the difference a year makes
we were reminiscent of the starlets,
satin skirts on babydoll bodies,
stolen eyes under elegant names.
we were the soft hum when the movie came on,
you the warm breeze | i the anxious knee
and we barely spoke yet
in the pools of silver saturation,
where the ashes of burnout pile and fade
you would be there
to smoke an apology,
to roll up a goodbye.
collections from new york after a long night
boyish. boy-ish. thing come alive. the warmth
flaring in the pit of your stomach, it could be
desire, if you wanted. you are a woman, after all,
after all, you are a dove, you are a god, the music,
the tongue in cheek and on cheek, the love
hidden in the wall on a wednesday. so afraid
of becoming something that it already is. afraid
of tenderness: afraid of its flesh peeled back
like an orange, afraid of the bruises underneath
the silk dress. after all, you are the city at night
full of lovers pouring forth from their doorways,
you are the windows flung open as if the moon
was always the only answer. boy not-bird, regrettably.
girl not record-player not spinning too fast to breathe.
and fear, fear, fear, trembling in corners like a jazz band.
tapping their fingers. love incarnate working an office job.
all of us doing something to get by. we’re afraid of something
and we’ve shoved it away: our kindess and hope taking up space
in the air vents. the storm brewing in your hands, it could be
tenderness, low and sweet. this is a promise i am making to you.
this is advice about that monsoon crawling up your wrists.
it could be tenderness, a song, gentle rainfall, yes woman.
who are you to tempt a sea of untold truths and beg for knowledge?
moonlight whispers against your collarbone, all but silent silk sticking to milky-white skin / you feel it, rather than see it / you do not remember how you arrived here. nevertheless, it does not matter: the drumming of waves beyond your ears and between your lips will act as your guide.
your breath catches in your throat, and you almost laugh because / you realize / like breath, what is essential for life is both abundant and precious, until it’s neither. will you risk that to plunge under waves of uncertainty for a glimpse of omniscience?
your eyes flutter under closed lids. / what is hidden hides for a reason / and perhaps this choir of waves crescendoing below deserves privacy. perhaps not. you do not know.
you open your eyes
well-worn waves dine on the stars with jagged teeth. you think you see something under the scraps of scattered reflection adorning the surface, but perhaps it’s all / abyss /
neptune calls to you with saltwater knives. licking your toes. stinging your knees / red / raw / wrapping frostbitten shadows round your waist. barnacles nip at the soles of your feet like impatient hounds.
you create ripples in the water as you wade further. you think: maybe the ocean is communicating through cryptic metaphors. the water is silent. you receive no answer tonight.
you hold your breath
there is this unspeakable fear that pulls on your wrists like rusty chains, pulls on your neck like slowly-numbing fingers, / yet / you’ve been taught not to let your knees buckle under the crippling weight of a shivering midnight. and so /
you drop your robe. slithering down your shoulders, fluttering lifeless behind you, carried away by conspiratorial waves. exposing you to a midnight jury, luminescent skin rubbed / red / raw / by icy water. dawn is far from the horizon, so you hope this inky wetness below, this cavern of nothingness, will be your guardian.
i discovered love in the kitchen sink on a tuesday. i discovered love while
slicing oranges and laying them out for you. i found god when i looked up
at the sky and realized i was lost, and all the pinpricks of stars felt like
holes that had been poked so that i could breathe. i discovered god
on the hottest day of the summer, and he looked like your house,
and his heart looked like a kitchen where popsicles sat melting
on the counter. i’d like to make something out of this. i’d like to
tell the world all the things i am discovering all the time. i’d like to
put on a backpack and travel the world or your heart or the laundromat
and come back empty-handed and full of sweetness. i’d like to drive down
the coastline. i think i could discover hope at the gas station on a sunday.
i think that hope is a thing that wears your clothes, and smells of oranges,
and hums along when mitski plays on the radio. i want to tell the world this.
i want to tell the world that there is so much to be found here. i want to keep hope
in the passenger seat and make sure that it gets enough air. i want to drive it home
and deliver it to you and roll down the windows on the way so that everyone sees.
i found this, giving off light in the dusk. i found it. i found hope in this place.
cats and other absurd notions (escapril day 9)
rotten rotten air
down on my neck.
sour metal glints like stars and
blood under floodlights
(or does it? and if it does or if it doesn't then why
does it and why doesn't it?)
and there is something
pale light enters
around the edges-
and gets sucked into the
(can the dark suck in the light?
and if it can or if it can't then why
can it and why can't it?)
& there is something cruel
about the way nails
scratch grey metal
and how it screams back
the fragility of the air is breathtaking
& there is is something odd
about the way yellowgreen lights
press against my nostrils
and how this dying night smells
(can something so alive reek so
outrageously of death?
and if it-
no. when does it end?)
