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J. Todd Boutte

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Bellingham, WA, US

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Ravings of a Gray Ghost

by

J. Todd Boutte

I am the gray thing living in the treetops.
Don't touch if you should see me, but
You won't see me.

I may stand at the door to your room,
And not move.
I may peer in through your window from the night.

You may see the curtains quiver from the corner of your eye.
I may watch you kiss your lover.
I may wish I could hate you.


Too Warm for January

by

J. Todd Boutte

In a courtyard, under a pine tree,
Watching all the pretty faces go.
And leaves and garbage blowing past...
All caught-up in one wind or another.
It's a much greater task than I thought it would be,
This process of waiting for your beautiful face
To come rushing out from behind the masses
And remind me of all my idiot ravings.

Truly, it's what I've waited for.
Some seven years of expectations,
Of codes deciphered and letters written
Have all come down to this:
Eyes go searching like two fools,
Knowing good and damn well your eyes search too.
Inspecting the crowds for my sober face,
And the rage... the gentle rage.


Apathy

by

J. Todd Boutte

Having come out of my forest...
Having come unto my own, or
Somewhere close to that location,
I chance upon a stone.
Here a single, granite pillar standing
Marks a single grave, where
A century before I learned to crawl a
Significant soul was laid.
I read: "Here lies a great man,
He performed such noble deeds.
He thought such noble thoughts.
He spent Sundays on his knees."
Now, around him grow the wild woods,
All about him fall the leaves,
And the beetles stumble over him
In homage to the weeds.
"Father? Stranger? Do I know you?
Should I care to learn your name?
Ozymandias of my time,
No deeds of yours remain.
No rose adorns your headstone.
No women come to weep.
There's no talk of your accomplishments to
Wake you from your sleep.
And so, I leave him properly
In his alabaster suit.
To let some distant pilgrim find him
Crucially removed.
Yet, how solemn this encounter...
How inspiring and profound.
Still, I deliberate my process,
And effort to write it down.


Dead Weight

by

J. Todd Boutte

I took-up believing in you again ---
The way one believes in things unseen.
I thought of all my self-destructive vices,
This one was the nicest.

I am more than a fool if I hope to control
That thousand-pound demon who perched on my soul
And left me empty as a man made of tin ---
Tomorrow, I suppose, Iíll start drinking again.


Powers

by

J. Todd Boutte

Every now and again it happens:
I look up and see a face that, only for a moment,
Looks like you.
And it's a sudden, cold rush. More like
I've seen a ghost...
A spirit creature with your tender features,
And bronze hair falling like a silent waterfall to
Delicate ivory shoulders. And
That soft, brown sweater you used to wear...
Then the scent of your perfume hangs in the air.
All the happiness I obtained from
Resting my eyes upon you
Seems quite clear to me again. And
The anguish of a shattered heart,
Always missing one vital piece,
Caught dreaming again about the way
Things were supposed to have been.
Living only for that hour when the
Face will be real, and my heart sticks in my throat...
Drowning my voice like the flood of many rivers.


Facing North

by

J. Todd Boutte

My window faces north. I never see the sun
As it rises or it sets. And yet, I know it goes.
I mark its weary evidence, watching shadows flow
Across my barren back yard --- across dead, monotone grasses.

In winter the days are short, and shadows long extend
Into some distant field. Into some more relative plain.
Far beyond where I can separate sky from blank horizon.
Far beyond where I can distinguish fence post from approaching man.

But that bright day when summer returns, and light pours through my pane,
I will see more clearly the lines of my face. I will see quite clearly the shadow I cast.
And all my memories of days gone past in great, unnumbered volumes
Will sit steadily on my desk: Freshly dusted; Neatly stacked.


Death of a Child

by

J. Todd Boutte

And I loved her --- she was my love.
And heaven and hell all spun into one.
My adoration and suffocation, and
When she died she never really died.
Just slipped through a backdoor and
Out of my life.

She could have been dead.
The service held was the same.
Only I could attend and shovel the blame
On a baby in a casket kept rosy-cheeked and fair
In that air-tight container near
The top of my stairs.

I loved her --- and she was my love
Before she ever realized what
True love was.
Before the ascension came a falling apart.
When cold feet ran
From my warm, dark heart.


Christmas at Mount Rainier

by

J. Todd Boutte

God of rock, I walk upon you ---
And then feel somewhat significant
At being allowed to float near your dome of
Silent fire and brimstone.

Treading where angels fear to go,
Above beautiful junipers sunken in snow.
The white ash settles over your dormant peak,
Where once there was nothing --- and nothing will be.


Tyro

by

J. Todd Boutte

I found a box and stood upon it.
Soon, a crowd gathered around.

