Cover Image: Luke Stackpoole
in the stale of
with a baseball bat
sticking out of the end
and bash them in the
like a zombie
terrorizing your childhood
do not listen
let the fucking
curse words shout
behind their backs.
keep their friends close,
but their enemies
(C) Brice Maiurro 2012
Cover art: John Jennings
You really don’t understand who you are until something is taken away from you, and I have to say, over the last few weeks, as I’ve watched my event calendar open up more and more, I’ve really begun to see what makes up the fabric of my life, and how I’ve built my therapy into my daily life.
It’s nothing new to me to understand that poetry has saved my life, time and time again, but as I’ve lost direct contact with so many friends and loved ones, so many open mic nights and community dialogues on social justice or anything really, the one thing I’ve found taking the place of that time is writing, and really poetry.
I’m cut from a different cloth then a lot of other folks. I spend a large amount of time in general just trying to understand myself. I struggle sometimes to want to socialize, probably something of an imposter syndrome, as I can’t stand the idea of acting, or of being insincere. At times, this leaves me in silence, not talking, and sometimes it leaves me feeling lonely.
This is in direct contrast with my love of people. One spring, while I was in college, I had some extra money and two weeks to kill so I took off on the road to Las Vegas. Along the way, I discovered Moab, Utah, a place that has become incredibly important to me, and eventually I arrived in Vegas. I quickly learned that it wasn’t the places that were important to me, it’s the people. It’s the experience of sharing things with people. I came to have a newfound appreciation for Anthony Bourdain, and the ideology he carried in how he traveled – find the local spots with the local people, and talk to them. The way I saw it, he had the dream job, so it was hard on me, as well as many other people, when this man I saw as someone living his truth, living his best life, took that life from himself.
As so many elements of my life have been stripped away, I’ve been feeling incredibly vulnerable, as if someone removed all of the doors to my house, and I am unable to keep the wind or strange creatures from wandering right in. I find myself feeling incredibly existential. I’ve been going to work each day to a pulmonary clinic with very few patients. As I walked down the hall today, I began to have tunnel vision and found myself wondering if I exist at all. I went to the grocery store to get lunch and the few people there seemed like set pieces, like extras on the set, coached not to make eye contact.
This all is so incredibly lonely, and strange, and it has heavily reminded me that when I walk down an asphalt road, that road is an invention. That is something that someone decided should happen. Synthesis places on top of a patch of grass. The building I write this in wasn’t always here. Obviously, this all leads to the poetry.
As I’m figuring new things out about myself, one thing seems to be a key element of who I am; dark times might be difficult for me, as for anyone, but that is where I grow best. It is the void that makes me an optimist. It is hopelessness where the poetry comes around and acts as a vessel for me to travel through to tirelessly seek hope.
When people ask me on New Year’s Eve if I had a good year, I always tell them: I always either have a good year or an important year. I don’t know if things are good right now, but I definitely believe they are important.
I hope you all find optimism, hope and poetry in this strange time.
Brice Maiurro is a poet and storyteller in Denver, Colorado.
it’s the bones that i’m thinking about. the frame. that which goes unspoken for but consistently holds me up. there is a stream that runs through green hills beneath a harsh sun. the grass has barely started to brown, to burn. and at the far edges of this still life is a frame that holds together like a family. there is a nail that trusts the wall. a wall that trusts the floors, the ceiling. light shines in through windows. i step, lifting a congregation of bone and marrow by muscle, over and again, in ten million years of motion leading to one moment where i look outside the window. my neck twisted upward to the golden sky i look for any trace of saturn and i think to myself where is it? and i answer back to myself it’s gone.
every year on my birthday i write a birthday poem. “the anatomy of a ___ year old man.” thank you for reading.
EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE AND I WANT TO SLEEP FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS.
I’m excited to say my second collection of poetry, Hero Victim Villain, will be released on June 24th from Stubborn Mule Press.
