I can’t fly or deflect bullets with my hand
But I can put pen to paper and create worlds
I can’t commune with the dead or crush resurrected corpses
But I can draw new beginnings and better times
I can’t wave a wand and summon marvels
But I can shape creatures out of clay and cotton
I don’t have a shield or a belt or a thousand mechanical servants
But I have a voice that can sing or scream or comfort
I don’t wear a cape or a suit of armor, for battle
But I do have comfortable shoes and soft clothes, for getting to you
I don’t have super powers
But I am full of love
And I can’t turn the world back but I can keep people looking forward
Make time for good
When it is easy to say that you are
Dare to say that you will give yourself an hour
To be the truest you:
The one who shapes things
And destroys castles,
The one who makes miracles
Out of shoelaces and spit,
The one who builds meadows
And does not part the sea
So much as rules it from the center.
You must allow yourself to be
Who you were meant to be
On the other side of numbers and populations
And formulas and chemicals;
You must be the sunlight
And the moonlight,
Shrug off the hard shell of facts and figures
Because everyone who matters is waiting to bask in your glow.
The stairwell is blood red
And two figures sit on the plush embrace
Holding hands and gripping
Water pipes that travel up the stories they are telling,
Clad in trenchcoats.
Down the hallway, a woman touches light
Like it is a cautious predator,
And the shadows will be the only things that
Keep her certainty safe
From the man on the bed and his wolf eyes.
In the ballroom, there is the gore
Of a thousand slain dancers who promised
Their forevers long ago to a partner
Who broke their toes and told them
That the world belonged to them and their children.
On the roof there is a scratching,
A tapping of a starling that looks down on a city that is
Worn and covered in scar tissue,
And it counts the sleeping forms in the abandoned parking deck,
Waiting to take the scraps of their clothes and create a tomorrow from them.
Smell the morning, like linen and empty notebooks,
And touch the air as it hovers and sparkles, no matter what the clock says,
Spoon the possibility into your coffee.
Cover your ears when the coal train thoughts buzz like insects,
The humming that gets suddenly louder
And stops for a second when everything tenses,
Fleeing and then returning for purchase.
Heed the copper smell of the creeping what-if
That clings to fingers and never concedes to any soap, any balm,
And accept its presence
Because hands still work even when they stink.
The color of the Bad Day isn’t blue
But rather every color and even ones with no name
That are worn on breast pockets and ties
And in flower crowns and tie-dyed necklaces.
Inhale the toxicity of the clenched jaw, the sweaty palms,
Let it linger until you can’t hold it in anymore
And then watch what animals form out of the smoke
As you let go.
You are more than the sum of your beautiful pain.
The first knife cut is the most important
Because it decides whether or not you have a hand that is patient
Or one that will ruin the room, that will torment those around you,
And you must be kind.
You will know everything as you shave paths
Through skin and body
Because you’ve never realized that there is something in between
Life and living,
Because for a person, once you pass the skin, it’s just blood.
Even in death, be particular about the company you keep.
And you’ll never get through it all because when you get to the ends
When you hold tiny hands in yours you won’t go around
But cut through, and there will be a piece of everything that it’s ever held
And you will take it through this final process.
Gently touch those you love as you disassemble them.
Rub and clean and pack and sew
Everything is details then,
Even in how the eyes stare up at you from what remains
And you know that the last requirement of all artists is to
Eat your carcasses.
It is easy to forget when you stand in
The Museum of Natural History
That most of the creatures there were alive once.
We see them, still, snarling, roaring, pondering,
Perhaps with young at their side that was most probably not theirs,
And we can’t imagine that this could be as strange a thing
As a photograph of a stranger’s child suckling at a woman’s empty breast,
Eyes regarding no hint of recognition
Only glass surrounded by flesh and glue.
It is easy to forget how once these things moved
And ruled the land and ate and bled and died
Because in passing, they seem like art
In the empty sense of art that is supposed to be an impression of something real
Instead of a reality that breathed air and broke bones,
That fell to the ground and rather than be eaten by carrion
Was carried to a land across air and sea into a sterile box
Shaved and styled and filled with artifice
And it teaches nothing unless the lesson that people seek is
How a full existence can escape decay
And offer meaning in whatever form the onlooker desires
Even when there is nothing actually there.
On a perfect day, the sun may shine
Or the clouds gather in groups to chide the Earth with rain
And the books will gather plentiful like sheep against a hillside
There will be art and song
And shame will be the forbidden words,
The boogeyman stories that are told to frighten but are then laughed at
Because the existence of an idea where anyone should feel
Less or hurt or worthless
For no reason
Can only be fiction
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Pour all the love you can into a cactus
Because it doubts itself constantly
For living in the desert and never wanting for water
So it sits in the sand and wonders how long it will take
For everyone to forget about it
And that is why you must eschew every day lily,
Respectfully decline the orchid,
Allows others to remark upon the beauty of the rose,
And give only the briefest of nods to the wildflowers
Because a cactus protects itself from the world
And if allowed it will bleed water for you,
It will save your life
If you let it.