RAT RACE

You keep your quiet,
the drawn blinds at 2pm, 
the free matchbooks you acquired
in rooms with Gideon Bibles, 
and I will let you have them,
give back the highways and the roads, 
travel only on pathways with names
and not numbers, 
and we will see in the end 
who can stand the sound of the sea,
whether you are the shore or the waves
as the rocks are slowly turned to sand. 

By Heidi Turner

SINCERITY

 

I could blind myself to the sunset,  
or save the words, “I love you,” 
like it would mean more if I first said it  
on a day that had no stars, 
instead of giving you echoes
when you feel lost in the woods;
I could deny the sky itself and pretend
to live on an ordinary planet
instead of learning the feel of your arms
and the sound of acceptance
that will guide me back home, 
my tactile constellation. 

 

By Heidi Turner

NIHILISM

The trouble with the void
is not that it looks back
at me, but that I can paint
over it in shades of scheduled crises, 
forgotten Sabbaths, old wasp nests, 
and the last few disposable straws;
I use these to build stick men that
guard the nothingness, the space
life so generously gave to me, 
a cosmic shelf to fill with meaning,
a concert hall to fill with light. 

RITUAL

It hasn’t rained lately, 
not in years, not since forever,
and now we’ve all forgotten
the very first rider who rode off
into the sunset searching for poison
that, nowadays, we take with a smile.

We hold each other’s arms and necks,
your fingers are stiff, still cold,
when you turn my head to face you,
and they warm when she grips your shoulder, 
and we laugh off the knowledge:
there is no cure.

LIFELONG

Nobody special,
nothing to see here,
only ordinary reformed into art, 

myself in your eyes, 
following your observations, 
understood in poems I didn’t write, 
seen and see-through in decades passing, 

my deepest form traced out
with a pencil whose eraser
is lost to time. 

 

 

By Heidi Turner

DIGITAL

We were sure
we were good for each other
and the blame lies in the photos now: 
the way you are so clearly comfortable
occupying a frame that contains me, 
the last vestige of us that pops up
near Christmas, an alternate universe
that only exists as a spark
in the hard drive. 

 

 

By Heidi Turner

AMERICA

Strawberry Chapstick tastes like the Midwest
mixed with the body heat of the middle seat:

the same record playing over again,
high harmony, high melody, low violin;

I drift in and out of consciousness,
the taste of my own lips foreign
as America.

                                            

By Heidi Turner

MAGIC

The trouble with magic
is that it looks like sleight-of-hand, 
the way it weaves a tapestry
in the space between genius and madness; 
that it is imperceptible when the spell
is at its strongest, that music never-ending
is only audible when silence (impossibly) falls. 

 

By Heidi Turner

HOUSEHOLD LION

Once or twice
The Lion of Judah disguised Himself
as a housecat
to remind me that shattered lamps
and shredded plants
don’t stop the sun from shining,
that minor fires
do not constitute an emergency;
an open door,
held until He stays or leaves,
will finally let
the quiet Breath of wind
get inside. 

 

                

By Heidi Turner

WEEKEND

We could form a music group
or craft empty-glass metaphors,
build analogies out of playing cards,
understand the narrative we cannot exit.

We could throw rocks into the ocean
and question the nature of our liquid planet.

We could lose ourselves in panic
or slay the monsters in the labyrinth,
we could say yes to the high road
and regret the strength that carries us,

Or, windblown wishes of the past, we could say
nothing at all, do nothing but hold hands.

 

 

By Heidi Turner

DAYDREAMS

Rain falls daily, still unexpected
in my home town, into open
windows, slanting in through doors;
it rises from between kitchen tiles, floods
the empty spaces within myself,
left as they are—dusty shelves
that used to hold daydreams long evaporated
in the moonlight
and wind.

 

By Heidi Turner

YOU ARE

You’re at the edge of every story I write,
in the lines even I can’t understand,
you are the song I sing to myself
that whispers that silence alone rings true,
and you are the edge of the story itself,
the blade that could cut me in two,
I know you are the melody of my overture,
the word I haven’t learned to speak,
the pages turning after the reader is through.

 

By Heidi Turner