Shadow

Shadow
JCD Kerwin

You stumble like
a mannequin on rollerblades.
You make
faces at the sun because
you’ve stayed in bars
until the radio turned
to static.
The tv plays
the same adverts
like you’ve taped your thumb
to the rewind
button.
You’ve made
some progress progressing
past the point of pure depression,
but
you’re still a puddle
of nothing.
Maybe tomorrow you
can open up your mouth
and talk,
but
the far back walls
make better companions
for shadows in the dark.

(Dec 2014)

Desert Sun in the Winter

Red the West
JCD Kerwin

I like to talk to cowboys in bars,
wondering where they’ve been and
what kind of dust their boots
have turned up.

I think maybe the twinkle in their eye is
a reflection of the kind of life
I dreamed of when
I was too young to realize
my rocking horse would never
take me to Texas.

Blues escapes their lips
like cigarette smoke and
I hear the twang of
sweet Carolina lullabies
when they sigh.

I smell the perfume of
the girl they left behind
when
they throw their coat across the stool
and stare,
waiting for the past to disappear
for one last time.

I talk to cowboys in bars because
I never saw the West except
in picture books and
watercolor paintings of
some blood-orange, desert sky.

I bet they see
a thousand, brilliant stars
when they close their eyes.
I bet they wish
to ride all night
beneath an indigo-colored sky…

[I’d like to be a cowboy
and ride all night until
I can’t remember
myself or here
at all.]

Dec. 2012

Winter Comes in Autumn

I’m still playing with punctuation, but…

Rorschach Monster
J.C.D. Kerwin

She says. She says I shouldn’t bring up the bad memories, the bad thoughts in my brain about all the yelling and the screaming and the fighting and the times when she didn’t look at me at all. The times she hated me. The times she called me “monster” and said she’d rather be with Jimmy at the bar called Jungle Jim’s down the street. She felt ice cold, then—the times we made up after, because I knew that though she whispered “sorry” in the dark, I knew she meant it when she said she wanted him. Jimmy wasn’t me. Jimmy was better than the monster that clawed to hold her in the night. She calls me sentimental, though, because I draw to many sentiments; draw too much sentimentality from too many songs long gone. She says. She says I try too hard to match our lives to pictures, try too hard to match our steps to the movie stars on the boulevards. She doesn’t know she is my Hollywood dream. So now we take the morning train to the shipyard and as the whistle blows three times, we know that we’ve arrived. It’s our goodbye. She says I should wear a coat when it’s cold. I watch her go to Jimmy as I sit along the bank and cut valentines from my heart. The red droplets stain the snow, but I think the patterns are Rorschach mementos I’ll keep to remember her in summer when the sun gets far too high. I like how cold she used to be. I remember what she used to say. She used to say “monster.”

Sept., 2012

That is actually based on this old thing:

Winter in my Hemisphere
J.C.D. Kerwin

We can take the morning train to the shipyard.
The clock will chime four times
and we’ll know that we’ve arrived.

We’ll crowd the docks
and fold tugboats out of paper
we’ve cut from one another’s heart.

You’ll think the red blots ruin the snow;
I’ll think they’re Rorschach mementos
I can open in my head
to remember you in June when
the sun makes it far too hard to see.

You’ll like me running through ice barefoot,
and I won’t care because
if it makes you laugh,
I’ll be okay to cut up my Achilles.

So I’ll bleed in the shipyard;
I’ll spill myself on the canvas—
you always said I’ve never
had the guts to be so weak.

Your eyes will hurt, but
it’ll be like singing in the darkness:
There’s no one there to hear you,
even though you sound like you could fly.

I’ll just pray it’s good enough for you,
because my scissors are too rusty
to cut a new me from your heart.

July 2011

Making Pompous Grammarians Mad with the Singular “They”

The impressive collection of nick-knacks and alcohol behind this bar I happened to find myself at one evening.

Make-Be-Dreaming
By J.C.D. Kerwin

The Kid gets in moods, sometimes. Sometimes The Kid gets in moods in which they talk of politics or society, or they think of Yesterday and all the things they never did or shouldn’t have done. Sometimes they pretend they smoke cigarettes and make-believe they can see the smog dance around their face. Sometimes The Kid drinks Manhattans or Jack-and-Cokes and wonders if they’ll be drunk enough to become the kind of writer who can make monsters out of lampshades in the corner, instead of letting monsters become them when they’re not paying attention. Sometimes The Kid pretends they are invisible; sometimes The Kid pretends they are not pretending.

Aug., 2012