That One Week Where I Thought I Had The Death Disease

there was that one week
where i believed i had the death disease
i put quarters in every gumball machine
and i chewed so many gumballs
i kissed my lover ferociously
like a tiger, like a cracked out tiger

in some strange twist of events
i still found myself brushing my teeth well
you’d think there’d be a resolve but no
i still found myself valuing brushing my teeth
i also began making my bed
maybe because i thought to myself
well, i’ve got this death disease and my days are numbered
i deserve fresh breath and a well-made bed

i deserved all sorts of things that week
twenty minute breaks at work where i’d just wander
to other floors in the building
pacing like a mindless patient in a psych ward
through other people’s drudgery
i’d wink at strange men
sitting at their desk just trying to feed themselves

i stared out the corporate window at the rocky mountains
and i tried to capture frames of them
blinking erratically as if the optic nerve were a classic polaroid camera
the green foothills, the brown mountains, the white snowcaps
like god saying fuck you, my tiramisu is better than yours
like god saying fuck you, i love you this much
and realizing that every person in my life loves me that much

i used my water cup for soda at tokyo joe’s
i didn’t feel any shame
i stared the assistant manager right in his patchy bearded face
as i slurped down dr. pepper like it was the classiest wine
i looked at him in his eyes and i saw myself
i realized i was the assistant manager at tokyo joe’s
that even in the nucleus of my death dance i didn’t quite know how to be

i wasn’t a communist insurgent overthrowing the capitalist structure
of the world of the everything

i wasn’t death riding in on a pale horse

i simply remained me
my lymph nodes swollen like small galaxy

this didn’t allow me access to the manual on how to universe

it seems it takes time and space and patience to universe
it seems to me that communion with everything is more of a goal
than a possibility
it is still a good goal to have
i thought, as i finished my sample of dr. pepper

as i walked out onto the median of the road
as i straddled the double yellow line of mattering
as i realized that it seems to me i put way too much energy into things
like defiance, or worse yet, self-destruction
as a means to matter

that this is probably not the ways to remain a child
that as ugly as responsibility may seem
as much as we want to believe we are babies in oversized suits
the truth is we are animal skinned drums
that never truly explore the echoes of our sounds unto ourselves
we are too fascinated by the big room to dig deep into the small big room
the one that paces its cage in the haunted marrow of our bones

believing i had the death disease
all that was revealed to me was the mirror of what i wasn’t
all that was revealed to me was gratitude
buckets and buckets of gratitude
my eyes broke down in temper tantrums of gratitude
lying on my bed in antibiotics
i began crying thinking about the way i tried to ring you out of your love
and i promise you this, poem, i will stop trying to weigh love in grams

believing i had the death disease
i spoke frankly each and every day to my mother and father on the phone
who still reminded me i haven’t paid my toll fees
who said yeah you just can’t think about it
and i said okay good luck to me with that
and they said no no no you’ll get it
and i said ok
and all of the phones on this floor kept ringing and ringing
so i just kept saying ok ok

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Mayday

it was crazy, really
the way that we sat talking stoned in your basement
the way that these words that we thought tasted like sweet ginger kombucha
poured out of our mouths like turpentine
muddying our naked bodies frictioning like flint

it was crazy the way we burned down
and the whole time we burned down
we yelled and whispered “i love you, i love you”
again and again until our bodies gave out

the whole time we burned down
the carcasses of deer dissimulating into the dirt
a fast motion video of ten thousand worker ants
hounding the occasion to taste the sweet remnants of the moment
but us born again small in their bellies
but ten thousand times over
but love

but there’s so much stubbornness in early May to be had
spring is a pushy little bitch

and then we were disappeared
too everywhere to feel anything other than everything
and in the everything was a call to arms to push through your madness
to push through my own madness
to find out what lies on the other side of all this madness
even knowing the answer is more madness

and every ounce of moon rock that we pulled from each other’s skin
by the force of our own separate gravities
every ounce of ocean that we precipitated into little cartoon clouds above our heads
every ounce of green honesty flourishing like feathers in your eyes
told me what i already knew because you’d told me so many times

what you’d told me so many times
as i maybe foolishly argue that love and freedom are the same thing

what you’d told me so many times
that i’m so busy thinking about the winter in the heart of the spring

THE PRESTIGE

Day 2 of 30 days 30 poems

the man put his hand on the stove and decided not to remove it
he felt the searing burn of the electric heat on his flesh but still
despite every impulse in his body he refused to take it away
as the tips of his fingers began to catch flame and crumble
like five cigarettes dwindling before his very eyes he wondered
am i any of this? what line have i crossed that no one else has
am i a hero? will it be a legacy worth telling that one day i
a man no different than any other man decided to put my hand
literally into the fire, here in the midst of this suburban whiteness
here in the midst of this humming refrigerator talk show blues
white bread bologna kraft single mayonnaise sandwich cut the crust
is it worth it that i burned myself alive alone here inside of my home
inside the strange tube light shadows of this cookie cutter kitchen
his wrists on fire his arms on fire all of him on fire until he disappeared

and then bones carried away into clinical labs
and then the dust of a human life swept up
sucked up into a vacuum separate from everything

and then what?

