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Below is a sampling of poetry I've written. Don't freak. There aren't many, they're mostly short, and I guarantee there's nothing here that's out-and-out stupid. All the poems appear on this page, but you can jump to one or another by clicking on the title list below.

I should say that I'm not a big fan of poetry. I find little of interest or personal relevance in most poems, save those written by people I know. I don't write much poetry either (the following is probably about a third of all the poems I've ever written), except when I find that I've got something to express that wouldn't work in any other way. My favorite poems by someone I don't know would probably be "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Wasteland," both by T.S. Eliot.

Most Lifeless Time
(1991) Stream-of-consciousness self-loathing.

Since I Found Out (#1)
(1993) My reaction to something I'm not at liberty to discuss.

Since I Found Out (#2)
(1994) I thought I'd lost the above poem, and tried to write it again from memory. It ended up mutating into something else, and specifically ended up being my reaction to learning that I was molested as a child.

[NEW/OLD] Function of Space (1994) I wrote this during a summer trip to England and Germany, and forgot about it until I stumbled across it in an old notebook. I've got no idea what this was about or in what circumstances I wrote it.

Black Lights
(1994) Written after a weekend with a female friend who, as you'll see, did not leave entirely happy.

(1995) A poem written on the cusp of a new relationship, about our first day together.

The Beast
(1995) A poem written after that new relationship was ended when she broke up with me.

(1997) A friend challenged me to write a poem about hot tubs for reasons I've already forgotten. This little gem was the result.

The Word From Beyond
(1997) I was invited to contribute an original poem to a Cthulhu Mythos web site. This is the result, a little ditty incorporating inspirations from Eliot's The Waste Land as well as elements of a roleplaying game book I worked on called The Golden Dawn.

Trouble Girl
(1997) This poem is classical in origin, which means my girlfriend dumped me and I got drunk and wrote it. I've performed this piece a couple times at open-mike poetry events, which I've enjoyed. God knows how the audiences felt.

Most Lifeless Time

©1991 John Tynes

I'm alive with anger, eye-piercing clothes hanger and I know what it is to make love with danger but I run just the same and escape the frame and there's chaos and sparks and another damn game but you're there at the end wrapped up in sin so there's a tick on the clock that's beating within and it passes me by and I cry and I try and nothing at all will help me to fly when there's nothing more here nothing held dear and I end my life and I end the fear

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Since I Found Out (#1)

©1993 John Tynes

Since I found out
I feel a secret anger
I have a righteous responsibility
To not let the jokes slide off
To not let careless comments go unchecked
To not let down my guard

Since I found out
I want to tell everyone
It's a secret that invites communion
Begs to be spread
So he won't sleep easy again
So he won't get away with it again

Since I found out
I think of knights in armor
Tilting at windmills
It's one more on the stack
But it's mine
And I just found out

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Since I Found Out (#2)

©1994 John Tynes

Since I found out
I feel an obligation
To tilt at windmills
To never let a comment pass unchecked

Since I found out
I keep up my guard
To hide what harms
To help what heals

Since I found out
I twist and shake
Confused and smiling
Scared and aware

It's been here for ages
A moment once frozen, now revealed
In the thawing spring of memory

But I just found out.

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Function of Space

©1994 John Tynes

Go Go Go Room to Room Door to Door
Slice up life into pieces of me
Slice up life before others see
Open one, close another who are you here?
Beg forgiveness from the next one down
Make it whole at your peril
Next best thing gets worse as you go down
Flatten as you go up
Learn the measure of yourself one paced-off zone at a time
All the houses you are
Are places you've been or to go
Knock once, knock twice
This is your paradise
Voyeur scope at a window
See reflection, see you
See through, still who?
Life is a neighborhood, personality a street
Effluvia through chimneys, hearts in phones
Cancer of the mindset as ideas decay
Believe in you and your swift, sure strength
Believe that you hold the capacity to create
You are not dead you are not gone
Kept the beat kept it strong
Stanza chorus rhyme meter
Raise the glass for something sweeter
Put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her, very well

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Black Lights

©1994 John Tynes

Her face in the purple glow
when I kissed her,
pulled back,
lids heavy
lips parted
she would breathe,
open her eyes in the hopes
of possibility
but find only me.

"I know,"
she said,
"you don't feel what I feel
when we kiss."

I looked inside myself
felt around my dusty corners
rummaged through trunks
of unused, withered emotions
hoping for possibility
finding bare compassion
or charity
or simple friendship
but nothing more.

