all of the silences

she is a master at her craft
a builder of extraordinary skill
employing language deftly refined
and meticulously set, her words
one by anxious one rising
as another wall emerges
into the darkness of my days
prohibiting useless dalliance,
for all must have a purpose,
even this matter between us
that once glowed with passion,
this once glorious act of love
now extraneous to a fault

she has taught me much
as the months have passed
and I have struggled to find
reason in this structure she erects,
assuring myself that her silence
is warranted by my own
petulant brooding, her distance
the result of my loathsome features—
of course she does not touch me
for who would choose to fondle
this aging fetid flesh of mine—
how much easier to keep building
in simple untainted silence

I have learned my lessons well
I abide within these walls

I have become all of the silences
you have taught me to keep

[Thank you, dearest Allison, for your incredible talent at always discovering just the right words, which I then gleefully borrow from you.]

when he speaks

when he speaks
there is silence
a stillness like nothing
he has known before,
and he wonders why?

he remembers
how she would listen
and respond, and his words
seemed ever to matter
to her when there was love

her eyes would sparkle
with affection for him
and he could almost
hear the passionate beat
of her most adoring heart

but when she lost
the man who meant
more to her than he did
it was as if his presence
were a noisome burden

he listened when she spoke
and offered his love
and tried to still
the anguish in her heart
so that she might heal

and there were times
yes, when he wished
that he had died instead,
for then she might already
have found her peace

rather that than to know
how little he mattered now
how foolish his words
how pointless his efforts
when silence were better

he speaks
and there is silence
expanding, filling his heart
whole and heavy until finally
he is the silence

which is when
he closes
his mouth
at last
and waits

interment

Do we really have to talk
about this now, she says
with a fearful determined grimace.

No, no, of course not, he says,
feeling the desperate silence
between them straining engulfing,

like a voracious cancer
growing consuming presuming
only to expand until all is filled.

She hugs herself tighter
into the corner of the sofa
glancing at him suspiciously.

He smiles uncomfortably
not knowing what else to do
when words are forbidden him.

You could hold me, she says
at last, and he does so,
recalling how this used to feel.

Nothing more is said then
as he stares into the darkness outside
wondering, Doesn’t she know:

with what ruthless efficiency
hearts may be buried
beneath the frightening fetid soil

of all the things left unsaid.

enough to know

I know all too well
so you really needn’t say,
and yet your silence
lies so heavily across
my overly anxious heart.

No, it is not so much
the bitter cold of night,
nor the amorous light
of the wanton spring moon
that compels me to speak,

which I do all too often,
I admit unreservedly,
fleeing decorum and mores
like a harlot found grinning
in the light of an angry torch.

It is the very stillness itself
of this heart so long restrained,
so desperately desiring
to speak and be heard
and be, God forbid, loved.

Fool that I am, and more,
adoring so forcefully,
when a better man would stash
his tongue, and lash his heart
and be content to merely know.

aging shadows

Why can’t I hear the Truth?

Instead, aging shadows whisper
a cacophonous symphony
most angrily composed,
scattering a thousand bitter moans
like shards of shredded metal
crashing bit by bit by bit
to the ground around me,
cutting through my flesh
leeching the blood from my veins.

Why can’t I know the Truth anymore?

I have struggled to achieve
even the slightest degree of wisdom
only to fall flat on this loathsome face
erasing youth, scored away
by the fire of age and angst.
I want to hear it again, need
to exceed these too temporal
boundaries and reach that beauty
that only the blessed may know.

Please, God, let me hear again.

[Inspired by David ben Alexander’s https://skepticskaddish.com/2021/02/02/breasts-beneath-or-dream-symphony/ ]

silence the storm

the angry sky crackles in cascading light
slivers of silvery fury score the heavens
screaming back and forth at one another
like restless women grasping at baubles
and brooches in a sweaty İstanbul bazaar

obtuse the city that slumbers beneath,
dreaming engorged of gorgeous flesh and
errant adventures dully imagined atop
perilous heights impossibly attained in
the blink of a blind man’s roving eye

while I, courting ingenuous young lovers,
sip tepid tea from a faded cup and sup
at languorous feasts of uninspired tedium
while imparting my delightful gibberish
in the guise of noble guileless precision

in the face of which even I, vainglorious,
must acknowledge that there is more grace
in a single cacophonous crash of thunder
than this pathetic fool could ever muster
with all the pompous words at my disposal

composing

I carved a moment in time
with the finest words I could find,
and yet the voice fell flat
hardly deserving of the attention
I had hoped it to garner.

So I sat in the autumn stillness
cradling a cold whiskey sour
while the sun sank behind the trees
and the words continued to race
frantically around in my head.

The chill air was heavy and still
as the pointless echoes sank,
pooling at the base of my heart,
even as orange and red and yellow
seamlessly streamed across the horizon.

When the beaded glass was empty
I set it down clinking beside me
and waited for the words to come
but there was only silence now,
and I smiled at last.

Sunset over the Aegean (Turkey 2011)

silence

“it may be hard to imagine,”
he muttered, catching his breath,
“that once upon a time I was garrulous”

and he had been, spewing words
like the very breath that escaped him
gulping at the air in preparation for more

“but that was when I believed
I still had something fine to say
something quite worth the hearing”

silence is its own jewel
a precious fullness wrapped in
nothing more than precisely that—nothing

too much time has passed
for me to believe that these petty sounds
might convey anything approaching substance

after all, what is the point
of blethering on and on self-importantly
when nothing of importance is left of the self?

waiting in silence

my heart trembles in moments
that crumble quite effortlessly
beneath the pitiless weight
of waiting alone

my heart bleeds an angry voice
so egregiously impertinent
perfectly hardening marrow
to shivered stone

every night i listen quite untended
as silence beckons an end
to a mournful melody
that no one can hear

every night i weep for a grove
that could never grow free
of these clamorous needs
that thrive in such fear

Salinas 19 Dec 2012