Poetry: Selections from Steve Grogan

I’m a Lonely Star

I’m a lonely star.
My body wants to fly
so high, out over the edge.
Echoes on the image.
 
(I am falling)
 
All kinds of kaleidoscopes are breaking,
all forms
and shapes
and sizes.
 
My eyes split open
like bleeding fountains.
They see what they can seize
and meditate.
 
The world is a blur.
Fashion boys blew out the chemical plant.
A lonely whisper
drowned all their toys.
 
Inside the mailbox
your mouth flips out backwards,
like a foreign tongue. 
 
Now your teeth
are painted orange. 
I wonder how
this burden will 
ever be lifted.
 
Scar all these philosophies!
Just don’t expect 
the image machine’s backlash 
to have any positive side effects.
Slaughter everything that isn’t you.
 

Even now
I know my words
mean nothing.
 
scanner imagebrain drain
 
(they’re silently
taking
pieces of me
away)
 
foreign languages burst my bubbles
Japanese characters inside my house
 

I have seen it,
I have seen it…
everything you would like to be.
 
I have killed it,
I have killed it,
any hope I might have had
of making this life work.
 
burden breathing broken bloody
 
Another version of me chops wood outside,
working in the hazel-colored summer house of God
and the winter house of Satan. 
 
Each garden can be seen 
from this window.
Toss it all away.
 
(underground skies, burning blankets)
 
I have no fancy,
I am no martyr.
 
Against your wisdom
she chokes me,
her fingers turning purple,
and the world is washed away.
 
(another layer to overcome)
 
talking talking talking
 
(screaming in my ears
the wind the world these words
break me into pieces)
 
Each morning the downtown people 
awake to hear the white-noise death
as rusty gears start turning.
 
Their heels scrape the sidewalk,
each one too tired to live
and too bored to die.
 
My eyes are strong again,
struggling to filter out
these hazy perceptions,
to break the world upon this rock
and say my gifts are always vulnerable, 
my foundations always weak.
 
I’ve got 1,000,000 ways to love
and they will shape themselves
to fit those almond eyes.
 
Now it’s all a sinking ship.
So disillusioned, so tired.
I can’t even set myself on fire.
 
Remember all the golden days
when the flame burned forever,
even when I slept.
 
Hatred knocked aside any barrier,
but now this demon slumbers.
 
A smile very rarely cracks this skin.
 
Pain registers as the generators wear down.
My body is a mirror
affecting the hollow earth.

                     golden leaves falling 
                     violins breaking somewhere
                     what poetic noise 
                     so much better than 
                     my voice
                     what a wretched sound
                     my voice
 
I’m hovering outside my womb,
testing theories and postulating,
wishing for love and masturbating.
 
I think the world is stained,
or reinvigorated, or recycled.
At any rate, it’s one of those.
 
Who has the time to figure it out,
to vent this frustration,
to damn-the-torpedoes-full-steam-ahead,
to boldly go…somewhere or another.
 
My body damage is a vision.
Now if only my eyes remained…



Soaring Through Eternity with These Words as Company

To have the sea
throwing tidal waves at me,   
that would be
my greatest misery.
 
Drowning all alone,
let my fingers sink
deep, so very deep
that they touch the bone.
 
All ready to drink my liquor,
I found a broken emblem.
 
A tribe on the nearby beach
danced without caution,
without effort.
A way to join them was never found,
so until we meet again
my feet will not touch the ground.
 
I love being weightless
more than being ageless
or any of the other stages.
 
Defy gravity.
Defy birth.
Defy death.
Defy the blade’s kiss
and bleed words
rather than blood.
 
Kiss my holy cauterized stub
burnt by angel fire.
It was severed centuries ago.
 
You could give away all your secrets.
I’d never hold them
because they would turn into clay.
 
For me there is no heading back,
no redemption or salvation.
Now it’s time to hack away 
all the extra limbs,
find out where scales and fish nets begin.
Cut away their markers.
We could just as easily fumble around
in the dark to find them.
 
I joined your army once
even though my business was poetry.
Your battles scarred me.
My body looks like Caesar.
Every mouth still bleeds.
I pool my liquids together
until I build a crimson sea.
Construction at its very best,
a way to tell each day is separate.
 
So I bellow, I bellow,
ho ho ho! The red wine is fine
and makes us merry!
Ho ho ho! Spit on all below!
 
Stretch this skin.
Wear it thin.
Breathe your lover’s breath 
while you fondle another’s breast.
 
Wait for the revolution
or it will pass you by.
 
As I have said so many times,
for me there is nowhere to turn.
No castle can give me shelter.
The cold bites my sin wherever I go.
I might as well be naked.
 
I ask you to test
the furnace’s flame on me.
No burning skin will be seen.
 
