Soft Glow

If love was a bullet, then it grazed my heart

and left just enough blood pumping to wake each day’s start.

Soft glow upon my face anywhere and anytime,

I sought completion in pixels and perhaps your hand in mine.

 

Cold gaze at the sanctuary, bring me death or just a taste

of something greater than despair, all hope has been erased.

Swipe left, swipe right, this I detest, and this I like,

there’s a burning man’s charred remains with ashes taking flight.

 

Take your place among the masses, please gather in the crowd

and wait a little longer for the descent of our black shroud.

Don’t look to the sky for salvation or the forest for its trees,

keep your eyes glued to the screen as if it will set you free.

 

I’ve known enough of being alone to survive in outer space

and desired enough to combust, felt lost within this maze.

Maybe if I could leave this place everything would be alright,

but I have no wings to carry me, only ashes taking flight.

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Burning Gaze

It’s hot and dark and I’m walking down a slick sidewalk. It rained earlier and steam rises slowly from concrete like the finally freed spirit of this agonized city reflecting the pain and sorrow of man. Hollow buildings jut out of the ground as if to eternally penetrate the sky, but they too will fade away. I haven’t seen another person in miles and wonder if I am the last man alive. Is it just me that’s left to be eradicated from this suffering planet and will I meet my end tonight?

I’m almost home, where I’ll stay for just a few hours before returning to work. I haven’t slept much lately and I don’t know what day it is. My briefcase is heavy in my hand and a park bench across the street invites me to lie down, a flickering street lamp beside it. I must keep walking. Approaching my front door, I hear them, footsteps that aren’t mine. I know I heard them when I reached into my pocket for my keys. They were heavy and close behind me. I turn around and peer into the black night, the street sizzling as vapor licks my legs. I’m still the only one outside and the street lamp across the street flickers one last time before its bulb explodes. And then it hits me, a heavy punch across my jaw, twisting my head to its side and sending me several feet through the thick night air. My body slides across the sidewalk and my briefcase cracks open as it hits the street beside me.

When I look up from my back I see a hulking mass, the form of a monstrous barbarian, fists clenched and eyes red. I know immediately that this is not a man. This is death itself and it has come to make me die slowly. A scabbed hand grabs my ankle and I go spinning, around in circles until I’m dizzy enough to puke, and then it lets go, sending me across the street where I crash into the park bench, which is crushed as splinters shoot out like needles. I think my back is broken and I spit out a mouthful of blood along with a few teeth. The figure walks slowly toward me, eyes like hellfire and I can’t look away. There is no one here to help and my heart races as I think, die fighting. And so I stand. With all of the strength I can muster, I stand, and the beast runs toward me, ground cracking with every step. My eyes burn, too.

 

Boomerang

     “All living beings have actions (Karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Karma that differentiates beings into low and high states.” – Buddha

“The pain you all feel is in me, too,” the man leading The Last Light shouted. Fierce cries bellowed throughout the dark mass, covered in mud and blood, tears blending with the muck. The sun was beginning to reappear from behind thick gray clouds, the spokesman summoning his most base emotions, which had completely overtaken him and the hundreds of exhausted men, women, and children following. “We have fought for ourselves, each other, and this planet with not only our bodies, but our souls!” Cracked and desperate voices chanted in support, assuring the opposition that the storm was far from over.

The landscape was barren, homes pummeled into fragments, and black smoke billowed from deep red fissures in the Earth. A fat man, sneering upon a throne of various skulls, rested comfortably behind a legion of identical armed soldiers, who waited patiently as one unflinching force.

“We’ve made it this far!” the leader of The Last Light cried as he marched toward the King of Ruin. “This pain, I want you to see that it is not real! Although we suffer here and now, eternally we are free from all despair!”

“Then why not die now and be done with it!?” The King of Ruin spat, his eyes pale and rotten teeth smashing together to form a sickle-like grin. His soldiers held their guns steadily at The Last Light; ready to fire upon humanity’s final hope, which approached, battered, as the sun turned maroon and began to set.

The leader of the wounded and limping mass stopped and smiled, then turned around to face his fellow fighters. The words split their way up his rib cage and tore free from his mouth, “Why do we endure!?”

The Last Light raised their chests and narrowed eyes upon the opposition, trembling with passion as night approached and their words rang thunderous, “Boomerang!” Their leader continued to smile, nodding his head up and down, turned to face The King of Ruin, and opened his arms.

“I know what I’m fighting for and what’s waiting for me. Do you know what’s waiting for you?”

Gridlock

Around every rigid corner, my spirit claws at the fabrics of an artificial confine. Yellow light. Red light. Blurred hands on the clock as my eyes go bloodshot from lack of sleep. Not enough time to live. All around, we are fooled by props on a seamless set: hollow symbols used to keep us in line and most people are just too tired to see the truth. Wake up at dawn with that devil on your chest and smash the snooze button. Has the nightmare ended or just begun? The routine starts again: another day. I take a deep breath and remind myself that this will be over when I’m dead. Corners, all I see are corners.

