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Speaking in Semaphore Copyright Š 2008 Dan Burke. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For information address Now Publishing Now, Inc., at: www. nowpublishingnow.com. Semaphore is a system for conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with handheld flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands. Cover and title page design by Jason Steed. Visit www.nowpublishingnow.com for more information on Speaking in Semaphore and other independent albums and books. International Standard Book Number: 978-1-60494-098-5 Library of Congress Control Number: 2008923815


Poem Index Hot off the Presses of the Universe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Walking Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Kismet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Blindside. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Man in the Moon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 True Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Backs of Lilies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 A New Beginning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Your Song. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 A Sunset Meet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 It’s My Time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Afternoon Kiss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 My Valentine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Cells Divide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Face to Face . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Mountain Pass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Barnyard Instincts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Impotent State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Three Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Sliver Bells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Fire Dancing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 King Me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Fairy Tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Wild on You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Ancient Ritual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Hidden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 A New Mantra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Rise to Meet You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 A Passing Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 The Sit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 The Little Boy of Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Something Precious . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Vacuumous Monday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Primitive Moon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Moonstones Skipping Across the Ocean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Enlightenment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49


A Bottle of You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . My Split Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WAKE UP!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teacups of Worry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Give Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Classico . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beyond the Pillow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Good Morning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . April is the Cruelest Month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Don’t Know How to Do This. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cupid’s Last Laugh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Cut Myself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

51 53 55 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67


SPEAKING IN SEMAPHORE


Hot off the Presses of the Universe I used to confuse love with pity I used to map it at night Among the waters The blackness Where I would study it By candlelight The oars of sorrow used to elate me I’d bend my ear down to wood I’d listen with hollow echoes To the misery of my loneliness The gentle lapping of tide Would repeat this melody A pattern as sure as the wind is right It’s within these seas I once wondered Drafting loosely Astute with map and compass Slaving to brain and hand But lo, where was my human heart? Now in daybreak The dawning sun Stuns my eyes I see it coming On the horizon The night yielding With great recompense To a new day A day free of control Of useless neglect 1


Of separation Of sorrow Of confusion now waking I turn to my palm And study the lines so familiar I watch the creases deepen in my flesh The ones that climb from wrist to west It hits me there Upon the soft swishing of salt That sorrow is just a feeling And love, Love is life

2


Walking Home I found you Thank god I found you After walking so many directions alone After so many nights Sitting by myself In some dark restaurant Watching couples kiss and laugh Under the shadows of lost hope Almost lost hope I’ve had this feeling you were out there Waiting for me too And while I walked Maybe you were getting ready Preparing your soul in this life Training your mind Building discipline Framing your reference For the moment when you were ready A point when you would just know I licked my wounds of exhaustion Cursing into the sadness of mundane life When you woke me You caught my attention With shiny metal objects And creative words Hip-hugs and tiny kisses We walked above the cityscape of San Francisco Hills cascaded into the distance Lights formed foggy halos Around the truth of my desire 3


You were here You were finally here Walking with me Home at last

4


Kismet An old shoe lost Separated long ago The left foot shoe I’ve been searching for it everywhere I’ve looked in basements and gutters I’ve looked in high towers and churches Years I’ve been searching Only to find other people’s shoes Different sizes Different shapes Fascinating to the eyes This quest of right But lo and behold My lost shoe was not far It was under the couch Behind the bed Under the table Of glossy adventure The one I wear Is so tattered and flawed in comparison I could hardly tell when I first saw it But I had a feeling A divine intervention The moment I finally woke To the realization of you

5


Blindside Like smoke You blow through my mind In unsuspecting hours Looking through glass Examining other people’s behaviors A wind passes over my shoulder Bringing thoughts of you near I trail off for minutes Following the tail of a dream Or passing memory Or future vision Possible could bes I get lost between the strain of moments Life gets dizzy I look through people And if they could notice They would find my spirit Swimming happy in big clouds of white Following my heart Into the fire of future and memory

