RHYMES WITH NERDS
I like to write fiction in the form of short rhymes. Don't judge. Sometimes I will invent a story about an interesting stranger on the subway, or remix a scene from a dream. I enjoy painting pictures, and you have to admit the English language is pretty cool. I know there are poets out there who consider rhyme silly and immature. Well, screw those jerks.
Saw an angel on the subway, halo tucked inside her purse.
And despite my overwhelming inclination to converse,
I just sat and spied discreetly, feigning interest in the news,
Captivated by the presence of this stunning subway muse
Shining brightly in the gallows—such a contrast to the gray—
That it hurt to merely look when she arose to walk away
Leaving passengers to witness from the confines of our vale
As the subway doors closed shut behind a red and pointy tail.
Incognito out of habit, on the hunt but off the grid,
Can't remember when he slept 'cause it's been ages since he did.
Every barstool tells a story, chapters open with the tab,
Drunken epilogues get murmured from the backseat of a cab.
His is camouflaged charisma—hard to spot and tough to kill;
If the punch lines don't deliver then his knuckles always will.
Prophets peddle him potential at the crossroads of his palm,
But their hope is hardly match for such fastidious aplomb.
Drafting chemical assistance in a routine nightly bid—
Won't admit that he surrendered, but he knows inside he did.
Burning rubber on the highway, but this isn't meant to last,
Not at ninety miles-an-hour and a quarter-tank of gas.
Passing exit after exit—getting tough to read the signs—
Got a bullet in my shoulder but it sure as hell ain't mine.
Barely make it to the station, digging coins from out the seat;
All the bills are stained with blood and I just can’t afford that heat.
Spot a woman by the wheels, sporting heels and shiny leather;
Trade a lighter for a smoke and make a joke about the weather.
I can see it in her eyes—the kind of lies you can’t ignore,
And there’s something in her accent that I swear I’ve heard before.
But my business isn’t pleasure and the pressure’s in the red,
So I leave her feeling lonely—or at least that’s what she said.
You can pay for the attention but you shouldn't buy the hype,
Not from strangers at a station... is there any other type?
Words are tricky propositions—unreliable at best—
Prone to sticky situations like an uninvited guest.
An entanglement of habit and not easily untied;
Takes one hell of an attempt but only heaven knows we tried.
Just as silence often goes to those who break it once they buy it—
Fairly cheap to speak their minds but pretty steep to keep 'em quiet.
And if answers are the culprits when the question fits the crime,
It's the dialogue that kills us, one expression at a time.
NEW YORK CITY
At the ground we left our burdens, taking little to the skies
On a five-day flight of fancy, full of all that such implies.
En route to York, though hardly new, the view is nonetheless divine
Circling downward over slews of metropolitan design.
"Welcome home," the concrete whispers through its many crowded halls,
Casting lights as bright as day despite the veil of night that falls.
Far away we've come to play amidst the millions here who work,
Just a lark to intermingle where the lonely singles lurk.
Will the city break our hearts when it imparts a cold farewell?
My suspicions notwithstanding, only time and tears will tell.
Yeah, I briefly lost control, but then I found it hiding here:
Galavanting 'cross the country with my fellow musketeers.
Folding business into pleasure on a continental sprint,
Driving straight into the sun to gauge the darkness of our tint.
Jumping borders with abandon into many states of mind
That despite their reputations are exciting when combined
With a cinematic soundtrack and some wind against the hand
Bidding credence in a tongue I only barely understand.
Restless eyes and concentration shift in concert with the gears
While the mirror bears a message: "Object closer than appears."
Swimming back against the current in a crowded school of fish,
Sick and tired of the cultures in this social petri dish.
Waxing nautical poetics in a single-gallon tank,
Sipping coffee in the classroom, leaving all the questions blank.
The detentions add up quickly but I kinda suck at math
Plus, I've little use for numbers on a color-coded path.
And it can't be too important if it's only on a quiz—
Not when popular opinion seems the only kind there is.
Waiting roadside for assistance and exhausted from this heat,
Somewhat grateful to be spared from the congestion on the street.
Here I weather the offensive of a brutal summer drought
Inundated by my breathing which I fear might soon give out.
