My nights
Are a tortured canvas
On which dreams
Can paint their worries
Leaving streaks
Of scary futures
Staining scenes
Like blotted ink –

All these visions
I can’t flee

Or avoid
By praying daily,

Those empty pleas
I bargain
Beneath bedsheets
Soaked in sweat,

Every evening
Floating free
Over coffins
Where my loved ones
Gather mourners
Throwing flowers
Besides caskets
Housing bone.

For some fears
Will still remain

Though I choose my colors
Darkest,

Hiding memories
Forming thickest
Inside substance
Made of ash –

Facing death
Towards coming days,

Finding sunlight
Mixes nicely

Among shades
Whose waking palettes
Seem important
Besides black.

Yet my bad ways
Keep repeating
Thinking drawings
Have existence
Outside sketches
Demons conjure
Within confines
Called our nerves,

As they outline
Every wish

Then divide them
By obsession

Doing math
That predicts nothing
Proving faith
Just doesn’t work

While both eyes
Are closed to God
Signing portraits
Through His promise
Letting art
Hide better angels
Behind terrors
Sleeping brings.

  • J. Pigno

I doubt
This counts
As a poem,

And I’d hardly
Even call it
A tangent

But an expression
Of fear
Come the holidays
Where apparently
At Christmas
I die –

Each year
Despite these efforts

To the point
Where I’m locked
In my bedroom,

Staring at lights
Amid snow drifts
Telling me
The end is beneath.

Fated white
Like the storm outside,

Down a tunnel
Pure as oblivion,

Coating worlds
With blanketed
Innocence
While the television
Plays for itself.

There’s a child
Holding his sled.

I barely
Notice its symbol.

“Rosebud.”
A line from a picture.
Or message which agrees
I’m right.

Why does it keep
Appearing?

What is it
Trying to tell me?

I can only think
Of their money
And how everything
Here
Has a price,

Yet recount
Our most precious of days

In those sheets
Where time
Doesn’t matter,

As the scent
Of sex and peppermints
Wafts from the pillows
Below –

Our heads
Gazing deep into stars

Letting eyes
Watch souls
Become moments

Catching love
Contained
Between bodies

And forever
That’s fear
Letting go,

Since clocks insist
We are shortened

By the fact
She might pass
Without warning:

My partner
Whose vow
Remains sacred
Despite the unknown
Of her health.

Should I seek
More doctors
Today?

In truth
They’re apparently
Useless,

And concerned
With cash
Under tables

Or names
Which make them
Feel good.

“Rosebud.”

Not sparkling gifts.

But presents
Of wealth growing wasted.

An emotional
Fade from existence
Towards adulthood
Stealing our rings.

Perhaps my tale
Is noir,

And a black and white reel
Of misfortunes,

Chasing freedoms
Suffering silence
Within monochromatic
Scenes.

Now I shut the film
For some rest,

But I live each image
That’s missing,

Learning heroes
Are inevitably
Victims
Unless they are
Saviors first.

Can you help me
Make art once again?

Before stopping
This charade entirely?

Behind walls
Glowing bright during evenings
Deeming sleep
A soft coffin
Of dreams –

A vocation
Shy behind woes

Though appropriately
Named
Our obsessions

Claiming lungs
Speaking out
Against fallacies

Selling titles
As certain success.

Like the kind
I always have envied

Still sitting here
Waiting on
Movies

Explaining
Symbols through subtext

To show me
How heaven
Is real.

I’m sure hands
Sift verse
Through their calm

Dwelling low
Where censors
Are quiet

And the meaning we seek
Gets its image
From the depths
Of experienced code –

Reassembled
While memories breathe

Since my heart
Must skip
Till tomorrow,

Losing air
I’ve learned to abandon

Wishing mom
And Danielle
Were just safe

Beyond my stage
Dimming soon

Or their stories
Lost
Among illness

Now suffering
Without causation

But penance
They’d strangely
Deserve.

How my wife
Will gasp
When she talks,

Or beg for cool
While she showers

And clench her heart
Beating faster

Finding pain
Takes joy
To its grave.

Gaining love
Means choosing disaster

With plans
I’ll never
Acknowledge

By a God whose gifts
Insist balance
Temper miracles
Too good
To be true.

All the writers
Who bleed much better –

I’m happy
You’re always inspired.

But mediocrity
Beckons me daily.

It’s hard to accept
When you suck.

Like Citizen Kane
I’m alone –
Haunting castles,
Uttering nonsense,

Unless
Trying hard
If you listen

Hearing legacies
Misunderstood.

“Rosebud.”

Nobody cares.

Only hindsight offers us solace.

Peace is imagining reasons
we provide by deluding ourselves.

