(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by American artist John Casey’s piece, Well Hello: 2014, pencil on paper, 14 x 11.  http://www.johncasey.com



There was a time

When the feeling was high

Like a tide

Rolling up and in

Surfers flying

Sun shining and

Invisible heartbeats

Crooning tunes of


Or something like it.



The edge of desire

Between water and fire

Where burning is natural

Safe and contained

Where extinguishing

Is disregarded like a far-off joke

Laughter and ease

No appeasing

Only releasing

No hand on the trigger.



A season of passion

Final bastion before the mix

Of hearts and hands

Rhythms and bands

Playing songs for two

And candles glowing

Illustrating the knowing

Breaking shadows

Into pieces like crumbs

Along the way.



Shadows slip into

The hourglass—


Crumbs and sands combine


And time falling

Sand filling darkness

That cannot be fished

All the way down

Into deepest fathoms of regret.



It is quiet there

Where thoughts dare not

To squirm—

They writhe instead

Slither over, “what the hell”

Wriggle past hatred

Lick the ears of obliterated

Words and

Images all stamped with,




There is a way out

But only further down

Past the malice

And through the chalice

Of poison

Red with the blood of

Something once living

Now stiffening

Twitching slowly before

Final death.



A memory of breath


First love

Then hatred

Now something

More foreboding—


The truest enemy of

That which was

And no longer is.



Indifference is

The air surrounding and

That one time we—

Oh, wait, now I forgot—

It is a stroll in the park

With nothing hiding,

Sitting at a traffic light

Waiting for green

But red is fine, too—

Nothing to forget, nothing to pursue.



There was a time

When hearing your voice

Scattered my focus

Like bees swarming

Drenched in honey

Bringing balance

To the flowers that we gave

And the ones we dropped

Along the way—

A garden full and thriving.




My God, the timing—

I did not expect

How could I have known

That the ringing of my phone

Would start the race

Like a pistol pointed above,

Toward the space

Where helium-filled expectations

Rest in peace.



I touched my lips

As I do when my heart




Stinging the parts that


When I realize

My hands are the only protection

I have.




I heard—


Hell no—

Hello is not enough

No greeting

Even in the repeating

Could fill the chasm

Between speaking

And hearing.



I wanted to spill

Like a leak in a pipe

Drip into the boards

Between my feet on the floor

Become a puddle

With no response

No chance to offer

More kindling to


Or to muddle.



I heard his voice

Once more

A bolt of electricity—

I was struck

With a memory

The simplicity of

The time that was high

The surfers, the tide—

A different world

A haunted time.



Then it was quiet

“It” being I

And I being the me

I remembered

I became

After the exit

Of he

And I breathed

Into the phone

Then I hung up—dial tone.



I poured a glass of Merlot

Sat in an unfamiliar glow

Once having waited—

Deeply anticipating his hello—




Intoxicated with his lies

But no more

And the red warmed my soul.



Once I read

Written on the sky

The opposite of love

Is hate

But you see, my dear,

I fear the stars

Were misinformed—

The opposite of love is


I am sure I am right

As muted versions of

You and I

Are blown to dry

And stick

To freshly painted fingernails—

Not painted for you.



copyright Jill Szoo Wilson