One Day I Hope to Burst and Be Full of Confetti
who'll encourage the living daylights out of you.
I THE UNCERTAIN MORNING
MY FAVORITE DOG IS BIG
My favorite dog is big
take me for a walk
I promise we can wrestle
glorious drool strings.
My favorite cookies contain oatmeal, often
all sorts of cookies
rather delicious, I must say
a puddle of milk.
My favorite drink is coffee
oh my Jesus Christ!
how you sanctify my soul
cuddle up closer.
My favorite food is nachos
I just love nachos
mouth, belly, and hand so happy
I am not picky.
If I had three wishes
first two were wasted
I want a box of puppies
snap, did it again.
I prefer to be happy
so many emotions
I think I'll pick happiness
or maybe despair.
THANKFUL, AND YOU
A bucket of puppies, life could be worse
a graveyard standing, the setting sun is hopeful
words rush in amongst the leaves of fall
a pretty tableau
I know things and directions, and so do you.
The plot thickens, mornings spent watching
most of my friends are doing okay
things happen, that's just what things
and happenings are
you'd miss them
Sun dried tomatoes out of the resealable package
dance on my tongue
products from factories can still give us hope
that we can one day be there
and make them
and give them
to one another
for real and reseal
THE FUTURE WAS FIVE YEARS AGO
Standing upon a tall building
the gift hasn't arrived
the check never came
my pockets are empty
and all the windows are open
will this feeling go away once I have children?
the future was five years ago.
THE UNCERTAIN MORNING
In the uncertain morning, smiles will be shared
and plans will be made
milky coffee will be enjoyed
and bills will be paid
and the bright winter sun will shine through the
illuminating two figures, newspapers, and potentials
in the uncertain morning, we are safe
worries will be managed
we both have had enough to eat
and like kings, we make decisions from the
in the uncertain morning we are safe for now.
II FUNNY STORIES ABOUT THIRST & DROWNING
There is a belief, an understanding
before all else
that you are capable
and this is important to remember
when you are outdoors
waiting for the bus in the snow
or riding the elevator down, alone
or while gathering all the stars
FOOD IS FUEL
I realize that this
make me happy,
it’s a pretty good start.
THANKSGIVING THREE WAY
The three of us walked down a cozy alley
and there is a comfort
as if one of us could be wearing a wig
or one of us could expose themselves to us
and that would be fine
You broke camp and crossed enemy lines to find love. However triggered by thirst you retreated. So with an empty
canteen between us, we thirsted together. Our fingertips touched as it passed back and forth, and with it every potential and impossibility. We baited traps for one another with olive branches and white flags. We were like two empty cups trying to fill each other up.
It was how you say,
I was trying to write a poem using drowning as a metaphor. You know how at the end of a relationship you fight, and care more about winning the argument than being truthful. Intimacy is rediscovered in candid attacks. Like two foundering captains bailing water into the other's boat. Not patching holes, or finding the source. Just working on drowning last. But the poem never fleshed out, I abandoned most of it to get one piece sharp. Then, the details took over and it got muddy and messy, losing it's purpose. Kind of like the relationship. Oh, that’s funny,
TO THE OLD BURGER KING LOGO
How I miss your cuddly pudginess
with warm faded yellow
and a lot surrounded by trees
to your memory
I get down on both knees.
I was a bright husky kid
who grew into an angry
and by the time I got muscles
from the Army
I had made my peace
so I faced it
with fabulous muscles
and a smile
then one day
I asked her, Do you love him too?
and she said, No
and then, I don't know
so I roamed the streets
okay, so this is how murder happens.
A CALL TO ARMS
You get shit on
but shit's really good
for growing things
so when it hits the fan, grab a bag
take a shower
and plant some fucking seeds!
If I were Jesus Christ
I would have broken a
if I were Judas Iscariot
I would have changed my mind
then and there.
KEEBLER PEANUT BUTTER CUP COOKIES
100 miles from home
and a jug of milk between us
chocolate in every bite
the whole box relieved
and with it all of our problems.
Quit smoking man
so we can outlive our wives and
mack on eighty year old chicks
AS I OPEN MY VALUE MEAL I NOTICE
straws in it
used to be a bank
these are joyfully
THE RACHEL POEM (IN YOUR EYES)
how I feel about you
because Peter Gabriel
has a copyright on those words
at Peter Gabriel Ltd.
I once became so exceedingly
fluent in both anger and self-pity
that I lost my native tongue
but now I have it back
and I think doing dishes
The moon casts
shadows at night
that are just begging
to be walked through
but riding your bicycle
THE NEW DREAM
Figurative cuts leave figurative scars
for strangers to stumble across
so if your looking for me tonight I'll be at
in the parking lot, under the trees
living the dream
practicing skateboard moves
to beguile my age.