In traffic, the lines keep us in place. The design is perfect, except for when somebody’s mind strays and BOOM! Metal folds against itself and glass explodes to the hymn of screeching rubber while men and women in neat uniforms weave through lanes in an organized ballet to the scene. Warm sunny day and now I’m late for lunch at that restaurant where the napkins are folded like pyramids. Please, show me an EXIT sign.

The nine to five has teeth in your jugular and all you can think about is getting to your home full of corners. I’m trying to breathe, but something’s in the way. Air thick with fumes cakes my lungs in an attempt to silence my voice as I shout dryly at a skyline bearing countless precisely designed buildings, surrounded by billboard after billboard. Trees molt into ash and birds seek food that isn’t poison. I find myself doing the same.

Take a walk to ease the tension as night approaches, streetlamps turning on in unison, and you’ll hear them if you listen closely. Beyond the puttering exhaust pipes following one after the other, contrived small talk, and barking dogs; the clanking dishes in steamy kitchens, fumbled-with key chains, and droning airplanes overhead. You’ll hear them; waves, pummeling the shore, each one without shape and pulling you with every crash eternally into formlessness.

Shadow Walker

Sparks showered me while I lamented the passing of one more coarse day. The grinding of gears never ceased and my restless thoughts eventually found solace in dark songs about tarnished existences. Heavy metal spoke to me when there was no one by my side and as images of an elaborately portrayed apocalypse or burning hearts rendered themselves from trembling speakers, I drifted upward within gritty gray plumes.

When I finally attended my first metal show, those perpetual amber sparks ignited within me a great desire to become a part of this art form, where my angst was shared in a livid ritual. Vicious melodies split the air like hot cracks of lightening from the fingers of a raven-haired guitarist while a frenzied drummer fired tremors through the stage. A malicious vocalist wretched years of suffering into a battered microphone, soul leaving his body for the evening, while I clashed with the rest of the audience upon a crumbling floor. My teeth bared themselves against the darkness as shockwaves blasted away every worry and in this moment, nothing else mattered.

When the curtain fell and my face was unwillingly pushed back into reality, I wanted nothing more than to create the sensation that I felt with my own hands or through my own lungs; to wield a guitar or drumsticks and summon a menacing storm’s visage or spew my aching insides through a microphone like a painter spills hers onto the canvas.

For years, I followed in the shadows of various metal bands, longing for their gifts while ignoring mine. Every time I wished for the ability to play a moving solo, a wrenching poem or story could have been written. For all of the meaningful lyrics I wanted to sing, a sterling slab of marble could have been added to the body I so cherish now. Life is art and each of us is talented toward building our own unique masterpieces. The moon may never burn like the sun, but she can surely be inspired to shine through the darkest of nights.

Changing Seasons

Head down with pale eyes, I yearned to find beauty within an ever-thickening fog. Alone and famished, ravens guided me toward the soil, coarsely speaking of that eternal sleep where my burdens might be laid to rest. I can recall the sound of the ocean in the distance; somewhere beyond those thick pine trees I had become immersed in, lashing the shoreline with frothy waves. If only I could break free of the forest…

All throughout my dreary school days, I fell for girls easily, like the hazel-eyed magnolia with wavy black hair and mocha skin. She loved to dance and was shy, like me. Whenever our eyes met in a hallway, holding for an instant that felt like forever, we both smiled and waved hello, but words never broke free from our transfixed tongues.

There was the outgoing freckled lily whose presence lit up a room like drawn curtains on a bright and cloudless day. She carried herself like a roaming songbird, unbound and fragile, yet never succumbing to a precarious sky. Her eyes squinted when she smiled and she had deep red hair that glowed like embers in a world that felt cold and dark.

Insecure and falling apart, I wanted someone to cure my sadness. A precious companion through the haze was something I always dreamt of and I’d write jaded love poems until the ink ran out. Romance has always borne a mythical allure to me, but over the years, I’ve learned that so many of those flowers are really made of plastic.

When I finally reached the beach, a calm and cool turquoise tide coalesced with smooth tan sand beneath a dazzling sunlit sky. The sight was enough to bring color back to my eyes. I lied down there, arms outstretched, savoring the breeze, and realized something; the beauty I had searched so long for was already inside of me. I just needed to let go… allow it to overtake and carry me away.

Guiding Light

The weight of the world bears down on me as I fight for breath, a bated smile on my face. My heart fiercely pumps blood as my veins swell up like flooding rivers. In the mirror before me, I see the person that I am, a young man after glory. I must never be satisfied with him. Always looking further to the person I wish to become, the pain keeps me focused, locked in this moment so that I may use it to full advantage. Sweat stings my eyes as I bring a loaded barbell under control. 9…10…11… I count the repetitions in my head, but really, the number doesn’t matter. I don’t stop until my muscles can’t go anymore, until I am so engulfed by passion that all other feelings are muted. If I don’t give it my all, regret will seep in, and that’s just not an option.

Dim lights above illuminate chipped black plates, torn benches, and rusting dumbbells, my tools for reaching absolution. I put the bar to rest and fall to the floor, legs searing hot and tight. My clothes are soaked and I lie down as the pain cradles me. I think about how far I’ve come (from nothing to something, darkness to light) and about my aching body. Without pain, I would never grow (forced to adapt). Without pain, I would never know comfort (a well-earned night of sleep). Without the pain, I would be lost.