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Book 1: Canto III: The Sacrament

How shall I worship you? With rosaries made from penitent

Tears? A temple built of my breath and my limbs?

Let us not pray that our hands do what lips do, for I dare not

Touch that pale ripening flesh, smooth as alabaster,

With hands that quiver with anxiety. Rather, let me

Enter the temple, kneel at your thighs, so I may

Become the object of the All Knowing Eye;

The Pink Vessel of Time, pink as the virgin sky

At dawn. May it transport me back to my clever

And pious childhood; a treasure that eludes me now.

For you are my religion, my chastisement,

The judgement that awaits me in the end,

For wanting too much the pleasures I dare not realize.

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turning strange

I've been watching this girl, this friend
on my news feed for months.
I have strange feelings towards her having gone
and fantasized, and brushed eyes and thighs 
but little more
(missed chances, intimate glances f
through because of a high school boy's fear).
She cut her hair today, from breast-length to bob,
and I can't stop staring at her cheeks, her lips.
Not for suppled skin but new shadows,
a smile more like a grimace dragged
by lines from the nose,
a bow with too little curve to shoot
the strawberry-blonde arrows it once hailed.
Under her eyes there's something, too, and I can see their weight.
I've been watching this girl, this friend
on my news feed for months,
turning strange.

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Rubbish Regardless

Rummage through the rubbish

            of your hopes, whispers, prayers

Toss aside the rotten tangerine

Cut your fingers on shards of clay lovers.

Oh, child, listen—or don’t—

  the mock, the mockingbird don’t sing

  Not this far from hope,

            from home

Child of weakness,

            watch and pray—or don’t—

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Momma's Boy


Momma’s Boy


I have no illusions of sainthood fair

or perfection, in possession there

her flaws here rife, I’m sure, like mine

her Love was pure - her touch sublime


I knew her not as partner, lover

or life companion, ball-and-glover

those hats she wore (and many others)

I knew her only as my mother


for many years now, she’s been gone

bereft of her – long years alone

sore missed is she, no longer here

yet, still, she whispers in my ear


I saw her at her best and worse

her weeping real and unrehearsed

her undergarments worn and frayed

I had the best bike of my day


a single mom - she worked long hours

what money made, not hers, but ours

but I was young - I did not know

how much I took- how much I’d owe


her life and mine was all ‘bout me

she, always there, dependably

my father came and went at will

if she lived yet, Mom’d stay here still


Mom taught me love with sage advice

by example, showed kind sacrifice

consideration me imbued

of others needs, desires and views


she showed me how a woman thought

so prone to do the things she ought

life wounds with its capriciousness

and still she loved with graciousness


I held her in her final hour

as life her final breath devoured

consumed by direst agony

she still had one last smile for me


I wish she’d stayed and hung around

til I was wise as I am now

I’d hold her - never let her go

repay this massive debt I owe


but life is kind - more often cruel

takes more than gives - that is the rule

she gave me all, took nothing back

I took for granted – that’s my lack


her picture on my piano smiles

my guide, my anchor across the miles

from heaven sent I am yet blessed

of a mother’s love ne’er dispossessed


“tomorrow comes, Mom – it’s your day

I miss you most in every way

your spirit fits mine like a glove

I owe you life and endless love…”


































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I'm still at the bottom
Of this fruit cup
Haven't been stirred
To rise to the top
Because how
Do you go up 
When there are no rungs
You care to step on,
Unlike some who think
They'll come up
As if on an escalator
I'm sorry to let you know
It's broken
Now stairs
You must do the work
Step up 
Step up
Reach forward
Push, pull
Yourself up
If the sky
Looks like infinity
It's because
Goals are endless
And you're not inside
A measuring cup
As time is only forward
And so you must too
Lurch, drag, march
Step, run, jump
In the same direction,
And let me know
How it goes...
APAD13 - 088 © okpoet

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Cherry Blossom Leaves


Slipped on cherry blossom

pulped into concrete.

From the pure pink petals adorning the tree,

to the black-brown mush we crush under feet.

For a time in-between

beauty dances in twirling whirlwinds,

it flutters, and floats, and glides in the air,

but all the petals must land somewhere.

Until next year.


Copyright Mark Manchester 2013

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Sometimes my prayers take a turn for the compact.

Instead of bending toward the floor with hands clasped or
Standing on the balls of my feet with arms raised I
get as close to the floor as I can, curled tightly
Toward my center, arms wrapped around arms to touch
weary shoulders, knees tucked toward belly
To expose the knobs of my spine, armored to the world.

My bones rattle desiccated, jostled
as the black bamboo spike of loneliness
shoves itself through my abdomen 
and the numbness of my illness
paints me charcoal grey and wretched green.

My prayers are succinct. Sometimes they are angry.

No. Can’t.
Sorry. Please.
Help. Help.

Help (because I’m damned if I do
And damned if I don’t and the only
freedom from this damned place is
Supposedly between the falling and the floor).

Some say that my God is imaginary.
But I have felt His lips on my skin, and
Some part of me still needs to be kissed, so
(Call me foolish and selfish and strange but) now I
Spin Him together from the raw woolen dampness
of my fears and cradle Him close
Like a doll, a golem of grace, a poet’s muse until 
He breathes in my arms, (human form lighter than air, 
radiating my hope electric) and then turns, 
speaks the name of the part of me 
that can’t be spoiled.

