ISLAND.

on the floor.

he is an island.

on the floor in the center of the room.

he is an island and a shadow.

on the floor in the center of the room is where the most light is.

he is an island and the subject and a shadow.

he sprawls out on the floor in the center of the room because that’s where the most light is.

he is an island and the subject and a shadow as the light shines down upon him and this ocean.

he sprawls out on the floor in the center of the room because that’s where the most light is. because that’s where he can feel.

he is an island and the subject and a shadow as the light shines down upon him and this ocean, this ocean of carpet and sadness he can’t seem to put a name to.

sometimes on nights like this he sprawls out on the floor in the center of the room because that’s where the most light is. because that’s where he can feel that he’s alone.

he is an island and the subject and a shadow as the light shines down upon him and this ocean, this ocean of carpet and sadness he can’t seem to put a name to though he tries.

sometimes on nights like this he sprawls out on the floor in the center of the room because that’s where the most light is. because that’s where he can feel that he’s alone. alone enough to feel that he won’t break.

he is an island and the subject and a shadow as the light shines down upon him and this ocean, this ocean of carpet and sadness he can’t seem to put a name to though he tries. the sadness will surround him like the light and cast its shadow.

it’s not every day, but sometimes on nights like this he sprawls out on the floor in the center of the room because that’s where the most light is. because that’s where he can feel that he’s alone. alone enough to feel that he won’t break any other thing that’s near him when he’s not here all alone just where the light is in the center of the room on nights like this.

he is an island and the subject and a shadow as the light shines down upon him and this ocean, this ocean of carpet and sadness he can’t seem to put a name to though he tries. to put a name to this the sadness will surround him like the light and cast its shadow as his roots sink deep into it like an island lost at sea.

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On the Conflict of Acting Without a Name

To name myself a thing seems less than honest. Labels as a rule are too confining. Despite the mental conflict it has caused, I’ve never fit. I’m equal parts too large and too minute.

I do not wish to be a writer, or a boyfriend; I do not wish to be a nutritionist. When I write, I wish to write well, and truly. When I love, I wish to love well, and fully. When I eat, I wish to eat well, and consciously. I will never be a business tycoon, and if I were I’d never say so. I will never be “a man”, or very wise.

This lack of definition is my bane. To act without a title is to act without a name. To act without a name is to ignore the institutions this society enforces as a law. I admit I’ve never known true hardship, loss or pain – my struggle is to define myself.

That’s right – I hear it, too – the subtle narcissistic tone: my greatest strain in life is to define myself, while millions of others starve in silence on the streets; while military missiles screech through windows of a noncombatant house. And I would help them all! But who am I to offer help when I don’t know myself?

What service could I offer that would not be self-indulgent at its core? Inside, I wish to DO, and do well only. (Beside it still a voice asserts that I must also BE: a thing, anything; a someone, anyone.)

The time is likely coming to be discharged from this void: choose a thing to be and then stick with it! (As my person shrinks to fit inside the word; as my person strives to meet all that it means.)

reflection.

so here he was – a year away from a year before. and what had he accomplished?

a few promotions. a couple of raises. an upgraded living space. he had purchased a juicer, but exercised less. he owned a new pair of hiking shoes but, ironically, he hiked less.

aside from these minor adjustments, he felt no different than he had when he had less. somehow these progressions left him right where he had been, right where he had always been before.

standing outside of himself, he could understand why it might appear that he had grown. after all, he made more money now; he knew more things now. but from his place atop the stage, the show seemed less impressive.

he had seen it all before in his short life. none of these things intrigued him. none of these things was enough to keep him rolling out of bed.

to move up in a company is not to become larger in life – it is not to become a better person or to develop in self-realization. it may require greater responsibility, but doesn’t preclude that one has taken true responsibility for his or her own self.

to advance socially was not equivalent to advancing as a conscious human being, and he knew this. he’d known this for years.

he’d observed himself: moving from job to job, from woman to woman, from interest to interest, from living space to living space. all of this activity and nothing quite accruing to the sum of what he knows he really needs.

he reflects on the hours of an average day: the 41.666% spent on employment. the 29.166% daily spent on sleep. the 4.166% spent on cooking or preparing meals. the 8.333% remainder he had left each day to squander as he chose.

recognize the incongruous nature of the data. see how quickly one’s whole life can become thoughtlessly consumed.

he rails against it. he reviews the footage of his past year and his head spins dizzy with extreme dissatisfaction. none of these apparent signs of progress are enough! not compared to all that he has spent. not compared to what he feels he needs.

and to this question of need – this on-going question of need. the search for its definition drives him daily.

what he needs is not to feel that he is wasting what he has. what he needs is knowing he is justified to live. (to continue living.) what he needs is to contribute something – anything! – to warrant his existence.

but the specifics of his need are undefined. direction, meaning, purpose – all evade him. he stands unwilling at the cusp of his routine and fiercely trembles.

the year behind him watches with a shrug. the days before him beckon as they always ever have and he stands poised, uncertain, waiting. watching. listening. a fire rages frantically inside him.

