I Set Sail with Theseus

another suburbia scrolled past me at thirty-five miles per hour

and I thought about another life that could have been,
neither better nor worse.

a different view from my bedroom
a veranda, windowsill flora

a rearranged daily routine, dietary habits, wardrobe,
sketchbooks, tree types, traffic patterns, color spectra,
a transfigured cityscape silhouette at dusk

rewritten histories: school, ambition, degree, career,
friends, community, new family additions,
chain-linked decisions, wings and hurricanes,
our accumulated choices leading us here, now,
a path that self-effaces yet still holds
the potential to split off, branch out, blossom
like colonies of blood vessels sprawling out toward unseen ends

whether these would have been enough
to change even this skeletal framework, this face,
these rhythms hormonal, circadian, cyclothymic

and if you transplanted all of these,
everything physical and immaterial
transient and permanent,
one or some or all at a time,
would a new individual
be
built?

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Spectrum

sleep plays coy tonight, wavering in my periphery like some vestige of a drug-induced haze. insomnia, rare and bewildering as sunlight during a storm, assumes an unsettling hold over this domain and thrusts open the gates. and here they come. here comes now the mad horde of ghosts, the past lives and connections and emotions and meanings and dead, dread weight. there was a time, incredibly, when every single one of these was so vital and significant, warm to the touch. now how they mingle and blur like rain, cascading all around my crumpled form in cold sheets. their once vibrant colors have been reduced to grey shades, yet their requiems remain always audible in the depths of memory, quiet rolling thunder with bursts of chaotic tempests. they keep crashing in in waves, a staggering swarm of them, and oh! how they clamor, how they leave me restless here in this echo chamber of steps and shadows.

Underground

take me back to the unreal city. I have no interest in remaining out here any longer, in the burning expanses, dried and withered like old fruit. there is nothing left for me here. take me back down to the sinking depths, one weary solemn step at a time, the light behind us fading like memories of the epoch before and those before that one. under this light their touches have faded, their faces blurred, their words melted and become grotesque. it is an unbearable horror to stay and be reminded perpetually of what should have been. return this sybil below, back within the safe dark confines of her jar, away from all of this.

Snowfall

the first thing I notice is always the light. sulfurous industrial yellows from lampposts soften into warm candlelight ambers cast over the parking lots and duplexes. faint metallic blues and whiter shades of pale from car headlights fade in and out in every few minutes, slow crescendos and decrescendos marking their passage. gentle accents of cotton-candy reds and blues swirl out from sirens that would otherwise normally come hard and fast as punches—these are rarer but they always make me feel strange inside. somewhere else there is an emergency but it feels remote from here, this quiet little world of muted hues.

and then I remember that snow has its own sound library. I put away my headphones—we spend so much time within our own audioverses—and I hear the wind breathing in and out through buildings and trees, wet scrapes of cautiously crawling tires, entire galaxies of tiny crystals shattering like promises. everything is muffled yet everything is cacophonous.

I have no camera powerful enough to capture these color schemes, no recorder for these soundscapes. all I can do is stand still, hood thrown back, and drink in this experience alone. by the time I start heading back home my footprints have almost been completely covered, they too beginning to succumb.

Trauma

for years, you carried the weight in silence. you bore it with no complaints, standing rigidly tall, determined not to let the world see you slump. you walked with a fierce yet unsettling grace. so proud, you swore to yourself that this was your cross to bear, your burden alone

and then, one soft day,
it detached itself from you
like a stillborn child.

I watched you kneeling in the blood and did not know what to say.
I watched you grasping at the remains, struggling to make sense of them, to find solace through reason.

you sat under the water to cleanse yourself and wept because it could never be enough. you clawed at your insides, tearing and mangling the fragile flesh, but you would never be able to scrape away the filth. the water swirled a vivid scarlet, a queasy pink, and then red again, the hues ebbing and flowing like ocean tides.

yet like tears in rain
one soft day this, too, shall pass–
a wise man once said.

Words, pt. III

I could not stop the waves. one after the other they came, unrelenting crashes of things best left unsaid, choking us with humiliation and horror. I drowned us in viscous mundanities, my struggles for salvation only accelerating our descent to the lightless depths. we surfaced one day from months of this insensate futility and found that we had only been clinging to each other out of a mutual terror; once we found breath again, the cold clean air sweeping into our blackened, wrinkled lungs, you no longer had a use for me. the imprints of our best moments drifted ashore beside us like flotsam and you set them ablaze, and we headed our separate ways, and you walked forth—and I, I could not stop turning back to the flames, to your shadow, ever growing smaller.

Leaves

Autumn to me
is not pumpkins and pies.
It is the warmth and comfort of an extra blanket,
brisk air deliciously filling up my lungs between smoke drags,
layer of muted calm in the early mornings and late nights
foreshadowing the stultification that winter will later bring.
I like the quiet but there is an element to it that also frightens me.
I like the cold but not the way it seeps into my heart,
the reunions and lightheartedness slowly solemnizing
as we prepare for the next act.
Soon after the firebird’s finale
we will return once more to ashes, dust, fear.