Free Writes: poems in the presence of pain

On Monday nights I have the privilege of getting to write poetry with a diverse group of homeless youth. They are smart, compassionate, empathetic, deep feeling people, who, if my role as “mentor” didn’t prohibit it, would no doubt be my friends. I wish i could share their poems with you, but the good news is they have published a book! So, if you’re interested in getting a copy, send me a message. Here are three of my free writes from the past few weeks. I think just being in the room with people who are fighting for their lives and their worth; who are in the process of raising themselves up and reaching for the stars, give me a certain kind of energy that recognizes that I am participating in the same self-generation. They inspire me, and constantly require that I bring myself into the room, my naked self, my ready to receive a gift self.



consider the phoneme /p/   puh
how the pop gets stopped at the edge
of your throat   now swell   open
wide for the world   the awe that fills
and follows when a quirk hops into existence
and chaos ensues   awe is
for the angels watching   the age
expanding   atoms collapsing
and inflating   arbitrariness abating
under the pressure infinitely
differantiating   only survive in relation
to /u/   the third phoneme
implodes the /p/resent
awe of it /a/ll and now you
only /u/ because you   only because
nothing is presence unless you
behold me     p a u    p a u
delaying arrival like a rule
named and withdrew
proved and disproved   primordial
promethean fire   p a u
consider the final phoneme—
put it behind you    be endless
unfinished  don’t say it  don’t name it
beginning with you

Brandishing the tongue

here is presence like a saw blade
here is gutted street corner

born at the moment of myself
the knife quickens oblivion opens
rolls back her pericardial tomb

a hallway is walked through
that is already been walked through

here the echo names me
the echo names me
echo names me
names me

a match is struck in my ear
a whisper flares up

here is the absence of the sayable
the wound of a punctured lung

here is presence spilling the blood of the stars
the guillotine is given the final word
announcing the arrival of the origin

the severed vocal chord
flickering in the gut of time

November, November

I remember the dark phantom
That crept beneath my bed sheets;
The black-ice toes, as if just come in
Barefoot from the garden,
Mercilessly startle my sleeping calf.
I awoke, and what is gone
will never forget me.

The best thing about autumn
Is being drunk before dawn,
Being weighted by blankets refusing to let go,
The forehead beating its fist on the drywall,
Begging to crack open the hollow echo
Thrashing between insulation and cross-beams.

The best thing about autumn
Is that it always comes again,
But no promises.

I welcome your thoughts!


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