Without An Angel
by Mitchell Bogatz
Copyright © 2016 by Mitchell Bogatz
All right reserved worldwide. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, and recording, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Cover by Jonathan T. Maya
Published by Cavanagh Publishing
3905 State Street #7258
Santa Barbara, Ca 93105
Without An Angel is a collection of the poetry I wrote from 2015 to 2016, the hardest year of my life. That year contained a lot of ups and downs – most of them caused by falling in love with a completely unavailable woman. Forbidden love, contrary to popular belief, isn’t all unbridled passion and secret rendezvous. At best, it involves people who desperately need to feel loved, and that alone has a tendency to magnify problems. I don’t know how it is with others, but not a single person mentioned in these poems came out unscathed.
Laughter Abated 8
So Young 9
When the Ground Shakes 10
You Might Want Me 11
The Gift 12
I Always Miss You 13
Breathe for Me 14
Love Poem to a Stripper 15
Last Leaf 16
Can I Cry Now 17
My Perfect Storm 18
Breaking in Your Broken Man 19
Wind Instruments 20
Perfect Worlds 22
Strange Thing 23
Broken Thing 24
A Fading Light 25
A Night in the Storm 27
The Last Glimmer 28
Silent Explosions 30
Always a Fool 31
Hotel Security 32
On Nights Without You 33
Forgetting the World 34
Winter People 36
A Man’s Worth 38
Him Again… Always Him 40
To Never Have You 41
Tsunami Warning 42
To Not Fade Away 43
Drying River 44
Let’s Freeze Time 45
A Path through the Mud 46
Always an Obstacle 47
In Search of Perfection 48
Drowning on a Cheap Sofa 50
The Tide Rolls In 53
Don’t Build a Girlfriend 54
The Struggle Within 55
The Fish & The Dog
When all is Darkness 57
If I Leave 58
Our Deepest Condolences 59
Good for You, You Lucky Bastard 60
Don’t Say You Love Me 62
Never Will You Drift Into Me 63
Bottled Feelings 67
Pulling at Desire 68
Cautious Surrender 69
Though I Am a Man of Words 70
Up The Stairs 74
The Cycle 75
Wharf Priest 77
Last One 78
Let Me Wake Up 79
Then Jack Frost Came to Me 80
Songs by the Water 82
We Can’t Say ‘Goodbye’ 84
Always wanting, never reaching.
Memories keep us underground.
Buried GIANTS still beseeching,
trapped below our memory’s mound.
Entwined. Loving, never trusting.
Combined. Always knowing nothing’s won.
In time, even fear has started rusting.
We find digging’s all we’ve ever done.
The world couldn’t keep its corruption away
Infections of men couldn’t leave one thing pure
Not one tiny heart filled with joy left to stay
The girl will not laugh anymore.
She stares at the world with her eyes filled with fear.
I want to protect her from things in the black.
But her knowing of them will leave no laughter here
And all of my hatred can’t bring sweetness back
Killers should have bowed their heads
Shaken with shame, deep to their core
But nothing remains now but fear in our beds.
For the girl will not laugh anymore.
Poor child… Did no one tell you how much you’re allowed to love?
When the ground shakes
we run to each other
so we can shake together
The problem is
when it’s you that rattles me
I’ve nowhere else to go
You might want me
So you keep me here
In your labyrinth
Where only you can find me
Fool I am,
With every escape,
You lure me back with sweet words
And pictures of succulent treats
I can never have
I’ll give more love than I can give
A trick I learned from loans
And what I give will multiply
Or strip me down to bones
I dream of you
in the blackness
of each blink
But though your body
in my mind
that isn’t here
Why is it
that your tenderness
always causes me more pain
than your cruelty?
Breath is trapped by our desire.
What we want
And what we need
Is twisted up in tensing wire.
Can you breathe?
Fill your precious lungs for me.
Push and pull ‘till nothings there
Love, my dear, is in the air.
I know you don’t care,
that you just want to get paid and go home.
Even as I feel your body in that dark room,
I know you don’t mean the words you whisper in my ear.
