One year ends and another begins. The calendar
                flips a digit, and the unrelenting
        passage of time
marches on, oblivious
                        to us or anyone else.

I stand on your back porch,
a dying cigarette hanging languidly
                        between my fingers,
the smoke drifting lazy and silent
        through the still night air.
I stand there and I think
                of the year recently deceased,
of the highs and lows,
        of the mistakes and the wasted
                                opportunities,
                of the boons and the near-regrets;
and then
                                I think of you and your footsteps
come closer and closer from your kitchen,
        like the rhythmic beat
        of a waking dream.

You come outside and water your garden wordlessly.
I watch you and fight back a confusing rush of tears that come
                unbidden and try to fall free, as if imitating
the water surging from the hose in your hand,
        placating
the parched soil and the plants so desperately in want.
I fight them all back lest you look my way and the dam
                breaks.

I can’t verbalise all that I want to.
                        Not yet.
When you come close, I wrap
        my arms around you
                        as many times as I can,
and tell you you’re wonderful and kiss your forehead but
        even that feels grossly
                        inadequate.
So I just hold you
                for a while longer
then we go inside and to bed,
where a single standing fan tries to ward off
        the uncomfortable heat and humidity,
where we can’t fall asleep without
                holding each other in some way, so close
that your hands on my chest
        are my hands,
that my breath on your neck
        is your breath;*

and I try not to think too much
        about the terrifying sense
                                of happiness
coursing through me,
about the unexpected calm I feel
                when I’m near you, about
the fact that you really do
                                exist.

*lines 45-48 are a sort of appropriation of those found in Neruda’s Sonnet XVII. Lines 45 and 46 are very similar (almost identical); lines 47 and 48 are different, but only in subject matter. I’m not claiming them as original, but I simply had to use them. They’re so damn apt!

Through the coming days and the dark storms they’ll bring
         I’ll ride with you.
As the vitriol flows and the weak seek to alarm,
         I’ll ride with you.
When the light begins to fade and the fear-mongers start to sing,
         I’ll ride with you.
If you feel hopeless, unable to find calm,
         I’ll ride with you.

For we are not a nation built on the fears
         of an irrational and deranged few.
We are Australians and
         we’ll ride with you.
We won’t give in to hearsay and small minds incapable
         of discerning false from true.
We’ll ignore them, scorn them and pity them.
         We’ll ride with you.

The future of this country is one
         of acceptance, tolerance and peace,
and, arm in arm, we will always stand by you.
         We’ll ride with you.
For, in the end, we are all human,
         we are all Australian, there is no me and you.
So, together, from this day until the last
         we’ll fight the intolerant storms and the hate of a few.
                  We’ll ride with you.

I

Come in, I say, even though we’re outside

         come in. Our own little world

where the sun still shines—

                                    the sky in your eyes—

but no one else is here. Just us

and some coffee

and a half-empty pouch of tobacco, enough

              to get me through the weekend.

 

I can see my self in your eyes.

                                    Does that

                                    make me vain?

I ask.

         You blush. Shades of pale red surfacing

on your porcelain skin. You’re beautiful.

                                    Does it?

Furrowed brow, you look away. Silence. Unmoving.

I roll a cigarette and place it under a lighter in front of you

                  and roll another. You light mine then yours,

staring

                                    into the dark distance.

 

II

A fire burning warmly in a clearing surrounded

         by autumnal foliage.

                           Come sit with me.

You do. You sit. You don’t look cold

         Aren’t you cold? You don’t answer

                                    but stare into the flames,

mind lost in thought. Where are you? I ask,

                                    silently.

Face flushed, you’re warm. Your own fire

         burns brightly

                           somewhere.

You came here as a favour

to see what you could see

         in my flames, beautiful pyromancer.

                           You’ll leave soon. I know this.

What if will always lose to what is,

and someone waits at your own fire wondering where

                  you’ve gone.

 

III

Glass walls and social constructs, that’s all

that separates us. That

                  and an insurmountable distance measured

by an unrequited infatuation, and all the words

                           I never said or wrote.

But one day, it might be different.

                  One day, I might write you

and tell you all the things I want to tell you.

                           One day, we might meet under desirous circumstances

and the dry leaves and the branches

will be devoured by the flame

and together we’ll watch it burn.

                                    One day.

