Monday, September 7, 2009

the promise. (bishop and the night.)

promise me.

i want you to promise me,

no matter what happens,

that you will never look back,

never regret it,

never think this, any of it,

was a mistake.

promise me.

promise that years from now

i'll see you in a coffee shop,

and you'll remember this,

all of it.

promise me.

promise you'll come back here,

lazarus, return in the rain

and tell us why you

ever left in the first place.

promise me.

promise, swear upon this lampost

that these will not be

that last words you write

in uneven hand on the

wall of my room.

i promise.

the end of the summer. (bishop in the light.)

the fountain's come back on.

i went there tonight, really,

i've only just returned,

and there was some

distant woman's perfume

haunting the air, tempting

me down to the water's edge,

and laying me to sleep upon

the rocks.

our shadows grow and shrink,

caught in the light of passing cars.

i grasp your hand.


i can see her even now,

view it from somewhere

behind my eyes, or maybe

i just feel it.

it's the girl from the school,

who goes for coffee and

gets tea, swaying slowly,

gracefully, alone on the

floor, and i can't remember

if this was a dream or not.

this is the inspired kind of

beauty that looks effortless,

inborn, flawless, floating,

the very picture of elegance.

the girl who spends years

to write just one perfect song,

the kind of song that seems

effortless, flawless, like beauty

just happens, mirroring truth.

the girl i see smoking in the dark,

the cold wind coming over from

the water, her face lit by a single

candle, her eyes catching the light,

and her tears falling, to create

the stars.

mid-december twilight. (dreams of the sleepless)

draw me something,

a picture, a postcard from

where your dreams sleep.

pull your hand across your throat,

and beg the question, and

fold your hands, as if in prayer.

the clouds roll across the skies,

this is mid-december twilight,

and we've bolted all the doors.

eyes, a study in light and shadow,

the color of my coffee that morning,

a glass raised to lips that will not speak.

cut your hair and try to change,

your face is framed, they've

trapped us in our sitting rooms.

the library at night, tea stained

newspapers and dimmed lights, and

the sound of poetry in the next room.

draw me something,

a picture, a postcard from

where your dreams sleep.


i went back to all the places

we'd been. i think i was only

hoping that this would bring

me closure if not clarity,

reality if not reason,

and an end if not an epilogue

to this tragedy.

you weren't there, of course,

but i felt as if you were just

moments before, like you

might've just left, your

cologne still on the air,

your laugh still echoing

about the empty room.

like we're all of us going

to keep going back after

one another, thinking

we're the only ones.

nothing would suprise me anymore.

the palace of martyrs.

he could be praying,

his head bowed to rest

upon the notebook on

the desk, his arms spread,

crucified, to hang

off the edges, his black

jacket with the sleeves

pulled down, his thumbs

through holes to keep them

over his wrists.

the sounds you hear,

maybe he's singing or

simply speaking softly

to the people who

aren't there.

perhaps it's some hymn.

he could be crying.

this is the palace of martyrs,

a room to see them burning,

the pain reflected in their eyes,

all of them singing some shared

sorrow, of crosses to bear and

secrets that you only learn

through this slow suicide.

she will not come for him.

this is what it's like to watch someone die.

flutter. (bishop's swan song.)

i trust my feet to take

me where i need to go.

i ended up at a ruin, tonight,

under a star strewn sky,

clouds the color of roses

falling across her face, hiding

the moon.

i lay down upon the drive,

and rest my eyes, remembering

my own stars.

fire dancing, like we did,

in front of the grand window,

to our own music, alone where

the whole world could see.

now, weeds grow up in front

of that same window, and

it is too dark for me to see in.

here, i am transparent, a

fluttering thing caught outside

it's own time, as unreal as

the mists the fountain casts,

the words fading from the

wall of a room where

no one will sleep again.

i cannot see, but i can imagine

the rooms, the carpets now

more stained, things abandoned

and overturned in your haste

to escape, myself included.

i rise from the drive,

the clouds now darker than

i remember, the lamps shining

but not cuttng through the

veil of the night, and

i trust my feet to take

me where i need to go.


a silhouette against the sun,

all shadow, a young man,

my first memory of that year.

a girl with porcelain skin,

the darkest angel, my savior,

come to find me in this place.

he leans over a desk, a smile

playing on his lips, lighting up

his coffee-colored eyes.

she grasps my hand and traces

every line and contour, singing

a soft song i can't remember.

his skin is warm, our hands brush

while we read the words written

by people we'll never know.

she always told me things would

change, but then, i had music,

and his face, and need for nothing else.


i squint my eyes, looking

through the window, and

the streetlamps make stars

that shimmer on the black.

her face is the picture

of tired resignation, of

peace in the knowledge

that she had lost a long,

hard fought battle.

of everything, i remember

details, lighting cigarettes

on the stove, the chill

of winter air on my face,

the perfect way your lips

pressed against mine.

i let the music sing me to sleep,

wishing it was you.

traces. (the flight of the bishop.)

walking streets in seattle,

a little boy asks me to

draw a card, any card,

from the deck he offers.

i came here yesterday or

a hundred years ago,

in the middle of the war,

to trace the footfalls

of dead men through

the east.

i grasp a card between my

index and middle fingers,

and turn it up so i can


queen of clubs.

almost like magic.

in an instant, a lifetime

crosses behind my eyes,

the flash of lighting across

the sky, tears ruining the

ink on a page, a teacup

shattering on the kitchen

floor, figures in black and

white spinning across the


queen of clubs.

it's time to run again.


i sit and drink my evening tea,

and settle in to read the old letters.

the taste of orange, it lingers on

my tongue.

you threw up the blinds,

to let in the full glare of

a bright cold day in the city.

i lay by the lake and breathe

in the smell of the earth,

so like your skin.

meeting strangers at dawn,

you resettle your glasses on

your crooked nose.

evenings alone, with thoughts of you.

immortal. (bishop and cassiana II)

walking these deserted

corridors, the ruin of the

old palace, my footfalls

echoing off the cold stone

floors, i pass a painting,

softly lit in the early

morning's light.

"bring me the universe,"

a whisper in my ear.

the girl regards me,

frozen in time, precisely

as she was back then,

her eyes cold, no blood

warming her the porcelain

of her cheeks.

"show me to the stars,"

a breath upon my neck.

the whole world contained

in her crystal earing, the

eyes of god that shine

from the diamonds of her

necklace, frozen light,

perfection caught in

the eternity of the ring

upon her hand.

"let me dance with the angels."

cassiana, come to find me again.

the usual suicide (bishop and cassiana I)

"this is what it's like to really be alive",

says the girl, a black dove placed

serenly above everything else,

on this Chicago skyscraper.

she's holding a rose over the edge,

and pulling off petals,

one by one, letting them

fly into the crowds below,

like some forever-game of

'he loves me not.'

the whole city burns behind us

and in our eyes.

i don't bother to stretch out a hand.

"it's not as if i want to die", she says.

and she smiles the way she did when i

met her a hundred years ago.

"i just want to fall.

what happens after, i don't know."

we're the whole world while she

pulls off the last petal, and lets it

disappear, blown off into a starless night.

"if you could fall forever, wouldn't you?"