AJ Almeda


This soft turtle shell I call my home

It shivers and cracks and can’t help but crumble

In the late frost

A hushed awakening

This soft turtle shell I call my home

Becomes flour on my fingers and smoke in my eyes

Wrapping and warping

A chrysalis concealing

Because when the rain hits my stomach, my legs, my face

When the earth swallows my back

When I am held by my own branches

I am only this bubbling flesh

And you, on some dimension

I am only reminded of the air in my lungs, between my atoms

Everything is empty space except for



At the crest of something beyond

The teloi of my years have never been a name

Since my name hid in fragments of the past

Persisting yet lost without the same, as well

As I am able I clutch it to my head across waters and words

No longer spoken

My career is in translation, transition, transubstantiation

In this transaction I am the buyer

And I am the seller and creator

And I am the spectators waiting for a profit or some show

While I’m transfixed on the self in my hand

It consumes and sunders every particle simultaneously

I have transcoded into a snail and an armadillo

And my home is the dust in the air when it falls

My home is learned and evolved

My home tilted my chin up to sigh:

Cry out in pleasure and agony with this day

You have wrought

Young and ancient in your lungs

And shriek for all your pining will rive time from

My home shoved me to my knees to scream:

Beg for the flowers and fruits you have destroyed

Clumsy as you are

Crushing cities with every stumble

And plead for what your vessel will twist us into

(Or, thinking of you, I could have dreamt it all)

You vivisect my old body as I dissect my present one quickly enough to hand it over

What you have found there is at worst for keeping

There’s value in bacteria, I suppose

You climb into my old body as I take the measurements of my future one slowly

I need this one to sculpt the dust just so

In the shape of an alluring carapace

You tear my old body back to stardust as I watch myself become a crab

Wasn’t this inevitable in this kind of plane, I think

As I throw myself into the pot

Here the lightning is festering

The thunder sobs outside

I am gifted their necks as I exit

& if I fix you

& if I fix you I will be able to fix me too

I’m sorry your vivisection is a necessity

I know your pain for I have felt it

Ever since I noticed the stakes sticking out of my chest

When I ramble it is not quite enough to tell everyone

When I write it is too much to tell anyone

& I have convinced myself that I have convinced myself

To love hitting the ground

I have danced with the fall since the first

Have you ever fallen

Have you ever wanted this way

Have you ever been saved by yourself several thousand times too many

I have

Something in your reflection

I stole it when I saw you

Or maybe our souls intertwined before we were trapped in flesh

You stare up at me in the water

& when I bend down to drink

You stay

No longer still

But whole

But slowly flowing back

& when I bend down to drink

I cannot drink you in like my mind does through my eyes

So I submerge myself in you

I merge myself with you

As you disappear as I disappear into you disappear into me

I have convinced myself to love drowning

& call it breathing

I have convinced myself to love inflicting

& call it martyrdom

When I hit the ground I keep going

Terminal velocity bends to my will

In this harder falling I always hit the ground

Again & again & again & again &

I’m sorry your screams are a necessity

Does it help if I scream with you

Again & again & again & again &

Healing hurts worse than the wounds it seals up sewn away

I know this truth for I have made it

Up in my worse state of mind all up out of picked off scabs

I seasoned my body with scars with skin with shaking hands

Though I will bend until your death to be steady as I season yours

Slowly so you will still be holy

The sin at my side will stay back as it grows

To know it will soon lower me no longer

When I wither it will be with the intent to kill someone

Yet neither of us will die

& if it cleans us I will be able to kill us too

Lament for a Lake

I sat next to a lake last night

In my mind

I tried to fight

To find

A break above one of my loves

She shattered

It mattered to those who never saw

True ever afters calling

Falling for

The raw and calm molten core

But for now I will be simple

These pages I hold are not holy

As the words relayed on them are

My destruction sleeps

Have you ever written by a body of water

Your body melting back into the air

Whether still or churning

The surface reveals whatever you’re thinking

And all of a sudden the words can’t help but flow

And crash into each other

Until you are drowning and have to stop

But you don’t want to

Have you ever written by a body of water

And stopped to ponder how clean it really is

Its liquid slithering through your fist

And suddenly you become a fish

Knowing nothing but the fluid around you

Words dripping off the page onto the ground

Or up toward the sky

Spelling out the definition of the clouds

As just more moisture

Have you ever written by a body of water

Wishing you were somewhere else

Because maybe a forest would free inspiration

Because maybe a city would send new ideas

And then you decide sitting aside is not enough

So you tip a single finger in

And it becomes you

And the rest are indistinguishable particles

As you float in history itself

Formed anew to fit your paper and your mind

Stretching beyond your heart to the horizon line

We were never meant to reach that tenuous thread

Tying sky to ground like a spider’s web

But we are meant to chase it

And that unsatisfaction feels like the closest we get

To hell

Or whatever

At least we know

Heaven will be sublime

If our denial of the stars

Could blink them out of existence

Wouldn’t you want to create them with a touch of your hand?

Wouldn’t you want to breathe a life into being?

Wouldn’t you want to love?

