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

Exquisite Corpse

when we kissed underwater
in the mouth of the whale
and the dead christmas trees
were put up for sale
and the Japanese salesmen
they pushed us around
and they tried to get us talking
but we didn’t make a sound
we were so stuck in love
like some gum on a shoe
but it got to the point
where the truth wouldn’t do

when we kissed in the ocean
in the mouth of the beast
and we showed up so late
for your mom’s bloody feast
we got lost in the back
of a honda civic dream
and we thought we would dance
but it came out a scream
so we left for the country
of a closed broken door
and i said that i love you
and you called me a whore
and i knew you were right
thought I did have my doubts
as i washed your car windows
and wiped lipstick off my mouth

so we kissed in a desert
for the strange passerbys
and they threw out their cigarette
which i always despised
so i shook my big fist
and you rolled your eyes back
to the dark of your skull
and you never came back
so i left you alone
with an old red balloon
to float off wherever
away from your doom
and i came home and slept
for a couple hundred years
and i woke up a cockroach
i woke up in tears

it was strange and dramatic
and it cut like a knife
and i don’t think i’ve ever
had more fun in my life

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

Wake for my youth so far (i hope)

and the next clock reminds me that in eight months of living in this apartment i have yet to clean my fridge
and the next clock reminds me that the older i get the less i grow my beard out and that one is surprisingly sad
the next clock tells me tonight i should relax and watch kendrick lamar videos
and the next clock irks me to paint paintings any time i try to close my eyes to sleep.

the next clock is you, naked at the foot of the bed, crawling towards me
yet another clock is you, locked off and silent, no matter what volume i twist my voice to.
yet another clock is america.
yet another clock is my car in the driveway, my debt flooding the basement, the sounds of sirens surrounding my house at one in the morning though i couldn’t be certain what the crime is.
the next clock is death. duh.
the next clock is time and time is a live studio audience laughing. they are laughing and laughing though i don’t get the impression any of this is funny to them. though i don’t get the impression they are enjoying themselves, or that they are here for any reason but to be an ethereal railroad tie, punched through my railroad.

and lately i don’t get the impression this gets easier.
i do get the impression that one’s dreams change over the course of any given lifetime.
sometimes in revelation. sometimes through Reality, as Reality kicks our asses at ping pong, and then proceeds to literally kick our asses. and then proceeds to give us the beautiful painful distinct privilege of watching our parents get older.

the next clock is me, and it’s a very large clock. i can see myself in its glass. the image is changing. for me, it’s like a roulette wheel spinning through different versions of myself, upon which i can impart varying levels of love.
the next clock is Christmas, because even the worst of Christians can’t deter me from loving the heart of winter, two exits after the solstice. even the worst of Christians can’t deter me from finding sonic joy in the temperance of warm alcohol and family. whatever family may be. don’t cage in your limitations on love. do you hear me?

the clock ticks like an atom bomb. i shed my skin like a snake. i drive the bus to school. i turn in my homework on time. i kiss the girl, on the neck, in the car. i pull out the praying bar and i sit and i pray to a wooden ceiling.

dear wooden ceiling, allow me to not get too wrapped up in this algebra. allow me to magically know when the pizza is done cooking. let me roller skate with death during the couple’s song. dear wooden ceiling, shield me. dear wooden ceiling, allow me to know the difference between surrender and defeat. may i lay with lions and come out their king. let me lay with a woman who humbles me. chase off the ghosts, this isn’t pac-man, but it’s pretty close. illusory fruit and maze. like a bible story.

dear wooden ceiling, when i die make me a clock with no hands. paint my wings in something heavier than feathers. kiss me warm. wrap me in velvet until i miss the sandpaper. until i wake up, and i wake up, and wake up, i wake up, wake up, wake up.

 

In Pictures

the earth is pulling back against us all
as we push off we realize we are all just scratch n sniff stickers glued down by gravity
mannequins set into motion marching out of cars into light rail trains
big trucks stuck in traffic
whales in sardine boxes
broken pencils trying to carve our initials in an asymmetrical heart below our loved ones
two letters
a big fucking cake
shared joy empty beds
faces unpixelated and repixelated across empires
across oceans full of skeletons and sunken ships
and then in the clockwork of it all we begin to burn up
ten thousand grams of mess
disattached in smoke and flame
burning
dear john letters and IOUs
burning
unresolved conflicts
trains halted before the crash frozen in grayscale in pictures
burning
dead watches on anxious wrists
wedding rings on the claws of monsters
burning
for the strangers who prefer to stay strange
and the family too distant to be familiar