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Photo by Carrie O'Brien

Poetry by Sean O'Brien


everything created
is stolen from ignorance
there is no authorship
there is only a second-hand account
it is a fight to the death
to remember anything
and history is the bad version
of what really happened
i am taken apart piece by piece
every day i think the right turns
will get me more
the only restriction is the size
of the paper and a slow right hand
and an idea
moving swiftly away as
it smiles at not being captured

first published in FLIPSIDE #109.
stop light in los angeles

as the meat turns
from red to brown
through the fire
i will buy oranges from
the latina woman at the stop light
hers is the best smile
i have seen all day
piercing and content
full of hope and beauty
the opposite of the tabloid
her survival has been pasted over
the hole she used to see herself with
as the years pass
her enemies and friends forgotten
can her new child make her happy
can it fill up what we need to express
our friends with no clue of marriage
do not realize it is improvised
she wants to say something more to me
but she does not know my language
it is ok
she has told me more than i discovered
surfing the cable channels
of our discontent

first published in FLIPSIDE #104.

we are warned against such friendships
the soft parts down underneath
you will find your comforts there
but answers are few in the river of information
amazing how much you missed isn't it
i yield too often to the lazy fear
bitter touched happy for a seat at the table
of your day
you can't help but share
o you god infected multitudes
mouthing a life you know you only wish for
do not wish for me just do what you must
i am the dreamer no one understands
standing in the middle of your land
a product of your school system
i refer to my own pages most often
never tire of them though i know every word
i will pass the book to no one upon my death
but will laugh at the scraps left behind
i researched my own life
collected the information and found little of it useful
no wonder history evaporates
guess we don't need it all of it

first published in FLIPSIDE #102.

better word than love

no heart i know of clips the horizons of beauty
and fingers do not always articulate the sex
smile on ludicrous labels
and you cheat the ignorant of enemies.
crying on my shoulder
what's wrong. everything. you got that right.
a major talent is in the womb
making a big comeback to birth
it is not addition or subtraction
it is not greeting cards as a way of escaping contact
it is found
it is good surrounding
bad you do not have to cherish

first published in Realities #3 - REALITIES LIBRARY.

after kerouac

wow i had that same haircut
my brother had that same exact shirt
did you really dress like that in 1971

to be normal
keep your magnifying glass
on your neighbor

i wish i could remember
exactly the way it happened
it was almost like being there

some people are stupid
they are afraid of the self-expressors
who are good because they know
nothing is familiar.

bring me the head of jerry garcia

the dead is finally dead
it died in a rehab bed
and the hippie dream is over
in an absence of crimson and clover
and the band can no longer be followed
though it's sure still to be hallowed
and grief will turn to peace
as those that seek release
will find drugs of their own choice
in an absence of a voice
and a new chapter will be written
long time i've been waiting
i can't curse a good idea
only follow it to the rear
and hope i too die trying to mend
those vices i cannot bend
peace, love and good vibes
were always exclusive tribes
of which i never was a part
seeking the kind hand of art.

for carrie

i need lessons on how to say no
in the wild wild west.
it's a childhood in reverse
in my new home of bugs, cats
and a bird that screams in the night.
i know why you cry at the television babies
selling products to our hearts
they make us feel like liars
when we say we are afraid
of showing the world any more than we have to.
you have stored up centuries of love
harvested from lives you can feel in your back and fingers
all for the unborn child
i am honored to receive the remainder.
the landlord will always be your friend
until they take your money away
but i will fight for you.
keep teasing me and i will lose
my fear of blood
because we deserve a space someday
to watch our child run.

killing the squirrel

we shot a squirrel
with a bb gun
looking for something that looked like

chased it down a hole
i didn't shoot it
but i chased them for two miles
on patrol

up a creek
made of concrete
instead of cartoons
i thought it was so dumb

i kept seeing them do it
before they did it
and it was different
when they did

first published in Postpoetry #67 - REALITIES LIBRARY.

i was a crossing guard too

my eyes are down again
at the moment i meet you
because my fear is my comfortable shoes
maybe i'll break them in on you
the james dean face
is permanently in place
in this bad movie of a conversation
and if you shook one of my hands
you'd find them too soft
for the life on the road
you imagine i've walked
let me sell you some good ideas
that no one understands
whatever you do
don't ignore the band
they're your best ticket from suicide
have you ever been on that ride
i bet you have i bet you have
buy me a drink and i'll hold you your hand
i'm good at it
i'm saving sympathy from extinction
in a world where two kids shot a crossing guard
did they get any of her money
hey call 911
call someone who cares
when you do
tell them they can call me anytime day or night
and if i'm not in
my machine will be on

drinking alone

harvest a hallucination
in your room
pumped full of humid air
and grown on wicked wood
who needs the hordes to hear
candy messgaes never clear
picked clean of innuendo and truth
freeze dried of opinion
dipped in political correctness
and left in the sun to dry
oh its hot today
maybe you need some time to yourself
maybe you have all along
maybe you were never wrong
maybe all the decisions were right ones
hello i'm talking
you are supposed to talk back
ok hang up now.


approach the end of nerd
but don't quite get there
paused at a stop light
i am unhappy with the radio choices
dreaming of the koka kola
fake color and real sugar water
why am i here
i need the corporation advertisement budget
put directly into my pocket
here is my picture
here is my resume
what type do you want
what style will work
no acting required.

