Free Range Poetry

on loss

there is a crack.

it was never there before
it was not there yesterday
yesterday, I was whole
today, there is a hole
a gap

where once there was togetherness
now there are sides

this side, over here.
that side, over there.

in the middle, part is missing.
imagined differences become reality
defined by absence

absence, separation, cracks.
as we leave each other, we redefine ourselves anew
becoming less than what we were together
and yet
more than what we were before.

our memories become Kintsugi lacquer,
healing our broken cracks, making us stronger, and beautiful.

you may not return
                            (that side, over there)
and yet
your golden memories fill the cracks in me
making me beautiful

and stronger.



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Warm, Bright Big Sister and Pale, Dark Onee-Sama (by Dusk ShAde)

Big Sister and Onee-Sama are different.

Big Sister's eyes are brown.
Warm, Bright Brown.
Brown like savored chocolates.
Brown like the logs in the fireplace.
Brown like a wooden cottage by the seaside beside a beloved forest, where fond memories are made.
Onee-Sama's eyes are green.
Pale, Dark Green.
Green so dark it could be mistaken for grey, or even white.
Green like spearmints on chilly day.
Green like distant glaciers made from antiseptic.

Big Sister’s hair is red.
Warm, Bright Red.
Red like the roaring fireplace.
Red like the glowing sunrise.
Red like blushing cheeks.
Onee-Sama’s hair is brown.
Pale, Dark Brown.
Brown like the trees of the dark forest.
Brown like rusting bloodstains.
Brown like the cover of a book.

Big Sister likes chocolate.
Warm, Bright Chocolate.
Chocolate like Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate that brightens your mood.
Chocolate that warms you inside.
Onee-Sama likes mint.
Pale, Dark Mint.
Mint that chills your mouth.
Mint that overpowers your nose and makes your eyes water.
Mint like an approaching blizzard.

Big Sister feels warm.
Warm, Bright Warmth.
Warm like the cozy rug in front of the fireplace.
Warm like hot chocolate after playing in the snow.
Warm like a loving embrace.
Onee-Sama feels cold.
Pale, Dark Cold.
Cold like a steel blade at your throat.
Cold like a corpse hidden within a blizzard.
Cold like the dark space between stars.

Big Sister is smart.
Warm, Bright Smarts.
Smart like the top student.
Smart like a role model.
Smart like the tutor who helps you every step of the way.
Onee-Sama is intelligent.
Pale, Dark Intelligence.
Intelligent like the military commander.
Intelligent like the tyrant who has studied both Machieavelli and Vetinari.
Intelligent like a machine, a machine that learns, incorporates, and applies within seconds.

Big Sister is pretty.
Warm, Bright Pretty.
Pretty like a sunset along the beach.
Pretty like a full moon on a starry night.
Pretty like fireworks among city lights.
Onee-Sama is beautiful.
Pale, Dark Beauty.
Beautiful like exploding stars reflected by the approaching glacier.
Beautiful like the ornate, but still deadly blade lunging for your throat.
Beautiful like the minty hurricane, headed straight for you.

Big Sister is energetic.
Warm, Bright Energy.
Energetic like the child in a candy store.
Energetic like the peppy grade-school teacher, ready for her students.
Energetic like the exuberant party-goer.
Onee-Sama is calm.
Pale, Dark Calm.
Calm like the coiled serpent.
Calm like the courtroom judge.
Calm like the hangman.

Big Sister has lots of friends.
Warm, Bright Friends.
Friends that laugh along with her.
Friends that invite her to their parties.
Friends that always want to hang out with her, as though they have nothing else they would rather do.
Onee-Sama has a few friends.
Pale, Dark Friends.
Friends that fight with her.
Friends that have other things to do.
Friends that always have her back.

Big Sister is peaceful.
Warm, Bright Peace.
Peace that begets itself.
Peace that smiles and cheers “Let’s be friends!”.
Peaceful like drinking chocolate flavoured tea.
Onee-Sama is violent.
Pale, Dark Violence.
Violence, not for its own sake, but for the sake of peace.
Violence of honour and reason, of law and order.
Violence like the hangman’s noose.

Big Sister is kind.
Warm, Bright Kindness.
Kind like the other cheek.
Kind like the outstretched hand.
Kind like the offered band-aid.
Onee-Sama is just.
Pale, Dark Justice.
Just like the judge in the courtroom.
Just like the verdict of Guilty or Not Guilty.
Just like the hangman’s noose.

Big Sister’s smiles are bright.
Warm, Bright Brightness.
Bright like innocence.
Bright like naiveté.
Bright like children’s laughter in the sunshine.
Onee-Sama’s smiles are tired.
Pale, Dark Tiredness.
Tired like the honest hangman, knowing full well what they’re doing and enjoying none of it.
Tired like the soldier, who’s only wish is for the fighting to stop.
Tired like the father, who knows their child must one day grow up.