So I spoke in a tremendous voice.
And I spoke about tremendous events.

Then some grew starry-eyed and silent,
As if scared to make a sound.

And some fell on their faces to worship
The box that I had found.


Blind Eyes

by

J. Todd Boutte

I can still remember the taste of you ---
Alcohol heavy on your tongue.
I remember the pain of my anticipation,
Having waited a year or longer to find
That you never could bring yourself to feel
The way I fell over you_
And you never gave a second thought to
How your methods were construed.
I tore love from my chest --- still pounding ---
And held it for your blind eyes.
You blushed, labeled me obsessive, and
Left me heartless there to die.


Clear Cutting

by

J. Todd Boutte

Pain is the process of building a fire
From the timber-lined lattice of your brain_
Of clearing away the dead wood standing
In that desperate part of your forest.

Having taken an axe to your delicate places
And covering your memories with thatch,
You build the nerve to be done with the thing_
Stand back, and strike your match.


Leaving Bellingham by Bus

by

J. Todd Boutte

Shooting through the beautiful black hills of Bellingham
in an unborn illusion of blue,
The snowdrifts are plowed and piled along miles of
the roadsides monotone masses.
The skyís been wrung out, and like a dried, mud lake,
with the only clouds remaining cracked and caked.
Itís an hour before sunlight pours like honey on these hills
and separates each fir tree from the ground doused white.


Perpetual Calendar

by

J. Todd Boutte

Little brown teddy bear found
floating in the freakish Atlantic,
With bitter bits of personal effects
served cold, in a dead-blue soup.

While faceless men in orange preservers
methodically fish for clues,
Somewhere not too far away
loved ones have arrangements to make.


For Oscar

by

J. Todd Boutte


Itís raining today_ clouds are beautifully low.
Iíve nothing to do_ or Iím too lazy to do.
No one has missed me. I am not missed.
Iíve no one to see. Iíve nowhere to go.
And yet, Iím feeling minutely profound, and
I wish, somehow, that I could put it all down
On paper, if paper would allow such depth
To hold all truth contains.

This is love and the cruelty of it.
This fact has become the great duty of poets:
To realize there is something true in
Everything that is beautiful.
Only the essential elements of life,
Spun tightly together by blood and breath,
Could possess the depth to examine whatís true_
Contemplate your pretty events.


Dawn to Dusk

by

J. Todd Boutte

At first the faces change,
but the names are still the same.

At last, names dissipate,
And only the faces remain.


Cloud to Cloud

by

J. Todd Boutte

Somewhere tonight,
At the far end of this thunderstorm,
A beautiful woman sits and waits
In the softness of the rain_
In awe of the light show_
Listening to the tremble in the wind.
And she believes that,
For all its strange glory,
The thing would turn and kill her.


Go On

by

J. Todd Boutte

Go on ---
Go on and strike me again.
Smite my face with the backs of your hands.
No one here asked what I'd done,
But you all came running at the first sight of blood.

My smile?
My smile is no defense,
But all that needs to be said:
Returning kindness for every blow ---
Heaping hot coals on your murderess heads.


Jealousy

by

J. Todd Boutte

Tonight,
heís there with you ---
Iím hilltops and valleys away.
Jealousy
is an ugly word, but
How can I convey,
"I miss you.", and,
"Iím just a man.
My heartís not made of stone.
I love you, but
Heís with you, and
Iím sleeping here alone.


Room 205

by

J. Todd Boutte

I walked past the old place yesterday, and
It's very much the same.
The curtains still hang in the window where
I kissed you for the first time.
And I starred at that window for a long, hopeless moment,
Expecting a glimpse from another dimension,
Still clear and close and would seem forgotten to all --- except myself.

Standing, starring I recalled the innocence of that first night.
So soft was the touch --- it was a real touch.
And you and I lived for each others breath, and
In fear of the sun coming much too quickly,
Leaving us empty, like the room that still sits behind the curtains
Where I kissed you for the last time.


The Hermitage

by

J. Todd Boutte

Deep in the corridors of my mind
Youíll find a little room for you.
A little room with a fastened door,
And your latent nameplate upon it in gold.
At times, while wondering these lonely halls,
Iíll stand here at your threshold.
Thinking of all you meant to me then.
Opening your door just enough to peer in,
To see your picture and remember when
I called you here and built these walls.
At times, I wonder what might have been
Had you stayed here in this special place.
I struggled so long to create a world
For the perfect way I thought of you.


I, Heretic

by

J. Todd Boutte

There was a dull thud---
And then, no pain.
Only numbness swelling-up
In my brain.

It seemed to suggest
A predetermined consent
To what I would normally regard
As insane.

