Poems of Smoke

Among The Coals

Born in the hazed amber
I was swaddled and charred.
Another faceless giver
In a faceless sea
Waiting to choke

Tarred and Feathered

Inhale, hold, exhale
Self inflicted.
Slowly pluck feathers
spring chickens
Cluck no more
- cough - cough -
Burn one more
Spark up

Smother

Science is unwelcome
It's unholy.
Innovation is unholy
It's unwelcome.
Dunk the witch
She'll float
Burn the witch
She'll choke

Parched

She's gasping again
Under the wildfire.
Mother Earth gasps
Inland on avocado smoke
While you're eating
Avocado on toast

Question Touch

Do you have to scrub your skin too?
Scratch off it’s surface over and over
Until twenty burning layers away
From the tracks of unwanted caress?

Remember as the acid seeps through
And you lose that arrogant composure,
That I am only just beginning to play
With these things that helps me ‘process.’

Have you ever had to show your face
When no-one knows the predator won?
Force a smile, a dead eyed, dull grin,
Hoping when friends hug you don’t flinch.

Centre of the tooth, with nerve in place,
I’ll drill a hole through every single one,
Thread through each a fine steel string
To pull them slow with a hand crank winch.

When you’ve walked passed each other
Have you been filled with complete terror?
Did you grasp tightly at your fabric clothes
As though they’ll protect from the shame?

It’s so gratifying to watch as you suffer.
The chemicals turned your skin to leather
It’s time to cut that wailing tongue into rows
I hope I don’t strike a vein, I like this game.

Does the night bring back all the memories
That weigh you down with its terrifying grip?
Do you hope that by the morning sunrise
Your heart would stop it’s painful beating?

I’d quit the whining, there are no remedies
As I watch you choke behind glued lips.
I can’t stand to be devoured by your eyes
But a pin prick will remove their seeing.

Are your days filled with asking why?
Blaming yourself for being the prey,
Breaking yourself down ‘til you barely exist
Pretending it never hurt you that much.

I’m sure you’re all but ready to die?
But you don’t look like your inner decay!
I’ll let you decompose in your own shit
Because a touch is not just a touch.

Tar Kiss

I can stare you dead in the eye
But only my hands are fixed in Jute.
I play no longer as your equal
In this demarcated, lonely space,
But as your possession, obsessed.
Today the lungs ferment a tartness
That you’d planted years ago,
But as I cough up curdled astringent
So it may salve your wounds,
I renounce my previous control
And embrace your oblivion invitation.

Faithless Grief

I’m faithless and unashamed 
For God did not give us grief.
Love manipulated our trust
So that chance could gamble
With the futility of our existence,
Ripping the tense velcro bonds
Of hearts grown together.

I applaud it’s gamesmanship,
For it doesn’t laude it in our faces
By any means other than simply
Gathering the grim and gaunt
In coats of greyed gaberdine.
Long coats hanging as if empty,
Made black from the heart’s rain.

I am faithless and entirely alone,
But still gesticulating to the air:
An open chested final demand
To give back the gift of grief
That greeted me at this graveside.
Need I be a god-fearing glossolalist
To return this heartbreak?

Pencil Case

Momma told me not to run with scissors
Lest I pluck out my own eyes
With the rounded tip of the blade.
But she needn’t have feared impaling
For the glittered edge could split reality
Into newer categories of felt or unfelt,
Processed or compartmentalized in boxes
That are to be continuously mislabelled
And indexed under different triggers.

Momma told me not to run with scissors
Lest I pluck out my own eyes
With the rounded tip of the blade.
But she needn’t have feared impaling
For the glittered edge was a siren
That promised to multiple your mark
By severing the ties to reality a little more.
Knowing the hook was catching enough
To long for a longer, deeper verse.

Momma told me not to run with scissors
Lest I pluck out my own eyes
With the rounded tip of the blade.
But she needn’t have feared impaling
For the glittered edge was a safety blanket
Bound in bumps of gentle grip polypropylene.
Soon substituted for safe preschool variety
In the same clear polyvinyl therapy pencil case
As the steel screw fit pencil sharpener.

75ml Measures

We got plastered on the mezzanine.
Giving even less shits than before
With cheap shots that burnt like kerosene

Splitting prescription amphetamine
Into servings of six, eight or four,
We got plastered on the mezzanine.

Supplementing lacking dopamine
Pretending we wanted to feel more
With cheap shots that burnt like kerosene

On the childlike side of something-teen
With store rooms of baggage to ignore
We got plastered on the mezzanine.