6


Man in the Moon In bed On the phone Talking to you I open up my soul A gift to the moonlight I see it peeking through my window Watching me Waiting for me to realize That there is life Beyond these four walls You’re out there In your own space Guarded by the same moon It keeps its eyes on the both of us Somehow bridging the gap Closing the connection Of miles that exist Between me and you But distance is only mirage A Chinese puzzle Yet to be uncovered For you are right here with me I hold you close As close as if your body took shape Between me and the moon shadow That paints my angled room

7


If I squint I can see your silhouette Your curved spine and hips Your delicate lips Close enough to touch And your long dark hair Falling over shoulders As arms reach up and out Beyond the shape of your coming And through the phone line I ask you to describe the man in the moon You tell me, after minutes of waiting That if you look hard enough You can see in daring innocence A perfect reflection of me

8


True Love You feel the same way I do I verified it last night By phone In a two-hour conversation You told me that you think of me Every minute Every second You wonder what I’m doing When I’ll call Where I’m headed You said nothing else matters That days only exist To keep us apart And the stall of time Between our visits Only makes your heart Grow fonder We matched insecurities last evening We caught them Proving the insanity for two A testament to true love Two witnesses Helpless victims Of a powerful force That holds us together like glue

9


Backs of Lilies On my mind Always on my mind And nothing else matters I wake and images of you Swim in gently From the corners of my head Like koi fish, Memories of your skin and smile Mingle in lucid colors among themselves As the waters of my brain Become unsettled From a peaceful night’s rest Daytime brings new waves of thought They used to be charges for my existence I used to slave to them And fish for direction From these waters But now those seas have settled And the brutal weather I used to endure subsided Those oceans have turned to a simple pond Filled with thoughts and reminders Of time spent with you The webbing of your fingers Home

10


A New Beginning Conscious contact Like a pulse Like a fingertip tapping On the plastic cup Of daily life I hear the ring Sounding high around the room A slight echo Trails off out of sight The space where I wait is endless A mahogany hue Dawning softly With golden honey noon-light The grain of its pattern Creates shapes before me Keeping me entertained As I stare out my window, I watch the currents of change Tumble slowly through the pane Of the moment An urban field blows softly In my sharp understanding, I see every blade dance Every twig prance Every bird take stock In the freedom to do so I elevate my chin to the feelings The ones that remind me of you 11


A rebirth of innocence The parting of clouds And every bit of life Seeming like a freakish nightmare Before your arrival A faraway movie Pointless Directionless Vaguely reminiscent of a story I heard Late one drunken night Todays seem so different All of them real All of them complete In the awareness of life Since I have known you

12


Your Song I’m all cuddled up For a bedtime serenade I have my phone and my pillow My flannel and my light Now I’m ready to hear A solo of your song

13


A Sunset Meet Skipping tiptoes around my lonely heart We are miles apart The sun reminds me of this every day I jump through hoops of routine Checking off tasks one by one Looking over my shoulder For the day to come A day when you are by my side Once again A day when my spirit is full Once again So I skip and jump I play hopscotch with this hump I climb Until I crest its summit And meet you there Just in time for sunset

14


It’s My Time You told me last night That our love is timeless My toes curled when you said this It’s like we’ve never parted Like all ends lead to a circle A circle of you and me Thirty-six hours That’s what separates us now Here I sit On the other side of connection Only wanting you more But time has stopped Frozen like ice Cooling my hopes Killing my dreams Every moment drags forward Or backwards Or sideways Maybe up Nothing is normal Nothing is timeless now As I sit here with pen folly, I hear water drip from my faucet Each kiss sends ripples of agony through my spirit These cruel reminders Laughing at my situation

15


But our love is timeless, you said You told me on the phone I feel it too In the core of my soul So what do I make of these thirty-six hours? Who can I turn to for an explanation? For pacification For a dramatization Explaining more clearly How to traverse this mountain of time That lies between us Thousands have gone before But where are the trails? Where are the signs That lead me to you? They hide between the seconds Tucked below the numbers Lurking behind the hours These agonizing thirty-six hours That separates our lips from touch

