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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Coincidental Orchids



COINCIDENTAL ORCHIDS

Concealing her newly flowered, hard-won bruises
she waited, for the moment to act was not yet right.
The faded beauty whose use propriety abuses,
hid her warrior behind mirrored shades looking for a fight.

Lugging bundles of thorn-less roses to the bus,
she preserved what seller's value that yet remains.
Mumbling tales of Synchronicity's hold on us -
the pavement was more than just a nation's oiled chains.

Mother going blind taught her how to pluck sunshine,
father leaving home taught her to shield her heart away,
one moment you are shooting the shit inside the goal line
the next you are scrambling to gather disarray.

A smile for the man who swiped her card, arrow up,
a frown for the one who smelled of screw-cap booze.
She knows we all get offered a drink from Wisdom's Cup
and some of us are so foolish as to actually refuse.

The bus smelled of prom night, of orchids and teen love;
she faltered for a half felt moment at memory's door.
When she shook herself free and her eyes looked above
she found she'd arrived at her her own home once more.

As her ride pulled away, and she turned away from Might Be's
she steeled her mind to choices she'd have made if she'd known.
She would have had someone say “Bless you,” when she sneezed,
she would not like to see herself in her twilight years - alone.

And so to her hollow home, and her lonely cold bed,
she comforted herself while tired of repetition.
There was no escape from demons racing through her head
and she resigned herself to a spinster's submission.

The orchid on the stoop caught her eye, then her heart.
The man from the laundromat last week, or some other,
a memento left to spark a conversation's shy start
left alone, so that no propriety should smother.

She smiled with real warmth, clutched her treasure inside,
slept the sleep of a woman who knows she is desired,
unaware of the orchids that took a stray wind's ride
coincidence landing them where they were required.




©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Breathing for Clouds



BREATHING FOR CLOUDS


I throw my heart up into the sky -
honest joy pinwheeling on errant breeze.
Take this, this simple song and do what you will,
throw it into the abyss of the center,
hide it where the sand meets the sea,
bury it beneath the scales of monsters.

Surely somewhere, somewhen,
it will be found by one who needed to find it.
It will be measured, wondered about, recited.
Perhaps a high note might stun a pragmatist
or maybe the low throb of its rhythm
will find a gaunt heart to give its warmth to.

But mark me well, oh gentle reader,
one fine day, when the world least expects it
the love that is crafted in this simple voice
will spin and whirl, dip and dive, breathing for clouds.
One whose world needed exactly this voice to set it free
will slap life with fevered palm and be its master.







©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Day I Killed My Father




THE DAY I KILLED MY FATHER
Being a little kid has its privileges. People tend to take your presence for granted, once they have gotten over how cute you are and have pinched your cheeks a time or two. They assume you cannot understand so you get ignored.

Therefore, kids can find themselves in a position to hear things that they are not meant to hear.

Sitting on the floor in a downstairs hallway, playing with a Tonka fire truck, I overheard the following exchange between my parents upstairs:

“Go back to your slut, I don’t want you here any more!”

“If you weren't such a bitch I wouldn't need to look elsewhere for affection!”

“Affection! How about some common decency!”

I heard the slap, the sharp retort of flesh on flesh, and I heard my mother’s shocked gasp, followed by a lumbering thud and a crash, as something ceramic died. What followed was unknowable at the time, my young mind unable to conceive of my parents scuffling and actually fist fighting upstairs in their room, but I will never forget the look on my father’s face as he stormed downstairs and out the door. Nor will my mind ever be free of the look on my mother’s face, one hand covering a growing welt, as she appeared at the top of the stairs.

Hate is not something that a five-year-old kid can get a handle on, but I would have gladly stabbed my father in the eye that summer morning.

Time passed as it always does, and things settled down to what we all knew as normal. My father’s drinking continued, my big brother was still a pain, and my mom was still my mom.

Some time later, I was sitting on the floor in front of the console TV, watching Red Skelton, currently my favorite grown up at the time, having just replaced Captain Kangaroo in my affections. The back door opened with a crash, and in stumbled my old man, reeking of booze, his tie skewed over to one side. He stumbled over the threshold, cursing it for tripping him, and he slammed the door behind him hard enough to rattle the glass.

“Wassup lil’ man, how’s daddy’s boy t’day?” He leaned backwards as if he would sail over but righted himself at the last moment. He lurched to the couch and threw himself on it, completely ignoring my silent shrug. I really did not like him when he was like this.

“Hey.” This was accompanied by a nudge with his right shoe that nearly knocked me over. “Hey, you’re in th’way, move over.”

I shuffled to the side on my haunches, declining to inform him that I was here first, and he could move too, since I knew how that would turn out.

“Whattaya watching this crap for?” I thought he would continue, but then he let out a huge belch, so I just looked at him. “I ask’t a quest-shun, boy, answer me.”

