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Kai Coggin

Kai Coggin

poet

⌘ C-Section

I cannot c-section a poem
out of my pregnant mind
prematurely,
slice open
and grab hold with hands,
cut umbilical dreaming,
unwritten words and unfinished thoughts,
colors that have not completely mingled.

There is a development,
a growing of nerves
that travel pathways and sparks
to find one another and merge into meaning,
the maturation of muscles,
metaphors that must function on their own,
stand without the wall to lean upon,
incubation of
            skeletal
      misconnections
of words
that waver between genius
and                                          incoherency,
out in the world
before their time,
before the internal rhyme
flows naturally from line to line.

Some poems feel
like forcing,
square peg thrown off cliff,
round hole questioning its depth,
unanswered,
unready,
missing limbs,
only a heartbeat.

Each thought born into the world
has to fly somewhere,
has to land where breath and
unfolding is safe,
easy,
much like the nativity of a newborn poem.

It’s not about mathematics,
not about notches on imaginary prison wall,
one poem down,
another,
another,
another,
and then that poem will come where finally, I will be free.
I will be let back out into the world.
No.

It doesn’t work that way.

There is freedom in the process of a poem,
freedom in the silence between sounds,
freedom in the finding,
a count down of divine timing where thoughts
and words pour forth from
inner well-spring of -

“Look at this moment,
taste it, smell it,
feel it in your fingers,
write it into poetry, eternalize it as LIFE,
in the minutest of beauties,
to the expanse of a million infinities,
create its movement inside you,
dance in the ecstasy of falling in love,
swirl in the brilliance of a muse’s fluttering heart,
birthed from a thousand kisses and the
breaths between I love you’s,
then,
cloak yourself in the abyss of everything heartache,
the loss, the anger, the grief, the death.
With all of that, write poems that stand
as towers, as lighthouses, as stars, as the sun.”

never being at a loss for words.

I am a woman
pregnant with poems,
my womb is a drum full of heartbeats,
at any moment,
my water could break,
and my dammed up words
will make oceans.

⌘ If By…

If by “goodbye,”
you mean
come back to the beauty that we had before this escaping, this falling,
then I say hello.

If by “forgive me,”
you mean
let’s sweep up all the pieces that I left broken at your feet,
then I forgive you.

If by “I’m sorry,”
you mean
take this tooth and nail, and with it build the semblance of wings,
then I am sorry, too.

If by “thank you,”
you mean
my shadows have turned to gold, and the dawn no longer fades from my mouth,
then you are welcome.

If by “I love you,”
you mean
there is an opening in a wall that only my light can sing through,
then I sing I love you, too.

If words are like actions completed in our minds,
let my words only be sunrises,
let my words only be green with spring,
let my thoughts only sound like rivers returning home,
let my desires only be the filling up of a cup that we both make with our hands,
let my actions only be the reflection of the sun on the surface of a rippling lake,
so bright, it illumines the underground of my being.

⌘ Orion

I contemplated Orion tonight,
perched high at the midpoint of night,
stretching out his arms and legs into infinity,
the one, two, three belted perfection,
Kings in a line.
How is it,
out of all those stars,
in all that seeming chaos and frenzied light,
in all that expanse of untouchable space,
how is it,
that there is that one, two, three
perfect line of light
in the winter’s night sky?
The evenly spaced ellipsis written by the hand of God,
an unfinished thought …
a wait, there is more to come …
a star sentence that trails off into silence …

⌘ We Are, I AM

So many times in my life,
I have screamed an unquenchable longing
into the darkness of a night with no name,
a longing to uncover
the beginning,
the end,
the nonexistence of either,
the completeness of incompletion,
the being complete in everything that is and is not,
I longed for the Truth about all things,
and longed for an answer that requires no words.

A longing like this does not let me sleep
when the whole world is sleeping,
when talk of souls meets rolling eyes and closed minds,
this longing is consciousness
opening like a flower bud into springtime air,
this longing continuously shakes the fog of numbness and pain
from the veiled windows of my eyes,
and shows me that
I AM, in fact, Awake.

My purpose is a Torch,
a glowing flame on the planet of too much suffering.
My struggle is a Beacon,
a lighthouse beam into the darkness of an empty ocean’s night.
My heart is a Rainbow,
prismatic in reflections of understanding that pour
from its bent-backward arch across the blue sky morning.
My eyes are Supernovas,
seeing through to the quintessence in each body holding a soul.

