Poetry

Courage
How long it takes to slam headfirst into the pavement varies,
but if you live long enough,
You’ll feel it.
And it’s easy to stay in the ditch once you’re there.
Not because you’re broken.
Your bones will heal.
Your heart will mend.
No.
People remain fragmented because dreamlessness is the only way to ensure your dreams won’t shatter again.
Because the potential pain of failing outweighs the opportunity for fulfillment.
Because it’s too easy for us to disguise contentment as happiness.

It takes a special kind of strength to reinvent yourself.
Courage is not bravery.
Courage is moving forward when bravery didn’t work.
It’s swinging for the stars after you’ve struck out more times than you can count.
It’s believing in yourself when you don’t have the strength to believe in anything.
Courage is gluing back your hopes, one shattered piece at a time.

The question isn’t whether or not you will fail.
It’s whether or not you will have the courage to try again.

Love Poem
It’s hard for me to write a love poem.
My heart beats to a different rhythm than most people.
Nowadays love is cheap.
Something you find online or in clubs.
Something convenient.
I don’t want a love like that.
I don’t want to love with just my body.
I want to love with my mind. With my heart. With my entire soul.
I want a love that defies the universe, that transcends our brief journey on this planet.

There’s roughly seven billion, billion, billion atoms in my body.
I want to love with every single one of them.
My heart beats approximately 100,000 times a day, because it wants to show you 100,000 times a day how much you belong.
I have between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every 24 hours, but you’re always on my mind.
My brain contains 100 trillion neural connections, so that 100 trillion things can lead me back to you.
My 206 bones are yours, my eyes, my ears, my 10 fingers, my two arms,
they were built for seeing, hearing, and holding you.
My ancestors, my parents, my childhood, my friends, every moment that has ever happened to me in my life was meant to happen to lead my path across yours.

Some scientists claim the human soul weighs between 5 to 7 grams, at least that’s the unaccounted for weight that leaves our body immediately after death.
I don’t know how to measure a human soul, but I’ve experienced eternity in an instant, and I’ve seen the answer to all my questions in your eyes.
I’ve felt electricity in your lips,
and I know that love travels faster than the speed of light.
I know that we are beings of bonds.
Our atoms bond together forming molecules,
which bond together forming compounds,
which bond together forming people.

There’s no great secret in this world.
It’s not money, and it’s not power, and it’s not fame, or how big your house is, or how smart you are, or any of that.
It’s love.
That’s all it is.
You can’t take anything else with you.

I don’t know how to measure a soul,
I just know mine was meant for you.
That’s how I want to love.
 
The Dromedary Waltz
The dromedaries are dancing
On the sand’s billowy lift.
Their eight toes are prancing,
What a cosmos of drift.
There’s a matrix of twilight
There’s a breeze in the air
The clouds are polite.
The stars came to stare.

The camels start singing.
They sing with a glow:
“There’s a well filled with water,
That never runs low.
There’s an ocean of shade,
Where camels can pray.
There’s a mountain of jade,
Where camels can play.”

They leap into the air.
They float like a feather.
They twist with a flair.
They land altogether.
They join feet in a twirl.
They pick up such speed.
A Saturnian swirl-
They shake like a reed.

Don’t stop to ask why,
When the world is in bloom-
But keep open your eye,
You’ll smell the perfume.
And don’t stop to count odds,
If camels take to the sky,
And waltz with the gods-
Ever so high.

To a dog dying old
The day we rescued you from the pound
And brought you home to unmarked ground,
You sniffed our cat and wagged your tail,
You dirtied the carpet and chewed the mail.

You grew up fast and you grew up sweet;
A sloppy kiss was how you’d greet.
The years were good to hearts so true,
You had me and I had you.

But now you’re old and chained with weight,
You cannot run with your limping gait.
It’s hard to bark when you have to wheeze,
It’s tough to chase with arthritic knees.

And I know it’s hard for you to eat,
When you have no teeth to chew the meat.
You’re slow and tired and cannot play,
You’ll sit and sleep and pine away

For younger days when the world smelled new
And your legs felt strong and your heartbeat flew.
Yet, though I loved your puppy bark
Your wagging tail, that youthful spark.
Though I loved how you did soar,
I love you now, I love you more.