(let it burn.)

an autobiography

if not for the sternum, he could reach his frenzied fingers to the space and pry it loose: wretch the bones like double-doors on hinges in the spine. “it” was something as yet undefined. some days he imagines it a fire; other days most certainly a dove. today he flexes somehow back and forth between the two, fingers itching restless at his chest.

it’s a wretched indecision, it’s a spasm in the gut. hands on the broken clock don’t turn, but the ticking sound continues, as time the unflagging oppressor presses onward, ever onward without pause.

he watches, as though shackled to a pendulum: all familiar hours flashing past him on repeat. the same discordant screeching of the same routine alarm. the same robotic actions setting all the same monotonous displays. the same doors opening-closing on the same familiar rooms. minutes pass to decades merging details of an unimportant life.

he watches, young and restless, still a fool enough to wear the discontent. in the furrow of his brow or the animal glint of trouble in his eye. so he chafes his bloody wrists against the chains.

if not for the sternum, he could reach his frenzied fingers to the space and pry it loose: free the pounding discord from the prison of his chest. (“discord” is the only definition he can find.) some days he imagines it a fire; other days most certainly a dove. so he sifts through every moment for the substance he pursues, never certain (though determined) it exists.

I Think That I’ve Majored in History, Too.

let it be something that bites
a sting that bites and lingers
a sting that bites and lingers
past its time. let it
thaw on my tongue like ice,

only slower. may it never thaw!
still, when it does, let it leave a
burning sensation. let its flavor
assault my mouth.
when the knife in my gut is

retracted, let it leave an uneven
scar. let the wound scream red
to the touch, let this insult prove
something as real.
when your memory moves in

the way that it moves, let it
take me with you. take me
with you! take me with you!
past my time, let me
sit on your tongue like ice,

let me swim in the pool of your
dreaming. let me drown in the
pool of your past. let me stay
for a breath on the
screen of a story we wrote.

together, we’ll stand at the station.
together, we’ll witness the storm.
together, we’ll watch its arrival, its
frenzy… retreat:
the air of fresh rain in our lungs.

Here from My Place in the Chair

it’s the sound
of a fan
on a stand
four feet off
the ground
wagging its head
first this way
then that way
sweeping cool air
in impermanent
linear gaspings
across the
living room space.

it’s the middle
of the day
with
the curtains
drawn
deep red
against the bleeding
impetuous sun
against the
crawling
day.

sometimes it’s
impossible
to know
what time it is or
what day
even
without
consulting
a clock or a
watch or
a cell
phone, and
most of the time
seated or stretched
like sweaty cables
across the bed
of your room
it doesn’t
matter.

today, though, you’re
clean – showered
and dressed
and
ready to
open doors
swallow the heat
roar at the sky and
passing hours.
barefoot
you take
six steps
to the garage
passing the fan
passing the emptiness
passing the cool
dark rooms.

as it
rattles
its ascent
the garage door
gapes in awe
at the sun
at the day
and at you.

On the Topic of Things Which Come and Go

i knew you once. and we were friends just like the others. you’d call me and i’d say yes. or i’d call you and maybe you’d smile. or maybe neither one of us placed a call, but somehow somewhere in the corners of our busy minds skittered thoughts like birds, pacing from tree to tree, making small sounds – sounds of wings, sounds of chirping, sounds of grinding beaks. then maybe i’d drive to where you were. or sometimes you’d drive to me. and we’d find food to eat, together. there would be words and sometimes laughter. maybe music, complaints, or ideas. we’d talk for hours. or we’d wave to one another from departing cars, and driveways.

there would be the scent of time escaping sweaty palms. there would be the sticky air of some small disagreement, perhaps. or else maybe location elbowed its fat way between us. in the end, it was nothing. nothing large or significant or even visible standing bulky and unbreachable in the sagging space between us until it would just snap. from pressure. or from disuse. and the birds died in their trees, except for maybe sometimes one or two. but they certainly don’t hop or twitter or puff their feathers into downy balls the way they once did. these thoughts shift infrequent, tired, neglected. these thoughts can barely lift their drooping heads. heads so young by standards of time so aged by forgetfulness, by distraction. by injury?

and so you were there. i knew you. we held hands or locked eyes, shared drinks or stories or even sometimes secrets. and then it was a dream. a memory. a phantom. another hand-held story to share with another one just like you. he’ll pass to vapor. she’ll pass to wind. they will erase themselves – not fully, but mostly: as have i, as have you. days and months will escape us. our hair will grow longer, will be cut into various designs. our teeth will grind and wear down. our ideas and our secrets will evolve. and we will each be different, and the same. we who never change will change with the war of years. and there will be more just like you. they will be friends just like the others.

and we will ride the current of this green ocean. and we will sing the song of ancient whales.

It’s the Question of What-To-Do Being Done

it’s an edge you’d never jump
it’s a chasm you cannot clear –

being pushed, you had no choice.
now, in the air between two places

you’re looking forward and looking back
suspended slow-motion between them

you know no matter how this ends
there will be something sacrificed

something fragile cracked and shattered
& maybe like a cloud, you’ll rain for days

split the earth and drip your nectar
deep into the dirt, sprouting some-

thing sweet and scented, colorful.
or maybe the sky will turn its face

and you’ll fall, you’ll fall until the crack
of bones on rock resounds through

Time and canyon walls. remember how
you spread your arms like wings and

closed your eyes, just knowing: it’s a
matter of time? just wait, you told your-

self as your toes traced the edge like
a solid silent line, the sharp of a knife

unmistakable message saying:
YOU ARE HERE but warning

NOT FOR LONG. so, suspended
you’re looking out & you’re looking

in. the world beneath you turns at
invisible alarming rates as fingers

reach to pull you down hard: gravity.
you are a storm cloud, you are bones

you are the whisper of a moment
come and gone and always going

somewhere new and undiscovered.
here in-between you spread your

arms like wings and grin and wait.