Summer is getting close! That it’s a beautiful season (at least at my latitude) is a given; that it can be a state of mind is a cliché. Still, I combined both sentiments under the same confessional-meets-inspirational attitude I’ve approached the form with lately and produced what follows.
If seasons are sentiments,
summer is nostalgia,
even when the memories aren’t ours.
Halloween heralds a dry spell,
the last vestige of sugared debauchery
and test-pattern provocation
before winterwear and wool hats
Not to dismiss Christmas,
but the chances we treasure were taken
Yet this side of the solstice,
it’s too hot to be insincere
in body or mind.
By morning, the smog’s a balm,
calmly salving skyscrapers
and alleyways in sleepy haze.
And, adulthood aside,
the city’s so pretty at night:
A leviathan Lite-Brite patchwork
that, tracing the seams by sidewalk or subway,
all but pushes you to take center manhole
and twirl mid-intersection,
taking in a panorama of possibilities,
unburdened by overcoats.
Karaoke. Barcades. Broadway. Stargazing.
Sweat sticks, prickles the scalp,
but anything’s ignorable when you’ve got one thing
to look forward to.
But one year, waking in single digits to blinding curtains,
packing week on week with tours and to-dos like a tight suitcase,
changing the bassline of every newfound tune into car horns,
verses to cursing,
the beat to forty thousand footsteps
never headed my direction,
I pined for
a pine forest
and cabin in foggy solitude.
The film-pitch future
a dozen Tumblrs promised us Millennials:
A little loft; bereft of box spring,
a mattress buttressed by boughs of Christmas lights
and a standing fan.
Hardback classics scatter ‘cross the shelves and hardwood
in improbable stacks.
A skylight, so glow-in-the-dark stars
can compete with the real ones.
And a throwback van, foldout couch its cargo,
to park and ponder in crystal-cool Vancouver,
the doors as wide as our minds.
We could swim
(of course there’s a lake adjacent),
shadows casting sky
on the water, swaying ‘round our ears like a flipped pillow
that relaxes the intermittent chitter of insects unseen
into a cool throb.
Like childhood just went on vacation
and came back with perfect clarity.
And, in abstract,
A clammy collage of models and male entitlement.
I said I’d settle for a metalhead belle
with a key for a necklace, a nervous system
of mandalic tattoos, Chucks shoes,
a wardrobe full of flannel and beanies,
a septum piercing, hair down to her gauges,
and a look of withering eroticism that says
I have been around the block, boy,
and you are nothing special,
but if I offered to eat a whole pack of Air Heads and then make out,
she’d reply your favorite flavor first.
A closet quarter-life crisis.
Development not arrested but under surveillance,
we tell ourselves it could happen.
#LifeGoal. #RelationshipGoal. #Dream.
Pepperoni pizza and Netflix.
Soft-focus photography as a five-year plan,
if only we can finally get on that penny-farthing of conversation.
Can we go forward to the time when…
Ironic it’s the ambient heat and happiness
that out our ennui.
I writhed under deadlines,
dull stares, and thoughts of forever
at crowded post-semester pregames that left my skin singed
and tank tinged with scents of cannabis and flip-cup flecks.
Partying as pantomime.
When someone asked why I wasn’t more upbeat, I replied
I’m just a different kind of person.
Yet, waiting for the wind, I realized
caution can be thrown without it.
over the fence, to that growing grass, I decided
I wasn’t buried but planted.
And now, sunglasses on, shorts at the ready,
three months can mean something
more than either amusement or acting it.
Some summers may be legendary,
but there’s no shade to take in desperation.
In flying to the future,
some baggage must stay at the gate.
So with the regrets, frets, and what-ifs left to bleach—
all things not considered—
I guess, if I could keep one memory
for when the sun is high and the sky is Kool-Aid blue,
It’d be the fire pits.
Campouts, as a kid.
The smells: the blackly savory taste
of a BBQ lit anew, the bellicose tang
of fallen fireworks across my grandparents’ lawn.
The give and pull of comfort,
brother and I racing around the flame to flee the breeze.
Family on mossy, knobby logs, monitoring impaled marshmallows
that’ll either alchemize to gold
or go up in the embers like the Terminator.
The greasy security of copious sunblock still intact:
Head, shoulders, shins and nose.
Two yellow jackets trying my patience in tides.
Smoke and bare knees.
No worries except the Mario level I’m stuck on
and if I ate too many hot dogs.
Selective reflection, a doctored Polaroid
in the corner of my mental mirror.
But one unhindered by trying
to right a wrong, race a clock,
or chase a secondhand fantasy.
And that’s warm enough for me.