Gene Lewis Perry

If life were like fairy tales, I'd have been devoured by trolls already.

secret

In my fist
There may be
A trembling white mouse,
Or,
Perhaps not.

violin music

A small thought
Blinking deliberately
Finds its way among pillars and crevices
And does not presume to be other than it is.
But it flashes
(O it flashes!).
The air shivers.

physics

I.

Between us
Air is rarefied
And matter delineates
Cleanly and brightly
Its bodily bonds,
As solid as we are amorphous,
As I am blind,
And you are invisible.

II.

Worlds flow by oblivious
For we are streamlined
And gathering speed.
Relative to each other
We do not move.

III.

You blow through me
Like ether,
Both chemical and celestial.
I am exalted and exhausted.

white light

I am pale, made pale by the glow of the screen
In a pool, moonlit pool with a ghostly sheen.
I am night; tear away all the oranges and reds.
Leave the white to awaken the strange from their beds.
We are strange, for we sit in the moonlit pool
Rearranged to be fit for the blank night’s cool.
Cool night, it is chilly and we are chilled.
What a sight we must be, so alone and stilled.
And we shine by ourselves in the screen’s cold glow
And we find we are lost in the blank white snow.
We dissolve in the light. We are found in the dawn
To be dead from the fright of the colors gone.

ephemerals

from 2004

VI.
we are so fragile that the next breeze may hurl us away
to never know each other
or that, like ghosts, we pass through
with only a shiver to remind us of all we have forgotten
our wisdom grows in slow time
deep beneath the surfaces of life

V.
there is beauty in a grey horizon
and in a broken bottle
and in a pothole filled with muddy rain
all things dream
and are dreamt in turn by others

IV.
today I play a mad prophet
casting nets and webs and snares into the ether
when they come back empty I am satisfied
(you can tell by the gleeful cackling)

III.
amidst strange eyes and empty conversations
a rope twists skyward off a single dangling cigarette
it pulls me up to safety

II.
torn by tenderness
we rest in the crook of a leafless tree

I.
fragility sustains us like smoke rising above a fire

snow day

The truest thoughts are those that contradict themselves,
she said, and laughed at the idea that snow melts
into ice melts into water melts into air
melts into our lungs, where we cannot follow.

We cannot follow. We are bundled and hesitant.
We take hostage of our heat, and we repeat
the truest lie: that a thing being impossible
is more reason why it must be done.

This smoothed out world, coated in soft bones,
might snow us over if we hadn’t learned
that blankness always deceives, and
fresh starts are continuations in disguise.

the word that started it

Plaza is the word that started it on this particular day, full of light and chilly air – a circle of bricks with benches scattered round winking fountains thinking they are sly, but their winking is predictable as the sun.

Inspired by the fountains, we speak in riddles and whispered lies that never did anyone harm. We summon moments of contentment.

We’re never satisfied with contentment. We are inveterate coin flippers, always looking for the other side. Though it’s the same each time, we are compelled. We are compelled to be compelled.

We blame the word. That was how it all began.

Dracula Vs. The Law of Conservation of Matter

Immortality was a blast, at first.
He didn’t mind the clammy skin that charred in sun,
Nor even the bone-deep chill,
Until the transformation.

A startled reflex at a lunging dog, and it was done:
Excess skin and bones and meat sloughed to the ground,
His former flesh a canine feast, and him a flying thing,
A bat.

But turning back, that was the catch.
With so little left to stitch the tissues of a man
He was stretched thin, empty and brittle, a papery balloon
Who knows only the all-consuming impulse to consume.

Now he dreams to be, from toes to top, remoistened and engorged,
But lacking guts to process what he eats, he is obliged
To feed through pointed teeth, as through a straw,
Sip by sip by sip by sip by sip.

Echo and Narcissus

wild girls and beautiful boys run through the forest,
but leaves cover them.
they slide through green tunnels,
over mossy hills,
past rivers and wet stone.

what do they chase?
Desire runs alongside,
a laughing, tormenting ghost,
and they are pulled, only to grasp at smoke.

they are become smoke,
in the chasing.
they are evaporated,
of all but their essence:
a voice, lingering;
a flower.

the world is made like this

One night
the wind blew down and blurred the colors of earth,
to make them insubstantial.

I walked among strangers.
Blurred myself, they blurred beside me
so that we moved like leaves at a wind-dance,
oblivious to each other,
alone with the sky.

I raised a thought to God.
God’s voice whistled, and sighed,
but formed no words in reply.

The world is made like this:
made only for itself
but it is us
and we are it.

stale stairwell air

stale stairwell air
is a pretty phrase for the fluid
that fills the gaps inside this stack of stairs.
we are drawn in invisible buckets or
plunge down only to bob up
again tomorrow.