Good Night Kiss
The moment of hesitation
comes and goes
silently and quickly
like the prick of a mosquito
and all that’s left
is the itch
of what could have been.

I Am Going to Fail
I am going to fail.
I am going to fail again, and again, and again.
My failure will explode in front of your face like a bomb.
My failure will float past your eyes like the silent whispers of regret.
I will become a master of failure.
I will wield rejection like a gladiator shield.
I will wrap the losses around me like a blanket.
I will eat, sleep, and breathe failure. I will meditate in it.
Every second of every day I will look for new ways to fail.
New opportunities to fall flat on my face.
I will charge into failure like a kamikaze.
Like a moth to flame.
I will fail again and again and again.

I will fail myself through the shit.
Through the heartache. Through the loneliness.
I will fail my way into being a better person.
You see, regret is not caused by failure;
it’s a product of fear.
I will fail the fear away.
I will fail until failure becomes like breathing;
such an intrinsic part of my life that I don’t even notice it.

To fail or not to fail is not the question.
The question is how far are you willing to go?
I will build skyscrapers of rejection,
brick by brick on top of my heart, until one of two things happen-
Either the pain will kill me, or it will disappear.
You see, “No” by itself is a bullet.
But when you’ve built a mountain of lead,
it becomes another piece in your collection.
I will fail again and again and again.

I will fail until failure loses its meaning.
Until I can no longer feel the pain.
Until failure becomes success.
Because at the end of the day,
when my demons try to drown me.
I can forgive myself for failing.
But I can’t forgive myself for failing to try.

Livin’ La Vida Noah
My mother bled for forty days and forty nights
and then named me Noah.
I came out with a halo on my head and vomit in my mouth.
At age 5, I was playing rec soccer;
the butterflies interested me more than the game.
“Noah! Kick the ball son.”
“What, there’s a ball?”

At age eight we went farm fishing in North Carolina.
I impoverished my parents to the point of “Noah STOP fishing!”
and made the mistake of instructing my troutless older brother,
the fisherman of the family, on some finer points of the craft.
My first black eye.

At 11, I peed in my pants while sprinting out the doors of Mrs. Cloran’s Computer Ed class.
I washed it off and blamed an eighth grade bully who pushed me into the urinal.
“Did you get a look at his face?”
“No sir.”

At 16, I wrote a girl a love letter
that would put Shakespeare to sham.
She turned out to be engaged,
and a lesbian.

At age eighteen, while wandering through urban Mexico,
I made the mistake of entering Club Squid.
If anyone ever asks you if you want, the stuff, just say no.

With dwindling funds I celebrated my 21st in Cusco, Peru
and learned the most valuable lesson of my life.
Never order the cheapest drink on the menu.

Hiroshima
The light was blinding
then beautiful.
The cloud ripped up from the earth,
soaring towards the sky like an angry god
striving to reach the heavens.
It was mans’ greatest magic trick:
One minute, there was a city,
with people and problems and pets
and dreams.
The next,
Only the smoking remnants of a mushroom.

Rebekah
I took her heart.
I took mine too.
I tied them up into a knot.
I took her soul.
I took mine too.
And laid them side by side.

Determination
It is the feeling we get a hundred yards from the finish line.
It is the same feeling we get right before we start the race.
It starts out as a pin prick.
A tiny splinter in our realm of being.
Then it grows until it becomes part of us.
It rushes to our side when we face the impossible.
We feel it and put it into our souls.
It gives us a cold kind of strength.

It is open to any and all.
It is man’s greatest alley against himself.
It is the feeling a mother has towards the safety of her children.
You feel it when you set yourself to a task that nobody believes can be done but you.
It is the sensation a boxer feels right before a fight.
It is what makes an underdog into a champion.
It helps men fight on when they know that they cannot win.
It creates hope.

It is the feeling that rushes through you when you say to the sky, I defy you.
It is why we can honestly say, I can do anything I set my mind to.

