He said you're beautiful like
black birds on a gray sky or
a tree that's recently died but
holds its last green leaves until
they wither and crack, swept away
by a northern wind bearing his name.
Compulsioni am awed by man's ability to create
in explicit symbolism,
bragging divinity in the face
of yesterday's mathematicians,
a garden on the storyteller's tongue.
IntimacyI asked to be slapped—
and your palm met my cheek
with constraint, cupped to lessen
the ensuing redness, the responsive tears
that welled but only in my left eye.
There are things like tealights
and dinners after midnight that we agree
to be romantic: that we consume
through antique filters, lace
between our fingers, but your palms
sweat when we hold hands
and I've never liked skin webbing,
nor the catch of calluses—
So, I propose to rewrite
a definition: mostly for my sake,
but also for the sakes of others
who have found themselves wondering
if they might be a-something
because they don't like to be touched
softly on the skin
or loathe surprises of any sort,
who would like to make love
then smoke a cigarette,
go for a jog without meaning insult
to the man in their bed—
Because when I asked you to slap me—
I meant to say I trust you,
we landed in oklahoma
and drank cheap martinis in the terminal;
you carried my guitar and fell in love
with my voice but not my tongue,
not my hands.
there's a man with a garage
that looks like a plane because nothing
meant more to him. will you make a model
of that bar? will you make a model
of my red cheeks? or will you live in a townhome
with her and three children?
the problem was you're not gay.
the problem was there was feeling
but it wasn't for us. i had you but
it wasn't for us.
i'm not sure if i resent you,
but i remember that bar and every pockmark
on the stool you sat on while i played
the song that parted your lips;
you remember every pockmark in oklahoma
like they were ours.
He was a boy in his own head,
a galaxy created from winter sunlight
caught between colored panes of glass,
then filtered through thick absinthe curtains
and slivers of cheap jewelry shattered,
knocked from his mother's wrist to attract
swarms of rabid phosphenes and the hollow sound
skin makes when it's assaulted, the proceeding nebula
of violet and sickened yellow and red,
the pleas that made her singing voice pretty
and that man's eyes soften: liquid, halted.
In rapturous observation,
he collected beauty, but beauty
always betrayed him by its falsehood.
MantisI thought I was a kaleidoscope of euphoric perceptions,
a sensual overlap of sixteen color-receptive cones on the acid spectrum,
creator of words to describe what only I could see when those sinews melted,
and the ocean waxed at my backdoor. I was bottom-feeding, heat-seeking,
capturing bent men like stunned seahorses boiling in the rainbow coral,
blinking wake of sonoluminescent dazzlement: tight jeans wrapped around their ankles,
faces blue but bubbling dank blood to their lips that sealed a pseudonym—
Then I was tongue-tied like a victim complex: always the receiver and never the sadist
of an infliction self-invented. I was wordless and mosquito sex stagnant,
playing in kiddie pools I called the Atlantic, wanting to tear a hole in reality or literature,
make the currents foam in the shape of wet letters that curved for my diction,
but I am not powerful: I am a shrimp. Not a writer, not a leviathan—
Though I don't think I've come to terms with it yet,
so I'll just keep br
To His Coy Mistress[es]i. earl and lady grey
you have often graced me with your soft-spoken company, bergamot blossoms adorning your dark hair, fragrant as your steamy exhalations. you remind me of simple home and something untouchably elegant, pale and supple when i dress your skin with pallid cream and soften your thin, graceful hands. on a bleak winter evening, snow glittering by lamplight, you are a royal pleasure: a warm complement.
i will lay you on the finest saris, those embroidered with gold threads and flawless diamonds that shimmer like your black eyes. you are the champagne of my harem, floral yet astringent, fine-boned cheeks seeking nothing less than perfection. your tiger soul knows your worth, seductive and mysterious; in the autumn, you remind me of leaves ripe with color, falling from my desperate touch: a distant lover.
you are the sun's daughter birthed by soil, a celestial soothing who blooms
daliin that second,
(when the sun beat so hard i could hear
every waving particle, see the color before it was
swallowed; i closed my eyes and felt the concrete
blaring, the refracting windows aching, and each
bird crackling in the parched trees, feathers rustling
and beaks clacking, blackness bleached orange and
my hands sought in the silence of my pockets,
imprisoned and pallid like a dog yapping in that hot car)
on the outskirts of joliet,
i saw You between red glowing streams:
weaving the horizon like a tapestry,
recycling gold beads from a pale morning sari,
dyeing blue-violet fever, shivers
leaking from my head down my arms,
resting in my belly beside You—mixing veins in the night,
embellishing the road with thoughts
of creation: You spin a thread and it unwinds,
fraying at the ends where the cars break the asphalt
and i convulse,
spinning out of control—You doe-eyed like the kid
who crashed his mother's car and dies heavy beneath
that semi, stuck in the pitch dark, oil blearing opalescent
under the gaping taillights—streetlights—headlights—
on the outskirts of joliet.
summergirlNow read aloud over here. Do give it a listen, won't you?
you are crowthroated and tumbling
through the aspen grove
hair on fire with sunrise, lungs
full of sky.
eyelashes like wildflowers
and every morning brings
a new spray of freckles
and a sharper curve to your collarbones.
the cornfields hold no shadows
for your lighthouse eyes
and there are no endings in that
ii. you have grown
autumn finds you with broken ankles
leaning on an oak branch
and watching the skies.
crow to sparrow--you are quiet.
summergirl, there is peace in silence,
fallen antlers in your hands.
you will come to mourn your deer.
keep them close.
iii. by winter you have paled,
and like the streams
your eyes have frosted over.
you feel the chill--
there is no need for sight.