I know your vessels,
I know what chaos looks like,
I know the calm also comes after a storm,
I know the bodies don’t fit sometimes,
it is easy to clothe yourself in everything that ever hurt,
I know it is not easy, but let it go,
shed your skins,
regenerate,
let it go,
cooperate with all that is pulsing around you
in the symbiotic dance of light and dark,
the marriage of opposites,
the eternal story that you are writing yourself into,
the journey of your everliving soul,
the black and white checkered floor that leads to a door,
open it,
come back again and stand in my smile,
bend the bars around your heart,
it is worth it, to finally FEEL.
FEEL ME.
My feet have walked this path many times,
my soles remember the stones
and the places where the oceans meet.
I have been tide-swept into greatness,
but don’t think I haven’t almost died drowning.
My hands come together to form infinity
because my body is a closed circuit
and I am made of light.
My drumbeat chest recognizes the rhythms
in the steps of my fellow travelers,
children of the stars,
lovers of the moon,
keepers,
seers,  
doers,
we meet again,
and again, dear friends,
another day, another life, I remember you without words.

Our lives are how we know each other.
Our lips and tongues speak in flames.
Our eyes have seen the horizon of a world in the making.
We are synonymous with Light.

We are, I AM.

We are, I AM.

⌘ From the Edge of a Black Hole


I am speaking sounds into the universe
from             the                  edge                      of                          a

                                        BLACK HOLE

a dream in a                 v   a     c       u         u            m                  ,
My body stretches across a mathematical anomaly,
straddles the cusp of the inescapable event horizon,
the absorption of any and all matter and light,
black-hole-speak for point of no return.

Not even the gravitational pull
of my Jupiter Heart
can save the stars whizzing by into nothingness,
beams of fire that fade into
the cosmic silence of this gaping black mouth,
bodies of light that lose the properties that make them light,
once they are pulled into the threshold of the horizon,
the “black hole information loss paradox.”

My moonbeam hands pull at the tides of space
but cannot pull the light out of this massive stellar consumption,
the chaos and symmetry of a universe folding in on itself,
the bending of planetary trajectories,
the swallowing of stars,
the digestion of milky firmament,
the arcing of covenants,
God’s Laws revealing their inconsistencies and delicate imbalance.

I do not get pulled in completely,
my bodies  s  t  r  e  t  c  h
but I have my own orbit,
merely a phenomenon watcher
attempting definition of undefinable,
wanting to fly into the vacuum to be born on the other side of space,
but keeping vigil on the cusp of realities and dreams.

I whisper a nebula from my ancient tongue,
a sigh of star dust from an inner cave that holds my Soul,
a vibration that only the Light in me understands,
only the OM that makes up my bones realizes as saving grace,
and the pull of the black hole releases me.
I am no longer proton, neutron, electron,
I am beyond light and matter, just Golden Transcending,
just independent radiant flight,
a shooting star,
a fiery comet,
a new-born galaxy whirling
trailblazer night-writer of light in the sky.
I become my own universe,
an everlasting song in the cosmos,
a vibration that ripples infinitely, infinity.

Inside us all,
there is a charge that is beyond positive and negative,
there is a frequency that ignites Divine,
there is the AUM that built your bones,
there is a blast of a brilliant supernova
that sparks from the calm of a pure Heart
linked with the Heart of the Sun,
and when you are standing on    the        edge             of                       a

                                                BLACK HOLE

and every bit of light in you is draining into abysmal f o r g  e  t  t  i  n  g  ,

Call on your Inner Fire.
Call on the intonations of your own Soul.
Remember your own Brilliance and Beauty.
Remember Who You Are.

We are born of moments and lifetimes,
reciprocated energies,
recapitulated spirals of learning and detaching,
momentary relapses of pain and new life hatching.
We are Spiritual Beings in human bodies.
We are Celestial Bodies in limited skies,
but we must never fail to realize there is a purpose to all of this;

There is a New World on the Horizon,
and we are building it.

⌘ Happiness

When I was 18,
I got a tattoo
of the Chinese character
for “Happiness” on my right shoulder blade.

I was a depressed kid,
too many years dressed as a dark cloud.
Tattooing “Happiness” onto my body
made it mine.
Forever.

It might really say “Pork”
or “Kiss Me” or “Stupid Americans”
because who really knows anyway?
… except the Chinese.

