Uncharted…

I remember days
of sun-burnt skin
of aching cheeks
stretching wide smiles
across my teeth
I, the proud explorer
rover of the briny blue-green
to find this jewel
this atoll of benediction
in a sea of doubt
and long are the days of endless horizons
and long are the nights of breaking surf and siren song
they call to me to drown myself
in their beauty
they call to me
to return to the place where I was made
and to leave my heart
on the shore

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Cashmere…

It’s memories
such as these
of smell and color
a palette of warm experience
textures felt with the brain
emotions flaring like a steam engine
the gauge needle pinned to the red
pressure dictates movement
her muscles contract
raising her arms
to pull her breastplate
woven from fabrics of ancient desert lands
up and over her playful smile
in the space of a single heartbeat
I wait an eternity to be rejoined
with her lips
concealed as they are
by that which
once discarded
will only bring more of her
in contact with me
she flings the offending garment
across the room
the leader of a rebellion
throwing down the flag
of the ousted government
and now I will ride an avalanche
of her hair and skin
down the mountainside of our desire
to lie at the bottom
in a tangled mass
buried alive under the weight
of her love

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Adrift…

Serge Marshennikov

there used to be
a way back home
it was marked
here
on this map
that’s been folded
over and over
for lifetimes
centuries
epochs
I always reached
a certain point
in the timestream
when I would look
and find it
neatly nestled
in the hip pocket of my jeans
when I’d had enough
when I’d tired of this existence
when the person I was
no longer resembled
the person I had become
or
maybe I’ve got that backwards
it was a reset switch
that took me back
to the first time
and you were always there
floating just beneath the surface
of my new skin
speaking to me in your dreams
those sleepy soft words
rolling over sensually
gathering armfuls of my soul
and snuggling against it
like a warm blanket
it’s painful for me
when you do that
but, like a doting lover
I would not disturb you
for all the wealth in the world
I’ll watch your eyes flit like fireflies
behind the lids of your eyes
lost in your own world
you’ll come for me
when you wake up
you will
I know
You’ll hear me
calling for you
and you’ll come and find me
and take me
home

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Summer 1982

the humidity
is a hot sticky blanket
wrapped around me

draped over my shoulders
and turning my t-shirt
with the iron-on
star trek: the motion picture
decal
to a soaking wet rag

the air rushing
past my face
at least tries to cool me

I am flying
on a steel frame
built of two wheels, freedom
flashy paint
and entirely powered
by my pumping 10-year-old legs

on this bicycle
I understand
what autonomy means

around me rides
the other members
of my posse
we are all rugged explorers
outfitted in Adidas and Converse
we are fearless

I have no starship but
I am William Shatner
no red cape, but I am Christopher Reeve

our kingdom
lies between
4 major intersections
the stop-lights
are border guards
the lands beyond are forbidden

We knights
patrol our territory
always hoping to find dragons

in a few hours
our pockets are lined
with deadly ammunition
of the china ball tree
tallow seeds are missiles fired
between our two-wheeled jet fighters

old men on porches
will shake their fists and holler
when our weapons misfire

and in the evening
we will feast
on the food of the gods
sticky colored syrup
over shaved ice
white plastic spoons in styrofoam cups

then we’ll ride home
amid a chorus
of cicadas

We’ll sit upon
the back porch
and listen to that
radioshack transistor radio
and I’ll steal glances
at my best friend’s sister

She is 15
and she doesn’t
even know I exist

But I’ll smile
to myself
as she moves from
the garage to the house
with the laundry
screen door banging loudly

and I’ll pretend
she isn’t the most beautiful
creature I’ve ever seen

I’ll silently pray that the street light
in front of my house
has burned out
no reason for me
to be called home
by shouts or whistles

and I can stay here, forever

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Caryatid…

A work of art
She
Standing there before me now
The moonlight cast her in alabaster
Of form and grace from ancient Greece
She
Holding aloft the crown of a temple
Her hair across her chiseled shoulders
spilled like a waterfall of woven marble
over her breasts
Were it not for the rise and fall
of her breath
I would have believed her made of stone
My eyes traced from elegant foot
to the sharp curve of her hip
Her tucked in elbows
wrapped her arms about her own waist
as she clasped her own body
in a warm embrace
indicative of her love for her own reflection
wearing a mist of fabric and naught else but a smile
and with eyes firmly closed
against the rapture
of her communion with her own spirit
how deeply I fall to offer her my love
how painful
that she does not need it

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Fallacy…

We,
what need have we for prayers
to deaf gods and dead ideals?
Why ask
to see us safely home from our drunken brawls
with courtesy?
who better has cause for a tormented conscience
than we who find solace
in our quieted hearts and
our world made more tranquil
by the distance we place between ourselves
and each other?
We create daemons
by yea do they show humble deference
and a shade of green envy to our ability
to deface our own hearts with blasphemous oaths
and plucking the smile from our own lips
leave it upon the doorstep of our brother
showing not the light of day to the scowl underneath
it is by fond wishes that we do ourselves the most discourtesy
the rose that is offered is more polymer than perfume
the reason more gangrenous than gratitude
we’ll visit the kirk of our kinsman
remark upon its beautiful design
shake hands with the pastor
and drop a tithe into their poor box
then rush home to our own sanctuary
and listen for the jingle of like payment
when finding there to be none
we’ll sit upon the rooftop at dusk
as the sun sets behind the bell tower
and slap the clawed hands of doubt
away from our nagging minds
“but I patronize” we reason
“I proffered slivers of blood and tissue” we protest
“and answer of like kind have they not for me?” we question
players on this stage
with Elizabethan collars
we stand beside our troupe
grease paint wilting from the heat of the drama
we eschew the 4th wall
we’ll improv rather than ask for the line
it is not so much our own talent
that will move the critic
we abide the attention of the audience
if only for that hopeful moment of misfortune
our fellow thespian
trips upon the raised edge of gaffer’s tape
a misdirected stage direction
misplaced and miscalculated
an injury of the soul
and then the air smells of copper and pain