for the cross wearers

a storm of vanity
drops ego drops upon the masses
to be absorbed into the skin
of the wrong people at the wrong time
to open the seed of mayhem
to stop the flow of knowledge
to end peace as if it were a nuisance
to the agendas of the abusers
who wear crosses
and pray every sunday
for more rain

i dream of a lost child
and wipe the tears of the mother
betrayed by antibodies
inside her own body
and look for the cross wearers
to see if they are responsible
i hold her hand and promise
a new project can be started
and with luck and science
maybe our family can exist
outside of the realm of the cross wearers
who have no control of us
can you trust the prayers of a liar
can you console the grief
of a thief
can you look for trust in one
who could never know hat it is
yes you can
we can together
we can show the cross wearers
the depth and misery
of their hypocrisy
and show them hell
is their current address
not their next destination.

the warrior rides

the warrior moves toward the the sun
as i ride behind on a borrowed donkey
carrying the equipment of battle
warrior your hair is longer now
and your eyes stronger from less grief
still i wish you would look behind you once in awhile
but as you say
that would be giving the game away
i know you see me warrior
stooped and less sure of our differences than you
it would be easy enough to lose me by riding fast
but if i had a horse that could always run at that perfect speed
i wouldn't want the world to move alongside any more quickly
i would ride just as you do
without a map or a plan
only with the love that knows where to go
and how fast or slow to arrive
depending on the weather
do not be angry warrior if i am late
only promise me one thing
that when i do meet you when you stop
you will show me how
to remove the cloth from our eyes that blinds us now.

christmas comes but once a year

it's slow burn to christmas these days, as the hours change all those decorations from hideous to beautiful and then back again, sometimes quite randomly. Everything feels forced no matter what your beliefs. As if christmas were a large mouth that opens quite slowly, made of the toughest metal. This mouth will not close once until the first week of january. The palest pictures of whatever the thing is are the ones most in evidence, the by product cards, wrappings and television specials, especially those that strive to be real. To replay old christmas' in your head is to have the clearest picture of what this years' will hold, regardless of the family members who may or may not be there. So why go? Because to suffer the dysfunction of the city on that day alone is worse. The biggest party on earth that for some reason does not take place outdoors. Scrooge muses the anti-beliefs but we all know he will not win. It is not a wonderful life. It is one where you can only make choices after you shed childhood, if you are that lucky. No one can shed christmas, that it's greatest strength and most painful power. A dead deer on the back of every camper truck in america, edging its way home for the deep freeze and rarely the dinner table.

black ball

is not just clothes
it's in your head
a black ball
rolss over hands and fingers
without explaing

i thought it was the clothes
but on other people
your clothes are the same

it is
a warm low buzz now
in my head
better and stronger
fits like a glove

a slip
of an old feeling
traced the lines back
through limbs of stone

crawling back
braking apart
security put away.
a whisper still touched lightly
instead of sitting on my butt

an interruption
in the creation of the new
watches the feather move
on the water
until it gets too wet

hoping a call will come
to push harder
when it does not come
sharing with all of the others.

rented car

hang out awhile
your body is a rental car anyway right
why dwell on its looks
you need to be sure you can afford the fuel
one day it will stall at the top of the hill
because you didn't let it warm up
and you will have to push it to get it to roll
all the time wondering if you will make it to the gas station
news flash you won't
and you will have to face a beast more fearsome than your death
you will have to walk
you will have to sweat
you will be late for your appointment
and be thought of as a child unable to
meet the demand
will you love yourself then
or will you sit again before the mirror
and mourn the scratches and dents
you wish were not there
i will love you anyway that you are battered
for you have more hope and
i am redeemed in a peaceful afternoon
driving the streets with you
holding the wheel tightly
in need of alignment.

some men
look at women in
a different climate
without the usual tensions
but without the form
of trial and error
to the end of the sentence
to keep feet to ground
all the days through
looking for knowledge
on the inhale
the veins are red
but a woman's sweat
melts a different
heating system
but the thing to scare you
the worst parts of the picture
are blue and sexless
and what really tears
is how all the eyes
look the same.

unearthly mother

you are the motherless child now
that you always imagined yourself to be
official word has come down
you can proceed
harrowed and crook backed
carrying the daffodils of measured pain
pink and pale
ready to be burned by the sun
thanks mother for changing the meaning of the mother
it will no longer work for the following
planet enormity possesions
any non human form has been unleashed
free upon the world to infect
and mutate into new viruses
is this severing the final redress
or just another playet to provide
the opposite of enlightenment
will death end the confusion
probably not it is not reliable
death will simply freeze the poisoned photogragh
of our infection
painting itself ugly as dorian gray's portrait would
aching with the wonder
of how our conflict refuses to age.

all the sinners are lining up
to have their heads chopped off
only metaphorically
rainwater born
smoke colored clouds
are washed clean
from the tight body fit
and the whiter teeth
and gray removed from my hair today.
where is your expression
where do you get off
where is the piece
you put into the lock
i forgive your fantasies
can you forgive me my dreams
i know i cherish them too much
kill my ambition with something better
daddy i need you here
don't ever go away.