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March 21 2017

surreality
The harshest memories
Are the clearest
While the happy ones
Float in fog.

The brain has a way about it
Perhaps Freud was right with Thanatos
A death drive looping over and over.

I could never make the decision but once.
Conviction is never clear.
That's for flowery writing
In elegant novels
Where all the loose ends tie up neatly.

I tried to write a poem about how I felt.
It was like slapping mangled intestines on a dirty table.
And yet I looked at it again and again.

I blame the id. If we are going with Freud
It's the driver of all of my mistakes.
My superego whips them out of me.

I was always so skeptical
But I see where he gets it from.
It makes more sense
Than the reasons I can think of.

March 15 2017

surreality
I am a magician of suffering.
I unfold your card from the deck
And slide it between your ribs.

You will be aghast at how
Such a thing could happen
When I pull cloth from thin air.

I am a witch.

The soup that stirs inside of me
Sulphorous and acrid
Pushed through my veins

I will infuse it into you
With the slightest syllable
Your muscles knotting into quilts.

And seeing you twitch keeps me alive.
I draw power from your rolling eyeballs.
I need to breathe your straining gasps.

Otherwise it will overwhelm me
Slowly melting from the inside out.
They will write fantastic stanzas about it.

Years later they will be sure it is a myth.
Hyperbole of a tragic disease.
The tragic disease is longing.

March 09 2017

surreality
line up a row of marbles
but shoot them snooker style one by one.
rabbits abound in the fields.

the cigarette smoke curls out the window.
the cup of coffee steams.
the idyllic paradise sits at hand.

cheap imitations or plato's cave.
i don't care about philosophy
that's so academic you can't feel its bones.

i do care about the soul
and what substantiates it
although soul is such a pretentious word.

it rolls off the tongues of priests and new-agers alike.
and i can't stand anything like that written down.

words are just placeholders
for brain matter.
to remind you what you thought about
last tuesday.

March 02 2017

surreality
watching flame eat the wrapper of a cigarette
it is hard work
sabotaging yourself

i'm not going to give into pity
like an indelicate socialite
or a broke pensioner

calculating precisely the right path
to stay inside one's moral compass
and yet stray somewhat further north

if we knew each other's thoughts
they say
we'd all be heartbroken, gnashing and wailing

i can't look at my own
guilt and shame are permanent residents
skulking in the hotel corridors
by the ice machine

but as long as it stays inside
projected onto the ceiling of my brain
like a planetarium

nobody else has to know
what a sinner I am.
what an unrepentant, shadow-slinking sinner.

February 27 2017

surreality
some sort of whiskey fever dream
where cigarette smoke coils up
the trees of the rainforest

we eat the animals
roasted over chemical fire
coloured raindrops stain the grass

it withers instantly, crisp
the smoke in the sky hot and thick.
we grab greasy hands; we must.

the fog begins to blur
the demarcations and boundaries
we are frantically, suddenly intertwined.

waking up drenched
in sweat that won't wash off.
it slides like oil down my arms.

it winds like vines around my legs.
it binds me in desire.
it roots me in this forbidding soil.

February 23 2017

surreality
Remember when I didn't know you
So it didn't hurt?
How exquisite.

Twelve years of throwing sharp pebbles at my own soul.

Candied pecans in a dish abandoned on a dusty desk.

I broke glass and used the shards to carve up everything I knew.

I used to live like a vagabond
On crumbs of emotional sanity
Running out; crying in the bathroom.

The sharp pain in the stomach
Or, more frequently
The vague unease, the roiling storm.

These memories are closer
Than my first kiss.
My first fuck.
The giddiness of reciprocated affection.

Even when I turned the page,
finished the book,
started another.

Some chapters stay with you.
Some epilogues close nothing
But touch off the beginning

Of a more complicated saga.
A sophomore work.
A tragedy in five parts instead of three.

Some books you open again
Even knowing damn well better.

