sky, 1904

i am riding a ferris wheel and i can almost reach the sky
but i am afraid of heights. i cannot sit idly, i will fidget
in the most subtle of ways. i will hide how scared i am
of the ground down below that i would not even dare peek,
that i am as much a hostage of fear that i would not share your fascination
of the open sky, the wind; i think too much of how
gravity would have my head if i had too much fun, and forget.
do you know? you should know: the mildest swing
could give me a heart attack. i would sweat, i would feel
light-headed, and i will want to forget that my feet
are not where they’re supposed to be; several breadths below,
in relative safety. i would fidget in the most subtle of ways,
but i will try. because maybe, maybe because,
while i am afraid of high places — high places make my head spin,
make me lose my train of thoughts, easy. i would hear
the rushing of my heartbeats, with imminent pain so close that you actually hear it
as ringing in your ears — while i am afraid of high places
i am not afraid of hands, a pair of extra hands to hold me
and tell me that it is fine, it is relatively safe and that
i have a bigger chance of dying in an airplane crash
(which is not true, by the way, because i don’t ride planes that much —
but it’s comforting all the same). i will fidget
in the most subtle of ways. i fear heights, after all,
and it’s not that easy to make that go away, but
i am riding a ferris wheel now and this is practice,
and it will be easier, because you will take me with you
on your frequent visits to the sky. you fear no height,
and your willingness to take me there and say
“everything will be alright” makes me actually believe
that ferris wheels are worth it, and heights can be fun.
i can almost reach the sky. i can almost,
and i will try.

— A. P.

saudia

ships sail on your freckle-misted eyes,
between them, messages come and go.
and i am like a meek litle errand-boy
in your presence; shy,
yet overly conscious
of spaces between your toes. why,
i am close to falling in love with a metaphor, and i
have already given up on fate: only yours, these hands,
and oh captain my captain, your wish:
my command, and more. i cannot wait i am agitated i’m excited i will die
but yours is a slow shore,
the winds being reminders of
how far we can ever go,
and oh,
how gently they comfort me.

— A. P.

The Summer We Designed

The summer we designed
Is the summer we desired,
The grating past the cinder walls,
The sun receding, tired.
The afternoons with coffee cups
Refreshed with new-felt ire,
The summer we designed,
A summer flower dried.

The laughter we mistook
As senses’ new delight,
Amongst the lines of books
And reading us by sight.
The summer we designed,
Unending in its thirst,
Unquenched in my desire,
I thirsted for you first.

The evening summers when
Your shadows bent and then
Enveloped me, and let me go,
Embraced me, then again
The restless dreams, and bedroom’s screams
The sheets that summer stained,
The lips that murmured sheepishly,
And wished for softest rain.

The summer we designed
Is the summer we desired,
The march of April, April may
Continue past July.
Yet afternoons, a drying kiss,
Replaced with drying tears;
A summer I remained to miss
For years and years and years.

— A. P.

A Dog Barked Upon My Death

A dog barked upon my death, its eyes are blue,
Perhaps reflecting the sky; I was not sure.
But dear Aesculapius was at my feet, dressing wounds
In breaths like mighty Olympus kneeled.
There shed a tear, a dog
Barked as I reached for breath. As I gasped
Holding on to whatever wind may breathe
Its life to me, I thought: a dog
Could bark still. In my drowning, I’m as unwilling
As a bark, or boom, held still, subdued.

So, did my soul dance the elegant elegy of the ticks,
The stink conspired to make the sicker sick;
The slick oils of yesterday’s sweating stuck
From paws that brushed my joints. And then his tongue
Like a flesh-ful of disease, did lick
And dolour tasted my pores, like Styx, I am
Bestowed Achilles’ knee, for my dog
Itself is as fire-eyed Cerberus, yet
With two fewer heads
Than I imagined him to be.

And he had resolve, that dog did, he watched
The breath that left my mouth in gasps
With wonder. When must his teeth decay? he must ask,
When tasked. Such breathing levelled ‘bove
Such madness screaming in levelled love,
This dog — his lungs
Must have given out for snarls given not
Of agression or spark of attention, but agony; thus,
The dog masked my shivering before death, too, my fears
Outshouted, outnumbered, out-cried
By madness howling only sense.

A dog barked upon my death, and I am past
The world. Past its breadth. My shape is cast
Upon the endless. I am a waiting shadow, ’til
The dog that barked upon my death
Himself shall breathe his last, at last.

— A. P.

Weather Vane

Mornings tend to be gray in fall
But we conversed in colors, some of them in warmth,
Like a collection of words that bore spring-time, once.

*

You proved my heart a weather-vane, capable
Of recognizing direction, assessing heaviness,
Separating distractions in the air.

*

It caught care and let weave through it
The unpredictable-ness of mass emotion,
In the tangled mess of drowning, it breathed
As it had to, as it needed; never helped.

*

In the colors of our letters, weathers bathe,
The words almost gasping, as if biting wind,
In the fluent blither of our myriad thoughts
Expressed too soon, that we choke.

*

And when we choked, we choked in color, too,
But should we have let love bloom in such muted hues?
The backdrop cold in the gray intercept,
Freezing eager half-smiles in the fading paint.

*

Yet, you proved my heart a weather-vane,
Left as weathered, as stricken by your hands.
You were gone eventually, but I’m still here:
And after years and years I still stand.

*

Mornings tend to be bright in spring
But we conversed in colors, some of them cold,
Like a collection of words that brought winter, once.

—A. P.