There’s a set
Of crystal stairs
Upon which my feet
Seem weary
When ascending dreams
Translucent
Like this wish
To be more heard

Gaining fame
By eyes who pry
Before morning
Lays its silence

Through that gentle sun’s
Disruption
Where each daylight
Sees me fall

While I climb
These spoken steps

Playing fate
Without much effort

Treading glass
Above these dangers
Through ambitions
Well-preserved

Letting hearsay
Become truth

Spreading rumors
Weaving gospel

Growing lives
Beyond old whispers
Wayward souls
Could only tell

Proving meaning
Tears new cracks
Over lengths
Once nearly shattered
From defeat
At seeking notice
Or existing
Past our deaths,

Failing heaven
Frail as mirrors
In defeat
No poet utters

Daring words
So uninspired

Only plunging down
Has depth.

  • J. Pigno

The world
From cellar windows
Is an uncomfortable
Black and white,

As I peer
Beyond my garden
Through such framework
Fit for grey –

Sitting on
Basement stairs,

Sharing views
With tiny spiders,

Watching scuttling legs
Grow weary
Near this draft
Which feels so cold.

I’m jealous
Of life outside,

Once believed
My only freedom –

Now just scenes
Whose silent pictures
Prove why insects
Die in webs.

Drawn to cycles
Oddly pure,

Letting nature
Echo reasons

Better creatures
Steal our meaning
Feeding purpose
Chewing fate.

Even dreams
Deserve their death
So each change
Can filter color

Under earth
Where dirtied panels
Held by glass
Reveal my truth –

Wishing God,
Was always here,

But those prayers
Remain unanswered

While I mourn
What days expired
Long before
This virus hit.

  • J. Pigno

I’m dancing
In deepest dreams
And sleeping
Through shallow days,

Jumping past
Puddles muddied

By what solitude
Festers hate.

This grief
Makes open windows
Dare that leap
More living beckons,

As I fall
From heightened nothings
Chasing whims
Towards utter peace.

Empty space
With tainted air,

Raining fear
Like bodies burdened,

Heaving news
Upon weak shoulders
Watching friends
Die all alone.

These men
Were once my brothers,

Missing faces
Most won’t notice

Or still can’t
Despite their protest
Waving flags
While wasting breath.

Who cares
What clothes we wear
When it’s time
Upstairs comes calling?

Heaven claims
Such little intention
Of perceiving
Garments lost –

Our flesh
An honest mistake,

Just appearances
Colored by envy

Strictly lying
To those whose difference
Remains merely
On the outside.

  • J. Pigno

Last night
I called upon Christ
As the fireworks
Echoed our madness,

Ringing in
Oncoming worries
And emptiness
Shrouded by joy –

Begging Him
Easy relief
From experience
No longer human

Through redemption
Worthy of freedoms
Outside this flesh
Where we wait

For those chances
Hardly deserved
Finding ignorance
Much more appealing

Than existing
Between each disaster
While believing
Tomorrow can change.

Why celebrate
Numbers on paper
When suffering
Triumphs emotion,

Losing empathy
Mandating passions
Making memories
Meaningfully drawn?

Leaving us
Somehow alone
Behind doorways
Shuttered from anger

Watching newsmen
Tell us which heroes
Deserve better
Though people feel scared.

I’m afraid
All science is faith
Like my prayers exclaimed
Without fanfare,

Hearing crowds who cheer
Lacking wisdom
Thinking reason
Could save every soul.

Life remains
Just one long day,
Deeming time
An irrelevant measure,

So savor what year
May have suffered
To acknowledge
It never will pass.

  • J. Pigno

They found him
In front of the couch,

He was only
Thirty-three years old –

With his girlfriend
Now catatonic,

And father
A silent wreck.

My fears
Of something amiss
Were affirmed
When mom kept
Calling –

Her texts spoke
Utter volumes

Through phrases,

Short,

To the point.

I remembered
Days we’d work
While standing
Beneath that awning
Of a house
I’d built from worries
Telling me
He had none –

Quietly,
Leaning on stucco,

Waiting by a pit
Of mortar,

His jeans
That product of labor
Sporting patches
Pridefully stitched.

Sacred
Were times we spoke,

For youth
Was our common
Religion,

But death
Mocks age regardless
Of what faith
Or god
You hold.

Distinctly
I can recall

His words
While breathing heavily,

“These lungs
Exposed to ashes
Each day will
Fail me soon.”

To admit
I nearly cried
Would ruin
What meaning lingers

Since learning
Life is sacred
By what virtues
Pain does speak.

Perhaps
Those coming months
Prove much worse
Than grief
Imagines.

Today
Brings hurt abundant,

Tomorrow
Hurt may yield.

Yet forever
I’ll always see him

Pouring concrete
Over driveways –

Smiling,
Knowing an innocence
This year
Nearly all
Have lost.

  • J. Pigno

I remember
Missing gifts

Whose years
Became empty boxes
Found stacked
Beneath trees so crooked
That their contents
Seem like coal –

What past lives
Lit each branch

And held them straight
Through feelings

Now transgressions
Weighing heavy
Upon limbs
Whose burdens sink

Every ornament
Lacking faith
From this family
Left divided

By my actions
Once thought caring
But assumed
Were meant for hurt.

Such blessings
Getting lost
Being shuffled
Between baskets
Among paper stars
Whose glitter
Reflects failures
Sticking close

Are what wishes
Christmas sells
Upon backs
Of dreams less modest

Finding loved ones
Sparkle brightly
More than presents
Wrapped in bows.

See Santa waits
For kids
Much how God
Agrees His sinners
Should redeem
Those moral failures
Trusting angels
Do exist –

Thinking magic
Still might thrive
Upon nights
When colors glimmer,

Watching snowfall
Bury questions
Under skies
Soon pouring white,

Knowing twinkling stars
Prove holy

And these constellations
Special

Seeking sleighs
Or heavens hidden
Guiding all men
Towards belief.

Though I pray
Beside this wreath

Kneeling humbly
While reflecting,

Smelling scents
My pain has taken
Seeing candles
Dance on walls,

Knowing winter
Claims its stake
Forcing minds
Who question spirit

To face miracles
Often blatant

Though they question
With good cause.

  • 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

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

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

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