“I like it.”

“TV is crap anyway, le’s you ‘n me do sumthin else. Wanna box?”

I was not sure what we were going to do with a box, and I knew he did not have one on him to play with, so I just looked at him.

“Are you retarded, boy, I ask’t you if you wanna box!” His voice rose in volume, and I knew that he could hurt me bad if he wanted to.

“Yes, please.”

“Get up.”

Here followed a few minutes of him trying to get me to stand just so, with my ‘dukes’ held up high, despite the fact that I had no idea what dukes were, and also despite the fact that he could barely stand. He drooped and stumbled around, stepping on my foot more than once, until, eventually, we were squared off as combatants in our imaginary boxing ring.

“OK, li’l man, give me your best shot.”

I stood there, unsure of what to do next. What shot was he looking for, like with a gun?

“Hit me dammit, hit me hard!”

So I reached way back, putting my right duke behind my right ear, and flung it with all of my might straight out, aiming for a point behind him. My chubby little five-year-old fist smashed into his crotch, he fell to his knees, his eyes rolled up into his head, and he fell face forward onto the couch, bouncing off and rolling backward to land on the floor, his head hitting the floor with a dull thump.

I had killed him, I thought.

Good.

I sat back down in front of the TV and turned it back on. I ignored my mother’s screams and the paramedics comforting words, and the look on my father’s face as they strapped an oxygen mask over it and wheeled him out the door on a shiny gurney. Red Skelton made me laugh.

It would be some time later that I learned and came to understand about alcohol-induced epilepsy and the cause and effects of seizures.

I was just disappointed that he eventually came home.




©2014 Christopher Reilley


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rule Yourself First



RULE YOURSELF FIRST


Once you have been properly imprisoned
you can make friends with the rats,
get yourself elected governor of the cell,
rule your domain.

Take your time to feel the cold stones
beneath you, mark the time
with hoarded chalk,
relax into your shackles.

Had you been a sailor,
you would be able to pull apart
any knot, no matter how complex.
If you had chosen a life as a circus clown
your reward would have been laughter
instead of tears.

You now have time to spend
thinking of betrayal,
and the quicksand under the bed.

Even worse than the punishment
is the snare, the trap, the decoy,
or the plainclothes officer
posing as a friend.

If you are able to imagine
that not every net is a snare,
you will be free enough to fly.







©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

No Time to Bleed



NO TIME TO BLEED

We just ain’t got time to bleed,
there are more problems to face every day.
You poisoned the very air that we breathe
and control what we think and are allowed to say,

You contaminate the water we drink
which you now want to charge us for.
You copyright the food we eat,
then fine us if we try to grow more.

We fight in your wars, die for your causes
and sacrifice our freedoms for your protection.
You liquidate our savings, destroy our middle class
then purchase your very own elections.

You make us slaves to your corporations,
create zombies addicted to your airwaves
abolish our rights as human beings
and assassinate our leaders into early graves

You own our property, ship our jobs overseas
and shred our unions for fear of their might,
you profit from disaster, destabilize our currencies
and create distinctions between black, brown and white.

You raise our cost of living, devalue our education,
you’ve come THIS close to extinguishing our flame.
For too long we have been forced to take what you give
forced to sit sidelines while you play Greed’s own game.

But like I said, we just ain’t got time to bleed,
because your usage of us has gone too damned far.
We have pitchforks to sharpen, baseball bats to nail up.
and a million torches to load with burning tar

So when you look from your penthouse and see us coming,
you will then know your safe choices are far and few,
bend over and kiss your fat-cat’s fat ass goodbye
because we the people will be coming for you.





©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Vessels



VESSELS


Uncontained is the river
upon whose back
dead leaves float
onward to the sea.

Irreversible are words
spoken in anger or haste,
they cling to our memories
like fog to a morning fisherman.

Untenable is melancholy
after empty conversations
about routines
and other superficial conversations.

Immovable are moments
when love consumes two souls
leaving one life
to be shared among them.



©2014 Christopher Reilley
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Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Write a Love Letter



HOW TO WRITE A LOVE LETTER



First, imagine that you have just connected, intimately,
and you are basking in the torpid afterglow.

Next, realize your immense gratitude, that such a one as your love
would grace one such as you with immensity of bliss.

Search your mind for the metaphor that suggests perfection
all the while realizing that words are inadequate to the task.

Open a vein, figuratively speaking, and pour your soul onto the page,
Then imagine the kiss of your lover healing the wound.

Use language of truth, whether raw or poetic, hold back nothing,
fill the lines of your sheet with pure honesty and reveal all.

Read what you have penned with open mind, open heart, open eyes
and with the complete understanding that this is the only thing that matters.

Burn your letter as a sacrifice to the gods of Romance,
breathing deeply of the emotion carried skyward.