Drops of anxious perspiration bleed the wake behind my pen
As I struggle to stay conscious in this four-door writing den.
But these scribbles hardly matter in the context of their rhyme;
I'm a peasant, not a poet—scratching words to pass the time.
Circumventions keep us busy with perpetual exchange,
Drilling deep into the mountains of some distant rocky range.
Sweating water under fire, blasting earth into the air,
Chasing dangerous ideals of which we seldom are aware.
Gravel piling up around us, casting molds of our crusade
Over sentimental remnants lying battered and betrayed.
Yet the blunted expectations dull the pain of our descent—
Losing daylight by the minute, less by one or two percent.
Quips of subtle disapproval every time her mother speaks:
She stands out—no doubt about it—just like all the other freaks.
Thawing frozen inhibitions in a winter space and time
As she idly scans her options from some interface design.
With an arbitrary click she picks a party to attend—
Painted fingers on the pulse of all the latest, greatest trends;
Splicing vintage inclinations with a cyberpunk couture
Like some cautionary model from a Just-Say-No brochure.
It's a booming sellers' market and the buyers know the drill:
If you think it, you can feel it via potions, powders, pills...
Wands of plastic luminescence scribe her movement through the air,
Waving studded pleather bracelets with a drama student's flare.
Meanwhile, self-indulged incisions aim to heighten her mystique,
As the teary-eyed mascara dribbles barcode down her cheek.
ACROSS THE SEA
Through a tightly-squinted eye the boy could spot her 'cross the sea
Brewing storms and other norms beside her morning cup of tea.
Recollections casting shadows— more than either would admit—
And in spite of distant sightings, he does miss her quite a bit.
Sending sugar-coated arrows into salty-scented air,
Driven high across the water by a short and practiced prayer.
But they land amidst the sand with all the sweetness washed away:
Just a prickly shore of splinters growing thicker by the day.
RED CURES THE BLUES
Lights go off and off I wander into yonder open plains,
Painting strictly by the numbers on these glossy window panes.
Coffee flowing from the faucet, inspiration from the tap,
Squeezing food into an hour while I shower through a nap.
Work and leisure disproportioned, spending fortunes for the fame,
Lighting candles in the middle with an unrelenting flame.
Pushing pixels in position just to nudge them back apart,
As meticulous precision juxtaposes with the art.
And when spirits start to dampen, all I need to change the hue
Is a crimson-loaded paintbrush and a violent stroke or two.
Calculations keep them busy with a dizzying excuse,
Betting high against the odds in condescension of the noose.
In the clubs they speak in diamonds but their hearts are filled with spades,
Guarding closely their intentions with reflections in their shades.
Rolling dice and conversation, unpredictable results;
Children drunk on expectation, masquerading as adults.
Strangers entering alone and leaving later with a spouse,
Fortunes orphaned by the minute, then adopted by the house.
Dismal chances dressed in velvet and gratuitous champagne,
Cueing ill-advised behavior that no logic can explain.
Still the consolations beckon as they sparkle and seduce,
Luring weak and weary gamblers to the comfort of the noose.
Fair of flesh but not of hair, you'll rarely find me with a tan,
But I do enjoy the warmth of being poolside when I can.
By a generous account I might amount to merely “pale,”
Though “a sickly shade of white” is far more likely a detail.
So today I’m catching rays to trap some color in my skin;
Now if only I could do so from the holes I’m always in.
THE RIOT SCENE
Penning napkins at a nightclub, on a fifth and final drink,
I am entertaining thoughts I must be drunk to even think.
Vast and varied are the tangents as I scrutinize the crowd
Pulsing clumsily to music that is little more than loud.
Through my glass I tour the riot: scenes of smoke and sweat and skin,
Aptly softened by the color and consumption of my gin.
There's a line to use the bathroom and I'm hot inside these clothes,
But in light of my condition I should linger, I suppose.
And with all I paid to be here, you would think it'd be some fun,
Leaving less to be desired than the rising of the sun.
Shivers indicate her threshold as the days become the weeks,
Nestled neatly in a valley at the bottom of her peaks.
Not a clue to her direction or a care for where she's at;
She's a slave to her addictions but a useful one, at that.
