90 Proof Sky

Drink this sunset with me.
I know it’s not much;
winter has drained most of the colors
the reds are weaker and there’s
a tone of finality in the blues
like barbed wire.

But sip on the song of this waning light
anyway, a toast and a funeral for
the warmth we used to have in abundance
and the intensity we had co-opted
for our own anthem and gotten
so drunk off of in each other’s presence
the laughter that sweetened the four walls
as if we had out of thin air created love
of enough quantities to convince
impressionism to make a comeback
in the digital age just to rain down
ones and zeroes on our constellated bodies
in bursts of amethyst purple and
sparks of emerald green
and that unnamed and elusive
mad brushstroke of the divine

I still feel like an unfinished
canvas every time I think of you

and to be honest I didn’t think
I’d still be here in December
watching the changing sky and wondering
about stars, wondering if they had
also written our paths crossing
a second time as they had ordained
and orchestrated the perfection
of our first encounter
but they are silent and keep their secrets well
no matter how hard I beg for answers

but later, as twilight moves to claim
your consciousness and you slip
into the softness as you would
if you had my eyes to drown in,
drink that haze that toes the line
between tomorrow and today

as if you are kissing me again
as if you are getting lost in me again

if this changing sky is all we have
make your thirst all about that
slowly fracturing dusk

Ex Libris

I have dogeared the nights
where the sky was your face
and the stars were the story of us

you are all my creases
and protruding corners
gently reminding me that
the pages time has buried

still exist

and oh,
how the words still glimmer

Devotion, Illumination

Like we all are souls
who have bodies,
this moon is drifting on
the tense surface of our
collective sentimentality
flowing westward,
sphere of secondhand light
balanced on the fingertips
of outstretched hearts.
We seek it in the evening sky
but we are actually looking
for a compass, a clear line
of sight to the center
of who we are that shows
a mirror and a lonely mystery
that can hold its own
and inspires devotion.
We bathe in its presence like
a votive coronation
wishing to awaken the wolf
in our blood. We adore it
for everything the night
represents. We want to believe
our commonplace weaknesses
have an alter ego that takes
its form when the streetlights
come on, that our very essence
is made of base elements
that the daytime could never
fully comprehend nor claim
possession of. That we are
serene, powerful, and
the ambiguity of the silence
does not frighten us at all.
That the void can hear us,
and it sees how our mortal
beauty measures up to
the darkness, how our lives
are celestial satellites of our
desires, pulled by the tides.
That nothing is ending, just
fading its way to another world.
One where the past is drunk,
incoherent, uninhibited,
and brutally truthful,
dreams are torn from their
fancy paper wrapping and flung
out in scintillating symbols
along the arch of the bridge,
and love is the song that plays
from an invisible saxophone
while the moon looks on.
Naked and elegant in the cold.
Virginal, save for that one
brief affair with the son of Zeus,
more romantic legend
than history, really.
It made her even more sacred
and gibbous with answers.

Enkindling the Astronomer

The stars echoed you
as you fought your battles

forming arcane warrior gods
and celestial icons of triumph
in the cosmos
to guide your path
to illumination

betraying great distances
and rendering perfect reasons
for imperfect orbits
with the eloquence of
their unbreakable silence

harnessing the many voices
of the moments of your anguish
to fuel the ink black depths
of cold, empty space
to show you they understand
how something can feel
unforgiving
and endless
and inescapable

and burning bright from the core
the way you do when
you refuse to let
the worst of nights define you

filling up the farthest reaches
of the expanding universe
with light
and the gravity of your divine
and preordained existence,

the reason why
all things are
in their place and purpose

rooting for you

Pan, Before He Could Fly

I was teaching him words in the backyard
a light, carefree beginning to
hoping that someday he realizes
the power they possess

and he was learning to feel
with awareness
and names
he’d try his best to pronounce

“Moon,” I said,
pointing to the third quarter
cutout of light on the dusty blue sky
as the sun glowed its last
from beneath the rooftops

“Moon,” he repeated,
getting on his little feet
and bravely holding up his little hand
to try to wrap his fingers
around that gibbous thumbprint
of things nocturnal, an unknown world
ushered in by lightning bugs

he tried again a few times
on tiptoes and with outstretched arms
to close the distance
between himself and this symbol
for a new word that he might
add to his small square tin box
of possessions, along with
“pen” and “car” and “triangle”
and “sleep” and “hug”

(that will hopefully take years
before including “struggle”
and “fail” and “never”)

before sitting back down
on the edge of the now shadow-painted
wooden deck, holding his curiosity,
now edged in sadness, to his chest,
his eyes still fixed on the unreachable
saying “moon, moon” to himself
so he won’t forget

and “Mama”

and all the while I was wishing
I had the power to lift him
high enough
to let him grasp
the bright and beautiful mysteries
found in his many skies
and know firsthand to tell apart
luminescence, reflection
and perpetual fire

The Past Lives of Stars

Our bliss is like the moon:
it waxes and wanes
and takes different places
in the sky and changes shape,
but it is always the moon
sculpted by a billion years’
journey, an anointed
satellite that revolves
around the beauty we create
on borrowed light
and what we do with it
is ours, all ours

not one of those cheap joys
we’ve both had before,
you’d recognize the kind
from the way it tastes like
the dregs of a drunken night
at the bottom of the glass,
gets your head to spin
a couple of times and
leaves you all too soon
smeared with regrettables
and forgettables,
just one more spoil
on the heap of dirty laundry
that one either airs out
on a clothesline
for all to see
or gets folded and tucked
among layers of shame and
a darkness that
you can never really rely on
to harbor your fugitives
for life, or sustain
your illusion that
there is such a thing
as a clean slate

there is only that one moon
and a revolution,
and the celestial
enigma of space
that your soul calls home.

R.E.M.

I feel like I’m plummeting
across the night
(all things considered,
the night is vertical
and governed by gravity)
from end to end,
starting at twilight,
the first breaths of evening
when the sky is a palette
of blue fading into black,
and down on through
the hours of midnight
(because something with such
a majestic name must last
way longer than a moment;
I don’t care what the clock says)
when stars are translucent
and birds are vigilant,
and further on, I do
a slow motion back flip in the air
at the darkest patch of time
so gnarled and potent
only ghosts can walk in it
and I grab at their voices
and the rootless winged seeds
strewn on the clouds,
and I come out on the other side
where the cardboard roof of sleep
tears at dawn
to let the other colors in

and sometimes, in that journey
I’d wake up, mid-fall
(if those faint brush strokes
of consciousness can be called that),
and this world would feel
a much more disconnected illusion
than the other