Deceptive Bypass

The following is a poem displayed as a prompt on The River Muse website:

After Dark
by Luke Prater

She passes him and looks away beyond,
his asking eyes denied, brushed off and lost.
The pavement’s hard and cold, a frozen pond
that fights his shuffling feet through thinning frost.

Another passes quick, want swells and dies;
with sighs, a cab is pulled from Tarmac path.
Outside, a smile of suns; within, demise –
They cannot know a thing beneath my laugh.

The night is lost in blurring lines of white,
and stuck to sticky faking leather seat,
he ponders on the crawling stream of lights,
hands held to window, stroking on the sheet.

The driver’s eyes, a sliver, show the moon;
he takes his fare and winks – I’ll see you soon.

It served as a prompt for a contest, and this is the poem I wrote in response:

Deceptive Bypass

She cannot smell the space

where his residue of sweat and skin loiters.

Aftershave vapors of this mannish phantom,

avoided for skipping window panes.

Her heels hammer rhythmic SOS designs

atop chilled pavement.

Pleas to avoid her sterile façade;

pleas to fracture the veneer.

She’s misplaced her white teeth, locked

personality away in some crushing gap.

Cosseted against frozen waterfalls,

communal conversation, eye contact.

She makes her way through buffered

streets, standing silent on deck for a chance

to ride amongst the urine stains and strobing

lights of rattling cage.

They cannot know a thing beneath her

petrified past.

She imagines tracing lines in frosted glass

with her sister; a sibling drowning in sheets

of opposition and death.

I’ll see you soon.


wasted cycles

It is suspension of time and emotion

It suspends time and emotion

amongst moguls of

pressing           evidence

Obligation becomes emergency

Obligation discharges emergency

Obligation becomes excluding emergency

Strands self in liquid


Talking in cycles   cycles   cycles

circles                       revolutions

circles                       circa revolutions

in manic natures

His reserve bounces

back my reservations

His reserve bounces against

my barring reservations

calming                       less calming

obliterating the

wasps nest at my temple

fearful to admit I’m right

praying it’s all wrong

praying like it’s all wrong


not knowing    what’s beneath

the manhole of madness

Torn between temptation and truth

You throw broken words back

You throw beyond broken words back

in my face    you reciprocate

within this tight space

within this including tight space

Language lost in translation

no dictionary to depict

meanings        given hidden innuendos

flow from transmitted text

of recitation    prestidigitation

Not sure why it’s all wasted

with pugilistic tendencies

eliminate common ground

Blocking an eruption of

innovative    after prophesies

Words stuck between stomach


against sternum

Pushed back behind spleen


What the fuck is thing

What the fuck happened to this thing

What the fuck is alongside this thing

we’ve created

we’ve created between

Standing face to face to face to face

I am your disgrace

I eat your disgrace

I am despite your disgrace

But then you turn

fingers             tangled

in strands        stray hair

at nap along neck

You will to pull back from

chilled words            spit hatred at chest

Eyes     holding moment

Eyes excluding     holding moment


chaos   intensity calling for

peace  pending

You laugh in fits of rhythm

mocking inappropriateness


Transition on behalf of

Your way of making me feel

like the only space in life


that means anything.

is time    moguls of pressing   evidence obligation becomes    self in liquid immobility

talking cycles   cycles   cycles   circles                       revolutions manic       his bounces   back my reservations calming                       obliterating    wasps at my temple I’m right   praying all wrong

knowing           beneath           the manhole madness torn temptation          truth you         broken words    in face            reciprocate this tight space language            lost translation   no dictionary            depict meanings hidden innuendos   flow          transmitted text recitation     prestidigitation Not sure wasted   pugilistic  tendencies common ground blocking eruption   innovative        prophesies words between stomach sternum pushed back             spleen what fuck thing            created face to face to face to face   disgrace but turn fingers                    tangled strands                       stray hair nape neck You pull back   chilled words

spit hatred chest eyes     hold moment         chaos   intensity peace   laugh in fits    rhythm          mock inappropriateness transition your making feel          the space in life anything.


it emotion   amongst  of pressing       evidence obligation emergency   strands liquid        immobility talking cycles   circles              revolutions in natures his bounces   back reservations calming        the    wasps temple fearful right   praying wrong not      beneath           the madness torn truth you back   in  reciprocate within space language translation   no depict meanings        innuendos   flow text of prestidigitation not wasted  with tendencies eliminate ground blocking of   innovative          prophesies words stomach     sternum pushed spleen what thing    we’ve created Standing face I disgrace but turn fingers                  tangled in        hair at neck you from    chilled chest eyes     moment          chaos for peace you rhythm   mocking inappropriateness transition your feel        like life that anything.


Electropositive Elements


Anxiety of metal tongues

lapping at broken bolts

and twisted frames.

These tangled ribbons of snaking slivers


pitched higher             obtuse.

You pump lurches,

ears bleeding fear,

chest of stuttered breath.

Your blurred mantra

with edges worn thin.

Frozen sinew prickles cells,


standing on end.

It is this sense of drowning,

disconnected momentarily.

Your genius shadowing away salted skin.

My sadness drains from your nostrils,


never equalized

Wondering if this scavenger hunt is falsified.



You thought them warts

that warranted a dab or two of

some foul smelling medication

that swore to shrivel and shrink

the toadstools swelling on your hands.

Instead, chromosomes split and shifted

into layered lesions, wooden shingles.

Bark on your arms, waiting for fall leaves

to leave behind their seasonal marks.

They relay a lengthy scientific name expecting

you to remember how to mention it between

stares and fears and jaws dropping.

Musing Discourse

Tangled strands

wrap, merge

S t a g g e r through kaleidoscope vision


Vibrating deliberate melody

theory,                        philosophy

in intervals

A cadenced revolution

Figure eights spaced between

Chalk lines and dust and depth and

smoke and mirrors

Forever contemplates this secret space

of sympathetically positioned


Sunrays broken by shadowed vapors

umbrella frayed        metal sprockets

Points judgment like extended digits

pinky pointing out at tea time

thumb travels down clouded road

Wonders when the pieces settle

in the swaying gap.

The Order of Castigation

This guilt is a sentence.

This guilt is a sentence of


This guilt is a sentence of

separation deferred.

This guilt is a sentence of

separation deferred by offense.


This offense is an influence.

This offense is an influence of impact.

This offense is an influence of impact wasted.

This offense is an influence of impact wasted

on youth.


This youth pleaded.

This youth pleaded in panels.

This youth pleaded in panels of activities.

This youth pleaded in panels of activities

and offense.


An offense of force.

An offense of saturation.

An offense of own time.

An offense of friendship.

An offense of trust.

An offense of judgment.

An offense of defense.

An offense of law.

An offense of death.

An offense of impact.


Rectified by raised Bible

for there is manslaughter

Rectified by Sunday

for there is binging.

Rectified by empty pews

for there is blindness.

Rectified by choir

for there is law

mistake wasted mistake conviction mistake accident mistake alcohol mistake probate mistake passenger mistake drink mistake world    mistake…isn’t free

Religious sentence

Judge him prior.