My former companions lie here.
Rattle their bones!
They are only so much moss
gathering upon stones.
 
And this makes me so sad
to be pulling out my own teeth,
knowing there is no shame. 
 
Cast away guilt! 
Cast away sin!
Cast away greed!
 
My good fortune spilled
this goblet of memories.
I was forced to tour the countryside,
clutching the cloth
which all those years had stained.
 
Fire comes.
Fire taketh away nothing.
Heat is the enemy!
The liquid evaporated from the fabric.
 
We make our way to the sea.
We crawl to the bottom,
watching the sun turn silver.
 
I hate it here,
I hate it here,
I hate it here!
 
They hate me because I can think.
They hate me because I can breathe.
If only they knew
HOW INSIGNIFICANT THEY ARE!
 
Crack this bleeding ground.
Crack this bleeding ground.
 
Crazy folks and rejects 
are my friends,
yet I remain a loner.
People like us should not be persecuted
because we snap every once in a while.
If you only knew
how much we had to change
to fit your system
of right and wrong
you might understand our pain,
trying to support your moral weight.
 
Wooden bones are easy to snap.
Something must give way
so the system can adjust itself.
Your minds sway back and forth.
This entropy is spread out evenly.
Why don’t you unlock your mind?
Are you actually this foolish?
 
Primates, primates, primates!
Why the fuck didn’t you evolve?
 
Don’t ask me to believe
because I am too weak.
I am just too damn tired.
(Could we help you believe in something?)
Don’t force me into anything.
I don’t want to be you anymore.
You can leave me be!
Let me believe in myself, motherfucker! 
Now I gotta learn who that angel was
so I can give ‘em hell
when I go to heaven.
 
People like us are always lonely
so don’t drop your crimson curtain.
I won’t let you do this anymore!
 
Your shimmering hands
can’t feel me trembling inside.
You can’t twist my guts into knots.
They were made that way.
 
Isn’t it just a shame?
Your visions always stay the same.
Somehow you found a way
to make it happen.
 
So you see, I’m just 
a lonely miner.
I use toothpicks to dislodge 
the dirt between my teeth.
I use an ancient skeleton’s fingers
to try and stretch my belief.
Nothing comes of it. 
Angel fire burned my hands away.
I don’t want to hate the world,
but it’s such a challenge not to!
I can’t bleed this hatred out of my system.
No, it doesn’t work.
 
I need help.
I’m so deserted.
There really is nothing to hate,
nothing to despise.
Then why must ridicule and spite
clog my veins?
It’s like a drug.
 
Time to feed me
bits and pieces of my life.
 
Vines rub up against my hands.
They’re encasing my limbs.
My body swells
and cracks its prison.
 
I don’t know
how to respond.
I don’t know
how to feel anymore.
My nerves have turned to stone.
 
Tremble, tumble down. 
Don’t catch me if I fall.
 
As your fingers crawl along
my exoskeleton, they stay dumb.
Don’t they realize
there’s no way in?
 
When I die, incense
will finally burn.
The wheel will actually turn.
Ancient crypts will open.
Seas will collapse inside them.
Seeds will be saturated.
From death, life shall arise.
Rotting flesh will deliver flowers.
In the meantime, I will say,
“Hey, God, don’t tell me
where to stash
these bleeding dreams.”
 
I will find the pyramid 
and the sphinx
hovering inside you.

They will awaken
only to find more dreams. 
I watched the sun.
We traveled across ocean floors.
 
(hard as the air
tender bones
powdery flesh)
 
I am weakening once again,
lowering my entropy slowly,
coming back to life now. 
Wait to be in your sacred skin
or your self-righteous soul.
Either one will do.
And now it’s done.
 
Your respect will never find you
although it illuminates every shadow 
and lifts every stone.
It will never sip the wine of the bone.
 
Burn me!
Burn me!
Burn me!
 
I want to feel your scorn.
Yes, that is perfect!
Scar me some more.
Defeat me
repeatedly.
 
Now it is time to leave.
Now it is the era to bleed.
because only the windows may feed,
and they make a feast of me,
sterilizing my only seed,
and I thought to myself:
 
“Using these wings, I cannot fail.
The sky is an eternal canvas for me to sail.”



Nothing

I don’t care how much it hurts.
I want to feel the freezing cold.
Such pain would be beautiful.
 
My fingers strain 
to recall dead friends.
Silent lips are smoking.
Help me stop this shaking.
 
My fluids slowly drain out.
This flower is withering.
I feel these bones crunching
as another statue disappears.
 
(bleeding, bleeding, quickly bleeding)
 
I wanted to figure you out,
graph your shape here forever.
What can I do to escape this situation?
This is just another cybernetic connection.
Communication is disabled.
 