Sometimes, at night,

when the wind finds time to rest

and the warm air of a spring day forgets to leave,

I walk outside

and down to the beach

and sit

and listen to the music that wafts

over everything beneath the candle-lit sky.

 

Waves lapping softly at the shore,

rushing and receding, rhythmic, hypnotic,

tidal melody lulling me

into a state of pacified rapture.

 

The moon sings to me, pouring honeyed ballads

into my ragged ears, the dark water

that stretches out before me,

vast and unyielding, is her violin. I feel the notes

floating, graceful and knowing, into the parts of me

that need it most.

 

Rising and falling, I let go and give in

to the lunaescence of the night,

let it blanket me in celestial beauty

until the time comes

to walk back home

and write a poem about it,

                                about you

                                         and your

                                                   song

Air thick

with sweat and ethanol

and scents strong enough

to kill at fifteen feet, wound

at thirty. Limbs full

of amber-filled glassware

that apologise out of feigned respect

and part the sea back

to their transient homes.

 

Darting and

moving to the beat of

everyone and the incessant noise;

a faux libation to a god

they’ve never heard of:

alcohol and electro,

wine and music, if you listen

closely enough, you can hear that Dionysian heart

breaking.

 

Heraclean wannabes

putting on shows of primitive strength

and foolishness, peacocks

dancing, their tails spread out

like painful nightmares draped

in awkward silences, seeking a validation

they can’t seem to recognise.

 

Girls with skin on fire, glowing vainly

and garbed to suit,

water-boarding those peacocks

with pheromones, playground teasers

using genetically given gifts

to fool those fools for the sake

of my voyeuristic amusement.

 

It’s all enough

to make Schopenhauer

vomit, but

he was probably wrong

anyway.

Her lunaescence will floor you, maybe,

as it floors me,

constantly.

The metaphysical pull: I fall

into her orbit

and remain, completing

circuit after circuit,

 

gaining no ground yet maintaining proximity.

I’m kept at a distance, irrevocably so,

(for her gravity forbids

that desirous closeness),

I can only dream, day and night,

of lips and eyes—amongst

other things—fantasise

about a fateful day

that may never

arrive.

 

The night is good fertile ground

for a sower of verses’, said Borges, once;

and so I yield

to a perpetual night,

bathing in the glow

of her ethereality, scribbling

like a madman;

 

for she is a moon, my moon,

watchful yet oblivious,

eternal yet mortal,

aloof yet present;

she is

lunaescent.

Fluorescent lights drone and drainpipes trickle

above me, blanket me,

metronomes keeping time

with whatever it is

that ticks inside me.

 

I give myself over to their rhythm,

let my mind float

through the air above, flavoured

with monotony;

it wanders—my mind—aimlessly

at first, wafting in a sea

of nothing, waiting

for the waves to come.

 

And they do come:

wave after wave of thoughts

crash on the shores of my mind—vying for my attention,

evangelical in their resolve, arguing their cases,

proving their profundity, desiring

to be nurtured and expounded.

 

And when the right one crashes,

lasting just long enough

for me to frolic in the wash, the one

that has always been there, somewhere,

I savour it:

the feeling,

the sensation,

the excitement;

I capture it,

run with it,

bottle it up,

take it

back to the present, back to reality,

let it take over my mind

completely, bask

in the severity of

the connection,

the epiphany.

 

Then I pick up my pen

and let it run riot

until my desires

are sated.

 

I order a burger and Coke.

I could stay in the bar

and wait for the order to come up

and take it outside myself,

but I ask her to.

 

She’s running food.

I want to see her alone

just for a few seconds;

that’s all it’d be, that’s all I’d need.

 

With my bag and pint, I walk outside.

I sit, roll a cigarette, swig some Coke.

From my bag comes Fante.

Nicotine diffuses in my lungs.

That familiar cranial rush calms my nerves.

 

In my peripheral I see her walk

into the dusk, carrying my dinner

and someone else’s.

I take a drag and don’t look up. She puts the plate

in front of me. Fante folds in my lap.

 

I look up, smile, and mouth something

appreciative;

she looks at me

and speaks words so soft

they barely leave

her parted lips, borne away

on twilit winds. Her eyes

tell me more than those words

ever could.

 

For only a second

we’re locked in time, staring

into each other completely, searching

for what’s wanted.

 

It’s happened before but

not like this. This is different.