Not the biggest parts
When you’re in love.
Deeply in Love.
Truly in Love.
Not Disney in love.
Not love at first sight in love.
But a love that has grown and deepened over years.

When two people are in love, they merge their souls together.
Because that’s what love is.
Love is when two people join souls.
And the longer you love,
the deeper you love,
the more your souls entwine.

And when that love slips away.
When is slowly wans out like a dying candle,
you don’t just lose them,
you lose yourself.

Souls don’t come undone neatly like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
They don’t snap off like magnets.
It doesn’t work like that.
It’s messy, chaotic, confusing.
You can spend months, years, a lifetime
trying to figure out which parts are yours and which are theirs.

But no matter how dearly you loved,
how completely you merged together,
those parts of you that were lost in them,
those parts can never be the biggest parts.

For you are you!
From the moment you greeted the world until the day you die,
the core of your being,
the essence of you humanity,
that spark that makes you you
that separates you from the billions of trillions of creatures in the universe-
That can never be lost.

Pay at the Meter
Where lies the face that launched a thousand ships?
Can you recall the Light Brigade’s demise?
Highwayman and raven have been eclipsed
by clothes and fish and other verseless lies.
The ancient mariner will yarn no more,
we’re too busy with nonsense to hear him prate.
Shakespeare “is a genius” but what a bore.
Who wants to delve into love, loss or fate?
Milton and Whitman ought to say goodnight.
A captain, their captain, has fallen ill.
Emily and Rudyard? How plain and trite!
And Longfellow, poor devil, what a pill.

So cast aside these stale, outdated bums
and savor instead some cold, lifeless plums.

Out of Place
A possum lies twitching in the burning Floridian sun.
Perhaps he didn’t see
The 4000 pound car that pounded him into the asphalt.
It’s his own fault, of course.
Roads are no place for possums.
Especially during rush hour
And it’s always rush hour around here.

I bet he’s repenting about now.
As the last labored breaths wheeze out of him.
I bet he’s damn thankful to that second car
For trying to expedite the process.
I mean, it’s the thought that counts, right?
So let’s count: one, two, three, chest is:
Twitch, twitch, twitch.
Four, five, six:
Twitch… twitch…… twitch.

Looking Forward
He walked and walked and walked
To try and feel alive
And when he grew tired of walking
He decided to drive

He drove through hills and woods and cities
He drove till the tank went dry
And then he went and sold his car
If was time for him to fly

He flew to Rome and Greece and Prague
And China and Peru
Then he came back home,
That’s when he met you.

And now they live in a cozy home
Amidst the suburban swell
And whisper quietly in each other’s arms
And all is well

Elegy for Ivan
He never told anyone-
about that day at his uncle’s castle
when his cousins threw him into the Volga,
half hoping he’d drown.

He never told anyone-
of his mother’s assassination.
The poison made her face turn blue.
He was eight years old.

He never told anyone-
about his father.
He couldn’t tell anyone,
buried before his son’s fourth birthday.

Or about the dungeon
which Shuisky locked him in;
he survived on rats for twenty days.

He never told anyone-
about the Belsky children,
how they used to tease him:
“Poor Ivan. Stupid Ivan.
Wretched Ivan…”
Terrible came much later.

Elegy for the Grim Reaper
The infinity road is beautiful, dazzling.
It gleams in the purple moonlight like a magnesium serpent,
it calls to me; slow, deliberate… inevitable.
I continue to walk.

As I pass, the shadow-gilded trees whisper my name,
nearby animals cower in fear, quake in awe,
and the primordial stones at my feet ooze out their secrets.
Their hoarded, hobgoblin secrets.
I continue to walk.

I didn’t ask for this. Immortality is an illness.
I am petrified in movement, trapped in bleary duty;
I am a prisoner to this road, a captive of its plutonian continuum.

I stop once more, but already I feel the tug,
the impending rumble of ferocity.
It torments me to the core of my bleached, immutable bones,
but I continue to walk.

A hellish wind inflates my abyssal cloak
and life begins to mourn. It is my requiem.
Beware, tremble, run. Against my will I come.
Forever the Grim Reaper, forever trapped in life.

—All materials contained on this page are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Noah Camenker.

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