Ante scriptum: I had written these poems under varying degrees of philosophical duress. Somewhat nihilistically—and perhaps a symptom of depressive episodes, touched by faint, sometimes neurotic, anxiety—meaninglessness drove my perspective of human nature in relation to the natural and sociocultural world. Coupled with reflections of identity and belonging, the pursuit of a career, and intellectual interests, I was burdened by conflicting fears that wrong paths can be chosen, and that if choices are never made we can never grow into people we would like to be.

                I explored these ideas, for the most part, through natural motifs. I found that the juxtaposition of natural laws and human autonomy accentuated a silver lining that had escaped me. Firstly, we are excessively, continually, dominated by forces that we can never escape. Choice is both philosophically and psychologically significant, even if we find it to be a façade. Secondly, we always have a place and relation to the world and whatever lives (in any sense). We should always be critical of the way we respond to it, or them. Lastly, there is always a toil unnoticed and underappreciated. We have a duty to recognize reason in all endeavors and expressions, whether that reason or endeavor is respectable or not.

Pulp and Stains

They are silent professors,
the footprints of ghosts,
the quarrel in your stream of thought,
creators of the world,
whose names are their only credit–
their toil unnoticed.

Receding As Dark

I’ve learned how to speak with the shadows
and vibrate with the light of the moon
…that imposter. Floating on the static
of one event, a single link
in a long chain—waves
that carry crowns and cowards.

I lost my thoughts where my ink pot cowers
beneath the sedative Quercus alba shade.
Moth wings parry the woods’ dim edge, beckoned
by a reason—the same that sucks chaos from the stars
and forces our heads down, searching for the steps
in the mud, eroded by the skin of a still

lake. Like a deer I pause,
hunting for the cause of my retreat.
We all hang on the dance of a compass-needle
while particles lap at the beaches of dark,
stroking keys of a piano in orbit,
the symphony ebbing and rolling.

In the purple midnight, city-light undulates
violently through the flesh of the forest’s calm
and my body is pulled, gravitating
toward misery, cowering
from the choice, longing to be a silhouette.

We each are moments that connect
night and day, while from our dreams smoke billows.
By our grim passengers we are shadowed,
questions becoming electrified, which are invariably
just that—questions. Will we shrink
from our unknown odysseys, or fall from the moons

brightly, lighting up skies, crashing satellites,
finding redemption in our own causality,
stooping to grab the arms of quivering cowards
who look just like us, with demons flowing
from their mouths in rushing stillness?
We must cut our kerosene veins and burn to paint the midnight

fire orange—as comets—roiling
like magma, melding into reality, quieting
as the earth becomes ash, receding as dark.

Under the Canopy

I sat in the woods, a revolver
clasped in my hands like a blanket,
with the canopy resting for a moment
on my shoulders. The moon dug
through the leaves and poisoned
my face with its granite gaze.

I turned at a touch and found a fox and its gaze,
woken by the steel orchestra of my revolver.
I told her that it was not I who had her poisoned,
but some other force: a blanket
billowing in the wind, and wherever she dug
to nest, it would cover her body for the moment.

Everything became silent, a memento
from the residents I found striking me with their gaze.
I felt their starving whimpers as they dug
cozy, and nuzzled the muzzle of my revolver.
Their emaciated bodies ‘round my ribs are a blanket
offering warmth, like a swig of whiskey, a poison.

What kind of monster would leave here a poison
and vilify their struggle, while the moment
is offered up to kings for castles to blanket
their skyline? A look of remorse infected my gaze.
I am so unnatural. The gospel of my revolver, laying in the dirt—
the hand of a god before Him. Older than the layers we dug

for castles and cathedrals. Older than the roots that dug
under my soles, hunting for what has poisoned
the intentions of my revolver.
Organic tendrils of silence wrapped around the moment,
choking and coughing, until it wore a lifeless gaze.
A shot rang off and a heart beat rose from blank

to find my body, my blood, a blanket.
I am so unnatural, but still they dug
my grave. Slowly, with a sympathetic gaze,
I was returned from the poison.
I was dead silent; I had become a memento
for the canopy and the fox. Rain rusted my revolver.