Sculpted Lightning

or, The Beautiful Sameness of Normalcy

Original photograph by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos via Wikipedia, “Lightning”

Not like vinegar touches the tongue
or the futile efforts to mow down cement
make the sidewalk bloom with daffodils and daisies
let the summer unfold in whispers and sideways glances
let the heat undulate above the asphalt
paths that lead us to park benches draped in shade
and supernovas launched from baseball fields
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the curvature of disconnected sets

turn the corner
the radio down
the windows up
turn the picture
till it looks right
turn the car
the key
the other cheek
turn the snow
to wet streams
and damp moss
turn the signal on
the signal off
the wireless fidelity
still not linked
from one screen
to another
turn up the volume
the brightness
turn back
the seconds
now frozen
like winter frost
on chapped lips
turn back
the minutes
to the moment
you saw his smile
turning the corners
of your mouth
to meet his

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Line Items

I didn’t plan to check my bag
but by the time I reached the gate
and waited for boarding to begin
first priority and then first class
then zone two and three and four
by the time I dug out my ticket
from my backpack, held my passport
between my forefinger and thumb
my carryon gripped as firmly
as a child at my side, by the time
the attended greeted me with a smile
and scanned my ticket
there was no more overhead space
on the plane today, their apologies
for the inconvenience
would you please step this way
for a moment while we print the label
and weave it in and around the handle
and hand you your receipt
please take your seat, your luggage
will be waiting for you
at your final destination
it will be waiting, like you are waiting
to board the plane
to take off, to land, to taxi and unload
to walk along that long hallway to customs
and stand in that long line
between a mother and her crying children
between an elderly man who smells
of cheap cigars, his breath like alcohol
and not the rich kind either, between
teenage girls on cell phones
and boys staring at large breasts
waiting for the man in uniform
to stamp your entry and nod to you
go on, proceed through security
past duty-free gift shops and restrooms
finally to baggage claim, conveyor belts
long since turned cold, your bags
sprawled out and waiting, waiting
as you were to leave, to say hello
to be whole once again.

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Rings of Power

For HD.

After we exchanged rings I realized how afraid I was to wear it. What if it slipped off and I didn’t notice and lost it forever? What if someone saw it glinting like platinum in the moonlight and tried to steal it? What if they succeeded? I tugged it unconsciously, spun it constantly, couldn’t stop looking at my hand, just to see it was there, even while I felt it.

On the subway, smiling at each other, we tapped our rings together and he said, “They’re like rings of power,” and I laughed, thinking back to Saturday mornings with my eyes against the TV while my five friends chanted, “As our powers combine,” and the theme song to Captain Planet began playing. “They are,” I agreed, and grinning, he added, “Just so long as they don’t turn us into Nazgûl.” And have I told you before that Tolkien is my literary idol? Have I told you before I dream of writing a world like his? Have I told you before there could have been no better way to end our engagement than those softly spoken words as we hurtled under the earth?

Now I wish they were Rings of Power. I wish I could spin it on my desk, a white light engulfing its silver surface, and be able to talk with my love as if he were in the room with me. I wish I could tap it three times on the door and open it to step inside his room. I wish all I’d need to do is put it on to teleport beside him and take it off to come back home.

But it’s only a ring. A silver band with imperfections just like mine. I can’t appear beside him at will. I can’t whisper here and he’ll hear me there. It’s only a ring.

And I’m no ringwraith, no chosen one. I’m only a man.