Micah’s Top 10

In no particular order.

 


 

Until it Doesn’t

A giant gorilla holds an uprooted stop sign.

I can’t decide if the smartest or stupidest
thing anyone has said to me today
is “It isn’t a problem until it is.”

It’s not wrong exactly,
more like
so right that it’s meaningless;
a frozen thermometer
or most of philosophy.

Everything means something
until it doesn’t.

You Are Only Given Two Lives

A syringe

I envy the junkies
and the addicts

An ashtray

and everyone else who has the specific comfort
of knowing precisely how they are destroying themselves.

Week-38-Icons2

The tragedy and the beauty of life is
it’s rarely the regret you expect to feel
that you actually will.

Week-38-Icons5

You are only given two lives;
the best one begins
when you realize it’s the only one.

Week-38-Icons4

We’re All Just Apes

A chart details man's evolution from simian to homo sapien step by step until eventually arriving at an overweight person slouching in an easy chair staring at the smartphone in his hand, beer bottle and laptop visible on the coffee table in front of him.

Sometimes it helps to think
about how we’re all just apes.
Sophisticated primates though we may be,
we’re basically gorillas
who had too much time
on our hands
and figured out how to build TVs.

It wasn’t that long ago
that we exited the trees
and began inventing things
like the loincloth,
the wheel,
the pointed stick,
and all the rest of civilization.

It’s true that
the plains have predators
and there are no bills due in trees,
but I get it,
why it was important to leave.
And maybe
the scariest enemy that stalks you
is fear that holds you
to the comfort of familiar branches
when you could be striking out to new horizons
and evolving.

The Third Draft

The first draft is the most fun.The second draft is when it all starts to come together.The third draft is the hardest, because this is the draft that has to get shorter.But it's all so necessary, you protest to yourself. It will all be ruined if every detail isn't in place.

Yet sometimes I am guilty of lingering too long, and there is power in brevity, so maybe I will leave out everything after the

 

The first draft is the most fun.

The second draft is when
it all starts to come together.

The third draft is the hardest
because this is the draft
that has to get shorter.

But it’s all so necessary
you protest to yourself.
It will all be ruined
if every detail isn’t in place.

Yet sometimes I am guilty
of lingering too long
and there is power in brevity
so maybe I will leave out
everything after the

The Things We Orbit

steady glow of the moon
veiled by clouds of tonight
you are how I feel

do you even notice us crowded poets
slaving to describe you
in ways abstract and beautiful
so recent our arrival
and the vapors of our ecosystem
not the only clouds
over our heads
we too go largely unnoticed
except by the things we orbit
the universe is us
and let us never forget
as we pen our sonnets about the stars
that beautiful as the night is
between the clouds
there is even more starlight during the day
although it too
must sometimes struggle
through the clouds

 

 

 

 

Original source photo credit Kyle Richner via Unsplash.com

The Produce Sections of America

A crudely drawn map of the western US with a trail of crossed-off cities, drawn inside the cover of a book by Faust, which sits on the seat of a car.

Photos credit Wikipedia:Foto H.-P.Haack and Unsplash.com

Every time the phone rings it’s time to pack up
and go to a new city.
Everything I own goes into a duffel bag;
a couple of changes of clothes,
a can opener,
some matches,
a flashlight and batteries,
and the copy of Faust
that I’m perpetually almost finished reading.
Then it’s time to hit the road
for anywhere
that the phone isn’t ringing.

There is no noise
as I wander the streets
of downtown somewhere.
When the gas tank is getting low
I drive to a dealership
and find a new set of keys
to a Mazda
or a minivan
or something that gets good mileage
before it’s time to move on to the next city.

For my twenty-sixth birthday
I wished for more time to read
and fourteen days later
I awoke to find
I was the only person left.
It wasn’t that everyone was dead
or at least the bodies weren’t lying around
but rather everything was still
and quiet
and they were all gone.

Months later my greatest fear is
the car breaking down between cities
or possibly finding out
where everyone went.

Although the produce sections of America
are beginning to rot away
there is still plenty to eat
because I am the only one eating
except for the animals
who slowly are taking back their ancestral lands
but they don’t care for the foodstuffs of grocers
although once a large cat
stalked me through a canned goods aisle
In Des Moines
two weeks before the power went out there
for good
and I drove a shiny Harley Davidson
to wherever is east of there,
where it will be quiet for a few days
until once again my reading time is interrupted
by the nearby ringing of a phone.

