ALMOST CONVERSATION AT A COFFEESHOP BOOKSTORE

as i handed down the book for purchase
i glanced eyes
mortified by the moving bag of skin
snatching at my plastic cash
and in the silence
i said aloud to myself
“no more!”

and through the dark thicket
i crossed my sharp machete
of conversation
“how was tonight?”
“slow,” he said,
“the good news,” i said,
“you survived it.”
so very bad dad joke am i
and i saw his tongue
behind his tired teeth
itchy at the thought of response
but the receipt came before
before the words

and he stayed still
i walked away
from maybe a fist fight down an alley
or maybe solving the riddle of time

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

27

last few moments
of feeling everything

bundled winter
that runs so deep in me

i’ve set out just to get by lately
i find my time is coming back around

chasing paper
and leaving little notes

erasing stigmas
and trying not to breathe

i hold my breath from disposition
i hold my breath until my face turns blue

but in these dripping drops of sand
executing me
i find i’m nothing less than mostly whole
the most i can ever hope for

i was born this way
the way i am now
all mannequin stuffed to the brim
with the tree limbs that the lightning
strikes down

i creature of habit
holy brain
all one million thoughts
never time to listen
too busy feeling what’s coming in
the next moment
aren’t we all we all

step halfway through your mirror
and chase the time like quickly fading life

there’s a shadow
that’s casting over me
like clouds on mountains
i feel my destiny

i was born to make it through
these 27 years
come tomorrow
and in the passing traffic song
i just might find a fraction
of something worth saving
until this next life
come tomorrow

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

WE WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE ANYTHING LESS THAN GODS

we were never meant to be anything less than
gods

we were born to give birth to creation and take
from that creation a sense of purpose
and take that sense of purpose to church
real church life church
the church of no religion
that’s where we were meant to share this
heart thing

and there among the listening ears of one thousand
hearts
all dolled up all eyes all silence all honest
eardrum
it is there that we can be heard
and capture the anthem we hear
like a lightning bug in a mason jar
and wear it around our neck
not so much like a medal
and much much more like a locket of memory

i say this all with humility
we are each and every one of us so tiny
but maybe that’s exactly where we got it wrong
we wanted the gods to be so big
but really i do believe
that the gods are so tiny
and maybe we each and all are them

maybe we are the tiny gods we pray to

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

CAREFUL PATIENT MINDFUL

never have two strangers known each other so well
sitting side by side careful not to cross the crack in the cushions
but every random glance carried the weight of everything
everything there ever was between us and eventually my fingertips
abandoned their post in this armistice to commune with yours
interlaced and quiet they rested like lovers sharing a twin-sized bed
i and you we found ourselves stumbling right back to the page
that we had dogeared the shit out of

this poem is worth its weight in paper
but what comes with it is one thousand ounces of time
dropped from a dropper onto the paths we cross
not always together but never without the other one
and where we’ll end up i do not know but i do know
that these liquid ounces of time will form a mandala
careful patient and mindful that love isn’t this thing
that you take a bite out of and you’ve got it with you always

you’ve gotta keep chewing
through the sweet there is sour and seeds and
moments of pure confusion where you find yourself
in a half empty bed and the wind is too warm
and sleepless and bruised you wander through the halls
you sonder at the dreams you’ve had since you were a child

but if you keep chewing through that
then you’ve got it
you’ve got four lips two each smashed in passion
wandering the edge of another person
delicately traveling through the stories
that never come out in words

in this world you may never be without
there is always fireflies to be caught in jars
but when their bulbs burst like old cameras
when the stars disappear down the broken drain

there in the dark
careful patient and mindful
is love.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

VINCENT

i dug a tunnel to chinatown trying to escape the happiness that i had built for myself
cracked seven mirrors erased hours upon hours of footage of me taking acting lessons trying to figure out how to best play myself
if anyone tells you they always know who they are, they are lying
some days we wake up on the floor and it takes all the sunlight in us just to get back into bed
blankets build like cocoons but we don’t always come out with wings
nature can be a bitch
life can be unexciting
black without white is meaningless
sometimes war are fought in hopes of peace
somedays we are all all are mistakes

maybe the love poem is that i’m trying so desperately not to write a love poem about you
but you’re there, sifting through the stitches that tie my heart to my arms
and my arms hang tree to tree in the pending summer just hoping to be a hammock for you to rest your restless love in

cancel my subscriptions
burn my bills
take every word i’ve ever written chop it up and tally the words i’ve used the most
see the patterns in the madness the song that unfolds when you just close your eyes
cannibalize myself
my obsession with destruction is each time i rebuild
i dream of being an astronaut, a teacher, a homeless prophet
but i remember that all i want to be is the person i was before
just better

i ran from it all
i ran from family
i ran from love
from earnest truth
from boredom
god damn did i run so hard from boredom
but that shit is everywhere
and if you can hear the music that plays
when the record ends
when the needle just slides along the edge unwilling to give up
if you can hear the music there
you got it all

and i’ve got it all
each star in my sky assigned a name
frida and jean-michel and andy

i call that one vincent
he’s my favorite

and when my clouds roll in
vincent is still there
him and they still patrol the ethers
watching the stupid mistakes i make
less like a biopic
and more like trashy reality television

they still look up at us
always on fire they are
always on fire
always in love
always ready to swim through
the same black sky
never to find
anything but everything and nothing
and everything and nothing and nothing
and nothing and nothing and wow wow wow
am i the love i see in you and everyone