Why should aptitude inhibit when there’s freedom in defeat?
She is grateful for the talents but distractions are replete,
And she's partial to indulgence over notches in her belt—
Quite content to fold the handsome string of cards that she's been dealt.
What a wretched incubation I have chosen to abide
As embodied by these symptoms I feel helpless to subside.
Caustic purges numb my senses with a vile, metallic taste
As my head becomes acquainted with the porcelain meant for waste.
Back and forth between utilities I crawl on shaky knees,
Just a shadow of the strength I used to demonstrate with ease.
So to spite this tribulation, I shall write instead of weep—
Smearing words along the floor until I'm safe within some sleep.
Stranded, waiting for a train at the Winter Forest Station,
Counting pigeons on the runway to assuage the aggravation.
Merely moments past arriving I was told I had to wait;
That was sharply three o’clock and now the hand approaches eight.
Under normal situations I would bow to circumstance,
Rolling softly with the punches and accepting them as chance.
But my eyes are on alert inside the Winter Forest Station,
Fixed intently on the railroad in a mounting agitation.
When alas the train arrives—amidst the sigh of my relief—
Can be heard a woman’s sobbing through her lover’s handkerchief.
And at once my thoughts rekindle in an anxious state of mind,
Musing fondly of the person I am racing home to find.
Intermission cues transpire from the curtain to the stage,
Welcomed gently Sunday morning by a warm and fertile page.
But a lack of inspiration is the company he keeps—
None the wiser from his studies, no more rested from his sleep.
In a meaningless rebellion he surrenders to a haze
Perpetrated by the harvest of some tedious clichés:
Intermediate arousal quenched by artificial means;
Darkened rooms of misdirection lit by volatile machines;
Esoteric acts of forfeit to the falling of the sand
Strictly hidden from his sight to spite the future that he planned.
Yet through all his incoherence there is Monday to engage—
Born a bastard Sunday evening on a cold and crowded page.
Once, he clutched a fist of sand inside his wrought and weathered hand.
Every grain was warm and cozy in its firm and fleshy land.
His obsession kept them locked inside a strong but loving grip,
So imagine his surprise when all the sand began to slip.
Here and there it graced the air as he employed a tighter squeeze,
But as failed attempts continued, so did grains into the breeze.
And by time upon the pressure every one had disappeared—
Managed slowly from his grasp by what he thought would keep them near.
HIGH WIRE ACT
Dangling deftly from a wire—taken higher every year—
Gotten hard to read the faces, hardly close enough to hear.
Disconnecting with the pleasures of our amateur debut,
Not expecting them to hang around for encores, but they do.
And alluding to the stress with which our nerves are forced to cope
Is a safety net beneath us, weaved of thread instead of rope.
Chasing harmony on foot inside the hallways of her head—
"Take it one day at a time" is what the patronizers said.
Their advice is meager comfort yet remains to some avail;
It obliges her to feel that perseverance can prevail.
If she only had the weapons she might rise and slay the beast,
But the armory is empty and she's scared, to say the least.
Little known below her footsteps is a reservoir of strength
Reaching deep beneath the surface, several hundred times its length.
Yet around and round she goes inside the hallways of the head,
Leaving fragments of a childhood in the wreckage of her tread.
ACROSS THE ROOM
There you are, so far away—that is to say, across the room—
Routing fragrant memorandums on the wings of your perfume.
Sounding bells and casting spells akin to something in a dream,
So seductive in your talent topped with modest self-esteem.
Back and forth, the sort of banter wrapped in chocolate eclairs
Stuffed with tapioca custard and vanilla gummy bears;
Tea and crumpet conversations, little puppy shaped balloons;
Polychroma dispositions regulated by the tunes.
But no matter how I try, we're always somewhere in between—
Just a make-believe romance akin to something in a dream.
Tossing jellybean distractions, sewing puppets out of socks;
Cozy corner interactions serving secrets on the rocks.
Close encounters keep us chasing after synchronized suspense;
Wisps of lemon-peel persuasion wafting inward through the vents.
Periodical confessions, begging questions by the minute;
Such a tantalizing game although she’ll never let me win it.
