A Tide In the Affairs of Men

To be alive at all is to have scars

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Beautiful Things, Terrible Things

She likes beautiful things
Like I like terrible things
And sometimes they are
The same things

There exists an equilibrium
Between our minds and lips
Beauty is bred in those meetings
True, terrible invasion of self

She likes to feel needed
And I like to need her
To breath her in and out
And feel her silent tremble

Where spring meets summer
The little moments of perfect
And I challenge the imperfection
In smiles and lies and indulgence

She likes the sound of the rain
How it enhances anything and everything
How it feels on bare skin
What it does to the soul

Walking the streets of a new city
Drinking in the old and new
The noise of London; the quiet of Florence
Losing me in the many places of her

She likes knowing that I am broken
Seeing beauty in my incomplete
Not knowing if I am her answer
Or just another comma,

Reading books and each other’s eyes
Finding truth in our own little fiction
Words and paragraphs bleed love
And we find pleasure in skipping ahead

She likes beautiful things
And I like terrible things
And sometimes we find ourselves
In the things we like

—Mark Strickland Vining

Filed under poetry my writing spilled ink

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Is That Fear?

Do I fill up your lungs
Or is that fear?
And if so, fear of what?
Of life, or is it death?
Does my touch make you quiver?
Or is that fear, as well?
I like to think it is me
But what do I know?
I hear the music of your heartbeat.
Sometimes I hear Beethoven
Sometimes the chords from a Spanish guitar
Is that fear? Do you fear me?
You wince at the pain but I do not give in
I know that fear; I own that fear
Your smile reminds me that this is a game
A game to show everyone what we think of love
But this game has rules, and fear is not allowed
Fear means loss, and what do we have to lose?
Loss is a word that poor people know
And we are rich as long as we see fit
Rich with the words of long dead poets
Shakespeare and Tennyson teach us how to live
While Poe and Keats teach us how to suffer
And suffer we have and suffer we will; suffer we must
Is that what you fear?
Pain and silence and the bitter winter
Or is it joy and ecstasy that makes you tremble?
Makes you lie and struggle and make war
While I put up transparent defenses at best
Smiles, embraces, and delicate words
Lies and truth wrapped together in blissful ignorance
Things to make you believe in fairy tales
To get past that unbelieving exterior
And pierce to your child-like heart
So my eyes meet yours in the twilight hours
And I search your soul for common ground
Your infinite soul, an untraveled plane
A truly beautiful marriage of light and darkness
Will I find my home there, or am I destined to walk forever
Searching the endless oceans of my own inadequate soul?
That is what I fear.

—Mark Strickland Vining

Filed under poetry my writing spilled ink

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Asterismos

We are the light walkers; we are marked by stars
We chase dreams into subway cars and down alleyways
Fighting for an inch of freedom; slaving for a second of clarity
Clinging to the vastness of being young

We see impossibility with dragon’s eyes
We taste imperfection in the heat of Summer
In our world we believe in magic and immortality
In the healing powers of the untraveled road

Our home is in the forest, the ocean, the mountains, and the stars
The rain and the wind clothe us and the sun undresses us
Love is the space between fingers, lips, and bodies
And knowledge is anything gained in the struggle

Our art is our life force; our words are our blood and spirit
We whisper our secrets into books and poems and songs
We die and are reborn through the ebb and flow of our brushstrokes
Immortality is the last word written and the first word read

Oh, to be young and to know there is no end
To never regret those things that in the end will complete you
To chase your dreams and believe in the magic of your own soul
To walk in the light; to be marked by stars

—Mark Strickland Vining

Filed under poetry my writing spilled ink

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What Is Love?

We are all bound
By Time’s great
Questions and riddles.
The greatest of these
Has started wars,
Forgiven sins
Bred lies,
And collapsed worlds.
The question that exists
On the lips of heroes,
Traitors, brothers, and
Enemies alike.
Both the greatest
And worst of us all
What is love?

Love is often unexplainable,
For it is all things
An attempt to define
The undefinable
To reach the unreachable
To communicate
With the irreparably silent
Love is gravity,
Love is friction
Love is the bond
Between atoms
It is the heat that
Divides compounds
It is the essence and
Weight of all things

Love is Beauty,
Love is Art
It is the highest
Of Forms
It is life blood mixed
In perfect brushstrokes
It is the language of the Divine
To Man
Love is a respite
From death and corruption
It seals the cracks
That separate souls
And guides sinners to Paradise

Love is sin;
It is the breaking
Of vows and honor
It is the priest’s doubt,
And the common man’s penance
Love is life-sustaining water
With a bitter aftertaste
It is a heavy sword
And yet a fragile shield
Love is redemption
And salvation
It is the key that unlocks
Our prison cell door

Love is a quest,
A journey, and
A destination
Love is a knight
Fighting dragons
Love is sunshine
And wine and bliss
Love is driving cross country
When hope is lost
Love is fighting back
Reclaiming things lost
Love is two rings
Cementing two dreams.

Love is the great lie
That we all believe
Love is betrayal;
Love is rejection
Love is holding on
When everything
Has gone to hell
Love is death;
Love is release
Love is what comes next;
Our next adventure
Love is everything;
Love is beginning and end

—Mark Strickland Vining

Filed under poetry my writing spilled ink

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Autumn Clarity

I watch the first Autumn sun rise
And am filled with unexpected awe
For today is not unlike tomorrow
And the sun is no larger or smaller
The chill in the air is not the first
Nor the last I can expect to feel
The leaves falling will fall tomorrow
Their colors will change from green
To the harvest hues of orange and brown
But they have done this since Creation
And will continue freely until the end of time
So what makes today more than the others?
What stills my heart and weakens my spine?
Why do the slivers of sunlight warm my soul
And give me unnatural clarity of the world?
It must be that this morning I am finally not alone

—Mark Strickland Vining

Filed under poetry my writing spilled ink

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Unspoken Words

How is it possible to be in love with a memory?
Obsessed with a feeling—a haunting feeling
I feel your soul in the chords of my favorite song
And in the sad songs, and the happy songs, and the songs about love
I see you captured in a photograph and long to see you move
Long to see you dance and sway to an old guitar
I myself am captured by this complacent life
I long to be dangerous and wild like you are
Wild like a fire or a painted stallion or a summer storm
But you frighten me with your disregard
For rules and responsibility and my love
Did I say love? I am not even sure of the name
It is as Greek to me as it was to the Romans
But I feel with a poetic heart and borrow words from bards
And I will not bend nor will my feelings alter with passing time
Hear these unspoken words and know me more than any other soul
I can do no more but wait and listen and hope

—Mark Strickland Vining

Filed under poetry my writing spilled ink

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Pardon the poetry explosion I am about to unleash. Giving some new followers a chance to read some of my older stuff

Filed under personal

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Pour Another Glass

She is that first taste of whiskey
So smooth and sharp, fresh like
The wind on your face at dawn
She fills me with a fire, burning
From first gulp to last drop,
Begging to be refilled, but asking
The tough questions of life
Should I answer the phone
After you have told me you
No longer love me anymore?
Should I read to you about
Hemingway and Paris in 1920
When you tell me you cannot sleep?
You intoxicate me, but only for tonight
I cannot be sure of tomorrow
If you will need my steady voice
Or if you will find another tonic
But who am I kidding, really?
Go ahead and pour another glass

—Mark Strickland Vining

Filed under poetry my writing spilled ink