16


Afternoon Kiss I’ll see you in seven hours I’ll drive half that to meet you My stomach rises and falls Each time this comes into consciousness I couldn’t sleep a wink My soul is speaking In a language my brain will never know It has taken over A divine force moving me closer To you I ask now What use was my brain anyways? How could I have relied on it for so long? Alas, I am glad my spirit has taken initiative To steer me south this morning To greet your lips with mine Just beyond the forenoon

17


My Valentine Well here I go Out on the road The road to meet you I’m all packed I have my things At least all I’ll need To lie by your side The days between us Leave me nervous What do you look like? What do you taste like? I can barely remember My stomach spins like a washer Like a teacup saucer at the carnival My skin tightens at neck In anticipation of your breath I’m heading out now On a journey to see you A four-day excursion Designed to drink you in To swallow and digest slowly I want to remember every step So now I go Out on the road Where only the heavens know What lies in store For the both of us

18


Cells Divide Your mouth Decadent as a pear Sweet and fragrant Soft to the touch of my lips I taste the expiration of your lungs I can almost sense them converting oxygen It brings me closer to the miracle of life You are an extension of my bones Like cells split late one night Some mad experiment gone right When I hold you close I lose the end of me It recedes into the soft corners Of your playful smile

19


Face to Face Peace in midday In the hollows of your arms Your skin close Your breath Caressing my lips Close now Forever close now A perfect moment With no borders At either end We are here In this moment For now is my focus I focus on the moment Of you

20


Mountain Pass I like to drive And see the sway in your back To watch your hips rise and fall With the strength of centuries past To hear you call into the night Blowing out my name Tossing hair and flowers All over the floor Pushing on countertops Catching the train Before it steams off its tracks From the driver’s seat I pull the chain A loud siren bellows Steel tracks burn Faster and harder The bumpy road of love Shuffles forward Blowing cool mountain breezes Through my conductor’s hat Big motor Keep rolling on

21


Barnyard Instincts I’m a keeper Her friends all agree I’m a keeper She knows it too She shows it When she smiles Or when I catch her looking At me from the side With shifty little eyes I can see she’s spying I’m a keeper Even I know it When I put my arm Around her neck Walking down the street I pull her in close Pushing on her body Keeping her trapped Within the secret of my love She looks up at me She smiles I give her a smug look Letting her know Who’s in control It feels honest My tail feathers out Chest pushed forward Like a primrose peacock 22


I strut the proud dance of a warrior ’cause I’m a keeper Don’t you know it

23


Impotent State I can beat this stump until it’s plump Whack it over the head until I’m ready But nothing happens It just won’t work I squeeze my legs And push my stomach in assistance But nothing going It simply will not work I threaten violence in frustration She calls to me for execution For me to put down my work To come and play Yet I must beat And fold and crease This rising mast with no sails I wait as wind starts to swirl The breeze of the moment engulfs me As I grow strong, I reach for lines and net Instinct guides me to call, “All hands on deck! Raise the sails!” I shout Hoping to catch lift into the present Hoping to gain momentum To catch the tail of her speeding bow But my cloth has been burned Buried in seawater

24


Left somewhere in my past Along with the seeds of anxiety I watch her sail away toward Nirvana Standing in the crow’s nest of misfortune My hands gripping tightly This impotent mast

25


Three Words She said the words As I lay there and waited She spoke them to me In the dark I could see the outline of her face As she leaned forward Hand at head above me She took pause several times And needed to start over For some reason they had to fight With other instincts To compete with closet soldiers Hoping to keep those words Sealed up tight She smiled embarrassed In the dark Working up the courage To say the things she felt Words just below the surface Waiting to come out I was patient On my back In the same darkness I sat in the silence of her stirring And wondered if this would be it If this would be the moment I would remember forever

26


A calmness surged As my body froze Each molecule listened intently Each cell wanted to know Hoping this was it In her own time She was able to let them pass Through her lips And onto me I felt a halo of energy Around my heart Radiating out In three pulsing flashes She said the words I needed to hear In the dark From her heart On a night I will never forget

