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i felt the shift sometime in july
i think
or was it august
does it matter

one of those hot sticky months
when you’d like to unzip your skin
because you can’t get enough cool
even if you’re lounging naked

there was no telling what it meant
but i knew
things were going to change
for better or for worse

but wait
i’m getting ahead of myself

i didn’t feel exactly lighter
or more optimistic
but neither did i feel like
i was fixed in the eye of
an inescapable storm

i just
felt
different

of course i was always writing
it is after all what i do
but my focus changed
i stopped meditating on nature
the moon the stars

even my own exquisite feelings
over which i tend to brood too often
took a back seat
because a faceless man kept showing up
demanding attention
so i wrote him

sometimes the words taking voice
were fiercely erotic
sometimes they were snark
sometimes they verged
on the vindictive
sometimes they drifted
into the realm of magick

i don’t remember exactly
when you showed up
but i bet you do
it was some good weeks
after i felt the shift
and started writing the unknown man

i didn’t save any of our early exchanges
if i did that i’d have folders full of blather
from people i wouldn’t remember
three weeks later

and anyway
right out of the gate
you said you weren’t looking
and that was fine

at least you were literate
polite attentive
interested in many of the things
that interest me

but once in awhile
my skin would prickle
i’d feel magic nibbling
in places it didn’t belong
and then i understood the shift
and the man who
kept tugging at my words

and though i didn’t tell you
i was falling
hard and fast
with no thought of where i’d land
or if that landing would be sweetly soft
or brutal

i went back through all those poems
i’d written spanning the shift and you
and in that going back i knew
i felt your coming long before you came
that sounds vaguely pornographic
but you know what i mean

and there you were
a different incarnation every time
each one a piece of you
probably exaggerated
probably embellished
but if i call myself a poet
can i get away with it

and somewhere in this riddle
the wasn’t-looking donned a tux
and bought new roses
and now you say you’re longing for
the better or the worse

and i don’t even know your name
and i don’t even care
because you are the shift
the shift is you

a rose by any other and all that

it feels good
it feels right
somehow
you’re that impossible chimera
i prayed for

knowing you existed
not knowing if we’d ever meet
out in that soupy milkyway of souls
who wander hoping for
another chance at love
before the earth falls away with you in it
not on it

so let us be married
eventually i’ll know your name
because those in charge of the universe
need to know these things
so it will appear somewhere
on a piece of paper
and i still won’t care

because you are my handsome will
the second coming of the man
from stratford
which by the way is right up the road
but don’t let me get silly before i tell you

always
always
always

and you know i know
that’s all you need to know

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RC deWinter

RC deWinter’s poetry is anthologized in New York City Haiku (NY Times, 2017), Uno: A Poetry Anthology (Verian Thomas, 2002), in print in 2River View, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, From Whispers to Roars, borrowed solace, Pink Panther Magazine, Another Sun, Plum Ruby Review, Down in the Dirt and in numerous online literary journals.

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