My prayers have taken a turn for the compact.
I curl into myself and God curls around my edges,
A cradle for my trembling, a stone to build a house upon.

Sometimes my prayers dry up in my mouth
And He kisses them loose.

Sometimes my prayers sing themselves to sleep.

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The bee

Once again I pound the air
wings aloft, no breeze to bare
Zip zip zip I go
Buzz a flower, chair, her toe.
Free I roam no worries in tow
Sweet nectar is what I must know
Bang, oops, not that, which way to go?
I bounce and fly legs full like snow
I must but onward bumbling go
The task, the honey, must make it now
Bumble, zip, zip and then just down
Oh wow,  a pink one there below
Ploop, oops too hard I thought but no
I'm on it now to gather go.
Then up away the hive I seek
'Orr fence and dog and roof top's peaks.
The hive I must now make it fast
For young must have their sweet repast
And others now I must inform
This patio its mildly warm
But full of lush and nectar's swarm
My job's not done
I'm homeward torn.

- Trish 2013

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Because My Brain is Made Up of a Million Microscopic Knots

Sometimes I wander streets without destinations, hiding behind the crooked veil that is my limp, cotton sweatshirt hood with uneven laces, holding it half-taut to shield against a gale that will not stop howling despite my wishes that it would just shut the hell up already because I get it.

Sometimes I lay awake wishing that sleep would take me into her silent solace but sometimes she takes me and throws me headlong into the fiery pits of some imaginary hellish murder mystery and I am victim-the-next and I am running down an endless flight of stairs, out of breath and fearing for my life with my best friend from third grade who oddly looks nothing like herself and more like my friend Megan and then I have to take a shower and eat some cereal and put on the tea and then pour the tea once the water whistles and then put on my shoes and coat because that’s what members of society wear on the train to work.

Other times I cry and my soul shakes with my repressed wracked tears when things I know are going to happen, happen, like when Frodo embraces Sam at the end of the world even though it isn’t, quite, though it is for him, or when Charlie in a moment of panic and pure selflessness locks Desmond out of the control room and gives himself only enough moments to spare his friends from the freighter before he crosses his heart though he hopes not to die and drifts into the abyss, and yet when my silent grandfather left this world, which is something I did not know would happen when it did, I couldn’t muster anything but a silent lament and a weird skip in my heart that made me feel almost sick but with a different sadness and guilt for not being able to cry, which made me wonder why anything matters to anyone at all as Taps echoed through the grove and my young cousin, who did not yet understand death and perhaps never will, found more to enjoy from the patriotic carnation twirling in his little sausage fingers.

Then there are times when I lay my head on your rib cage carefully coated by your canvas of skin stretched over your bones, and I hear your heart beat thump thump-thump thumping, muted by all your microscopic cells and layers, and I wonder what you really look like under there and how I never will know until I cut you to pieces with words one day or about how the things we feel for each other are really just electrical sparks going haywire in our pink mushy brains telling our hormones to give more or give less and it screams something startling so the butterflies in our bellies go all bats in the belfry and we bat our eyelashes and blush and say sweet things masking the primal imaginings we keep hidden underneath, buried and locked in our skulls until we get the ‘okay’ and then all systems are go and our bodily machines rev and grope and grab and attempt to fuse into one another, and then you yawn and roll over and I’m the big spoon as we both drift off to different dreams.

And then there are times when I don’t know what to say so I panic and let my words float about my head without any other purpose than to make myself anxious and my palms get sweaty so I lower my sleeves and I nod and I smile and I walk away, internally yelling at myself that I should have said something and I sit down with my coffee and think about my life while the liquid fire cools and spires of steam rise from the pool of lava sitting innocently in the recycled paper cup warming my hands and I dab the sweat with extra napkins stamped with that company name they don’t want you to forget even though it’s been branded in your brain and will remain for the rest of your known time on this plane of existence and even beyond for all anyone knows and these will be our artifacts and the legacy they leave behind when the new gods descend and apply their archaeology to the ruins of Ancient Miami and the Coral Bronx Reef that now hugs the new shores of the ever-expanding Atlantic Ocean.

And sometimes I think things so I write them down, in case I forget, and in case anyone wishes to know the words I thought of and in what order and see what patterns they can glean from their own research and decide what they think before they forget and replace them with new ciphers to translate and move on with their lives.

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Briza del medio día...

"Luego de un gran monzón viene la calma, Sale el sol radiante comosi nada hubiese ocurrido. La brisa sopla suavemente, te advierte esto que no se queda ahi, pero que por ahora no está tranquila. Cuando la sientes te olvidas del pasado y te dan ganas de comenzar de nuevo. En la estancia de un lugar determinado estastranquilamente a la esperade algoritmos, el pecado sable por que. Sabes lo que esperas y de donde su origen, Pero desconoces la razon. Quieres que sencillamente ocurra párr demostrar lo tanto que disfrutas la cálida brisa del medio dia. Gozas al ver danzar los arboles al hijo del viento y sin destello de emoción en sí atisban por tus ojos, es el disfrute tuyo con la naturaleza, el hijo solo tú y ella. Es como una conversación. Ella con su danza señoreante y tú con tus ojos aletargados "