Why do you seem so cruel

In this consuming flood of ourselves

I have bereaved and become

of and above and beside you

If I would want to love so dearly

Why do you

Why do we

Not hold each other dearly

Or at least externally


And simply love?

Reflection & Bisection

There’s a line between




But it’s finer than you think

Because you think

You have given me the world

Wrapped in a smile

Unending for miles

And miles and miles

Of dimples and curls

Everything perfect

Even imperfections

That line the sparkles in ridges

They only serve to

Just make sure you

Leave all that is good


I know nothing

It’s plain as the page I

Supposedly gifted to you

To tell me what to do

I don’t recall that stage I

am forgetting something

You really do know nothing

Of what I need or want

Each laugh is a taunt

And each smile a jab

At the idea that I once had

Something slightly good

Here I am

Take my hand

Tell me what my purpose is

Is this life and

Can I just be through with it

There you are

Like a star

Shining burning epitaphs

Poetry in

A fading touch of Midas’s grasp

Should I love


This hate

Is this

Rightly earned


My fate

I feel your laughter on my tongue

It sits there like

A precious gem

A stone I cannot swallow

For fear of choking

Where has my own laughter gone

I swear I had it once

Are these even my thoughts or



This blade

This iron hue

Hurtles me right back to


Fawning flowers

Bleedings hearts

They all reflect in


Cold and controlled and

Desperate to feel

I don’t know how to tell you who I am

Because I’m afraid

It won’t align

With who you want me to be

Because I’m afraid

I will be wrong

And you will have to correct me

Because I’m afraid

Above all else

I’m not sure who I am myself

About Easter, 2021

the sun spoke to me today

just a whisper

she said,

“it’s a lovely thing, to be alive,

to burn, and be alive,

to love and love and love, and be alive,”

I flinched back into the shadows


and asked,

“what if I don’t live to do it some more?

what if I don’t get that love beyond love

the life beyond being alive?

what if I only feel the fire that sears instead of heals?”

and the shadows were cool and calming

comfortable and comforting

like laying in a bed in a tomb

where you knew people were praying for you

and the sun felt exhilarating

fierce and reckless and all consuming

like moving how you were meant to

freely for the first time in this fracture of eternity

the sun looked to me

my skin

and knew,

“there is no fire that only does one of the two,


will you touch it or

let it touch you?”

she was living and burning and

she is a lovely one to watch burning alive

her dance, to be alive


the sun

had no bounds

the shadows 

are my bounds

like a hound discovering hunger

and the instinct to kill it and kill

I broke the beads at my waist

and snuffed out the sun

she was still burning when I got back

maybe I’ll sing her song tomorrow

in the light


if we fall into rumor

let us

we do not have to be remembered

let us fizzle out as embers

it cannot erase today’s flame

all names in stone will crumble

to a force we will never meet

but silence has never meant and will never mean defeat

we do not need to pen our history in sacred tomes

or last in legend recounted in every home

there are enough icons of more and less than this soon to be bygone

breath and passion

thought and connection


if we remain relics of the past

then past that are never found

let us go

we are fine in the unknown

slowly saving life for secrecy foretold

but never spoken of for fear of breaking wills

taking up our time

ever unafraid in the face of legacy

cherish anonymity with me

explode into obscurity

the tree does not need to be heard to fall

we are the life of today that calls the death of tomorrow with relish

no chronicle contains every root rested or sustained


a song unsung to all but one

is the soul of its composer

existence will look to the left of us and sigh

pleased though scorned and passing by what we have not left of us

never being as the one between us is

even each docile caress all visceral vigor and mesmerizing intensity

power frantically and frankly savored to the millisecond and half atom

we will not mourn as memory grieves

as stars are to supernovas are to nothing

if we are to be the only witnesses to each other

let us

we will know each other wholly

in a way they could never dream


Throughout the day and darkest night

Through fields of famine filled with blight

And through the seas that surge with light

I will keep still

Without fear

I breathe and still

I am here

I see the peach tree’s battle call

I hear the deer’s meek leap and fall

I know the sparrow’s low set shawl

Of feathers and leaves

Ever strong

I breathe and leave

Behind wrong

The river rings out a sigh of relief

The wind whispers aphorisms true and brief

The divine and I form a stretched webbed reef

Connecting rain

With the earth

I breathe and reign

With all worth

I wave well wishes to the sun

I keep the response wherever I run

I feel the within and without as one

To love our kind

Ever true

I breathe and kind

Words wrap you

A pulse of energy awakens anew

A thought of synergy uniting a view

Of only me and only you

Engrossed in the current

Life affair

I breathe and the current

Strengthens there

Wondrous words cannot bend to describe the

Wonderful sparks that always preside a

Wondering audience to never override the

Permanent address

Of our hope

I breathe and address

The high slope

So now I say to close your eyes

So as to know the enlightening rise

So opening yet somehow not a surprise

A refreshing bank

Of clean snow

I breathe and the bank

Ebbs and flows

Do you see all the hidden treasure

Do you know how hard it is to measure

Do you understand the untapped pleasure

Lying in rays

Of the sun

I breathe and raze

Down to none

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