ZemiThings having to be returned to their transparency:
/ green mist-earth / knit
atmosphere / fathomless
blue-lavender / lights
spun out from light
are recalcitrance / and you
& - a fingernail of summer
- a melting of rain
- a crown of flowers
- a priest of sunsets
(beautiful? I love you, because. Zemi.
Zemi. are you beautiful because I love
you? Zemi? )
I imagine this is what it's like to breathe sea foam
over the Cliffs of Moher: hydration. absolution.
To Rilke, it's a melody that floods over us
when we have forgotten how to listen for it.
I never could forget this: for how could I know
my hand as both well and chasm? and how could I know
time, a windstruck dimension, standing in her white street?
We go on morning walks and Zemi
laughs at everything I say.
rock bottom, ocean floorhalf-past a different kind of broken
on sadness, she wrote:
blind fool in the umbra
bury yourself in me
on the other side of lonely
and by god, i love you
(maybe i will be a landfill)
everyone i meet looks for a place to stay;
out of the woods, on wet roads
under wind, under rain
-i'm so far away
no wonder it took him 1455 pages
waiting for her to come this way
tramps like us-
in lieu of emptiness
in absence of a poem
(pour a little salt, we were never here)
your heart was a broken sailor
fishing for hearts with lace and not netting;
into the deep end of our story
i saw god leaving the shore
It starts with a flash-bang and a Majulahi.
June's hauled her here again and
she's tapping at my classroom window,
A gazillion tiny fingers rapping in succession
(When she said "invitation" I didn't realise she meant
soaking half the country, the spike in umbrella prices has
nothing to do with me)
What's worse than an impatient child
is one with the whole atmosphere as her battering ram
when she tries to say something the urgency brims over
and one million exclamation marks
is beginning to sound like static frazzling
out on the pavements
She is without choice: when Cloud mother tips her out
she must go, and go she will
caught in an obtuse cycle, fought over by heat and
gravity wanting to claim her as territory
thrown about in their wiggly intersections she
falls, rises, and falls again.
Her talent is splitting herself up,
a single place, and then everywhere at once.
She has mastered the skill to the point
that she is a fractal in the air
even before she hits the ground.
She is a cell in a body 66 percent water.
She is a s
shhhwe are lurking too close to jesus,
on the empty edge of a lightless stage,
curved nails digging into the skin of our pale palms.
he asks as an afterthought
do you believe in something holy? and i think yes,
i think this is what i believe in.
insomnia to keep you closefalling asleep with the windows
open, with morning curling
around you like a drop of blue
ink in a glass of water,
turquoise and unwritten;
remembering when early dawn
was a secret you kept
in a soft, aortic pocket—
your dead lighter spinning
to the floor of Lake Ontario,
a halo of its bygone, synergetic flame.
Vishnui. (matsya - fish)
in the beginning, there was silver;
mercury inscribing cuneiform
beneath the bloodwork of your skewed scales,
throughout salt-drenched lungs.
and you laced clear planets into your slipstream,
wrapped solar systems in translucence.
ignoring all the shattered galaxies. ignoring
how easily their frail orbits
ii. (kurma - turtle)
your ribcage screamed a shattered warcry
of not-quite-god and less-than-human;
a shark's-tooth carapace crushed in.
forgotten names clawed out your sternum.
your spine fused into your biting back.
iii. (varaha - boar)
razor-wireless shrieked of true tales
thieved by midnight's neon-tripped true bones.
gunshot eyelids half-horizon,
you rose, arpeggio
iv. (narasimha – half-man, half-lion)
he walked like christian gods on holy
breaking waves of children's bowed backs.
a crooked tooth inside you turned,
crucified his smug steel-gray blue.
v. (vamana - dwarf)
eras of electrons scratched
themselves into your heels
with thanks to salingerAudio version.
it's on those cold mornings
when you are nothing but indrawn breath
swirling and knitted up inside too-big
skin and weightless bones--
when the horizon arches up against
the half-thawed tendrils of sunrise
with golden teeth,
and smiling, begs--
it's on those cold mornings
when leaving is easiest.
the car will be cold, and you will
shiver, and the engine,
much too loud,
will smack of blasphemy
but you will find peace in the steady roll
of tarmac and the yellowing light
spilling across it,
with dust motes kicked up and carried
like fish in the undertow.
when you come to that first
crossroads, it will shock you:
the way the decision hangs there
trembling and desperate--
but there are no right answers and you will not
hesitate. and each successive choice
will be made of its own accord,
and you will roll the windows down,
and draw down the scent of ear
SurrogateI stopped using his full title
because it started sounding too formal,
and it’s hard to be standoffish with someone
who swaps albums and memories so generously,
who loves German chocolate but hates the smell of oranges,
who knows me by my boneless,
drowsy form on the couch and by my words.