It’s a moment of rarity

where a myriad of possibilities abound

along that line of sight, where the future

creeps back in time

and taints the boundaries of the present

with promises of something else, something

more.

 

The moment passes

and she walks back into the bar,

one plate and few words lighter.

The fading light no longer lights up

her ethereal features yet I see them,

see her,

still,

in the halls

of my memory, draped

in sepia, near perfect, where

the passing of time

can only make her

more beautiful.

 

 

Mistakes are the cuts nobody sees,

deep or shallow, they bleed,

draining you, taking your mind away

from the present, keeping you

from breathing the air available;

they’re like a veil, covering you eyes,

a filtered view, a lens discoloured;

the world seems less because

your problems are more.

 

But mistakes could just be

uninformed decisions, good intentions

led astray by unknowing; choices made

under circumstances enthralling, unavoidable;

so why lament? why beat yourself up

for choosing a path knowing

all that you could have known?

 

Hindsight and retrospect can be foul

harbingers of regret, illusions

so pointless and destructive; or

they can evince a wisdom previously hidden,

the choice lies in the self, in wait, if

you have eyes to see it.

Life will go on, everything will be fine,

experience is invaluable, the sun

will rise when the night ends, learn

from the cuts of mistakes.

 

Such wounds cannot heal without

the advent of self-reflection.

 

The fall seemed interminable,

that timeless descent, days and nights disguised,

I plummeted

through familiar air

waiting

for a familiar impact; the ground

welcoming me into its arms

like an old friend. Only, this time,

there was no ground but

a body of water

and into its depths I plunged.

 

The calm,

the tranquillity,

the silence,

embraced me. Under the surface,

free from fear and angst, I wait and watch

all that transpires above,

collecting myself and my thoughts,

changing my perspective and mind-set

through the refracted light,

waiting

for the right moment

to break the surface

and enter the fray, once more, changed,

as I should have changed after

all the other times

I had fallen.

 

Dear All Those Who Dwell in WordPress Land,

 

SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM…sort of? I guess so. But, seriously…

 

Just a quick message to let all of y’all know that my blog is connected to a Facebook page, which is aptly and obviously named Fiction, Amongst Other Things (stroke of undeniable genius, I know). I’ve no idea whether or not this would be of any interest to any of you, but hey, thought I’d evince to you all anyways.

All of my posts from here automatically appear there (ah, the power of social media integration!) but, additionally, I share and repost a whole bunch of other stuff when it tickles my fancy/floats my boat/fills my mind brain with bolts of excitement. Anything from lame inspirational stuff to advice from writers, and quotes and links to other stuff, appear there; it’s a bit of a menagerie, really. A poetic menagerie. A menagerie for writers. Maybe. I dunno. Have a look and see if your fancy can be tickled or your boat floated, and so on and so forth, etc, etc.

 

JvH

Light fades into dark,

the hues of dusk wash over the horizon leaving

a moonless sky blanketing

the world,

my world.

 

I rise from a burnt out fire,

from a now-vacant warmth,

charred and growing ever colder,

not even enough remains

to use to light the path

that lies ahead.

 

I walk alone,

in spite of the belief—in spite

of the hand—I once

held.

 

In the dark

and in the cold,

there is no solace,

only resignation

to the dark and cold reality

that dreams of love

are simply delusions

conjured from the infection

of hope.

 

The deafening roar of silence
smothers the flame;

it burns,
fighting for words
in the dead air of night;

its light
wavers, as the dark
encroaches, as the cold
assails the red-yellow licks
of the fire,

creeping like an inevitable tide,
wave after wave — unstoppable? — no mind
to relent, no thought given
to what fuels the flames.

They sputter, those flames, but
endure, the light of the present
fighting to illuminate
the path
into that clouded,
unknown
future.

 

 

She wakes from slumber

and he’s already waiting

for breakfast.

She makes it, he eats it

and leaves. She doesn’t

know where he goes or Read the rest of this entry »

The wind has died down

and the seas

are calm

inside the eye

of this storm.

 

He has struggled through this maelström,

fighting

the waves

and the spray

and the winds. His sails

have been torn, his oars

smashed, not that

he’d have the strength to row

anyways.

 

Through pockets of clarity

in the clouds to the east,

he sees land

waiting for him, so close.

He doesn’t know if it’s real

or just an illusion born

from his own worn out

mind.