  • J. Pigno

Somehow
I always miss

When the aim
Is easy targets

Like forgetting
Memories useless
Whose presence
Lingers still –

Within this mind
Unsure

Some bullseyes
Even matter

Now wavering
Through these feelings
Shifting centers
Out of place,

What pasts
Have grown askew
Watching lifetimes
Turn indecent

Twisting traumas
Into moments
Dreams keep playing
On repeat,

Hanging crooked
In my sights

Staying focused
Towards redemption

Hitting walls
As fear intended
Blocking progress
Beyond doubt

Over distance
Never bridged

Hardly breached
Yet seeming bigger

When our task
Means shooting arrows
At such figments
Made from straw.

All agony
Follows guilt
Deeming prospects
Far too dangerous,

Soon illusory
If accepted

Most deceptive
By their reach,

Leaving monsters
Lurking deep
Even though
Old evils dwindle

Once diminished
Chasing freedoms
Behind answers
Anger marks –

Where today
Resumes that goal
Scoping scarecrows
Gaining practice

Knowing failure
Offers vision

Swearing loss
Another chance.

  • J. Pigno

I told him
Take it to your grave

And I meant
That terrible statement

From a boy
Whose ignorance values
What delusional dreams
I uphold.

For the proof
Of negative ways
Floating seas
Of binary thinking
Allows me
Frequent displeasure
By establishing debts
Towards myself –

Each holiday
Swimming through fear

And a lifetime
Drowning from worry

Should perhaps this book
Ever publish
And get read by a person
Who cares.

Forgetting the stance
I uphold
As a figure
Whose lessons
Are useless –

A teacher in name
Passing judgments
Not fit
For these persons
They ruin.

See extremes
Are the way I adapt

And control
A selfish expression

Of prisons my mind
Faces daily
Closing locks inside
Called belief.

I’m drawing lines
Down my cheeks
To conquer fears
Of my wrinkles
Still hidden beneath
Every smile
Which only agree
I will die.

Yes I deemed
That horrible wish

Which perhaps
He deserved
Being nasty

Or assuming
My weight
Says I’m fragile
And weak
Like the people
He hates.

Dad,
I just loathe myself –

I don’t need your eyes
To see clearly.

I’m a failure
At best
With my writing

And a son
At his worst
On this page.

  • J. Pigno

I’ve watched lives lose every semblance of real hope and fair redemption in pursuit of this fucking “hustle” that we’re told is worth our souls.

For the Bible warns its readers against serving dual masters, and yet still, we always fail one thinking somehow God won’t care –

Like that lord of making money and the Christ we pray ignores us, as each person writes their downfall citing reasons said secure.

But what’s safe is far from murder of our innocence being threatened, as we steal and stab towards greatness claiming tables beg more food – how our families might just starve, when in truth, they’re probably hungry not for feasts but faith more nourished than these sins could understand.

Who assigned such ugly terms turning all men into convicts – every child another player thinking games mean growing up?

Like adults, they learn to win cheating rules so rigged they’re broken, chasing prizes death can’t envy knowing life itself is hell.

Those eternal risks we wage aren’t questioned much by people, looking outwards upon failures knowing greed will trump their code – that high standard often blessed before turning into envy, never seen as devils birthing further evils we should fight.

I’ve heard mothers tell their sons that they hate them for not working, and fathers wish their children would employ what demons sell.

I’ve let lovers try to kill in pursuit of being normal.

I’ve found knives in pretty boxes wrapped in paper made of lies when her Christmas card had sworn season’s cheer is why she slayed me, skinned my flesh and mocked its weakness waving wisdom like her flag – feigning warmth by teasing hate, having kisses with disaster while she plotted leaving early because poets weren’t tough.

Now that face I can’t regain is a mask with painted symbols, trading mouths for false protection against judgments spread through air.

I’m voiceless insofar as these talents seem aggressive, falling deaf on ears ignoring every warning words can make.

Those who listen swear I’m nuts, and the rest believe I’m lazy, even if I’m earning penance pointing flaws out through my verse.

No, your “hustle” is a joke and I’m glad this phrase offends you – you’re the virus taking victims never asking if they cared or agreed with selfish whims called success by those without it, dragging kingdoms down besides you since that cash can’t buy you breath.

Heaven fails the ones who try, and rewards its idle heroes – crying champions of expression who create instead of earn.

Wealth is missing from that peace.

It is not a saintly virtue or your sacred quest which mandates choosing labor over love.

I’m sure this naive plea for revolt means almost nothing, even though my fear can’t save you from our natures flawed with need.

The contagious final gasp that we see on news each evening – its our equal end that’s coming whether wallets bulge or not – so I’d rather bleed in red, for what fate should wait beyond us, neither classy nor expensive where our roles do not exist.

Be kind and do what’s right.

That assumes your heart is beating before naming different bosses then ignoring dreams divine.

  • J. Pigno

I saw her face
In the paper
And immediately
Thought of you –

Wondering
If I’d became something
More than a man
Unknown,

Tracing days
Which lost their voice
During times
Much better valued
Than what way
This feeling lingers
Reading names
I can’t forget.

But still won’t
Though moments try
Passing judgments
Years keep making –

Thinking back
While looking forward,

Wishing sadly
We had worked.