"It could all be so right,"
I said to myself,
"I could hold her all night."

I did anyway. Warmth
in the narrow bed
too short for either of us.
Her body full of energy
and passion
at my touch
a bare touch
she went over
and over and over
til she was shaking
looked in my face
some mute supplicant
biting back words
in the purple light.

I say things in my sleep,"
she was saying,
"even hold entire conversations
I won't recall in the morning."

Her words sounded like a precaution.
I knew what they led to.
Sure enough,
late in the night I heard her speak.

"I love you,"
she said.

"I know,"
I told her, and held her close.
"I understand."

Thinking of one I told of my love
who could not return it
these three years gone by
(I still ache for her,
talk gladly by phone,
it lets me pretend.)

She left calmly, happily,
not a scene.
Said she hoped to return,
I said the same,
but it wasn't the same.

"How could you want
a troglodyte like me,"
she'd said.

I hated hearing that.
She was beautiful,
pale as the moon,
a creature of autumn
and bonfires before old gods.
I told her how beautiful she was.
She was skeptical,
It hurt me to see her so,
in the place where once I'd been
and visited still, at times.
It hurt me that I could not,
did not,
love her,
for fear it would keep her
in that low place.

"I love you,"
she'd said.

I wanted to cry. No tears came.

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©1995 John Tynes

There's graffitti all around
in your life and mine
twitchy fingers on the buttons
of aerosol expression.

Tell me who you are.

There's a world that frames your head
and stretches into the sky
as big as blue outdoors
as small as sparrows.

Tell me who am I.

There's a secret in the air
a wish that wants to be free
amid talk of life and work
and the regrets of words unsaid.

Tell me who we can be.

There's a thought in my head
that makes me wiggle my ears
and take your hand in mine
and stare into the clouds.

Tell me you care about me.

Let me take you in my arms
Let me show you what happiness means to me
Let me make you a picnic
Let me kiss you by the sea

And tomorrow and the next and all the days to come
will be defined by the space of our lives.

And all the words in the dictionary
will be defined by what you mean to me.

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The Beast

©1995 John Tynes

I built a castle by the sea
asked you to come and play with me

the tide rushed in and took the sand
pulled from mine your sweet calm hand

the beast is huge
of such immeasurable size that its form cannot be seen
from where I stand

herds of buffalo lie slain in the plain
post-passing of white man's train

rifle shots echo in the summer sky
I never got to kiss you good-bye

the beast is dead
a hole in the great shaggy side from your bullet
where the heart pumps no more

we sat in the theater and it felt good
I held your hand like I knew I should

I thought, "It could be thirty years from now,
and I wouldn't even wonder how."

the beast is mourned
by pallbearers unmet and unknown, visitors from days to come
children unborn, friends unmade

you shot one beast and it dropped and died
but its ghost haunted your house and cried

you shot another and redeemed the first
the second lived apart and had it worse

the beast is gone
the lines of mourners trail away into the bitter sunset
there is a scream of violins

what we had was nothing, a trifle of fate
what we could have had came too late

that was the beast: the second you slew
was the years to come for me and you

the beast is done
it sinks into the green wet grass and bellows a farewell
I wish it were not so

I built a castle by the sea
asked you to come and play with me

the tide rushed in and took the sand
it was the beast you could not understand

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©1997 John Tynes

Hirsute Norwegian-American travels on business
Beer is strange, foreign tongue stifles glibness

In Kyoto the hot tubs are the size of apron strings
Resented, cut loose, forgotten like wedding rings

Specialty of the house: anime-girls with too-big eyes
Surgically altered to please American guys

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The Word From Beyond

©1997 John Tynes

The first incantation is the last of the twelve syllables from the secret name of S'lothotta. It is to be spoken in times of great stress and only in a moment of purest clarity. Ranging beyond the doorway, it is possible for the Adept to grasp the fragments of S'lothotta's carapace as it crumbles into a thousand concepts. Embrace your last and worst effort, conceived as it was in the midst of futility and subornment.

In Montessori they ride the sled
down the hill enveloped in red
you swore to me she never said
"Come, Arthur, take me to bed."

Within the trunk of the world-tree nibbles the mandibles of S'lothotta. Draw them close to you, breathe in their acidic aroma, allow the jelly of your eyes to be drawn out piecemeal by those who wish you well for they will use the tenderest instruments.

Young Aleister knew the rest
spun chi up his spine and
lodged it in his chest
"Wishing you all the best."