But as the thought grew,
My head split in two---
For that cavity could not hope
To contain

So large of an issue
In so fragile a tissue---
And then,
A peacefulness came.


Unanswered

by

J. Todd Boutte

In another life, I used to lie
awake at night and pray...
And pray for God to fill your head
with warm, fantastic things:
With pictures and with syllables...
with a touch or the taste of my mouth.
With the wet smell of hair from the day
That we played in the rain and embraced.


Miles Asunder

by

J. Todd Boutte

Indifference was the first step down.
From there, paths split and wound
By way of different hills and
Different meadows.
Shallow springs and
Deeper summers.
And at times, if youíre looking just right,
You may catch a glimpse of that other path
At Christmas or on birthdays.
But itís never quite the same as when
The road split in the woods, beside
The tree where you carved your names.


Evanescence

by

J. Todd Boutte

It is not as easy thing
To take a life.
The body wants to hold
Onto the soul, until
That last gasp. . .so sweet.
"Forgive me," falls
From your crooked mouth
With no teeth.

Provided youíll be lucky enough
To have lasted.
If not, I suppose,
You can take your chances
With an ad-lib phrase
Iíve heard people make
Just before their
Big surprise ending came.


Beads

by

J. Todd Boutte

Countless, they ran from my head:
Inquisitions of paradox red_
Catechisms of a great river
Kept restricted for too many years.

And they pooled near the end of my tongue,
Became cohesive, and fell like blood.
So I gathered them onto paper, and
Sent them away for you to dismember.


This I Ask

by

J. Todd Boutte

There should be no weeping
If I gently turn away
To some more surreal existence
Through some unexpected method. No,

There should be no weeping
If you find my tattered heart
Has abandoned all ambition
To sustain another day.


A Greater Distance

by

J. Todd Boutte

There was a collision of two, great worlds,
And part of you stayed here with me.
Residue of a years futile energy spent
Which bitters my mouth in this respite of love.

No act of cajolement could address these wounds
As pieces of my world go drifting with you.
Leaving craters and canyons to dust and despair,
Where once, enamored mountains rose high in the air.


Criminal Acts

by

J. Todd Boutte

Explain to me the crime of
my wanting to see you?
Not to hold you --- for I know I cannot.
Just to catch your momentum from
the far end of a room.

Not to touch you --- for I know I cannot.
Just to detect your fragrance from
the far end of a room.
And to turn, seeing you turn away
one half-second too late.

Any room would do for me now.
Perhaps you could come to visit
on a Tuesday or a Thursday night_
Safely place from contact by
Steel rivets and a thick, glass plane.


Darker Places

by

J. Todd Boutte

There is something evil loose in this house,
And I can hear it laughing at me.
I can feel it when I turn my face---
Bony finger pointed at my back.

I know it sleeps beside my bed, and
Speaks softly to me as I sleep:
"Fool. . . fool. . . ", the words ring through,
Like chains being dragged around in my head.

And at morning, Iíll sit and ponder it
While it hides in my darker places,
For fear waking pupil may catch a glimpse
Of one of itís many faces.


My Old Home

by

J. Todd Boutte

Hush, be quiet! The winds have subsided,
And theyíve blown the old shutters closed!
You will not find an open door.
The walls and woodwork creek no more.
Only a certain coldness seeping up through the floor.
The storm is past. The house is black.


Impacts

by

J. Todd Boutte

My first memories of life are death,
So I became quite adept at
Making sense of chaotic events and
Tucking them away in my brain.

At five, I didn't think much about it,
But at six I could read through the lies...
Having chased red lights to hospital wards
And told that little men don't cry.

Adults don't think children contemplate
The coming and going of life.
What right had I, before turning nine,
To question God in His sky?

What privilege had I, before turning ten,
To address the mortality of men?
I was no more a child than experience allowed,
And death settled then what I've become now.


It Never Goes Away

by

J. Todd Boutte

Sometimes, as all the others sleep,
I allow myself to think of you...
Knowing I'm a fool ---
Knowing it's hopeless
To hold a ghost for comfort in the darkness.

But, if my mind drifts for that moment
Past all the sad happenings that create my days,
And I see your face
In a shadow --- in a corner ---
Who could judge how I remedy these pains?


Resignation

by

J. Todd Boutte

Iíll remember you for your gentle ways,
because thatís the path I choose_
Iíll speak your name with sweet affection,
because thatís the way fools do_
Iíll recall precious times when you enter my mind,
Iíll tell others that you were my friend.
Iíll turn my face should you cross my way_
Iíll whisper your name when I pray.
Iíve learned there are many wages to hatred,
but there is little profit in love.
Long ago, I decided to die a pauper
with my memories, and worthless thoughts.