Taking chances, stealing glances at the heavy-handed clocks,
While our cozy interactions mix in fractions on the rocks.
Scratching tickets with a penny 'cause the quarters all are spent—
Though he never wins the jackpot, every dollar makes a dent.
Times are tough and sure enough, horizons look a little dimmer.
He might cling to strings of hope if he could only catch a glimmer.
Heard tomorrow will be sunny but it's much too soon to tell;
Talk is cheap enough to buy, so why's it such a chore to sell?
"When it rains..." the saying goes, and though he knows that showers pass,
There's a shortage of umbrellas in this so-called middle class.
Helping hands are hard to come by in a town renowned for greed;
Pulpits lobby for compassion but it's hardly guaranteed.
Meets a vagrant on the sidewalk and he offers him the cent—
Though a penny's far from plenty, every gesture makes a dent.
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
Shouting whispers from a cabinet, atop the kitchen sink,
An ensemble of fermented hues entices him to drink.
It's a residential risk, remiss of consequence sustained—
Like those New Year's resolutions that went swirling down the drain.
Fair thee siren to a sailor after many nights adrift;
Wreckage beckoned by the weather as the fog pretends to lift.
Soon he'll rummage for the key he knows is hidden in a drawer,
And the lock shall join the stains upon a late-night kitchen floor.
Exploitation is the hallmark running circles 'round the squares
With disclaimers so transparent you can hardly see 'em there.
It's a semi-honest living in a fully-loaded game—
They may call it advertising, but it's showbiz all the same.
Take a look at what you're missing, less you take it to the grave;
Buy your happiness in bulk and just imagine what you'll save.
Though it costs a little extra to extend the guarantee,
Buy a ready-made excuse and get a second one for free.
Turning prepubescent paupers into paper millionaires
While it manufactures needs that wouldn't otherwise be there.
Today arrived some flowers from the enemy brigade
Oh-so-carefully arranged around a large and live grenade.
We had almost failed to see it—shrouded cunningly within—
When we noticed that the stems were strung together through the pin.
Seems the mother of invention gets assistance from our scorn,
And we thought the only danger to our fingers were the thorns.
It might therefore be suggested by this treacherous bouquet
That explosive acts of kindness keep one's enemies at bay.
Twelve o'clock, as luck would have it, and another show begins:
Plucking malcontent recitals on an aging violin.
Dressed in tattered silk pajamas; odd but strangely apropos
Given all the times she crashes from exhaustion by her bow.
It's her flaws that draw admission from an audience of kings
And their never-ending need to watch her bleed along the strings.
Through a glance she shares a moment with a kindred passerby
Who might stop to say hello if just the stage were not so high.
"Not to worry," say the notes that serve to comfort her chagrin,
"Just another show to go until tomorrow's show begins."
As the final destination, nothing burdens like success—
Laying tracks of obligation at the cost of our finesse.
Expectations in the mirror, rising sharply at the neck;
Cracks collecting at the edges and to sizable effect.
Weekday modus operandi, each a wave about to break,
And the ever looming deadlines numb the senses, not the ache.
Hexadecimal theatrics: purple clashing with the green,
Watching crimson flirt with yellow, leaving orange in between.
Might we revel in some chaos as the order turns to mess?
If a taste can be acquired, so can flavors of success.
Tossing, turning through a journey that has many miles to go;
Wading restlessly through waters with a crocodile in tow.
Grabs an overhead balloon and soars to cotton-candy heights
Where he perches on a cloud and tastes a sampling of the sights.
There a panda bear with wings is singing ancient lullabies,
Weaving tales of misdirection free of charge but full of flies.
So he tucks away his sins and spins in spirals toward the Earth
Where the sage advice awaits him from a snake, for what it's worth:
"If you wish to travel lightly, hem some feathers to your arm—"
But with that the snake explodes, injecting overtones of harm.
Undeterred, he carries forward— sometimes backward— through the dream
Meeting many kinds of creatures lacking any kind of theme...
Lizards waltzing through a ballroom with uncanny expertise;
Swarms of college-bound arachnids battling brutal spelling bees;
And when suddenly he stirs beneath the blare of his alarm,
He awakes to find some feathers growing down along his arm.