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

ONE FOR THE ADDERALL KID

and let the record state he did not die. he did not go into decline or disappear through the wall like some resolved apparition. he bursted forth out his door and set the fucking world on fire. he churned his anxious day and night to compose twelve-hundred part symphonies of tracks on tracks on tracks trashing the fascist masses and the last alamo of the mind. the eternal sunshine melting like butter. the bread sliced thin and spread across the table to his twelve amigos – fuck disciples. he was not above. he was not holier than thou. he just had a mighty fine rage living in the cavity of chest that needed release and so – he released. a ten tentacle kraken ached into existence and grabbed at the bottom of the burning buildings. the city folks stopped to pull out their cameras and snap memories of the day that he took this mass-produced consumeristic ideology of what is and replaced it with this crazy fucking socialist idea of what could be. of a society built not like industry. not like a model t but built like the human heart. only taking to gain the strength to give even harder. give even harder. this one is for the adderall kid. too punch drunk of daft punk to keep the fire in his hell-bent chest. he burned, and he burns, and he will burn. for three thousand eternities and for nothing more – than the rest that comes – at the end of life – well spent exhausting one’s self – on the cause of setting the ugly parts of this watery world – on fire.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

REQUIEM FOR A BRUISED EGO

for a minute there
it sounded like you thought you did it

that you opened your mouth to speak
and out flew some grand butterfly

for the world to grasp onto and worship
as it fluttered through the poetry of their existence

but when you opened you mouth
what came out was two elements of oxygen

to each singular element of carbon
and a promise to do the best you can to not fuck up

because that’s it, poet, isn’t it?
to try like all hell to not fuck up

not to be a savior but more not to be the bomb
the one that comes bursting into the corridor of the building

exploding in great gaseous fire as you see the eyes
of ten thousand scared patrons fleeing from your monster movie

screams captured in the dissonant frozen frame of memory
if you draw your box too small, it’s easy to be on the wrong side of history

or the debate – or relevancy – or to channel some dead asshole
who talked a whole hell of a lot about buddhism and alcohol and misogyny

your idols should have killed you when they had the chance
now you’re stuck in a web of netflix and your front door is locked from the outside

you default. back to chinese takeout. back to endless newsfeed.
back to the giant post-modern commercialist womb of nonexistence

what they don’t tell you is the insane amount of energy that it takes
to be a good person. to burn the fire you could have saved for warmth.

there is no field day ribbon.
if you’re doing it right, there’s barely a thank you.

but it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to sleep at night.
and it’s near impossible to dream if you don’t close your eyes.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

SATURN’S RETURN

they say that saturn completes an orbit every twenty seven years.
for twenty seven years it travels its usual course only to find by the time
it reaches the end of its journey that it is in the same place it began.

funny, isn’t it? we work so hard to disillusion ourselves that the things
we struggle with are not part of who we are. we stack layer after layer
of armor on frail bodies and we tell ourselves we’re protected when
the truth is we are really now just unable to move.

this is me shedding off each and every layer that i ever put on.

layer #1:
i’m the new kid in my fifth grade class and all the girls have a crush
on me. i can barely break through my shy to raise my hand let alone
acknowledge the notes slid beneath palms and the smiles across
flat wooden desks. here i am now twenty seven and single. some days
i see myself as a singular experimental vessel thrown into this sociological
experiment called humanity in the twenty first century. other days i vomit
letters just to remind myself that i can still do anything with this giant
pile of unstamped love letters i’ve acccumulated in the pit of my stomach.

layer #2:
i begin middle school and i draw on the white board a graph demonstrating
the decline of grades over time. running parallel is a second line showing
the correlation between grades and the ego i built as a young kid around
them. halfway through this graph the lack of focus kicks in and i’m thinking
about the career test i took that told me i’m a good fit for retail management.

layer #3:
i push through high school and i find myself attending metro state seeking
a degree in depression and appropriate places to take a nap. each day i wake
up, brush my teeth, get ready, take the car to the light rail, take the light rail
to school just to push myself further from the door of my missed class. music
is there for me, but after enough time it’s less like a blanket and more like
a burlap sack wherein i beat myself with sticks for the person i was the day
before and the day before that.

layer #4:
i’m writing eight hundred poems a day about nothing and i’m calling out of
my job that i hate. i’m smoking weed but less in a cool this helps me to relax
kind of way and more in a wow it’s really easy to refuse any accountability for
my own life kind of way. i blink and i’m sitting in my boss’ office and he’s
asking me if i even care about my job.

it’s in this moment that i realize it’s not that i failed.

it’s in this moment that i realize that i just have never attempted not to.