Either way,
Happiness is behind me
and in a language I don’t understand.

⌘ How a Tree Becomes a Wildflower

A few days ago,

we cut down a huge dead tree,
a dried out Mighty Oak
its empty thick branches reached high into the night,
blocking out whole constellations with its sprawling,
a mangled sore thumb eyesore to cars driving by,
until it came down with a wailing, “TIMBERrrrrrrrrr…….”
and an explosive, echoing thud.
Horizon of evergreen pines getting sunspace and
the autumn color palette taking back the view,
a little more sky,
open.

Massive fragments of limbs shattered,
meeting earth from the clouds.
Yes, oak shatters.

We cut up the fallen giant into logs,
french bread loaf slices of tree,
each log about eighteen inches long,
fireplace size,
hundreds of them,
enough warmth for ten winters.

I filled the Jeep with logs,
made stacks and stacks by the house to keep dry.

I went to the hardware store,
bought a new ax,
or technically a log splitter,
because the handle on the last one broke in half
in the felling of giants,
the new one is a 6-pound maul splitter,
resemblant viking ax with moon-shaped blade
on one side of the head, blunt heaviness on the other.

I had no idea, a couple of years ago,
that I would be living in the country,
splitting logs with a giant ax,
halving and quartering and halving again,
stacking piles of neatly fallen wood soldiers into
how warm will we be when the mercury dips
below freezing tomorrow?

There is a primal feeling about it all,
a pioneer spirit that is woven through the fibers,
the shedding of bark that smells like forest,
the concentric circles of growth that I am splitting like atoms,
the sound of what wood sounds like dividing in half
and falling by the strength of my swing,
by the drive of my aim,
the vibration going through my hands and up my arms,
the energy released as I exhale
and I see the breath of cold air biting back at my cheeks,
the numbness of my fingers setting in,

I keep chopping, splitting. 

It is all cyclical.
This is what going back to the source looks like.
My left arm becomes a cradle for split logs,
firewood load that I bring up to the porch
and put in the basket outside by the door,
the basket of split logs and kindling that is fireplace bound,
the spirit of trees that will keep us warm tonight.

The logs sing a song of crackling when they burn,
sometimes they whistle,
not quite cured for perfect burning
but warm just the same.
As the flames dance around the sticks and split logs,
I thank them for what they give,
what they have given,
for the life that they lived as a tree,
and for the ashes that they will become.

Tomorrow we will shovel the ashes out of the fireplace
and put them in a bucket with the few cinders that did not burn.
We will dump the ashes back onto the earth,
after a couple of days, the ashes of split logs will become one with the dirt,
it will fertilize the dirt
that will birth wildflowers come Spring.

This is what going back to the Source looks like.

⌘ Deja Vu

Deja vu, from the French “already seen”
is a strange phenomenon.
A deja vu just unfolded in front of me,
a slow motion wormhole of a moment
collapsing in on itself before my eyes, implosion.

As soon as I said to myself,
“I’m having a deja vu,” it started to dematerialize,
deconstruct itself into another moment,
release its hold of illusion on time and space
and fold itself back into this seeming reality in which I
wake up and write poems into the white space of cyberia.

The scattered objects on my desk,
dog-eared poetry books,
a blinking light,
more poetry books,
envelopes holding letters,
uncapped pens,
a wilting orchid plant,
my eye movement on computer screen,
the cold of morning radiating off the window,
frozen hands pounding out keys, joining words,
as I start another poem,
and there it was,
a deja vu,
a split second of life on repeat,

the intersection of short-term and long-term memory,

a moment that I have had before,
or a moment that I have dreamed of having.

Deja vu is a vacuum,
it is time and space trying to catch up with itself,
it is circular truth trapped in linear enforcement,
it is prophecy and permission unveiled,
it is glimpsing deeper in unraveling,
it is peering from out of body,

seeing as Soul,
it is consciousness that remains nameless,
but we have all felt it, haven’t we?

When a moment unfolds and shakes you from the numbness,
and you know you have been here before,

    you know, for a moment, you are where you should be.

⌘ N Word

When I was a high school English Teacher,
one of my most important lessons was
“Abolish the ‘N’ Word,”
my bravest days,
were the days I unpacked the word “Nigger”
for my mostly black and brown students
and spelled it out on the whiteboard in
black dry-erase marker,
N I G G E R
the word resonating off the reflective fluorescent lights,
a billboard of quiet horror,
hoping to shock,
hoping to understand,
hoping to enlighten,
hoping to drop the words from their mouths,
fallen forgiven tongues.

