CALIFORNIA KING

he carved a trench in south broadway
with the simple two step of his left hand brain
shoesoles grinding into the worms and dirt
the dirty ground drizzled with blunt wraps

he tried to solve the puzzle of strange love
that two backed beast which was sometimes a love
and sometimes not flipped over on its white belly

a canary with whooping cough
carrying out flat broke melodies
in the coal mine of his head

birds perched on the sides of brick buildings watched
their short term memories mistaking the lurch
of his pending heartbreak as déjà vu

the trench dug deeper
up to his neck in undelivered love notes
written in braille for the girl with no arms

then the rain came
ten million tiny fists falling then pixelating
ten million drops of water:
the polar opposite of a candlelight vigil
and the rain swept through like a political revolution
here then gone

the polar opposite of wedding vows

cold war on opposite ends of a stage the size of a california king mattress

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

THE GLASS MAN

his skin was made of glass. most stunning of all was his heartbeat in full display systolic diastolic every time blood rushed through his veins. his lungs too, expanding like wings. but so gently did he try to step wherever he went. one thousand onlookers unflinching locking eyes on what they did not know nor understand. when he stepped on the sidewalk the ground clacked like his heel and the concrete were trying to make a fire.

skin is not see through. in each and every person there is an entire intimate ecosystem that is rarely glanced upon. no one knows the churning of your gut. no one sees when you swallow your words and they river down into the pit of your stomach.

of course the man who was made of glass was out in the open. sometimes he would stand at a busy intersection, glass top hat before him, still and steady, just letting the world look on at his public secret. he stared blankly into the sky as children and adults examined him as if he was a museum. as if he was no more than an exhibit tossed out in urbania, here for all to see.

he could not hide, and one day it became too much and he smashed his hand crashing into a brick wall. where once there was delicate glass fingers there was now sharp scattered shards. it’s amazing how quickly fragility can turn to fear.

and the world looked onward still. and the glass man one day decided to never again be shaken up. to not be afraid to show his organs in their fierceness, but to learn to control them. so steady the rhythm of his lungs. he took deep breaths. and his heart for the muscle it was grew larger and larger. all in the eye of the world around him.

when he died, it was an open casket funeral. a still life painting of a life lived thrown out into the open. and as they closed the casket, the glass man became like the rest of us. remembered for those moments where the world was allowed to see right through to the soul of you.

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

SHOESTRINGS

we were two sets of shoestrings tied tightly to the line
interwoven entangled by our umbilical cords
we reached our arms out like limbs and dug deep into the roots of one another
and now as the swaying steadies we find ourselves still
hung up above rooftops and the sounds of distant urban traffic

we expected the spark
what we weren’t ready for was the fire
the blaze of flames across our spinal columns
and now we fall like dominoes
my single finger the instigator of the assembly line rumble
the clacking of stone minds and granite hearts
and here we are

i walk home from school and carry my own books
reviewing the lessons of the day, replay classroom movies in my head
untuck the middle school love notes from my pocket
and correct the scribbled lines of lust in the margins
for grammar and punctuality

the timing’s all wrong

it’s like a silent rom com in reverse

i pull down my pants and then hand you a flower

i do have something to say

despite the ten thousand pounds of rubble that my tongue laid out before us
buried beneath is an entire civilization of love that i’ve been slowly rebuilding
dirty hand by dirty hand i present each slab of lumber side by side
to create a foundation worthy of the love that i don’t yet know i deserve

and the house isn’t finished, there’s no running water
and i made the mistake of building it in a neighborhood where kids
throws shoes tied tight together up over the powerline
but before the mad inevitable hurricane comes barging in like a battery ram
breaking down the door i’ve assemble to separate the outside world
from the inside of our hearts clacking like wooden chimes in the wind
my hope is these floors i put down can serve as a proper dance floor
for two sets of shoestrings tied tightly to the line
an ode to the miles they walked to get to this one strange awkward moment

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

A STRANGE PHENOMENON

it was a strange phenomenon. the way that
your insecurity ate away at your sweater
like moths. each second a little more of
your soft curves revealed beneath the
material war being sieged around your
looming aura. your fingertips lost in
brushstroke against the walls of a dying
dream. you were an entire ecosystem.
creating while you destroyed. earth
rattled around your apple core while
you projected angel dust onto an
unsuspecting audience of time and
space and there you were moving
through the compartmentalized
rooms of my lungs like the smoke of
sage through a haunted house.

blink
and there we were four hands gripping
the reckless drunk wheel of death
and speaking tip of tongue to tip of
tongue. speaking amphetamine binge
of life to sweet holy surrender to
honesty. speaking i.v. drip to punctured
vein. speaking holy new gold moment
to fourteen reincarnations of stars come
to fruition in sparks. flying drawn together
but at the very last moment lost. to a wall.
so blatantly before us the whole time. and
so we learned how to dance in the blind
dark.

and some glowing sun rose over the
graveyard where we buried our tension. i
tossed and turned without a blanket and
underground until this flood of light lifted
my one million bones to the surface where
i found two choices. and i took one maybe
even older than us. maybe even older than
this soil these musical notes that ramble
incessantly now in my head. that is the one
i took.