 

So he ties himself

to the mast and prays

to whatever gods still exist

and waits—eyes open,

heart waning, fending off

the allure of despair, the sweet embrace

of a numb oblivion—

 

for what’s

coming, for the fate

over which

he has no

control; waits

for this maelström

to erupt

or subside.

 

 

Day and night never end or change.

A continuum of consciousness; sleeping awake,

awake when sleeping; a twilit citizen

in a kingdom

of perpetual half-light,

a nebulous reality.

 

Unknowns—dreamed up

phantoms fabricating

dread delusions—circle above,

vulturous, waiting to land

and tear off strips

of solar resolve,

 

whilst I wait, fettered,

for the Dawn

to finally come.

 

The last ride went too fast. The terminal

expected her.

 

Dawn appeared half-heartedly and grey,

as we rose

from a night we didn’t want

to end; knotted stomachs

filled with morsels

of a breakfast unwanted, undesired, necessary;

then we drove

 

ten kilometres of silent goodbyes,

words caught somewhere between

heart and mouth,

tears falling and flooding,

we had to open the windows

to breathe.

 

The terminal expected her, waited for her.

I pulled in and we got out,

amidst a sea of travellers,

to verbalise again

what had already been said

under an inky night sky,

but not said enough.

 

The pain of separation, inevitable

but that doesn’t make it easier,

and it’s only for a time:

three months in waiting

after three weeks

of everything one could ever

want.

 

The terminal expected her

and it would have her. A kiss

and those words, burned into my memory;

I watched her walk away, ignoring

the attendants telling me

to move on, I watched her

through eyes glazed,

with a heart heavy

but full.

 

The last ride went too fast,

yet these three months can’t pass

fast enough.

 

They told him,

‘You are more than good enough.’ They said,

You are worthy

of your own acceptance’. Belief in those words

sated him, and his vacant heart, but

it lay in wait, that

 

skittish horse, invisible, universal,

always walking

in front of him, reins tied

to ropes

to his stomach, knots loose, dictated by

his heart, connected

to that skittish horse.

 

Time passes, his heart filled,

dreams and reality

poured in, a concoction unheard of,

unique,

rare,

real; the change sent unguarded vibrations

down the line, it bolted, that mare,

and those ropes stretched taut,

those knots tightened, pulling him

through lives and places,

hearts and minds,

ruination to him.

 

Yet whispers of words calmed it,

stopped it,

and the hands of those words

untied those knots, as he struggled

to stand and survey

the wreckage in his wake.

Heartbreak awaiting, guilt

abiding, he turns and witnesses

the intangible carnage, defeated utterly.

 

They told him,

‘You are more than good enough.’ They said, ‘

You are worthy

of your own acceptance.’

 

They lied.

 

She watches a sunrise, long

after me—the same

sunrise—my eyes see it and keep it clandestine because

even the sunrise knows

it’s not complete

until she sees it, counterparts of light,

she is sunrisical.

 

We’re worlds apart.

Three weeks in our own world,

living as careless lovers, lost

in each other, as if existence was conditional,

we lived in each other, sailing on waters unchartered,

somewhere in our hearts, connected,

falling

through the abyss, we haven’t landed yet, running

beyond that gate we opened, now lost

in a world hurled into because

Life, torn

apart but

I won’t let this storm inside

rip my sails apart,

 

I’ll keep rowing, even when

the wind dies down

and a fog descends; I’ll follow

my incomplete heart to find

the place she is.

 

These ghosts that live

all around me—reminders of

her—haunt me because

there is no other way, breathing

in every memory, oxygen isn’t enough, she sits

on a mountaintop

in my mind

and the path to her

is steep

and rocky

and if I rest

I might fall.

I’ll reach the top.

I’ll reach her, climb

 

until I reach her.

And when I do

I’ll breathe in the fresh air of her,

I’ll

finally

breathe

again

 

He swims reds seas, drowning,

if he could; his lungs fill

but not enough, never enough,

to release him. See-thru green

islands wait, false idols,

skewed views, unreality, the only place

he survives.

 

Pebbles litter the shore,

he harbours them, protection from the light

and the dark, keeps

them close, guards them,

illusive saviours untying his knots,

not weighing him down,

stopping his flight so high

and burning upon re-entry.

 

The ground is hard

and unforgiving. He hits it

with dawn and dusk

and lays there

until he can swim

again.

 

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