Help this blackbird!

He was a phantom, a man I conjured from thin air and was disintegrated by an east wind, my phantom became an ache, an absence, a wisp of memory.

Astride a great white stag, traversing the depths through which no light can reach, I whispered into his ear, “why have you brought me here”?

“So that you will see…wake up, love.”






Recently a “friend” tweeted:

Dear Desire,
Please leave me alone.
Sincerely, Soul

How many times have I written that letter, prayed that prayer, uttered that mantra beneath my breath, begging for desire to go?

Desire drives me, it is not something I am particularly proud of, mainly because I want to believe that my motivations are less base and far more lofty…the sad truth is that desire IS what motivates and drives me.

Desire to find that one thing that works better than anything else I have tried before. The desire to find someone who is truly compatible with me and my myriad quirks, desire to write the perfect poem, you know, the ONE poem.

Then there is the desire to help others, the desire to infiltrate and fit in where I normally would not, and this never ending desire to eat pepperoni for every meal for the rest of my life.

So, as I meander through this weird thought-trap, I can’t help but wonder, what would happen if desire left me?

Do I want desire to leave me alone? And to my “friend,” (I use quotation marks because we have not formally introduced ourselves) Todd Garlington, I ask you, what would you do if desire left you alone?

Jet- by Tony Hoagland


Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel 
with the boys, getting louder and louder 
as the empty cans drop out of our paws 
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars. 
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead, 
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish 
and old space suits with skeletons inside. 
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances 
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation 
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex 
someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet 
we once came from,
to which we will never 
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.

by Tony Hoagland ( from Donkey Gospel)

The Flipside

For the other woman who sought me out in desperation, in an effort to understand what was happening to her, I am truly sorry.

You and I have spent months, years, trying to figure out our compulsion for the same person only to be left with no answers and our lives wrecked, yours more significantly than my own. I had the luxury of living far enough away.

It didn’t stop me from pining for him, it didn’t stop me from wanting to be at his side, from being willing to take whatever he might dish out. I don’t know what drives us, but I can be certain that you and I were not driven by the same things until we met him.

Take care of yourself, be good to yourself, leave him to the past, it is the only way you will be safe.

Sinking your darkness into night.

We’re all broken, right? In one way or another we have bits that are twisted up like train wrecks that, short of a miraculous ability to undo damage, remains twisted from point of impact; but what makes the difference between revulsion and the desire to help someone or even expressing empathy? 

All jokes aside, that man, whose sickness reverberates like a bullet on bone, has cut a swath of destruction through the lives of many people, and yet I feel sad for him. I feel sad that the only way in which he can identify with another is by controlling every aspect of that contact. 

Disbelief occupies the space which was once filled with desire, it feels better, more distant and the ache has ceased.

Dodging Bullets

No joke. What do you do when you realize that the person that you pined for turns out to be a potential serial killer? In all seriousness. Every breath becomes a strange reward and reminder that it could have been me, me locked in his house for days on end, me who was forced to wear the clothes I had been given, no choice, no options…me who served as whipping post for his deranged and vicious guilt. 


Today I wanted to share a poem with you, but you have vanished…there’s no choice, really, but to wait, to imagine that you will reappear.

Little Patuxent Review

A journal of literature and the arts


Mixed Messages in Media (and More)

The Fluid Raven

A creative space.

Literary Movements // Manifesto

Course Design, Research, Archives: Ruth Ellen Kocher © 2010


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