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Red Sky in the Morning

he says, look at the big picture

seven thousand meters beyond

anything I can control

yet I see him watch

as I decide what to do

my responsibility

wisps of indecision on a sunny day

it looks soft from here

curled high and white like my grandmother's hair

welcoming and smelling softly of jasmine

lilac, childhood, ginger, red pepper

back when she was perfect

come closer, thicker, heavier

weighed down, swollen and dark

regrets ready to break through

glowing soft and angry as

LEDs in the dark when you're trying to sleep

today I walk down the boardwalk

I've lost track of the ocean

the sound is still there, lapping against the pier

but the clouds have come even closer

giving me a good look

I've lost all perspective

or I didn't inherit it

where would it come from,

one exploded and one collapsed inward?

black pepper and cinnamon,

damp paper and machine oil,

two worlds in a single house

I am light in a prism

bent and split open

showing wires of every color

red and blue capillaries,

copper, aluminum, black electrical tape

today I walk down the boardwalk

I'm squinting, suspicious of everyone

these people only appear under the sun

like mirages and all eyes

the wind is kicking up

tourists skittering away like rats

when the drops hit me

I think of rust and shudder

crumbling is nothing new

I fall apart all the time

I'm used to it, puzzle pieces

worn soft around the edges

when they turn from me, it's sideways

a crabwalk away. The thunderclouds

reflect my mood. Maybe I called them.

I'd join them if I could

but I might rust

today I walk down the boardwalk

as the sun breaks through

the lightning disappears like

friendship and good ideas

at night when sleep laughs from the corners

there's no light in the windows

moon and stars and streetlamps alike

are hiding from that cruel laughter

at morning, the sky is red as my eyes

rust hiding in the corners where tear ducts leak

til I rub them clean and yawn

in my dreams he was-

well, it doesn't matter

the shapes in the clouds can mean anything

above, they shift and twist

the slate gray pulled across the sky

is not at all the color of the robes he favored

the wind bellows louder than the tugboats

it's not raining, the water

comes from all directions

and I'm soaked through

the towels are warm when I leave the shower

absorbent enough that I stop thinking of rust

it's easy to keep one wrapped around me

all day as I move from one window to another

staring at nothing

thinking of nothing important

looking away fast when it comes to me

moving along to the next

view and the next project

anything to keep from thinking

I can't sleep and I go down

one bare foot and one angry thump at a time

over the boards to the water's edge

staring it down like it'll answer for what it took

it's too easy to wander

into places I don't need to be

when the winds are obscuring my view

I haven't moved

but I'm not sure where I am

burning myself on the soldering iron

I curse and shove my palm under water

the red welt hurts every time

I move my hand

looking for where I came from

I know he's back there

I left him there

but I'm still thinking-

the shapes in the clouds can mean anything

so I trace outlines there

the empty space in which I am not

thinking of him

I would climb down to meet him

in dark shallows, to be swallowed

but I don't trust my leg on the ladder

I don't want to drown

by accident, only with intent,

only with pockets weighed down

with screws and springs and paperwork

not flailing like a knot of lost ribbon

after a festival

if I were willing to go without dignity

I'd have gone before I got to the ICU

or while I was there

begging for ice chips

not getting them

floating toward consciousness at high tide

the sunset is being chased aside

by the storm. I can taste it in my mouth,

a song of anger and reaching out

the long pause between when the lightning streaks

and when drops fall

the clouds too vicious to hold any shape

thunder too close to tell me anything

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