27


Sliver Bells How can I thank you For taking risk What words can I conjure To show appreciation for the magnitude Of what this has meant You have opened up your heart to me The reverence is blinding Like a golden sphere You handed me your trust I hold it Too afraid to stare Too blinded to summon Courage to look too long I fear it slipping from my fingertips Shattering on the floor of doubters Where other loves have been dropped Where misery finds friends Among its broken neighbors I hold this gift with palms out flat It balances naturally But my instinct is to grab To cup and coddle It prefers I keep some distance Enough to give it room to glow To radiate its powerful light So this is the game I play Holding trust loosely Sneaking peeks 28


Letting it balance and teeter As it showers me in white If I stay conscious I can keep this gift intact As it shines for me This present from you The one you gave to me Last night

29


Fire Dancing How do I tend this fire of love Without choking it out? I pull back and watch I wait as I stare at the flames Then suddenly Transfixed by its luminous glow I find myself drawn forward like moth Hovering close, too close Casting shadows on the sparkle Sucking oxygen slowly from the burning I watch it dim before me with great worry I move in closer with feeble attempts to restore the shine My caveman instinct panics Blowing, waving, adding more and less wood Dancing a ring around love Castrating it Cheapening it Threatening it Doing whatever I can Except what needs to be done Man and fire Fire and love Love and man Three volatile things Inextricably joined together In a marriage that needs gentle tending

30


A seesaw of life Designed to occupy the lonely To reinvigorate the cold And comfort the soul

31


King Me I’m a bit of a romantic You might say Blubbering words through pen Weeping in ink my feelings about you About us No man should be so honest So clear about his feelings So revealing about his wishes and dreams Mixing English and imagery As ways to express The sensation of moments The surging of inspiration Of being here with you Some will discount these pages Some will discount me My manliness My ranking within the fraternity My brotherhood may revolt But they are just jealous For they know not how to express The thoughts and feelings we all share When it comes to the romantic notion of love

32


Fairy Tale Ninjas, mutes, and druids Couldn’t keep me from The castle of your heart I wade through the moat Of your absence Looking up to castle top To distant towers Searching for you Let down your hair Show me at least this sign That you are present And waiting for your prince To save you For at least one night

33


Wild on You I miss you like a monkey with sore eyes Ducks fly away into the sunset of my longing A giraffe cranes its neck Looking for your arrival As the predator of your absence Plots attack on my loneliness

34


Ancient Ritual I worship the alarm clock of my heart I bring it sacrifice every day The cold marble Where I leave my gifts Is stained with dried blood and tears I walk the steps of a pyramid To the top where sun meets stone with a point It’s there where I drop my head I pour out my brains Into the hands of my creator I am a servant I am a servant of your love

35


Hidden Napalm Early in the morning Tar, heat, widow’s peaks It all falls like a muddy river I cascade my eyes Skipping them across the surface I push limbs forth Until the weight becomes too heavy I drop I stall The motor ceases Darkness consumes I lie here under earth With shallow breaths Waiting for you to find me

36


A New Mantra I’m looking for a new metaphor New words and similes Ones I can lean on for a change These old ones The ones I reuse so often They have served me well Until now I’ve grown tired of them I feel I’ve outgrown them Perhaps I’m tired of abusing them Reusing them I feel stuck Trapped by my own wisdom Scared to open my mouth Just to hear the same old phrases How can I switch channels Turn the station From where the drone of repetition dulls Perhaps a Latin flavor would suit me best I can just think of the possibilities Waiting there It would be like a kite Let loose above the beaches The shaggy shores of morning Rising above the cozy familiarity of sea air Penetrating a new layer of freshness Yes, this is what I want 37


I need new vision If I am to sculpt these feelings for you They are so intense That I can not hold them In the bowls of my limited understanding My stunted command Of simple words and phrases You require more than I have The love we share More precious Than any word I can muster In tune with this I will conceal my thoughts Until a new awakening arrives I will sit in meditation And pray silently For the peace of enlightenment Until that blessing comes I will repeat this mantra Your face, your eyes, your loving smile Your face, your eyes, your loving smile Your face, your eyes, your loving smile