& what happens if
the walls crumble down
before the life in me
seeps out through my eyes.
and i feel it
erode out of me-
cold cold blood
runs in my veins
and i feel my insides
dry up to a crisp;
but surely, this is death.
or is it? and if it is.
your body speaks of fire and does not live long enough to tell the truth.
of singed-amber hair that caught the sun too many times,
eyes stained merlot
and hips that still know their burn marks.
when the spark of friction between skin lights,
you offer your kisses like kindling
and we speak in tongues.
we are crumpled bodies, paper
at fahrenheit 451.
but why is your heart still
i cannot breathe when i think of
your smiles crosshatched in smoke,
bedsheets left tangled, unsaid words
spilled like ashes from a cigarette.
my matchbox maiden, why do you speak
of promises you cannot keep?
we could be the sun, you the light
and i your rays. but how can i reach you
when your words turn away?
my fever dreams rewrite our reality into something beautiful,
make something from nothing
and too late i am realizing
that nothing collapses in on itself.
your body speaks of fire because it cannot say anything else.
you cannot tame the beast
but it chases you anyway.
because you, darling,
are my matchbox.
spring / de nuevo
bloody moon swells over hill street & it’s red & red & red.
sky wilts like flayed pig skin & it’s red.
air rises thick & sweet & slippery & it’s red like hard candy.
peppermint stripes in cellophane.
a girl lives on cedar lane in the basin of a kettle stained scarlet.
the motorcycles spit & the corn crows cough & the streetlamps
always shake all scratched and yellow. grandma’s rose wallpaper is
peeling & april is a storm.
mosquitoes buzz in pools of honey on granite & cigarette smoke
curls from lakeside sewers. again & again & again the
sky glows red in the night & again the girl watches. listens. interstate
ripping through alleyways & december soup gone cold.
sun like a wailing baby. sun like a bloated cantaloupe, sun like
a quarter crushed under a rainboot, she says. not a metaphor anymore,
not some great big belly of some great big beast. just red.
she sees another girl in the storefront window in may & the
fat skin on her cheek billows raw. she bites her bruised
gums. purple & purple & purple. bush plane barrels overhead
& the city air stinks of salted braise & chicken broth.
the june fireflies are humming elegies in sticky rain. they tell
her it’s a sin & the girl is a ghost. teetering a line. here and there.
when you say one word over & over & over
again it looses its meaning.
so she shouts, she screams. redredredredredredredredredred.
dull red. bright red. red like candy. red like blood.
red like how they say it’s a sin. red like home.
red like how spring comes again & again & again (de nuevo, mi amor).
red like how everything goes back to where it comes from someday.
perhaps into the belly of some great big beast.
dreamscape awash in blue
we stood on the bus as the downpour flooded
in & in
the windows wept, and for once we understood
something about their cold glass hearts. the way they
watched & listened. you clung to me like a stray cat
who had found its owner again, and for once i understood
the hunger of the animal. looking down at you and wanting to think
of nothing but the water. our clothes clung to our backs
like matted fur in the cold wash of the stoplights.
unforgiving. turning every person to ice. the winter came
and froze our hands over, so we forgot the shape of our own bodies.
we closed our mouths to keep our hearts warm. mother nature
wired her jaw shut. stopped telling us stories
of flowers & birthings & brightness. in the middle of the night
i awoke, and i pressed my fingers to your wrist to remember
we were alive, and the summer bled warm and sweet within.
We turn temptation into reality in the heady night air. The cherry wine loaned from pantries that aren't ours comforts our evening sorrows, and we hoard every other drop like it's gold and we're Golem. We flash adolescence with every smile, as close to happy as any of us have ever known. Starlight cradles us and the moon rocks us in place of the magicians that didn't quite raise us. And we all understand that curiousity is an innately human trait so we hardly bother to brush off the feeling of l'appel du vide when we get too close to the edge of the building. It's not romanticism; it's a coping mechanism. It makes our poetry turn into three pages, single-spaced, no paragraphs that would make our old English teachers feign sickness to get out of grading it. So yeah, we all burned out in eighth grade and have been resting on Hephaestion's last laurel for the last half a decade. All Icarus, all falling. Clutching frayed rope with no end in sight, we cling to hope because it's all we've got left. Buckets of broken dreams are dumped out as we catch moonlight in our open fists, and it stays there. It's not curious or waiting for the perfect opportunity to fly away. We all know the feeling of being the weakest dragonfly in the garden and having your last hope be a closed fist. Our sentences are too long; our minds too rampant with excessive pressure and fear, and- I'd like to go home, but the last beam of sunlight shoots Apollo's last-thrown discus over the horizon, and we all inhale because, god, if that isn't breathtaking. Like getting punched in the gut, we all clutch our throats and stare. Such a pretty view to cry to. Our hands, ashy and frail and always shaking no matter the circumstances, look like searchlights trying to find a rhythm that dancing to doesn't feel like a last surge of energy from a terminal patient. The intrusive thoughts overwhelm the beat, but we keep swaying until the sun rises, casting shadows on our cheekbones and painting the world golden. It's times like these that make dying irrelevant because on the bad days when it seems like the only fair option on a multiple choice question, the afternoon rendezvous that turn into midnight memories make the universe crystal clear such that we all realize that process of elimination dictates it is a fool's error. On the good days that follow, we can barely remember why the sadness set in, and if we can, we realize that the happy days far outnumber the bad ones.