III ONCE I WAS AN ARROW AND EVERYTHING
HAPPENED FOR A REASON, NOW I'M HERE
It’s nice when friends loan you TV-DVDs
because they are like getting
a chunk of time well spent
and when your done
you get to talk to them, your friends,
about what you did
and it sounds like
when the last thing you want is to be bothered
unbelievably good things arrive
like a bottle of whiskey
distilled on your birth year
and sent to you from the future
aged one million years.
ONCE I WAS AN ARROW AND EVERYTHING HAPPENED FOR A REASON, NOW I'M HERE
I jerk soda in front of a large silver mirror
behind a long wooden bar
that I wipe down from time to time
and nod to the customers from time to time
what'll you have buddy?
and the conversation
they come in suits and dresses
to catch trains
they discuss the handling of things with conviction
they think they're better
I think I'm better
sometimes there are glimmers
but it doesn't matter
we're all too busy passing time
waiting for nothing
It's still cold and you hate me a bit and I hate me a bit too and it's good to at finally agree on something and you loan me your scarf and I wait outside for the pizza guy and I think about how nothing's cute anymore and I complain to the pizza guy about the cold and he complains to me about the parking and then I go back upstairs and only watch as we both do the same exact goddamn thing.
And in the morning I try to drink more coffee to make things better and in the fridge I open it looking for something to pull me out and I crack a beer and I've got a warm mug in one hand and a cold can in the other and now both my hands are too full to do anything so I turn on the TV with my right ring finger and remember you're still sleeping so I turn it down and it angers me to turn it down and not because I don’t like being considerate but because it reminds me of last night and the night before that and the one before that and how there is a major problem compounding and how I feel too weak to fix it yet strong enough to avoid it so I think that all is lost and I shouldn't even try now. So I sip my beer and coffee and it makes me laugh when I think about what I must look like sitting there with my two drinks and I want to run in and share it with you. But now there are these layers between us that I cannot cut through, like we are both trapped inside two giant onions and we can't free ourselves without crying for no good reason.
alone no not alone
and through the trees above,
DEAL WITH IT
First Sergeant said
when you’re up Shit’s Creek
build a bridge
and get the fuck over it
life ain’t lemonade
or some shit.
I never intended to write a poem
about the importance of the tangible and the intangible
this morning before work
I was looking at pictures of
train depots in rural France
on Flickr dot com
a random contact asked me to join their photo group
for some specific type of orange colored steam train
that's how I ended up looking at these pictures
of French depots
in my underwear in a cold apartment
with Rachel asleep in the other room
and I thought
you can spend your whole life doing nothing
and you can spend your life doing something yet
it still feels like nothing
and maybe that's why God and sex are so popular
but I don't know
I just kept clicking on the pictures
and saving them to my computer.
FABRIC AND FEELINGS
There are machines
you'll never know
like when I was in basic training
near the end
feeling proud and
like I had at the beginning
and I looked down from the hill
at the dozens of barracks on base
the buses were just coming in
delivering the new recruits
still in their civilian clothes
picked out from stores
in their hometown
and I thought about the mixture of people
fabric and feelings
there must be a mathematical equation
to explain all of this
but there isn't.
THE CRACKS LET THE LIGHT IN, THE LIGHT GROWS THE FLOWERS, AND THE FLOWERS ARE WHAT WE EAT
We walk together under the cables and lights
laughing out loud in dark
as the summer's ease has been replaced with
and you tell me
that this time of year
it feels like we deserve our dissatisfaction
or something like that
so we stay inside
searching for and finding exquisite mediocrity
not talking not learning
just going hmmmm and
raising the bar a little
wondering why we're still bored
the only teamwork we can muster
is scouring craigslist
hoping that someone out there needs an abstract painter
or a poet
or something like that
for some transformative reason:
a new hope a light a dream
but they don't nor ever will
IV PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
it's really about
the twelve closest people to you
and how you affect them
everything else they tell you
is pretty much crowd control.
I like my coffee hot and black
with a good pour of ice cold cream
I find the ensuing compromise of color
as I walk
cup in hand to your house
just for fun
and I like that we don't have as many conflicts as we used to
but that neither of us has given up
or given in
It's like when I look into my cup I see the swirling cream
and then it's gone.
This was going to be called a heartbreaking work of staggering sadness, but it's not, not when twenty-seven years of side-splitting listlessness sounded more appropriate. Youth isn't lost or stolen it’s bargained away upon an endless succession of trades. It seemed a good deal at the time, well it probably was. Now when I walk past fountains in the mall I remember a person who'd stick his foot in deep to prove to himself the wonders of freewill. But now I'm too worried about bills and the maintenance of my things to deal with the freedom of a wet foot.
