Selections from Poems 1-36 Zackariah Quillan Retraces. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A poetry collection by Zackariah Quillan. Illustrations by Zackariah Quillan (for now.) This collection is a representation of a constant cycle in my life, and the lives of many others - a cycle of the heart awakening, and the individual reaching out to join the world around them. A world that is new, made up of the past, reshaped in novel and unfamiliar ways. The exploration is through and throughout oneself, leading the individual down routes their internal predecessor may have never considered - and as one reaches out to new places, experiences, people, and feelings, the old trappings and abandonments return in waves, encapsulating the heart piece by piece with every hiccup along the way, looping the reaching of the mind back in and around on itself, tying into knots, compressing, and finally closing its eyes once again. These poems were written over the last two years of my life, from 2019 to 2021, and their assemblage together within these pages comes for me at the beginning or the ending of the cycle, depending on wherein your perspective lies. They are presented within chronological order, and through their arrangement I find the steps of this emotional cycle to be self-evident and illustrating. So, I invite you to step into your shoes through my own, to contextualize your experience through the crystallization of mine, and find a future through the retraces of the past. No. 1 i think it's the way that the sky melts in colors, all reds and blues and yellows and purples like some foul blooming bruise, welts raising from days spent waiting for things to get better, i think it's the way that the muggy day air clings to my hair like how it did waiting for your car, or the cool night fog sticks to my skin like walking in the moon to where you waited for me that night, and the difference being that now i smile, and now i feel free to feel how i smile at rain splashing into puddles, to be reminded not of tears in some endless voracious bowl but instead of healing mists, sprayed upon the sinning masses, begging for repentance and receiving from a kind and merciful god, that sparks this new start forwards. No. 2 each lapse counting the seconds between the next battery. love is a little bit like but love isn't like the battery - when the waitress comes to bring you your food love is like the stones the waves embrace, and then she turns towards another table. how they ever so slowly wear away, decay, love is a little bit like and expose to all who care to yin and yang, how they circle, glance its core. endlessly in conflict, hellbent between love is a little bit like polar opposites that pull inexorably god, in how it so freely it takes and gives away, towards one another. letting you bask in its glory and be left out standing cold in whipping winds it's a little bit like the way and lashing rain. that the sun sets after a long day, leaving the entire world love is a little bit like in dusk and darkness spattered with life, in the way that it starts and stops pinpricks of light. so suddenly, how it immerses you, feeds air to your lungs, and finally presses it all but it's also in the way from your chest. that the sun rises again, piercing the umbra of dark, letting its rose love is a little bit tendrils reach out and caress that cold ailing heart stupid. a little bit of soil and stone. ignorant. love is a little bit like love is a little bit the way that waves crash against the bank, frigid. yet love is day in and day out like a heartbeat, a lot-a-bit intense. No. 6 sometimes, i’ll fill the sinks up with hot water, and i plunge my hands in down to the wrists. i like to pretend that the heat, the creeping, the burn, that travels up my nerves is the warmth of your hand on mine, that the fire that i feel is the fire of passion lasting, that it’s vigor, excitement. but it's not. it's hot water. and my hands hurt. and you're still so, so far away. No. 7 high aboves the seas of green and deep below trees' canopy, there floats on wings swift, unseen a bird that seldom sings. though through the forests calls do ring and boughs weigh down with aeries, this one flits here to there and seldom seems to sit. where others eat on bugs and berries, eagles large hunt small canaries, this one dines far out of sight and seldom ever seems to fight. and as the day turns into night and creatures scope their sleeping sites, there is a bird flying high that seldoms seems to reach the sky. No. 9 long day's night, and though the sun sets low, slow and early, and oft i've battled cold wind's bite, i still shiver, yearning for the intermittent pools of light, i light another cigarette and think of where i’ll stand, on side streets, near shopping malls, by signposts and speedways, i'll light another cigarette, the sound ringing clear of coins in cans, hopeful helpers reaching out to frozen languid hands. No. 11 dusk goes on and into dawn back to dusk and on beyond. i sometimes seem to see your face in window-panes from sunbeams strange, wishing you were here to see the way shit’s changed. but life rolls on and on and on into death and into song onto verse, up in smoke, thinking back to things i couldn’t know about, and the ending that i’d wrote. red light streetlight headlight pouring, pooling on the windshield, sleet pounding on streets, streets still remain still and free. movement, if there at all, goes hidden, unseen, stalking the night with the sight of doppler beams set out teams in ones and twos and threes. a shadow of a shadow, sounds as echoes far away, leave nothing left and not a trace by break of day, leave not one right unturned and not one safe place to stay, and take all of their words, so there is nothing left to say. No. 16 ah shit - it's there again, a gripping fear washing over - waves and beaches. see it now - and watch it turn looks to sneers snarls, snares - faces to leeches. oh fuck - its gone again just as quick as it came - picking up pieces. to see it now - and look back, and back it stares, stares, stares - gone, nothing there. No. 17 i most love the look of lavender and how it looks on you, so