These Obliterated Affairs

City ruins

I’ve done it again:
Set everything around me to ruin.
With the gentlest of touches
I have collapsed empires,
Toppled monuments,
And razed the capitals
That govern my id;
I have ruptured the dams
That hold this deluge at bay
So these tears can flow unhindered,
Wash away the rubble from these obliterated affairs
And, perhaps one day, begin this earth anew . . .
At least that’s what I tell myself
So I may retain the slightest agency,
When the truth is I’m not responsible for any of it;
This world of ruin in which I dwell,
Is something that happened to me,
Not because of me,
So how dare you tell me to stay on my feet,
To keep fighting and never surrender,
When there’s grass so much greener elsewhere
And I have wings to fly away on?

Specters

Specter

Here we sit across the void,
Two specters
Watching each other clandestinely,
Never speaking, never touching,
Just hoping the other will slip first:
I, the vacillating spirit,
Who weaves in and out of your consciousness—
At one moment the center of your attention,
And the next nonexistent in your realm;
You, the mute celestial,
Punishing me more with your silent presence
Than a thousand rejections ever could
Until my psyche ruptures in your palm.
Living in darkness is so much worse
Once you’ve glimpsed the effulgent light,
And every second absent your acknowledgement
Feels like an eternity under a starless sky;
But just as you’re at the forefront of my mind,
I know I am in the back of yours,
Lurking, as much a torturer as my love extends,
And with every step closer, I believe,
I only force you to suffer more.
It’s a spiteful parody we have succumbed to
That neither of us can escape from,
And so we sit,
Two specters,
Pretending the other doesn’t exist.

Our Beloved City, Mourning

Chattanooga skyline

As dawn beckons light
Over our beautiful skyline
A heart bleeds tragedy—
A scream louder than a dozen gunshots.

The pain of oppression and atrocity of sin
Amalgamate into hatred,
Drowning out songs with screams,
Burning down hope with devastation.

A quartet of souls
That should have never been sacrificed
Now ascend to plead our case:
That their deaths will not immortalize hatred,

But summon a new strength
Among this crushing despair,
So that we may, in the end, prevail,
Even as we weep over what has been lost.

A Shade of Despair Cast by the Brightest Sunrise

Tajaytay

Everything lit up when I saw you:
The darkness of the night,
The wet cold of the snow that only came in sleet;
And looking through the window
As you made your ethereal approach,
I knew it was worth the wait.

You were late, as I recall,
But I would have sat that thirty minutes in anticipation
Thirty times over if it meant a fraction
Of the ninety minutes I spent with you
On that dark night
With the wet cold of the snow that only came in sleet.

I don’t know what I expected:
A half hour of your time exchanging pleasantries, perhaps?
A quick catch-up before you moved on to better things?
But I wasn’t ready—
Ready for the fascination you showed in me,
That I shared with you;
And I knew then, despite the years of grey comprising my life,
That this would be a memory bursting with color,
More vivid and vibrant than any day spent
In my loathsome, monotonous routine.

We spoke of everything that matters,
But everything you speak matters to me;
Every word, every anecdote, every story;
And we sat talking of the things we love—
Travel, music, reading—
The things that make sense in our realm.

Never did a snapshot
In the infinite continuum of the cosmos
Impact me so deeply,
That I knew even then
I would remember this forever,
And love you like no other.

And so you can imagine my despair,
My total lack of preparedness
And my loss of everything hopeful,
When I heard you say, “My boyfriend,”
And you weren’t talking about me;
And I knew then
I would remember that, too,
And never hold you
In a way that only I ever could.

I was completely rapt by you,
So that I was unaware of time
Or any other speck of existence
Meandering this once hollow planet
That I had just now attributed purpose to.

I loved how you never picked up your phone—
Never once checked the time or any message—
Because you were as entranced as I,
And nothing else mattered in that strand of time.

I never picked up my phone, either—
Never felt the urge to—
Because despite hating the consuming technology
And desiring at times to be as far from it as possible,
I thought of nothing else, was aware of nothing else,
But you.

I had cared about every syllable you spoke,
Clung to each sound issued from your lips,
As though there was salvation in each one;
And, by God, I swear there was.

I remained astute and caring
As you poured out frustrations
You wouldn’t dare share with your closest friends,
And I absorbed them like a sponge
Because it mattered to you,
And so it meant everything to me.

But these weren’t things for me to hear,
And it wasn’t my job to provide you
The solace you sought;
You belonged to another—
How could you belong to another?—
And soon, I realized, you would be gone from me
And return to him.

I remember what you were wearing that night.
How many others can say the same?
I knew what you were feeling,
Because I felt the exact same way.
I still remember you said you would text me,
And I knew it was a lie,
Because I knew how you felt,
And so you can’t come near me again.

I keep my phone next to me always,
The consuming technology I hate,
Because if I’m wrong—
I want to be wrong—
Then I’ll be assured
That snapshot in the infinite continuum of the cosmos
Impacted you as deeply,
And my life will have meant something, then.

Cadaver’s Muse

Man at edge of world

This isn’t life;
This is death.
I am a corpse masquerading,
Feigning feelings I do not possess.
Inside, I am a wintry wasteland,
Barren,
Perhaps at first attractive,
But caustic and moribund when the charm evaporates.

Another wave crashes,
Another force pins me down,
Holding me under,
Watching me struggle for air in a sea of despair.
I yearn for the surface—
To see the sky as it is—
Not refracted and darkened by this manufactured poison.

In the corner of the world’s consciousness I subsist,
Wondering in throes and lamentation
What life is like in the center.
Can it be these smiles are more than fa├žades?
Is the trilling laughter sincere,
Or is the rest of the world a portrait,
As lifeless and desperate as I,
The shadow of existence?

Truly, this is the difference
Between mere existence
And actual living.
I fight—
Strive!—
To cross the threshold,
The gates of Hades,
And breathe once more.

Arctic Abyss

Endless abyss—
Drifting alone, thoughtless and void.
No air here, just the dark,
Smothered by the tangible,
Encumbered via nature.

A plea goes unheard in this oblivion.
No sound escapes, no cries are made;
Just a form sifting and sinking,
Blind to the world,
Useless to the machinations of the everyday,
Sacrificed to death itself
And soon to be forgotten—
Naught but a form resting in the depths,
No different from you or me.