You lied when you said,
“There will be no more cliques.”
Your halo of promises quickly dissolved.
Either people elevate themselves too high,
or the bogeyman still holds them at bay.
 
I am left alone to observe the metal and stones,
slaying dragons in the dragging afternoons.
 
Watch those people ever so carefully:
giggling, talking, enjoying themselves.
They are paper people.
Use the fire of your rage to burn them away.
Just keep repeating this phrase:
“As long as someone loves you, 
you can ALWAYS be beautiful.”

(as long as someone loves you,
you can always be beautiful.)
 
[yes, you external validation-seeking mutt,
keep on saying that until you believe it]
 
Ever since I was thrust into this absurd world, 
these feelings have tickled my bones.
My veins could never clutch their meaning. 
 
You left me all these questions, 
but I can’t answer any of them…
not even the first one.
And they keep multiplying each day.
 
My world is slanted.
 
(no no no not again not again)
 
I can see the cross-bearing fools
trying to push their religion on me.
My anger finally burned through to them.
 
They tell me,
“Your words may be rebellious,
but they are weak.”
 
So I drift away…
 
away…

away… 
 
to mid-nineteenth century China.
I was a valiant Kung Fu warrior.
My attacks left purple scars.
 
I was a fighter, a lover, 
and everything in between.
 
One day, my brother and I 
went down to the shore.
He proceeded to swallow the ocean.
His stomach fought a swordfish.
Gastric acid blasted it down.
 
Then my brother 
had to die.
I saw it happen,
the exact millisecond
when he was killed.
A stone broke his skull.
 
How ironic! Because 
when we were growing up,
he always told me that,
if I ever came upon
the treasure chest of wisdom
and found it locked,
I’d have to bash it open
with a stone of truth.
 
My friends and I traveled 
for quite a while, 
dragging my brother’s body.
Finally, a river accepted his weight.
 
I remember
as he floated away
his blue eyes
were shining.



No Questions Asked of Me

I cross into the realm of bliss.
Sea breezes die in living light.
No longer do angel shapes
stain this morning’s central vision.
 
Burdens fall on my skin
when godless dreams
slip the ancient cries
of ministers and liars
through my ears.
 
You ask me to build a creation myth,
demanding I construct one to serve
your uncertain ends,
your misguided purpose.
 
I do not fear what use 
you will make of it
when I tell you
someone planted a seed 
in the soil of outer space,
and from this act of embedding
one item into another
the grand vision became real.
 
Your aggressive Hitler question
quickly filters through me,
tearing through my soul
and carrying away chunks of my fighting spirit,
bits and pieces that have been
enlightened by ignorance.
 
Just relax every muscle
excluding brains, hands, and eyes.
 
As you inquire, I expire.
“Who planted the seed? A god?
Was the god Caucasian?
Did he have blond hair and blue eyes?
Was he Jewish or not?”
 
This “he” was not even male!
No, no…not simply a man!
 
This entity was everyone
and everything destined to come,
if you wish to believe such tall tales.
 
Because I have the true vision in my mind,
and no belief can erase how my blackboard-soul
has been covered with the formulas
whose results made me the person I am today.
 
While unearthing ghosts I sometimes wish 
I could uproot this cosmic scene,
speaking in sarcastic tongues known only to me.
 
A person defines their own language,
their own behaviors,
their own mode of expression.
 
If we accept this is true,
how is it possible
for two human beings
to ever truly communicate?
 
You cannot know me.
You cannot see what injures my pride
or why the weight of a feather
is sometimes enough
to crush the heart of a giant.
 
You can’t feel the tension
as the crosshairs of 100 rifles
held by a diverse crowd
of 100 magicians
are trained on my heart,
so don’t feel the urge
to tell me, to share with me,
to define the hopes and vanishing theories of you…
you whom I never knew well,
you whose teeth are still marked,
stained from the last meal you ate,
when you devoured
more than your share 
of imperfections.
 
I want to seek out the sensation
of power, just to feel it once,
but I never want to know
the world through your eyes.
If I saw your leader,
would he be the greatest actor, 
the most effective jester
these meandering lives 
have ever known?
 
I am sure we will drink magic potions together
before the evening can set on this landscape
of halos, shadows, and sunlight divine.
 
I am sure it won’t matter
if the cups weren’t washed thoroughly.
I don’t see how a little dirt
could spoil the magic.
 
Cause infection? Maybe.
Destroy the power 
contained in these 
shafts of illumination?
 

Never.



Turn Around

Carve a crooked star
where the air is vacant.
The needles return to attention
when the deed is done.
I tried to call an ancient place
but the earth divided,
and I was peering down at its core.
The antediluvian kingdom released its wisdom.
They built an updated Stonehenge.
But this creation reveals truth to us all,
the fact that this version’s power isn’t as vast.
Its strength is crippled.
 