38


Rise to Meet You We travel two roads One is folly One is foundation Understanding this parallel We are free to ride either one We can coast the rails of a dynamic ride We pass the height limit We can toss our hands up high Speeding along the loops and twists Shouting and screaming with joy Enjoying the trip every time In other moments We can walk the quiet path of intimate conversation We can learn what makes each other human Our histories, our opinions Our motivations and dreams I see these roads ahead of us And I cherish each one They are separate And should be treated as such Honored as much as freedom and enterprise Held close by connection With careful attention For the respect and honor To be in this together

39


A Passing Introduction The house you grew up in Your mother’s house This is where you brought me As we walked up the front steps Passing all the cars Of people who came to meet me You told me quite casually That this was your childhood home Butterflies turned to lead As images of its wholeness Shrunk too soon I wanted a moment to digest The magnitude of what this meant Little girl dresses, high school boyfriends I wanted to see where you dreamt in summer sun When you were young I wanted to see the room where you wished Of someday meeting a man like me I wanted to run my hand down the banister Your cheeks pressed against on Christmas morning But the day’s end came too soon And I walked away with so many questions unanswered “You’ll be back again,” you reassured me

40


This I noted As you pulled me slowly From a place so holy Where your beautiful life began

41


The Sit Sitting with your mother My hand along her couch I was careful not to touch you Holding back instinct I swallowed over lumps My words a bit shaky I let a finger touch your shoulder The sparkle lifted me up She sat peacefully Looking at you then me She spoke softly with kind words Of things that mattered not

42


The Little Boy of Love She loves me She told me so Sometimes I find it hard to believe That someone so special could care for me I writhe like a little child on the inside As I stare at her in wonder She moves naturally Speaking freely With the comfort of a woman While the little boy within me wets his pants Rubs his eyes with tanbark tears Trying not to be noticed She pauses every now and then And looks at me in a way that pulls me forward I zoom in the focus of the moment And croak a note through an unsteady throat But she loves me This I can remember For she told me so

43


Something Precious Junk sick From a drug called love The pit of my stomach rises and falls With flashes of skin-rub memories Wet kisses half remembered In moments recently passed Linger near Forceful waves of anxiety and panic Call me to do something desperate Something irrational I want to move to the woods To never drive or fly again I see her eyes in my mind Looking into me deeply The crease of her smile Brackets her rising grin The smell of her flower in bloom Blossoms on my skin It’s like an eternal memory Stamped upon my remembering I open up my heart And a gang of criminals rush in They trash my insecurities Rob me of my loneliness And leave me on the floor My head and face pointed towards the ceiling A golden smile echoes old longing now gone 44


And the holes within my heart run in rivers and pools Of the love I have flown away from this morning It stays down there Where John Wayne stands tall And waits for the birds of winter To fly north again To bring my baby back to me

45


Vacuumous Monday I sit in the hollows of a new week Hung over From being with you Dizzy from the sharp transition Of life with you And everything else This world doesn’t matter It’s lonely and pointless This world of endless Mondays Until I see you again I am hung out by the second hand Its tick like an ax in my forehead Repeatedly pounding At the void of your presence These vacuumous Mondays Where my guts splash up into my throat They paint the base of my brain Covering memories once so vibrant and fresh Dulling the truth of my life The truth that I’ve known Since I have found you

46


Primitive Moon My skin crawls as I wait for you to call I check the phone without end I listen intently for a break in the silence I can’t touch you from here I can only wait In the absence of your company I am left with flashing scenes A string of glimpses Like pictures scattered Upon the mirrors of broken glass My claws grow long as I wait for you My skin becomes unbearable A rage fills my spirit Lonely without your face And as hair covers skin And fangs constrict my breath I holler into the cruelty of moon Screaming for relief But relief will not come Until the birds of warmer breezes Carries peace to me When you are ready For that moment, I wait for you here Lurking silently and unsettled At the moon I watch and wait Baying at the night of my heart