And I don’t care.
Can’t you be my perfect girl?
I’m paying you enough.
The crunch of a sad leaf on the ground.
I know how it feels.
Yes, I too once belonged to something.
I suppose I was more like the tree with one leaf,
Trying desperately in the cold to hold on to it…
But the winds of time have never failed to rip it away.
The sound of jump-ropes is a distant memory now.
The universe will likely be unaffected by me,
For I have left no legacy.
It’s been winter too long.
I’m tired of winter.
I sense again something growing-
but I can feel no need to hold on.
Can I cry now? Would it be okay, this time, if I cried?
You said you needed me to be a rock
But you yourself remain a stormy sea.
A tiny stone would sink or fade like chalk.
Will crashing waters soon devour me?
In water’s wake, no shelf of land seems high
A storm like you consumes all things en route…
I’d rather be consumed than dry—
Your crashing waters are my sky.
I’d rather be the floor of sea
Than see your storm go out!
Tell a broken man to wait
See what happens then
Make a reason
Wrap it up
And do it all again
Sprinkle in a little love
And just a taste of sin
And broken man will wait for you
And jump and crawl and spin
For fine tuning, make him feel
Like every deal will be the end
But don’t you give him what he wants
Or broken man will mend
The road whispers to me. I am the dark leaves that blow in the evening wind. I move by some unseen force that pulls at all of me. It keeps me dancing in the fog untouched by streetlights. It surrounds me, inside and out, and when it leaves me, I always fall that long, long way back down.
Someone drew a penis on my notepad
A big one with wavy ball hairs
And lines that I can only assume signify ejaculation…
I wonder if he read my poetry
Arms around you in the dirt,
Making future plans.
Hearts that sound above the hurt.
Touching arms and hands.
In the park we dream of lands,
Of places that will never be.
Together, neither understands
The things to do to make us free.
It’s hard to say which things will stay,
So warm and so in love.
And even you might go your way,
And take the worlds I’m dreaming of.
Love is a strange thing
Most confuse it
It doesn’t mean we’ll never fight
Just that when we do, we imagine our lives without the other
And we stop
Your soft words ring like padded screams across the autumn air
Wherever girls have broken dreams, my love will find them there
For love, they say, will seek its own and I’m the one to blame
But broken things don’t mind the pain or tend to love the same
It’s time to leave. The light of my long gone star has faded once again. But I will chase that light still. I will always find where it shines, however fast I need to go…
But every time I catch the light, I find it dimmer than the last.
I want to keep myself in love for I have come so far, but even as I speed to grab it, I grow farther from the object itself. This light cannot shine forever and I fear I will never find my way home.
Every curve that moves and bends
Every single precious limb
And every thought inside your head,
And how your hair lays on the bed,
The way you blush, the way you laugh in light forever dim…
I’d rather any part of you than every part of them.
Oh shattered one, please don’t cry
Please don’t moan. You’re not alone.
Your hair and all you are, undone,
A song so sweetly oversung,
And wind is blown and things are thrown
And how you howl into that wind
And scrape your fists against the brier
But cuts and twists at least, can mend
Throw instead, at me your fire
Through walls of tears it’s hard to see
But you’ve been loved
You’ve been loved by me
My own thoughts mock me.
“Stop staring,” they say.
“You won’t find it.”
“You know by now, you silly fool, that any glimmer only accentuates the darkness.”
And so it was.
I saw it go away again – that flickering bombardment of light disguised as peace…
Only this time, when it was gone I heard a voice – neither man nor woman – speak in thoughts resembling words.
It was as if it said, “I can save it.”
I thought for a while in my confusion. It seemed a nice offer, but I couldn’t help but ask—
“Where were you before?”
A perfect woman should be gorgeous, but oblivious enough not to know it.
She should be a prude with everyone else, but a vixen with you.
She should be smart enough to hold a conversation, but impressionable enough to always value the random shit you make up on the spot in your attempts to impress her.
