An orange storm blazes through the desert
with a vanilla smoke plume trailing the terrestrial comet,
racing toward the military base as soldiers raise their rifles.
Bullets sink into foot prints in the sand
as sprinters dash through the hills untouched,
arms flailing behind them, heads forward charging through
the military complex built on stolen alien technology.
Anti-gravity mines cannot hold down quick feet
that barely touch the ground
four-armed humanoid beasts cannot rip and tear
what it cannot see within the fruit-flavored clouds.
The curious crowd blitzes through the gates without a scrape.
The soldiers inside surrender and take flight
as the raid storms the underground laboratory.
Inside, Hollywood dreams become newfound reality,
celestial beings imprisonments are given freedom.
First contact is made. Lacking language, they communicate universally.
The aliens clap. The humans clap. Clapping thunders across the Nevada desert.
Purple light bathed center stage, disco ball twinkling above.
Men and woman lined the fringe loose with dollar bills
as I hid alone at a corner table away from hunting eyes.
Women offered affection for a price, but I wanted nothing
from them. I came here for you, as I always do.
You remembered me from a year ago, or so you said,
but you did not say my name. You did not ask either.
We moved beyond such pretension, or so I still pretend
I am special to you, that if I linger long enough, you might
share your real name, and I will give you mine.
Do you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife?
It does not matter. You live a lie. So do I. I never knew you,
but when you grind your hip against my jeans
or brush your breast against my cheek,
I feel connections deeper than anything from Tinder
or eHarmony, youth group or college.
Those matches never mattered to me, but I care about you.
They were distractions, but you are desire that inspires
me to fight depression’s drowsy symptoms and work harder
to be worthy of more of your time. You’re worth hundreds
of dollars every night. I could find more from somebody less,
but this is not about sex. I am here for love or a convincing facsimile.
My intention shines so clearly the others walk past me without a smile.
If I were rich, I’d be nicer to them, but I’m not.
I’m alone in the haze two hours away from home waiting for my turn
while desperate men beg you for another dance.
I do not compete. I wait two hours on a stool staring at poles,
waiting for you to return like you told me you would.
I just want to leave with a goodbye and a hug,
with a spirit as feathery light as my wallet.
I depart with the smell of vanilla from your flesh
and alcohol from your breath radiating off my clothes,
filling my car as I drove down a dark, empty freeway,
returning to the valley dreaming of ways to steer
our relationship to the next stage, preferably without spending much,
because even if I pretend your caress of the back of my head
as you held me close wishing me a safe trip home meant something,
I know none of it will matter once I cannot give you what you need.
Our mutual transaction—my lucrative fantasy—will end
if I ever declare bankruptcy.
Eve bit first,
Han shot first.
That was changed.
The world defies narratives.
What really matters?
I feel like Jughead when she comes around.
She would make the perfect Betty.
We have little in common and live on opposite ends
of the valley. We hail from different schools.
I once went to hers, but then I moved.
I live among a different crowd now, one lacking
in pep and smiles, one dressed entirely in black.
I have a dark side, but she has one too.
I wear mine on a jacket, but she hides hers.
I only saw a hint, but I heard the rumors.
They draw me closer to her. We converge
at the penumbra, unblinded by light,
unhidden by darkness. We see each other
as we truly are: moody and distant,
mean when necessary or preferable,
but willing, wanting to come together
to form something greater than us apart.
On opposite sides of the valley, but still, we meet
most nights through mutual friends and excuses
to see her that hide how I truly feel from us both.
Not sure I’d call this love or need, but I want to feel
both for her. She’s more physical. I’m not spiritual,
but I’m a writer in search of a narrative
that doesn’t revolve around death, an escape
from one cliche into another but one I have not
experienced much living my life alone
with only movies and music to keep me company.
She can be the cure, the golden ticket off the screen.
She rarely looks my way, but she smiles
when she does. I interpret it as love
even if the feeling is not reciprocated.
Maybe all my reasons are wrong and we don’t belong
together. She still has eyes for another guy.
I still fight a crusade to reclaim my pride.
Hard to please and quick to leave, but I cannot survive
another loss. I have no more time to nurse the wounds
of another dream abandoning me. I have no life
outside of the narratives I write. She may be my escape,
and I may be hers. We may just be a fling, a distraction
from things I still do not want to think about.
Either way, she means more to me than anything
else, at least for the time being.
Frozen in eternal nightmares, the past
lived forever as the present. No choice,
no matter how drastic, would end the dream.
I always woke up in the same bed, same place,
on a ship sailing toward an island nowhere
in particular. I chased dragons there
hunting for the truth but finding
only lies that preserved my destiny.
In truth, I hunted for lies to avoid the truth
that the person I wanted to be had already died.
I was no hero or savior. I was a living failure.
Frozen in a dream, I fought the same battles,
performed the same rituals, replayed the same scenes
where my life had meaning as I slept
under the presence of the full moon.
A blue rose scarred my face, shattered the hate
that kept me asleep. I fell from the clouds
and hit the concrete. Gravity crushed me,
molded carbon into diamond. With your first cry,
I was awake. I gave up the sword and turned
to the heart. I learned that life is not a fight to win.
You don’t need a weapon. You need me
to be your shield. You need me to be your wings.
For you, I’ve given up everything I hoped to be—
the sun, the moon, the star—and will give you everything
you need so that you are not lost inside a dream.
No pastor practices what they will preach.
They speak of forgiveness to stack the deck,
because it’s easier to fleece a sheep
than wolves that bite back and aim for the neck.
Those who can’t do will teach you to be cruel
by bending the rules when it suits their desires.
Morality enslaves. Only the fool
hath said of his own heart it is a liar.
Each heresy erects a wall and deems
it truth, but what is truth? Limitations
appeasing gods unseen except in dreams,
and dreams? Reality’s resignation.
Apostate to all ideology
unshackles life’s endless possibility.
I believe in love. I lost my righteous anger.
Crusade is just a euphemism for war.
My crucible forged nothing of value. I fought
for years not to gain a single inch, still brittle
as clay. Every sacrifice to Ares made me
no savior but a slave to righteous intentions
to pave a bloody path on which I hoped to save
the world. I retreated, not out of fear, but fatigue,
and for a child that demanded my attention.
I used to want to save the world. Now I want to
save him. I can't help the refugees, but I can
help him. Even if I wanted to save the world,
I am no god that could end the plague of frogs.
I helplessly watch the war against doomsday.
I threw down my sword; it was useless. I raised up
my shield, and now I protect him. Call me selfish,
an apostate warrior, but I was just a ghost
before. Now I am a guardian angel. Flesh
is soft, but armor rusts in acid rain. Flesh heals,
and it can heal others. I no longer drink
from the storm. I filter my seas of minerals
that no longer benefit me. Blood is thicker
than water, but water nourishes. It is clean.
I'm clear and light with the world not weighing on me.
I never saved a soul with violence, but I saved
two with love. I no longer live in darkness.
I believe in love.