Until Our Lips Are Numb

Until Our Lips Are Numb
Verses for a Valentine

1. SONNET
I make these letters in my head, that I
may someday learn to pen one out
and dare to send; but as for now I doubt
too much of me to write. I search the sky
for words, and hear instead many a lie,
the cooing dawn and glowing birds about
and up each early morning. For I try
so hard and yet no ink will spill, no stain
will stay on paper far too slippery to
record my mind; and if these poems be true
there will be nothing left of them to drain
off anything from anywhere. When lain
down finally, my hand will sing its due.
I’ll throw my verse into the air like rain.

2. GHAZAL
The dances fade out one by one to dark,
yet we continue twirling in the air.

The songs from far away have gone to rest,
yet we still hear faint singing on the air.

Each time our fingers touch the night will spark,
the space between our selves too much to bear.

Outside, the nightingales have come to nest.
Our breathing shuffles through the silent air.

And when you bloom into a newer rose,
your fragrance hung upon the midnight air,

I steal to you, a thief, to tear apart
the many veils you drape in flowing air,

delight upon the feast you hold so close;
yet it is you who take this very air

I breathe, to chain me to your trembling heart –
and flee together to a stranger air!

3. PANTOUM
like i have never closed my eyes to sleep
the years are slyly hunting in my touch
a better place to love less lies to leap
the hurting time so passing over much

the years are slyly hunting in my touch
old trinkets of when history was still now
the hurting time so passing over much
my tracing in the sands of you a vow

old trinkets of when history was still now
are hanging in the middle of the night
my tracing in the sands of you a vow
raw as the way these remnants of suicide

are hanging in the middle of the night
the hurting time so passing over much
raw as the way these remnants of suicide
the years are slyly hunting in my touch

the hurting time so passing over much
to leap a better place to loveless lies
the years are slyly hunting in my touch
to sleep like i have never closed my eyes.

4. VILLANELLE
You take my beating heart into your hand,
a pearl as timid as a flightless bird,
and spread within your grasp its troubled land.

Time finds us hid deep in dark corners, spent,
both trembling at new tenderness unfurled.
You take my beating heart into your hand

and drown it in a flood’s unyielding strand,
as do I take my past in mangled word
and spread within your grasp its troubled land.

Thus as we trundle place to place unmanned,
in trains, in buses, hand in hand, unheard,
you take my beating heart into your hand,

and so we kiss, once, twice, the days disband,
until our lips are numb, our minds absurd…
To spread within your grasp a troubled land

the ringing of a bell can scarce withstand
this speed by which no future is demurred:
you take my beating heart into your hand
and spread within your grasp its troubled land.

5. RONDEL
My phone is ringing and it must be you;
the atmosphere’s too thin to keep you out.
I tried to hide, but then you came about,
and hammered on my door. It swings askew,

now. Thinking of the times once past, without
your presence – you were far too overdue.
My phone is ringing and it must be you;
the atmosphere’s too thin to keep you out.

And bit by bit you’re at my side, and true;
no shyness stops me now, no fear, no doubt.
You call me sometimes, and we walk about,
but when we’re far apart our thoughts accrue –
my phone is ringing, and it must be you.

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