What There Is

There’s a glass building rippling in the sun,
a sidewalk littered with cigarette butts and bus tickets,

a blue-eyed boy teetering precariously close to the curb,
and a distracted mother staring off into the distance.

There’s an old woman standing at the bus stop,
clutching a brightly flowered handbag to her chest.
I smile at her and she glares –
what the fuck are you looking at, bitch?

There’s a sense of crashing, a feeling of emptiness,
and a guitar player on the corner of 8th & Marquette.

His strings are broken,
his case is filled with change and a one dollar bill.
He gives me a toothless smile
& I fight the impulse to give him everything I have left,

until there’s no choice but to run barefoot

through the pine needles, past the iron gate,
up the cobblestone driveway,
and into the arms of danger,
which is the only place I’ve ever felt loved

(even if only the danger was real).

There’s a waiter outside of Garage Joe’s
pacing and smoking a cigarette.
He looks undone before lunch,
like he wants to start running
until the clatter of plates is far behind him.

I understand.

There are months I’d like to forget,
& moments I’d like to reclaim,
but the thought of your teeth on my neck still makes me gasp

& there was a time I lived for that,
even while everything around me withered & died

In the gray pale of June,
there are clenched fists and closed mouths

and I don’t want you back,

but there’s rain in the sky &
an empty space in my heart
and it’s more than loneliness.

There’s a crumbling church with a tilted cross,
a boy with a blue Mohawk smiling into the sun

I wave at him to shed the anger
that has stolen my morning.
There’s an enormous sense of gratitude when he waves back.

(If I save you, I am somehow rescued
If I love you, somehow I feel loved –
but absolutely ruined for anything or anyone else).

There’s a need of something,
but I’m not sure what it is.
I want to crash through walls until I’m naked and raw,
and there are no memories of you left on my skin.

(I don’t want you back,
I want you faded, gone).

There are two men sitting on a blanket in Calhoun Park,
One is arguing, the other rocks with his head between his knees.
I walk past them as if I’m invisible.

There are days I wonder how much I have left
and how much of me there is really left to lose.

(And there are days I just want you
to bury me a little deeper, love, because I’m not gone enough).

The bookstore women are walking back from the coffee shop.
They look unhappy despite their rainbow welcome sign.
I want to tell them to lock the door, pull the blinds, and make love
until they understand every word ever poured out
by the broken-backed, strong-hearted women
whose passions line their shelves.

There are days I want to matter to someone like that. . .
when I want some proximal type of love

& there are days I just want to fall into your abyss,
and let myself be swallowed whole.

There’s a woman laughing on the corner,
her dark hair falls into your eyes

(I wanted to erase your scars once,
even if it meant erasing myself).

There’s a girl with a lip ring bent over a sketchbook,
her tiny arms are covered in tattoos.
She is drawing a purple mountain and a golden moon.

(I don’t love you).

There’s a chilled wind that sweeps through the trees
and a terrible longing that courses through my veins
and never enough, never enough
is burned into my marrow.

There’s a life that doesn’t feel like mine,

it’s teetering precariously close to the edge, distracted,
& edged in an anger that doesn’t belong to me.

There are feet that want to run,
and broken things that need tending.

There’s a big yellow sun, other arms,
& a shadow to step out of –

there’s a sense of gratitude, and a feeling of dread. . .

and there’s something on the horizon,

but it’s not here yet.

~ ~ ~

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  1. “There are days I wonder how much I have left
    and how much of me there is really left to lose.”

    i had to read that several times over….

    oh, welcome back jane!

    you are a kick ass architect of the written word.
    i’m going to come back and read this again several times over in the next couple days…..must be something with the moon.

  2. This so visual and full of characters–like an indie movie in poetic form, like an unborn novel.

    Last week I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This poem reminds me of that film.

  3. Next time I am bringing popcorn to read your blog. It was exactly like V-Grrl said – it was a full length movie full of imagery and story. I am ready for the sequel. Write, Jane, write. Paint your pictures of words.

  4. Reminds me of Rod McKuen when he was at his best. No, I’m not saying you write “like him” but your depth and cadence have faint echos of him. It’s not that you paint like him but simply that you paint in different colors and different brush strokes. It’s evocative.

  5. You are a remarkable wordsmith and artist, but a godawful judge and critic.
    This piece is a film- with well defined characters who live beside us and streets that we all walk and truths we often choose not to see.
    I walked with you and saw what you saw and felt what you felt. A different time and a different place and a different woman…but I was with you.

  6. I walked the streets alongside you, meeting the characters as if corporeal.
    Your imagination and mine intertwined, and I wished you the joy of love and relationship that I stumbled upon at 17 and have forever since enjoyed.
    Intimate, Jane. This is so intimate.
    The maternal me wants to wrap you in my arms, hold you in my lap and rock you in the rocker; and then assure you there is better you deserve better, you will get better. It’s out there on your horizon.

  7. I don’t know how you write like this, and have bills. I’m printing it so I can read and digest every word. [I don't have a laptop. Sucks.] I wish I had a cigarette.

  8. Ms D – It’s not the dance as much as the way your words awaken other wise dormant thoughts and ideas. Your words awaken my imagination and I thank you.

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