47


Moonstones Skipping Across the Ocean Remember the sunset we shared At Moonstone Beach It was our first sunset I kept turning To see the shape of the sun As it disappeared Below the surface Of a calming winter sea You barely noticed Looking up at me Glowing The golden tones of twilight Lighting up your skin Our talk was serious And lighthearted And crescendoed With the drowning of the sun

48


Enlightenment You told me tonight The doctor has something to tell you You said it quickly And told me not to worry My breath froze as I listened I had a million questions But hesitated to ask My mind began to dislocate from the present I could hear the motor of worry ramping up Someone pulled the chain Gas plumes cluttered the phone line Before I could scream Or question why You moved on to joking Pushing the conversation Swiftly forward I sit now, in the throes of worry It makes me want to beat my head To break bottles To kick down doors To jump on a plane I can’t save you from here I couldn’t save you if I were there I fight my brain trap as my heart Plummets twenty stories toward the floor I have no clue what tomorrow will bring I pray that it brings you peace and health 49


And that this trial of faith Reveals only how profound My love is for you

50


A Bottle of You I burnt down my house All by myself I sit outside of it now Stirring over the ashes I feel so stupid I’m tired and have no place to rest I wonder, if you were here If you could have saved it A second eye on the burner Another body moving about the rooms Or would it have burned quicker long ago From odds sped up By the hands of two? I think of you Sitting here Feeling a hole in my heart If you were here, You could console me You could lend me your lap And skim your fingernails through my hair Your smile would make me laugh At the silliness of me At the silliness of life That would encourage me to continue There’s something about you That makes everything feel right

51


I wish I could bottle that magic And use it in times of need At times like these When my stomach growls And my hands are stained Sitting on the curb I look back at my charred belongings Things I’ve loved are now gone But they were just things I turn my head to west And sip deep breath of loneliness I wish you were here I wish you were here with me

52


My Split Mind An infection point A space provided to elevate What is it that I see? Many questions hover Like exhaust from an old motor A thin black cloud, That dissipates a little Gives pause to wonder Why it won’t leave too soon My head, clear for the moment Wonders what will be I drag old patterns All of the parts and labor into question Tearing finished things apart I do this out of habit Ruining things on purpose This is a disservice To both you and me But a friend lingers near A new friend One looking out for the both of us He wants me to break in the moment And be still I listen with conviction My mind calms But my anxious hands Reach for action

53


Sneaking to dismantle To sabotage for security My split mind And actions are a message That I have come a long way From the days of reckless dismemberment From the days of useless prey

54


Learning How do I hold you? I fight daily with my mind It beats my feelings down They tear at each other Until they both grow weary in defeat It’s there where I’m left Numb with no weapons No indication of who I am Or how I feel about you This is a game of safety This is an old pattern A fossil of yesteryear When playing these games Was necessary For protection For sanity But here you stand before me Real. Luminous Your presence beckons response Yet I have none In the moment, I am useless A carbon copy of some real me I stand between the crossfire Calling for truce Pushing out my palms Between thought and emotion And this war wages Stealing the sweet now moment 55


Where inspiration and spontaneity Feed the soul I drop down into meditation Trusting new wisdom Will soon take control

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WAKE UP! Sometimes I need to shake my feelings a bit Before they can work They stutter, Like and old jalopy Refusing, or too tired to run I need to kick the box Give it a Fonzie Before my emotions respond And when I do They perk up for a quick second Like they were sleeping on the job, They leap out to catch up I feel a wave rush through my chest All other obsessions stop I f-e-e-l I take a breath And everything is better When I remember

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Teacups of Worry I sit back and wait I’m too timid to call I felt a shift the last time we spoke A sadness, a dislocation of sorts It’s too easy to think it’s me That I am the cause of your pain I can spin my hamster wheel forever Until the little legs of worry Seize with exhaustion If I’m not careful Perhaps you just need some time For some other reason To gather your thoughts To process your feelings I teeter like a teacup waiting Pushing on longing and worry Just enough to keep my balance I wait for you with fingernail nibbles While you take your time Working out human kinks Of the splendor I call you

