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A Poem


See every path
Reaching into distant horizon
To touch the sunset

Each looping back
recursion sends out another swirl
in the Starry Night

Divine cosmos
Constellations acrobat patterns
Washed away in sunrise

Ugh. This is a terrible poem. Not even close to what I wanted.

Not fishing.

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Free write from May 2013

I found this on my ipad in the pages app as I worked on the schedule for this week at the theater. Forgive repetitive content and misspellings. I did not edit. Just copy/paste.


Why I decided to forego Shakespeare, just this once.

Having played Caliban in a highly acclaimed comedic production of The Tempest, I was faced early on with a decision with which many actors grapple: what more could I do with this character? If it is not a matter of finances – and it is not – then with very little distance between productions of the same play, would I not simply be rehashing a role that I had already dedicated a good deal of energy and commitment? Dale is a terrific director and he has helped me grow by offering me many varied roles, but often he has trusted my instincts to the extent that I have felt he had no motivation to challenge me to do something different. This role, while the direction will be from a less experienced hand, is a challenge of monumental proportions. Scenes of torture, betrayal, madness… All of which Dale would place in the hands of Jeremy, but never in mine.

The Tempest. A show with an ancient tradition.

I never knew I wanted Enid. In my lonely twenties, I found myself desperately trying to define myself as other than my previous self. I have always been cripplingly self-aware. I consciously sculpted myself into something more social in ninth grade. I left behind concern for grades and study and followed desperately a path of classclownship. The intended effect of increased attention from girls succeeded in some respects. I was now the eccentric and fascinating best friend instead of the irredeemably nerdy best friend. I was rewarded in high school at the Sadie Hawkins dance. Thanks, Katie. Without you… I would probably still be a virgin, maybe even a priest (not that kind). Sure, everyone remembers their first kiss, but mine was an awakening. I wanted Katie. And I could have her. But we both knew we wanted something else as well. And without Katie the would never have been Amber, who defined my ideal of woman without ever trying. Hell, I never even saw her breasts until years later, when I cheated on Enid. I mean Clare. You’ll understand when i get there.

Amber was not what I would have looked for in a woman, and maybe she suffered from the neighbor as friend syndrome to some extent. But I wanted her so badly. She went with Scott pollard to the dance because… Well, I never asked why. I want to believe it was to be near me, but it may have been nothing of the kind. Or worse, because she wanted to be near Kregg. I dont know how he and I became friends, but he hates meow beyond what is reasonable. I did not betray him, but he thinks I did. Reminds me of Bjorm but maybe ill get to that later. Probably not. I only journal when I’m stuck. And horny. And nostalgic. I’m rarely the first, always the others.

Kregg went with Jenny, who was standard beautiful. Blonde. Fit. A smile that belonged in a frame, perfect teeth, blue eyes, high cheekbones, flawless toasted marshmallow skin. I went with Katie, who had asked me because I was funny in class. And smart, probably. But I could not have been beautiful then, could I? Amber seemed to come along as an afterthoughts with Scott, and old friend of mine one grade behind. Did she fuck him? Part of me thinks so. She was not virginal, but she kept me at a distance. She couldnt be farther from me now. She married Eric and had his kids. Maybe they’re prefect together. How would I know?

I wanted to be with Amber then and always will. The feeling is one of extended arousal. She turned me on sophomore year when my lust could ruin worlds and I still haven’t come. At least not in her presence. Except that one time

We had a toga party where ray and I babysat Ryan. He’s a rising star in opera now. And I’m still reminiscing. I wore briefs and a sheet and cursed my fat body much as I do now. I hid from the group at large hoping amber would come find me and praying she wouldn’t. She did, but even my incomparable skills at awkward seduction led to nothing more than silences and occasional ill-conceived attempts at brooding language. She went back upstairs. She wanted both of me, and I only wanted her to want the secret identity. He was private. Everyone had access to the superhero and he couldn’t love her the way I did. He was only a lure.