Steadily making more of a scene
Baiting ourselves to even the score
With cheap shots that burnt like kerosene

These moments dipped light in sertraline
Revisited in flashbacks galore
We got plastered on the mezzanine.
With cheap shots that burnt like kerosene

Poly-Cotton Shield

Don’t pull the covers away;
I’m not ready to face the world
And all of its sharp edges.
I’m warm under this comfort blanket,
Safe under my safety net,
Hidden from those peering, prying eyes.
I’d rather be smothered in poly-cotton
Than drown in the darkness out there.

Don’t pull the covers away;
I’m not prepared to face the world
And all of its harsh voices.
I’m calm under this comfort blanket,
Safe under my safety net,
Hidden from those intrusive, prying eyes.
I’d rather be veiled in poly-cotton
Than exposed the judgment out there.

Don’t pull the covers away;
I’m not equipped to face the world
I’ll just crumple at its feet.
I’m serene under this comfort blanket,
Safe under my safety net,
Here I cant be vilified for being.
I’d rather be concealed in poly-cotton
Than pretend I want to play this game.

Having ‘That’ Conversation Again

My Dearest Armistead,


Is life a perpetual cycle? 
Because everything seems 
To be happening repeatedly. 
I found myself, again, 
Engaging in 'that' conversation. 

The conversation where 
I hold another person's life. 
The conversation where 
There is only one chance 
To do the right thing. 

I can only hope 
I made the proper choice, 
But I dread that with each cycle 
I am a step closer 
To getting it wrong. 
It seems inevitable that 
I will have blood on my hands 
From being unable 
To do enough 
Or get there quickly.

Every time I have 'that' conversation; 
I am left empty, 
Wishing I could have spoken to him. 
Wishing that I could have soothed him. 
Wishing that he was here, 
And it was all a horrid nightmare.

Why can't someone else 
Accept the burden for a while? 
Why does it have to be me?

Yours,
​Armistead.

Introspection

I am years of depression in the making,
A broken concoction of self-help and self-hate.
Progress, the weapon utilised to silence the audience,
Is just as fake as the smile I paint on in the morning,
To hide the desire to either laugh at my suffering,
Or to will my heart to cease beating.

I am composed of trauma’s melodic refrain,
And I am played over my own disturbed backing,
Pretending every moment is a blessing,
When really I am gluing my pieces back together,
Finding discarded shards all over my psyche,
Pretending I am on a journey of self-discovery.

I am bursting at the seams with rage,
Sewing myself a harness to contain my mania
With the snapped threads of my heart strings.
The blood thirsty fever dripping from my jaws,
The seething grit that sits in my grin,
Aims as inwardly as it does outward.

Definition Lost

The scissors final snip liberates me of the locks over grown,
And creates a new silhouette around my face,
One that sat similar to a past one, but as a newer rendition.
The colour a combination of fading hues, out grown bleach, and dark roots,
The sides shaven short, and the top left long and loose.
I felt like a renewed me, a different individual,
No longer defined by the frugality of an overgrown home cut,
But shaped by the hands of a professional.
Living as though a person pampered, showered in shallow luxuries.
Looking at my reflection and regaining the power I felt for too long was lost.
But the power was not the item lost to me most,
No, for I have lost my definition.
 
I am at the whims of the family I hold together,
As my equal seems to drown in the life we have found ourselves in,
I hold afloat our raft, and provide for the three of us a sanctuary.
The safety net is spread wide enough to catch them and their baggage,
As my baggage is dragging through the murky waters behind us.
Each case holding a different aspect of me,
A portion hidden away indefinitely, until time allows me to unpack.
My heart cradles a child spawned from a careless woman.
A mother who desired a babe, but couldn’t protect the child,
Whose selfishness took over her instincts in favour of a demon.
 
The child loves me unconditionally, and I love more in return,
Handing over the remaining half of each breath I take,
Giving her each second heartbeat, and most every thought.
I ferry her across the unwelcoming seas, bearing the waves myself,
As she dances blissfully unaware of the storms we pass through.
But motherhood is not my definition, only an inherited title,
One I clench my hands tightly around to keep, but one I fear also.
 
I am spread thinly across each bag that floats along with us,
The literate, the musical, the angry, the calm, the loud, the quiet,
Among some of the guises interchangeably worn, but put back,
Restrained back into their hides, as I try to establish the singular face to wear,
Unknowingly losing any further identity in my search for one.
Writing under a name not given, but chosen, picked like cherries,
And not wanting liberation from anything other than myself.
 
Realizing maybe this is the meaning of grown, or maybe this is the meaning of trapped.