The Algorithm is a Cold Mirror

I wish I could write the season that cancels you
invoke the onslaught of a single color recurring over
surfaces and souls, even of things that have no souls,
until the secrets that were named after you and
the points of the past where I conjured the parts of you
that fell into place when you materialized at my side
that music-drunken night become indecipherable,
like a dead language.

I have been locked out the of the vault of my own mind,
all I hear are weak paraphrases of my most outspoken demons,
watered down convictions, the passwords and keys I am missing
appearing as the vague shapes of the hurts I cannot bring
myself to touch a second time after the first contact.

I wish I could make the search bars stop predicting you,
I wish the stories I am privy to did not reflect my own
behavior. I wish the picture painted by my browsing history
were more than a laundry list of my weaknesses.

I wish I could wake up and fumigate the old narrative,
watch the festering critters of my unhealthy tendencies
scamper and jump off the edges of the screen as fast as
their six legs could carry them, without succumbing
to the lie that I would miss them, and resist the urge
to gather them back.

Hacking Genius

Tell me an important thing about you
that no one or few people know.

The most difficult and longest running struggle
of my life is choosing between something
that is good for me and something that lets me
produce my greatest work.

* * *

I want his attention
I want to spend his time
even though I am probably not worthy
even though the variables are not ripe for it
even though we cannot choose each other
even though it would create
a monster of pain
with an entourage of chaos
as large as any joy I might pull from it

I want to be his addiction
because I’m addicted to what he does to me
because he ignites me
because he awakens me
because he makes mediocrity feel
like a bed of nails

because he catalyzes in my blood
wars and constellations
invokes a new and complex radiance
I have acquired a taste for overnight
it spills like raw honey,
like rituals,
all over the walls of my harnessed madness,
on my breakfasts, the abstract
shapes on my vision board
it drips from my fingers
contaminating my expressions
staining the choreography of my gestures
influencing every half inch of
movement in my arabesque
inserting itself in every quarter note
of melody I dance to
so subtle
even the audience in the front row
doesn’t see, like immortality
in a million imperceptible increments
then talk about the performance afterward
like it’s the most potent drug
they’ve ever gotten into

so give me his love
even though I can never handle it
give me his love because I need it
because why would I deprive the world
of the adamantine contradiction
of sin mimicking salvation
to absolute perfection
and being there to witness it
every night, every matinee

Blue(s) Asymptote

The night
did that

fit into a 10-ounce plastic cup
hours and ticking minutes like
a clear liquid swirling among ice cubes
filled my throat with ink
ready to be mouthed as
indelible sounds of longing
graffitied on the wall

bent my dreaming into
spatial shapes of
a city I’ve never been in
how they lay themselves down
like a plan along streets
covered in my muse’s footprints
and evolved my pursuit of her
into a pursuit of you

a casual disregarding of the rules
an indulgence in a once-
familiar recklessness
pounding in my blood
synchronizing with
the urgency of your touch
like a ceremonial metronome

put me in the path of
a greedy black hole
devoured all progress of my heart
and lit up future nights
with bootleg copies of my own light
so much so that here I am,
weeks later, still circling back
to reach for a symbol,
a metaphor from your kisses
(I’m really just making up excuses
to play reruns of your kisses),
a potent trigger for desire
in the shade of brown
of your skin on my skin

got me drunk on what’s possible
without even a drop of alcohol
redefined what I’m allowed to want
near me
around me
inside me

made me a witness to that
bold erasure of the music in
the background in favor of
our darker, more visceral beat
as your existence pulled up
into my consciousness grooving
the past like a rhythm
a leitmotif

made me forget the time
made me fall out of line

turned maps into vision boards
and every poem a proof of gravity.

One night
did that.
All that.

Music > Alcohol

I followed you through a hundred cities
I watched your eyes
I wanted to soak up your movements
….through the screen, feel the smooth
….easy vibe of your presence
….be all electric on my skin
because I can’t forget your hands
because the night I saw you on stage
….in the city that is home
…… my most recent pains
….breathing the air that has been
…… poison of choice in recent years
has become the night to hold
my future nights against
….knowing they won’t measure up
….knowing the music won’t be pure
……..because you won’t be here
….knowing the passion will be tainted
….knowing the moonlight will be jealous
the stellar configuration of December
abrasive against these city streets
in the wake of that brush with fate
the threadbare silk of the tired silence
snagging every so often on the question,
….did I rise to the occasion
….did I bring you as close to the fire
…… I could,
….did I make sure there would be
……..echoes of me in every bottle of Jack
…… would ever pour from after?