The mind is a vat of compression and digression, pulsing ever, pushing always. It is fervid, fungal, fertile. S'lothotta compresses the space between forebrain and hindbrain; yet it is Shub-Niggurath who rides the synapses 'twixt.

Within Oakwood the goddess spoke
in Constantine's but a flaccid joke
Sheela-na-gig's coming fast yet
"Got a fiver I'm broke?"

Sheela-na-gig was worshipped of old, is worshipped today, will be worshipped again. The arched vulva offers comfort to those who probe its depths, accept its warmths. Drink deeply from the cup; yet beware the red tide.

Contraction and reaction the day is done
your blood was not the only one
spilled by the shell from the gun
encrusted by the heat of the sun

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Trouble Girl

©1997 John Tynes

A square of black, switching to white at the whim of feathers.
Two ovals merged by proximity into one great arc, bounding vision.
She pushed off,
my trouble girl,
set sail into strange lakes where the shorefolk withdrew fish,
encased them in lye and buried them until they told gelid truth:
"We are all this and nothing more.
"We are the secrets you have buried and the parts of yourself that are never seen."
The god with the elephant head stared on impassively.
He gazed out through rotely carved and shopworn slits of eyes and said:
"I could live within the geography of your body."
(He's wise that way.)
Words overheard and repeated.
Mottled elephant ears catch the sound of wasps against the window.
The struggle and the toil reduced life to laundry
rubbed raw upon a washboard with wicked teeth
worn dull from rasping on the bones of the burned dead.
Three days short of arisal there was a reprisal.
Nails driven through flesh, tearing cartiledge and letting loose
the brief torrent of life made liquid.
Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat.
Each movement of the organ sent each torrent forth.
Uncertainty darkens leaden clouds---
was it the organ within my chest pouring red
or was it the organ between my legs pouring white
on a cold November night?
The witnesses are silent on the matter.
The texts are corrupt.
The scholars squabble.
Accusatory eyes stare at me from the television
tongueless mouths gawk open
flies enter them and hum
leave presents of maggots.
I lie down in the dark and the bed smells of her sex
my trouble girl.

This man in Cambria
strings leaves to rocks to thorns to ice to twigs to feathers
permits a ridge of flagrant red to run streaking across boulders
hangs a sheet of yellow from the air
draws arches in slate
molds clay around rocks to dry slowly and crack
(like an egg with petrified embryo revealed in seams)
permits pools of red and yellow to materialize
all where nature has not quite gotten around to it just yet.
My trouble girl
sits across from me in the caf»,
beneath the shelves of books a floor above,
not far from the sound, the wet sound that embraces the city.
I have this man's book, freshly bought
(an outrageous purchase I could not afford)
and now consumed by my hungry eyes,
as she looks on with a smile I would later grow to love.
I am electric.
This man reaches into the vulva of nature,
kindly, lovingly,
removes fresh new babes never glimpsed
captures them on film
before their mother takes them back into herself
for all time.
I look up at her,
my trouble girl.
One thing on earth could make me forget
the images on the pages
(the images that caress my mind like a lover's idle hand)
and that is her,
her idle hand on my skin,
her lips upon my brow.
Outside it is raining.
Inside the sun shines in the space between us.

Now that same book I bought that day with her
supports this machine into which my fingers reach
as that man reaches into nature.
He touches the face of the world with his gentle hands and ushers it forth.
I can only seize myself roughly
and force another drop of my being onto the screen
onto the square of white.
I am at the whim of feathers.
Since she left,
my trouble girl,
I feel my face lies.
On the street, in a shop, some random stranger catches my eye
and perhaps I smile.
They see:
a friendly man
a kindly man
a happy man.
My face lies no matter what I feel or think or do.
My face lies.
Over a period of days I come to realize: I must change my face.
I must alter it, reveal my true face.
I must stop the lies.
I want people to have an ambiguous reaction to me at best---
or perhaps just flinch, that would do fine---
so I would not feel like a walking falsehood.
I want to express the pain and the grief I feel
in a way that is unequivocal.
I want no one to doubt my pain.
I take the razor
I make the cut
again and again
slicing not-too-deep into the flesh of my face,
gently, coaxing forth my true form.
It is not something I do for the sake of anyone else.
It is something I do because it is who I am.
The slight blood mingles on the pillow
with the smell of her,
that damnable smell of her I have not forced myself to expunge,
(with Tide or Clorox or gelid fish-lye)
that smell of her,
my trouble girl.

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