And maybe one day he’ll ask
me to drop the title altogether and call him Brad,
but I won’t.
Because it sounds too much like dad,
and I’m afraid of slipping up.
Witches MarketMidnight fell like an old black bird;
I meant to wait for you.
There were tables rich with
amethyst and pearls,
and fragrance by the fistful,
mint and petrichor.
I meant to wait for you.
You were gliding through the haze
with your knotted bag half full-
shadows flicked their tongues
above your knees;
you meant to look for me.
Moments ran like mice;
a silver pot, a cup of tea.
She stank of vinegar and thyme-
the hand was hers, the heart was mine.
Her iron eyes reflected flame;
she took my lungs, she took my name,
though you had meant to look for me,
and I had to meant to wait for you
amid the black salt and the brew.
Ash for the handle,
Birch for the brush,
Willow for the cord that binds the twigs.
wallflower clippingsthere's scar tissue in her throat,
swollen around the words she never said;
dark rings around her eyes
like planets unremembered, and
a staleness to her touch,
the crystalline Dead Sea.
she's living like a story
that's already been told
"if no one loved you
would you mean anything at all?"
in that moment,
we forget to exist.
PositiveLeft to me, your worst historian,
to pick up, in a daze, some depth of diction
I never found while you had lived
and I can only now pretend that words are capsules
of sanguinity, that they’ll unmask the symbologies
of sound that bore your binaries to their realms
like sacred dreams of Hypnos.
Regret’s a simple word.
I always thought of "A Separate Peace", and in those scenes
you were this Mozart in the rough, a perfect chord, one
which I would meekly channel through cracks of light
shown through the fist of my own interference,
Why this wisdom, now?
The cosmic clown who wrote this song
does not annotate our endings with an epilogue.
I do not see the irony in celebrating
your new found space.
There is no iconicity,
no special shape
that serves the world
as you did serve,
to bend and writhe the streets
into a wellspring, a circuitr
To LondonGypsy hopefuls once told me,
there are flights leaving for
at any given instant
Upon sizing up our town with
did you realise how little
our frustrations were?
I spoke about this ineffable feeling
of stepping out of one tub
and into new water.
The hotel was done up nicely,
chandeliers and polished English accents.
Labels aside they still mixed
milk into their coffee
and had toast with jam and butter.
I was living under the impression
that most of the Internet
came from my same slice of city pie,
conveniently forgetting about
the undersea cables.
I loathed the lack of vernacular
sentence styles and words.
She saw things through different eyes
and I understood her.
When I found out she was a writer
halfway across the globe
I was selfish
and I loved the world a little less.
It was different
but it was still water.
Growing Pains ManagementWhen I was four years old,
my mother told me that the sky was the limit,
so I ran face first into the
pine tree in my front yard
to get the ground knocked out of me.
When I was thirteen,
I busted my head open in band class.
In the clinic, I wiped the blood
that flooded down my face with my forearm
and made the Vice Principal vomit.
Since then, I’ve made a habit out of making
When I was seventeen, Kevin put a copy
of HOWL face down on my desk and told me
not to tell anyone. I didn’t.
He still lost his job.
Now, I’m twenty two and I don’t know
what I want to be when I grow up.
My hair is thinning faster than my
patience is thinning faster than my
blood is thinning faster than my
wallet. I buy time at the ATM
and gamble it away.
It’s all maintenance now, like so many
car parts creaking. I haven’t put on
that many miles but when you floor it
for twenty two years straight
there’s going to be some damage.
salti of you,
such a beautiful mess, intertwined and overrun.
your arms, copper lips, citrus,
a lovin' with a twist.
my summer away at space pirate camp,
i took to howling with you the first thunder of june;
the hunt for human brains,
Maybe Zombies Just Want To Hug?
- 6 lies to tell yourself if shipwrecked.
i can't explain the feelings i get.
blue dream before i sleep:
the soul cupping rice (glass figurines, lamp light eyes).
my fear is milk two sugars.
drink drink drink
beneath it all,
floral growth, silver spoons,
losing my spine, strange preoccupations with skin,
The poem tips nothing.The poem tips nothing. Perfectly
it nods with curt politeness at
the waitress with the emblazoned
name tag reading I
am just trying to get out of here too,
and it does
not pick at my bones (polite).
The poem tips nothing. When it gets up
it leaves exact change, stacked silver
balanced on the blank plate,
enough to rework my lungs
and pewter heart
for when it comes back
In my bathroom againGod's in my bathroom again,
he's shaving the patches of his
beard and pulling clown-faces
at the soap. Last night
he held me as I lay in a fever,
made little screams, kept
the hot tongues from my face,
the mushrooms from my
He says his old girlfriend
tried to drink his blood, that
it messed him up
for a while. He says
it's been a long time.
God looks sad, jingling his
teeth at me like loose
change. The clicks of my
heart make me sick;
folding his pyjamas
the kind thing