Do not attempt this exercise
if you did not walk the same streets,
if there is not a gun shot 
or gang sign
or drive-by
under your teacher belt,
if your students don’t trust you,
if experience is not holstered to your hip
like gold, and you cannot spell blood with your fingers.

What do I know of “Nigger”
to be able to write it in my own hand?
With the stroke of my own tongue,
“Today, we are going to talk about the word Nigger.”
I said it out loud when the students first sat down,
their shock and intrigue permeating the chatter,
their eyes meeting the word face to face in front of them.
Moments before, in the hallway,
the same word flowed so easily off their tongues,
like exclamation points ending every sentence
spit from their sharpened lips,
that they did not even flinch anymore,
like the word was not a dagger,
like the word was not brought over tied to a slave, tied to a boat.

Discussion opened.
They repeated the same story in every class,
“Nah, miss, Nigga is different from Nigger.”

“Is it?” I asked.

Is there not a history that is pulled like a dragging chain
with every utterance of that word?

Does that word not hang from the end of a noose,
choking, gasping for one more breath?

Is that word not whipped into the backs of every slave boy,
and raped into the screams of young slave girls?

I showed them a slideshow on lynching.
They already knew the letter K.
We listened to “Strange Fruit,”
and when they realized what blood on the leaves was implying,
a few hung their heads down,
one cried.

We read and analyzed
“I Have A Dream” for it’s figurative language,
for its power in repetition,
for its penetrating metaphors and symbolism,
found reasons for its transformative and lasting impression,
and they began to realize
“Nigga” and “Nigger” were cousins that
were too closely related to forget
where they came from.

Isadora Indiana Jones was
a transfer student that blew in from New Orleans
with Hurricane Katrina.
She challenged my sanity and self-control
when, in the middle of Dr. King’s speech, she yelled,
“Who cares about saying Nigga?!”
It was the way she said the word that made it linger in the air,
her face twisted, eyebrow cocked,
her big lips curled in a fit of disapproval with my white-sounding mouth.
I still hear it in slow-motion in my memory.
“Martin Luther King a Nigga. I’m a Nigga. She’s a Nigga. We ALL Niggas.”

I screamed, “STOP!”
Something took over me,
my fight or flight was looking more like FIGHT
and I wanted to actually slap her.
I went out into the hallway
and punched the wall,
my knuckles making an impression on a
“Just Say No” poster.
I walked back in to their stunned faces.
It was the only time I was visibly upset,
the only time I almost wanted to just say, “fuck it,
keep the fucking word,
taste the sweat and blood and burning of its history,
and label it friend, label it homeboy,
without ever realizing
what you are actually saying.”

I didn’t.
I didn’t give up.
I would not stand for the burning of a bridge
I was using my heart to build.
By the end of the week, 237 students
signed a pledge to Abolish the N Word,
to stop saying it around their friends,
to tell their friends and families
that dropping an “-er” and adding an “-a”
does not dismiss hundreds of years of oppression,
does still sound like chains.
The next week, more made the pledge.

They learned a LIFE lesson.
These are the hardest lessons to teach.
These are the lessons that are not in the suggested syllabus.
These are the lessons that Teachers do not get paid enough for,
but the lessons that ultimately mean the most.

I risked my job doing this lesson.
I dropped a pebble into the gaping black mouth of history,
and tried to make sense of it all, just using my heart,
just using the hope I had for their futures.

In the end, they learned there are many other ways to say friend.

⌘ Swallowing Ghosts

Sometimes, I scare myself.
I see that anger has been a meal
that I have gotten used to swallowing down,
and when I least suspect it,
it finds a way of coming back up,
like overfilling the gas tank in the car
and gasoline spews all down the side of it,
and everything smells like gasoline,
the noxious fumes swimming thick around the air
waiting anxiously for a spark.

I am the matchstick. 

With pull of emotional trigger,
fire pours from my unbridled mouth,
everything burns,
turns to cinder and ash,
my bare feet trailing blackened soot footprints
into tomorrow’s memories that
have yet to be made,
but that are laced with those fumes,
the lingering scent of anger burning.

Now, I am an empty cavern,

inside                        echoes,

no more swallowing ghosts.

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