Find the one whose heart owns your own,
and tell them what you have learned, with kisses and sighs.




©2014 Christopher Reilley


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

You Drank Yourself Dry


YOU DRANK YOURSELF DRY


I am older now,
yet you arrive in my heart
like a clenching fist,
intruding upon my life by dying so far away.

The details of the detritus
of your life
are both mundane and appalling.
I look at the train wreck
you made of your life,
swearing to never follow
the path you have taken.

Now is not the time to remember the beatings,
the police at the door looking for you,
the multiple wives with no divorces,
or the booze-fueled rampages.
Now is not the time to recall how you left
walking away from us as if we burdened.

The woman you broke,
who deserved to hate you
much more than I hated you,
insisted now was the time to find
something of value
I had gotten from you,
in order to let you go.

Not the double chin,
not the Irish temper
and certainly not the choice to lie.

Then I recalled the stories,
the after-dinner readings,
goofy voices and all,
that sparked a child’s imagination
and crafted a dreamer in his place.

Thank you for that.

Now that you are gone,
I look at the steamy mirror
and no longer recoil at seeing you there.

This poem appeared in the chapbook "Grief Tattoos" - get it for the Kindle HERE

©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Love Court



LOVE COURT

Tell me that this is only a nightmare,
a simple bit of undigested beef.

Tell me that I am not sitting here
being called the defendant,
fighting to keep my children –
my life, my heart,
my reason for getting up in the morning –
from being ripped away from me,
brought to reside half a world away,
leaving me carved and cleft.

Please, I beg of you, tell me
that this is simply one more of your many lies.
Tell me that you are simply
unable to put their lives and futures
on the block for your own financial gain.

If you had a shred of maternal love,
or a modicum of emotional honesty,
you would admit to your greed
over-ruling what you know is best,
you would put their needs above your own
for the very first time.

Tell me that you paint me as a monster,
a follower of impulses that should put me away,
instead of portraying the good you resolve
simply because you know of no other way,
and not because you do not intend the best
for the two lives we have both created.

Tell me that this is not happening,
tell me you have changed your mind.

Lie to me once more, you are good at it.
Practice, after all, makes perfect.





This poem appeared in the chapbook "Grief Tattoos" - get it for the Kindle HERE

©2010 Christopher Reilley

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Another Rotten Day



ANOTHER ROTTEN DAY

Sept 11 1973

With the help of Kissinger and the bloody CIA
Marxists hold a deadly coup in the country of Chile.
Salvador Allende was made to go away,
and replaced by the puppet Augusto Pinochet.

Sep 11 1978

A medical photographer, Janet Parker was her name
was the last life that smallpox was ever allowed to claim.
She caught it at Binghamton U, and then nothing was the same,
vaccine created earlier so her death was a crying shame.

Sep 11 1987

Dan Rather walked off the set of CBS Evening News,
upset that tennis matches had superseded audiences views.
When match was over, TV was dark, no one on set but crews,
proving once and for all that ol' Dan had much too short a fuse.

Sep 11 1987

In Santa Monica California, actor Lorne Greene passed away among tears,
a star of Battlestar Galactica and Bonanza he had garnered many cheers
Yet pneumonia and infirmity had proven true his family’s fears,
he would have been five hundred and four if counted in dog years.

Sep 11 1991

Mike Tyson, the champion boxer got into a legal scrape,
he was arrested and charged this day, accused of violent rape.
He spent three years in jail from which he could not escape
and bolstered his reputation as a primordial, vicious ape.

--

This day you see, has lots of things to remember with dismay.
No matter how much we try, bad things happen anyway.
So thank the stars, your god or gods, get on your knees and pray
you are safe and whole and alive to feel pain, today and every day.




©2014 Christopher Reilley

This poem can be found in my collection BREATHING FOR CLOUDS

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Get Out the Vote







GET OUT THE VOTE



Our fellows have fought and died
to preserve our right to vote.
To voice our choices loud and clear,
to choose which course to promote.

It is our responsibility
as well as our unique right
to come together as a nation
and present the people’s might.

To those sad souls to have never risen
and claimed what they want to do
forfeit the right to complain about things
that affect both me and you.

E Pluribus Unum
means one out of many.
Your chance to be really heard
and it does not cost a penny.

Not only a responsibility
but also a hard-won right,
a chance to make your notions heard
and exercise communal might.




©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Why did You Lie?



WHY DID YOU LIE?


Why did you lie? You know that I love you
You’re my kind of guy, there is no one above you.

I cannot help but lie, not even to you
No matter how I try, it’s just something I do.

Why did you lie? I don’t care about money.
I just want you to try and be there for me, honey.

Why did I lie? I’m not who you think?
Not someone you can rely on not to fight, steal or drink.

Why did you lie? I like who you are.
Without you I’d die, you are my guiding star.

Why did I lie? I can’t handle this scene.
No matter how I try I end up being mean.

