Be careful what you wish for
Genna wanted something to read. She said we all on her friends list pretty much suck for not giving her something to read, so I'll give her something to read, all right. But I still suck: because see, I'm putting up all of my most depressing, pessimistic, vile, and angst-ridden sonnets in the hopes of making all who read them miserable. I will not put them behind a cut either. Read it and weep.
Each autumn, as the leaves fall from the trees,
Turning burnt orange beneath a placid sky,
And as the humid air begins to freeze,
The ladybugs come in my house to die.
One day my doormat is devoid of them;
The next, I find the shells of those deceased
Insects for whom I write this flippant hymn.
I find them bothersome, to say the least.
The few who yet live stagger ‘round the floor.
What drives them into here, I do not know,
But as I sweep their bodies out the door,
Reflecting on my chore, I wish they’d go.
Belittling these deaths, I make mundane
That frail mortality of bugs in pain.
Once, not so long ago, I found someone
With traits I value greatly in a friend—
A kind and gentle spirit, sense of fun—
I’d have to say we were much closer then
Than after I had tried developing
Our friendship. Those from separate hemispheres
Of fate will ne’er harmoniously sing.
With others, something seems to click—like gears.
The rhyme’s already writ. I have no voice,
And what I consciously deem worth pursuit
Shall come to me by chance and not by choice.
My efforts are a tree that bears no fruit.
I choose to try, I give the horse my spurs,
But all for naught—for friendship just occurs.
Another day, another dollar, yet
Another useless conversation, just
Like yesterday. I’m so frustrated that
It’s like my lower jaw is caked in rust.
I’ve heard it said that there’s another place,
Where death and pain and grief are dead and gone,
Where we’ll have conversations face-to-face,
Where I can use my lips to sing Your song.
Once this dead mouth has come alive again,
And when the former things have passed away,
I’ll be content and glad. But until then,
I never thought I’d be so glad to say:
“I hate it here. I wish that I were dead.
I wish that I were home with You instead.”
This place is for the ones who have to bleed
From open wounds, and bleed tears from their eyes.
They found the world could never meet their need
And scarred them with its answers to their cries.
This place is for the ones who have to break
And break things when they scream and detonate.
In here they can be angry at their aches
And all the evil in this current state.
This place is for the ones who have to bawl
Because their current state is evil, too,
Inside their heart. They come here, sins and all,
And sob for all the hateful things they do.
And in the presence of the Lord Most High,
We’ll bleed, and cry, and kneel, both you and I.
I can’t express my thoughts quite right in prose.
They turn out wrong and often sound off-key,
Not what I meant—so why did I suppose
That sonnets would be easier for me?
Iambs and feet and rhymes just complicate
The task and rule out words I otherwise
Would use. If my words were not all that great
Before, unfettered, yet not good or wise—
How stupid they must sound now! On your ears
They fall like iron bricks in metered verse!
Against all hope this poet perseveres!
Perversely, I take prose and make it worse!
So, why’d I keep this sonnet, anyway?
Could it have anything at all to say?
(A Valediction: Forbidding Morning?)
Now as I lay me down to sleep, I pray
The Lord my soul to keep, and if somehow
I do not live to see the light of day—
I wouldn’t mind that much if I died now.
Still in my clothes, I collapse onto the bed
And try to You my tired voice to raise.
It’s too bad I already feel half-dead,
Already wishing for my last of days.
Why do I spurn Your gift of life? And who
Would want to hear the thoughts of such as I?
And who would ever stop to listen to
A human being who will be glad to die?
Forgive me, Lord; You always do what’s best,
And give me rest when I most need to rest.
“Come see! We’ve found his secret lab, wherein
He tests his theories with experiments
In transmutation, women’s wills to win,
Concocting feelings fervent and intense!
With laws of caused effects and formulae,
With heartless greed and pseudo-science cold,
He’ll pull off his relational alchemy
And bend her will to turn his lead to gold!”
Before the door we stood, as I knelt down
And peered in through the keyhole. Still as death
I stared; the Alchemist turned, faced the door;
I pulled back, sharply sucking in my breath.
He’d looked up from his text on alchemy,
I’d seen his face—the Alchemist was me.
A year has passed since last I came down here;
I’m sitting on the steps of Music Hall
And thinking back on times when I shed tears
And how I never used to cry at all.
There’s harder things in life than allergies
And irritants, than pollen in the air.
There’s seeing sad farewells ahead, when she’s
Cared for you—yet not as you care—
You lovesick kids, you know well what I mean,
You poets who pour your pain into your art.
You know there ain’t no antihistamine
To clear out all the junk inside your heart.
The tenor singing tonight knows how I feel,
As sad Italian lyrics keep it real.
