Defining Metaphor

I. A metaphor is a figure of speech
that directly compares two objects
that don’t match until the objects are matches
striking in strong winds, dancing their white-orange
beacons on the top of two-inch lighthouses as
the wind catches fire.

II. A metaphor climbs to the cliffside,
sends a stone sailing,
carefully watching it soar so
it can understand just how birds
don’t fly.

III. A metaphor is a machine gun
loaded with rubber bullets
that drop crowds of innocent onlookers
to their knees because they feel
like something’s pierced them.

IV. A metaphor is letting something
pierce you.

V. A metaphor is dying
so you can learn what clouds
taste like.

VI. A metaphor is a fire
that catches in the trees
you loved when you were young
enough to believe the stars
were nested in the highest branches.

VII. A metaphor is a memory
of the time you told your mother
you loved her because she was
willing to lie and tell you that
you were not an accident.

VIII. A metaphor is an accident
that happens because your father
cared about your mother too much
to stay protected
as he loved her.

IX. A metaphor is a feint that forces
your opponent to look the other way
so you can deck them.

X. A metaphor is your father’s beard
kissing you with scratches.

XI. A metaphor is a bridge
that crumbles as you cross it,
toppling you to the hidden kingdoms
between your destinations.

XII. A metaphor is a broken pen
that spills ink all across your description
of Scotland, but pools in the shape of a map
of Scotland that looks just like Scotland
smelled that rainy Thursday when you kissed
a girl in a graveyard as the castle
watched you from the cliffside,
ready to throw stones that showed you
just how birds
don’t fly.

XIII. A metaphor is a figure of speech
that directly compares two objects
that don’t match until the objects are matches
striking in strong winds, catching the air
in the throat of the boy who looks on
and suddenly understands that when his mother said
“I am so tired of you I could break,”
what she really meant was the weight of how much
he mattered to her was so great that her shoulders
buckled, going taut, teaching her that the world of her heart
was too small for a love as big as the ocean of her son,
that oceans can never be accidents,
that you can never love and keep yourself protected,
that every kiss would scratch her until she threw
her hands toward the too-wide sky
and the wind caught fire.