I wanted to jerk off in the basement thinking about her, just to be free of it. But I was afraid to get caught. I’d even fantasized that she would catch me and be overwhelmed by the raw sexual energy of it and fall into bacchanal bliss with me. If only we drank or smoked weed. Later that would lead to something.

After that, we had the party on the pool table, the sleepover that nearly led to a three way with Amber and Katie. If i had been bold (then, I thought it was the same as being an asshole rapist just to cop a feel or even make a subtle move) the stories I would have today. The freedom from self inflicted sexual repression. Amber and I had our moment of romance novel head touching mutual longing. Famously, my words on the subject were “this complicates things”. We had the fancy dinner party at katies house. She wore tights that covered rose patterned panties. I touched her and finally kissed her mouth after what felt like months of dating. And she still seemed reluctant.

I visited her late at night and begged her to skinny dip in her parents pool. Her swimsuit was brown and had ripples in it, one piece and showed only what I needed anyway. Acres of Italian porcelain that made up her hips, her calves, her neck, her back. The bridge of her nose that she thought was a flaw that I couldn’t resist touching, kissing when it wasn’t weird. I never cornered her.

We had the super bowl at Scotts where i caressed her stomach for hours, occasionally letting my hand slip up just enough to touch the bottom of her bra, never daring higher or lower than her belt line. The best I could do to express my deep desire for her was to whisper whether she could feel “that,” my euphemism for my 17 year old rock hard erection against her back as she lounged on me. She said no. Crushing.

Even years later, when i was more or less cool. We went back to the darkness of mikes parents basement, and after seducing her by – get this – pouring mountain dew down her bare arm and licking it off. In the car we all drove in. She wanted me even after that. I fumbled to caress her from my “sleeping” position on the floor. She was above me. Far above floating in the carpet somewhere north of me in the dark. And when she accepted my caress in the dark, I hamhandedly pushed my hand down her shirt and finally felt her breasts. It was not sexy, but I needed it so desperately. Eventually, she grew irritated and moved away, I pursued and she moved to the couch. With Kregg.
Hours later, he reaped the benefits of my prior seduction.

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Three poems you shouldn’t read

These are poems I created for Marcee, with the dates, in chronological order. All of them were written under duress, meaning I needed to have a gift for her, and these were the best I had. They always express me, but don’t really speak to feelings I had for her, certainly not at the time of writing. I wrote them to “my love” because I did not feel these things for her, but for what I hoped she was to me, even knowing that she was not. She never appreciated them, but I know you will. So I give them to you, now.

10/16/08 – We had just started dating. She asked if I would write her a poem while she was away on business.

The Promised Sonnet

Of all the poetry my heart intends —

the honeyed words, all lush and sickly sweet —

there is some part of me that still forfends.

Mere letters seem and unctuous deceit.


And no such half-willed effort you deserve.

Feign I duplicitously win your heart,

so full and true my eagerness to serve

when we remain some miles and days apart.


No, words cannot be my sole gift to you,

though what more I can bring you may be hid

from me. My own self-doubting would eschew

all but a petaled flower on your lids.


Since I would feign my words offend you much

Perhaps you’d settle for a simple touch?


07/17/2012 – or somewhere thereabouts, when she complained I did not get her flowers.


A Sonnet Rather Than Flowers

My love, no long-stemmed rose is she, that langours,

trapped in glass, nor could she grow in gardens

green, amongst the crimson blooms of anger.

Her love is more than color, more than ardent,


more than soft-spun gold of wanton promise

and stands alone within its solitary,

perfect luminescence, spectrum-less

to worthy eye alone is seen, and nary


leaving trace to any sense, yet constant

as the earth itself beneath my feet,

which threats to sublimate at any instant

if a kiss from her sweet lips it might entreat.


When love is light and moves the earth as hers,

my heart’s delight and rapture it assures.