Big Sister likes to hug me.
Warm, Bright Hugs.
Hugs in times of joy.
Hugs in times of sadness.
Hugs in times of fright.
Onee-Sama likes to hug me.
Pale, Dark Hugs.
Hugs when I’ve done a good job.
Hugs when I’ve had a bad day.
Hugs whenever she feels like hugging me.

Big Sister loves me.
Warm, Bright Love.
Love for a favoured sibling.
Love for life, and for the happiness of others.
Love for my laughter.
Onee-Sama loves me.
Pale, Dark Love.
Love from a mother to a child.
Love for life, and it's ending.
Love for my smile.

My favourite flavour is mint-chocolate, because it reminds me both of Big Sister and of Onee-Sama.

I love my Warm, Bright Big Sister and my Pale, Dark Onee-Sama.

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peak time

I've seen these hills before, in memories of tales and half-remembered dreams of ages gone.

A snow-capped snippet of a textbook childhood, immensely tall from shouldered vantage, urging my father faster, higher.

The son becomes the father, but we arrive too late for mine to ride my shoulders. The mountains do not care.

The lives of men flash like ants upon their upthrust shoulders, the full moon strobing eons as these rocks ascend the vault of heaven.

I gaze upon these mountains now, my soul upthrust as any jagged crag. My eyes take in each perfect peak, freckled here and there with snow.

To reach the top! To touch those peaks! My heartbeat pounds as fast as moons by mountain time. Surely, to ascend such beauty must be to caress the crinkled edge of heaven.

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Don’t Eat Me, Big Dinosaurus!

Way, way back in the Jurassic day,
all the dinosaurs would come out and play!
But when they get hungry, if you're in their way,
You have to yell really loud as you bravely say:

Don't eat me, big dinosaurus!
I don't want to be punctured and porous!
I'll take my bones and hide in the forest
so you don't eat me, big dinosaurus!

The biggest teeth has the tyrannosaurus,
He'll eat you up with a gigantic roar-us
unless you sing him a rousing chorus
of don't eat me, big dinosaurus!

Don't eat me, big dinosaurus!
I don't want to be punctured and porous!
I'll take my bones and hide in the forest
so you don't eat me, big dinosaurus!

The velociraptor is fast and fierce,
with tongue to taste and teeth to pierce!
She'll eat up your lips and your nose and your earce
unless you sing with great jumps and jeers:

Don't eat me, big dinosaurus!
I don't want to be punctured and porous!
I'll take my bones and hide in the forest
so you don't eat me, big dinosaurus!

Another big mouth is the Allosaur,
no fun at parties, he's a terrible bore!
but when you go to sleep you'd better not snore
or he'll hear and he'll eat you - unless you can roar:

Don't eat me, big dinosaurus!
I don't want to be punctured and porous!
I'll take my bones and hide in the forest
so you don't eat me, big dinosaurus!

The Stegosaur is an herbivore,
and Triceratops loves belly flops!
With great big beaks and their chubby cheeks
We sing them ballads about salads!

Don't eat me, big herbivore!
I'm not a leafy green vegetable store!
I'll hide my bones and you'll hear me roar:
Don't eat me, big herbivore!

Yeah, don't eat me, big dinosaurus!
I don't want to be punctured and porous!
I'll take my bones and hide in the forest
so you don't eat me, big dinosaurus!

Moon Blooms

Sunlight, brilliant bright, is staggering to see,
The moonlight, though, is just enough - after all, there's only me.

The sun's reflection like a mirror, so cold and pale and full,
the moon hangs heavy, like the snow. I can't resist its pull.

Out here, the snow is crisp and cold, the night's a starry dance!
My feet are freezing, though, and I wish I'd worn my pants.

The moonlight shining on the snow makes glitter diamond gems
And the shadows of the trees are huge, just branches and bent stems.

The leaves are gone, the trees are bare, as naked as can be -
Something that I never thought I'd have in common with a tree!

Mom and Dad might yell and shout if they saw my empty bed...
"Good night, my love, and stay inside," was the last thing that they said.

Snow angels are just crazy eights while laying on the ground.
They keep me warm while working out, and I don't make a sound.

But I'm chilly now and really should, I guess, get back to bed.
I've heard the cold can make you sleep, and sleep until you're dead.

But all these angels! I've made art! Oh hey - I need to pee.
So before I go I'll sign my name. That way they'll know that it was me.


Back in 1997, my wife grew tired of my bashing her country music tastes and challenged me to pen a country song myself, if I thought it was so easy.  I apologize for the results.  I still hear it as a duet with Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton.