Why did you lie? You own my whole heart.
Others need not apply, we can’t be apart.

Why did I lie? I just needed some space.
Please darling don’t cry. Wipe those tears from your face.

Why did you lie? Why not tell me the truth?
You just cannot deny you are no longer a youth.

Why did I lie? What else can I control?
I don’t have a job and must live on the dole.

You don’t need to lie, I believe in you
I don’t know why, but I just do.

Why did I lie? You expect too much.
I can’t reach quite that high, I choke in the clutch.

But why, oh, why did you lie? Why did you lie to ME?
This must be goodbye. No love without honesty

Oh, why did I lie, it cost me my life
Please let me again try, come back my dear wife.

Why did I lie, now I am left all alone.
I wish I would die, no way to atone.

I will never again lie, this is my solemn vow
I am a different guy, come back to me now.

My love was a lie, I did not trust enough
Every day I cry, I’m just not that tough.

Do not ever again lie, I will love you again
You get one last try, you must forever abstain.

I swear not to lie, I will win back your trust
Your love lifts me high, I can’t bear your disgust.

I will trust you not to lie, you are my dear man
There is no short supply. Do it, I know you can.

I adore you my wife, and that is no lie.
You are my whole life, without you I would die,

I’m sorry for the strife, and on me you can rely
Cut my soul out with a knife, I will always comply.










©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Source of My Power



THE SOURCE OF MY POWER



Being in love does funny things.
Now that I am in love
I am no longer just the same me that I have been,
Now I am the Lord of Time
possessing the earth
and everything that lives upon it -
mine to do with, as I will.

I used to scribble words,
Stringing together ideas
in hopes of unearthing truth.
Now I am liquid light,
the poems in my notebooks
become fields of mimosa,
glistening with dew.

Before love, I spoke with my mouth.
Yet now, water gushes forth from my fingers,
grass grows upon my tongue,
I encompass all that will be,
And all that is
wishes to be me.

Since I love as I do,
all the trees run barefoot to me.




©2008 Christopher Reilley

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Friday, September 5, 2014

I Don't Care



I DON'T CARE




The absolute truth is –
I do not care.

I care nothing whatever for the car you drive.
The clothes you wear are meaningless to me.
A-list? So what? B-list or even D-list,
it means nothing to me.
I could not possibly care less
if you know someone
who knows someone
who is close to someone
who can do something
for me – or against me.

I only care about the words
that flutter from your mind,
falling gently on the table between us,
or ringing and stinging my ears.
Only the thoughts that you share with me,
the visions that you can make me see,
the vistas that you convey me to with words,
are worth a damn to me.

I will not fall in love with your bones and skin.
I am ambivalent about the places you have been,
there is nothing you can pull from your pocket
that would thrill me.

But tell me a story,
write me a poem,
share a slice of truth with me
in ways both clever and apt –

…and I will be yours forever.




©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Landscape with Poet




LANDSCAPE WITH POET

On that rare day
when everything is at rest
in the placid landscape
of Monet,
or Cole, or even Turner,
I will walk in shadows
of purple, and vermilion,
pulling cool from my surroundings
to ease my fever.

I will walk,
silent as a silhouette,
or the shadow of my own tombstone,
saving my voice
to whisper of love
in the tender folds
between her ear and shoulder.

I will share of my self,
in verse, or strophe,
telegrams from one soul to another,
coming in succession
like the keys of my heart's organ
played by hurricane winds.

Solitary trees will bend,
seeking solace in neighbors,
humming airily to each other.
sheep will raise shaggy heads,
Orpheus himself will sound
harmonics in the upper scales,
and my life will entwine
with another, in bonds
sure as chemical connection.

And my words;
my power, my praise, my curse -
will lift to the heavens,
bury deep into truth,
and score themselves
into the world around us.
There will be new life,
else there will be nothing at all.







©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Window to the West





WINDOW TO THE WEST


If I had a window that opened upon the West,
I would open it every dusk,
tether my will to the fading sun,
and allow it to pull me -
drag me across the studded curvature of the Earth,
bouncing me along topography and Time
like a tin can behind a wedding car.

I'd savor the tastes of the middle of my land,
smell sweet corn in fields ten miles wide,
taste the dust of deserts becoming mud under my tongue,
scrape myself along asphalt and tarmac,
viewing my country up close and personal
until I had the sense of coral and brine
on the coast farthest from my home.

If I had a window to the Western skies
I would spend the time to understand
how the pale blue of a day can
find the power to become cobalt of night
by passing through the fires of red.

I would thrust myself skyward at every chance,
a superhero who saves nothing but memories,
finding silken threads of gossamer
left behind by the death of the stars.
And before I returned to my window
I would scatter what I know of true Love
leaving it behind for others to find
as they look out into their own skies.
















©2014 Christopher Reilley

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