This collection is mostly an accumulation of poems that I wrote late 2017 to early 2019. The first poem in the collection, The Canary Who Swallowed The Coal Mine, kind of set the tone. I say in the poem “everything is on fire, and I want to sleep for at least two weeks.” The poem goes on to basically explain how everything is on fire, a commentary on my own anxieties and paranoia and feelings of helplessness, the way I can play the victim at times.
My friend Brandon Pooley calls it the poet’s disease. The way that some creatives will be self-destructive ultimately in the name of art. Something I want to get away from. I think that art is born out of self-discovery. Yeah, if you’re going through some hard shit you are possibly growing as a person, but it doesn’t have to be hard shit. Go on a trip, walk backwards to the grocery store, change jobs. I think what’s better than drinking yourself into a coma every night is pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by pushing yourself to be more. Henry Rollins says it well:
“If you hate your parents, the man or the establishment, don’t show them up by getting wasted and wrapping your car around a tree. If you really want to rebel against your parents, out-learn them, outlive them, and know more than they do.”
The book goes on to explore these themes more. Savior complexes, the monsters we are and the monsters among us, all with a healthy dose of humor. I’m really excited about this collection. I hope to stop by the blog a bit more over the next couple months with more short writings, but thank you for reading. I hope that not everything is on fire for you.
photo: henry desroches
*just about every year on my birthday I write an “Anatomy of a … Year Old” poem. Thank you for reading.
i am a giant lizard monster
trying to lay down comfortably in a sprawling metropolis but the buildings scratch at my back
the cars pierce my feet like legos
i fold myself ragdoll into a suitcase in attempt to be smaller
i’ve tried my hand at big, i wish to be little
i stare into the mirror but it’s not a mirror
it’s the ghost of marley and he’s eating my cereal
he tells me i need to grow out my beard again
he reminds me i am a joshua tree at the end of the western world
he reminds me that it is crucial that i push through heavy desert ground
my veins are filled with marathon runners sprinting but only when it’s dark out
i’ve begun to name the avenues they run down, federal, larimer, colfax
rush hour is a real bitch
my hands shake at the horns honking screaming for attention
i’ve spent twenty eight years sawing myself in half for the big audience
i want to spend the next twenty eight sewn together
maybe salinger, alone in a boat in the middle of a forest
maybe vincent, a militia of mad men in the fields of anxiety
there is hair in my ears and when i was signing my contract this was not mentioned
television led me to believe that this corresponded with twilight years
meanwhile the movies led me to believe i would be a wealthy philanthropist batperson by now
i conveniently ignore al bundy’s belly, his thin hair, his vicious kmart realism
my eyes are the brownest they have ever been
this is good
this is spirit in form
petrified wood to be built into rocking chair conversations and tobacco pipes
i am seeking a clean definition of masculinity
and my femininity is my best hope to get there
there is goldfish in a glass bowl lodged in my heart
i still haven’t figured out what that’s all about but i feed it pellets
i remember that though the castle it swims around is small it is still a castle
and the castle is me and the goldfish is the music of it all
i’ve wrapped myself up in ace bandages but i’m not injured
i decide to play a mummy because for a brief minute this year i was a pharaoh
and now all i want is to be surrounded by true gold and sleep sleep sleep
and wake up thirty and haunt the shit out of these fuckers for at least a few more
great wonder beyond the wall
the wall beyond the shadows of something
the shadows of something beyond enveloped life
inconsistent adulterated human experience
swept clean like dead flies from the floor beneath the burning building
“enso” is a Japanese word meaning circle. ensos are symbolic of many things including enlightenment, infinity and the void. in some practices, Buddhists will each day paint an enso, usually in one stroke, in a certain hope of drawing a perfect circle. there is both a sense of giving in to the moment and the ongoing discipline towards perfection therein. with these enso poems, i will write poems in one fell swoop, hoping for the best, hoping to strengthen my muscle each day, and resolved in their imperfections.
I kind of feel like a field of ten thousand oranges,
like a universe made up entirely of suns,
like some sort of cosmic relief to be freed from subterranean dirt,
like I’ve worked my way through codependent alcohol-induced relationships
and deciphered every single Fall Out Boy lyric.
I kind of feel like God,
except I’m buying Glide floss at the grocery store
and everyone around me is God too.
