Shadows and Fingerprints

I’ve already posted this on my facebook page, but I’ve cleaned it up since then, and I’m really hoping to get some input from blog followers as well as strangers.

I’m just about finished with the first draft of my poetry book, which I’m calling Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages. The whole thing has been a new experience for me, one I’ll detail in a later post, but for now I can summarize: I’m somewhat new to the world of poetry. Not writing it, but sharing it.

Over the course of a few weeks, I had a burst in creativity, during which I wrote a few poems. I noticed recurring themes throughout them, so I decided to keep them together. With a sort of narrative in mind, I wrote a few more, and even dusted off some old ones that fit the theme, which has led me to a collection of roughly 16 poems. At first that strikes me as too few, but then again, most of them are longer than the poems I’m used to reading.

I’m going to let the collection sit for a while before I come back to it and edit it, but I want to get outside input on some of it as well, especially if this is going to be an actual book I put together and decide to sell. (Not sure if I can justify the cost of a physical edition of this one, so I might go ebook-only, but again, that’s all for down the road.)

So here’s one of my poems. It’s called “Shadows and Fingerprints”. I’d be very grateful to hear any thoughts on it, good or bad.

Shadows and Fingerprints

There are fingerprints in the dust on the underside of the cabinet
And fingerprints in the thoughts on the underside of my mind
There are shadows on the ceiling
Out in the hallway where I sat on the stairs
And shadows in my memories
Cast by someone who isn’t there

I’ve never been as awake as I am right now
I want someone to talk to, but everyone’s asleep
And that’s okay.
I shouldn’t want to trouble them anyway
I never come as clean as I’d like to, in any case

I’m going to lie down on the floor
And close my eyes until I don’t exist anymore.
It all keeps going back to someone I don’t even know
Or the fact that I don’t know them because I was too afraid to live

So I walk through this city
Trying to find myself out there
Find only passing headlights
And landmarks of my youth,
Like where we’d sit where the sidewalk ends
Walk up the hill and around the bend
Cut through the woods to the circle of stones where we’d sit
Contemplating the world around us and our places in it
It’s not quite the same as it used to be.
Without Ian, it feels a little bit empty.

We’ll get away for a while
Let’s go to Michael’s house, visit Loren in Ohio
Sip vodka and turn off the tv screen
Talk about life and death and philosophy
Get everyone together and go down to the lake
The sun goes down, the stars come out, but we’re wide awake

Let’s sit around a campfire,
Bring a bag of things to burn
Like journal entries
Written by someone who isn’t me
(not anymore)
Old letters
Torn photographs
Clothes that don’t fit,
And some that never really did
That cherub figurine
Unfinished poetry
And all my thoughts of her and me,
So maybe I could get some sleep

Get in the water
Float on your back
Let the wind in the waves wash away your every heart attack
Pitch up the tent
Get into bed
Stay up talking ‘til the morning brings the sun up again

Then go back home
Get on with our lives
Maybe never see each other again,
But that’s all right.

I’ll walk these city streets,
Try to find someone out there who feels like me
We’ll lie on the floor until our problems don’t exist anymore
We’ll listen to music, read poetry
Watch television or just sit quietly

No passing headlights
No landmarks of a youth I wasted being alone
No shadows, no fingerprints
No hallways, no dust, no cabinets
Just you and me and our thoughts.
Just you and me,
Or me and my thoughts.
It’s always me and my thoughts.

When we die, do we turn into stardust?
Can it wait until I’ve made something beautiful first?
Because so far I’ve made nothing but shadows.
So far I’ve left nothing but fingerprints.

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