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I Give Up I can’t control what’s happening to you Your journey is beyond my reach My instinct is to clench down On whatever I can To act irrational To control the situation As much as possible To make me feel better But this will only aggravate And exacerbate the situation Instead, I’ve learned to pray It’s the only thing I can do productive Let you go into the hands of the universe And trust that everything will be okay

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Classico I lick the ice cream of the moment Thinking of you Tasting the delicious cool cream While my mind is far off in dream Thinking of you I swirl a ring around that cone Letting the thick paste Coat my tongue Missing you from afar Watching the people The green grass The cozy Victorian-covered hillsides From Washington Square My heart and eyelids are heavy Trying to be brave Trying to look at the positive Trying to enjoy the sweet treat of the moment This rich and cool moment Feeling a bit empty In North Beach again

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Beyond the Pillow I’m all settled in For pillow talk without you I’ve made my bed Fluffed my sheets Turned all lights down low Now it’s time to be close To share the in-between moments To have the talks that make life worth living Beyond these walls We grab stories on our own New adventures to report To the sheets of our sharing Where we can sneak midnight giggles As we indulge in the freedom Of minds and souls Tonight Lying next to me Is a phone Disconnected Motionless Mute Cold I’m all settled in for pillow talk without you I’m in my bed With plump pillows And all the lights down low

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The Distance Slowly I enter One nudge at a time In time with your calling Like heroin Like death Your summit takes me I travel on your long road Then weather strikes I’m left crawling on my toes If showers could wrestle Fingered streets like a web In outer space I’d travel From this room to your bed

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Good Morning I woke this morning next to a hair Your hair The scent of you still in my sheets I stuttered between the comfort of you And the void of your absence My emotions stretched out like taffy Between joy and longing I studied the hair Long and dark It curled next to me on my second pillow The one reserved for you I counted the days once again Still on two hands Until I see your face in morning Lying next to me Asleep within the ringlets Of your peaceful grin

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April is the Cruelest Month I cannot crawl within The finger spines of your mind Nor creep behind the walls You raise to keep me safe I am just another person Born with limits and flaws Poisoned with the truth of human Both a blessing and a curse These limits don’t allow me To penetrate your being Like I want to do so badly To seep within your veins To swim in the deepest pools Of your heart Instead, I am forced to listen Ear to wood for answers And if the truth that pushes still Falls flat like a lead-weight drill All I can do is listen Taking value from the words you give me I can only stand and honor The scarecrows that you build It’s within these golden meadows My spirit stands alone Hoping that you’ll reason Fire brigades be still

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I Don’t Know How to Do This They call this feeling love It’s so much more intense than I thought Everything is off I can’t catch up Life seems to be speeding Two lanes ahead of me I reach forward My direction askew I can not find which way is up My insides rise and want to leap From this primitive vessel I call me I see my sanity pop out From my eyes and ears Trying desperately to catch my breath They call this feeling love It’s so much more intense than I thought

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Cupid’s Last Laugh I ache on the inside My heart is pulling out hair From the torture I waffle from one emotion to the next Riding on the back side Of a roller coaster Blazing through curlicues And whoop-de-doos In the dark I am torn apart By my love for you And the understanding That we can’t be together It’s like the arrow That once pierced my heart Is now killing me

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I Cut Myself Prescription bottle brown That’s the color of her eyes They haunt me They stun me like white pill Gone down now Diffused in my belly I think about those eyes Lying here in the dark I see them looking at me Recognizing me every time Like a fingerprint That fits perfectly into mine We’re bookends of the same dusty books On the back shelf The ones out of view From everyone but each other I rub my hands at temples Groaning into memories Waiting for magic chemistry To drift me off to rest

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Also by Dan Burke PRINT

Driving into the Sun For Fame or Fable The Migration of Hair SOUND

The Bletchley Park Project: The Bletchley Park Project The Bletchley Park Project: Mirror Root



Speaking In Semaphore