I KNOW I KNOW
I was like,
and she was like,
and in the end we were both like,
I'VE LOVED THREE PEOPLE ROMANTICALLY
The first because I lost myself
and it felt good to disappear
the second showed how pheromones
can draw two people near
and the third taught me how to inspire
the world that I hold dear.
If I had a motorcycle I’d get a hang glider and put them together. So when I’m riding through the National Parks I can push up the nose to catch the wind and take off over valleys and trees, out in empty places, and finally think clearly. But, maybe I’d get lonely. So I’d replace the motorcycle with a horse. Then, when I push up the nose, I just have to squeeze my thighs together and we both can go up and out together. A man and his horse.
While the country mouse and the city mouse argue
the forest mouse builds a tree house
learns to make jelly for his family
and talks with his friends about perception
Mikes dad is so cool he honestly is
one day I texted him,
“Hey Bruce! Nine Eleven didn't happen!”
and he was like,
“I know! LOL!”
Some people just understand other people
and it'd be a waste of time to figure out why.
CHASING YOUR TAIL
One time I felt so rejected by other people's love
that I fell in love with myself
to prove it was at least possible
and since then
neither man nor woman nor beast
has been able to come between us
but now when I lie in bed with him
the streetlight becomes a searchlight
and we start thinking
about our single silhouette
and where we've given up
I stretch to pull the sheets over us
and try not to wake him
he gets so angry now
and I just don't have it in me tonight
secretly I wish for a man or a woman or a beast
to come and take me away from me
and onto selfless adventures
where the things of life come in pairs again
and we can try on each other's futures
and we'll laugh just for fun
and we'll climb onto the roof
to watch our ghosts leave
through the skylight one by one.
OPPORTUNITY TO TIME TRAVEL
So I was about to leave for work but got stuck standing at the door staring at some bags on the ground. I’d always imagined that one day I’d have my finances in order and take care of problems as soon as they arrive. You know, live my life free, because I solve my problems with vengeance, instead of trying so hard to generate justifications. So I broke my stare and bent over. I reached down and picked up two bags of garbage and took them downstairs to the dumpster. Then, I made the long trek back upstairs and took out the third bag. Because that’s what the me in five years would do.
PERFORMANCE ART THERAPY
Last night I had this dream where I showed up late to work. There was a horrible mood in the air as everyone looked up at me. So dug into my coat pocket and pulled out a box cutter, and slit my wrist. The correct way; down the river, not over the bridge. The blood rhythmically oozed out like paint. To everyone’s interest, I ran it around the front of my white shirt. Then, dropping my arm to the side I revealed a red cartoon smiley face. My wrist the pen, my blood the ink, my body the canvas. The office workers paused, and then erupted in empathetic laughter. Their current feelings artfully performed out in front of them. The mood improved. They all shook their heads and smiled as they returned to their labors. I'll be darned Lueders, I'll be darned. Oh, the healing power of art!
It was a mild November and I was walking around the city in a sweater lost in thought. I was trying to formulate a poem about how lifelong cell phone ownership is tantamount to riding a bike and never taking off the training wheels, when I saw a pigeon with only one foot. I could tell he was in horrible pain. He hopped up and down to avoid touching the cement with what was left of his leg. I pictured the fresh nerves twitching inside and wanted nothing more but to kick him under the oncoming bus. Not to ease his suffering, but to end mine. Then I thought, why do we really do nice things?
CARE BEAR ACCORD
It blew my mind when it clicked: Big problems are another name for small problems ignored. Kinda like how white lies sometimes accrue interest or dreams get differed and grow mold behind the fridge. For most of my life I believed that no conflict meant no problem. Well hot dog. It's like when I was teenager. I thought that war was simply a mixture of fear and ignorance. A problem of the heart and mind. That war means hate and peace means love. Call it the Care Bear Accord.
Then it clicked, war is another name for when the rich are granted access to an army. Usually because there is a plan that necessitates a land grab. Well hot dog. Oh and that morality is an invention by the powerful to make the masses predictable, but maybe that’s a bridge too far this evening.
AFTER THE DIVORCE
Once the hullabaloo was over
I had to convince myself
that she was crazy
and I was perfect
It kept my spirits up
and allowed me to
press on with my mission
and maybe propaganda for wars
is like that too
but I don't know
I'm just glad to be thinking clearly again.
LIFE AFFIRMING RAIN
I once ran so hard that I
lost control of my bowels
of life affirming rain
into my running shorts
then I went inside
and made a bucket list
and checked off the first one.
Joel Lueders, born 1982, graduated from the U.S. Army Ordnance School with distinguished honors, and has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Minnesota. He writes poems to read during those moments of bewilderment, when you've lost the answers, as well as and the questions. When not in the forest, he can be found dreaming about her in Minneapolis with his girlfriend the painter, Rachel Mayer.