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We Ran
A. F.
Be Quiet
Hit and Run
Waiting for the Light to Change
Push Not Pull
Dance Baby Dance
As Trains Go By
alone by the door
The Watcher Lonely
My Eyes Open
Leaving the Mix
Late at Night
In My Room
Wednesday Morning
Hello, Hello, Where are you?
Delirious Near Sleep
Take Thirty-Two

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poems & stories


We Ran
By Phlip Arima

we took off our clothes and
ran in the rain. a circle on the grass
at the back of the house. it was dark out.
most of the world was asleep. the cars
on the highway were hushed. the jets
beyond the clouds could barely
be heard.

we ran.

we ran until the circle was the
only track to follow. it became a deep rut
with smooth hardened sides. so high.
impossible to climb. always dark.
filled with harsh breathing
and skin calloused grey.

we ran.

we ran as the world changed
and as it remained. some children
were born. some of them died.
the ones that lived we taught
all we had learned.

they look up for the stars
more than we ever have.

A. F.
By Phlip Arima

She cuts out all the eyes
from every picture in the magazine

colours over the hands
in dark purple crayon

says to me
now it looks righter.

Be Quiet
By Phlip Arima

There's something different
about the house. The kitchen looks
the same. And the bathroom still smells
like the can that sprays. But something
has changed.

I was watching television, playing
with my toys, when outside I heard the boys
who live next door. One was Darry
my friend. I went out to see
what he was doing. When I came in
all my toys were put away
but no one was
mad at me.

There's something different
about the house. The stuff I'm not
suppose to touch in the back room is
still leaning up against the wall. There's
laundry on the washer and some beside it
on the floor. But something
I don't know what
has changed.

After dinner,
when Daddy went out,
he didn't slam the door. Mommy
and me, we read a book. Halfway through
the phone rang. Mommy talked
in a normal voice and I
even think I heard
her laughing.

There's something different
about the house. All the lights
still turn on and off. And the candles
in the dinning room haven't been
burned. But something
has changed.

I'm going to go
to sleep now, but you
have to stay awake. I'm going to
sit you here, right beside
my pillow. It's your job
to watch and see
what bad things

Hit and Run
By Phlip Arima

the man with the backward laugh

mixes his whiskey with tears
sings songs with words nobody hears
dances and staggers off the edge of the curb

sees the light as he recognizes the screech and the curse
believes the life that passes is dust on dirt
does not cry with the pain or start at the shock

or think a significant thought
waiting for the rain, the siren, a someone
to hold him and say: rest easy, so long, bye bye.

Waiting for the Light to Change
By Phlip Arima

on the corner where cigarette filters cover the pavement
and little girls stoop to look through car windows
a woman smoothes her hair back over her ear
waits for the light to change

she does not say a thing
as it goes from red to green to red again
then stepping out into the traffic her shrieks begin

"worthless fucking slut cunt bitch
you don't deserve to live
take this and this
and this"

as the cars honk and swerve the hand repeatedly returns
to slap her face a swollen mauve and rip a lip
so blood begins to flow

"worthless fucking slut cunt bitch
you don't deserve to live"

the watchers seek each other out in eyes dry against the cold
see prophesy caught and denied as the woman
reaches the other side

smoothes her hair back over her ear
waits for the light
to change.

Push Not Pull
By Phlip Arima

I'm pushing my boxes across the street
there's eleven but there use to be twelve
last night I reorganized everything
so it seems like there are less

I have to do this quickly
there's the traffic and there's people
once I was hit by a car and taken to the hospital
I was afraid all my things would be stolen

people are more dangerous than cars
I've had to fight with drunk ruffians
who thought they could harass me for fun
and sometimes when I sleep things go missing.

a man I don't know is asking to help
he's young but alright dressed so I tell him yes
he starts pulling the box I've got halfway across
I have to stop him and explain the right way to do it

you gotta push them not pull
pulling wears out the bottom too fast
makes the cardboard go soft at the corners
I'm glad he understands 'cause some cars
are starting to honk

the sky is getting dark and the wind picking up
soon it will be raining like all last week
if this man keeps on helping
I'll be done before it starts

I wonder what I can give him
as a way of saying thanks.

Dance Baby Dance
By Phlip Arima

there is a rhythmic throb to the droning backdrop
of the many layers of memory complicating an event
so common it is no longer noted by the media
yet so real as to illuminate the despair
lurking within my thoughts

i am caught out on the tail of two long hauls
with only a few hours sleep in between
half crashed... dropping off
into wonderless dream

the eyes... the nose... the mouth
and the skin over shattered cheekbones
are no longer a face as the light creeps out
of the swollen rawness that once craved life

too much knowledge gained in a single flash of insight
and i can hear my voice repeating... dance
baby dance... you ain't gonna cry blue no more
dance baby dance... you ain't gonna cry blue no more.