the next day i plant a seed. i water that seed and provide sunshine and
nutrients. i sit patiently and sober with myself and wait until through the
ground grows a tree. i cut down the tree and i build myself a home. i fill
that home with freedom and beauty, and with truth and love. i open the
windows and i let the light in. the light is bright at first. it burns my eyes
and i find myself dropping salty tears warping the wood below my feet.
i leave the door open. i let in the ghosts of my past and they help me to
arrange the furniture of my existence. i paint the walls in the shades of
my emotions. i give the extra paint to my neighbor. i create a neighborhood.
i create a community. i realize that i am not alone and that i’ve never
been alone. my house is warm from the warmth of the people that fill it. slowly
i strip every layer that i ever put on until i stand naked at the center of my
everything. and there in that moment i wait for applause but there is no
applause to be had. the ghosts all have disappeared. my friends and family all
trudged through the rain to their own houses. i find myself alone again but
i am not afraid. it’s so quiet that i hear my heart beat for the first time in
my life. i can feel each persistent push of chaos through my veins delivering
meaning to my lungs, my mind, the tips of my fingers.

i walk out into the cold rain. it stings but each droplet is like an old friend
tapping me on the shoulder. i turn around to them and there behind me is
every moment of pain that preceded a shining moment of ecstasy. i find
myself in observatory park and there in the center of all the trees is an
observatory. i enter in and it feels like a church. i peer through the telescope
and after searching the sky for twenty seven years i see it there before me. saturn.
returned from its dance across the cosmos. saturn speaks to me. she tells me
all the things i’m not. she asks me what i want to be and i say to her that i
don’t want to be anything. but there are so many things that are already alive
inside of me. so many love letters i’ve yet to write. she kisses me with her
light.

i have so many love letters left to write, but this one is to myself.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

ARE YOU REALLY SO UNHAPPY?

are you really so unhappy? when
you roll down your car window
and stick your head out there
are the thoughts of how terrible
it is to be alive? how terrible it
is to taste the wind against your
old tongue? is that where you
sleep? or is it in the gutter of
your anxieties crawling beside
you like an old dog? are you
really so absorbed in the grand
old shit show on the tele-
vision set that you have not
a single extra minute to just
realize how strange it is to
have ten fingers? to have ten
thoughts minimum (at least!)
on any given day? to be able to
sing a song any song any damn
song not good nor bad but
just whatever bird jumps
into the golden cage of your
rusty lungs? do you not see?
do you not see how many
times you’ve cried? both
ends of that salt water ocean
sealed with the bright glaze
of a sun that cares enough
to choose this planet to
glaze for. are you really so
unhappy? are you really
so captured in this jail
cell that you forget to water
the plants on your barred
window seal? and what of
the big apartment cell blocks
forming the paper calendar
hanging behind you? the one
million candles on birth
day cakes blown from
your windstorm lungs
and out flew the ancient
gods out into the ether
out to make plans to
fill you with love or
maybe to break your
heart? and break your
heart and break your
heart and recover you
will my friend. you will
recover. you will reach
into your back pocket
and therein will be a
photograph and a one
dollar bill. now

are you really so unhappy?

you gotta hear me on this
one. there’s a whole
bunch of love out there
waiting patiently to
destroy you. and here
on the inside there is
only you

painfully safe from the
blowing wind.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

UNFORTUNATELY HONEST

drunk on caffeine i escaped out into the night
hands in pockets i began to walk through the forest
of my fingers into the clearing of my palm
where i looked up at the great ether of my own
two eyes above me
and therein i saw something calling back
the shadow of my own giant looming over me
but the anxiety still called so i kept pushing it out
through my feet
and i moved through the blood in my arms
down its red path
until i came to the great stonehenge
of my dismantled rib cage
white stones torn asunder i sat beneath
the tree of my gut
and there i climbed in and waited
until the poet left the home in my heart
through a little red door
completely naked and covered in paint
he danced like it was someone’s birthday
and me in peacoat and dress slacks
and pinned in with belt and exhausted
i jumped down from the tree
and with my great long scarf
wrapped around my hands into fists
i swung the fabric over his neck
and there in the moonlight
that poured in through the hole in my throat
i strangled the poet lifeless
and i was so sure what it was that would happen
i was sure i would ring out some great eulogy
from the lips of the dying poet of me
and i was sure they would cast into the dome sky
of my internal organs and radiate from my bigger body
like caffeine
but the poet said nothing
nothing was said but it wasn’t quite silence
and then it was over

i didn’t bury the poet that was me
nor did i say grace for the fallen stars
that he cast from his dry heave mouth
dim shining with the looming reminder
of the guilt
the same guilt he carried with him
and now i
but now wordless
just kept walking off the caffeine drunk
but the headaches are so bad
and when you can’t sleep all you can do
is walk and walk and walk and walk
and hope that somewhere out there
is the magical monster you’re after
that after all is just you hiding in a peacoat
and dress slacks
or in some poem that you wrote
when you remembered that’s something you do

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016