Sitting small on wooden chair
With not another sitting there
And no one else to nag or blame
Or share the load of twisted pain
Alone at last but in his mind, a trickle down of thought begins
There is no past, for he can find no hope around so many sins
And so he sits with many friends
That jeer and whoop and call
And though his visage cracks and bends
He doesn’t move at all
A heart cannot know the rules
for all the things it doesn’t see.
It often comes attached to fools
and changes lives so carelessly.
So can I blame my heart for you?
My sudden love. My hopeless plea.
Though everything I want – taboo.
Unknown before, yet all of me.
This guy won’t go away
He lingers by the coffee and tea, but never pours a thing
And then he goes in and out of the doors as if, when he tries to return, he’ll be transported somewhere that isn’t a shitty hotel with no parking.
Wait… he’s back now.
Having chosen one option over the other, he sips down his creation one drop at a time…
And I’m paralyzed with the fear of having to wait for it to cool down.
The ticking of the clock is thunderous in the quiet night. I can hear the cars outside as they drive over the water in the asphalt, the liquid in the divots of the road. It’s still raining, but I can’t hear the rain.
Other nights, I myself drive through the darkness, droplets streaming off the windshield, thinking of you. At times, when we’re together, you make me forget that I’m alone… but love is like a rainbow. Sometimes it appears when it’s still raining, and it’s just too dark to see.
Your blushing body under mine,
Soft curves pressing
Gently, with intensity,
Undressing every part we see
And then the bed that we lie in
Sinks far away from all of them
Our whispered moans for us alone
Two tingling bodies find their home—
—And heat we make lights up the dim
Our fervor finally filled to brim
Sometimes it’s not the things that happen to us – sometimes it’s the things that don’t happen that cover us like a monsoon and drown us in lost desires. It’s the kiss that never happened. It’s the spurned affection and the unkept promises. The deafening nothingness surrounds us like a bubble of oxygen in a lake of acid… but neither the lake nor the bubble really exist.
The piercing touch of passion nears
As palms caress your thighs.
It whispers in your eager ears
And thrives in pleasured cries.
In biting, grinding, squeezing, holding
-- rids us of the “Why?’s”.
It needs and wants so many things.
And not a one denies.
Not a path is set
We go through our lives constantly bombarded with things
that change our course
Like rocks in space
And only some of us
in the right direction
We can’t all charge into battle
riding a horse,
hands wrapped around a Tommy gun
with dynamite for a cigar.
There just aren’t enough horses.
So some will search for meaning in lines of code,
desperately scouring for missing semi-colons.
Others scratch calculations on dinner napkins
in support of theories that will later be disproved.
So don’t worry kid.
We’ll find something for you to do.
As children, you hear stories about true love. They say skies open to ladders of light that carry you up into seas of warm happiness, wrapping you in comfort, finally giving you the thing you never had: peace. Ours is a different love. There is a third presence here – a shadow that looms in all things, pulling at the roots of our affections. It lies between us always. Sometimes it is invisible, and other times it is sickeningly opaque, and we never know until we’ve met again, which one it’s going to be.
I will never love him
I will never like him
I don’t hate him
I don’t want to hurt him
Because I want you to be the one to discard him
I’ve done a lot in my short time
Mine’s a life you’ve never seen
With so few things yet left to see
I’ve just a few tears left in me
So how is it I long for you?
What do you bring that they can’t?
These other girls that smile and laugh and dance and love but never slant or scratch the surface of my heart with any soft caress or plea. What is it that you possess that reaches in and shatters me?
And what a soul shines in the thralls of things that never grab you.
I know it now.
I’ve never lived-
For I have never had you.
Tsunami warning on the wharf tonight
And the waves are crashing
Staring at the blankness of the endless ocean
I pray the wave comes
Sometimes the darkness in us stirs.
Subjugated wants grow like weeds in our minds,
strangling our thoughts,
blocking the sun.
Sometimes the black comes closer
and we let it hurt us.
We let it darken our lives,
devour our love.
Yes, large hearts have more surface to damage,
but never forget,
also more worth protecting.
So when the shadows stir,
don’t let them change you.