and you disappeared like a ghost into
a fire and i consumed by another life and the
fire you went to wrap around your life was red
satin and when it was too late i unwrapped
you and you twirled and you twirled and you
were down to bare skin and you twirled and
you twirled and you were down to brittle bone
and you twirled and you twirled and what
i saw before me was nothing but the empty
space that created this strange phenomenon.

so now i set out on a sea of trouble unable to
rationalize this idea of love not believing in
love. of a doctor not believing in medicine. of
a dancer that doesn’t trust the body. a painter
that cannot see the color in the dead canvas.
of a portrait of love stuck in still life. unable
to see itself. or see at all. or see at all. a strange
phenomenon. a blindness from refusing to
ever stare into the sun.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015

I’VE DRAWN YOU MAYBE FIFTEEN HUNDRED TIMES NOW

i’ve drawn you maybe fifteen hundred times now

i’ve drawn you naked
resting in the sandpaper palm
of my open hand

i’ve drawn you riddled with bullets
licking blood from your lips

i’ve sat and i’ve sketched
every singular ounce of your curves
onto the sistine chapel ceiling
of my unholy skull

every fogged breath against
the window pane of my cornea
every scratch against my retinal walls

i’ve drawn you like a pair of scissors
drawn out then back together
sharp blades dancing against the friction
of one another

i’ve drawn you like the paper that they cut

i’ve drawn you like snow
falling onto cardboard boxes in some back alley
that doesn’t exist

i’ve drawn you like time
abstract and mechanically lost
graphite swirls extending across paper edges
onto tables like dust

i’ve drawn the forest
that runs through the spaces between my bones
and i’ve drawn the fires
that you ignite across my dried tinder
across my fallen leaves
the smoke that billows and fills the pages

i’ve drawn the tiger pacing the cage
the pendulum swinging across the body

i’ve drawn all the saints in heaven
all the angels arranged in chorus in rows
yellow suns blaring from their horns

i’ve drawn you in the dark
silent predator unseen but present
a constant reminder

i’ve drawn you in hoodie and leggings
i’ve drawn you in leather and lace
in time and space

i’ve drawn you tall like gods
like the chrysler building
like bodies falling to the ground

i’ve drawn you every which way i know how
upside down rightside up inside out
guts splayed widening across empty space
like the expansion of zero gravity

i’ve drawn you as an alien planet
one million clones in militant rows
saluting the flag of my heart

my wrist is breaking
bones grinding down from the ineffable pressure
of you

there has been nothing
that has left me feeling quite like this
a poet lost for words
forced to draw
and maybe shoot

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015

ELEGY

and i walk through the graveyard with flowers in my hand
beneath a stormy sky grey with indifference
until i get to the grave where i buried our love
and i bow down at the tombstone and i lay down the flowers
and i look up to the sky uncracked even by the dead trees

there is a great silence to letting go of something that wasn’t terrible
there is a still lake hidden through the brush of the forest
and beneath that lake there is an entire climate breeding below
fishes swimming aimlessly and dead bodies turning into water
but still the lake is still

i can still see your face light up as i pushed through the crowd to you
i can still feel your warmth sleeping beside me
i can remember us mad and laughing beneath the buildings in Denver
and the songs

i will never forget the songs
they run through my head like wild horses on a carousel
each word relevant to the way that we were
each musical note a leaf stripped away from its embrace of its tree
swaying back and forth like dance steps as it falls to the ground
we swayed back and forth like dance steps as we fell to the ground
the eyes on eyes, the nails on skin, the fingers ran through hair
the moments of ecstasy hidden away from any kind of audience
away from cameras, never spoken from mouths, away from even poems
stuck now like record skips in the phonograph of my mind

we were constellations colliding in a meteor shower
and the blow from our crash was enough to light the cosmos
life born, children running rampant around the universe, and then
fading out like the end of a requiem

and you are not gone, not to me, tall heart
your electricity still runs up and down my spine
your blood still takes hostage my body
but i dug a hole in the ground
and i suppose i must lay in it

six feet of dirt above my head
i laid long nights beside you for an eternal minute
now i must lie without you through a frigid winter
my hands my own shovels
i bury myself with the same tools i used
to bury our love

i will miss you as much as i wanted you
i wish you to find the happy your heart hunts
i wander through the halls of my own heart now

but you and i
we will grow from separate graves like flowers
to bloom, you, red and radiating
me, blue and slithering like vines
and the world will cut us up from our roots
tie us up in string and call us a gift

someone will hold you in their arms
and walk you down an alley beneath stained glass windows
or maybe through a graveyard to place you on someone else’s grave
beneath a clear sky white with pure honesty
to sleep with them forever