07/17/2013 – Our first anniversary of marriage. I wanted to do nothing, but was inspired by the idea of a “paper” anniversary.


To say that paper’s strength is fleeting

and but a year to celebrate it is enough

is to forget the weave of wood the lies beneath

and ties together so many strands of life


Gold is malleable and silver can be shaped

even diamonds, under pressure, can be made fragile

but paper is binding in its fragility

and paper can hold the words my heart cannot


Paper lacks blemish, like the blank page,

an unexpected adventure


and paper can ignite

like my soul when I hear your voice

when I am weary, far away


Paper presents a gift

Paper births plays and poetry


So, when they say

our love has turned to paper

rejoice that it is new and light


and still so much remains to be written


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Sonnet: The Roaring Sea

The roaring sea was once my mistress called

when I could see horizons solely from

within these callous confines. Listless, walled.

Perspective proves how peace from prison comes.

The sea demands no tribute but my gaze.

It washes corridors of thoughts like rivers,

leaves the channels open. Water does not raze

stone walls, cause the passion fire to shiver.

But water is not breath, nor air the dew

that lights upon my troubled brow.

And when your voice can summon up anew

the roiling sea to crash to sink my prow

Should the sea retract and land be near

No sailor I, what need have I to fear?

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Sonnet for the Mediterranean

how can one day mean so much

i’ve been looking at my phone every second, feeling phantom buzzes

i slept well, just knowing I could not be with you, even in our way

does that mean I shouldn’t or should

But when I woke, I wanted it again

The simple touch-not-touch that we allow

And now with so much work ahead

I wonder what to do with all the choices, all at once

And the world wants me to stay

And the world will punish me if I go

Maybe the world won’t be able to find me

I am so good at hiding

but if I leave for the mediterranean, for real or fantasy

could you come along, and how long would you stay

Sonnet for the Mediterranean

A single day the centuries envy now

when phantom messages the seconds all assert

untroubled sleep this distance will allow

but still of soul should not imply inert

For when I woke, the wonder worked anew

unearthly want of games and treasured time

to gild the night and gird the morning dew

and reason bolster stronger than a rhyme

Clandestine trysts do not distress a heart

which hides in barricades against assault.

Such worldly care may seek to rend apart

but in this armor fails to find a fault.

If such a heart as mine has met its mate

then dooméd heart, submit to fickle fate.

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Sonnet: A Sonnet

They say a sonnet takes its cues from love:
the rhythmic beat of hearts that pound in time,
the lilting language lends an image of
two perfect souls in raptured form of rhyme.

They also say this poet’s form is dead
a limp and limping verse for ages past
but for Spenser, Shakespeare, all is lead
replacing gold as alchemist’s repast.

Nostalgia is the need to nurture need;
and inspiration finds its muses fresh
in state, a poison apple still can feed
a hollow chest, and words can minds enmesh.

Though fantasies and faerie stories thrill
A sonnet’s ancient form enthralls the will

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Sonnet from the Angry Orchard

Time is balm and medicine, they say,

for blood let by each misadventured heart.

And memories remembered fade away

that few can in nostalgia find their art.

So, too, cold reason could I let destroy

what sweet imaginings have crept within

my mind to make of you that queen of Troy.

Could silence music ere it can begin.

But sad strains stir the soul from where it sits,

stagnating slave to sense, to care and toil.

Though wisdom cautions me against these fits,

from any else, the wisest must recoil.

If under such strong storms I tread alone,

Then thunder thoughts to dust, turn heart to stone.

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Fucked up, now I’m down.

I know I fucked up, but what can I do?
I never got used to loving you.
Watching options walk the street
Even with you, I was incomplete.

Now in empty rooms, I sit and dream
Of what we were and could have been.
“It is not fair,” I hear you scream,
“to tear me up at every seam,

To live your life like I’ll return
and stay so cool while there I burn.
I want to hate, I want to hurt,
I want to rip your life apart,

Just so I can be free of you.
Closure’s not the term I’d use.”
Simple words can’t make amends
for strangers now who once were friends.