Yet despite
How long I cried
There was always
Room for leaving

Once explained
In daily poems,

Now neglected
Held inside –

Hardly truths
Worth selling news
Keeping papers
Printing headlines
Bound to praising
Local heroes
Saving lives
Though earning cash.

See real dreamers
Missing marks,

Every addict
Beating demons,

All those artists
Chasing muses

Aren’t stories
People tell –

Swearing egos
Wearing thin
Showing proof
That life is worthy
Blessing some
Through failing others
Almost flawless
By design.

Though our fate
Means dying out,
All these writings
Offer chances

Left behind
Since silence lingers
Among souls
Who read as hope –

Unlike me
So awfully jaded,

Fairly certain
She’s remembered

Finding relics
Far from funny
Beneath captions
Laughing hard.

  • J. Pigno

Today I’m suddenly
Silent
Since my phrase
Won’t follow suit
Far behind
What lines enchanted
Spin like spiders
In these dreams

Making webs
From daily pain
After fighting sleep
Come morning
Weaving words
Across those ceilings
Tired eyes
May only see

If they open
Seeking threads
Chasing dust
Along each corner
Watching insects
Turn their magic
Once thought scary
Now enjoyed

Hanging fears
Above this head
Learning fibers mesh
Through instinct
Much how genius
Dangles gently
Off of nightmares
Once awake

Still life’s menace
Anguish sells
But relieves
By solemn memory
Speaking madness
Almost focused
Across film reels
Eyelids show

Left projecting
Empty frames
Knowing time itself
Should perish
Within movies
Minds will feature
Always yearning
For that day

Where existence
Purely raged
Felt inspired
Outside coffins
Soft as bedsheets
Begging slumber
Where experience
Goes to die

While deception
Proves them real
Scuttling slyly
Never noticed
Dancing poems
Upon fixtures
Darkness welcomes
Surely missed.

  • J. Pigno

Raise those kids
Like wolves
Who growl at the sight
Of weakness
To excuse what hate
Your privilege
Has reared alongside
That pack

As hunger
Becomes their excuse
For behaviors
Based on distinction
Where predators
Execute prejudice
Declaring
Difference is prey,

Never questioning
Evident fears
Or perhaps this
Negative instinct
From assuming
Otherness dangerous
Since beasts
Engage ignorant thoughts

Slaying nests
Hunting animals young
Finding bloodshed
Beyond satisfaction
Telling children
Murdering innocents
Should accompany
Natural success –

Such forests
Are filled with deaths
Inexcusable
Though they continue
Choosing greed
Over true coexistence
Seeking peace
Among dangers unseen

Beneath trees
And branches more thick
Learning bias
Leaves trails only witnessed
Below pathways
Paws always shuffle
Barely noticed
But knowing its there,

Unless traced
Between places obscure
Near emptied bones
Amid thickets
Piecing lives
Around artifacts gathered
Housing flesh
Whose failure insists

Triumphs empathy
Pouncing in groups
Upon creatures pure
Without motive
Eating berries
Carnivores damage
Simply begging peace
Among fiends.

  • J. Pigno

I am equally
Too rebellious
And anxious for existing
Outside of words
Indignant
Every open mouth
Should bleed

Or wound speak
Gaping truths
Like these tears
Our lies have mended
Over holes that
Preach poetics
Where most stitches
Bind our dreams

When damage
Means release
But forced healing
Keeps on closing
Weeping veins
Which build connection
Through what gore
Contains this gift

By it spilling
Mutual faith
From such flesh
That fragile vessel
Harboring feelings
All inclusive
Across peoples
Willingly scathed

Sharing rawness
Pleasantly real
Besides scars
Already fading
Between years
Their injured wisdoms
Find distraction
Worth belief

Trading God
For wasted breath
Chasing papers
Pressed obscenely
Counting souls
Amid disasters
With intentions
Green as sin

Unlike crimson
Bearing strength
Shedding evils
Being punctured
Atop crosses
Called existence
Every moment
We forget

How deep red
Reminds us life
Flows forever
Within humans
Fallen angry
Though together
Raising voices
Staying hurt.

  • J. Pigno

I think
We finally know
What that song
Had meant
To you,

Crying
In my sleep
And hearing it
Play
Once more –

Unconsciously
Though I loathe
Living something
Missed
Through memories

When hearts
Still always question
Whether love
Feels real
Or not.

Was I ever
Good enough
As a friend
Worth calling
Family,

Like cousins
Cut from pictures
Where intentions
Failed
At best?

Perhaps
This melody burned
Inside souls
Whose ears
Keep ringing

Plays viciously
Ever angered
Fueled by fires
Lit
Long past –

Warm smiles
During car rides
Finding cities
We’d never
Visit

Again
Since trusting silence
Fanning embers
Hot
From blood.

Some people’s faith
Will burn
Chasing guilt
Towards far
Tomorrows –

But me,
I blame those closest
For infernos
Sparked
Near home.

  • J. Pigno