February 18 2017

surreality
kick it up a notch.
create art
like you scooped out the innards
of a baby boy so smoothly
and laid it at its mothers feet.

i can't erase the image unbidden.
there's a cry that comes from down deep
that no one ever wrote down.

no one tried.
it couldn't be captured.
it existed not in some other dimension
but really truly outside of space and time.

it's so powerful in its emotion
that it's not stardust.
it made stars
it wasn't made by them.

it's backgroud radiation
we didn't pick up.
it's beyond
and i mean beyond.

thousands of people
have dipped their quills in ink
to paint imitations of it.

they have failed in myriad beautiful ways
rainbows against backdrops
of senescent, floating clouds.

each failure is a different hue
and i will add sixty seven.
i will not turn away.

i will bring my brown paper bag
of words i packed for lunch.
i will place each one carefully

in iambic pentameter
or something like that;
i threw out shakespeare

when i realized reading
all those books
didn't actually keep her here.

they've tried in music
and they got awfully close
i have to say.

in fact
they win the award.

i'll be here the rest of the night,
hoping the right combination
of notes

finally hits that feeling.

June 25 2015

surreality

researching a shooting

drawn to lethal catastrophes in the news
like moths to a porch light
smacking ourselves relentlessly
against something we cannot possibly
understand; if only a shred of this
light shined on the chaos in life
to offer us some sort of explanation

drawn to accidents on the road
like flies to rotten fruit
our curious thirst quashed
by destruction; regret pounding
in our ears when we see blood.

drawn to violent, mysterious television
like a dog being served dinner
the heart-racing eagerness and
strange fascination with the reasons
that crafted characters choose to kill

does it help us somehow cope
with the day-to-day battery
of injury and injustice?
does it make it easier to hold
our loved ones in death,
onto our minds in crisis?

does it desensitize us so we can
live each day, even under
insurmountable circumstances?
does it smooth over our suffering
and place it in perspective
so we can still face the world?

it must, musn't it? what else can we
hope to glean
Tags: poetry

May 24 2015

surreality

papa mcguiley

in 1977
papa mcguiley walked to the store
bought a carton of cigarettes
spat on the floor
walked outside to look
up at the sky
to stare at the sidewalk
and wonder why
god was so damn unfair
with all of his gifts
his blessings and curses
as his mood quickly shifts
to leave a man as he was
so desperate and broken
looking out in vain
for any old token
to show it made sense
to keep striving along
each morning and night
to sing the same song
in 1977
papa mcguiley walked to the store
and swore out at the wind
a man had faith no more.

February 26 2015

surreality

The Dress

(a raymond carver inspired short story after viewing birdman)

July 18 2014

surreality

tchotchkes

a kite
and five candles,
small tchotchkes
clustered together on a table -

a breath of nostalgia,
the scent of something green,
the wheel of seasons
spinning effortlessly in your head.

the cold metal bracelet
that now chafes your skin,
the eyeglasses with rims bent
and lenses loose,
the battered teddy bear
with half his stuffing
sprinkled amongst your childhood

to hold them,
cupped in a weary palm,
to cherish such tiny wonders -
to make them collectors
of dust, of wistfulness

possessing the power
to turn you back
to one emotion in time -
a most precise carousel
of meaning and expression.
Tags: poetry
surreality

eight tomes

eight tomes
of secrets,
drifting lazily
down the river;
fish nip at their
cracking spines
and paperthin pages -
a lifetime disseminated
into the roil
only memories left,0
echoing through seashells.
ravaged compilations
wash up on the beach,
sandcastles lovingly crafted
from their cold and
abandoned remnants.
Tags: poetry
surreality

fragile

a mere breath of suggestion
that breaks the fragile peace
so carefully constructed, piece by piece
glued together meticulously, painstakingly,
one-at-a-time with the utmost care

to hint at shattering it
with a clenched fist,
even a fist of benevolence
even a fist of possibility
is still too much to fathom,
to have to begin again
all the planning,
the weeks and weeks
for the cement to set

i hide like a turtle
in a ceramic shell,
on a dusty shelf
in a pottery shop
hoping I won't
be dropped.
Tags: poetry
surreality

