You sense summer coming to an end. The days don’t smell so much of suntan lotion & Ferris-wheel sweetness but of camphor & time lost. You hop a ride towards the ocean, your bus stop of grace. Along the way, you pass fog-tongued counterfeiters, dead-eyed mystics & heaven-haired girls dressed in plush heartbreak. Once you reach the ocean, a woman on the boardwalk offers you stones & charms, says they’ll ward off ghosts & sirens; keep the blue oblivion at bay. You hold the woman’s offerings in your hand. As the ocean sings its bittersweet song of summer’s end, you count backward from your last bad day & allow yourself to gracefully fall into the coming fall.
Speaking with some people is quite wondrous, like nightswimming beneath a full moon, like swinging a boogie-beat down Easy Street. Speaking with others, however, feels like death on the installment plan, like your brain’s suffering severe climate change. Conversing with some feels like two reincarnated souls discovering they were each one half of the same person in a previous life. With others, like your tongue has stalled out in rush-hour traffic, everything going nowhere fast. Chewing the fat with some is like speaking to your spirit animal. With others, just some perverted animal. Chatting with some feels like a total disaster. With others, like the big bang—the birth of one new world after another.
Sing a song that cruises midnight boulevards like a Cadillac fresh off the showroom floor. A song that sails past assassins & sidewinders, bone dreams & death machines, and lives to tell the tale. A song that’s a hymnophonic flight off the tongue, celebrating every being as it shine-wings the air. A song stripping voices of artifice, offering contrivances to fire, burning them to ash, and delivering us home newly born & bright. Sing a song that will never fail or fool the world. One that will never leave our mouths bitter with the taste of cruel intentions.
This poem speaks 22 languages including Esperanto and ASL. This poem is the nuclear weapon Trump has threatened to employ against hurricanes. It has rocked Budokan and can play John Philip Sousa marching tunes on spoons. This poem longs to be the lovechild of Neruda, Bukowski, and Wanda Coleman. It’s been robbed twice at gunpoint and was painted black by Mick Jagger at Altamont. This poem has a name you can’t remember but a face you can’t forget. It briefly dated Taylor Swift but never had a song written about it. This poem drives with an expired poetic license.
Come daybreak, when just a ragged scrap of moon is left hanging from the barbed-wire fence, the rabid sun rises fast in the sky. A bloodbath of blaze, it bears down on us, all fangs and howl. These sweltering days, mean enough to chew your arm off. Blistering days, more dangerous than a shotgun with a toothache. These flaming days, oh how we long to escape them. But not enough to become a ghost in the séance of a cold hello.
At dawn, I collect the ashes of the diminishing moon. At dawn, I gather birdcall and drumbeat to build a new song. At dawn, I call down the stars to grant you a million quicksilver wishes. I clear away the rust in train graveyards. At dawn, I discuss longing with stray dogs. I ride shotgun with wolves cruising the Hollywood hills. At dawn, I command my army of loud coffee cups and lucky pennies into action. I act as a shrink for the tumultuous sea. At dawn, I convene all lost keyholes and find them their perfect door.
Drive all night if you need to across these united states of change. Never mind the speed or distance to get to where you’re going. Leave all hates, all seizing fears and sorrows in the rearview mirror. Pedal to the metal until everything is spiraling and miraculous, the whole of nature arranged in a brilliant golden ratio. When you reach sunrise, it’ll be as blazing and beautiful as a congregation of Mojave angels. Don’t let off the gas. Drive faster, abandon darkness, propel deeper into day. Quench your craving for light in the authentic air.
It is built from industry, allegiance, and the pounding of Mozart’s piano keys. While dogged and unflinching, it sometimes falls victim to disease and a bullet’s undoing. Ancient as stones and excavated bones, its saving grace is reflected in the bright eyes of the living. Its terrors and affections: branded with tears and heaven’s DNA. Sunrise and wildfires forge its warrior light. Its enduring rhythms are generated by thunder and the steadiest of drums. This human heart we have formed—long may it allow us to live and love.
Loneliness moans in the train’s distant whistle. Restlessness dwells in the soul of a rumpled bed. The highway takes you everywhere while it goes nowhere. The whiskey bottle laments tales of those who’ve drowned in 100-proof tears. The rainbow cannot conceive of a world without color. The alphabet mourns its futility during wordless nights. Dogs howl with longing to call down the moon. The needle hungers to get under your skin.
The moon tells me each of my ribs is a rung leading up to the stars. Says these holes in my soul can be patched with some courage, optimism, and crazy-for-life glue. She warns me to never allow my spirit to write ballad shambles in the key of D-funct. Says to strip away excess hurt and anger. Let go of old grudges. Find the emotional bullets that have wounded you, the moon tells me. Trace their path back to the gun. Discover the trigger, disable it. Then, the moon says, melt that gun into a peace-sign necklace.