Rock-Shaped Heart

Once, my light spilled from my eyes,

Like pinks and reds from dying skies.

Vibrant vestiges of flames,

Forged from the source, no two the same;

A harnessed jewel set in my chest

A prism lighting dark, but just.

I bounded, boundless, winged feet,

Marched melodious to its beat.

I knew which path among the wood

To take, and took, thoughtless, I could.

I sang and soared from Eden cliffs,

Cascading from the bluffing Bliss.

But dusk, it must, and does grow cold.

My molten lava rivers slowed.

The rapids of my heartbeat froze,

Entombed in age by pain, won't flow,

Protest by faintly glowing rose.

And breath by breath I'm growing old.

Yet even Earth still burns, I'm told,

Its starlight twinkling far below,

The only proof her volcanoes.

The only proof I'll ever know,

But Proof's for profiteers, not poets,

Which is my rock-shaped heart's abode.

Yes, even as the ash descends,

And eyes lose sight expecting ends,

The tell-tale sunbursts of my soul

Still warm me so with coals of Hope,

And crack the crust of blackened ice

To dance again as new-born Light.

John Chance Cotti


Chronically Homeless

John Chance Cotti

I think you’ll think me crazy when I tell you that I’m homesick for my homeless days. If you ask me where I’m from in the city, I’d direct you to an intersection, up a paved walkway that buries itself in trees, and blooms into a dirt path. Take a left at the rusted ruins of a bygone civilization and the rest, well, the rest of the way you’d have to earn.

I sometimes have a fleeting fantasy of inheriting a house in the woods, where I could enjoy running water and watch the snow fall in warmth. But I know that, like my path, I would eventually let it shed its imposed form and evolve into the treehouse of its youth, wallpapered in aesthetically pleasing entropy, more nature than schematic. Better to let some citizens take advantage of the ceilings and carpets, I reckon. My fingerprints would leave dirt, not disinfectant. What would the neighbors think? My raccoons don’t mind at all.

They used to scare my girlfriend, which was no small task. She was a warrior, and only half-human. I myself only jumped once, when a large brown bush tensed and thundered off inches from me. It had almost disappeared again before I saw its hooves and snow-white tail. Figures I would be scared by beauty more than bandits.

These days I walk down the street and take in the people like I’m touring the Uffizi, admiring the Davids and Venuses that offer impermeable clues to a distant world, but no conversation. If I’m feeling particularly cheeky, I’ll don a nice pair of jeans and sport coat so I don’t spook the Hipsters as I hunt the newly-gentrified boroughs for leashed dogs to liberate through loving affection. Dialogue with them is effortless and always honest. Sometimes I pity them their people. But puppies need pets too.

I’ve been diagnosed with Loneliness, terminal I’m warned, but that’s not accurate. My friends just don’t speak words. Some of my closest don’t “speak” at all, but their flowers all return, for, they last the winter. That’s loyalty I can rely on. If I can last the winter too.

Therefore, when I visit them, I try hard not to fall asleep in their shadows, knowing when I wake, their starry blanket will promise me belonging and I will never return again to the roaring ocean of still city air. And I have decided. Not yet.

Yesterday I rounded a corner to see the sidewalk set ablaze by sinking sunlight, millions of glinting gems catching the last of the day and sparkling it’s adieu. Every once in a while you’ll stumble into a miracle. Did they intentionally mix the concrete knowing it would become a river of impossible depth? Permanent and passing, dense and diaphanous, beautiful and sad? I let the question float away and slowed my pace to walk on dusklight until it suddenly died, some predestined finite finish that gave birth to just another gray city block.

And I will keep rounding corners, as long as they continue to hold the promise of unexpected beauty, camouflaged like deer, blowing by me, untouchable, but embraced forever by my heart. After all, there are still dogs need petting, and there’s nothing sadder than an uprooted tree.