doubt

a hot knife slid
between the ribs, tearing
the connective tissue, leaving
a scar - a skinny, red, raised
thing, flashing you back
to the stab, in slow-motion
as you nervously run
your fingers across it,
absent-mindedly considering
something else entirely
while the undercurrent
of memory pounds away
at your unconscious, unrelenting
in its barrage,
a tide that never goes out, a flicker
in the mirror -
spinning around to catch
it, you see only
the small sad figure
until you plunge your hands
in your pockets and
squinch your eyes shut, swimming
to shore like your life
depends on it, knowing
someday you must reach
the balmy warm sand, greeting
you in castles and dunes and
reprieve
Tags: poetry
surreality

the waking mind

the waking mind
recoils at the floating dream-fragments
adrift in the skull upon waking;
on occasion
it delights in the fancies
new and freshly imagined
a welcome paint-streak
across consciousness-

but more often
it runs amok;
frantically rearranging itself
to make sense of
these strangely constructed images
and contextless statements,
wondering why emotions -
in the file folders of years ago -
would fall to the floor now


a form of time-travel
that is disconcerting
more than it is interesting
or exciting -
simply an unwelcome reminder
dissolving too slowly
at eight-thirty a.m.
Tags: poetry
surreality
you are an engine
of unimaginable brilliance:
gears clicking and shifting,
springs tightening and pushing
a well-oiled machine
so intricately complex,
these millions of processes
humming away, skirting notice

these systems we do not
and cannot think about,
for there are so many -
each quietly sustaining
our breath, our heartbeat,
the light filtering through our eyes
we only notice
when one nostril stuffs up,
when we choke on a bite,
when we can't remember
where we left our keys again

but as a small solace
for those overwhelmed existentialists
gazing at their palms
adrift in an ocean of confusion
you are an engine
of unimaginable brilliance.
Tags: poetry
surreality

summer day

to float effervesecently
across the trees:
a hot air balloon
unhinged from its strings

weaving through clouds
and other airborne things

sharing the sky
with mosquitoes and bees
birds and airplanes
skating on the breeze

the sun beaming down
on dirty hair and scraped knees
colorful chalky lines
forming flowers and seas

a summer day tied up neat
makes a nice present for me.
Tags: poetry
surreality

how to begin

how to begin to spin
the pressure building inside of my head
into something i can knead and shape,
something more meaningful
than hurried back-and-forth signals,
traffic lights constantly changing
cycling through green-yellow-red
suns rapidly rising and setting

how to begin to spin
the hateful spew of news,
the words of murder and mayhem
streaming in from all sides
fires eating up the landscape,
children hiding from bombs
in tattered tents of hopes and dreams
smothered and burnt
within an hour, within minutes

how to begin to spin
the day-by-day drawl
the hours tapping away
at keyboards and screens,
the hours laboring
to pour cement, to hammer nails
the hours inserting needles
and taping up casts

how to begin to spin
the whole world
so overwhelming in its entirety
into something one mind
can capture, can hold
can understand
how to begin?
Tags: poetry
surreality

our challenge

to pause a breath
to think of every second
a miniscule change
an unseen alteration
triggering a radical departure
from the usual next few events
or perhaps nothing,
just a slight rustle
of last season's leaves
rotting in the gutter
contemplating the multifaceted
tree we live in,
branches opened to the sky,
roots coiled around
some belief we hold hidden
in our hearts
from the poisonous fungus
of cause-effect and change

to uproot, to transplant
moving so drastically
without withering

is our challenge
Tags: poetry
surreality

sandcastles

there is nothing more punishing
than that piece inside of you
twisting and turning
everything you do,
everything you think
into grains of sand
rushing through a sieve
into the ocean
of insignificance.

frantically building
sandcastle after sandcastle
before the tide comes in,
hurriedly slapping together
the damp and salty clay
as children watch curiously,
slowly shaping something
smaller, not bothered by
the continual eroding
of their creations.

a symbol shining ephemeral
not meant to be anything more
the unique panic
of memento mori

one day i will toss it into the sea,
skipping it across the waves
like a smooth rock.
Tags: poetry
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