Shadows aren’t real…
“It’s not that hard,” they all tell me.
“We all will find our place to be,
and rivers flow and seek and find
And not a drop is left behind.”
“When you stop looking,” people say,
“the river water clears its way.”
Why hasn’t mine?
Mine flows on.
Curving in the wrong places.
Seeking a body.
A warm body.
A body of water.
Frozen in the alleys of memory
I hoped you’d come to heal
Pleasant were the words you spoke
in times we fought to steal
Passing time, press down on me
With all the desire too slow to be met
Loving lies told tenderly
Do not a painful past forget
Deep in the depths of the labyrinth of life,
I took a wrong turn, the wrong time
It was too long ago to reprise the false steps
So lost, I became very wise.
I lived in a cave and yet preached from on high
And I screamed in my silence ‘I’m ready to die’.
But once in my dying I chanced into sleep
And the dream that I dreamt caused my lost self to weep.
I dreamt of a place where my first love remained
Yet trapped in a box I could do all but BE.
But there, a white angel, removed all now stained.
She opened my box and she let me crawl free.
Guise of love
Cause of pain I am receiving
Smile and strike
And kiss and hug
This heart as it is bleeding
I’ll always feel your searing tug
I’ll always keep believing
Endless walls and pretty calls
Will keep a man from leaving
I believe in you even though I know you’re a lie,
for nothing known is ever sure.
I look for you even though there’s no one to find,
but that just makes me need you more.
I long for you even though you’re only in my mind –
because outside is nothing pure, and nothing fully kind.
Oh silly child, fill me with dissatisfaction.
Stare past my horizon, past the leaves and reed.
You drown in mud and heat, yet feel attraction
It’s hard to believe you see the things I see.
Are you aware of sin and greed of men far smarter and stronger than you?
How, unschooled, do you sit so calm to breath the air and feel the dew?
Not all wounds bleed you silly child.
Why don’t you feel the sting as we?
I’ll share a thought that burns, reviled:
the only walls in reach are those you see.
I think of you as you lay in his arms
Intimate strangers, miles away
In silence he’ll sway for you
Pray for you
Begging God you’ll stay.
But storms will rage inside your mind
You search for land you cannot find
With either him or me.
Three cups of sorrow, filled to brim.
Three souls pray and plea.
What you want now isn’t him.
But also isn’t me.
I can feel you in my veins
The girl I cannot quit
Only passion yet remains
But passion won’t forget.
Passion drives us
Brings us back
And then it makes us-
-start again with this affliction
Loving you is my addiction
You liked Tennis.
We played Tennis.
You liked films.
I watched them.
You spoke languages.
I learned them.
I liked dancing…
I love you all but I can’t stay.
The wind outside has caught me with the dust.
And though I have no time to plow away,
I know you understand by now I must.
I feel in you the frost of fire too long caged to try to leave.
And though I grieve your lost desire – fear the very same in me.
And though I’ve loved for many lives, no soul feels me depart;
the sound of steps unheard by those who care.
Once proud and solid rocks dissolve to sand,
there’s not a force so strong to keep them there.
Every space in the shadows where I turned my eyes contained a man and a woman. I’d have squeezed my lids shut if I thought I wouldn’t bump into them. Surrounding me with their laughter, choking me with their contentment, the men ignored my very being. I tried occasionally to chuckle, but unlike them, I had no disembodied face floating next to mine… And so I drew her from the air and fed her creation with my own life.
For a time I was happy, and I floated with the others in darkness, convincing myself that I was one of them. I laughed just like them, as did she, but with every hollow boom I became more familiar with what I had made. I traced in her the threads of creation. The more we filled the silence around us, the more I saw myself – until I became aware that it was still only me laughing.
The path is hidden from me
I feel your absence in the crevices of my bones
I am older now without you, weaker
My blood will never again pump as fast as it did before
But though old I am,
my childish mind
why you aren’t here
The dog whimpers
Staring at the fish flopping on wet wood,
gasping for water…
And I feel bad for the dog.
What is it you want my dear?
What is left for me to bring?
