attracted to you as I should have been
Give us a chance
Alright, good luck
What am I doing exactly?
It’s not going to work
Is that really what you want?
I know I’m not good
It’s not an excuse
Why do you want me to kiss you?
I may have been
you and I together
Let’s try again
There are things I haven’t told you and I really shouldn’t
I knew that by staying
that makes sense,
make it better maybe.
You put words in my mouth
instead of your tongue
I spit them back out,
I never learned to cut corners
Mine is time mined by mind
for heart’s longing
I never learned to jump ship
Icebergs were fair game,
sharks – only natural
I never learned to fake it
A tired smile is a smile
I never learned to cry
Self-taught, soul alibi.
Tangled in between two ears,
two eyes, two hands
try to undo the knot
in the throat,
to the lungs
I heard the ground open
beneath my feet, calling
out to those burnt
by the sun of expectation
to bathe in the boiling earth.
I saw the cracks, kneeled,
crouched over, stared
into the abyss, not
darkness, not void,
with love that burns
so bright it blinds.
I tasted fear
drip from my eyes, running
rivulets of dreams, raindrop
I smelt pain
eating at my insides, rotting
sense of self, negated
only by ignorance.
I felt you
more real within my skin
than between my lips.
I opened my eyes, waiting
for a familiar sound, ringing,
asking me to open
the gate, let you in,
and I abide, I ask for it.
I opened my mind, setting free
what I held close, tied to my chest,
the weight of weightlessness, overbearing,
for you, not
I closed my heart, searching
for a place to hide
only to find
it does not belong
To those who ask
finds it way
into these words,
I do not know
I could call this
I would be placing a finger,
blindfolded, over an ocean,
tracing the horizon, sinking
that refuse to jump the plank.
A question is a gun, loaded
white lies, outright lies
The answer is a bullet, every
bullet, and neither knows
which one is right.
A trigger is a finger, hellbent
to make a dent, leave a scar,
cut right to the chase.
The body is a firing line.
Take your best shot.
Have you ever taken
the time to count,
how many ways
I have said
I love you?
Your hands won’t do justice
to the lines in my palm.
They trace moments
back to the instant
the neuron fired,
setting these circuits
alight, all roads
leading us along.
Have you ever tried
to unclench the fist
that clutches its heart,
fighting the urge
Your hands won’t know
their way, doing more harm
than good, twisting
awake through night terrors,
the grip grows tighter.
Have you ever
wanted to hurt
just to feel
I cannot hold you back.
I can barely get my arms around you,
struggling to wrap my head
around your heart,
when all it wants
is to be done with me.
You looked into the eyes of a stranger
and thought you saw me. I refused
to accept that is just who I might be.
You said it felt right, felt good. I felt
fire burn my tongue, and said nothing.
I looked into your eyes
and thought I saw a stranger, reflecting
between crumpled sheets, where I
am only a variable, a conquest, defeat.
What do we imagine
when we see ourselves
happy? Free, wild.
I see a picture
that will not fade
with time, encapsulated
in the meta-mortuary
hyperlinked and abbreviated.
The longer I look,
the further away
the moment seems,
as time stretches the distance thin,
the ice crackles, I dip my toes in.
Caged in a block of ice,
a mammoth of memories,
a Cubist representation
of a smile, blushing cheeks.
I have sat by rivers, waterfalls,
lakes, ponds, parks, bus halts,
platforms, stairwells, corridors,
and felt completely
at war with myself.
I have slept on cold floors,
tiled floors, mattresses,
spring beds, upper berths,
rooftops and curled into a fetus.
With you, the war finds a sense of purpose.
With you, the fetus grows out of its prison.
Now I sit by springs, the shore,
a pot on the stove, and feel
the gushing, crashing, boiling,
pouring over to put out the fire,
and learn to read smoke signals.
I want to love again.
There are nights that I do not sleep,
hearing your voice echo memories
that keep me up, hoping, awake
and still dreaming, making believe
that I am not alone here, when I know
it is a beautiful thing to be alone
with the alone, but I am no mystic,
you see right through me, breaking
this facade, I crumble, finding myself
in shards of a broken mirror, pixelated,
I am only a sum of my parts, held together
by something so ephemeral as an idea
of a ‘soul’, a tattoo on your finger,
a conversation with your father,
the universe is holding me by the ear,
as though I had stolen cookies from a jar,
refusing to let go until I admit the truth,
there is no cookie, there is no jar,
I let go of you, and I don’t even scar.
Heavy breaths, heaving your weight
against my flesh, I taste the sweat,
the chemicals between us, as you
are distracted by the light swimming
across my face, and I have never
felt this connected in my life, or
at least in intimacy, but then,
you tell me, you were not
really there, and I disconnect.
My heart is on vacation, let’s call it
unpaid leave, indefinite. Somewhere
between indifference and indignation,
it has pitched up a tent, lit a campfire,
and thaws out. It has not grown cold
from loving you, or no longer loving you,
but simply by avoiding touch. Yes,
my heart is anchored in you, if you feel
a burning within, know that it is me,
keeping warm in your heart’s harsh climate.
Now, imagine how it would feel,
to have my blood coursing
through your body as you tangle up
with another man. For my heart
to be pumped by your quickening pace,
as you move from one to the other.
Exhilarating? Sure. It cannot be
put to words.
I have a bad habit of exposing my self
to those I grow close to, like film
to the sun, I cannot paint a picture
that will do justice, it is stark, white,
bright light screaming into your eyes,
but you have closed them to me,
what you see is a dark room, negative,
and that is what I have come to be.
When I said I had found a way
to make this work, to get over you,
be happy myself, I was contemplating
hypnosis, allowing some shaman
to play with my mind, suppress
memories, erase, edit and reconfigure
our relationship to one that is compatible
with you, this you that is so sure
that what you were once sure about
was not so. Did the fire ever burn?
Were you ever asleep at all?
You woke me up with the heavens
pouring down on me, but you never
saw the tears.
Here, I am. There, you are.
The distance between
are the sides of a coin.
It would have to roll
on and on without
ever falling over
for us to be.
But as we know,
no coin ever does that,
there is always a side that wins.
I wonder if anyone called it.
Heads or tails? You win.
Give and I will never refuse.
Take and I won’t hold back.
Steal and I will not catch you.
Break and I will not blame you.
Fall and I will fall with you.
Rise and I will stand watch.
Sing and I won’t laugh.
Kiss and I disappear.
Baby, I can’t call you that anymore.
Love, I still have more to give.
Will your hand in mine,
I will hold on until you break free.
Keep your head to my chest,
you won’t hear a beat.
Keep your hand to your chest,
you will feel me.
If these are to be the last words
I write to you, then consider them
decimals, recurring, insignificant
when rounded up to the nearest
encounter. There will be others,
I won’t get in the way. Will they
have words? Slip from my mind,
slide down my tongue and jump
right off my lips. Will they have lips
like mine? And when yours meet,
will you miss my kiss? Suction cup
antics, fingers that find their way
with no need for direction, instinct.
If these are the last words,
then I have failed you, struggling
to write love into these verses,
when all that is left are muddled emotions,
sent off to some distant corner of the mind,
cast away, set aside. I can only hope
that, within you, my heart stays anchored.
So that when you make room for another,
you’ll at least have a hard time kicking me out.