The lives, they try so hard to intertwine
on nights when they feel most acutely
….the threat of unraveling.
I have a stubborn void in my heart
for people whose calling it is
….to make such nights happen.
You think you’re only making music,
you call it a performance,
for us mortals you’re invoking dimensions
….where freedom is the default
and sin is just shorthand for ‘you need another’.
Another song, another exhale, another chance
another shot maybe of courage
….maybe of vodka.
We all wake up the morning after
….scents and debris of other people’s lives
….that we had pressed a little too tightly against
……..the previous night
….in our hunger to spark something
……..that lasts longer than a hangover
….still clinging to our clothes, our necks,
……..the center of our tongues.
Back to our prisons.
Back to the processed and packaged
….and missing your rawness.
And you carry our most sacred parts
with you, in the next cities that
the insatiable road takes you to.


And if you could take another minute
idling in that intersection you might
actually feel under your fingers
the part of the void that has been
scratched by my reluctance to let you
drive off and belong to my past
along with your probing hunger
and the chapters in your story that
haven’t fallen into place yet, your open-
ended dreams and impeccable rhythm,
your command of passion so sharpened
it moved in that fray of gyrating bodies
with the quiet strength of a holstered gun
up until I invited you to bring it out
and show me, all that you have brought
and are taking back with you packed neatly
in your car between the polyethylene and
steel of your instruments. I gather my hair
over my right shoulder and hide the
bloodied lust caught in my nails, because
yes, I have mastered the consequent
emptiness like a damn artform and
am on speaking terms with the longing
that only needs alcohol to remind me
it exists. You wanted one more
kiss; I wanted one more drink.
They are interchangeable when
the moment requires a split-second
decision on whether to negotiate
with the night or hold nothing back
and give the performance of your life.
I was close enough to you to see only you
and the smoke from the fire neither
of us started on purpose.
As long as we could contain it, right?
As long as we kept an eye on our possessions,
right? Just one more kiss;
just one more drink.
I told you I was bad at regrets
but what I meant was I am more powerful
than the miles of ice on the side of the road
and I will name the warmth under your clothes
after my own destruction. I told you
I was bad at regrets but that was just code
for you to please don’t leave me wanting.
You are not from here and you didn’t come
to participate in a miracle. How could you
have known how potent this was,
to be standing on five streets at once,
North and Damen and Milwaukee
and the Wicker Park Blue Line
and the waxing of the moon conspiring
to strip us of direction so we could be
privy to being everything and everywhere
with nothing to do but measure up
to the intensity of that moment.
The cold, we find eventually,
is more final than the state lines and
the chances that slipped from our grasp
are so easy to hit the gas
at the changing of the light,
already thirsting for the next city,
the next iconic skyline. Except
I’m just really bad at regrets.
There aren’t enough drinks or kisses
to release me from you
or from the place you just left.


Is it black and white to you,
….the silence vs. the beat?
Do you find yourself or lose yourself in it,
….are you the interruption,
….are you materializing something
……..out of nothing?
Describe to me that power.
When you take your place up on that stage
and your drumsticks out of your pocket
….are you brandishing redemption
……..or defying it?
Does perfection sound like faithfulness
….to the rhythm, or is that
……..more like revolution?
Are your performances shaped like intentions,
….or is it your strength coming into itself
……..through reckless abandon?

And do you feel the weight of the music
….as it moves its warm body against
….the surface you have lain down,
does it feel responsorial,
….the strings caressing the cadence
….the cadence returning the favor
……..stroke for stroke?
Does it ever seem like you are carrying
….a keyboard’s catalog of moans
….in your arms, across the threshold,
……..ready to undress it?
Do you thrill at the lyrics throbbing
….against your masterful fingers,
….helplessly following the lead
……..of your strong, steady hands?
Does breaking the pauses like no one else can
….feel to you like possession,
do you pin the song against the wall
….to show her who’s boss?
Do any of the verses stick to your skin,
….drench you in heat and longing,
….that the imagery spills on
……..your subconscious like perfume?

What does passion look like to a drummer?
What does freedom? What does surrender?
Do you also love in patterns
….of touch and trancelike timing,
….do you fuck freestyle?
Would I have a better chance speaking to you
….in the language of sustained intensity
….or the language of muscle memory?
Has your soul ever been struck so hard
….the hollowness inside you reverberated for days
……..and the ensuing silence felt like
…………a heartache and a wait?

Mine has. The words have been
….hitting different ever since.