Tell me and I’ll grab it.
I’ve brought a gift, I’ll put it here
It’s all that’s left of blooming things
And I want you to have it
If I leave
There will be no one else
It will always be him
And you’ll be okay for a while
And one day you’ll look at him
And he’ll be old
And you won’t think about me
Or the life we could have had
Because you’ll be too used to THAT life
Like stained wood it will be too much work to replace
You’ll settle into things like the rest of them
Taking what joys you can where you can
You’ll be a little overweight
A little underwhelmed
And one day, in comfortable clothes,
looking out at crashing waves or thunderous clouds
You’ll finally forget that you yourself
ever crashed or thundered.
I’m sorry to tell you this
I really hate to be the bearer of bad news
And you’ve tried so hard too
–More than roughly half of them at least–
(Of that we’re nearly positive)
But here’s the thing:
It’s not enough
You won the game
You got the prize
You cleared your name
Your life will never be the same
With all that cash and all that fame
And as you pass, they clap and cheer
So why the hell are you still here?
I would give up clouds and trees and music
to have your body over mine
to feel your hot breath on my lips
as I explore you with my hands
I would give up the flowers
to see you instead, just a little every day,
the places I’ve loved
to grow old with you
and all the light of the world
to also be the only thing that you want
I tried to put the pieces back where they were.
But things are distorted.
Don’t tell me you love me.
Don’t trust the hope. Never trust the hope.
Where the water’s wide and long
And waves are calm and fair
Drifts along my drifter.
She’s always drifting there.
Side by side we drifted
Back when I once drifted too
Before the current shifted
Before our distance grew
On that day I turned to her
And raised my arm for her to hold
But whispers reached me in the blue
Of how the current really pulled
While soft and calm, it sucked us in –
Our lives revolved around the tide
We felt the tiny tugs and pulls
Of seas yet calm but long and wide
Oh, drifter – swim!
Swim for me!
Thrash your arms against the sea!
Don’t let the waters conquer us!
Don’t let them take my love from thee!
When I next find you
I’ll swim harder
I’ll reach farther
I’ll thrash more…
Just put your hand in mine this time
And we can find the shore
Tainted air will let you breath
But fills you with its taint as well
Sometimes it’s clear
Or very near
But still infects your every cell
It moulds into the cracks of joy
It sends your future plans to hell
And you can fight
For all that’s right
But taint is taint
And time will tell
The hills are on fire
I watch them burn in the distance
And I feel nothing.
Waiting will kill us.
You and I.
Things kept in bottles shrivel like dead leaves.
too young and too old
—can never wait.
until they are ready for us?
Shall we strike at the glass?
Will it hurt us?
I fear if we don’t, we will blink away.
For there is no equation
for the longevity of thought.
And memories are strong,
but something tells me
the glass is stronger.
A vast expanse of pain ahead.
I see you standing at the end.
I see the things we’ve only said,
through plans we’ve made and words we penned.
Our children play out on the beach,
blurs of love near rocky seas,
in places I may never reach,
where wind may never touch your knees…
But most days I can see you there,
and believe the breeze does really blow.
But even then, it’s words we share.
The journey’s all I really know.
I try to stay
But it kills me
To never be on the inside
I try to leave you
But when I’m gone, I’m not alive
And so I’m back for you
I’ll dance the dance again today,
and open my heart a crack for you,
But not enough to fade away.
Through closed eyelids
I see clearly…
you won’t let me have you.
There’s nothing I can say.
I know you love me dearly.
But you believe the world with me
will make itself a way
Never will we stray
as lovers may.
Never will the painful things
that you two share
push you away.
The words you say can crawl and stain
And fill the time when we’re alone
But words, however sweet they are
can never build a home
Imagine a Door
Imagine a door in a damp, unknowable room
Behind it lies the loving life you dream of in the dark.
A big brass key to the big black door is on the floor…
Boundless steps stretch in all directions
in that expanding expanse
Sits a key that you can’t see
Searching sickens your mind
-who you are…
what you want…
The only thing of which you’re sure
is what you want’s beyond that door
And finally, you find…
Would you take it?
