You start from scratch

and play a note

don’t know where this one ends

and where the next one goes.

You’ve built a fortress in your head,

complete with cannons and a moat.

Epics and odysseys

swim in your eyes,

and orchestras play symphonies

in your toes.

You imagine a Rube Goldberg machine

catapulting thought-shapes into words into images into your magnum opus.

You brew them,

stir, toss,

turn them inside out.

Leave spaces between the sounds

and whistle over your words,

think they will meld

into a castle pushing up the clouds

on mist-framed mornings.

And then you open your eyes.

The bricks slip and slide,

the pipes flatten,

corners replace arches,

and the spaces in the ramparts

look like the gaps in an old man’s toothy smile.

Your fortress

is a stack of Jenga blocks

whose curve looks like that of a spine.

You laugh,

put a shroud over the assembly,

walk away,

and imagine a new fortress.


you leave this one uncovered,

and even as the tower challenges gravity,

you hold a block,

your tense hands defying tremors,

and you nudge it in.

You don’t breathe out too hard.


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