Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Memorial Day
Monday, May 25, 2015
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Charlotte shit in the bathtub again.

You probably didn't see it
Before you went out for coffee,

But in case you did -

I just wanted you to know
That I saw it and picked it up
And flushed it down the toilet
And everything's okay.

It's safe to return home.

-Erin Passons, 5-25-2015

Storm Chaser (for Doug)

Storm Chaser (for Doug)

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For Doug


Tell me a secret. Tell me something you've never told anyone.

You lie and say you've told me everything.

Abridged thirty-seven years inside two bookends holding twenty-four months together.

Do you expect me to believe this?  You, great lover, expert back scratcher, intense warrior,
Receiver of the universe's kindness and the internal dweller of monsters so violent at night they steal your very breath?

You of physical weariness both phantom and real and tears big and wet and spilling oceans at a time?

(In the shadow of your neck, I think, I've never seen a man cry like that)

You ask your god for a distraction and he listens.
The earth growls, flashes a signal.

You turn away from me and stand, walk to the window, pull back the blinds, and reveal vast miles of shattered, broken sky.

We love these storms, you and I.
Its rage immobilizes our stillness.
We make love to them, fly high with them,
Wrangle their fury inside our fingertips,
Press flesh against heated flesh, turn water into fire,
Treat the earth's self-infliction like a balm to our unhealing.

Then we hang over the balcony and cross our fingers, asking for more.

There's a storm brewing inside the closed circle you keep closed and circled and you place your hands together and ask for it to end but sometimes I wonder.

When the phone rings you view its screen wearily.
The news is always different but the same,
And you choose to believe one day it will be different in a different way but it never is.  

I don't understand and you know it.

You harden at the tongue of my logic and leave for another room to the outstretched arms of a distraction that is slowly killing you from within.

It's bad when I ask for your secrets. It's even worse when you confide in me and I dismiss you at the first signs the levee is failing because the bad news from other people who aren't you isn't what I want to hear.

I want to hear more about you, not about the squeaky wheels in your life that you refuse changing.

I wonder aloud (my words slapping cuffs on the silence you prescribe carefully constructed avoidance),

Hey baby,

Why are you relying on the wind from another sea to direct your sail?
What happened to your November suspicion?
Why don't you demand more answers?
What jealous angel clipped your wings, told you eagles were meant to climb trees?
Who advised you that sacrifice was the only way to live?

You tell me it's nothing, shut up about it,
But in a nice way, in a way I can forgive.

This is its own storm too.

(In the valley of your chest I think two things:
It's hard to love a man who loves the unlovable,
It's hard to love a man who is loved by everyone but himself.)

You've said I have a callous heart but that's not true.
We simply love in different ways.

I learned love from my mother.
Nurturing others means teaching them to nurture themselves.

You were not broken when I found you. Merely chipped.
Trust me, you are salvageable. 
I could never love what I couldn't fix. 
I'm not a humanitarian. I'm into cats.

I am the sky that rips its skin, punctures the membrane to drip the poison out from within.
I self-preservationalize. I rationalize: there's more room outside than in.

You are the ground, you are the soil collecting cries for help and absorbing them like its your place to hold the world together, and in holding in the damage forever it carves canyons in your landscape.

You are smarter, wiser, stronger than the rest of us. Perhaps you think it's up to you to carry the weak.

I wouldn't know. You never tell me the things that matter.

But, Love -

I have ten fingers and two hands and they are stretched out in your direction. I am not as strong as you and the universe has long dropped me from its gift list and maybe my heart could use a gym membership but if I can and if you'll let me, I'll soften the blows you're so hellbent on taking for others.

Turn my direction. The storm is ending.

Or is it too late? Have you internalized that collapsing circle?
Does it wear the shape of your heart?
Is it corroding and do you believe that's the price you pay for chasing storms, for standing by the window safe inside your secrets, nurturing the war with wet eyes and fresh scars until love drowns you in its cannibal clouds?  

- Erin Passons, 5-25-2015
Saturday, May 23, 2015

Orange Juice

Orange Juice
Saturday, May 23, 2015
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There goes a man carrying a two-gallon bottle of bright orange non-orange-juice orange juice, the kind that imitates two-gallon milk bottles but with no name, trademark, or commercial to say it’s there, it’s available, it’s a dollar-fifteen.

And there he goes past my car carrying this thing which must be heavy in his chapped hands and weary eyes with claw marks and yellow sand looking up at the rare rain of an Austin May day afternoon almost evening and its grayness, and a lynch mob of a cloud delivering on its promise.

And later he’ll say what a mess in Spanish to his wife, and the kids will drink their sugar sacrament and sleep off their malnourishment and later Daddy will stay up counting his change and counting the days until better days.

And later I’ll creep up beside my own cardboard cutout children for whom I delivered through a tunnel mass of love and tissue and the desire to save the unsalvageable and ask them what they want for dinner and they’ll say (not looking up) they’re not hungry or they’re not hungry for anything I have or anything I’ve given.