I kind of feel like the flower section at King Soopers.
I feel like the succulent on clearance at King Soopers
but then I purchase myself and water myself back to health.
The sky is a Charles Mingus song,
my eyes are an audience drunk on sound.
I’m chewing on the clouds like white taffy.
I’m mourning ten years of residual teenaged angst
but teenaged angst isn’t dead,
it’s just hiding under ground
punching the lid of its coffin until it can break through
and avenge the man that massacred my wedding party.
I kind of feel like love.
Like I’ve arrived in a nice suit at a wedding.
Like the king of the dance floor, drowning in waves of hands held high.
Like my twenties largely prepared me through the trial and error of shit mistakes
to enter my thirties entirely renewed and ablaze
and ready to make all sorts of new and interesting mistakes.
My bones are bionic.
The marrow is whiskey.
I am whiskey now, I don’t need to drink to get there.
I’ve aged in barrels.
My beard sleeps soundly against the walls of my face.
If I had ten thousand blenders I’d turn them all on to high.
I am a giant monster that could attack the city but instead
I’m opting to dig deep in the dirt and plant large gardens of flowers.
I am realized chaos,
I am a cat thrown into the sky
and landing in downward dog.
My tongue spits om after om
as I regenerate my bones.
I am sailing on an ocean of great intentions
and I spent a quiet night with Hemingway
taught how to punch caustic sharks in their stupid faces.
Neruda has taught me that revolution and love
are one and the same.
Warsan taught me that our pain is our story
and it can be behind us,
like a great thick wind pushing us into new pain.
I am naked and painting myself to blend in with the grass.
I am green and inseparable from everything,
except I’m acutely aware I’m 30.
I’m acutely aware of the position I’ve established on my doomsday clock.
I am the clock hands of Doctor Manhattan in the mouth,
along the sides, in the cunt,
floating like oceans across the breasts of a lover.
I am meditating on Mars about my goddess of war,
and how she has awakened inside of me the armistice of my arms,
now outstretched into great giant fields of oranges,
where I reach out,
and grab them,
and peel the skin,
and I try to pull the pieces out neatly,
but the orange says no,
the orange says,
dig your face deep into me and eat me rabidly.
her hair was wild
it is now tamed
seeking refuge from
a long life
in the sanctuary
of a black bandana
her eyes sunken in
like great ships
in the starry night
beneath her eyebrows
slowly through time
her wrinkles have
formed like drylands
under the salt water crusades
of lovers above her
onward to other women
and down the stairs
six feet beneath the
there is no symmetry
left to her face
there is no falsity
of give and take
of war and peace
just the residue
of what lost
and what was won
at the artist
like she is staring
like she stares out
into the great void
that hovers over her
the great void
that comes whistling
out of her teapot
the great void
not only the old woman
but the artist as well
he does not know
that when he stares out
at the old woman of arles
that he stares into
does he know
how to paint
you are not a flower.
you do not rise
from the soil
like some dandy little
spark of life
you are not
with green vanity
you just are.
when spring hits
you do not bloom
you do not rise up
from the cold winter
to burst forth into
some spectral showcase
of expressionistical color
you are not some
you are not
in constant competition
with the bright roses
you are not
in constant praise
of the sun
your tongue is not
held out before you
the ultraviolet rays
you’ve been fed
you do not
think of your roots
as being for
into your body
like stranger prayer
you are not a flower.
you bloom inward
you burn circles
in your living room rug
trying to find
unidentified life lying
in the widening crack
of your ceiling
you lick the salt
from your wounds
and watch your hands
you waste days
you boil water into boredom
you’ve torn your roots
from the bureaucratic soil
your two-dimensional legs
from the blueprint
they laid out for you
and you’re not always
you don’t have
the distinct privilege
of a best laid plan
you are something else
you dance best drunk
and to heavy metal
you are not a flower.
you are the crayon
that walked to the edge
and outside of the lines
and when you bloom
it’ll be in the middle of winter
in the middle of the night
and you will not bloom delicate
you my dear
will bloom fists and fury
From Stupid Flowers