I’m sick of my emotions, sick of love
And longing, of the pangs that run me through;
For Jesus Christ, enthroned in heaven above,
Has never loved a woman as I do.
A friend of sinners and the destitute,
He loved all women without a thing to gain.
He died for beggars, widows, prostitutes,
And selflessly took on their sin and pain.
But I’ve loved this girl selfishly instead,
With empty hopes for water from her well.
I think my love is hell? I’ve heard it said
That Jesus Christ descended into hell…
But this I know: He loved us, we impure.
Lord, make me holy, make me wholly Yours.
The bus goes on, but I go back in time
To overload my mind with…long-dead cares?
I meant to think of happy things, but I’m
Dragged into memories, caught unawares
By all—oh, never mind, I can’t think straight,
Today destroyed what poetry I might
Have made, or maybe it was yesterdays
Of throwing up. I know this can’t be right.
There’s no escape from your own thoughts, when all
Your poetry comes out in fits and starts,
And on the bus I sit and fight the fall
And pray that Someone Else will guard my heart.
And I know it’s a task for Someone Else;
How could I guard myself against myself?
(upon beginning the poetry exchange with Matt)
O Matthew Talamini, this idea
Is good, and I will definitely try
To give my feelings voice, though I've got fear
Of mentioning the things I hold inside.
The empty pit inside my stomach claws
At all the walls, the source of deepest ache.
What dreams may come, they say, must give us pause—
I fear my choices are not mine to make.
Is there no one to whom I can confess
The one Event that drives me to my knees?
I know the cause of my profound distress,
But I don't wish to seem depressed...
I trust that one day yet, things will be great.
I'm hoping on a promise, so I wait.
The bus is dark today, the lights are dim,
And his it is to ride and wonder why.
Today he wishes that he were a “him”
Instead of being such a selfish “I.”
It’s dark inside his half-enlightened head.
He’s trapped in his perspective, and there’s no
Escape from selfhood, even when he’s dead.
All day he’s learning things he cannot know,
And time goes by too slowly when he’s too
Aware of every second, and his guts
Resist digesting what he puts into
Them. But when selfhood hurts too much,
He finds a single thought that will suffice.
Another knows of selfhood: Jesus Christ.
The man on the TV is bleeding from
The nose, as soldiers seize him by the hair
And press him up against the wall. Shalom?
There’s no shalom, just violence over there.
What do I know of pain? I rarely bleed
And never have been struck to that extent.
Racism’s Greek to me, and all my needs
Are so well-met. What has this image meant?
The words are easier to bear: “When there’s
A population being occupied,
And when their fundamental human rights
Are being systematically denied…”
But could that beaten man on the TV
Communicate some brutal thing to me?
(originally written on a scrap of toilet paper)
My excrement today is of a strange
Consistency, and smells so pungently,
Exhibiting manure-enscented change
From poop of odorless solidity.
Like mud of human waste, it sits within
The basin of the toilet, in contrast
To more substantial turds, each by my pen
Unmentionèd, the feces of the past.
What ate I that my bowels might thusly move?
And better still, why shouldst thou even care
About the rank viscosity that proves
To issue, mudlike, from my derriere?
And should this rhymed display of T.M.I.
Be e’er revealèd to the public eye?
St. Augustine, was memory ever like
A torture chamber, full of bitter pain?
Unbidden, did it rummage through your psyche,
Making you live through your sin again?
In your devotions, did you ever turn
Aside inside your thoughts, from God to lust?
And it did hurt, the way the fever burned
Against the fiercest struggles of your trust?
I don’t remember why I wrote this rhyme
Or why I took a trip inside that vault.
There’s times I’m sick of contemplating time,
So easily reminded of my faults
And too prone to neglect the simple fact
That Christ has died to give me what I lack.
Retract and re-retract: is that my style?
Is nothing constant, nothing so secure
Except my tendency to, under trial,
Give up on holding fast to something pure?
I’m so ashamed of what I wrote before:
What good is good that fades and doesn’t last?
I held, but I’m not holding anymore,
As past emotions break like colored glass,
As fickle, fluctuating feelings fade,
Refuse to stick and now disintegrate.
So, did I work alone in what I’d made,
All that I once felt…did I fabricate?
I’m such a liar, so I’m telling you
There’s no one in this world at all who’s true.
Here, in between the wasteland and the sky,
The parched air burning blue distorts with heat,
Blank cloudless heavens rippling; throats are dry
And skin cracks like the earth beneath burned feet.
Deserted men await some great respite
With thirsty throats and nostrils lined with dust,
Grit felt in every orifice; at night,
They seek to sate their thirst with greed and lust.