the spotlight shifts

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Armistice…

She lay still
amid the gently waving wildflowers
the heat of the day lifting
from every dew-dropped surface
the buzzing of bees retired
as the crickets tuned their strings
and the far horizon
was trimmed in a twilight blanket
in this moment
the earth she lay upon was holy ground
not yet baptized in the blood of young men
far to young to carry sword and shield
but willing to die for ideals and gossamer glory
her hair spilled out wide around her head
and glowed golden among the emerald grasses
like the very angels were her kin
the corpses of a thousand previous lifetimes lay far beneath her
as well as the shattered pieces of war machines
and discarded battle standards
of wars waged by she
long before her spirit inhabited
this pale and freckled flesh
and where, now, are those borders
drawn by those bloody engagements?
who remembers, now,
victors and losers?
Or the dreams that were sacrificed
on the altar of war
to secure peace?
the men who became ghosts
to families in need
or the boys who returned
broken and shattered windows
never able to find a suitable casement

she lay still
in the approaching night
and listened with her whole body
to the ground beneath her
sighing
with the knowledge that
the faint scraping of the mole
or the pitter-patter of the field mouse
at dawn’s first light
could be drowned out
by the thunder of cannons

She lay still in the dark
looking up at the stars
with a dozen hours before
the sun was to wake
placed a trembling hand upon her breast
nestled into the hollow
where her heart used to rest
and she silently wished
for time
to stop

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Incinerated…

rich and bright
those thoughtful days of my youth
when I would stare into the eyes of the sun
unflinching
with neither fear nor care for my eyes
for what good is sight without the scenery of her form?
what good are fingers to feel or tongue to taste
if her texture and flavor be not among my choices?
what good are arms to hold or voice to speak
if not to boast about the way her Junoesqueness
drapes within my embrace?
what good are words to write
if I may not deliver these leaves of thought into her hands?
and in doing so
show how my heart does not fear the intense heat
of her corona
yes, I would declare her Goddess and Angel and Nymph
all in the same sentence
and give no care to how amateur my descriptions may sound
to the practiced poet
who might snicker of my use of cliché
I ask this
Does not the heart speak in familiar terms of that which it loves?
Would a soul use the same care-worn words if they indeed speak nothing but the truth?
If they would shake their scholarly crowns at me in jest
and say, “Friend wordsmith, have a care, you are very close to this celestial creature. And the things which flow in our veins are made of parchment and cloth”
and I will answer
“I will tell you this. There are worse ways to be removed from this reality than to be incinerated in the furnace at the core of such a star, as She.”

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Sea Chanty…

I couldn’t believe his story…

honestly who would?

a tale of the sea
told by the survivors
of a storm-ravaged vessel
he’d seen something out there
before he was rescued
half-starved and clinging to life
as he was…

I’d been at the tavern as they brought him in
his ravings were a lunatic on the edge of destruction
but something inside me pushed me to go to him
I whisked him under my arm
and did what I could
to calm his spirit
until a doctor could be brought
to see to his current state
the drink I’d ordered for him
sat upon the small table between us
untouched
the light of walls sconces
and the flicker of a small candle
played upon glass bottles and flagons
made green fairies dance upon the sod walls…

I asked him to repeat what he had said
about the wind and the rain and the lightning
and about the woman

he said
She walked up from the hold
stood upon the deck
leaned against the bow
and spoke in an ancient tongue, to the storm

..and everything stopped…

The wind fled
the rain ceased
and the surface of the ocean became
turquoise glass

…and as suddenly as she appeared, she was gone…

And I said “Surely this was only a delusion…a waking nightmare…a piece of evil in the world?”

And his eyes cleared, he took on the look of a man much younger than both our years combined….

and he responded…

There is pain, sorrow and death
There are terrible things in this world
which care not for human souls
but in the middle of all of that rage and hate
that the ocean and the air could unleash on mortal men
Along she comes…
and I tell you
It’s as if all the light in the universe was all in the same place
and darkness did not exist
as if every bright and safe place
you could imagine
was there
within the embrace of her smile
and the healing touch
of her hand
upon your shoulder

 

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Themysciran Gold…

She would not be contained
in an instant she was up and over
these muddy walls of terror
like a lightning bolt of pure fury
an ebony-haired
Angel of Vengeance
into the teeth of the guns
that sprayed white-hot death
like the battle cries of all the legions of hell
She rose like a pillar of flame
amid the dark of mankind’s suffering
and in that instant
our lives
and my heart
would never be the same
in the hands of this Warrioress
within whose chest
beats Themysciran gold

  • Author’s note: So I saw Wonder Woman last night. I know it will come as a shock to you all that I loved it so deeply it moves me to write poetry about it. (yes that is sarcasm). To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. Patty Jenkins as direction and Gal Gadot’s portrayal were out of this world. I highly recommend it to anyone who is the least bit interested, I do not think you will be sorry. I know I wasn’t.
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