Board up your heart is my advice
’cause I’ll come calling once or twice,
begging you to soothe my guilt
and sop up all the blood I’ve spilt.

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Bloodless (edited for publishing)

This was originally published on 2-29-09 (Leap Day); I edited some of the specifics down, but I think it’s fairly poetic, if tainted with my maudlin style.

The shower has always been a place of meditation for me. While my hippie leanings tell me I’m using too much water, I’m there standing drenched in thought, the Carl Stargher of my own life. A terror to myself, and trapped in my own world of fantasy and torture.

Dreams are of empty starships desperate for living cargo. Dreams are of disapproving looks from people who know me better. Dreams are absent in the pursuit of them. They can only be caught without trying. Is intent a vanity? Is ambition as evil as I had made it out to be in my youth? Roman sin, best left to the uncaring, dead centuries.

A whisper of me can barely be heard beneath the dripping, as I pile on unwashed clothing and trudge to my daily, in need of cash and in search of meaning. I cannot count triumphs so menial, I cannot count trials so many.

At a desk, I am expected to deliver, but I can barely feel the keys beneath my fingers. I doodle a sketch of me in two years, the virtual ink barely dry on the previous regime-changing draft, and yet it, too, is two years old.

Will I be dead before I live? Every day an analysis, every day a struggle with self, but no great art to show for this pain. No genius within, no masterpiece, only the thought that infinity is nothing more than a concept. 6 billion infinities at war for dominance, none more consequential than gravity, a senseless force.

“Hide from the world, it will come for you. You have no place in this time.”

I left the Eastern satisfaction of hearth and mind for the Western decadence of bodily pleasure, and now I realize neither is substantial, even combined in some delicately balanced recipe. Mixed metaphor for a confused mind, grasping for analogy. Choking on reality.

Expunging bile brings a smile, hidden from view. Gallows humour. “Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You’re going to lose. Smile, you fuck.”

Cling to media. Does that matter? Your reputation is that of a coward. Does that matter? You have a talent that might take you to the top of the craft, if you get some lucky breaks. Does that matter? Play a game, have some fun. Does that matter?

The answer is still no. Rework the angles, mock it up again. Comes out no.

“Tire tread on burst stomach.”

Absolutes even fail. Rely on … what? Chaos? Ridiculous. Rely on chaos. Oxymoron. But still as true as anything.

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On moving on.

If I said, “This may not last for long.”
If I said, “I have my doubts.”
If I said I’ve lost myself within
I want to search without

If I left and you were wounded
If I had to say goodbye
If I made the choice to live for me
Is your heart obliged to die?

Does it matter that I love you
and will while I still breathe?
And the distance was the impetus
behind my choice to leave?

Not miles away but further
while lying hand in hand
It always was the space between
and never was the land

If I said, “I must stay firm here.”
If I said, “It is too late.”
Does that mean that I gave up too soon?
And how long should I wait?

If the shoe were on the other foot
If it were you, not me
Would your terms be more acceptable?
Would you pay a lesser fee?

I cannot ask my questions now.
I dare not plead my case.
For while I feel I must move on
I dread your fallen face.

And while I mourn you in my way
You are not dead at all
Not in my heart, not in my mind
Not in the scent of fall

I am not over you, my love
And I may never be
But while we are together bound
I feel we’re never free

You will not say when I offend
and it seems that’s all I do
And I remain eager to see
that better part of you.

Instead we live our mundane lives
from day to bitter day
we swap some stories to ignore
how fast we slip away

You think I am not hurting here
You think my heart is light
You think that when the chips were down
I was too weak to fight

Perhaps I am a coward or
Perhaps I have no shame
Perhaps I’m self-destructive
Perhaps I am to blame

But, now. From this perspective
We’re seeing things anew
Forgive me if I still believe
It was the thing to do.

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