I turned on my computer just like I do every day -
Kick-start to the power and the video display.
I'm waiting for an e-mail from my baby in LA,
Hoping that her little message finds its way.

I logged in and checked my mail -
This waiting had my heart in jail;
I sure hoped we'd be together soon.
My server said I had new stuff -
I couldn’t download fast enough -
But what I read there made me sadder than a loon:

She wrote:
Do you really need me underneath the Texas moon?
Do you really need me later?  Do you really need me soon?
Mister, I must tell you, before to Texas I do roam,
I need to know where your love's coming from.

My heart skipped a mighty beat
I was glued right to my seat
and I felt there, as I read that, I could cry.
My fingers flew right to the keys
to put her nervous heart at ease
and I typed out, through my tears, this swift reply:

I wrote:
I don't wish for you on every star - just the ones up in the sky
I don't need you every day - just the ones that end in 'Y'
My heart burns for you like stars in Heaven up above
And I'm sending you this e-mail from:!!
You're the one girl that I'm dreaming of!
No virtual girlfriends,
No diamonds and pearl friends,
Do for me what you do, my Love.

Well that’s pretty much just how it went,
and I felt much better when it was sent,
and sure to check reply return receipt.
So I knew she’d read it right away,
and I wondered what her reply would say,
and more, what she would say, when next we’d meet.

She wrote:
Our hearts are both like stars above, they burn with equal heat,
And since you really need me, I’ll be moving from my street,
I’ll pack up my computer, and off from LA I will shove,
I’ll see you very soon, my dear:!!
You're the only one I'm dreaming of!
No diamonds and pearl friends,
No Wide Web and World friends,
Do for me what you do, my Love.

You know I really need you underneath this Texas moon!
I really need you now my love; I really need you soon!
My heart burns for you like stars in Heaven up above!
I’ll see you very soon, my dear:!!
You're the only one I'm dreaming of!
No diamonds and pearl friends,
No Wide Web and World friends,
Do for me what you do, my Love.!!



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Right Now Once More

When she was young, she'd listen to the radio
Waitin' for her favorite song
When it played, she'd sing along.

When I was young, I'd listen to the radio
Waitin' to hear her
When she came on, I'd sing along
Just like she did.

In your youth, a few weeks ago, you've never had to wait
to hear your favorite song
to hear your favorite artist
to sing along

It's never yesterday.
It's not even today.
It's always Right Now.
And Right Now Once More.
And once more after that.
Right.  Fucking.  Now.

We're doing 75 miles an hour down the highway and a song pops into your head.  You, Digital Native, are only a few clicks of your radio dial away from every song ever recorded.

"What's a radio?  Why do they call it a dial?"

That's when we get to the part
Where you're breakin' my heart.

Shooby doo lang lay, kid.
Shooby doo lang lay.

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Merry Christmas, Eight Fifteen!

(Major 8:15 started over Montezuma and was routed down through Amarillo.
We join him now, at night, over the Pacific Ocean.)

This is Major 8:15 hailing anyone to hear
I've been over open ocean for what seems like half a year
I see a spot of land below, thought I'd give this thing a try
It's pretty lonely here, the only car up in the sky!

A little north of Lubbock, the wind had turned me west
I fell asleep behind the wheel, which’s prob’ly for the best
I yawned as I passed Gallup, and I dreamed I saw LA
T’was all decked out in lights for the coming holiday!

It's dark and getting darker, as I fly into the night
but I'm sure there must be land down there, I think I see some light
I'd love to hear a tower, or at least a friendly voice
And I'd sure love to land this car if I had any choice!

(radio static)

Aloha 8:15, this is Honolulu Field!
You're a little bit off course, so we’ve had our traffic yield
You’ve been in that car so long, it’s hard to quite believe!
Just so you know, it’s Midnight, and today is Christmas Eve!

Thank you Honolulu, it is good to hear your call!
I was starting in to wonder if there was anyone at all
If you’ve got some festive spirits, I could a healthy dose:
All I want for Christmas is to see the ground up close!

(radio static)

We read you 8:15, but we haven’t got a clue
I wish that there were something else or more that we could do
Your altitude is steady and your vector path is fine
You’re accelerating past us heading toward the World Date Line.

I gotta tell you tower, I don't know what the Seven Hells…
I swear to you my iPod's off, but Tower, I hear bells!
I can’t see a thing, I haven’t seen a plane go by
But I’ve got a funny feeling I’m not alone up in this sky!

When suddenly a brand new voice just broke across the air,
an old voice, half remembered, his accent sounds like everywhere
"Tower, you can take a nap.  This metal bird's all right;
I'm deputizing 8:15 – he's helping ME tonight."