pale and muted, gentle soft. a splash of color, so slight, and quietly it turns to a puddle, a pool, a rush, a wave, leaving me stranded upon my isle of you. so salty should these waters be, but instead they taste so clear and blue, the place is warm, but with no sun, and i think i'd like to never leave, but just when my head hits the sand, there will be somewhere a ship, searching hard and fast over water, and off i'll go away, away so slowly for today. No. 18 I. the dirt under a shoe trailed forward on and on, and trailed quickly anon anon and up beyond. II. with the name summer comes chill of winter, and so i let the fall air spring forth to fill my lungs while it lasts. III. a space in time i'd sooner forget, and if you put the choice on a button, id push it again and again and again, let the thoughts swirl about and vacuum from the top to the bottom of the bowl. No. 20, or, “Three Love Poems.” Opening stanza of Mvmt. III courtesy of Hannah Fischer. I. III. you fill my heart you're lovely; with your hand, i don't want to and although the use a period heart is further because than a stones throw, i don't want to i'll settle for stop talking filling my hand about you. with your own. but where i feel II. i cannot say enough, you've chosen to, sometimes we kiss without a word, and i know that illustrate the people like to say margins of 'less is more,' my mind well, whatever. and fill you're a good kisser. the space between the disparate things with ideas that are more sweet and divine. No. 22 delicate like the bomb, i'll carry us piece by piece to someplace where we may grow and twine together from the bottom, keeping peace not pace, and someday when we've grown again to fill the holes between us, maybe then we'll rest and fall into a place where we belong. No. 23 i wish to be bitten by a deadly adder that melts flesh to bone, bone to heart, and breaks my chains to you. No. 24 i wish that i knew how to ask for help/ to say i'm sorry/ to let shit go/ to pick the pieces up again. i wish that i could tap into your sound, the inaudible music of the spheres that so often breaks my heart. i wish i could learn to sit still again/ or at least for my brain to stay wherever i set down. i wish that i knew how to tune myself like strings/ like a production machine and shut it down/and strum a chord and watch it wash away. No. 25 i haven't left this bed for days as far as i can tell. i'm feverish; i can't eat, and neither do i sleep, instead i let it gnaw me, until i'm about to burst, until my upset stomach vomits out my heart and the vision that i see of you forces me to force it down. i haven't left this bed for days, ridden and riddled with a sickness growing within me, like a cross, like a cacophony the feeling, so close and so far to the feeling of your embrace, wraps around me like a sarcophagus. No. 26, or “Retraces” today i turned my eyes four, eight, to look at the mountains and for a moment and instead i met i was there again: a wall of grey, all encompassing, although i'm not exactly shrouding the visage sure of beauty far away, what it is i though i myself was was, only briskly chill at moments a towering pine and standing still whose trunk slowly my back against the fractures in the dull wind, reverberating sudden cold after back from where all the time it has endured, i'd come. others like the needles, whose points poke and prod i thought of at those birds who what's behind weather the weather that sheer slate in the timebomb, of sleet and storm: and at times again like the rime that sets in on a torrent it all et al. a blitz of white snow racing, rushing as when i blinked again fast as it may i was myself, to blanket the colors my own feet, in valleys one shade, eyes and mind, the freeze and snap and a sudden gust had of frost on sap as broken free the sun, trees pop and casting one sharp ray splinter to rain. through the transmuting curtain, winds whipping i took a step, and winding down, turned my feet slowly letting snow to match my eyes, come to sit still, turned my thoughts letting light begin to match my feet, to melt the frost to dew, and watched one print and leaving lumber corpses to lie turn to two, fragrant of pine. No. 28 a blue sky sweeps softly to transient orange evening, and into blank night. the clouds probably started rolling in around the time the sun hit the dip of horizoned mountains, because the cerulean sea was free and clear of waves earlier in the day (but i guess i wouldn't know because i slept through the change.) No. 29 the words rarely ever come when it would be most opportune leaving me fumbling for ground when you ask to come again to see me, and when it happens there's you: tall and something short of radiant depending on the light, me: clothed in nothing but my anxiety and my nicotine problem, the words will all come rushing in at once, flattening me: pressing my brain to my skull and my skull to the wall. maybe someday you'll get it over with, skip the middleman, and just press my brain to the wall instead. No. 30 the very first time it happens a curtain draws on the heart, blackened velvet ripples rapturous attention from 'them all,' and when the sheet pulls back again the organ's cleaved in two, aorta freed from myocyte bindings; the parasite skitters blood borne over floorboards while the conductor tips their cap, capillary aneurysm spilling and pooling to the pulse of an ovation standing from chairs. No. 32 i would die against the altar, disfigured and traumatized, again and again and a-fucking-gain. i would sink myself upon the obsidian edge to a) know how it feels b) learn just how far the blade would pierce, and c) the blood stain the stone as opposed to: the stone staining the skin as i bruise and blossom. No. 36 i wish that i could sink myself into the mirror's pond, in feetfirst to waves of chrome into silver sheen, frozen cold whisps of smoke off the flipside of home. to look from underneath the surface is what i want the most, to breathe in and out outsider's breath, and so i’d not stop for want of rest, nor food or shade from hot oppress as i’d plunge far down below. down, down the whole time looking back at rays that shimmer and turn to black.