because making something disappear isn’t enough
you have to bring it back

OVERTHINK

(Day 1 of 30 Days 30 Poems for NaNoWriMo)

this is gonna hurt.

my mouth
is
spitting out bullets
like sunseeds

into your
false teeth
shaking
like baby aspen

and in the
midst
of this
intercourse
we find that
there was nothing
buried beneath our
bonfire

and so i sleep
on pills
and dreams
of reeling fitness tapes
and the skeleton key
to a family house

and elephants on
balls
and monkeys in
rings
keep spinning around
the circus
but guess what
we tried
like hell
and now
we know
what we suspected
we knew
all along

that we’d both come out banged up
and maybe better off

The Bus Stop is Denver

There used to be a tiny old man who each morning woke up and went and sat at the bus stop just off the intersection of Broadway and Littleton. I’d see him scooting along at the crack of dawn, walker in hands, until he finally sat and rested on the green bench. There are all types at this bus stop. Noticeably, there is a school for the blind down the street so it wasn’t unusual for a pair of blind folks to come wandering over, canes out and standing patiently at Broadway and Littleton, waiting for the bus. They talked about the weather or their loved ones, anything really. The tiny old man sits quietly in the background, head turned slightly down and listens to every word they say. I kept to myself. Ears lost in sounds. Anyways, the bus would come along and the blind folks and whoever else the day blew in would board the bus. I too would board the bus, and grabbing a window seat I would look out and see the tiny old man still sitting there. I’d go work my entire work day and coming home from it all, there still would be the same tiny old man. He would sit there all day, in the sunshine, in the cold fall, he would sit at the bus stop. He’d be there for the raging hormones of the Littleton High Schoolers, for the zombie morning commuters, for the single moms hustling groceries. He knew something. He knew that if he stayed in one place, the right place. The world would come to him, and from that very same place, then the world would leave.

Much Love

don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that there is a downside to giving too much. just be careful that you are taking care of yourself along the way. if you’re doing that, your heart can be a greyhound bus, my friend, taking lines and lines of future funeral guests in and throwing them gently wherever it is you want them to go. let me make myself clear. love more. if you are at all like me, your plateaus are your valleys. your high points are painful because you realize damn, we’re not gonna get a lot higher than this. but you will.

i am not one to prescribe to the christian devotion but i do believe in heaven. to scoop up some beat philosophy i wanna tell you that if you’ve got the bricks and the smile you can start to build a staircase to heaven right now. just remember – the feet go on the top side of the bricks.

look, i’ve been scared shitless this year. my anxiety, especially lately has been through the roof, but i think that’s largely because i’m not letting it win. i hold it true that at my core i am an introvert but i love people too god damn much so what i’m learning is how to be a buoy in a sea full of people. i’ve gotta be. i was given the gift of air so i can’t stop filling these life rafts, and you. you’ve got way more things going for you than i do. anyone who resorts to rambling as a profession like myself really has but one job and that’s to tell you that you can do anything. anything other than writing. unless you’re a writer too in which case we’ve got coffee. it’s not always warm but it’s mostly free and once you sit down at the alphabet piano and feel those synapses firing in your fingers, you’ll get it.

there’s not much to get. the television will tell you there is. the internet will tell you there is. a massive self-help section at the old timey bookstore will tell you there is. that’s fine. none of these things are innately bad. but really what it all boils down to is it’s all love. and not just a little love. much love. what i have for you is much love. so eat off my plate. sit across from me at my table. get on this here greyhound bus because there’s space for you. there’s space and there’s much love. Yes.

 

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2017

Anatomy of a 29 Year Old Human

*just about every year on my birthday I write an “Anatomy of a … Year Old” poem. Thank you for reading.

i am a giant lizard monster
trying to lay down comfortably in a sprawling metropolis but the buildings scratch at my back

the cars pierce my feet like legos

i fold myself ragdoll into a suitcase in attempt to be smaller
i’ve tried my hand at big, i wish to be little

i stare into the mirror but it’s not a mirror
it’s the ghost of marley and he’s eating my cereal

he tells me i need to grow out my beard again

he reminds me i am a joshua tree at the end of the western world
he reminds me that it is crucial that i push through heavy desert ground

my veins are filled with marathon runners sprinting but only when it’s dark out
i’ve begun to name the avenues they run down, federal, larimer, colfax

rush hour is a real bitch
my hands shake at the horns honking screaming for attention

i’ve spent twenty eight years sawing myself in half for the big audience
i want to spend the next twenty eight sewn together

maybe salinger, alone in a boat in the middle of a forest

maybe vincent, a militia of mad men in the fields of anxiety

there is hair in my ears and when i was signing my contract this was not mentioned
television led me to believe that this corresponded with twilight years