“Now 8:15, you just relax, everything'll turn out fine.
You see, it’s Christmas Day on the far side of that line,
and I’m a shy a couple reindeer, ‘cause Rudolph has the flu
and Dancer broke her goddamn leg – I need your Malibu!”

Santa, if that’s really you, let’s hear a Ho Ho Ho!
I’m not sure this car’s equipped to pull a sleigh, you know?
I’m glad to help and all, but tell me, what’s the deal?
The toys, and elves, and everything – really, are you real?

(radio static)

This is Honolulu Tower calling Major 8:15,
I think that you should know we’re tracking two birds on our screen.
You are not, repeat ARE NOT, alone up in that air,
And we’re getting word from NORAD we should all proceed with care!

“Eight fifteen, just pop your trunk and I will do the rest.
The elves are real, the reindeer fly, I’ve got the big red vest.
We’ll fly across to Christmas with all these heavy toys,
And you can help me drop them off to all good girls and boys.”

I popped the trunk and felt a jolt, and fast as I could think,
A reindeer pulled up next to me and gave a little wink!
Then what next to my wondering eyes should suddenly appear
But a fully decked out sleigh in my rear-view window mirror!

Then the windshield went all white with a shimmer and a glow,
with a curtain-like aurora from the ocean down below
to the stars up overhead - and it was coming up real fast.
I guessed that all my flying luck had run out on me at last.

“Calm your tits now, 8:15, and don’t sound so damn tragic,
you’re not gonna die because of some old Christmas magic!
Now you lean on and honk your horn, and I’ll give mine a jingle,
and we’ll let the world below us know you’re flying with Kris Kringle!”

I tried to stay calm’s I could, since he sounded very certain,
And quick as Dasher’s little wink, we’d flown right through that curtain!
We were off to every house, and spreading gifts around
and I forgot a little while how I’d wished to come on down!

The night was shaping up a blur, we rose and dipped and soared
The reindeer pulled their heavy weight as my Chevy’s engine roared!
From Fiji to New Zealand to New Guinea to Bel Air
Old Santa kept us flying:  Destination, everywhere!

Every house in both Koreas, every address in Japan,
each apartment down in old Shanghai and every home in all Hunan.
From Russia to Australia, all of Asia, every 'stan,
and every town in Africa, from Cape Town to Sudan.

We hit 'em all, we hit 'em fast, we made a blur across the sky!
We left those gifts across the world for every girl and guy,
From Europe up to Iceland, Venezuela and Peru,
From Mexico to Canada, and Puerto Rico too.

That evening took a live-long day, but it seemed like just an hour,
Those reindeer really have some awesome staying power!
Next thing I knew, my wheels were down and my speed was nearly nil -
Santa Claus had stopped his sleigh just down from Dead Man's Hill!

"Merry Christmas, 8:15!  I think we'll do the rest.
There ain't that many houses left, since we're out this far west.
About that car of yours, from now on, please keep it on the soil;
check the brakes and change the tires, and don't forget to check your oil."

I stepped out of the car as my seat belt snap unlocked
and stood, a bit unsteady, as my view was partly blocked
by a team of seven reindeer and a massive bright red sleigh.
"Thank you, Santa!  Merry Christmas!" was all that I could say.

I sold that car on Christmas Day!  Since then, I walk or stroll.
And I sent cards to all my friends in air traffic control.
When I tell this story to my crew, they say that it's all talk -
But I'm here to tell you, brother, that's the reason that I walk!

A Walk in the Morning

The sunrise is muted, subdued, as if the day is embarrassed about dawning.
A patch of purple-blue there, a patch up of almost-pink here.

Through a sky studded with bruises, the sun makes its slow way to the horizon.

The frogs and crickets have no shame, but the birds are oddly silent, as though they know some unholy secret about the morning.  With their silence, they become complicit in its guilt.

As I pause, I realize that my steps have been careful, deliberate, making as little noise as I can.  I, too, am guilty.  I would rather not discuss it, this black and blue sky, this oh-god-it's-you-again dawn.  I'd rather turn away, talk about something else.

The crickets are without blame; the frogs have no cause to hide from the sun's justice.
The birds hold their song, unwilling to pipe up the dawn a moment before they have to.

A dog barks, and I think my god, what have we done?

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open to interpretation



then again,


I mean, perhaps, on Saturday, if it's fine.
But it probably won't be.

Soon, though. Very soon.  Promise.

And no phones this time.  For once.  For me?  Thank you.

Everything tastes like metal. Joy, pain, despair, delight - all acrid, chewing tinfoil with iron teeth, a mercurial tongue clucking its disappointment in my choices.

So, yeah, sure, why not?  Yes.


But probably no.

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