I’ve never been to Arizona or
The Middle East, but listen: I still know
The empty, arid feeling at the core
Of every dehydration of the soul.
The young man’s waiting for his turn to die,
Here in between the wasteland and the sky.
Since when did optimism become passé?
These days, the radio keeps music bleak
As if there’s nothing positive to say.
The tunes they play, the flavors of the week,
All center on shipwrecked relationships,
With themes of things that suck and lyrics filled
With anger or despair or bitter quips;
We mourn the death of all the joy they’ve killed.
In basements and garages some convene
To worship at the shrine of Kurt Cobain,
But we who live for more than the (ob)-scene
Forsake the rites of music’s cult of pain.
We don’t need you to tell us life’s not painless.
Here we are now: please don’t entertain us.
Transcending all the boundaries of lame,
You stormed out, blind to all you’d left to hang.
Incompetent and quick to throw the blame,
At someone else, you watched it boomerang
And caught it right smack-dab between the eyes,
To realize that you’re reaping what you’ve sown.
I’m sad to say communication’s died,
And power of resurrection’s not your own.
You lose your food for thought when you’ve cut ties;
A would-be friend’s offended, now that you’ve
Grown angry just like other angry guys,
A disconnected room without a view.
You’re Jackson Ferrell: you’re the mess you make,
Incapable of fixing this mistake.
Good Lord, who is this vicious, hateful man?
How did I come to share a mind with him?
I grow embittered just because I can,
Mentally violent, prone to spiteful sin,
And all my self-assertions turn to screams
As I self-lacerate, still proud as hell.
I spit on Him who gave me all my dreams,
Fueling recidivism in a cell
For criminal intentions in my soul:
Destructive urges fueled by random hate
Keep tearing at restraints and take their toll
As my control starts to disintegrate,
But why did I not let disintegrate
That caged abomination fed by hate?
A hero, sent to gather magic ore,
With five companions delved into the rift.
Beneath the town, the twisting corridors
Stretched furlongs deep, of all sunlight bereft.
Risking a death unspeakable, the crew
Descended shafts of darkness in the mines,
Where hideous creatures, features veiled from view,
Guard ore and conjure horrors in the mind…
But that’s the magic-man’s economy,
When mages forge enchanted swords for kings,
And someone’s got to fuel their sorcery
With magic ore for making everything.
Five lives and one man’s sanity were lost;
What quantity of ore is worth that cost?
Dear Dad, Hello. How are You? I am fine.
I saw the waves today and thought of You,
How You called into being and designed
That vast and boundless bay of deepest blue.
My allergies are acting up these days,
But it’s not so bad, and school is going fine.
I’ve made some friends, whom, when I graduate,
I just keep thinking how I’ll leave behind.
I miss You, Dad. I know You’re never far,
But Your transcendence seems so far removed
From all I know, my consciousness so marred
By sin and time and fluctuating moods.
Say hi to all the angels in the heavenlies.
Goodbye for now. Wish You were here. Love, me.
1 – cos Θ = r:
A formula for tracing out the graph
Of a misshapen sideways quasi-heart,
Possessing two symmetric rounded halves.
No blood flows through its single chamber, void
Of valves and impotent to pump or beat.
The static apex of this cardioid
Can’t strike against my sternum or feel heat…
It’s cold out here: polar coordinates
With frigid digits touch my punning heart.
A bitter laugh’s my last defense against
The slightest tap that’d make me fall apart.
Poor brittle cardioid, is it your fault
That you’ve become so cynical and hard?
You tell me that this world’s illusory,
That all is one, that pleasure brings us harm.
You pull the carpet out from under me
And try to melt my sense of all that’s firm.
You tell me that my selfhood is my sin,
That God is nonexistence that exists
And that I must give myself into Him
And cease to be, to be—you make me pissed!
Shut up! Your vicious speeches make me ill!
Your words are poison poured into my ear,
But it takes more than liquid lies to kill
This King of Denmark: I refuse to hear!
So take your lies and leave; I won’t be led
To think like you—now get out of my head!
(I forget what number this sonnet is)
This afternoon I felt this urge to pick
Up roses on the way back home from work,
Do something kind and thoughtful, bring a gift
To give to...dammit! Who would it be for?
This sonnet was supposed to have a point,
An object, a direction, but instead,
The longing in me twists things out of joint
And turns back on the feelings in my head.
I'm getting used to unfulfilled desires
And loving girls who'll never love me back,
And heart attacks--or maybe I'm a liar,
And actually can't stand to feel this lack...
Why do things always stop before they start?
My sternum aches. I feel so sick at heart.
Well, that was somewhat more optimistic than I had hoped for, but I suppose I'll make do with it. Current Mood: pessimistic