The Twins Turn 25


James and Edward young pic.jpg

For Edward. My brother and I turn 25 today. 



I held the glass, looked heavenward,

And toasted to the sun.


We are no longer young, you said.

We are no longer young.


Your lips are paused before the glass,

Smiling as you say


That we shall die this way. Three cheers,

That we shall die this way.








One can unlearn a fear of heights and darkness,

The dread of unknown sights and pitch-black falls.

One can unlearn the taste of cigarettes,

The patterns smoke describes in gorgeous curls.

One can unlearn the company of bourbon,

The way a whiskey can caress a voice.

One can unlearn the very art of learning,

Forget a habit, decade, lifetime’s vice.

One can unlearn a word, unlearn a way

Of killing oneself slowly with a thought.

And so I shall unlearn that loveless day

You left, and all this learning fell apart.



“This Lovesong Isn’t Mine”


I was recently commissioned to write a lovesong. No other stipulations or requirements: just a lovesong. So I did: 


Verse 1


Those crystal eyes.

Up close, they have sky-wide span.

So I’m under azure skies,

Swearing I’m the only man

Who thinks perfectly of you.

And I’m sure he thinks so too.




Because this lovesong isn’t mine.

It’s about the happy couple.

You and he, so perfectly, entwined.


This lovesong isn’t mine.

It’s dedicated to the double

Lovers, and this lovesong, just ain’t mine.





That loving smile.

Up close, it must taste ruby-red.

But from the camera zoom of the waiting room

It’s pretty hard to tell,

Ready to sing for your first dance,

Just an act you hired for the wedding band,




And this lovesong isn’t mine.

It’s about the happy couple.

You and he, now legally entwined.


This lovesong isn’t mine.

I wrote it for you, on a crumpled

Invite for a night that isn’t mine.




I’ll wish you every best tomorrow,

And while the old bells ring the new,

Someone borrowed someone’s sorrow,

And someone sings the blues.





And this lovesong isn’t mine.

It’s yours, so take it for my troubles,

You and he deserve to be so fine.


But this lovesong isn’t mine,

So take it off my hands, and wear it

Like the gold band on the hand that can’t be mine.

Youth is Wasted



Youth is wasted on the young,

The shriveled Mr Siward said:

The final strains he ever sung


From his deathbed.



Wisdom’s wasted on the old,

Cried she: as, watching him depart,

The young man, with her folly

in his careless hold,


Devoured her heart.



My brother once wrote a very similar poem, in the second verse of which the “young” character fails an exam, causing him to rue a lack of knowledge, wasted on his elders. I decided to twist this, and put the focus on romantic wisdom. I also decided to stretch the otherwise simple rhythm for the final stanza, dragging out the ordeal for her, to wrench out her heart. 

Obedience, in Gold



Whereas I shall wear rags of tarnished grey,

I’ll dress you in gold, and make of you a prince.


Their thousand pleas I fail to obey:

You ask of me, and I obey at once.


Ask of me to stay, and I shall stay.

But if we both must stand, then let us dance;


And if you ask me dress you for one day,

Expect a garnished gold for you, my prince.




For Blair.