meanwhile the movies led me to believe i would be a wealthy philanthropist batperson by now
i conveniently ignore al bundy’s belly, his thin hair, his vicious kmart realism

my eyes are the brownest they have ever been
this is good

this is spirit in form
petrified wood to be built into rocking chair conversations and tobacco pipes

i am seeking a clean definition of masculinity
and my femininity is my best hope to get there

there is goldfish in a glass bowl lodged in my heart
i still haven’t figured out what that’s all about but i feed it pellets

i remember that though the castle it swims around is small it is still a castle
and the castle is me and the goldfish is the music of it all

i’m confused
i’ve wrapped myself up in ace bandages but i’m not injured

i decide to play a mummy because for a brief minute this year i was a pharaoh
and now all i want is to be surrounded by true gold and sleep sleep sleep

and wake up thirty and haunt the shit out of these fuckers for at least a few more

we hearty new americans

we not old america
we hearty new americans
we go to work and put headphones in
we turn off world
we strong
we know we must resist and resist constantly
also we must sleep
also we must love
we put full force into situations
where we must learn put streamers up in hell
we don’t know the past
we know of it
we’ve heard of it
we’ve seen germany
we’ve seen empires fall
we’ve never been in a house with such bad foundation
we love still
we move shuffling through street
we see friendly Denver turn rat race
the cows gone home
we dear john letters over the interwebs
we die a little but preserve
we lose left arm strengthen right
we fight we fight we fight
we burn out on television
we seen every episode of everything
we’ve heard every political speech
marched through every protest
now we march for our own feet
and try to put the feet of other’s feet in our feet shoes
we dive we dive we dive
we hold breath we hold space
we trumpet of jazz in silent workroom
we machine
but we funky disco jazz machine
we beer we weed we drugs we drugs we drugs
we sleep through anxiety earthquakes
we float down lazy river with margarita
we dolphins with spacey helmet heads
we do what we do and we do what we have to
we in fear
we bathe in fear
we brush our children’s hair in fear
we three day weekend fear
we water cooler conversation drowning
we wonder the time and date
we cars in lines
we wrapped up in old newspapers
we swallowed in landlocked blues
we trashporn koolaid buster
we under extreme tension headache
skin tone awareness campaign
ugly commercials
unofficial mascots and death notes
we elevator conversations
we doomed
we buy house purchase mortage in doomed
we running on treadmills
we running on treadmills
we running on treadmills
we running on treadmills
we running on treadmills

Sea Change

i no longer wish to be made of metal
or stone

i don’t wish to be a brick building
a fortress

i’ve opened the doors, the windows,
the ceiling

i no longer wish to be fire

i do not need to catch on to those
around me

they do not have to hear me

i want to be left alone
to my most beautiful vices
tea and words and music

in my tiny apartment i am reminded
i do not wish to be big

i wish for more music

i wish to be less consumed in telling
stories

and more consumed in creating them

i wish to be paper
the thinnest pulp of paper there is

i wish to be folded
and thrown into the wind

i wish for gentle bristles of a brush
to travel across the skin of me

i want to build castles for the sea
to swallow

i want to remember today and tomorrow

i want to capture them at only so many
frames per second

i no longer want to paint self-portraits
i want to paint the sea

i wish to be a still life painting

i no longer wish to be made of metal

i wish to listen and to love
and then whatever is next
that too, that too

The Fourth of July

imagine one thousand ships sinking into a black ocean
the water twisting and sucked up into the sky

imagine your house is on fire and so is your neighbor’s house
great plagues of locust pushing through the alleys of your veins

imagine you don’t remember your name or what year it is
and imagine for a second that you don’t know who is the leader of your country

my tongue tastes like death and it doesn’t matter what toothpaste i use
i can’t help but spend hours each morning brushing off the black death of my ancestors before me

their names don’t fall off the tip of my tongue i see them easily enough on street signs and churches

imagine being an adult and learning to read for the first time
try and imagine what it’s like to not have been given the gift of reading handed to you

imagine the weight of words when everything on the television tells you it’s over
imagine there is a breath hidden in prayers tucked between the paper births and the ink stamped eulogies

imagine convincing yourself you can read with the sound off
that you can close your eyes and great wings will grow from your chest

it’s been years since most people have been in a bookstore. that’s the truth.

but this poem isn’t a public service announcement.
it’s not a shaking finger.

it’s a dying one.

as the ground swells up and swallows each of us whole and then we’re gone
and we’ll stay in walls forever besides soldiers and rapists, arsonists and nuns

everything i write lately is about death but i’m finding it hard not to write about death.

bring me dead flowers preserved between pages of a book
bring me hope in a little glass jar
bring me a child with eyes bigger than unending war

i fall asleep
incapable of keeping my eyes open and someone says to me
happy fourth of july

and i say oh, is that today.