By Phlip Arima

i hear him talking to himself on the back of the bus
in a language i will never understand, wonder
what he carries in his pockets and his bag
know he wants another life to live

there are stories in his mind he can no longer tell
dreams he sold for something sadder than his smile
and as his shoes decay, he keeps waiting for that day
when the noise will be less loud

leaning against a locked door, asking for change
he does not recognize me from five minutes before
looks as though he has never had a proper meal
knows how to survive a life i could not live

there are stories in his mind he can no longer tell
dreams he sold for something sadder than his smile
and as his shoes decay, he keeps waiting for that day
when the noise will be less loud

the buildings where he sleeps get torn down and redeveloped
while i warm my bed by making love surrounded by pillows
and sometimes when i look out my window, i see him on the street
knowing his hands have touched more life than i have lived

there are stories in his mind he can no longer tell
dreams he sold for something sadder than his smile
and as his shoes decay, he keeps waiting for that day
when the noise will be less loud.

As Trains Go By
By Phlip Arima

a bomb and an eye that has the world, horse stance, violence, flesh tattooed and pierced while man blows horn and monk strums lute, the school fool, wide open child and woman in white, rotten grin above the mic

mask of death, head shaved, fingers in the air, dance dance dance, hi daddy, soldier, freak on steps, freaks in dump, nude, punk, head in a bag, crowd waving hands and mother kissing child

long legs in dress tight beneath a devil miniature, skeleton, comic, filmmaker, three boys and a body, buddha with walkman headphones on, little girl smiling all scrunched up in a box

a shadowed face, key chains, airplanes and a corpse, rappers near a box, near a busker, near a pin-up and a cure, the blues and a painted dude next to space craft and monkey

faces, blindness, a mushroom cloud.

Alone by the Door
By Phlip Arima

one of four in the car screeching
through the tunnel wanting to scream
give voice to the pain be like the sane
other three passengers on the train

screeching through the tunnel
like the rage in his brain the fear
on his head clawing its way
down his spine passed his ribs

to the core of his being faster
than the train screeching through
the tunnel separate from the others
their loves and lovers

with his hands gripping tight fixed
to the pole turning rigid turning
cold as his legs start to shake
and muscles ache and vision

turns grey with no value at all
while the screeching through the tunnel
approaching the station what he calls

repeatedly saying breathe man breathe
hang on and breath you just have to
make it through the door to the platform
up the stairs to the street and

there will be air not so many people
in so close a space no more one of four
screeching through the tunnel
wanting to scream

end a bad scene.

The Watcher Lonely
By Phlip Arima

night-time city... city street
through clouded glass thick with expelled human breath
see a being empty of dreams selling flowers for two dollars

to a man who stands alone watching for someone to meet
make his life somehow complete, neat for him and his date
one he hopes will make the daily suck somehow angelic

a fellow traveller bound to me by our lust for things to change
not like the coffee in my mug turning to a luke-warm sludge
nor the ashtray over-flowing where a fire smoulders quiet

frigid flames in my lungs, shriek for silence in my head
i read a shirt in front of me stretched across a young kids chest:
flight! the script looks like a slash in bloody thread on cotton black

an icy blast from the doorway yanks me back out of myself
the watcher lonely has just entered, flowers breaking in his grip
petals falling to the muck and dirty hopes lost by us.

My Eyes Open
By Phlip Arima

How long have I been awake?
breathing her heat? conscious of dreams?
thinking? remembering each pause
in the hours of conversation
before sleep?

Are there any cookies left?
has the lemonade soured? the flowers
wilted? the meaning of all we said
still have relevance?

Is there anything I have to do?
calls to make? people to see? reason
not to caress her skin this overcast morning?

Was there a promise? will there be? what kind
of expectation still sleeps in the thin space
between our bodies?

Are the candles still burning?
what was the last song I heard playing?
has the snow we were promised started falling?

Can all that has happened really have begun
with the confession of a memory?

Did she say how long she would stay? does it matter?
do I care? is my world significantly changed?
will there be an obligation incurred
when she opens her eyes
and focuses on mine?

Was yesterday only a few hours ago?
do I have any food I can offer? any desire
I want satisfied? will she need me to be more
than I have already been?

What time is it now? why must she leave?
where will she go? is the closeness we have shared
a gift she will carry? do I want to light a cigarette
and watch the smoke lift and get lost
on its way to the ceiling?

Leaving the Mix
By Phlip Arima

when the lonely descends like locus across ripe land
and the stuff from the pharmacist hasn't the kick
i want to leave the mix

every breath is a reminder... every thought a question
i don't expect to feel better... just nothing and numb
out of the mix

your hand blistering on mine as you watch me decay
with what is left of my heart i wish you would look away
somewhere besides this edge of the mix

Late at Night
By Phlip Arima

there are moments of endless length
when the noise is not so loud, when the ache
does not seem like pain, when i do not feel
like you abandoned me, gave up while i
continue the struggle.

they are soft moments i fill with candlelight
forgiveness and reflection. moments when
i can exhale each breath without the sadness
crippling me—turning my eyes
liquid grey.

moments when i can accept your death
and all the little daily deaths as part
of my life, a life that has these
quiet moments of alone
that are not lonely.