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015

DATE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN (WHERE I TURN INTO A WEREWOLF)

when i stare across the table and i realize i am in love
and she looks at me as if she is in love with me as well
but that must be some sort of mistake there’s no way
maybe it’s the sushi it’s gotta be the sushi
i assume everyone looks like they’re in love when
they are eating sushi

i sneeze, but it sounds more like a monstrous growl
one of those sneezes that you hear someone do
and you just want to walk across, say, the sushi bar
and slap them across their face for being obnoxious
i sneeze one of those sneezes seizing into my arm
and i look back at her, sugar-eyed she says “bless you.”
and i think to myself that i must be blessed
but my arm so close now i see what is beginning to happen

great thick hairs begin to crawl through my skin like spiders
as my nails lengthen sharpen and blacken on my left arm
i turn my wrist, below the table, upright and black veins bulge
pulsating, i glance up in fear and she is still oblivious to me
she picks at the sushi with her chopsticks and has no clue
that i am beginning to transform

i reach for the sushi with my right arm, still normal
and say something like “this is some damn good sushi.”
my hand shaking as i bring the raw fish to my salty mouth
i chew the sushi like it’s the first thing i’ve eaten in weeks
with the desperation of a wild wolf my teeth at war with each other
my vision begins to blur and i see her just stare onward at me
her cheeks rosy and red her hand reached out for my hand
the lights become harsh and great fangs begin to grown in my mouth
the taste of blood rises from the pit of my stomach like a monsoon
i reach my contorted hand for hers and i hold it like a support system
my fingers tracing her wrist i start to think about her blood
i start to think about my wolf fangs diving deep into her neck
i think about the moan it would release from her soul
like a ghost set loose out into the world, like smoke rising
like some shadow of a red balloon rising into the atmosphere

still she looks at me like i’m the doctor who cured her cancer
she looks at me like i’m the mailman and it’s her sixteenth birthday
my vision black and green the world is some strange jungle
and the kettle drum inside me continues to gain and gain more
my breaths grow faint and i am still turning, now my right arm
grown reckless and hairy there’s no room in my animal skull any longer
for thoughts of philosophy or poetry or sweet women at dinner tables

and still she looks at me like i am the man she wants to marry
and still she looks at me like i am some realization of a dream
while inside of me demons dance around huge bonfires
while inside of me mountains burn and great cities are evacuated
she still looks at me, and interlacing her soft fingers between
the dangerous clutch of my morbid claws she speaks with pink lips
i love you
and i howl a resonating bloodlust howl for the death inside my soul
for the eternal chase of the scattered prey, dark praise to the moon
but all she hears is
i love you too, and
this is some damn good sushi

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015

THE FIRE AND THE WATER AND THE FIRE AND THE WATER

i roll in from the ocean ten-thousand years of madness and stirring
locked down. crashed and trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea
i writhed like storm chaotic blue windchime desperate sense of purpose
i foamed like the last note of the symphony of a sinking ship violin screech
bubbles rise from the rocks capsized flotsam y jetsam i bury my heart
in the wet destitute of azul jazz and iridescent iris i rocked less like a baby
and more like a crumbling mountain falling down the side of a river off a cliff
into the bay beneath the reef into the lost

there i funeral
there i third eye open and om the om sound of death of life of death of life
and i isolate reimagine the vastness that captures my wayward soul
this hole in the poet this blue sticky blood dripping from the gun shot wound
you have never seen the sight of honesty until you hold loss in your arms
and watch it slip. into the riptide into the unknown particles dismembering
disarraying slipping away from each other like spooked horses from the sound
of a shot gun. and then after the lit candles surrounding a singular picture frame
live eyes staring back from a dead photograph. a picture frame. an open book
ink pressed from pens forced piss to paper not capturing the stomach acid that
builds like tsunami. builds like rapids playing chicken in the crowded intersection
of grievance and our lady guilt.

i was the hands pushing the daisies up from the grave. i am the fist breaking
through the coffin. through six thick feet of worms and dirt. i am standing
alone in a graveyard on fire in the giant ballroom of the space in your heart
you cleared for me by playing piano with your voicebox with insatiable fire
with humble eruption with red blessings that move across mountains like birds
like volcanic mass eratic motion you meander across the map of my world of
our world you consume the blue waters of the earth until we’re left with mercury
rising and again i’m writhing but we’re writhing fire and water hotter than the sun
we won dear sweet love of mine we won and if i come undone i send my regards
from mariana’s trench where go i where go the days my faults surface as waves

i do not want to think about being engulfed in your flames
i want to be engulfed in your flames yes flames as i am am i
i do not want to talk any more dear sweet love dear fire
i want to flood your ballroom and rantodance eclipsically
in the fire and the water and the fire and the water
the fire and the water and the fire and the water

this is the way that i love you and have loved you and will
the fire and the water the fire and the water and the fire
this is the way that i love you and have loved you and will
this way that i love and i love and i feel and it goes and i
waltz and i move and i dance and i love and i churn like
the waves that i am i churn like the waves that i am to the
shore of the fire you give that you are that you are and this
this this is the way that i love you and have loved you and
i will and i will and i will and the fire and the water and the
fire and the fire and the fire and the fire and the water and
the fire and yes and no and yes and no and the fire the fire
i love you

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015