And isn’t that always the case? Isn’t hunger a perpetual state? We’re all just immigrants in this place living from reality check to reality check, waiting for the rainmaker and the rain and the love we lost and the love we made and the better days when less was more than plenty and plenty was never far away.

— Erin Passons, 5-2014
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

King Kaya

King Kaya
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
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Rainbow-loom maker, dollar bill taker,

Mass producer of pastry crumbs,


Keep your arms at your side

When the dock workers salute.


Groove on past the corner where happy foot soldiers

Play cards en masse, and when the Colonel asks,

Show him your twenty-three

Pairs of tangled shoelaces.


And when the Third Reich approves of

Your genetic mutations, resign.

Tell them nevermind.

You won't sing their campfire songs.


Then move along.


Draw a line in the sand.

Draw a path to a star.

Shine so bright the sun spits jealousy rays so insane

Clouds ripple with waves of crimson rage.


Be the reason old women turn to each other on that day and ask,

"Did you see that?”


Once you've dug deep and found

Your inner strength runs deeper

Than you could ever dream,

Use it to build the strength in others.

Remember: might is nothing without right.

Consider London’s ancient, dark tower - hallways

Cloaked with headless ghosts sharing your eye color.


Think of your father's people, too,

Ottomans who know a thing or two about slaughter —

Just ask an Armenian cab driver.


What I'm saying is, son—

Be powerful, but not in a harmful way.


Because you are powerful. Yes, you are.

You are wonderful and brave.

Doesn't matter you have yet to meet

A chore you couldn't delay,

And you haven't found the one thing

That makes your heart race, the one thing

You wish could do

And nothing else forever and ever,

And if you could,

You would change the spelling of that thing

With the letters of your name and repeat it

Over and over until someone (probably your sister)

Threatens your life unless you stop saying it.


Nevermind sometimes it seems you're just doodling along,

Doodling in class, doodling during a song,

Doodling in the air when your eyes are asleep,

Doodling with your eyes when your hands are empty.


Those doodles are simply signs of things to come,

And signs are what help us find our way.


What I'm saying is, son —

You can do anything.


Think of your sister,

Of whom you adore, adored by all,

A girl who sheds tears for dogs of deserters

And collects new friends like paper flowers.

Except when, in a snap, she switches temperament,

A Siren hell bent on sinking sailors with verse, before

Slinking away to her cave to feast on their thirst.

After licking her fingers free of grease and regret,

(And with bones buried next to her ballet flats), she looks

Up with a smile and a song and a laugh, asking,

“Which of my loved ones should I devour next?”


Don't let her devour you.

Be better than that.

You are not the cause of someone's bad day.

You are not the remedy either.


And when your sister reemerges back into

Her flower-shape, loved by all,

Adored by all, Princess of Song,

Don't let her shiny nickel kindness

Make you feel like a million bucks.

Don't let it make you feel like a penny either.


What I'm saying is, son —

You come from a long line of kings,

And you are the King of your own self-worth,

And you are worth everything.


—and when I say that you come from a long line of kings,

I don't mean the Plantagenet leaves on your family tree,


But the King you call grandfather,

The one in Mississippi,

Who arranges weekly church meetings

To welcome the Rainbow Men,

Men who some men in his generation

Would never welcome,

The King who rubs his wife's feet in front of the TV

And wonders what in the world he'd do without her.

The King who places flowers on his son’s grave

And calls his daughters three times

For every one time they call back,

If for no other reason than to repeat

The same three words his girls

Have heard since the King first wept

Beside ribbons sewn in pink.


—and when I say you come from a long line of kings,

I don't mean the Hun warriors

Who pillaged and plundered,

Conquered and enslaved,

The great lords of horses and blood and war

Who craved victory above all things.


But the other King you call grandfather,

The one in Izmir, a king

Whose mere presence claims victory

Over the storms raging

In the hearts of everyone around him.

The King who needs very little

And asks for even less,

Who spends sweltering afternoons

With watercolors of sailboats and wisteria gardens.

The King who hums so prettily

Painting the miracle of water

That wild felines curl their backs

Against the bricks of his balcony

And forget their thirst,

And morning is a chance to be born again.


What I'm saying is, son —

Nobility is not inherited.

It lives inside a person's character,

And I want so much for you.


I want you to be King.


So you're the second child,

So you're the youngest child,

So you lose your mother at sleep,

So you lose your father regularly to a computer screen,

So your shoes were untied when they handed out sunscreen,

So you were misfitted in other people's hand-me-down expectations from day one,

And since that day, you've tried to keep up, and it never seems enough,

So you've been given everything but the only thing you’ve ever wanted...


So you're a messy child, an unruly child, a natural disaster —


My love, you are my disaster,

And you are the most beautiful disaster I've ever known.

And every time I ask about your day, I'm really asking for your forgiveness.


Don't let life's peasant days and common ways steal your crown.


What I'm saying is, son —

You are everything.


-Erin Passons, 5-13-2015
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