Sometimes I wonder if I’d be happier on a beach somewhere, nothing in my pockets, with no one waiting for me to come home.
I toy with the idea of leaving, without telling her or my family, without giving notice at my three jobs.
The problem is, thinking about that water makes me so content, I lose my reasons to leave.
I watch your ass sway in that black dress
Hardly the first woman I’ve followed upstairs
But your perfect, unattainable curves pull me closer
And again I think,
If you let me take you in my arms,
Pull up your dress
And possess you
If you let me lay by your breasts
Once I’ve undressed you
And if you let me follow you
To watch your body sway
Then stairs or no stairs
I would stay
Sometimes I know how much you love me
And I dream of us
I wonder if he’s touching you
like he did that night
Sheets bunched up in my hands,
I wonder if you’re kissing him
with your friend kisses
like you did before.
On harder nights,
I imagine he’s there,
looking over your body
as I tell you, over the phone, how much I love you…
And I tell myself not to be jealous
And sometimes it works,
but other times, my memory works too well…
and I see the time you told me that you never kissed him anymore,
when you said you weren’t in love with him—
that the two of you had never been passionate like we are.
And I choke, sickened, climbing upward for air.
But that’s the jealousy speaking—
The dragon that sometimes awakens
and engulfs the happiness in flames.
When the dragon appears,
as a matter of self preservation,
even more than I care about you,
I want that awful beast
to be the thing
By the Water
The leached remains of grand dreams
Without asking, they sit and talk to me—
help themselves to my food…
They talk about why they’re actually good parents
About the pains of having a lover
die in their arms
Of how nothing that happened was ever their fault
Some look to me for guidance—
To tell them what to do with their lives
Others, simply to agree that their past actions,
–The violence, the disloyalty–
were fully justified
They offer me cigarettes in exchange
and occasionally I grace them with a nod…
They never let me read
Sometimes I don’t stop to breathe I want you so bad
And it would all be worth it
If I had you.
Sometimes I think
“Just a little bit more.
Maybe if I work a little harder.”
But when I work I don’t see you
And I miss you
And I’m tired
And I’m worried the lack of sleep will dull me in your eyes.
And I don’t want to be dull.
I want to light up your life the way you light up mine.
I could work 23 hours with a smile.
If you were mine for the last one.
To end a dream
without the things
of which the dream has told
—The lips to kiss
The hands to hold—
Is not as bad you might think
For dreams will fade upon our wake
But dreams that stay and don’t come true—
It’s those that cause the greater ache
‘Twas on the saddest, lonely night that Jack Frost came to me
He said he had a separate gift from turning things to whitest snow
And if I would but come and see, his gift I’d come to know
I didn’t even speak reply
I closed my window
Shut my eyes
And then I went to sleep
But in my dreams, began to weep
So far removed from any light
I’d never felt so all alone on any other night
So when I woke, just after three
to find Jack standing over me
I told the boy, “Alright”
And so we ventured in the night
But never did I stop to cry
And still, I walked
And didn’t think to ask him why
Why is it,
that when everyone else seems okay
I sometimes have to be reminded
with gentle loving words,
that it’s worth living here?
She sang to him. And it was beautiful. And he wanted to open the door to tell her how beautiful it was. But he knew that if he sat there, it would all be over. He wouldn’t have to be kept in the dark any longer… If he stayed with his back against the wall, the beautiful voice couldn’t fill him again with love – the slowest of poisons. And yet, it is the singing, not the yelling, that never stops.
I love you more than you will ever know
But seeds caught in the wind will never grow
If she returns
Will I still take her for an angel?
Or will her beauty have a different quality—
masked by wariness?
Will I feel things as I once did—
the powerful all-consuming need
to devote my life to her happiness?
I’m scared to say it,
but this time,
if it were real,
I still hope so
If you’ve enjoyed this free poetry book, and would like to see more of Mitchell Bogatz’s work, please support the author by purchasing his novel, Tiny Instruments, on sale now for $7.99.