The time changes when you’re gone.
The sand pours through the cracked hourglass.
The wind loves itself and laughs
As it carries each grain away.
You can try to create the mind you want,
But your plans will crumble
When you desert your one true self,
Leaving it to die in the desert.
Your body will turn to dust under the sun,
And the wind loves itself and laughs
As it carries the remains away.
 
Turn around, turn around, turn around.
Don’t abandon yourself now.
It’s never too early or too late
to embrace the wisdom behind you.
 
Dry a tear as it runs away.
Dry out the sky of a brand-new day.
Take me there, where your sun is blood-red
and its light paints the sky orange
as we float our hazel mists through the world.
We drift over the grass.
Each blade is sapphire when I look
and turn each naked eye in revolutions
that can make a world of difference.
 
When the sun breaks its light,
shattered slivers of nothing slide over the ocean.
Every river is reflected in your turquoise body.
When these visions are no longer visible,
the world will correct itself slowly.
There are so many ways and not enough days.
I know today is a sorrowful occasion for many.
The world has dropped its colors.
You must remember these final hours.
You have made the correct decision.
When you leave this evening, I cannot cry.
The nothingness highlights your empty space.
The telephone wire is radioactive.
The stars are too bright on this perfect evening.
You’re near me on the ground,
but my fingers cannot reach you
unless they fall apart in the mirror.
I increase this volume and my realm shrinks.
Carve mystic ruins into the sun.
Share a grave with everyone.
 
Turn around, turn around, turn around.
Don’t abandon yourself now.
It’s never too early or too late
to embrace the wisdom behind you.
Yes, turn around to reflect the sun
With the mirror of your heart now.
 
This diamond’s skin pulsates.
It is struggling to connect the dots.
They will reveal an inverse reality
when the Mobius strip is shattered.
Time will unlock, the chain will break.
When Earth rotates, all this will be yours
for the taking and breaking,
the miscalculated heart-aching.
It will dissolve today when you say,
“I want all this to go away,
to vanish as I look upon it.”
Your feet coined imprints, duplications
as you stomped through the mud.
 
You can turn into mist, 
then disappear in the tracks you made.
The rain helped to create you.
The sun went ‘round and ‘round and ‘round.
The moon cast refracted heat upon you.
And then came the time when I told you
to turn around, turn around and see it:
Your demons heading this way.
Can you make them vanish,
or will they take over?
 
All other songs can play upon the wind,
but your tune must stay here.
I will deny it no longer.
I cannot do this on my own.
Put your hand on my shoulder. 
Apply some force.
 
Help me to turn around, turn around
and face this misery.
Perhaps my words can divide this pain.
Develop a quotient that will soon come forth.
Slice hatred in two with my poem-knife.
The steady hum is fading, and I know
we can change the way the world is now.
Skin’s importance is destroyed.
All country borders are demolished,
Gone when this map is set on fire,
and I am the one holding the torch beneath it.
 
Turn around, turn around, turn around.
Don’t abandon yourself now.
It’s never too early or too late
to embrace the wisdom behind you.
Yes, turn around to reflect the sun
With the mirror of your heart now.
 
Another moment dies in the distance,
another nameless victim made,
another century put to rest.
another batch of lies born
when the old one fades.
To believe your future is planned,
that a destiny exists,
is to say you will give no answer
other than a fist.
Treat yourself to a Carnegie Hall
or a winter wonderland, 
or a lake in autumn.
The fishing rod perched upon the shore is mine.
It reels in nothing-fish once again.
So pointless and full of pain,
yet I cannot destroy reality
because I cannot fail myself.
“What do you love the most?” she asked.
“The art of living,” I replied.
And that’s the only response I will ever give.
Now I have the ability to turn around,
to swing my eyes in the right direction.
 
Another world longs to split your mind,
to lay it open for all to see.
When the time comes,
your heroic motions will be recorded.
“No, you cannot fail us!” I scream.
The words die before they can touch you
because the bullet comes crashing home.
As your head explodes to announce your failure,
we all hear the destruction and cry.
Static pours out of my cup.
I sip wine out of my radio.
Its flavor changes as it rolls through my blood.
And the time has come to turn…
 
Turn around, turn around, turn around.
Don’t abandon yourself now.
It’s never too early or too late
to embrace the wisdom behind you.
 
Throw your soul like a slow-motion snowball.
Let’s see who will receive its beauty,
a tense moment only one person can shatter.
As we wait and watch, I convert the planet.
I help it to turn around and face its fears.
And now I use this chain to lock it in place,
so it can never turn back.
 
Now that the healing has begun, I wish one thing:
I wish you would turn around and see
how much you truly mean to us.





Steve Grogan is from the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. His short stories and poems have been published in several magazines and ezines. His biggest influences are Phillip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, and Thomas Pynchon.

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