The Seer

A cloaked and hooded shadowy figure lurks over a small village in the night of a dark, eerie forest, leaves blowing beneath the full moon overhead.

A quiet town, on prairie found
the gentle people sleeping.
The dawn has come, the morning sun
finds a gruesome secret keeping.
The first to rise found a grim surprise:
an arm and two bloody feet.
The village woke to find Fred Oak
ripped to pieces in the street.

With no passers through, the village knew
the killer is one of us.
And the paw prints found across the ground
made everyone suspicious.
Now many a year had passed by here
since the legends first began;
no one believed til this gruesome deed
in wolves disguised as man.

The bite marks chewed in the wolf’s dead food
confirmed our fears were true:
somewhere within family and friend,
one of us was loup garou.
Once blood was cleaned from the grizzly scene
and Fred was proper buried,
the entire town then gathered round
so justice could be carried.

Between our kin, family and friends
we’d never broken trust.
But truth was out, there was no doubt:
a killer was among us.
We all were scared as we joined there
each solemn and perplexed.
But we all knew if the wolf’s not slew
Might any of us be next.

A silent crowd stared each other down;
no one would speak the first.
But the silence broke when the elder spoke
and said “Waiting makes it worse.
The daily sun is halfway done;
soon moon will be overhead.
The hungry beast again will feast
unless first we kill him dead.”

Then a sudden din as we all jumped in,
each crying an accusation.
Amid the noise, Sheriff raised his voice
and halted the conversation.
“We can shout all day, but that’s not the way
to sort out which is which.
So gentle folk, I propose a vote
to hang the son of a bitch.”

Chilly with fear, no culprit clear
it seemed our only prospect.
So we each agreed, on count of three
to point out our chosen suspect.
With no other choice, in calm clear voice
the Sheriff was the host.
He counted three, each pointed we
at the friend we suspected most.

When we counted votes we found the most
were pointed at Sam O’Shallows.
Protested he, “It wasn’t me!”
still we strung him from the gallows.
Hanging from noose, his life was loosed
his body twisted in the breeze.
That deed now done, I think everyone
was almost put to ease.

With daylight spent, to our homes we went
and tucked our children into bed
That evil day, we could only pray
that the wolf was truly dead.
That night we found that the only sound
was the hooting of the owls.
Til midnight broke and I was awoke
by a nearby creature’s howls…

Ensign Not-Quite-My-Brother

A black-and-white pencil sketch of a calm, lonely window. Outside dark clouds gather; inside, a toy soldier sits on the floor by a bench in front of the window.

My sister’s sister
had a brother
who served in the war.
And while I sat in school
and played with toy cars
he huddled with the men in the trenches
who were told to fight bravely
and live strongly
and otherwise be nothing like me
except for occasional tears
and thoughts of mother.

I guess then that we’ll never know
if he fought bravely enough.
The triangular fold of the flag
and the black-and-white photograph
of Ensign Not Quite My Brother
sit patiently in his room
and so do I when the house is empty.

In my soul it is always just about to rain.

Mittens, Kentucky

An old, hand-drawn map of Kentucky on wrinkled, browned paper. In the upper corner, the words "There's no such place as Mittens, Kentucky" are furiously circled in red. Melancholy notes are scrawled all around the map, which is adorned with pictograms and doodles of indeterminate significance.

There’s no such place as Mittens, Kentucky
and every single person you ask for directions will tell you so.
The car smells of a thousand miles
of beef jerky and no air conditioning,
and the back seat is a museum
of empty plastic soda bottles
and all the crumpled road maps that haven’t helped so far.

With her head resting against my chest she told me
she loved me
and alone in that night
we both almost believed it,
or believed it enough to stay warm.

There’s no such place as Mittens, Kentucky
and there’s no one else staying in the hotel.
Insomnia and I walk the drifting hallways,
empty rooms behind paling doors
one after another
after another
and another.
The man behind the desk resumes his pornography habit
as soon as I’ve checked in
and the hotel bar isn’t open on Tuesdays.
In the lobby is a crooked rack stuffed full of road maps
to all the places I have no reason to go.

There’s no such place as Mittens, Kentucky
and no one riding shotgun in the car.
But there is the lingering smell of her cigarettes
and the lipstick she left in the glove box
and enough memories to keep me driving for another night.