In My Room
By Phlip Arima

there is an animal alive in my room.

i cannot see it. i cannot hear it.
but i know it. know it is alive.
alive in my room.

i am sitting in the corner on the floor.
my back to the walls. i am in my room.
my empty room. wrapped naked in a blanket
i found in the hall.

there is an animal alive in this room.
i sense it. i dislike it. i want it
to leave before i capture
and kill it.

beyond the window there is wind.
a wind silenced by fog. fog glowing cool
with a power i crave. a power
i can use.

there is an animal alive in the room.
it is beginning to move. it knows
how to chew. it breaths with a rhythm
that reflects my own.

i am sitting on the floor looking up
at a bare bulb. it brightens
as its filament burns-out. leaving me
in doubt.

there is an animal alive in its room.
it is alone. and it is angry. and it is
happy. so happy its growl can be felt
when it swallows.

By Phlip Arima

the telling of a life story late at night
with an injured hand laying limp

on a pillow stained with spit
and no sound except the furnace
blowing dry air for a few seconds
at the end of each year

words spoken in the same tone
emergency ward doctors use
when speaking amongst themselves
as if this will render the events
less real, more easily

words spoken with only one listener
half revealed by the street light
filtering through a window
as i toy with a doll
beside a mattress on the floor
that has never been for sleeping

words spoken so slowly and so honestly
and with such credible detail that
though no tears fill my eyes
and no thoughts fill my mouth
i fall into a pit where all i can feel
is love.

Wednesday Morning
By Phlip Arima

Cold air blows through a crack in the window
killing the candle that lit the night

a dog is barking

the scarves that hang from the foot of the bed
have left their mark in my flesh

the sheets are wet

before you fell asleep you said: i love you
and all i could think of was death.

Hello, Hello, Where are you?
By Phlip Arima

it's raining black drops of perspiration from a dirty god.
the trees though, they do not seem to mind. they thrive. thrive.
they are alive. and green. are we?

i saw your name in a restaurant john stall. should i have added
your number? do you even have a phone? i dial and dial and dial
and all i ever get is a tone.

it's raining black drops of perspiration from a dirty god.
the cars though, they do not seem to mind. they multiply.
multiply. are they alive?

last week when we spoke you had a book full of words
i do not know. can you teach me to say
the things you read?

it's raining black drops of perspiration from a dirty god.
but the dj on fucc pirate radio does not seem to mind.
he's playing every one of our favourite songs.
favourite songs.

if you are listening
it's kinda like we are together.

Delirious Near Sleep
By Phlip Arima

a teardrop shadow on your throat
the metronome of my heart speaking with the dark

every seven cuts the song comes around
to let you repeat this one is deep

and i sigh into you each time i agree
such sadness is beauty.

By Phlip Arima

watching a body crippled by a face that winked... smiled...
turned to a shadow and flew through the stone structure
of a building too tall to climb

when we kissed there was blood
it coloured our eyes then drained through our guts

i saw a dog die in the heat. as it fell it tried to growl
the sound was not unlike our breathing
after we were done

when the days are dark with storm and the nights clear
i feel the blood we share.

By Phlip Arima

The snow has melted to water
and, warming in the heat
clings to the surface of her hair.
It does not run or drip and
is a long way from
evaporation. It is trapped
by the force in all objects
that attracts one thing to another
regardless of their life
or lifelessness. It waits
as if it can dictate
what will next take place
when, with a shake of her head,
the connection is broken
and those few drops of moisture
are gone.

Take Thirty-Two
By Phlip Arima

i have been told that when the ground freezes
land mines will explode.

i feel so cold.

a slow pan across the crowd finishing with a tilt.
everyone looks great in the dark. she won't be a bit
of a junky for long. hair burning on the washroom floor.
the ambulance operator puts us on hold. the priest
is packing to move out of the city.

we are caught in the spot light. we are craving cherry
lip balm. we are wearing tinted glasses and advertising
clothing. we are the majority of society
and a danger to ourselves.

waiting for the effects
to make the zoom perfect.

waiting for the zoom
to make the effects perfect.

as the furnace is burning. as the flowers are wilting.
as the pictures all curl. as memories merge.
as eyes are lost in diminishing thought.

a backwash of basil with a red pepper thread.
i want to shut down the out of sync tick.
powder polished stones. pour oil in water.
tell those who keep calling i no longer laugh.

got a tube to my jugular. got a tube to my lungs.
got a tube to my stomach. got a tube to my heart.
got a tube to the sewers that are managed
by the city.

the toys fell apart. the toys fell apart. i hear
voices repeating identical phrases: sugar in coffee
leaves the colour the same. a machine is here
to record your message.

pharmacologically-hyped clones have replaced thinking people
All content © 2021 Phlip Arima